Soft Hearted Scientists
Soft Hearted Scientists are Nathan Hall, Dylan Line, Paul Jones and Michael Bailey. (Sometimes they let their genius producer, Frank Naughton drum for them) With five albums under their belt, the latest being ‘False Lights’, I felt it was time to probe the thoughts of this "kitchen sink psychedelia’ outfit who use gnomes as weapons against objectionable rock bands. I caught up with Nathan via facebook messaging. How hip are we?
SoundsXP: So you’re from Wales but are you all still living there? If so did you feel the earth move the other day? (This isn’t a sexual question, this is regarding the earthquake that rocked Wales recently)
SHS: Three of us live in South Wales and one person lives in Shropshire. I think that was in North Wales, so I did not hear it, although I did hear my bastard neighbour’s shit music until 6am the other morning.
SoundsXP: Wales is home to a lot of great music, who, if anyone, influenced you growing up?
SHS: Really obvious stuff like The Beatles, Byrds, Doors and Love. Later on I got into things like early Gorkys Zygotic Mynci, Beta Band, Furries, Air.
SoundsXP: When did you start up as a band? How did you meet? Was it really in the Himalayas over a flask of coffee?
SHS: The band was sort of formed around Easter 2001 with just me and Dylan "finding our sound" in a Mighty Boosh sort of way. Tears of rage and joy were shed as we gradually found it.
SoundsXP: ‘Soft hearted scientists’ is an interesting name for a band. Who came up with it and why?
SHS: I think I saw some references to it in a book or magazine. It seemed to fit the idea of experimenting and avoiding evil like slap bass.
SoundsXP: I love the way that you describe the instruments that you play. My favourite being ‘Massed Impulse Buy Broken Rusty Stringed Autoharp Sympathetic resonance’. All joking aside your sound is rich. How do you bring that sound together?
SHS: Anything goes. Any instrument, any sound, any sound effect.
SoundsXP: For ‘Face smacks’ do you slap each other or your own faces?
SHS: Only our own faces. There would be a temptation in a tense recording session to smack each others’ faces just that little bit too hard and trigger an SHS WWF smackdown.
SoundsXP: Do you really think that garden gnomes can shield you against the grey rock demons?
SHS: I certainly thought that inserting one up the back passage of objectionable rock bands would do the trick.
SoundsXP: What affect do you want your music to have on the listener? One of our editors missed his train stop; he was so engrossed in your music. Perhaps your albums should carry warnings?
SHS: I certainly hope it adds something to a person's day when they listen to it and that they feel they are entering another world for a while.
SoundsXP: Your music has been on the receiving end of ‘critical acclaim’. How does this make you feel?
SHS: It is always good when people like the music.
SoundsXP: Your music is a bit ‘out there’ if you understand what I mean. Do you think that it’s a bit ‘too out there’ to become, dare I say the word, ‘Popular’? Would you like every household to have copies of your album?
SHS: Unfortunately without a serious cash injection for promotional purposes we will always be a tiny cult outfit so we are unlikely to ever find out whether we could have mass appeal. I doubt we'd ever trouble the top 10 even with promotion but a very diverse range of people of all ages have told us they like the music.
SoundsXP: I have not had the chance to listen to your fifth album, ‘False Lights’ yet. I’m expecting great things. How far removed is the sound from your first album? Can you see where your music has evolved?
SHS: This album perhaps takes a few risks sonically and is a little edgier lyrically and more obviously rooted in reality. It’s still perhaps magic realism with a bit more of the realism and anger at the state of the world. But it’s not preaching to anybody.
SoundsXP: I love ‘Tornadoes in Birmingham’. Are you going to write a song now called ‘Earthquake in Wales?’ Maybe you could do an extreme weather album set in the UK?
SHS: Perhaps "Monsoon in Glamorgan". I’m fed up with the crap British weather.
SoundsXP: Your personalities really come through on your website. Whoever is responsible for it, good job. In cyber land you’re funny, interesting fellas. In real life are you boring farts who listen to Kenny G?
SHS: In reality we are pretty interesting but are all tied down to jobs and routine which makes for a healthy amount of reality to get frustrated with and seethe about and kick against and no chance of us succumbing to something as tedious as cocaine or heroin habits. A healthy tension perhaps.
SoundsXP: I love some of your titles such as The Yongy Bongy Bo. Edward Lear would be proud. Is poetry a great inspiration in your music?
SHS: Not that much. But books certainly are.
SoundsXP: Who is responsible for your album covers?
SHS: Me and a talented designer called Ifan.
SoundsXP: What next for the Soft Hearted Scientists? Any gigs? More albums? I hope so.
SHS: A single from the album called Song From the River. Work starts on another album this summer!
Conduct an experiment and check out Soft Hearted Scientists today. I’m off to listen to ‘False Lights’...