Interview with J. Willgoose, Esq of Public Service Broadcasting prior to their slot at Belladrum 2016.
Public Service Broadcasting as a concept could be perceived as a hard sell, with a mission statement to “teach the lessons of the past through the music of the present”. It shouldn’t work, but there is a passion and creativity behind the concept that has seen the release ,of long players, “Inform-Educate-Entertain” and more recently “The Race for Space” , to countless praise.
Convention would also say that converting their brand of music to a live show would not work. As is normal for Public Service Broadcasting convention can get thrown out the window.
There is indeed little conventional about J. Willgoose and Wiggleworth who return to the area to play Belladrum 2016 and we could not resist the opportunity to catch up with them;
Congratulations on the recent AIM (Association of Independent Music)nomination for best live act, how difficult is it to maintain the momentum of live performances?
I think the biggest challenge with touring is the travelling – I think it’s what a lot of bands get tired of. I’m ok with it still personally, mostly because of the payoff; playing live is the most fun you can have as a musician. It doesn’t matter how many 12 hour days you’ve done in the back of a splitter van, or long delayed flights in airports where they’ve run out of beer (and seats), as long as you get to play music at the end of it all then it’s still the best job in the world.
When you have spoken about the remixes of The Race For Space ,which have just been launched (sorry), there has been a surprising and refreshing lack of preciousness over your music, where do you think that has come from?
I think we are very fastidious, careful and protective when it comes to our music and our own output, but the reason remixes are so enjoyable is because you get to let go of all that and hand it over to someone you like and respect and see what they come up with. It’s great, when you’re a rampant control freak like me, to be able to let go of the reins once in a while and see where people go with your music.
Has Public Service Broadcasting got a specific plan or lifespan or do you think it will continue onwards for the foreseeable future?
I think we’re the same as any band, we’ll continue to make music as long as we enjoy it and as long as we feel we’ve got something to say. Because of the nature of what we do, we’ve had a lot of doubts about longevity thrown at us from the very beginning, but they’re really quite irrelevant to me – it’s not for journalists to decide on our lifespan or methodology or even our choice of subject matter. Our job is to stay ahead of them – we have to be the creative force, the ones with imagination. I found it quite amusing in the gap between albums one and two, reading so much “it’s difficult to see where they go from here”-type stuff, when I already knew exactly where we were going!
Channel 4 once referred to you as “Pop so highbrow, it’s nearly in orbit”, how do you feel about this interpretation of your music?
I think it’s a good, pithy introduction but I don’t really think it’s true. I think our music has a strong melodic and rhythmic element to it and that’s what carries any popular music, ultimately (or it should be, I’d suggest). I don’t think we’re particularly highbrow, personally – you don’t need a degree to listen to us.
As a band what are the challenges and advantages of playing festivals compared to other live gigs?
The challenges and advantages (as so often in life) are two sides of the same coin, really; the crowds at festivals normally are much more responsive and up for it from the off, they just want to have a good time so it can feel like you’re a couple of steps ahead of a regular show. The other side to that is that you really feel a responsibility – as we do at any show, but particularly festivals – to make sure people really enjoy themselves and leave with a smile on their face.
Given that you have showed a lot of love of the area with frequent headline and festival slots what’s attracted you to playing Belladrum this year?
It’s as simple as that, really – we love Scotland and Scottish crowds, and we particularly love the highlands and islands. It’s so beautiful and so dramatic that we tend to jump at any chance to come north of the border.
It’s the 13th year of Belladrum, do you have a superstitious side to you and if so any pre gig rituals that you have to do?
I was born on the 13th, so no. I try to avoid superstition in all its forms as one of the more primitive aspects of human thinking, but I do find myself having to tap aeroplanes twice for luck as I get on board – I hate flying and despite my best intentions it seems to have become a bit of a ritual!
Public Service Broadcasting play Belladrum 2016 (Time / Date to be announced).