Gregg Cave is one of the many talented singer-songwriters that are coming out of the UK's underground folk scene. Gregg very effectively combines old traditional tunes with his new contemporary compositions. He has recently released a studio album entitled "Old England Grown New" and continues to tour the UK, both as a solo artist and with a backing band.
We caught up with Gregg recently to have a chat about his music and his latest album, it can be read below. Also, be sure to check out our review of the album which is also in this feature.
PART 1 - THE INTERVIEW
Hi Gregg, hope you're well. The first question we always ask acts that are new to the blog is what kind of records were on around the house when you were younger and who are your big influences?
Gregg: "I was brought up on a steady flow of folk rock and prog rock. Bands such as Lindisfarne, Jethro Tull, The Strawbs, Tom Petty and Aphrodites Child. One of the biggest influences from my childhood was Alan Hull, the frontman and songwriter for Lindisfarne."
As you know, we have only just discovered your music via your new studio album, "Old England Grown New". Can you give is a brief overview of your career to date?
Gregg: "I've been writing and singing in public since school days. I've fronted all manner of indie type bands through my teens. I gradually got more into folk rock and enjoying mixing old trad songs with electric instruments and mixing them with my stuff. I put together a band called CAVE and we played all over England and bits of Europe, playing festivals and toilet sized venues, one of our highlights being Sidmouth Folk Festival. I'm now finding that going by my own name as a solo artist is a lot less restrictive but I still enjoy playing and recording with musicians that I've been playing with most my adult life!"
Your new LP is a great folk rock album and sure to do very well. It has a very English feel to it. Would you say that is a fair assessment and was this what you were aiming for?
Gregg: "Like a lot of writers I didn't set out to make a particular thing but as the songs started being recorded there was definitely a theme that came out and I am quite happy with that. You're not the first person to say that it has an English feel to it so maybe you're right!"
The album features three traditional compositions. One thing that has always fascinated me is the vast array of traditional songs that are recorded by folk artists and they all seem to be as good as the last! Where do you discover these beautiful, old songs and how do you choose which traditional songs that you want to perform or record?
Gregg: "I read a lot of old books and note down anything interesting that I hear or read. I've picked up songs from my local town library and made the pilgrimage to the famous 'Cecil Sharp house'. My passion is giving the old songs a relevance to where we are now. That can be whether they have a good beat or melody to get a night started or the words still ring true today. The title track of the album I believe is a good example of the latter."
One of the traditional songs you recorded, "The Bonny Lass Of Anglesey", features a fine fiddle part from folk legend Dave Swarbrick. How did he get involved and what was it like recording with such a legendary figure?
Gregg: "I met Swarb by booking him to play a gig in my local town. I then crossed paths with him a year later when performing at the Cambridge Folk Festival. I mentioned the album and he was up for it. It was a pleasure and an honour to work with him."
It has to be said that the original tracks on the album are just as good, if not better, as the traditional ones. One of my favourites is "The Bunny Run". This track does have a very classic folk feel to it but still has a very fresh edge. What influenced the track and what is it about?
Gregg: "'The Bunny Run' is the nickname given to a main road that leads into Northampton town centre. These days it's an infamous pub crawl and back in the day young people would wear their best rags and 'court' down this road. My nan told me this so it must be true! That inspired the song and its evolved into a song that talks about landmarks in my hometown, some of which have been torn down and ruined forever by bad council planning but the people will always be linked by the river that flows through the town and our blood itself."
You say that you are organising a tour in support of the album. How is this coming and can you release any details to us?
Gregg: "Yes, we plan to be on the road throughout the end of this year and into 2015. I'm putting together a new year tour in Germany and we'll be hitting the folk clubs and festivals in England. Gigging is what we do all the time. So my advice is to keep an eye on the website as we are always announcing shows."
After finishing the tour what is up next for you? A new album?
Gregg: "Like I said the gigging doesn't really stop. I reckon by the tail end of next year I'll be looking at getting some more stuff onto record if not before. I am writing for an exciting project that's a bit secret at the moment so hopefully that'll get me out and about more too, any news will be on the website."
Final question, who would be in your dream super group?
Gregg: "Drums - Ginger Baker, bass - Dave Pegg, guitar - Jimi Hendrix, spoons - Miley Cyrus and lead vocal - Woody Guthrie."
PART 2 - THE QUICKFIRE ROUND
Favourite band or singer?
Favourite new band or singer?
Gregg: "Over The Hill by John Martyn."
Gregg: "First Utterance by Comus."
Vinyl, CD or download?
When you press shuffle on your iPod, what is the first track that comes on?
Gregg: "What's an iPod?"
Gregg: "Excalibur, the 80's version."
Favourite TV show?
Gregg: "In The Night Garden."
Who would play you in a film of your life?
Gregg: "Ian McShane."
Gregg: "The Hammers."
PART 3 - THE REVIEW
Gregg Cave's brand new studio album is sure to become a classic English folk album. Entitled "Old England Grown New" it blends contemporary folk sounds with the more traditional approach as well. There is an array of different approaches to the tracks; "Aida's Lullaby" is a solo instrumental, "Last Day" (featuring words taken from a John Clare poem) is just a duet with fiddle and melodeon and tracks such as "The Bunny Run" are brilliant folk rock songs with a full electric band.
It certainly starts with a bang with a fine rendition of the traditional ballad "The Bonny Lass Of Anglesey". This track also features some fine fiddle work from none other than Mr Dave Swarbrick who gives the track a very traditional feel. The percussion and thumping bass also adds to this and bring the recording to life, giving it a very live feel.
There are a further two traditional tracks featured on the album; the title track and "An Atheist's Grave". Both of which are pure and brilliant, however Gregg Cave also has the talent of being able to write great folk songs in his own right. "Born Of This Land" perhaps demonstrates this best and is a song that Richard Thompson would've been proud of writing. Again, this track features a great fiddle part. "The Bunny Run" and "Ancient Hymn" also provide highlights amongst the original compositions, as does album closer "William Morris-Wat Tyler"; a beautiful ballad.
Cave is not however purely limiting himself to the folk genre and the Americana / country and western influence is evident on "Down By The Lake" and "Ancient Hymn", both original compositions from the Northamptonshire singer-songwriter. These tracks are comparable to modern alternative country artists such as Ryan Adams and Eric Church, so there's definitely variety in this album.
The lead vocal throughout is also exceptional and deserves a mention. It sounds as if it has been lifted from an early Fairport Convention album, which is no bad thing!
Overall, this album is as good as it gets in modern folk rock. It has a solid footing in old, traditional approaches but Cave brings a very nice and fresh original take on the folk music genre.
Hope you enjoyed this feature on Gregg Cave, be sure to check out previous feature on Crash Club!
You can check Gregg Cave out at the following link - http://www.greggcave.com/
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