Artists of the week: Terracotta ArmyOctober 22nd, 2009
Marching through the EDM scene in a fierce, stiff tempo, it’s the Terracotta Army that breaks tradition and brings us a clash of different sounds on ‘Stealing Souls’. Mick Park, Nick Britton, Alex Brown, Kev McGee and front man Dave Mackenzie combine, discuss and work hard to create that special Army sound. No ‘left, right, left’ could ever beat their sound. ‘Stealing Souls’ has just come out on AVA Recordings, and thus it’s time to face these troops of the positive dance music war with some issues. Be on guard, as Mick and Alex tell you all about their mission.
The persons concerned
The guys behind the Terracotta Army all have their own history in music. Involved in different project under several guises, all five of these musical masterminds have grown their own specialties. An excellent reason to put the heads together. Despite the differences, the men have known each other for quite some years already.
Mick: “I guess Nic and myself have been working together since 1993. TILT and Killahurtz were some of the projects we were involved in the past (with Mick Wilson, John ‘Quivver’ Graham and later with Andy Moor). All very successful in their own right, we had about 7 official hits in the UK charts together up to 2003. I’ve known our drummer for years, Kev has played percussion for us on a few things, so it was a natural progression he got involved with the Army.”
Alex: “I’ve known Mick and Nic since the mid 90′s through the dance music boom when they were producing as Tilt and Mick was dj’ing with Mick Wilson as Parks and Wilson at Cream in Liverpool. Dave’s an old friend and I played him the material Mick, Nic and I were producing and asked him whether he would be interested in coming on board as our singer. He thought it would be a great idea. Dave then introduced us to our new guitarist Malc who joined the group, and that’s where we are at right now.”
As said, these soldiers have been involved with several different projects over the past years. But this time, it’s Terracotta Army, full force.
Mick: “At this point in time it’s all about getting everything ready for the tour and rehearsing. I have always done side projects with various people but since we started writing the album we have all been very focused on getting everything just right. It’s just not an option at the moment; it’s all full time job mobilizing an Army!”
Alex: “At the moment there just aren’t enough hours in the day to think about doing anything like that, especially for myself as I also DJ, promote a successful night and do a monthly DJ pod cast. I’m also creating all the visuals for the band (alongside our tour manager Steve Wilks) for the live show. As you can see, I like to keep myself busy.”
Compromises & Debates
Having a mind of their own, Mick, Alex, Kev, Nick and Dave surely have to make some compromises in the studio. But in the end, the musical chemistry makes up for everything. Right, guys?
Mick:” It’s a bit of everything really, that makes it work. Up to now it’s been Nic, Alex and I who come with the initial musical idea. Dave writes the lyrics and along with Malc they come up with the guitar parts. It’s worked very well so I don’t see the need to change that anytime soon. Dave and Malc are very competent musicians in their own right so I guess that’s why it works so well. Kev is providing a lot of the drum parts for the tracks so it transfers very well to stage. For us, the Live performance will be just as important as writing the individual tracks for the album. It’s essential we get that balance from the start.”
Alex:”I guess the main thing is that we are all very musically likeminded for the main part. We are also good friends and bounce off each other, and respect each other’s opinions. Having said that, the debates have been known to get pretty heated from time to time but I guess that’s just part of the whole writing process.”
The core mission
To know how to accomplish the mission, we have to know what the army is build of. What better way is there to find out what this league of men is all about, than asking the guys themselves?
Mick: “The Terracotta Army is about making a musical impact; it’s an ethos we have taken with all our tracks so far. When we write a song we automatically think about how we are going to perform it. We have to approach it a little differently to our normal way of writing music.”
Alex: “For the last month we have been getting the live show together and it’s all about getting on stage and making a lasting impression on the audience. It will be a non-stop audio and visual assault on the senses!!”
The weapon: the Terracotta Army sound
Colliding the sounds and breaking the beats, the first single ‘Stealing Souls’ is one hell of a tasty swirl of styles. The only unfortunate thing about this, is that it’s hard to describe. A luxury problem which Mick and Alex will gladly help us out with.
Mick: “We were asked this on a recent radio interview; I described it as ‘a love child of Kasabian, The Chemicals and UNKLE’. It’s hard to explain, I would definitely say, it’s sonically very big and dramatic.”
Alex: “I guess we take inspiration from across all musical genres and Mick sums it up pretty well.”
Though Terracotta Army is often put down as a combination of rock, pop and dance, the guys don’t seem not to want to be pigeonholed.
Mick: “I certainly wouldn’t say it was pop. It’s just a fusion of what we are all into. The things around you influence the music, and so this is the product of that Ideal. It is a challenge, but that’s what life should be, it’s very exciting to see it all coming together now.”
Alex:”This has been two years in the making and there have been many challenges along the way. It’s not like we are trying to combine dance and rock music, we are just making music that we are all into, and like to listen to, it as simple as that.”
First strike: Stealing Souls
Different and original in every single way, ‘Stealing Souls’ has been travelling the clubs for quite some weeks already. From underground madness to main stage highlighting, ‘Stealing Souls’ stood out immediately. A maddening electro synth, classy guitar and raw edged voice get in perfect harmony on this one. So what can the guys tell us on this gem of a track?
Mick: “The musical ideas were from a backing track we had done over a few weekends. I liked the title ‘Stealing Souls’ because it was about stealing the hearts of our audience! A lot of DJ’s are playing the remixes on the package. Paul Oakenfold has been playing the Lee Jordan remix on his recent Madonna tour. Judge Jules has played Daz Baileys remix numerous times on Radio 1 and at his residency at Eden in Ibiza. So it’s had great support from the DJ fraternity and Radio alike.”
Alex: “Hiras and Nomad in the Dark’s mixes have also gone down really well and we are all massive fans of their work. Andy Moor also brought in Lens Flare to provide a final remix and this seems to have been well received with the trance DJ’s. As for something you don’t know’_. originally it was a full vocal track, but the music was so powerful we took most of the vocal out and used it only in the breakdowns.”
The plan & future
‘Stealing Souls’ may have given the guys a swell start, but what else does this infantry have to offer? How will they stay intact?
Mick: “As I mentioned before were currently half way through our debut album, so there’s plenty of material in the pipeline you might say.”
Alex: “Most of the new Army material we will be showcasing in the live show.”
With plenty of new stuff ahead, it’s only a matter of time before the Terracotta Army generates an army of loyal followers. Coming up in the future is’_
Mick: “World domination! Only joking, more of the same I guess. We relentlessly march onto bigger and better things; it’s a natural process from this stage.”
Alex: “Finishing off of our debut album and ultimately a rocking live show! If you go to our website you can join all our respective sites. We will endeavor to provide as much exclusive footage and material of the tour as we can, so please ‘Join the Army’.”