Field Music
Photo: Christopher Owens / Courtesy of Hive Mind PR

Field Music: Making Pasta Sauce As a Metaphor for Recording an Album

Field Music’s last album Making a New World concerned subjects like the Dada movement, social housing reforms, and sanitary napkins. Flat White Moon‘s subject matter is a little closer to home.

Flat White Moon
Field Music
Memphis Industries
23 April 2021

There’s a lot of humor and self-deprecation in the video for “No Pressure”. That’s obviously inspired by all those dubious, “how-to play guitar” videos that came out in the 1980s.

Peter: I’ve got quite a good Jason Bonham one.

David: On VHS? So you can’t bring it on tour with us?

Peter: Well, we could pass it around like a totem, I suppose. We take the writing, the performance, and the recording of our music really seriously, but I hope we don’t take ourselves too seriously, because we’re just playing rock music after all

David: We haven’t got a clue what we’re doing. We make music about not knowing what we’re doing. We make music about not understanding things. I don’t want us to come across like, “settle down and enjoy our wisdom,” as frankly, we don’t feel like we have any. I think our lack of wisdom and the gap between what we want to understand and what we actually understand is worth making music about.

Photo: Christopher Owens / Courtesy of Hive Mind PR

This new record is the first made in your new studio. What’s happened to the old building?

Peter: It’s just a big pile of rubble now. It was just an industrial unit. Hopefully, somebody will build something there which is useful.

David: We moved out in January 2018 and started working on our new place straight away. It feels quite luxurious to me. We were keen to get a nice big space where we could work on getting drum sounds and that kind of thing.

Peter: We still don’t have a control room – we just don’t believe in them.

David: We don’t have a studio engineer, so it doesn’t make sense to separate the engineering from the playing. That’s not how we do it. Instead of having a control room, we have a little booth where we can put a guitar amp and have it really loud without it spilling over into everything else.

Peter: With drum sounds, it’s almost left to chance – as long as you hit them hard enough and you put the mics in sort of the right place you’ll probably be OK.

Peter: Some people prefer drums recorded in mono. Ringo was in mono for most of his career and he did alright.

David: I don’t like the sound of contemporary rock records – I’m not that interested in trying to make the drums pierce your eardrums every time they’re hit, I’m not into that. I want to hear the sound of someone playing in a room.

Sadly, nothing with a disco beat like “Only in a Man’s World” from the last album, on this record. Are there any genres of music that are off-limits?

David: We can’t play metal.

Peter: I would love to have a go. Maybe not contemporary metal but there’s something about those first three or four Black Sabbath records which I’ve now become really really drawn to. That kind of swingy metal.

Peter: It has a very particular kind of British swing to it or something.

David: Yeah, those first Black Sabbath records don’t sound like either contemporary rock or contemporary metal records. It’s only a stone’s throw from Led Zeppelin 1 or 2 stylistically. We can do that.

I want to hear Field Music play Masters of Reality.

David: OK – we’ll get on with that.

Peter: I like the Ride the Lightning Metallica chug, but I don’t think we could do it. It’s got a groove – Metallica grooves. I’m kind of interested in that. I know we’ll try something like that one day.

David: And it will come out tasting like my pasta sauce.

Peter: It’ll be hip hop-reggae-metal-skate punk and it’ll sound exactly how we normally do. Or XTC.

David: We’ll finally make a record that we think sounds like Ride the Lightning, but everyone else will say it sounds like “Senses Working Overtime”. I can see that happening.

Sunderland features prominently in your visual presentation. Is your local environment important to you?

Peter: It’s what we know, and if you don’t travel very far physically, you have to travel deep into your environment. I find Sunderland and the North East of the UK fascinating. I have a definite love/hate relationship with the place. It’s something that’s always on my mind, and it ends up coming out in either the lyrics or the visuals.

David: I think it’s even more than usual on the new album, as it deals with memory and the relationship with memory. We’ve lived in Sunderland our entire lives pretty much, so our memories of people and events are tied up with this place. We are very much a product of our place. For better or worse.

You’re a band that are noted for their extracurricular activities. Is there anything on the horizon?

David: If I’m not writing or making music, I feel crap and useless. We’ve had a year where we didn’t know if we were still going to be able to do a band because we didn’t know if the music industry was going to exist still, so we said “yes” to a lot of things. That gives you the opportunity to do different stuff. I like an excuse to write. So yeah, we have loads going on. We finished making this record last October, so we’re already had five months of extracurricular activities. Stuff like making terrible podcasts, curating an exhibition, trying to write brass band arrangements, all sorts of things.

Just a typical day in the office

David: I hope it continues like that forever. Maybe less of the curating an exhibition as I feel I have no skill in that. I don’t think I could even learn the skills to do it. I want to make stuff. I get bored if I’m not making stuff.

Photo: Christopher Owens / Courtesy of Hive Mind PR