In celebration of the final release related to the initial Regal Worm trilogy of albums being released today as “Pig Views. Early Sketches & Scribbles”, we here republish an interview with Jarrod made in October 2014.
The article was written by Michael Björn and originally published in Japanese music magazine Strange Days #184, pages 84-88, March 2015.
Copyright © Michael Björn 2015
Jarrod Gosling has been active with electronica pop band I Monster back since 1998 when their first album was released. But recently Jarrod has gone back to the progressive music he grew up with. With his heavily keyboards based progressive outfit called Regal Worm, he has already made a slew of intriguing releases that manage to breath new life into the genre while still very much appealing to lovers of 70s progressive rock.
You call your music ”prog”, but it doesn’t try to repeat the structures of classic prog rock.
Jarrod: No. If we go back to the times when the original prog rock bands started, they were basically just playing progressive music following the Beatles ‘Sgt Pepper…’ album. These days, it seems that ”prog” has to have all these definite things like long tracks, solos, Mellotron and such. But really, that’s not what progressive music is.
When Marillion came out in the early 80s, they weren’t doing anything particularly new – they were just being the opposite to progressive in a way! I think some of the new wave and post punk bands from that same era were actually more progressive. So I try to keep that idea when I make my music – even though I am still fitting in to the genre obviously: There are Mellotrons and long tracks and lots of the ideas that are typically labeled”prog”.
Some prog seems to be very serious as well, which doesn’t apply to you?
Jarrod: I like to be playful. So in spirit, I think it is more in keeping with Frank Zappa, Caravan, Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt, Hatfield & the North, and Egg – and maybe Syd Barrett, Kevin Ayers and Gentle Giant. There was a sense of humour there and I like to retain that. I am not a virtuoso musician by any means – and I don’t think prog should be too serious, that’s why a lot of people don’t like it!
In 2013 you released the download-only EPs ‘Sausages’ and ‘Dissecting The Worm (A Taste)’, and a proper album called ‘Use and Ornament’; and now you have just released the album ‘Neither Use Nor Ornament’.
Jarrod: It is quite confusing actually.
Jarrod: Ha ha! I am confused myself with it. The work on ‘Use and Ornament’ was actually started in 2011, and by the time it got released in December 2013 mostly all of it had already been done over a year before that. As I was trying to get a record deal with it, doing the artwork and getting it mastered, I was working on more stuff. So that was going to be for a second album, called ‘Klara Till Slutet’. It was going to be a concept album, but it just got a bit too complicated trying to write a story – although I had already written the music. Some of those tracks instead ended up on ‘Dissecting The Worm’ and some are on ‘Sausages’.
However, I wanted to bring something out this year, and that’s what became the ‘Neither Use Nor Ornament’ album. It is a bit of a stopgap release really – and it was going to be a mini album, but then it just got longer, ha ha!
The title of ”Neither Use Nor Ornament” is just negating the previous album?
Jarrod: There is a phrase that people use if a child is not very good at doing something; the parent would say: ”You are neither use nor ornament”.
You don’t know how to do it but you are not much use as a decoration either.
Jarrod: Exactly. So the first album ”Use and Ornament” was a play on that and then I thought I’d just play on that a little bit more. And because it is a different album, I ended up with the phrase itself! No one living outside northern England will probably ever get that, but it doesn’t really matter.
I would say there are a few more things on your albums that no one will ever get… the album is subtitled ‘A Small Collection Of Big Suites’.
Jarrod: Ha ha ha! Yes it is – and obviously there’s a suite/sweet pun in the album title, and the carts with the candy, so that brackets the album title. And it describes the album as well, two big suites and three shorter tracks.
The album starts with an 18 minute suite with a title that is just as long: ‘Odilon Escapes From The Charcoal Oblivion, But Endeavours To Return And Rescue The Cactus Men’
Jarrod: It is a deliberately long title just to be awkward. I just bought a book after Christmas about the turn of the century French artist Odilon Redon. Some of his surreal pictures I really like, there is one of them that is like a moon face flower, and it gave me the idea for the title. Some of the lyrics are actually a quote from one of his pictures in the book.
The second track, Animal Attic, sounds like Egg – but it is Egg playing James Last!
Jarrod: Ha ha ha! Well, I love James Last!
Then there’s a short church organ interlude called ‘Tombland Guerrilla’.
Jarrod: My wife and I went to Norwich on holiday. The old part of the city is called Tombland, and there’s a big cathedral there. I opened one of the side doors of the cathedral, and there is someone playing the organ, so I started recording on my portable PCM recorder. Then I edited it, put effects on and added Mellotron afterwards – so that was a guerrilla recording from Tombland.
Other people steal music on internet and you steal it in church!
Jarrod: Yeah, hope I’m not going to get done for copyright!!
Then we get to ‘Sovereign of the Skies’, which is quite poppy. But about three minutes in, there is a James Last sounding part again!
Jarrod: Yeah, well, I wanted to take the track further than just the first part. That song is actually from the unfinished concept album that was going to be about a flying pig creature. That’s why you’ve got the sovereign of the skies and the swine thing and flying pigs.
‘The King of Sleep’ is the grand finale. This is a track that is a bit more like traditional prog in the sense that it starts with a theme that then comes back in the end.
Jarrod: With that one, I actually wanted to go back to the original thing. I hadn’t done that on any track. It is about dreams really, weird dreams. Not drug induced, but maybe if you had some blue cheese before you go to bed – that kind of effect, just vivid dreams really!
You write, perform, produce and design it all yourself.
Jarrod: I do as much myself as I can, because I’ve got the other band I Monster which is two of us: this is my own thing and I’m the boss, and I don’t have to answer to anyone and ask if it is alright. It is up to me if I like it or not – although I can’t make other people like it!
You use quite a range of vintage equipment.
Jarrod: Yeah, I’ve got quite a lot! That’s a very prog thing to do, isn’t it! All prog fans like to read the list of instruments, and they like to know there’s a real Mellotron there.
Your Pig View studio is in your attic – are you watching the pigs from up there?
Jarrod: We live in Hillsborough: If you open the attic window, you can actually hear and almost see the football ground where the team Sheffield Wednesday play at the bottom of the hill; it is about a half a mile away. Then there’s Sheffield United on the other side of the city. Rival fans in Sheffield call the other fans pig fans as a form of abuse. So, because I prefer United even though I live in Hillsborough, I call the studio Pig View.
What happens next?
Jarrod: The next album, which will be called ‘Pig Views’ is actually sort of finished now. I am just going through it now and tweaking things and adding little bits here and there. But it is more or less finished so I will be putting it out early next year.
We will also release our new I Monster album in the beginning of next year, which is about all the pioneering synth and keyboard inventors. It is a concept album, but there is no story all the way through, it is just individual tracks that are all based on a particular keyboard, so we’ve got a song about Robert Moog, who invented the Moog obviously; and there’s a song about the Mellotron, how that came about; and the Chamberlin, the American predecessor. And so on. Lots of really, really expensive old gear on it!