the AU interview: Yan Scott Wilkinson of British Sea Power (Brighton, UK)

We look forward to welcoming you back to Australia! Are you looking forward to making it back Down Under?

It should be fun! It was the last time. I wish we had more time to hang around though. It is going to be literally (and metaphorically) a flying visit.

What are your fondest memories from your last time in Australia?

Probably when Phil found a special outfit, kind of tropical Tom Selleck/ Detective in some shops and wore it on stage. We met some friends of a friend later who didn’t know him and thought he was a “dork” who had wandered on stage by accident.

You’ve toured with some of the biggest bands in the world over the last few years – who have been some highlights?

Well you’d be surprised with their music being so dark, but Interpol were the most fun. Looking forward to Status Quo soon!

Who would you like to work with in the future, either touring or recording?

Probably (the artists) The Chapman Brothers or Rob Halford.

You released your fifth album, Valhalla Dancehall, to rave reviews earlier this year. You’re touring it in Australia, so let’s talk a bit about it. Where did you record the album and who did you work with?

It was recorded mostly in a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. I lived there especially just to record and people would stay for a while at a time. We worked with Graham Sutton again (formerly of Bark Psychosis) and a couple of other people remixed a song or two. It was pretty DIY for what turned into such an epic sounding album. We engineered ourselves and got help on the mixing front. It was a bit of a learning process and an experiment to work without a studio. It was quite a long journey by the time we finished and we were almost left at our wits end.

What was the inspiration behind the title of the album Valhalla Dancehall?

It was the least stupid of the ten on the short list. Unfortunately, the least daft things often prevail. If things had gone different, it could have been Revenge of the Gender Benders or Creme Brulee.

It feels as a natural progression from your earlier material. Solid, more mature – a full sounding record. How do you see it?

It started off as an experiment and a chance to do anything. A lot of strange stuff was recorded that hasn’t seen the light of day. But in the end, it was a fairly natural progression rather than a weird departure. We did an EP too of slightly more oddball, offcut behaviour which was even 45 minutes long and still had too much stuff.

The video for “Who’s In Control?” is seen as controversial, showing images of teen rebellion, violence and nudity. What message do you feel the video sends across?

It’s a pretty daft video, really – a bit like a soap opera episode for teens combined with a hint of Super Cannes by Ballard. It would have been good if there was a scene where the riot police had been sprayed by the students’ sex juices perhaps. I think they took the line “Sometimes I wish protesting was sexy on a Saturday night” and took it in its most obvious direction. I don’t know what the message is. A lot of people think it’s a protest song, but it isn’t. Not in the traditional sense anyway.

Why did you decide to release a mini-documentary of your time on Isle of Eigg?

It seemed like a suitable place to celebrate finishing our record. It’s a tiny island where they have a lovely tiny festival. There aren’t any laws really and it’s beautiful and other worldly.

How have your experiences been at SXSW? I imagine you have played it a few times!

We have played it a few times. It’s always crazy and something strange always happens.

What’s next for British Sea Power?

Australia, China and Japan via Cornwall. Oh, and we’re making a new record. One that will be a lot less epic hopefully.