The trio of twentysomethings in the English trip-hop band, Morcheeba,
thought they had enough to deal with in trying to tour and promote their
hypnotizing debut, Who Can You Trust? . Then David called.
is David Byrne, formerly of the Talking Heads, and, according to band member
Paul Godfrey, he called because he was so impressed with a cassette of their
at-that-point-unreleased debut, a rich, psychedelic blend of trip-hop (anti)
beats, dirty slide blues and siren song singing from vocalist Skye Edwards,
that he wanted them to co-produce his new solo album.
"We were thrilled,
to say the least, we grew up listening to the Talking Heads and we're really
big fans of his," says Godfrey about the prospect of working with one of their
inspirations. "But we simply didn't have the time, so we agreed to do one track
at first and that became three and we ended up doing nine."
one aspect of the collaboration that made it a smooth experience was that Byrne
brought no expectations...
Godfrey says one aspect of the collaboration that made it
a smooth experience was that Byrne brought no expectations about what Morcheeba
would add or subtract from his sound. "He knew that we were willing to
experiment a lot and he brought certain elements that worked on his demos and
those bits were kept and the ones that we felt didn't work, we tried to shift
and replace with something more suitable."
The quartet finished all nine
tracks at the band's South London studio in less than a month, in an
environment that Godfrey describes as "fresh" and "exciting." But when pressed
to articulate how the final results might greet skeptical Byrne fans, Godfrey
deadpans, "It sounds like a David Byrne record."
Okay. More specifically,
Godfrey noted "Daddy Go Down" features younger brother Ross on sitar, along
with a Cajun fiddler, his turntable scratching and hip-hop beats. Other tracks
swing from reggae to funk and acoustic country folk, with typically Byrnian
names like "Fuzzy Freaky," "Amnesia" and "Dance on Vaseline."
one of the things that surprised the band the most about working with Byrne was
how "normal" he was. "We always thought he was a mad kind of guy who'd be
really interesting to work with, but he's actually sort of more balanced and
stable than most people you'd ever meet in your life. There's a weird kind of
calm that comes out of the mad hysteria of it all. We'd go out every evening to
a nice restaurant and get really drunk together and have a good chat."
Even though the collaboration is barely three months old, Godfrey says he
feels secure in declaring it "one of the best periods of my life."
Morcheeba make their live U.S. debut on December 9 at the Double Door in
Chicago as part of a four city mini-tour. Godfrey promises they'll be back for
a "proper" tour in 1997. "Right now we're just fucking knackered from three
months of touring to promote this thing." The still-untitled Byrne album will
be out in early-1997.