Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Interview: Death Vignettes

It’s easy to forget in the age of mp3s, laptop DJs and vocoders that modern recorded music dawned to a soundtrack of the blues. The blues in an emotive sense has certainly never left through the subsequent years, even if the sound itself has been largely discarded in favour of polished production gloss.

The Abattoir Blues nights at The Gaslamp bar seek to redress the balance by curating live blues line-ups and recording the results to capture the unrestricted sounds of musicians including Old Hands, Tyler Hatwell, Jackie O and bluesy garage rock duo Death Vignettes.

Death Vignettes headline the next Now Then show at Dulcimer bar and their guitarist Dave Brennan, who runs the Abattoir Blues nights, took the time to tackle our teasers.

Now Then: Can you give us a potted history of the Abattoir Blues nights?

Death Vignettes: Ourselves and Amelia Dean started the night back in October last year, we wanted to play a gig with artists that we respected and complemented our blues-inspired sound. The quality of the acts is very important to us. The atmosphere at each Abattoir Blues nights has been different as we have carefully considered which artists would work well together. We have tried to create each night to stand out and to have its own identity.

NT: What made you start hosting those nights and do you have any standout memories?

DV: There is a serious shortage of blues based nights in Manchester and we wanted to put a night on that we would want to go to. Our friends also have a passion for the same genre of music. We wanted to use the night as a platform for us all to perform our separate projects. Every night has had a standout moment due to all the great artists that have played. We strive to preserve these moments by recording each night. Listening back to the recordings also highlights our resident compere and his ability to get the crowd involved and creating a unique atmosphere in a small, unique venue.

NT: Who or what encouraged you to pick up an instrument?

DV: An inherent passion for the blues.

NT: Are there any blues musicians in particular who inspire you? Do you take ideas from other genres of music as well?

DV: Everything from classic blues musicians such as Howlin’ Wolf, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins right through to contemporary blues artists such as Jon Spencer, Nick Cave, Iggy Pop, Johnny Walker and Jack White.

NT: Where does lo-fi blues stand in these days of increasingly hi-tech music production?

DV: The blues will always be relevant. We believe that capturing the live raw sound and energy is more important than a polished recording. This sometimes gets overlooked in favour of a radio friendly production. We take inspiration from the way that the old blues artists used to record with a single mic. The recording techniques used back then would not be considered hi-tech yet captured the raw emotion of the music.

NT: Since reading High Fidelity, the messages in blues music often remind me of this quote: “What came first; the music or the misery? Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” Can you answer it?

DV: The misery inspires the music and the music inspires the misery.

NT: When is the next Abattoir Blues night and what else do you have lined up?

DV: The next Abattoir Blues night will be the end of May and we are also hoping to put on a festival around September time. Check our Facebook for details.

Interview & edits by Ian Pennington
Now Then flyer design: Craig Brown Beards Club Illustration
Posters: Courtesy of Abattoir Blues

Death Vignettes headline the next Now Then Manchester gig at Dulcimer bar in Chorlton on Thursday 10th May. Family Wolves, The Acoustic Conquistador and Dan Melrose are also performing at the show focussing on blues and folk music. Entry is free but any donations to support the musicians will be very welcome.

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