Guardian Interview

A few things to catch up on. Lets start off with a cracking interview that was in today’s Sunday Observer. The band spoke to Luke Bainbridge last week whilst at Jodrell Bank performing a couple acoustic tracks for the Guardian website.

Highlights of the interview include the band talking about bouncing guitar riffs off the Moon like a giant delay pedal, as we reported on last year. Jez also confirmed that Hot Press misquoted him with regards to the coming tour being the band’s last.

Even given their habit of recording in strange locations – including under a flyover on the M62 and a deserted Benedictine monastery – Doves‘ wheeze last year was far-out stuff. Sitting in the shadow of the towering Lovell telescope in Cheshire, guitarist Jez Williams is telling the tale of the band’s cosmic rock experiment here. “I basically used the moon as a massive delay pedal…” he laughs. “It doesn’t get more prog rock than that!”

It’s not quite what Sir Bernard Lovell had in mind when he established Jodrell Bank observatory in the aftermath of the second world war. Lovell was primarily concerned with investigating cosmic rays, and the observatory has since played a key role in the research of meteors, quasars and pulsars. But last year Doves, who have a love affair with Jodrell Bank that stretches back over three decades – to when they visited the site on a school trip – came up with a slightly more rock’n’roll suggestion.

After Jodrell Bank had successfully bounced voice recordings of astronaut Buzz Aldrin and Professor Stephen Hawking off the moon (to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landings) the idea was hatched with resident astrophysicist Dr Alastair Gunn to do the same with a Doves guitar riff. Dr Gunn is a “huge fan” of the band whom he sees at “the pinnacle of British indie rock”, and when he’s not staring at the skies, he plays lead guitar in a local group who cover “Catch the Sun” by Doves (“Pretty well I think!”).

“He had a load of dials on a box. I plugged into it, he just dialled the moon, like you do,” explains Jez Williams, who it’s fair to say is a better guitarist than he is an astrophysicist, “and two and half seconds later it [the riff] comes back. It messes up the signal beyond recognition, it’s pretty wild. We’ve got a recording of it that we’ll definitely use at some stage.”

“Put that in your fucking pipe, Rick Wakeman!” laughs singer and bassist Jimi Goodwin.

The guitar signal was actually sent from Jodrell Bank’s control room, via ISDN, to its sibling radio telescope in Cambridge, which transmitted it to the moon, and then the Lovell at Jodrell Bank picked up the part of the signal that was reflected back off the Doves’ side of the moon… like a cosmic delay pedal.

“You should have been rocking a cape when you did it,” smiles Andy Williams, the drummer and Jez’s twin.

To read the full interview and see an acoustic version of Kingdom Of Rust, click here.

Also check out the video of the first ever interview by parabolic reflectors!

Then yesterday (Saturday) the band performed a couple acoustic tracks for BBC Radio 2’s Dermot O’Leary. They performed Andalucia & kingdom Of Rust, they also spoke for a little bit. To hear it it all, head over to the BBC iplayer link from here.

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