the scaramanga six
paul morricone of ireallylovemusic's fave band the scaramanga six! tells us all bout the gore and horror that is the bands new album 'cabin fever'
cabin fever - a fascinating return – what’s the story behind the album?
Well, the title suggests the feeling of being locked up in claustrophobic rooms, sweaty and uncomfortable. That’s exactly what it was like doing the album. We spent an unhealthy amount of time together to get this done and illness and disease spread to epidemic proportions while we recorded. There were buboes upon buboes and cabin fever really did set in. We like to think that the insanity and deprivation is apparent when listening to the album.
in your opinion how is this album different from “Strike! up the Band !”
Strike! Up The Band was made up of several recording sessions in different places and sounded like it. Cabin Fever has a complete sound to it. We also thought that the next logical step for us would be to do what we did on Strike Up The Band but much more extreme – louder, faster, slower, more dynamic, more uncomfortable. The next album will push the envelope even more.
the musical scope is as varied as ever, both the bands strength, and also conversely it’s ball-and-chain as it prevents easy media pigeon-holing ?
Good. It prevents lazy journalism. In fact, a recent reviewer in a fanzine spent the entire review writing about how difficult it was to review and pigeonhole it. Personally, I don’t think the musical scope is that wide at all – every song sounds like us. It doesn’t sound like ten different bands on one album because it isn’t. Why should people be tied down to doing one kind of thing anyway? Why can’t we do a loud bombastic onslaught and then a slow crooner? They both share the same dynamics and passion. I’d rather they didn’t review our album at all than read some half-cocked attempt by someone who’s only heard the first three tracks and is obsessed with trying to find likenesses to ‘some band vs. some other band in a deathmatch referred by another band’ etc. etc.
there were 6, now there’s 4. with only 3 original members, are you basically becoming the evil twin of Ben Folds Five, is this staff turnover due to you and brother Steve being hard taskmasters (Julia obviously knows how to deal with you - something we should get into another time perhaps!) or a genuine issue with internal band politics?
Everyone who has been in The Scaramanga Six has put in 100%. When they leave, it’s usually due to personal reasons – careers, babies etc. There has never been anything acrimonious and we’re still in touch with all of our former colleagues. If I had my way, I’d pay them all to stay and we’d be a 12-piece.
you and Steve .. a tense working sibling rivalry, or the one person in the world you trust?
Steve is my brother and therefore we stick together. If there are any decisions to be made, we thrash it out between us. It was like that at school – if you’ve got a problem with him, you’ll have me to deal with too.
i am unable to enjoy daytime tv due to work commitments - but its obvious you have all undergone some form of tv makeover in recent times .. you all look like a real band. the suits. the hair. the walking stick. you are making a concerted effort to stand out from the crowd - or is this just the s6 way ?
The only addition to the way we normally look is that bloody cane. Steve got it from a specialist gentlemen’s tailor and he doesn’t even walk funny. But you should see him run though – it’s like a cross between a girl and a spermatozoa. We were brought up to take care in our appearance – something many people could do with learning today.
with the cover of 'strike up the band' looking like a homage to blair witch and cabin fever being an unsubtle reference to a recent slasher flick - is the hollywood connections intentional or all coincidence ?
i’ve never seen either film and I didn’t even know ‘Cabin Fever’ the film existed. I think you’ll find the term ‘cabin fever’ has existed for many years previous to some cheap Hollywood flick. There is however a song on our new single called ‘Director’s Cut’ which plays about with the theme of fickle fame and whimsy. But that’s as far as it goes. We’d love to be involved in film soundtracks though – instilling terror and taut dynamics is our game.
the appeal of the darkside seems to be a strong element to the s6 .. there is a lot of implied violence and retribution in the lyrics ('poison pen', 'we rode the storm', 'horrible face' etc) where does this stem from ? troubled childhood ?
it stems from what happens to people if they cross us. Anyway, there’s no violence in We Rode The Storm – it’s one of the most positive and uplifting thing’s we’ve ever written. Having said that, the new material for the next album seems to be themed with violent murder. There’s a new song about a man who kills his victims with cyanide then performs a macabre dance with their corpses. There’s also a beautiful song based on John Fowles’ ‘The Collector’ which is all about a man who stalks, kidnaps, imprisons and eventually kills his ideal woman.
and yet .. for all the love of all things nasty - there is a strong biting streak of self-deprecation and wit, making things almost like a macabre pantomime .. how to reconcile the two ?
If you want to see a macabre pantomime, try watching Cannon & Ball doing the winter season at Blackpool – it’s like watching death. What we do is often called ‘black humour’ – do you laugh or do you shit your pants?
new album has proper production by Tim 'Cardiacs' Smith.. how did this change the mechanics of the recording process for you on this album ?
It’s all analogue as per usual – no cutting cleverly into the bits you don’t want and making an inhumanly perfect performance in pro-tools. Tim’s genius knows no bounds. He got us to double up everything so you are listening to two bands at once.
why Tim ? and how did you go about finding him ?
Tim Smith has been making mindblowing music with Cardiacs for years and years. We wanted to work with one of our all-time heroes. So we sent him some stuff and he agreed to record us – It’s the ultimate compliment when someone whose work you’ve admired for a long time really likes what you do.
i know little of the cardiacs other than they were another unrecognised band (saleswise) but had a dedicated following, does this similarity in circumstance strike you as ironic – or is this part of the reason for the working partnership ?
The only irony is that in terms of commercial success we are ‘losers’ when in actual fact we are musically ‘winners’ – so as Nick Berry once put it ‘every loser wins’.
you always seem to provide particular attention to detail in areas like packaging (new stuff especially !), and extras like videos, the label DVD, the cd-rom video’s for example - why make these videos - the cost worth it ?
Ah, that’s my day time job – working in television as a director/editor. So naturally I am interested in the visual aspect of things. It’s not just about creating an image to sell the band though. Our video to The Poison Pen doesn’t even have us in it – just an insane psycho rabbit man. I’ve always enjoyed the total package that is an album. I like looking at sleeve notes and photos and design and imagining what the band were doing at the time. It’s all part of the mystique and fascination don’t you think? It’s why people will always buy records rather than download them.
or, are you hopeful that in 10 years time there will be an MTV special dedicated to the origins of the S6 and therefore you make these as a historical visual document ?
If we wanted to document things, we’d have a video camera at every gig. But judging by recent photos where my head resembles a giant swede (the vegetable), I’d rather not. If people want to see us, they should stop watching the television and get out to a gig. It’s far more healthy.
if the world wakes up to the joys of the s6 - are you all ready for pop stardom ? or have you accepted life as a constant underdog ?
stardom? That’s not what it’s about. We make music and perform because we feel we have to. We are obliged to share our creations with as many people as possible who want to listen. There’s no craving for fame behind it. We simply have to play. If we didn’t, we’d die. If more people get to hear us and we get to make another record, then all the better. But we’re not going to go away. I’ll be crooning into a microphone to bemused nurses in the retirement home when I’m 90 if I can.
watch the excellent video for the new single 'we rode the storm' at the band official website : link