|The Dowling Poole - Uber Rock Interview Exclusive|
|Written by Martin Haslam|
|Sunday, 12 June 2016 03:00|
Two years after their debut album, ‘Bleak Strategies’, comes another potential Album Of The Summer from The Dowling Poole, ‘One Hyde Park’. Cut from a similar cloth as its predecessor, with lush moments of distinctly English psychedelia, huge pop tunes and harmony vocals to make Brian Wilson swoon, it also feels more cohesive. Genuinely odd couple, Willie Dowling (The Grip/Honeycrack/Jackdaw 4) and Jon Poole (Cardiacs/Wildhearts/God Damn Whores/Lifesigns), along with vocal powerhouse Givvi Flynn, have settled into their own sound. I have so much to ask them ahead of their gig at Bedford Esquires, so little time…
I was going to start by asking where the band name came from, but I thought you might want an easier question to start with……
Givvi Flynn (GF): I didn’t come into this until after a year of them getting together, so I had no involvement!
Willie Dowling (WD): I thought anything with Flynn in would be too Erroly. Then we were D.P. I had no idea what that meant ‘til Jon mentioned it.
Was there a big change in the recording/writing process with the second album? It seems more cohesive as a whole.
WD: Is that how it sounds to you, as a listener? I’d be interested to know. Would you know which songs are primarily me or Jon?
I’d have guessed that ‘Empires, Buildings And Acquisitions’ was mainly Willie?
WD: Yeah. ‘Paper, Scissors, Stone’,being a bit Beatlesy, people assumed was me, but it’s mainly Jon. And ‘Saving It All For A Saturday’ people thought was Jon, but was me.
Jon Poole (JP): When we met on Ginger’s ‘555%’ project, I’d been wanting to write songs in a particular way for a while. Meeting Willie, I realised “this is the person I need to write with”. It felt like it already existed, somewhere.
WD: It sounds trite, but it’s true, that we clicked so quickly on our first album, but when we came to the second one, like you say, it was instinctive. We didn’t say anything, I think if we’d thought too much we’d have fucked it up. We just got on with it. The collaborative process wasn’t too different.
JP: It was naturally easier second time around, as we’d got to know how one another work. There was no plan, it fell into place. But, we’ve learnt from each other; Willie likes a good 3 ½ minute pop song, and mine can veer off a bit, which was a good lesson for me.
WD: And I learnt new things about pornography, which I’d had no idea about…
JP: ‘D.P’, for instance!
Moving on! Listening to ‘Fight, Fight, Fight’, it seems to me that Jon might have a taste for advert themes/jingles as an influence. There’s always something in the songs that catches your ear quickly.
WD: Having written a few myself, it’s not that different from writing a pop song. It’s a good exercise in trimming the fat. That’s what I think we had on the first album. But we also have to have layers in our songs to draw people in, but it’s a good analogy.
JP: I have a real nostalgic thing for music from ‘70s ads, it’s true, but particularly from test cards. Also, the ‘for schools and colleges’ programmes on T.V. They were like post-psychedelic music, completely out of time, even then. Now, they sound great.
‘Vox Pops’ and the “none more Brian May” solo; who’s idea was that? I love it!
WD: It was going a bit that way on the demo. The outro vocal had a ‘Killer Queen’ feel to it. So, when it came to the solo, we both thought, ‘fuck it, let’s go for it!’
JP: Didn’t we have to ‘de-Queen’ it a bit because of the wah-wah? (Laughs)
‘Adam And Eve (A Secular Hymn)’ and the great line “absence of evidence is evidence of absence”. Where did that come from?
WD: I’d heard it somewhere before. I’m not as atheistic as Richard Dawkins, but I do feel strongly that there is no evidence to support any religious belief, though there are questions that require answers. There is such a resurgence of all fundamental religious beliefs; it’s not just an Islamic thing; bullshit. Go to America and see the Christian right-wing, they are as violent and abhorrent as anyone else. It’s a scientific age and you can’t be ambiguous any more. Those ideas are redundant, it just won’t do any more.
JP: So, yes!!!! (Much laughter)
‘American Teeth/English Pride’, made more sense once you have a lyric booklet in front of you. The words are so fast, you need to read to absorb them.
WD: It’s partly about the superiority that can be prevalent in America and England, in different ways. It’s hard to recall them all; we’re not playing it tonight. The sense of empire that still pervades, that worries me, but also America becoming the dominant culture, and how easily we followed them into the Iraq war. It needs questioning; the idea that we are superior because of our history. Artistically, culturally, we’ve a lot to be proud of, but that isn’t the dominant voice. We work better collectively for the good of all.
You’ve said recently, “with the first album, we were tilting at windmills, and now there’s more to tilt at”. So, two years on from ‘Empires, Buildings And Acquisitions’, who could have predicted Trump’s terrifying progress?
WD: It almost feels prescient. Yes; I am a prophet! Make sure you say “he laughed”!
He employed these terrible tactics to try to buy part of Scotland for his buddies. Now, witness One Hyde Park, the most expensive property in Britain. Disparity of wealth like we’ve never seen before, and here is this monstrosity in London, largely unoccupied, and the owners are the tax avoiders of the day. It’s disgraceful. We write about it but, like the Trump thing, we probably can’t change anything.
JP: It really fucks me off! (Laughs)
Yeah, you’ve been oddly quiet, Jon. What words of wisdom do you have to bring this interview to an end?
JP: Trousers, fish, creosote!
And, on that bombshell, we leave The Dowling Poole to bring popmungous joy with a dark underbelly to Bedford. We need them more than ever.
Photos by James A Grady.