The creative duo of Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian are central to Turin Brakes, who’ve had slow and steady success since their formation in the late nineties. Knights tells Big Issue North how long-term collaborators Rob Allum and Eddie Myer became central in the making of their new album, Lost Property, which unintentionally became a lamentation on loss.
Each of your albums had been marked by a different sound – how has Lost Property moved your sound on?
It’s gotten more adventurous as have the themes. I guess the further on we get into our journey as a band the braver we get, we weren’t scared to push the material to it’s maximum, we tried not to worry too much about our history although it’s always lurking.
What informed the songwriting on Lost Property?
The overriding theme seems to be loss, I’m not sure why exactly, it just came out that way and I noticed so I began to piece together the puzzle. I think loss and coping with it is one of the biggest challenges we face as humans, it’s a great muse as it always gets a reaction, we all know loss.
Tell me about the band dynamic – do creative responsibilities still fall primarily of Olly and Gale or have Rob and Eddie become more central to the process over the years?
It’s much more of a group responsibility now. I still start the ball rolling with initial songs but on this record we dealt with that material as a group of four. We played with the ideas until they felt good and kept the stuff we were most inspired by as a group.
How do you balance feeding the nostalgia for fans of old, while trying to bring something new and draw in new followers?
We just play the stuff we feel is at its current best, that tends to be old classics and the really exciting new stuff. We like to please the fans as much as we can but also maybe surprise them too, in a good way.
How has the music industry changed for the better or worse over the course of your career?
It’s shrunk, it’s become safer, very risk averse, less investment, less development time and harder falls. That’s just what happens to industries when money gets tight, it’s not as good for the art but I get it. There’s still plenty of amazing music being created, just a little deeper under the radar perhaps.
Is your longevity down to slow and steady success rather than a short-lived string of chart toppers?
Perhaps, but mainly it’s because we never stopped feeling like we loved and believed in what we were doing. If you think the music you make is still important for people to hear you can get through most peaks and troughs. It’s amazing how many bands quit when they think they’re out of fashion, we never really cared about fashion, it seems so utterly surface compared to the music.
How much more freedom do you have now working with an independent compared to a major label?
Quite a bit, we are totally in control now. We run like a little stealth bomber compared to an oil tanker before, it’s lovely to see it working out! We really feel every ounce of good will towards the band because we’re down in the machine room keeping those engines oiled.