First in the series of fan questions and answer sessions with the members of the band. Fans submitted questions to the band's myspace and through the official site, and some of the best were were put to the band before they took the stage at london's Hammersmith Palais.
This week: Simon Tong, guitarist.
When did you first meet and start playing with Damon?
- Kirsten, Chicago
There's a guy who works at Parlophone who, when he worked at Virgin, originally found The Verve, and I kept him touch with him from those days. And he was looking after Blur for Parlophone, and heard that Damon was looking for a guitarist to take Blur live, so he suggested I come down for an audtion, and it just worked out.
Why do you change your acoustic guitar into an electric one for Kingdom of Doom?
- Aurélie, from Saint-Médard-en-Jalles, next to Bordeaux, in France
It was just to make it more... to give it more balls, basically! For want of a better expression. Because of course it's acoustic on the record, and we tried it acoustic live but we just wanted to give it an edge really, give it a bigger sound.
Do you prefer working behind-the-scenes as a session man, or in a band like this one?
- Michael, Munich, Germany
Well I prefer being in a band most, as opposed to being a session man, you can get really into it, it's much nicer to be part of the whole machinery. The promotional side of things is okay. It's not too bad. It's pretty short and intense when it happens. I prefer working inthe studio I think. I'm enjoying playing live more as I get older, I used to hate it, I used to get so nervous that I couldn't enjoy it. But now I'm starting to enjoy it
What was it like for you coming back to play a gig in your hometown for the first time in years after having international success with Urban Hymns and looking out at Haigh Hall to see thousands of people had turned up to see you play in what turned out to be one of the best and most memorable gigs that Wigan's ever had?
- Laura Carter, Wigan
It was alright playing there again [laughs] . The Haigh Hall gig, it was quite stressful because it was such a big day. It was our own big festival so we couldn't really enjoy it that much. There was so much pressure I suppose. But looking back on it, it was great we did it. We had Beck supporting us, and it was just amazing to see Beck playing in Wigan! Probably the most surreal thing I'd ever see. It was good.
What do you think of the new arrangement of Herculean, as played live? I am thinking about the strings arrangements as opposed to the earlier version of the Roundhouse gig with just guitars?
- Francesca, Milan
I like how it's going. We've been building up the live show, it's getting more and more each time. On the record there's a lot more layers and things like that. Originally when we first started playing we wanted to keep it as stripped down as possible, it was going to be just the four of us, we weren't going to have a keyboard player - but it was too hard for Damon to do all the bits and sing at the same time. But we've just gradually brought things in and built it up. We got a keyboard player and then string players, and a saw player [laughs] just building it up. It's growing! I think with the songs on the record, even though there are many layers to them, they're quite minimal. So there's room to build and build on what's on the record, without just sticking to reproducing it - with the instrumentation, building the elements in, and so on. I think it's a good thing we're changing things around, you've got to do it a bit if you're just playing the album in order. Obviously you can't mess it up too much, but it's nice to stick a few nuances in there.
My question is,what is your favorite song to perform live? great album by the way guys,love it.
- Eugene from Sylmar,CA,USA
Three Changes has always been fun to play live. It lifts up the tempo a bit in the set. There's quite a few I enjoy really, but that one's always quite fun to play.
Was a studio version of Intermission Jam, from the Devon and the Roundhouse gigs, recorded?
- Jack Smith, London
We never got that down in the studio, it was just something that happened in the rehearsal room. In fact, I don't know why we don't do it anymore actually, I think it just got forgetten. We should resurrect it.
Do you prefer the live or the studio sound of the record?
- Judith, Barcelona
I think it has to be different. Well, that was one of the reasons why I started played the electric guitar more onstage, because the sound of the electric is so much bigger. And it's just horses for courses really. It's hard to choose between the two, both sides have their merits. Maybe live is a bit more edgy, a bit more punchy. But I suppose it's the record that people will be putting on in twenty or thirty years.
What are the bands favourite tipple??
- Kim Piper, Abderdeen
[laughs] We seem to have a lot of rum for some reasons. I think it's Paul who's instituted that. I'm like Tony I prefer whiskey! We'll have to get a bottle of whiskey later tonight... but we've drunk so much rum I can't actually touch it offstage now. I can see what'll happen, in six months' time I can see it happening, I'll have a rum and suddnely think I've got to be onstage...
What do you think the best show you've performed so far was?
- Christy, Ohio
The one we did in Berlin was really good actually, we didn't really expect it to be that good, but it was a really good crowd. Also, we did a gig on the American tour in New Orleans which wasn't sold out - it was the only one that didn't sell out - simply because there's not that many people there to go to gigs and things. So it was only three quarters full but it was just a great gig, the crowd were so happy that people had come and made an effort to actually go there, bringing life to the music scene. So that was a very poignant gig.
How tired do you get of hearing "how did this band get together"?
- Ryan, Kentucky
It's all part of the game really. I don't know why they do it though, it's always in the press release anyway, the journalists just seem to ignore it
How did you/Who came up with the idea for the 'Kingdom of Doom' video?
- Liron from Israel
We weren't going to do videos at all, that was the original idea. Then we were just thinking, if we're going to do one, let's do a counterpoint to the song, which is quite emotional and quite dark, quite melancholic and dark in places, so the video was the opposite to that, very mundane, something from everyday life, just cooking a meal and sitting around eating it.
With all the various ingredients in the four musicians make-up, Rock/Afro-Beat/Pop/Punk/Reggae....Did the sound you made when you all came together for this album surprise you at all?
- Mark Gillespie, Glasgow
No, not really, it was just nice to get a bit of everyone in there really. It was kind of a middleground where we all could meet. That was what we first said when we sat down to play together, that was the sound that came out. It was very natural, it was the sound we came up with when we started playing together.
Would you care to elaborate on the "Lion King version" of 80's Life ? That song is a firm favourite of mine now but it took me a while to fully appreciate the more restrained studio version in contrast to the more openly melodic live outing.....so I wondered, as the song evolved, did it sound more like the way it's played live now at one stage ?
- Hendrik, UK
It was a different time signature actually, it didn't have the fifties kind of feel to it. It had a more Swingy kind of feel to it, very different to studio and live. Of the songs that we recorded in Nigera, Nature Spings kind of made it even though it changed quite a lot, the vocal melody and the chords are the same. Behind The Sun was the one that was most unchanged, the guitar's still there. Even the drums, and Damon's vocal is pretty much the same. Paul hadn't added his bass obviously. Of the stuff from Nigeria, that's the one that's closest to what's on the record.
Last edited by 2-J
on Sun Oct 21, 2007 3:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Click on the logo to visit the site!