The Egg: Something To Do Part II // Interview with Maff & Ned Scott
Completing this interview with Maff and Ned was much like their recording process – time constraints on all parts, varying schedules, different time zones… you get the idea. That being said, many weeks of e-mails, text messages, and chats later, we have collectively completed this, and I promise you an interesting read!
Po: So, it’s been eight years since your last record; welcome back! How did you decide you were going to make another record?
Ned: Well, it’s something to do. Like playing Lego. Me and Maff got very obsessive about that from little boys onwards, and then gradually transferred to music – which is similar colors, really. I guess though, that’s what a band does: makes albums. Although, to some extent, things are so fluitous these days. What with live playing, live recordings, improvising and stuff…. It makes a body of work.
Maff: Yes, and taking 8 years to record was… well, stop and start a lot. We have enough material to do two albums, really, and it went in several directions. We are still waiting to do more of the instrumental stuff, so this record is a bit more “songy”.
Po: Turning Lego’s into music, a nice approach. Riddle me this: Sum up the recording experience in a haiku.
Maff: What’s a haiku?
Po: A haiku is a poem – 5,7,5: 5 syllables, 7 syllabes, then 5 again.
Maff: Er, right!
Po: For example,
This is a haiku.
Maff Scott does not know such things.
I am teaching him.
Maff: Okay, right. So yes, recording… do I need a 5 syllable word, or a line of 5?
Po: A line of 5. But, synchronicity is a 5 syllable word.
Maff: Right, I’ll try again. Shit.
A drawn out process,
Of making the moistness,
Of spreading musical toastness.
Po: Christ Maff.
Maff: I’m getting it now…
That music forgot to think,
Maff: It doesn’t rhyme though.
Po: Yes! That’s beautiful. It doesn’t have to rhyme – they are strange little gifts.
((Ned chimes in on a later date: What’s a haiku? Maff has probably answered this.))
Po: So all haikus aside, where did you record Something To Do, and who contributed to production?
Maff: It took bloody ages! Er, we had Benji Vaughn (Younger Brother) for 3 tracks, really good. Then Bruno Ellingham (New Order, Goldfrapp, Delphic) who gave the tracks a LCD vibe on ‘Catch’ and ‘A Bit’. Greg Hunter, who was an engineer and co-writer for The Orb’s first two albums, did ‘Fire’ and another unreleased track for us. And finally Robin Twelftree, big on the East London Hackney breakbeat scene.
Ned: Also, in terms of location, we recorded in Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire (Arctic Monkeys, Shirley Bassey, The Streets). It’s in a church – a really great space and cozy little country pub, too. Bruno Ellingham’s underground bunker near Bath, and then a little at Realworld Studios (Peter Gabriel). Benji Vaughn’s was in Notting Hill, and then of course Hackney, as Maff said.
Maff: It was finally all mixed by Jame Reynolds(Tinie Tempeh, Pixie Lott) to bring it all together.
Po: 8 years is a long time for technological (and personal) advancement. What type of gear did you use for this record, and can you think of any notable recording techniques you tinkered with?
Ned: We used vocoder synthesis VP-550, Kaoss pads, drum pads, fingers, feet, mouths, screwdrivers, slides….
Maff: We also did a lot of prewriting amongst ourselves, on tour, in studio jamming, etc. And our good friend Shaun Hunter mixes us live and also writes with us. We also used computery stuff: Logic audio, some amazing mics at Chapel Studios, even a NS10 speaker used as a mic. Plug-ins like Effectrix, Replicant, Synplant… and as far as real instruments go: a “Kaosscillator”, a SPDS (I used live), Moog’s “Little Phatty” for most bass lines… it’s a great keyboard. Live hi-hats and cymbals on everything though – you just can’t beat them.
Po: Nice ones!
Maff: Yeah, and as far as technique, we also used bits from live recordings. We multi-tracked most shows on tour in the US (we’ll get them out, sometime)… for instance, the bass line of “Keep It Simple Stupid” was recorded live in Boston, as was some fuzzy groovy parts of “Over There”. Sometimes the best grooves are found from us playing it live, so it’s a bit like, rather than re-creating the show in the studio, you’re taking the studio to the live show.
Po: Amazing concepts. Detail oriented and much like many puzzle pieces coming together. The microcosms of the macro. Sounds quite complicated. What was the most challenging part of the recording experience for you?
Maff: Making it sounds like a live, emotionally led experience. Like a band, but also banging enough to work on the dancefloor.
Po: And what’s your favorite track on the record?
Ned: I like Something To Do, Electric City, Stars, Oil Man, and Fire.
Po: Okay, that was more than one…
Maff: Well my favorite is “Woodstock”… the bass line is so whack! And it feels like something you’d get into at an Egg concert… it recalls the vibe of Woodstock, obviously, a place we never went to, but has this mythological feeling of “the start of it all”. And the guy we recorded had a great vibe to him… driving around New York. He had been there in ’69, so it was real – no acting involved.
Po: Right on, the bass line is pretty awesome in that track. The record as a whole is reminiscent of festivals, camping, drugs, the cosmos…. Who is responsible for the lyrics? A lot of them are really lovey dovey…
Maff: Mostly Ned actually. Lovey dovey – you mean “Stars”?
Po: Well I mean, yeah sure, “Stars”… but also “In Your Pocket”. And even “Catch” is like: ‘I have an amazing time with you…’ Also “Fire”: ‘The look on your face, the wind in your hair, you push my buttons.’
Maff: Ah yes, “Catch”… That’s all Ned. “In Your Pocket” is about cheering someone up who is naturally a bit of a “glass half-empty” about things… “In your pocket” meaning, I’m on the phone. And “Fire”… one of my favorites.
Po: They are all my favorites.
Maff: “Fire” is the one I could envisage a moment clearly… where you are and how you feel: sitting by a fire at 5am or something.
Po: Mmhmm, definitely got that woodsy 5am feel… it reminded me of my time at Electric Picnic in Ireland.
Maff: Yeah, that’s the idea. Almost saying the things you might think, and not say ‘cause it’s weird, but by 5am its okay, and everyone’s a bit fluffed up by then… a moment of honesty — whatever that is. We’ve been to EP a few times.
Po: “Fire” is like… robot.
Maff: Yes! A robot by the fire, getting to grips with human emotions. The opposite of what he’s meant to do. Being a robot, and all.
Po: So is there anything that Ned didn’t write?
Maff: Well, for “Woodstock”, I recorded the guys in the cab, and put the samples together to make a tune. I contributed lyrics. “Something To Do” was at one point “Nothing to do, with you” – a punky piss take. Then Ned changed it… for the better. “Stars” was about our dad, who is with the stars now.
Po: That’s beautiful. So you said you’ve been to Electric Picnic a few times… what is your favorite festival to play at?
Maff: Hmm… Burning Man was great, but we were in a camp, not out on the Playa. The Camp Bisco crowd was fantastic.
Po: How about a European festival? What’s your favorite over there?
Maff: Secret Garden festival is good.
Ned: I loved Rustlers Valley in South Africa. It celebrated the end of apartheid, so a good reason for a party!
Po: What is your favorite festival food?
Maff: Favorite food? Hmm… Curry?
Po: Yum. So, as brothers, you guys are obviously very close, being twins and colleagues and all. What’s the meanest thing Ned’s ever done to you, Maff?
Maff: I don’t think Ned’s ever done anything mean. Except wandered off leaving me to pack up all his shit on stage. Although, I’ve done it to him a few times. We’re probably equal now.
Po: Equals of The Egg… how did you even come up with that band name?
Maff: Er… there was a dog called Egger whom we knew… he used to sleep outside all day, and come inside and piss on the carpet. Quite inspirational…! Plus, we’d just had several bands names based on shapes: The Circle, The Semi-Circle, The Segment (divisions of the same band), The Sphere, The Blob, and finally, with a certain line-up, The Egg. Plus me and Ned come from the same egg, although, that’s coincidental.
Po: Haha! I dig it. Well, it’s been quite the hangout with you two these past couple of weeks… so my last question is, if we were actually hanging out in the same room, with a record player and infinite record collection, what record would you choose to put on, and why? Furthermore, what would we be drinking?
Maff: Er… drinking Jack Daniels and Coke I expect, although I’m getting into rum and ginger beer, as I’ve always said I don’t drink Coke… Maybe finish off with some red wine. And tunes that go with it… hmmm, depends on the evening. Er… Bowie’s “Oh You Pretty Things”, “Once In A Lifetime” (Talking Heads), “Us and Them” (Pink Floyd)… sounds amazing on vinyl, the dynamics are nuts though… it was pre-compressed music, so the verses are quiet and the choruses really loud!!! That can be a nightmare fixing the level in the car, to get above the background noise but not blast your head off in the chorus. Something to chill out to: I have a 12” of a Justin Robertson’s “Love Movement” remix done by Ulrich Schnauss. Amazing. It’s like futuristic nostalgia. The list goes one… I’ll bet Ned chooses The Beatles.
Ned never chose The Beatles, as he did not choose anything. The Egg has a gig in California in May, though details are unclear. They are talking with people about an East Coast tour in the United States: Boston, Philadelphia, NYC, Baltimore… stay tuned for more info!
Something To Do Liner Notes:
Released on Squarepeg Records (squarepeg-uk.com)
Ned Scott (keys, vocals)
Maff Scott (drums, production)
Ben Cullum (bass)
Matt White (guitar)
Ulrich Schnauss (synths on “Electric City”)
Additional guitarists: Drew Thane, Jerry Bewley
Additional vocals: Sophie Barker, Frances Ashman, Hazel Sainsbury, Ben Cullum, Lucy Hopes, Zarah Honey
Produced and co-written with: Shaun Hunter, Greg Hunter
Produced by: Robin Twelftree, Benji Vaughan, Bruno Ellingham, Greg Hunter
Mixed by: James Reynolds