Listening to Turin Brakes’ Mercury award nominated debut album again, its warm, finely-judged melodies have very clearly stood the test of time.
More to the point, it’s quite hard to believe it has been more than a decade since the release of The Optimist LP, with the passage of time having allowed for plenty of thrills and spills touring the world.
Along the road, they’ve shared a stage with some of the biggest names in the business, yet they appear to have lost none of the raw passion and belief that has infused their music from its earliest moments.
As one half of the band’s songwriting duo, Olly Knights, explains, it’s more than likely his life-long friendship with Gale Paridjanian has seen them emerge through the best and worst of times.
From hitting the top ten with Painkiller, to facing strained relations with the group’s original record company, their inevitable creative highs and lows have instilled them with commendable resilience.
There’s clearly plenty of anticipation surrounding their sell-out return to Worthing, following their first visit last year to St Paul’s Arts Centre. This decidedly fine old building is as close to being an ideal venue for the band as you could hope to imagine.
Its intimate feel, fine architecture and equally impressive acoustics are spot on for their trademark vintage sound, which is ably enhanced on tour by drummer Rob Allum and bassist Eddie Myer.
“We wanted to come back and play Worthing as it was such a lovely gig last time,” says Olly with infectious enthusiasm. He adds: “We’ve spent quite a bit of time in the area in Brighton and my mum actually went to art school in Worthing, so it’s a place which I’ve known through her history.”
As for himself, at 36, he seems at one with his place in the world, being a family man attempting to pull off the complex juggling act of personal commitments and the other great love of his life - his music.
By his own admission, these days may not carry quite the same level of stifling commercial chart pressures surrounding their early years, yet there’s no sense of complacency in their work.
“I feel like I’m at the next big challenge in my life with 40 coming up soon, but I am enjoying things now, rather than looking at it all with fear and trepidation as some people do,” reveals Olly.
“When you’re in your 30s, you’ve managed to work the world out a bit more and learnt a lot. These days, a good night in is what I really look forward to, spending time with the kids or just getting some time alone. I’m one of those people who can just sit in a kitchen for five or six hours and feel quite happy,” adds the songwriter of his surprisingly civilised domestic set-up in London.
However, his time at home has been far from spent simply idly staring at walls. This was plain for all to see last year with his well-received debut solo album “If Not Now, When?” gaining a strong reception from fans. Spurred on by some positive reviews, his attentions are now fully trained on Turin Brakes sixth studio album which is scheduled for release this spring.
Though it’s unlikely they’ll be offering up a radical departure from their 70s-tinged singer-songwriter musical landscape which forms the bedrock of their sound, there might just be a few surprises in store.
“We’ve been busy recording some tracks for the new album and it’s very definitely a Turin Brakes record, but we’ve updated the sound without losing sight of our acoustic roots.
“There’s a special type of playing and mentality that we’ve approached our music with right from our early days and it’s been great to get out an play our material live. The new album has developed a bit of a psychedelic edge and It’s feeling very good. But there’s a great fear of “when are we going to get this out to everyone” but it will happen.”
In terms of his wider listening tastes, he’s far from adverse to scoping out new sounds, yet it’s often a case of returning to old favourites such as Neil Young, who remains a huge inspiration.
While the music industry may be a vastly differing, digital world from the one which his own heroes inhabited, Olly firmly believes that despite the potential demise of firms such as HMV, people will always retain a thirst for both playing and seeing music live. Understandably, It seems he wouldn’t trade his own musical adventures over the past two decades for anything.
“Gale and I were always into music from a really young age, listening to people like Chuck Berry. It was never about getting record deals for us, we just wanted music in our lives, though it was very nice to have chart interest.
“We were incredibly fortunate when we started out, just being supported by someone who wanted to start making records. It enabled us to get out there and live a very different kind of life. But perhaps it’s only now that we can really appreciate all that we’ve managed to do.
“I’m glad that we got to make our first album, which has a timeless feel and still sounds fresh. But there’s been a bit of a case that when you make what you feel is your ultimate record on your first album, where do you go from there? I guess that’s been a battle and always will be one. Getting that success is something we are definitely really proud of though, but it is not something we chase.”
- Turin Brakes play St Paul’s Arts Centre on Saturday, February 9. The gig is sold out, but contact venue for returns or visit http://www.wegottickets.com for future gigs which include Chris Helme and Severed Limb.