Eccentronic Research Council Talk
After telling tales of a late Tuesday night out, Adrian Anthony Flanagan indulges my lack of knowledge about his native Salford by joking that Paul Scholes has a Manchester City shirt closest to his chest each time he takes to the field. He is, of course, joking but one can't help but wonder if there are any secret allegiances at work. Probably not.
With a familiar sense of wit that anyone who lives above the Midlands will be accustomed to hearing on a daily basis, the wordsmith of The Eccentronic Research Council helps to keep the conversation on track while I bumble my way through notes and pockets of (not all entirely accurate) information that he's happy to correct me on without ever losing his rag, fortunately. Adrian and his musical partner Dean Honer may be seen as secondary figures to those in search of glory, having Maxine Peake involved in your project means that you may struggle to find yourself being the centre of attention, yet he tells me contact on Facebook led to a selection of strange visual collaborations.
"I'd like you to dress up as a bunny rabbit and let me chase you around the moor in Salford," Adrian recalls. Not a sentence that often pops up in conversation but you get the sense that there's not too much of the normal floating around where ERC are concerned. That's what makes them so alluring. Maxine's proposed payment for this jaunt? "I'll pay you in pickled eggs and Thunderbird," the bold, northern humour strikes again. She hasn't been paid yet mind.
So what exactly do ERC do? "Electronic audio taxidermists? Ouija, psychedelic pop? I don't know." Rather than consider the group's work as unique, Adrian simply states that "Everyone else is just really boring.
"We like to push the boundaries a little bit. We're like War Of The Worlds on a budget, funded by a giro." They're taking steps down the route of the concept album with their latest full-length offering Johnny Rocket, Narcissist And Music Machine…I’m Your Biggest Fan which follows the story of a fictional band called The Moonlandingz and an overly-attentive fan – the essence of which is captured perfectly by Peake in the video for the recent single 'Sweet Saturn Mine'.
As the electronic sounds of ERC combine with the angst-ridden offerings of Fat White Family members Lias Saoudi and Saul Adamczewski, The Moonlandingz spring straight out of fiction to flood your senses and keep your brain buzzing. "To give it a bit more depth we thought we'd create the actual band," it didn't take long to get the FWF pair into the studio. They've got all the necessary industry figures involved to make this seemingly false musical unit spring into life significantly more substantially than any of them had first imagined.
The connection with Fat White Family came off the back of an interview from last year and it seems as though a strong connection was made immediately, Adrian tells of how he felt in his bones that these new-found collaborators were destined to be massive. His bartering resulted in be requested to put together a remix of the single 'Touch The Leather', you can hear the resulting aural offering below.
"It's completely different musically from the original, but in a good way. It's really quite chirpy for us!" No arguments there. Adrian picks out the Radiophonic Workshop as being a particular sound-alike yet in truth there's very little music in the world that could find its way into the same pigeon-hole as ERC's back catalogue. However, when it comes to the sound of The Moonlandingz there's a greater element of pop within the sound that perhaps makes for a more commercially viable product – though this doesn't seem to have played any part in the group's thought process.
"If anything I think The Moonlandingz stuff is even more commercial than Fat White Family, it adds that pop sensibility to it." The contrasting aural outliers of ERC and FWF may be cancelling each other out in a sense, though the creative sparks from both outfits are still very much firing on all cylinders.
Adrian is no stranger to the music industry by any means, his former project Kings Have Long Arms saw him work with the likes of Philip Oakey of The Human League and Arctic Monkeys producer Ross Orton. This is a man who knows how to pick his collaborators well. "I used to put out limited edition 7"s. I did a track called 'Rock and Roll is Dead' with Phil Oakey. It's different, quirky electronic pop – I think I called it rocktronica. I was basically putting music out that I'd made in my flat. There were only about 500 of them in the world but we were always getting gigs."
Being a part of the ERC has afforded Adrian the opportunity to keep away from obeying the standard conventions of being in a stereotypical band, the group have performed in Victorian libraries and the like – not somewhere that you'd expect to see Taylor Swift putting on a show any time soon. He speaks fondly of their first performance at Festival Number 6 as one of his favourite on-stage moments. "We haven't played that many gigs but when we have played its been a sell-out.," the rarity of the group's live performances certainly seems to be working in their favour.
Describing social media as "a necessary evil", Adrian lists their Facebook and Twitter pages along with an Etch a Sketch as the band's key ways of spreading the word. "It was like an early iPad," he jokes. Analogue gear seems to be at the heart of the band, a Mini-Moog is among the list of machinery that gets regularly attended to when the music-making hats are on.
You're probably more likely to find Adrian in one of the smaller rooms at a club, or even at an old-school Sheffield warehouse party, than you are to see him performing his craft on stage. If you ever find yourself in the fictional South Yorkshire district of Valhalla Dale you might just come across him at a gig from The Moonlandingz.
Watch out for their fans though, I've heard they can be a little bit crazy.
Johnny Rocket, Narcissist And Music Machine…I’m Your Biggest Fan will be released on 18th May via Without Consent.
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