All Hallows Church is a curious place to play host to live music. The modern church saw an impressive array of acoustic shows in 2012, but took an immediate step up in 2013 with Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls of The Wonder Stuff fame appearing. We took the chance to steal a quick chat with Erica, whose debut album, Imminent Room, is due for release on April 1st.
How did the solo album come about?
“My debut solo album ‘Imminent Room’ was essentially born out of frustration. I was growing increasingly tired of not being able to find any current music that I thought was any good, and the search to find new music that inspired me was becoming exhausting, to the point that I simply gave up looking. But instead of moaning about this sorry state of affairs, it was put to me by Miles Hunt; my partner in crime, musically and otherwise, that I should make my very own record. I immediately loved this rather obvious solution and decided that I was going to create some music that I as a listener, and as a musician, would want to buy and possibly enjoy listening to for longer than a week. To me, the majority of what is currently considered popular or mainstream sounds linear, generic and formulaic, devoid of any passion, fire or guts. I wanted to compose songs that on one level were totally visceral, yet simultaneously musically stimulating. I’ve written honest lyrics that mean something to me and hopefully the listener, and I’ve not hidden behind the usual obvious clichés. It’s liberating to say what you think and not cower safely beneath meaningless lyrical twaddle, and to vent brave lyrics in that same style is so very pleasing. I’m not trying to appease anyone with my lyrics, or music, for that matter, but equally, I’m not going out of my way to piss anybody off. If you like it, you do, and if you don’t, you don’t. It took 18 very involved months to get ‘Imminent Room’ down and too much effort went into it to start snivering for approval now. But I honestly hope people enjoy it, of course.”
Given that you wear many different hats (band wise), how did you find it working on your solo album?
“Easy in that you only have yourself to please, and difficult, in that you only have to please yourself. During the making of this album I grew increasingly conscious of playing and performing everything to the best of my abilities, knowing from experience that errors made during the recording process don’t go away with time, they only get worse as your ears prick up every time you hear a mistake. Once your music is out there, you can’t get it back and do it again, so I tried to be as diligent as possible when I was in the studio so that I could be happy with this record for as long as possible. I’m a perfectionist and I care very much about the things that are important to me. Music being
pretty high up on that list.
It was exciting and refreshing not to have a genre to write to. I enjoyed not having the horrid umbrella of doom hanging over my head that goes ‘Do you think people will like this?!’. So long as I liked it, it stayed, and this was the most freedom I’ve ever had as a musician and I intend to revisit the experience.”
There are a couple of collaborations on the album (Jeff Walker, Wayne Hussey and Mark Gemini Thwaite). How did these happen?
“Jeff Walker from Carcass had me play on his solo record ‘Welcome To Carcass Cuntry‘ when I was studying violin at the Birmingham Conservatoire, so I asked him to return the favour in the form of him providing some bass and backing vocals on ‘Neon Crucifix‘. I’m glad I asked him.
I’m good mates with Wayne Hussey from The Mission; Miles Hunt and I acoustically toured the States together a few years back and had a blast in each others company… Wayne suggested that I call Mark Gemini-Thwaite to lay down some gravity defying guitar riffs on ‘I Am Me, This Is Now’ and Wayne added some beautifully dark backing vocals. They have both made this track for me.”
Are there other artists you would like to work with? Who are you listening to at the moment?
“Yeah, I have the dream list of artists and bands I’d like to work with. I’d love to play violin live for Bowie, write and play a studio session string arrangement for Iron Maiden, and I’d like to fall in love with a new, not necessarily ‘nu’, metal band and do some further playing in that field. I’ve always been a rocker, and I can’t see that changing any time soon.
Recently I’ve been listening to www.shemakeswar.com – Laura Kidd who’s project that is plays bass in my live line-up. Also the music of Carina Round is exceptional and I’m enjoying that at the moment. I’m going through a girly music phase right now… And these girls have got it, by the bucket load.”
Are there plans to take the album out on the road?
“Well, I’ve just got a super hot band together to tour in April so EN will be supporting The Wonder Stuff on their UK tour, I’m the violinist in that band, so it’s gonna be a busy old time!”
If so, as a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist how would that come together?
“Meet my live band; Nicole Fermie on electric guitar (Nife), Laura Kidd on bass (She Makes War) and Dei Elfryn (Amsterdam) on drums. I will be singing and playing violin and my Gibson SG. We will all get in a room and create a wall of sound, baby! That’s how it’ll come together.”
You have recently spent some time focusing on painting. Tell us a little about these and how it links into the album.
“I finger paint in oil and people seem to like it, but I don’t for a second claim to know what I’m doing! I’m going to have an art installation style album launch this year where you can view my paintings, and each piece I’ve painted is inspired by tracks on the ‘Imminent Room‘ album. You will be able to listen to specific tracks via 12 listening posts in a gallery and simultaneously view the piece, then move around the room in album order. The art will be available to purchase at the exhibition album launch, should anybody want.”
Do you ever just sit and not create stuff?
“No. I’ve turned a tap on now and I wouldn’t turn it off even if I could. I’m gonna ride it out, see what happens.”
After such a busy/prolific 2012, what has 2013 got in store?
“I tour a lot with Miles Hunt of The Wonder Stuff acoustically as a duo, we have a very healthy run of dates to play in the UK throughout 2013. The Wonder Stuff have some nice festivals this summer but I’m not able to say what they are just yet. The Wonder Stuff are also going on tour in Dec 2013 with Jesus Jones and Pop Will Eat Itself playing a bunch of O2 Academy dates. I’ve got a fair bit of session work with some really cool artists and bands this year too, but I can’t say much about that either! I also have every intention of making music videos for my ‘Imminent Room‘ album tracks, hopefully one for every song. There’s one thing I can’t be accused of being, and that’s lazy!”
Imminent Room is scheduled for release on April 1st. Erica’s debut single, ‘Cut Them Out’ is just out and can be found on the usual online outlets.
Erica can also be found playing fiddle on The Wonder Stuff’s ‘Oh No, It’s The Wonder Stuff’ released this week. The Wonder Stuff are touring the UK in early April supported by Erica’s band EN.