part 1 of 2
a look at
the future must always begin with a fleeting glimpse
at the past. that said, what was behind the end of the
we always said that we would finish when we became just
another band or when we reached ten years - whichever
happened first. i always believed ten years was enough
for a band, and i personally don't know of any band
that has gone on longer and was able to generate the
same excitement or originality that they had in those
first few years - most lose it after less than half
with 'c'mon kids' i honestly thought we had created
something special that people would appreciate and applaud.
to me, it sounds warm and inventive, a playground of
sound - and it was a great shock when it was, although
critically acclaimed, loathed in the main.
i was accused of sabotaging our 'career', and
even though i have denied it for nearly four years,
that it was some kind of reaction against the 'pop'
of 'wake up'. the question still gets asked, until finally,
in 20 years time, i break down and admit that, yes,
it was a cynical, destructive step away from the success
we were having, made by a lad who got what he always
wanted but didn't want what he had been given, and they
will smile kindly and hold me, wiping the tears from
my whiskey mottled cheeks, going, 'there, there, son.
it's ok, we always knew.' they listen but they hear
nothing. some people take great delight in telling me,
in graphic detail, just what a piece of shit record
it is. and that's something i don't really think i got
when it came to write and record 'kingsize', my confidence
was shattered. i took little interest in the recording,
preferring to drift on marijuana clouds - running away,
as sly would say, to get away. sice had had enough as
well - well before i did - seeing through the bullshit
and facade of the industry, uninterested in drugs, unwilling
to be away from his home for long periods of time.
i can recall sitting in the blue post pub on hanway
street just off the tottenham court road (it's not there
any more, it's now boots the chemist) at christmas 1997,
halfway through recording, with my best friend mark,
fighting back tears as i told him that i was quitting
and didn't even want to finish the record. he advised
that i take my holiday, chill, then come back fresh.
i took his advice, spent christmas and new year in morocco,
heard many new and beautiful sounds, wrote 'monuments
for a dead century', and came back refreshed and eager
to start work again. but after a week or so, i felt
the same way i had before. i made myself ill with the
stress of knowing that it was the end and that i was
going to be the one to end it.
did you feel in the end that you'd
accomplished all that the group had set out to do?
i think we achieved, musically, everything that we wanted
to do. it would have been nice to have sold a few more
records, made a bit more money for the others, as we
were left with little to show for all those years. i
'm proud of the records, proud of the fact that we did
whatever the fuck we liked music-wise, never used our
music to sell anything, and advocated nothing but love.
we made great records and had a fuckin' great time doing
what's the transition been like
from working in the confines of a band to becoming a
i think the main difference is that it's harder work!
recording was much more tiring than before - singing,
playing bass, guitar, and various other things as opposed
to sitting at the back of the studio, skinning up and
shouting oblique instructions. i was drained at the
end. that's why the diary [which carr was writing meticulously
on his website], stopped suddenly. i was fucked - but
in a good way, a work way, rather than any self inflicted
the downside, of course, was that i missed my friends
desperately. i was lonesome. angelsea is a very quiet,
remote place, and though i had a great time and gorwel
and fiona (it was their house where i recorded the album)
were wonderful and treated me like a brother, i really
wished that sice, tim or bob were there with me. i was
relieved when daf [super furry animals drummer] turned
up to play. the writing is different now as well, i
feel a lot freer. the songs don't have to go through
lots of critical stages before they are recorded. i
write 'em, and if i like 'em, i do 'em.
which also begs the question, why
the bravecaptain nom-de-plume as opposed to 'hi, i
'm martin carr and these are my musings'.
i don't like the name martin carr. if i had a name like
jimmy angeldust or frankie voltage then i would have
used my own name, but martin carr is, y'know, crap.
i also wanted it to sound as if it were a band - it
might be in the future, who knows? it enables me to
do what i want, to work with who i want.
when the boos were offered a peel session, which we
didn't do as we had already decided to split up, we
talked about doing 'bravecaptain' (from the firehose
album, 'ragin' full on') which was always a favourite
of ours. the idea for using the name came from there,
i guess. i got in touch with mike watt - which was a
thrill, as he truly is one of the greats - and he wrote
to me, telling me the story of the song and offering
to play bass on the record, which, sadly, he was unable
to do because of illness, but which he's made up for
by writing the sleevenotes for the album.
is there a mission statement to
the bravecaptain? a masterplan, so to speak?
there is no masterplan. music is a vehicle for self-expression.
i don't need any marketing strategy or five-year plan.
i just write songs and hopefully they get released,
spend a few weeks trying to make the whole process sound
interesting for the press, play a few shows, then record
some more. if i didn't have a deal, if nobody wanted
to hear these songs that i write, i would still write
them. i have to. if you make music to get rich then
you are a fucking fraud and you will be exposed. at
the same time i want to touch people and communicate
something to them, what that something is i don't know...yet.
you've always been known for your
strikingly honest and personal lyrics. is that a conscious
decision, or do your lyrics just come naturally? and
will the bravecaptain releases continue in the same
when i started to write songs, i was going for this
kinda dylan/ginsberg thing - this imagery which was
very self-conscious and pretty much indecipherable nonsense
to everybody except myself. i still know what they all
mean, but they are pretty fucking awful.
when i wrote lazarus, that was the first time i had
ever sat there and thought, 'okay, what is happening
to me now? what is going on around me?' and wrote it
down. it just started there, i guess. i can say things
in songs that i cannot say in person. i am inarticulate
in speech, nervous and tongue tied (unless drunk, of
course, when i become incredibly articulate - which,
unfortunately, i use for abuse and endless rants about
football.) but put me in front of a computer screen
and i come out with things that even i did not really
know about, things that are dormant within my conscious.
so the bravecaptain stuff will carry this on. i have
to try and introduce a few more topics, though, as all
my songs are basically variations on three or four themes.
what made you decide to work with gorwel? in the
end, did you find him a good creative match?
it was my manager's idea for me to work with gorwel.
he'd heard my demos at a friend's house, loved them,
and thought that gorwel would be perfect for them. i
owe him much, he restored my confidence in myself, and
his instinct was spot on, as gorwel and i were very
good for, and with, one another. i had met him once
before, at rockfield, while we were recording 'from
the bench at belvedere', and he was visiting the studios
i remember thinking he was really old and strange, and
it was a surprise when i met him again late last year
and he's only about eight or nine years older than me!
he's very shy until you get to know him, but once you
do, he's ace. we used to have little swearing marathons
over lunch. he's a big fan of profanity as i am, it's
a wholly misunderstood and underrated art form. we both
loved the furries and things like aphex twin and grandaddy.
he brought along this kinda minimalist aesthetic - cage
and ussachevsky - while i had hip hop and dub. whether
or not the record reflects any of this is open to question,
but i think that if we do record together again, now
that we're friends, we could create something very special
what's it like to suddenly become
it was hard, as it was something i very much wanted
to do. i was dreading opening my mouth and something
rotten coming out, because it would mean i would have
had to find a singer, and the only person i would ever
want singing my songs, besides myself, would be sice.
so it was a relief to find that my voice is okay, not
brilliant, but as long as i can get it across without
making people wince, then that will do me just fine.
it means i have to write songs differently. i honestly
believed sice could sing anything i wanted him to, but
with me, i have to write within certain confines, in
certain keys, which is limiting - but as long as i can
sing what i write then i am a very happy man indeed.