"I want it to be pop music - but with a difference" - Richard Warren, Echoboy
The difference is clear: one man, a myriad of ideas, and a sparking new pop vision for a new era
The theory is simple: "You listen to a Bob Dylan record, listen to a Television record, listen to a Kraftwerk record, listen to a Chemical Brothers record and then put it all together. All these are the best people of their day, so if you put it together then you should have the perfect hybrid," says Richard. Perfect pop music both captures the moment and transcends the era. Love pop music and you'll love Echoboy.
The richness of Echoboy's vision is Warren's lifetime immersion in sound. As a teenager, he learned heady guitar licks from Hendrix, went on the front the power trio The Hybirds and was courted by Oasis when they found themselves suddenly guitar-less. The Sun, when they discovered he had turned them down, awarded Richard the immortal accolade: "He's not mad for it - he's just mad!"
Richard had already left the conventional music biz route, holed up with an 8-track and a Casio and set about creating new worlds from above his mum's hair salon in Nottingham. Putting out his debut 'Flashlegs' single on Pointblank records in July 1998, shortly followed by the 'Echoboy' album, he set tongues wagging throughout the press. "Bruce Springsteen meets Kraftwerk" reckoned the NME. "Faust via Stereolab," added Time Out. More singles followed: 'Scene 30' on Earworm, an unprecedented double 7" 'Pure New Wool' for the Rough Trade Singles Club.
While the press argued the toss between Krautrock and Primal Scream, Mute's Daniel Miller travelled to Nottingham to hear an entire album's worth of newly recorded material. Echoboy signed to Mute in March 1999, beginning the liaison with the stunning, backwards-masked, Bobbie Gentry-sampling 'Canada' from the 'Frances Says The Knife Is Alive' EP. His first album for Mute , ‘Volume 1’ followed, preceded by the single ‘Kit and Holly’. Taken from the album, this was a pop gem which further consolidated Echoboy’s support with the U.K. media .
"Vol. 1", moves through a slipstream of atmospherics, grooves and warps. 'Model 352' mimics a production line: hissing pistons, infectious rhythms which begin at once to invade and disorientate the mind and make the body move. The inspirations: Kraftwerk and Iggy Pop. "Iggy's first records were directly influenced by his surroundings in Detroit, he would hear the factory hammers beating at the Ford Motors plant and he wanted the Stooges to sound like the production line."
Further along the voyage, 'Broken Hearts' belies its ethereal electronic wash with darker, malevolent beats. "I like beautiful music," Richard considers, "but I also like that dark side. That song could be looked at from either side. It's like Steve Reich meets The Stone Roses' 'I Wanna Be Adored'.
Things get still more intense as the atmospheric 'Constantinople' slide into the ominous guitar-bow riffery on 'Crocodile Milk'. Then, the tension is broken by the sublime 'Walking', a sparkling homage to breathy French 1960s pop.
"Volume 2", the third Echoboy long player, his second for Mute was released only six months later than the critically acclaimed "Volume 1" and saw the incredibly prolific Echoboy deliver probably his strongest set of songs to date , including the Suicide inspired single ‘Telstar Recovery '.
Echoboy toured extensively last year, aided by various musicians, including members of Spiritualized and Six By Seven. In converting the best of Richard’s work to date the band delivers a truly psychedelic experience that has enthralled audiences across Europe whilst supporting Add N To (X) and in Britain where they’ve toured alongside Doves and Elastica amongst a string of successful headline shows .
"It's not been like, the pop thing's finished, I'm going experimental now," Richard declares. "It's just that I'm signed to a label now that allows me to do experimental music. I don't want to get caught up in some little bedroom scene; I want to sell records. I try to be really honest with my music and if there's a surprise element to the album, where people don't know where it's going next, then that's good.
"I want people who like Echoboy to be curious," he concludes, "and discerning, too. They don't have to like everything - cos then you don't have to work to a blueprint, or define your style. I want to leave the doors open, so I can go in any direction."
Prepare to be infected.