Perhaps known best for his decade of loyal servitude with Spiritualized, Sean Cook has continually striven for musical perfection. His previous project Lupine Howl (LH) released a couple of neglected LPs, with SC writing the music, playing bass and singing the alternate melodies. LH notably worked redundantly with fellow Bristol band Massive Attack (who never used the material produced for their below par ‘100th Window’ LP).
Now, what Cook refers to as being ‘the best music I’ve ever made’, sees his return with new ‘hypno-rock’ project The Flies. Working with The Insects (former producers of Massive Attack and Goldfrapp material) to make suitably sinister suppressed noise sounds to accompany Cook's dark and twisted tales of life and its seldom tickled underbelly. SC kindly took time out to answer some of my questions.
AS: Who chose the sharp and sinister imagery etc?
SC: The Flies imagery has been pretty much a group effort between all three of us (Sean Cook, Bob Locke and Tim Norfolk) working in conjunction with our graphic artist Andy Jenks. We really didn’t have to think that deeply about the imagery because the way we have visually presented the band seems to us to be largely pre-determined by the music. The sleeve artwork for our new single ‘High’ was taken from a photo, taken on the set of the video we’ve made for the track. The video is directed by Julien Temple ( anything from the Sex Pistols to Earth Girls are Easy!).
AS: Where do you draw inspiration from for your songs?
SC: The inspiration for our songs comes from a variety of sources and can come from anywhere really. Musically we appreciate a wide variety of sounds and many of them find their way into our stuff in some form or another. With this album we have been particularly influenced by the likes of Roy Orbison, 1960s girl groups and the slightly stranger acts of the late 50s/early 60s who seemed to me, to make superficially beautiful pop songs which, when you delve beneath the surface, have a peculiar, disturbing darkness hiding. We have also been influenced by kraut-rock acts like Kraftwerk and Can, along with some singer/songwriter stuff such as Neil Young and some soundtrack stuff too.
Lyrically, I tend to focus on oblique and unsentimental subject matter. Instances of human failings seem more interesting to me and more reflective of what I see around me. Some would say that this is depressing but I think it’s far more depressing to watch everyone attempt to pretend that everything is good and beautiful and that it’s all going to work out fine. It always strikes me that people who pretend in this way always seem to be far more depressed than I am.
Many people would like to believe that love is all you need, but I tend to think life would get a bit tedious without a bit of hate being thrown in there.
AS: What artists would you most like to collaborate with?
SC: I have to say that I don’t think about that question very much. I like just doing our stuff and letting others do theirs. Although I must admit that because we have all already collaborated with other people such as Dr John, Massive Attack and Elizabeth Frazer, we may have satisfied the collaborative urge. You have to admit, it’s hard to top jamming with Dr John! We thought once about doing a duet with Beth Gibbons. She was up for it but, as yet, we haven’t been able to write an appropriate song. Her voice is so good that practically anyone singing alongside her runs the risk of looking a bit shit!
AS: Why the somewhat blunt name (compared to previous projects)?
I have always found thinking about names for bands to be a bit of a pain in the ass. It’s not that I don’t consider them to be important, it’s more that we tend to get wrapped up in the music and are then suddenly faced with having to give a name to the project. The Flies was the only name that all three of us could agree on and I like it, if only because I was getting bored of people mispronouncing the names of my previous bands. Sometimes promoters would even spell the name incorrectly on gig posters leading to a few Spinal Tap moments and there are enough of those moments in the music game already.
AS: When you're not making music, you're…
I spend nearly all of my time making music or doing things which aid my ability to make music in some way. Sometimes it can be a pain in the ass but it still beats working.
Thanks for your time Sean.
The Flies release ‘High’ on the 3rd of September and is available on 7” vinyl (b/w ‘My Atonement’) and as a download bundle which features a fucked-up acoustic version of ‘High’ as an extra track. It’s accompanied by the Julien Temple video too. Their debut LP ‘All Too Human’ is released on the 29th of October and is available on CD and download. You can ‘catch’ (no pun intended) them live on the 7th September at The Louisiana in Bristol and on the11th of September at the I.C.A in London.
Official website: link