Friday, 28 December 2012

A very talented (sleeping) giant

Made up of singer/songwriter Greg Matthews, producer/musician Neil Treppas, session drummer Lee Bradbury and guitar player Michael Reed from Mutineers, Manchester band Bauer have recently released their first album, Sleeping Giant. It is a delicate album full of tasty melodies and warm lyrics that are soaked with emotions. Bauer’s songs transport you to a peaceful state of mind and let the imagination soar. The following interview with Bauer’s guitarist Michael Reed reveals more about this unique band and the long gestation of their amazing debut album.

1. I ask this question in most of my interviews as I am always very curious about the origin of bands’ and albums’ names. Why Bauer and what are the connotations of your album’s name, Sleeping Giant?

We were originally called Barfly but had legal problems with the chain of music venues that had the same name so had to change the name fairly swiftly. More than anything "Bauer" is just a cool word and looks good in print... Also it's not a million miles away from "Barfly" in sound and look so it was a pretty easy changeover in terms of both fanbase and artwork. I think the sleeping giant thing comes from the fact that the album has taken such a long time to get out and probably should have been out there making hay quite a while ago. It's major label music made on an indie budget but musically, soundwise and melodically it's as good as, if not better, than anything out there.

2. I find your songs very cinematic. To me, Sleeping Giant could easily be part of an indie film’s soundtrack, and definitely is the kind of music I would listen to while contemplating the landscape on a train journey. What is most characteristic of any Bauer song is that they seem to be made of a contrast between the electronic and the melodic, and no matter how strong and powerful the sound may become in some of the tracks, the singer’s voice always remains calm and peaceful. Is that the kind of atmosphere you were pursuing when you created this album and what would you say are your musical, lyrical and vocal influences in that respect?

I think it's just the sound that we make when we get together and thrash it out in a room. There's a wide range of influences but the main thing is that there's always got to be a memorable riff or hook. Of course we love stuff like the Lost in Translation music that Kevin Shields did and more recently the film stuff that Trent Reznor did for The Social Network soundtrack and we've actually written quite a bit of unreleased film type music over the past couple of years. The next album is of course going to have a lot of melodic songs and poppy anthem stuff that so many people love about the band, but I think that soundtrack-ish sort of sound and feel is a direction that we're probably heading towards.

3. You have already recorded the music videos for “Feels like Heaven”, “Connected” and “Starting Again”, which is something that many indie music bands choose not to do or can’t afford to do. To what extent do you think music videos are a good way to engage a potential audience and create a fanbase?

It's just cool for people to have that option to see what the band is about in a visual sense, as to whether it gives us any more kudos in a commercial sense or even helps us sell more albums I'm so so sure.... We're into the stuff that Anton Corbijn has done for Depeche Mode and some of the Joy Division and Factory Records visuals, so it's just another side to things for us. In the future if we make more music videos I think they’ll be less of a band performance thing and more of a mood and visual thing, mainly because we're not all 21 and in our first flushes of youth... and also because the music lends itself to that sort of thing to a degree. 

4. Speaking of the videos, I was checking them out on your YouTube channel when I noticed they have been there for a good while already, so I assume that the making of Sleeping Giant has been a long road. What kind of constraints did you face in terms of song composition and the recording process?

Well, as we sort of touched on earlier, the album had a long gestation period so you'll notice that the videos and the early EP’s and singles came out a while ago. If anything, it gives it a little more interest for somebody new that gets into the band; if you work hard enough you'll find a whole wealth of material and cool stuff about the band to divulge.

5. It is still unbelievable to me that many great bands will never be in the limelight, even if that may not be the goal for some of you. The lack of financial support sometimes means the end of a band and, subsequently, the creation of more good music. Do you also feel any lack of support on the part of the audience, most of whom tend to follow the mainstream bands? And that leads me to the following question: Are people brainwashed by commercial music radio stations or are they just losing their taste in music?

A lot of it is obviously based around money and also there's still a ridiculous stigma attached to bands if they've been around a while and haven't had that hit record or bit of commercial exposure. I think if you look at the history of a lot of bands that are so-called “box fresh”, you'll find that the main players most of them had been around in previous incarnations or projects in the past. Certainly with the likes of Kaiser Chiefs and Franz Ferdinand. The good thing for us is that the internet and social networking has opened things up a little for us and put us on almost a level playing field like some of the major label or larger indie label bands. If you work hard and have excellent music, you'll find your audience even if it isn't on the scale of the likes of Coldplay.

6. Almost any musician will agree that their favourite thing about being in a band is playing live. What are your expectations in terms of touring and future gigs? Is touring abroad a possibility?

We've already played in Denmark, where we had a bit of National Radio airplay a while back but that's certainly an aim. We'll probably concentrate on the UK in 2013 but if any opportunities present themselves then obviously we'll be up for it.

You can purchase Sleeping Giant on iTunes and listen to the album on Soundcloud. Check out Bauer’s YouTube channel to see their videos and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

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