GIT Award nominee Bill Ryder-Jones reflects on life after The Coral, his current muses and who he’d like to see win the inaugural prize. Getintothis’ Jamie Bowman chats to the Domino Records maestro.
More than a decade on from The Coral‘s hyperactive debut album being dubbed ‘Cosmic Scouse’ by a fevered music press, few could have predicted that their youngest member, prodigiously talented guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones, would be musing on classical music, Italian literature and the perils of stage fright.
Now more than three and a half years since he left the Dreaming Of You hit-makers, 28-year-old Ryder is getting used to his new-found status as an acclaimed film composer, complete with five star reviews and a GIT Music Award nomination for If… a largely orchestral score written to soundtrack the Italo Calvino novel, If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller.
It all seems a long way from The Coral‘s original image as perma-stoned scallies obsessing about Captain Beefheart and weed.
‘You can’t be in something for that long without certain parts of it being cut into you,’ says Bill about his time in his previous band.
‘I really learned a lot about putting music together from being in the group and obviously my tastes grew during that time. I hope people can see a thread although having said that, my input into the last Coral album I was involved in was pretty weak.‘
This need to move on and express himself beyond the confines of a major label band has manifested itself in surprisingly high-brow fashion, but Bill’s explanation of how If… came about is pleasingly prosaic.
‘I think the idea to write a soundtrack to a novel and the idea to use If on a Winters Night a Traveller came in the same thought really,’ he explains.
‘I think in terms of gaining inspiration from the novel, it was easy. It’s such a thick and full piece of work, it’s so original.
‘The whole thing kind of came together after batting around some ideas with Ian Broudie and my girlfriend over breakfast one day. I’d had the idea and decided upon that novel before we’d finished eating.‘
With its images of war torn Eastern Europe and sinister sexual undercurrent it was clear that Bill’s usual psychedelic guitar workouts wouldn’t be sufficient for a novel described as a ‘playful postmodernist puzzle.’
Enter the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and a whole slew of interesting collaborators.
‘Working with the Phil was nerve wracking,’ says Bill.
‘I think aside from the fact we had six hours to get the five tracks recorded, which meant we had no time for computer problems or anything else. I also had to deal with the weight of these brilliant musicians looking at my scores and whatever they would think of them. It was on my mind that the day before they were probably playing Elgar or someone.‘
In keeping with the GIT Award‘s aim to reward music made in Liverpool, it’s fitting that despite its undeniably European sound and subject matter, If… is a project full of Merseyside talent.
‘It was important to me that we do the whole thing in Liverpool,’ agrees Bill.
‘I was lucky enough to get the Philharmonic involved and they’re obviously one of Liverpool’s great institutions. I also had a few brilliant local sound boffins there too in Darren Jones, Christian Hildebrand, Mike Crossey and Mark Crossey who all went beyond the call of duty in helping out.‘
Unfortunately there are still no plans for If… to be performed live (‘My nerves won’t take standing in front of people and doing anything sadly‘) but Bill is clearly a patriot when it comes to the GIT Award and Liverpool’s music scene.
‘I’m not always that aware of what’s happening with music in the city as I don’t often go to gigs but it’s safe to say that there’s always going to be at least a couple of groups or people doing something interesting that get noticed,‘ says an enthusiastic Bill.
‘Of the nominees list I’m very fond of Forest Swords and although I’m not a huge fan I like what Outfit are doing. I don’t really understand them as a group but I like that and I think it’s a good thing.‘
If… is out now on Domino Records.
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