When I first heard the Relict a few years ago, I was quite sure that I was listening to the Clientele. I had to look at the cover once again, and it did say ”the relict”.
The single was ‘Along the Avenue’, the band’s second single, and after a while I understood that the band was more or less the same as the Clientele, with the big difference being that the singer in this case was Innes Phillips, even though he sounded quite a lot like Alasdair MacLean. Innes had in fact at one point been a member of the Clientele, but had left the group amicably in 1999.
Anyway, the song was great, and I wanted more, but as I didn’t hear anything about them for a while, I was sure they had called it quits. But no no! Late last year, they released their long-awaited debut album, ‘Tomorrow is again’ (a great album, by the way!)
I thought that it was about time that this London-band got some attention. So, said and done, I hooked up with a busy Innes, as he was preparing to move to Australia, and asked him a little about his band…
When did you first become interested in music? What kind of music did you grow up with?
– My folks would no doubt say it was the time I gathered all their vinyl albums, took them out of their sleeves, placed them on top of each other and rubbed them all together, in what you might describe as a rather immature form of musical terrorism. Also an ill informed one, as I acquired a whole load of ‘slightly flawed’ Beatles album from the same source, years later!
I actually bought my first album when I was about 7 years old, which was ‘Absolutely Madness’, which I like to think has stood the test of time, though at that time it was only bought for ‘Baggy Trousers’, of course! I started seriously getting into music when I was round about 13 or 14 when Alasdair Maclean bought me ‘Closer’ by Joy Division. It was kind of a heavy intro into indie music on the whole.
Were you in any bands before the Relict was formed?
– Yeah, one or two, and they usually contained Alasdair, James Hornsey and Dan Evans (the three members of the Clientele), who was our drummer. I say drummer, but we didn’t actually own anything as grandiose as a drum kit… more of an… upturned drawer. Tapes do exist of these early forays into music, and I dare say that if the ‘Tel do get any more famous, there are one or two people who might be looking to make a quick profit. Not that that would be me of course…
How did the Relict come about?
– About a year after I left the Clientele, there was a bit of interest in releasing some of the songs that had been written whilst I was still with them, but most people whom I wanted to work with were already heavily involved in their own projects and bands, so I guess I made a virtue out of necessity and developed the idea that the Relict would consist of borrowed members of other bands, and allow them room to put there own idea into the songs. So I really tried to take a step back and not tell people what to do and let them do their own thing. Another way of looking at that of course is that I am either incapable of writing other peoples parts, or I am bone idle… make your own minds up.
What were your major influences when you first started out, and how have they changed during the years?
– It probably won’t be a major surprise to anyone to say that a lot of 60’s singer songwriters featured quite heavily as influences. Nick Drake is an easy one, and though I may at times like to be revisionist, I have to admit that when I went through all my old records recently, there were a good number of Pink Floyd albums. I also liked some of the harder stuff, but had to settle for a quieter sound, for no better reason than I just couldn’t sing all that well.
Why did you name the band the Relict?
– If it doesn’t sound too wanky (but it will…) it is supposed to refer to the music not being modern, arrgh it just sounds wanky!
Tell me a little about your band relations with the Clientele…
– Truth be told, the Clientele form pretty much the nucleus of the Relict, and I have grown up with the guys, so yeah we are pretty close and hang out a lot.. By which I mean, one day we will kill one another.
How do you write your songs? Music first, or lyrics first?
– Always music first, though that can take an age to come. Usually I start writing a song just before I have to go out, or when I have a hangover…don’t really know why that is, something to do with making freer associations of ideas when you are done in…
What is the music climate like in the UK at the moment for a band like the Relict?
– Looking at the sales figures of the album, I would have to say ‘poor’, though I would be the first to admit that I don’t actively push the band a great deal. Actually of all the countries that the album has gone to, the UK sales are probably the lowest.
Can you make a living out of your music? If not, do you have a ”regular” day-time job?
– For my sins I develop code for a living, for a product that maybe .0001% of the population might know about, and even less care about! After I get married in November, Sarah and I will be taking some time out, and I really hope that I can use the time to find some sort of other way to make a living, because it does seem a waste of a life to be in an office. But chances are that I will go back to the same old, same old!
If a major label would contact you for a deal, would you be interested?
– Probably not, because in that world, I will also have won the lottery (which I don’t subscribe to) and would be living a life of the idle rich!
If you could choose one pop song that describes your life, which one would it be?
– Some days ‘Nothin’ by Townes van Zandt, other days ‘And Suddenly’ by the Left Banke. It just depends which side of the bed I get out of, really.