Here are some excerpts from the interview, conducted by Jody Orsborne:
Nick Etwell is a man of many talents. He can speak Swedish, has a mean sense of style, taught Mumford and Sons’ Ben Lovett to play piano, and is currently celebrating the release of his latest record, The Filthy Six‘s The Fox (out today via Acid Jazz). I had the chance to speak with him before watching a bunch of bearded Scandinavian men throw each other around at the Roundhouse in Camden. Here’s what he had to say…
Jody Orsborne: Tell me about this new record? What sound were you going for?
Nick Etwell: Basically, if I could choose the time period in which to live my life, I’d be living in New York around 1967! I take my inspiration from that era of music, especially the Blue Note recordings at that time, and I just want to create something that can sit happily alongside that. A homage to that style i guess. I wanted to make an album that sounded like those records – ‘Blackjack’ by Donald Byrd, or ‘Midnight Creeper’ by Lou Donaldson – rich, warm sounding, all recorded live onto 2 inch tape. Everyone in the same room playing together. No overdubs.
JO: There’s no overdubbing?
NE: Only hand-claps and vocals. Basically, I wanted it to sound like an old school record. All analogue production, vintage mics, gear, recorded and mixed straight to tape. The perfect combination! it’s going to go out on vinyl too so I wanted it to sound proper. We had 2-3 rehearsals and recorded it over two days with only a couple of takes per song and then mixed it in one sitting. 13 tracks in 16 hours. In, down, and out very quickly. its the way music was recorded back in the old days. They were recording so much music all the time then there was no room for messing around!
JO: No six months in the studio?
NE: No chance! we ran through the tunes, tweaked them, recorded them and went home. done in a matter of days!
JO: You are about to head off on tour in support of the record release. Where will you be heading?
NE: Starting off at my home town of Derby on Saturday, Newcastle, London for the album launch, Cardiff, Bristol and five dates in Ireland. I can’t wait for Ireland as I’ve only ever been to Dublin and Belfast before and with this trip we’re going out to Limerick, Dundalk and Galway too. We’re playing Communion nights in Belfast, Dublin and Galway. It’s gonna be so much fun being on the road in Ireland…there’s going to be an awful lot of Guinness knocking around…
JO: Speaking of Communion (Ben Lovett from Mumford and Sons label), obviously you do horns for Mumford and Sons, touring with them and have appeared on all of their records. How did you you get hooked up with those guys?
NE: Well, I used to be Ben’s Jazz piano teacher at school.
JO: Was he pretty good?
NE: My star pupil obviously!
JO: When was that?
NE: Over 10 years ago I guess. I taught Ben when he was 13, and I was probably about 24. I would teach him once a week and when you teach someone once a week for six years, you kind of get to know them a little bit. We had a really nice rapport and we basically just hung out once a week. After a couple of years we thought it’d be nice to put a group together for him to play with other musicians, being a piano player can sometimes get a bit boring playing on your own all the time. So, he got a little jazz group together with Marcus [Mumford] on drums and other friends, Luke on Sax and Ed on Bass. I was their coach and I’d get them to play all the things I liked playing; some of the arrangements from The Filthy Six, etc, fun stuff! I would coach them about once a month or so and it was a lot fun. They got to sounding pretty good! Marcus is a great drummer you know. You don’t get to see it much on the Mumford gig but he his. But yeah, we always got on well. A couple of years later, after they’d left school, I kept bumping into Ben on random gigs around London and then the four of them came to see The Filthy Six play at the Jazz Lounge, Glastonbury, while they were there playing their early gigs. I spotted them in the crowd, we found each other after the show and they were like ‘we’ve got a little band together now’ and that’s when I met the other half of what turned out to be Mumford & Sons. Ben gave me a shout about 6 months later and asked if I would play on a record for them, which was The Cave EP. It was probably about three years ago now, yeah, three years ago! I went into the studio and they played me the track and I was like, hey… This is really good! We did a couple of tracks and that was that. A few months later I recorded the album with them and it all just kind of blew up. It’s been fun, really great fun playing with them since.
JO: So you’ve been with them from the beginning. Do you plan to continue playing with them longterm?
NE: Yep, as long as they’ll have me or until we fall out! (laughs).
JO: What about with the horn parts for Mumford? Is it a collaborative process or do one of you just come up with what it’s going to be?
NE: With the first album, they had most of the main lines in mind and I just had to come up with harmonys etc. although I did manage to sneak in the occasional extra line here and there! For the new album the boys had some plans for what they wanted and Dave and I (Mumford’s Trombone) came up with ways of making it work best. It’s quite an organic process really. They have ideas and we’ll be like, cool, or, let’s try it this way. then they either like it or they don’t. There was some quite epic double tracking recorded for the new record too, be interesting to hear how it all comes out…
Click through to read the rest of the interview about The Filthy Six with Nick. I also encourage you to check out The Filthy Six’s new album because they’re quite good. Watch a video of them performing “Mozambique” live by clicking here!