‘The Grandad Galaxy’ is the title to the new The Voluntary Butler Scheme album, aka Rob Jones, which comes out on Split Records on July 18. As well as this eclectic album, live dates across the UK have been revealed for 2011.
When The Voluntary Butler Scheme recently declared that the intention behind his latest album was “to blend all the different types of music I’ve been making together,” it seemed like a large task – this is an act known for producing everything from Motown soul to J-Pop via Mark Mothersbaugh-style poptronica. But new album ‘The Grandad Galaxy’ is truly a musical cabinet of curiosities, bursting at the seams with strange sounds, melodies, effects and songs. Part instrumental, it follows the direction that the ‘Scheme, aka Dudley-based bedroom-pop architect Rob Jones, has been headed in from debut LP ‘At Breakfast, Dinner, Tea’ via the recent cut-and-paste ‘Chevreul’ EP.
“I like a lot of music and I always have,” says Jones. “For ages I didn’t know how to make a lot of the music I like, so my first album focused on soul pop with 70’s Nick Lowe inspiration. But I’ve been nerding out every day for the last 11 years about how to do things, and it’s coming together now.”
‘The Grandad Galaxy’ began life with a plan to make a full LP in six weeks. Full of big ideas and armed with a book of lyrics penned in his hometown of Dudley; Rob travelled to a rented basement in London’s Old Street, filled it with gear and recorded 11 songs filled with saxophones, guitars and organs. “I got them home and really disliked them so it turned in to a year long process of tinkering with and remixing the tunes I’d done, mashing ’em up and writing new bits,” says Rob. It’s why the album sounds like it’s been too close to DJ Shadow and a pair of scissors – this is the sound of an artist hacking his own work to create something new and inspired. “Instrumentals made from chopped up stuff feel like they have a bit of a narrative to them to me,” says Rob. “It always turns out more interesting than something I could write about.”
Joining Rob on the album is Welsh singer-songwriter Sweet Baboo on saxophone plus Rob’s girlfriend on sampled vocals for ‘Do The Hand Jive’. “I asked her to make up a tune on the spot, recorded it on my iPhone and used that as a sample on the chorus,” says Rob, who also enlisted his mum to say random words on the same tune.
The album’s name comes from the influences behind the album. “Some of the influences are grandad heavy, real old things like ’50s pop music – Buddy Holly and that – with really simple tunes, uncynical lyrics, nice clean guitar, but at that same time I’m really in to stuff that I think would offend Buddy Holly’s ears,” says Rob. “The Grandad Galaxy sounded like a meeting of them things in a title.”
2011 will see Voluntary Butler Scheme hitting the road with a new live line-up, which will be touring extensively this year. Meanwhile, Rob’s exhausting musical whirl continues: “I’ve already got a bulk of 60 odd tracks for the next album,” he says.
11 – London – The Social (BBC Introducing)
17 – Brighton Komedia
18 – London – Barfly
19 – Leicester – Sumo
20 – Leeds – Milo
23 – Nottingham – Bodega
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