The Oxford, UK-based pop band Jonquil has gone through some major changes over the past year. The most notable of which is downsizing from a seven piece into a quartet. Recently, I had the chance to ask guitar player Robin McDiarmid a few questions about where the band is now and their upcoming album release.
Dan Cordie: Could you share with us a little bit about how your lineup change has affected your forthcoming album?
Robin McDiarmid: Losing the three members last year made us really reconsider what we were doing. We could either replace them all and keep going for the same type of effect or use it as an opportunity to go somewhere new. We went for the latter and put three into one. I think the music has ended up clearer as result of it. Even with the best of intentions, we would sometimes end up fighting for space. It’s also meant we had to think differently. Before the others left, we’d been playing together for so long that we knew what exactly how to play with each other, which meant we really had to switch on and think differently when we changed into a four piece. We hope it helps it to come across in a new way as a result.
DC: How has your recording and writing process evolved since you formed the band?
RM: The start of Jonquil was pretty much just Hugo experimenting in his bedroom. From that point obviously the band started to form but we kept going with the bedroom recording. The songs from the early recordings tended to be built layer by layer on the computer. When we started writing the EP, One Hundred Suns, we thought we’d try writing like a normal band, all plugged in and thrashing things out in our basement until we were happy with the noise we were making. Whilst we enjoyed the energy that process brought to the songs we thought that for the new album, Point Of Go, we’d write and record it somewhere between the studio, the bedroom and wherever we could rehearse. Fingers crossed it makes it a little more considered as a record as well as having that little bit of studio sparkle.
DC: What has been the greatest challenge with the recording of your new material?
RM: The time frame! From the first writing session to the end of recording it didn’t span much more than about six weeks. It was probably exactly what we needed though, It felt like we were on countdown but it helped us to focus.
DC: Can you let us know about some of your greatest influences in general and on the new album?
RM: We all have pretty divulging influences between us; Chic, various shameless 80s synth feel good records, Ali Farka Toure, Toumani Diabate, but we’ve also really been appreciating things like Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon, artists who could deliver timeless and just beautifully crafted songs, even if we haven’t ended up sounding anything like them.
DC: Have any of the new tracks been played live yet? If so, how have they been received?
RM: We’ve aired three or four of the new songs at the live shows so far, other than some early errors remembering song titles people seem to be getting on with them, thankfully.
DC: Do you have any surprises in store for your album launch show in London?
RM: We’re going to play Rumours start to finish, without interruption.
DC: Will you be embarking on a more extensive tour, possibly internationally, following the album dropping?
RM: Yeah, and we’re pretty excited about it. First stop is at SXSW and onto some other states in March. Then back to the UK and then on and into Europe, which we’ve been pining for as we have some incredible memories. So we’ll pretty much be flogging that horse till it whimpers.
DC: What feelings do you want people to experience as they listen to Point of Go?
RM: We didn’t set out for a specific mood, but hopefully people will feel less cynical about things by the end of it. If not, it’s only an hour of your life so you can throw it away and go back to feeling morose afterwards.
DC: Where do you hope to be as a band by the end of 2012?
RM: If by the end of year people will still let us write songs, release records and play shows we’re not going to complain.
Be sure to catch Jonquil out on the road in support of Point of Go.