Interview: Midwich Youth Club

After listening to the awesome album, Gamification, on a slow train to the Westcountry towards the end of last year, it’s always a pleasure to hear something new and fruity from Allan Murphy, the man behind Midwich Youth Club. Keen to explore and ‘hybridise’ different musical genres, MYC has a few projects in the works, including the latest offering, Dawdling, out on CD. Allan took some time out from his guitars to answer a few quick questions. 

Who are your influences? Any artists you’re a big fan of? 

My influences change daily but if I had to boil it down to key records it would be ‘Public Image’ by PiL, ‘I feel love’ Summer/Moroder, ‘The Raven’ by The Stranglers and ‘The commercial album’ by The Residents.

Where’s the best place for people to find your music? Do you play live at all? 

MYC have played live a few times, years ago but I found it was an un-satisfactory experience, not being able to reproduce all the layers I create in the recordings. I’ve also played live (mainly playing bass/guitar and in the 90’s, sampler and keys) in a few other bands since 1984.

And finding your stuff online?

My main output has appeared on Reverb Worship and Soft Bodies and odds and sods (plus the albums I’ve created in the past that I never really bothered to promote etc) on my own Bandcamp site, I also use Soundcloud as a test base for sounds/ideas/improvs – I like to see the reactions to avenues I’m thinking of exploring etc.

Where did the name Midwich Youth Club come from? Have you gone by different monikers in the past? 

The name springs from John Wyndham’s “The Midwich Cuckoo’s’ which is a fave book along with the film version  ‘Village of the Damned’ . I liked the idea of the Midwich kids getting up to all sorts of supernatural herbertry and If they formed a band what that would it sound like. Plus I saw similarities to the characters in JG Ballard’s ‘Running Wild’ (my fave author) which I thought should have formed a band.

I have gone by a variety of different and forgettable monikers since I started making music in the early 80’s, sending tapes of two tape recorder/four-track recordings I’d made, very occasionally putting ads in fanzines for the delectation of the Tape networks that existed then, the only one I can remember getting a slight amount of attention in the 80’s (two people bought it, Ha!) with a tape I produced called ‘Mesh’.

Your latest album, Dawdling, seems to maybe have a theme to some of the track titles. Almost seemed to be describing a – possibly troubled – day out in the park. Was there anything behind those at all or just plucked at random? What’s a Cyder Pirate? 

It started with an irate couple barging past myself and my partner Colleen on our High St because we weren’t going fast enough for their liking! This started a train of thought of why people need to rush for no good reason etc and not take in life at a reasonable pace – plus there’s my anti-captitalist leanings being displayed as well – Why do people fall for the work faster, harder mantra to make sure your employer gains a profit quicker/constantly regardless if you don’t have the energy left for a life outside of work? Which this sort of behaviour is a manifestation of. This lead back to the High St, where you can meet nearly everyone and see the different character’s behaviours that congregate, such as the Cyder Pirates on benches, launching raids and tirades on the passer’s by, fortified by White Lightning/Frosty Jack’s Cider.

It’s the flipside of the puritan work ethic that results in the need to be anaesthetised from the world  – extreme Dawdling! I’m not advocating that everyone be a lazy sod but, if you can, take in the delights of people and places rather than rush past them to your ever beckoning coffin.

Dawdling is very much in the almost joyful style of Gamification. Do you have a particular feel for certain releases you try to get across, versus the perhaps more casual works in progress? Or just a product of more time spent working on them? 

I do work harder on the ‘Official’ releases, the writing is pretty quick usually but the refining can take up to a year before I’m totally satisfied. I do try not to repeat myself stylistically but I do like to cultivate a MYC style, which I know is a contradiction but that tension between those points of view makes the writing process interesting. As long as the albums sound like an interesting, organic journey to my ears, I’m a happy chap!

Is there anything else you’re working on at the moment? 

I’ve actually wrote three quarters of the next MYC album – provisionally entitled ‘Fruit Salad Surgery’ after Xmas, I’ll start the refining process for another autumn physical release. 

The theme, this time, is around the colours, flavours and general vitality of different fruit and how a fruit salad is a nice metaphor for the life I’d like to have! I’m also sort of basing it around the animations of Bob Godfrey and his team of contributors, a man I’ve enormously admired since a child, to the point where I’d record episodes of ‘Roobarb and Custard. And ‘Noah and Nelly’ on my little tape recorder, held against the TV speaker, and then play them back them, interspersed with the various Punk/New Wave bands I’d recorded from TOTP etc.

What is the first album you ever owned?

‘Black and White’  – The Stranglers, 1978.

What kind of musical gear and instruments do you use?

I’ve accrued/sold a variety of kit over the years but these have stayed the course:

Different guitars/basses – mostly Fender – Fretted/Non-Fretted, Boss Vf-1 Fx, Line 6 Pod Pro X3 rack Fx, Focusrite Saffire Pro 26 i/o, Poly Evolver Keyboard, Korg MS200Br rack synth, Dx27 synth, Yamaha Fs1r, Siel Mono synth, different pedals, Kaoss Pad/Kaossilator, Akai S950 sampler (for the dirty low bit rate!)

Anything you couldn’t do without?

The Poly Evolver synth, it’s a pig to programme as they used really cheap Infinite encoders, whose values keep jumping rather than produce what you need but it sounds AMAZING! and constantly surprises me.

Can you give me a local flavour of Birmingham?

I’m based in Kings Heath in Birmingham, the Hare and Hounds is a great gig venue for both watching and playing in. Good mix of people apart from the Anti-Stroller brigades!

Space seems to be in the news a bit recently… So silly question: Would you rather live on the Moon or Mars? 

Probably the Moon as I’m an avid Space 1999 fan but it depends if they could be terraformed successfully and whether any Tory’s would control anything lol!

And last question – if you could pick a title for a review?

“Work shirking album by quirky berk shines light of hope from the Murk”

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