Best known as the guitarist and songwriter for Welsh band El Goodo, Pixy Jones is going to be releasing his debut solo album, Bits n Bobs, this September. With tunes ranging from alt-country to psych-pop, Jones shows off their versatility on the new release. First single “I’m Not There” is a gorgeous, harmony-rich nugget that sounds like a lost Zombies cut from the 60’s, and the artist was kind enough to speak with us about this wonderful new song.
Indy Review: For those hearing you for the first time, how did you get started in music, and who were your first inspirations?
Pixy Jones: I was asked to join El Goodo (before they had a name) in probably ’98 or ’99 on the strength that I could play the riff to “Day Tripper” on the acoustic guitar that I’d been learning to play. They gave me a bass guitar which only had two strings and I made my way into music from there. I’m still fairly shit on the guitar to be fair. At that time the big inspirations were The Beatles, The Las and Gene Clark, but 60s music in general and the bands of the time – Super Furries, Gorkys Zygotic Mynci, Pavement, Grandaddy, Teenage Fanclub etc etc.
IR: On your latest single, “I’m Not There”, you perfectly capture the vibe of 60’s, harmony-rich rock n’ roll. What about this sound do you gravitate towards?
PJ: I’ve always loved the sound of 60s recordings for whatever reason. I can’t explain why, I think it’s just that there’s an underlying chaos and imperfection to all of the recordings of that time, even the big, pristine productions, because of the equipment they were using. Slight distortions, echoes that aren’t timed to the millisecond. The reverb on most sixties recordings is lush too. But I don’t know, I just love it – even the shit stuff sounds good!
IR: What sparked the initial concept for the song? Was it something left from an El Goodo writing session, or something new written for your solo debut?
PJ: This one was a fairly new one that was knocking about for a bit. The only time I got to play the guitar and therefore write stuff around that time was in the nights after everyone had gone to bed so it was a sort of hushed acoustic song to start off with because I had to keep the noise down so that I wouldn’t wake the kids up. I decided to do this one at the last minute instead of a different song that I had planned to do and just started adding all the parts on the hoof on the day. It was a fun one to record because I hadn’t pre planned anything and it came together quite quickly for a change.
IR: On the harmonies, are you harmonizing with yourself, or did you have any backing vocalists joining you for the track?
PJ: Yeah it’s me doing the backing vocals.
IR: The production of the song vividly captures another era. How did you achieve capturing that kind of sound and recording?
PJ: Tim Lewis (Thighpaulsandra) has got some amazing old pre-amps and compressors and he’s an amazing engineer. I used my trusty old Holy Grail for the reverb which is a key element I suppose. There’s a bit of mellotron and electric harpsichord on there too.
IR: The vocals on the track create a sense of longing and regret (IMO), while the lyrics seem to express being absent from one’s own life, perhaps a feeling of apathy. Is there a purposeful juxtaposition between the emotion conveyed and the song’s narrative?
PJ: Yes, its definitely about being there in body but not in mind. Drifting off from reality, just in a general sense. Again, the reverb helps to put that across.
IR: How does “I’m Not There” fit into the entire Bits n Bobs album thematically and/or audibly?
PJ: There’s no real theme running throughout the album as such, it’s just a bunch of songs that I wanted to get recorded. Bits n bobs! Although saying that, I suppose across all of my songs that I’ve written over the years I write about mundane stuff a lot! Kitchen sink dramas. I don’t think about it much when I’m writing stuff though but it seems that way if I look back through them.
IR: Thank you!
Take a listen to “I’m Not There” in our A Single Sit-Down Playlist!