Music from The Big House
By Richard Lewis 12/8/2010
Following the success of her solo career - during which time she released a fantastically accomplished debut album, worked with Mark Ronson, Simon Dine of the Noonday Underground and dueted with Kaiser Chiefs on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross - Candie Payne has re-grouped and become the lead singer of a band. Nerve talked to her on the new direction her career has taken and her stunning new group The Big House.
Making their debut at St. Bride’s Church last month supporting Misery Guts and Steve Pilgrim, The Big House were the undoubted highlight of the evening. Marking a switch from the sixties chanteuse of her 2007 debut album ‘I Should Have Loved You More’ to a more countrified sound, Candie’s new material and that of the group sounded fully-formed even in their embryonic state.
The group’s name derives from “a slang term used for parties in Mississippi”, says Candie. “We like parties and Mississippi”, she reasons. The name highlights an influence on the band as the region famed for its musical fecundity, producing artists such as Dr. John and influencing Captain Beefheart has an echo in the group’s sound.
The group came about when guitarist Paul Molloy (ex of The Zutons and The Stands) started working together on Candie’s solo material last summer. As Candie explains, “He had incredible songs of his own that he let me hear, and I felt they were heading in the direction I wanted to go. He has always envisioned a duo type scenario in his head as the ideal way to realise his tunes so it seemed fated.”
Moving from top billing as a solo artist to becoming part of a group didn’t feel alien to the singer “It’s not different at all really. Simon (Dine of the Noonday Underground her previous co-writer) and I worked on the songs as a partnership of equal halves, and it’s the same with Paul and I. We compliment each other well. I always toured and played with a live band when I was doing my solo stuff. The harmony work we do is pretty new to me. I enjoy sharing the lead vocals and I’ve learned a lot and become a better singer for it.”
The chiming Brydsian guitar and Crosby, Stills and Nash harmonies of The Big House show how the singer’s musical influences have shifted since the release of her debut album. With tracks as strong as ‘Pebble Lane’ and ‘Counting Thunder’ in their set, the emphasis is now on two voices and minus the orchestral swell of her early material. Candie confirms that her musical direction has changed over the past few years. “Not since we formed The Big House, but it (the sound) has evolved preceding that. The Big House coming together was a result of what I wanted to do and sing, changing naturally over the last few years. I always wanted to be the type of artist who could sing any style of song and still maintain my identity.”
One major change from the singer’s previous work is that her co-writer and guitarist in the band Paul Molloy is also her boyfriend. The two met via Paul’s association with Candie’s brothers Howie and Sean - former lead singer of The Stands and drummer in The Zutons respectively. “Paul and I had been friends for about ten years before we got together. We became a couple before we started working together, and it’s not a decision we took lightly, although it seemed like a natural progression. We were afraid of the pressure living and working together would put on us, but we also knew that we couldn’t bare the thought of being parted for long stretches of time if we were to pursue separate career paths.”
Like Talking Heads and Sonic Youth then - which both featured a couple in the group - Candie and Paul both work on the group’s material. “It’s not always easy, things can get heated. But we would rather be volatile at close quarters than miserable apart. We made a pact early on to always put ‘us’ first and if ever things get too much, we will go our separate ways career wise so we can stay together as a couple. But so far things are working out very well.”
The present group set-up is due to undergo change as the duo mentioned at the St. Bride’s gig, as they plan to expand their sound with drums and electric guitars. The duo have sourced Oli and Ryan (formerly of Alter Kicks) as a rhythm section, and plan to make their full band debut in a few months’ time. Prior to that the duo play at the Static Gallery on Roscoe Lane and at the Racquet Club as part of Alder Hey’s fundraising appeal.
The direction The Big House is taking is something that Candie sees as part of an artist’s development. “All music is soul and folk music, it all comes from the same place, and I love so many varying styles of music, so it would be frustrating to limit yourself to one supposed genre. It would be like an actor making the same sort of movie over and over again.”
The Big House support John Grant of Bella Union at The Static Gallery on 19th August.
The Clothes Throw Charity Auction for Alder Hey takes place at the Racquet Club in October. Further details to be announced soon.
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