Interview: Eugene McGuinness
Published on July 26th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
London-based odd-pop marvel Eugene McGuinness returns on 6th August with stonking new single “Harlequinade” and brand new studio album The Invitation to the Voyage (click here to pre-order it), so Rocksucker caught up with him for a bit of a chinwag, the transcript of which you might want to read while getting a simultaneous earload of aforementioned stonker, embedded here for your listening and viewing pleasure…
Are the lyrics of “Harlequinade” based on real personal experiences?
It’s just kind of cooked up from my imagination, really, like a lot of the album is. Parts of the record are based on real things that people experience, but that song just crawled out from the back of my head, really.
What can you say about the album for those who haven’t heard it yet? (Feel free to be as abstract as you like…)
It’s like a modern pop record, which is what I wanted: it’s very shiny, very dance-y, and I wanted it to sound fucking amazing in a car or a club or something like that.
You have a refreshingly original sound, to my ears. Do you think the current UK scene needs a splash of colour, to be shaken out of complacency in any way?
I’d say it needs a bit more honesty. I tried to make a record that was individual to what I’m about, didn’t really think about how it would sit alongside anybody else. Maybe that’s what it needs: people pre-plan things too much, market things in certain ways that seem to think so little of kids, rather than trying to make something genuinely different. There’s a bit of that but not enough.
Some of your songs remind me a bit of of Montreal. Are they an influence?
I’ve heard of the name but I don’t really know any of their music, to be honest.
Get on it immediately, sir! Perhaps start with the album Satanic Panic in the Attic.
Okay, I’ll check it out! Are they from Montreal?
They’re not, actually.
That’s annoying. (Laughs)
Anyway, how did you come to the attention of Domino Records?
Years ago I was playing a lot of shows in Liverpool and Manchester, playing anywhere that would have me, get my name around and get people hearing me, and they got on it through MySpace and stuff like that because there were a lot of gigs being posted up, and I was firing around a lot of free demos at the shows. So they got in contact with me, got me playing anywhere they had up north, then they offered me a publishing deal, I moved down to London and it happened gradually from there.
They’ve been great: they wanted to build me up slowly rather than just give me six months to try and get on Radio 1; they let me write, play and take my time with the whole thing.
I’ve been trying to place the noise that begins the LP version of “Monsters Under the Bed” [the above video is the single edit, sadly without noise] and my guess is that it’s the ‘Game Over’ music from Super Mario Bros. 2 on the NES…
That’s right, there’s a lot of Mario going on on that record [2007’s The Early Learnings of Eugene McGuinness]. I was only 18 but I should have known better, to be honest, should have been finishing the record instead of playing Mario all the time!
Don’t be ridiculous: those old Mario games are psychedelic works of art, and thus primo songwriting inspiration!
That’s it! (Laughs)
Are there any other up-and-coming and/or obscure artists that you’d like to recommend or give a shout-out to?
I always big up my brother’s band Swanton Bombs: they’re brilliant, a blinding rock and roll band, and anybody’s who’s seen them play in London has been blown away. It’s pretty serious stuff and I think you’ll be hearing a lot more about them because they’re heading for the top.
Finally, if you had to spend the rest of your days with the back catalogues of just five different musical artists, whose would you choose?
The Beatles, obviously. Neil Young. Marvin Gaye. Frankie Valli. And David Bowie.
Eugene McGuinness, thank you.
Eugene McGuinness’s excellent new single “Harlequinade” will be released 6th August, with an album The Invitation to the Voyage (click here pre-order it) to be released the same day, both on Domino. For more information, please visit www.eugenemcguinness.net
Eugene McGuinness will play the following live shows in August and September…
3rd August – Corsica Studios, Elephant & Castle, London (In The Woods Festival warm up show)
8th August – Proud Galleries, Camden, London (Music Week Breakout)
17th August – Parr Hall, Warrington (supporting Miles Kane)
23rd August – Birthdays, Dalston, London
29th August – Notting Hill Arts Club, London (Death 2 Disco)
Sep 14th – 16th – Festival No.6, Portmeirion, Wales