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All smiles... Broadcast singer Trish Keenan (left) and bassist James Cargill (right), Newcastle Quay Club, 23.03.00...

Broadcast singer Trish Keenan and bassist James Cargill talk to Roofdog

Make way for a moving experience. Broadcast are the pioneers of a crackly, experimental and above-all totally captivating sound that has all the hallmarks of a great 1960’s movie soundtrack but none of the hammy actors or beehive hairdos. Their new album, The Noise Made by People, has received rave reviews from sources as wide and diverse as the NME and The Guardian. Here, Broadcast bassist James Cargill and the beautifully voiced Trish Keenan tell their hopes, fears and ambitions to Karl Cremin before their gig at the ‘new’ Riverside night at The Quay Club in Newcastle…

You started recording your new album, The Noise Made by People, in 1997. What does it feel like now it’s finally been released?

Trish: “It’s funny because we finished it six months ago, so it’s already old. We released it to the record company and then they bothered with it from then on!”

Would you say your sound has developed and changed whilst you were recording it?

T: “Yeah, we did re-record a few things because of that.. it kept getting better and better in production…”

James: “I think that was the first time we’d ever actually recorded a big chunk of music in one room aswell.”

It’s been quite hard to catch you live over the last couple of years.

T: “Yeah, for a while we didn’t really have anything to promote..”

J: “Before we went in to record the album we did tours with Stereolab and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, but recently we’ve been recording so we can’t just drop it – there’s a lot more that goes into a gig than what people think a lot of the time.”

Your sound features orchestration, complicated atmospherics and all manner of special effects. Do you find it difficult to replicate on stage?

J: “Yeah. You can’t really get all the subtleties that you get when you’re recording but it is difficult; you’ve got to just go with the flow really, but I think we’re very precise on what we want to sound like. When we’re in the studio, we record say ten minutes of drums and bass and then chop out the best bits and then play on top of that, so we don’t really record live in the studio often.”

Your music seems to combine raw experimentalism with a tuneful sensibility, resulting in a very atmospheric sound that wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack to a contemporary cinematic masterpiece. Would you consider recording the soundtrack to a film?

J: “I think we’re more interested in taking the soundtrack elements and the atmospheres and putting them into songs, rather than writing for images. I mean, if someone offered then maybe we'd consider it, but it’s not something that we’d aspire to.

What do you think about the comparisons that have been drawn between Broadcast and Portishead, St. Etienne or Stereolab?

J: “I think those sort of comparisons get made so people find it easier to know what we do, or to group it in really vaguely with it. I think a lot of journalists have to do that because to explain exactly what we do is too difficult or too time consuming so it’s easier to just say Portishead or Stereolab.”

Your recent EP, Extended Play (right), was recorded after the album. Would you say it allowed you to progress?

J: “I think the difference between them is that all the album was done at the studio we had in the Custard Factory (office/warehouse complex in Birmingham) – then after we finished the album we couldn’t afford to keep the studio going, so we took all the gear back to a house; so all the B-sides on the EP were recorded upstairs in a house, apart from the drums… so there was more getting into using the computer and experimenting with that. We want to use the avant garde and the electronic things that we like, but fuse them with a melodic armature.”

You also had a song on the soundtrack to Austin Powers, did you not?

J: (laughs) “Yeah!!”

T: “The producer was getting the soundtrack ready before the film had been made really, and asked us if they could use our track The Book Lovers.

Was it flattering to be approached?

T: “No, it wasn’t flattering, it was just a bit of money!”

J: “ No one knew how successful the film was going to be; it could have been a flop, so it was just a coincidence that it became…”

T: “Nine grand!!!”

J: “Yeah, because the film became a success we got some royalties back! It’s alright though, because the song was recorded well before the film, a long time before we were approached, so we didn’t compromise ourselves.”

Will you be playing any festivals this year?

T: “Well, we might be – we’re planning to write aswell, but they’ve asked us to do Glastonbury, and we’ll be doing some in Europe aswell. We’ve got a few gigs to do in Europe after the UK ones and then we’ll hopefully have a bit of time off to do some more writing but I think we’re planning on maybe going to America in September or later in the year.”

Your album, The Noise Made by People (right) was given a full-page review in The Guardian. Was it exciting to see your work reviewed on such a grand scale?

J: “Yeah, it was quite a surprise but we’ve been around for a few years now, so everything begins to wear off and you get less and less excited…”

But with so much recording, re-recording and experimentation under your belt, you must feel in total control of what you’re creating…?

J: “Yeah, totally – that was one of that conditions of signing to the label – probably one of the reasons we signed to Warp records was because they’d let us realise our sound.”

…and that’s the most the most amazing thing. Broadcast are indeed totally in control of these strangely hypnotic and utterly compelling songs, built from chemicals, computers and barbed wire with the most angelic voice drifting above. They have a talent that is incredibly rare, and that’s why they’re truly a revelation.

Tune in and ascend.

Karl Cremin

More Broadcast live photos online soon...

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