Music Q&A: Jon Boden and The Remnant Kings

The Sheffield-based folk artist is best known as lead singer of Bellowhead. Now he’s leading his own big folk band, playing Manchester Folk Festival, 19 Oct and Sheffield Leadmill, 19 Nov

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What informs your music and songwriting?
My background is as an arranger and performer of old traditional songs so, having spent years working with that material, I think it has influenced my songwriting significantly. That said I tend to write in a modern pop song idiom (verse/chorus, etc) so the influence is tonal rather than structural. The biggest influence over my last two albums is getting interested in a speculative post-apocalyptic approach that probably has more in common with someone writing a novel than with a confessional singer-songwriter. In a way writing about invented characters in an imagined future brings the process back closer to working with traditional songs – which tend to tell stories more than they emote.

How have you evolved as an artist over the years?
Bellowhead was a great learning experience, particularly from the point of view of live performance to a large crowd. I think I’ve also become less concerned about proving myself musically and more interested in creating music that people will really want to listen to.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
Still very much got my head in launching the new album and getting the live show together for the launch tour. After that I’m going to start working on the next album – the third part of a trilogy of which Afterglow is the second.

What’s on your rider?
Beer and sandwiches, and some token fruit.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.
There was one occasion when we were trying a new song out on stage at a festival with Bellowhead and, although I had learnt the words, when it came to it I couldn’t get them out fast enough so ended up just having to paraphrase/narrate the story of the song whilst the band played the whole five minute arrangement. That was quite odd.

What song do you wish you’d written?
Kentucky Avenue by Tom Waits. And pretty much every other song he’s written.

What’s your worst lyric?
I wrote songs for a few kids’ shows back in the day. I was rather proud of :

Have some broccoli my dear!
Nice wholesome broccoli
Tastes great when cooked properly
All stacked chocker blocker-ly
Oh come buy it here!

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