“…we are not prepared to give away a piece of our pie without some significant investment.”
Cambridge band Fred’s House have just released their debut album Bonnie & Clyde (reviewed here). David Waterfield caught up with Vikki Gavin for Midlands Rocks to talk about the band and their hopes for the new album.
David Waterfield: For those who don’t know, how did the band come together? And why the name ‘Fred’s House’?
Vikki Gavin: We started out as a duo, just Griff and I known as ‘Griff and Vix’, we had written a few songs and were casually just playing a few coffee shops and acoustic clubs in London. We wanted to record the songs before embarking on a 6 month stint working as the resident musicians at a hotel in the Algarve and asked Griff’s brother Gafyn if he would also play Bass for us. He said he would also bring the remains of his band in Cambridge who were disbanding at the time. So he brought with him to Fred’s House (a little home studio in Coventry) a lead guitarist, Lachlan Golder, and our old drummer Alan. After just one weekend in the studio, we decided we have to do this and asked the boys to wait 6 months for us to get back from Portugal. They did, and we began forming Fred’s House properly in November 2010. Although 20 shows in, we lost our drummer and 2 and half years after that we got Paul Richards on board to drum for us.
DW: ‘Fine Life’ is an excellent song (and it’s one that I can relate to!) Can you tell us a little bit about it?
VG: This song sums up our life and a lot of peoples I should imagine, it is about living for a good time, living for the weekend, getting through the daily grind, getting by on very little. For us it’s getting to play our music and living the life of a musician, even if it is just around the day jobs. It is also a comment on our social conditioning on a deeper level (how we’re all waiting in the cold) but perhaps, let’s not go there!
DW: There’s a lot of different influences in your music – the West Coast pop/rock of the late sixties and early seventies, folk, country, Indie – which artists do you draw inspiration from?
VG: It’s a long list! But up there would be the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, CSNY, The Beatles, basically all the stuff our folks would have listened too, but it’s the era we love and is the best music ever made! There’s heaps of modern influences too like The Swell Season and The Civil Wars.
DW: You’ve released this album independently on your own ‘Cracking Tunes’ label. What made you decide to go down the independent route?
VG: Well, we had been offered a couple of indie labels but it would mean handing over some of our profit! I think at this stage of our career and in this age of independent artists, we have the tools at our disposal to connect directly to our fans. We recorded the album by funding it from our band kitty, which is money we have made at gigs from performance fees, ticket sales and CD sales. That’s why we are not prepared to give away a piece of our pie without some significant investment.
DW: Griff and yourself are both songwriters. What comes first for you, the melody, the lyrics or the subject matter?
VG: This is probably the trickiest question of all. I think you can start with either but we have realised that if you have a clear idea of the themes, an idea for a chorus or even just the opening line it can be a way into the song. We always try to write honestly, about how we feel or an experience we have had. I often find ideas come when I am not trying to think of an idea at all and there’s no pen and paper/recording devises nearby! We wrote ‘Fine Life’, for example, while I was doing the cooking and Griff was just tinkering on the guitar. When your body is doing something monotonous then you almost free up your subconscious mind which allows ideas to flow freely. Other ideas have come when I have been riding my bike, in the shower… you get the idea.
DW: How did you go about selecting which songs to include on the album?
VG: We had the set of songs we performed live basically. We knew they worked in front of a live audience we just had to make sure they fit on a record. Lachlan our lead guitarist also writes a couple of songs for the band, and he wrote the title track ‘Bonnie and Clyde’. We felt it almost tied up a lot of the ideas and themes on the album and it was the last song to go on the album so that was the only process really.
DW: What are your ambitions for this album and for Fred’s House?
VG: I sincerely hope this album get a few more heads looking in our direction, I know it is our best work to date and hopefully it can be a spring board to bigger and better things. As long as we feel we are moving forward, we’re still loving making music together as a band and we continue to grow our fan base as we have been, then I don’t see a reason to stop.