Music Q&A: Nel Unlit

The Middlesbrough folk quartet have shared new single Fireflies, a taste of a concept record based on Neil Gaiman’s Worlds End graphic novel

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What informs your music and songwriting?
We’re working on a project based on a graphic novel by Neil Gaiman from his Sandman series, so we’re trying to stay as loyal as possible to those stories and images. The project is a folk opera so we’ve been listening to other folk and rock operas, concept albums musicals and soundtracks. We’ve been on a journey from Anais Mitchell’s Hadestown, through Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon via Jesus Christ Superstar, all the way to The Jungle Book and Ennio Morricone.

How have you evolved as a band over the years?
We have been talking about this project for years so in a way the project actually existed before we did as a band. It’s only over the last two years that things have started to take shape.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
We have released a few singles so far. We are at work on a B-side to follow up our most recent song Fireflies. It’s a cover of a Vin Garbutt song. He’s a real hero of ours. Then on with the album, which we hope to release in late 2019.

What’s on your rider?
Ah, we’re a pretty easygoing bunch. We don’t like to put people out so will generally sort ourselves out but if our hosts fancy getting us a beer then that’s always nice.

Tell us your most embarrassing or surreal experience.

Ben was playing a solo show in a cocktail bar. He was on the piano facing the wall As he burst into the final chorus of Elton John’s classic Your Song the crowd erupted in cheers and whoops. Ben, feeling that this was his moment, fed off the reception, punching the air and giving them all the vocal acrobatics he could muster. On playing the final chord, Ben turned to see his adoring fans. The entire room was looking the other way – Mo Farah had walked in half-way through the song.

What song do you wish you’d written?
It’s a bit of an about-turn from what we normally do but I’d always wanted to be in a balls-out rock band. I’d loved to have written Wake Up by Arcade Fire.

What’s your worst lyric?
In my previous band, General Sherman, I wrote a song about hypochondria which had the line “it’s the blood in my stool”. I still love that line though!

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