Glasswerk had the privilege of covering a live show put on by the Levellers earlier this year, and having not seen the band for many a year were completely blown off their feet at the astonishing effort and showmanship of the band. Truly a band that even non-fans can enjoy. They have also managed to retain a constant flow of decent albums over the past almost 20 years now.
They are returning again this same year for another tour and also are about to release a new live album which was recorded at the Royal Albert Hall called, er, “Live at the Royal Albert Hall.”
Having managed to grab a few words from front man Mark Chadwick last time; this time out we managed to grab even more words from the Fiddler himself Jon Sevink where he discusses his long term role in the band, live shows, Zebedee, the forthcoming material and arsonist children!
You guys seem to really give it your all in every show you play. Where do you all get the energy and enthusiasm from?
I don’t know where the energy comes from, it’s always been like that. As soon as the music starts we all go bouncing around like Zebedee. The enthusiasm comes from not having a job.
You’re quite the fleet-footed fiddler. Do you find it makes your stage performance all the more interesting to keep on the move; as opposed to standing on the spot?
I don’t know about ‘fleet-footed’! I think my style is more like a baby giraffe with a broken leg. I tried standing still once, it didn’t work. Got terribly paranoid about how ridiculous holding a violin under the chin looks, nothing to cover up the belly unike a guitarist. Shirt-front flapping in the breeze…..uurgh….Must dance, BOINGG!!! HERE’S ZEBEDEE.
It was also nice to hear a B-Side at the show earlier this year (“Dancer Before the Storm”). Did you guys select that for any particular reason (cult fan following? Rare material)?
We come from the old ‘respect the B-Sides’ school of thought, when singles were meant for the jukebox and you had to have 2 good songs not just a remix of the A side or another album track on the flipside. I love all those early B-Sides.
So you are releasing this new live performance on disc soon. What was the thinking behind this idea?
We thought it would be a terrible shame to play the Albert Hall and not record it so despite the extortionate ‘facility fee’ we did and it sounds pretty fuckin good. We’re releasing 10 tracks available for download and a 13 track CD through ‘On The Fiddle’, for the fans.
Did you think that it needed more tracks on the disc, you guys normally cover more material when performing live?
I didn’t want to subject listeners to the whole 2 hour show. It’s that ‘had to be there’ thing. I know my attention span isn’t that long. It’s really highlights from the gig.
You also have yet another upcoming tour? Seriously don’t you lot ever rest?
We’re touring in Europe and UK throughout November (see website for details..Blah Blah). It’s only when you rest that things start to catch up with you…..!?!
And when you do, what do you normally as an individual fill your time with?
Explaining to my 9 year old son why he can’t set fire to everything……Or buy a gun……Or watch Kill Bill…….It’s endless, you get the idea.
I asked Mark this questions earlier this year: what song to this day do you still really enjoy playing the most?
Carry Me. Love it.
And also this: If you met someone who knew nothing of your music and they wanted to know what song and album to start with; what Song and Album would you direct them to that best represents the “Levellers”?
One Way, Levelling The Land, easy.
Not to demean anyone’s role in the band, but you kind of have one of the key roles as fiddler? Do you feel there is any added pressure in this role to write songs, or fill others writing with your own input?
I always think I’ve got one of the easy roles. Writing lyrics is the hard bit, I have extreme admiration for lyricists. I never got around to playing another instrument and the violin isn’t a chordal instrument and therefore difficult to write songs on but as a band we lend a lot of ideas to each other which is great.
As a Song writer/ musician do you draw inspiration from any other artists?
It’s much better to steal ideas than be inspired.
What outside of the music world inspires you to compose music?
It’s all therapy
Do you find it get’s increasingly difficult as time and albums go by?
It’s always been the same process. Start composing, feel bereft of ideas, huge self-doubt and loathing, give up, black, black depression……..refuse to give up, have one last go, a spark ignites a chain, creation, boundless joy. Fairly straightforward really.
Have you ever considered solo work? Either as a Violinist (like Ed-Alleyne Johnson) or as part of some other project?
I met Ed-Alleyne Johnson. Good violinist, Strange guy. I have an album out! It’s called ‘All Kinds Of Disorder’ and was recorded with Nick Burbridge from McDermott’s 2 Hours. He reads his very dark poetry whilst I create sympathetic soundscapes for him to sit on (apparently). Available now through the Levellers website at a low, low, once in a lifetime opportunity, never to be missed.
What was the last DECENT album you bought?
Sonic Attack by Hawkwind. I know it’s old but it brought back such memories! I liked the Fleet Foxes album, and Bon Iver. I prefer to download illegally …
I sometimes see an artist on stage and draw comparisons to the way they look with other people (and Simon is looking a little bit Willie Nelson nowadays). Have you ever been compared to anyone? (My money is on Rhys Ifans!).
Shit! I’m supposed to try to keep this short. Ok. I suggested to Mark the idea of doing album specific tours as they hit their anniversaries. Would you personally get any enjoyment (retrospective or otherwise) doing that?
We recently performed our first album ‘A Weapon Called A Word’ in it’s entirety WITH B-Sides (!) at our Beautiful Days Festival. It was very different than structuring a normal live performance. We had a lot of fun rehearsing and playing it. Maybe we’ll do them all eventually? (Can’t wait for ‘Hello Pig’!!)
Right I’ll bugger off for now and let you get back to the real world.
Thank you for your kind indulgence, I’ve got to go and pick my son up from school. Make sure he hasn’t set fire to the place. It’s only a matter of time.
The album: “Live at the Royal Albert Hall” features songs from the albums “A Weapon Called The Word, “Levellers”,” Zeitgeist”, “Mouth To Mouth” and “Letters From The Underground”
The track listing is as follows:
1) No Change
3) Together All The Way
4) Before The End
5) Chemically Free
6) Death Loves Youth
8) Hope Street
9) This Garden
10) Men An Tol.
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BIRMINGHAM 02 Academy
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