After releasing the highly acclaimed album “Cold Bouncy,” the High Llamas are in dry-dock for at least a little while as the band’s vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Sean O’Hagan re-teams with Stereolab percussionist Andy Ramsay and guitarist Tim Gane in England for the second release from the side project Turn On.
Musical cross-pollination is nothing new for the High Llamas, who are part of a close- knit circle of artists that includes members of Stereolab and Tortoise among others. As O’Hagan recently told MTV News, while the family of artists shares a common musical lineage, their union was forged by other forces as well.
“It’s based on friendship number one,” O’Hagan said before taking the stage at New York City’s Tramps nightclub recently with his fellow Llamas bassist Jon Fell and percussionist Rob Allum.“We live very near each other, and we’ve kind of got shared histories as Tim (Gane) came from McCarthy and Tim and Jon (Fell) came from Microdisney
and that very confused 80s sort of thing. We had a shared interest in experimental West coast music, German experimental music, European soundtrack music.”
“To a certain extent, certainly within the British music industry,” O’Hagan continued, “I think both bands are somewhat sidelined from what we’ve come to know as a very efficient, voracious pop industry which demands certain very regimented formulaic behavior patterns which we obviously don’t seem to adhere to. So I don’t know whether our working partnership is based on the fact that were occupying the same corner, or because of the shared artistic background” [1MB QuickTime].
And while it might seem that a side project like Turn On can stand as a distraction, O’Hagan said that he and everyone else involved look to Turn On as fertile creative ground where the seeds for future projects can first take root.
“That’s a project that Andy Ramsey,
Tim and myself forged about a year ago,” O’Hagan said of Turn On. “That was very much a sort of experimental test ground for some of the ideas that ended up on (Stereolab’s) ’Dots And Loops’ or ’Cold And Bouncy,’ and to be quite honest, I think that I can hear some of those ideas trickling onto Tortoise records as well, obviously because John McIntyre of Tortoise was involved. A lot of those ideas were actually taken from Turn On into the ’Dots And Loops’ project. It’s kind of nice to know that it’s a musical community that you can communicate with.”
After testing the boundaries with Turn On, O’Hagan will rejoin the High Llamas to play a number of European festival dates this summer. The band also hopes to hook up with a U.S. tour this summer as well.