Saturday, 12 May 2012

EXCLUSIVE: Auburn Interview

It is always nice to do the follow-up interview with someone, especially when it is someone with whom one has clicked first time. So, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I re-introduce the lovely Liz Lenten...

Jon: So tell me about the tour

Liz: Well it was fabulous, it was actually very funny. My husband, as we speak, is putting together a little bit of a back-stage DVD but it was really good.

The first gig we did at the South Holland Centre, which was a theatre gig and my backing singer, who was bringing the sound guy, turned up two and a half hours late, so as you can imagine, it was chaos at the beginning.

We built the PA and then we had the choir in that night but it was fantastic. Absolutely magical. I was really blown away, because although I know the band, they are absolutely stunning musicians all of them individually, and rehearsals had been brilliant, you know, you just don’t know how it’s going to gel on stage until you’re there.

And obviously I’ve not done this for 8 years. But no it was really lovely. Everybody was excited but really chilled out and the choir were just adorable. They definitely stole the show.

Jon: Tell me, who are the choir?

Liz: I run three community music groups here in Spalding and one is an adult community choir which started off being a project for migrant workers and local residents. There was a lot of friction between the Eastern Europeans who were coming to the area, and the old school residents narrow-minded. They are ignorant, not in a negative way, but not having met people.

It’s very insular here and so when the new arrivals – a lot of migrant workers - started coming there wasn’t a lot of community cohesion, to say the least, and so I did this singing project in a local teeny stately home – a little local merchant house that’s now a museum and I did a singing project there for about a year, for migrant workers and local people to sort of mingle, and we shared the childhood songs which works pretty well for me because I’m a complete mongrel so I was able to share songs from Poland, Russia and Ireland and all my grandparents, you know, and everybody started to do it in the end, and we produced a book. We won an award and it was a fantastic project, but this choir has continued. After that, when the project finished, the local council funded it for a year funnily enough not out of their own funding, but out of their community funding, and now the choir is self-funded and they run it themselves. I just go in and lead.

So there is that one and there is also a youth choir – a community youth choir – that I run at the local Arts Centre which has been going for about 2 years. 3 years actually I think, and these were the guys that I got up and do a few songs with me. They are all aged between 8 and 15 now I think and they are fabulous singers most of them, different nationalities but local kids so I decided to get them up and do a few songs with us in the middle of the show, which was obviously all rehearsed and they were just gorgeous.

Jon: Is that the one Rob was at?

Liz: Yes, there are a couple of photos, you can see a bunch of kids in the background. They were great, they just got up and did backing vocals on three of the songs which I had been rehearsing with them this term and it was really nice. You know, because it was a local home town - a new home town - gig for me it was just nice to be able to get them involved really.

So that was lovely and the band loved them and they loved the band and that was really nice.

Then we did the Lincoln and that’s a different kind of venue. That’s a ... trying to think what you call it .... the stage is on the floor – it’s like the whole room is a stage kind of thing, and the seating goes up to the side as opposed to you being on a stage and the chairs going down. You’re on the floor and the chairs all go up. A bit more like an auditorium. But it is a tiny little theatre, but again I have done loads and loads of work with different outfits with, and that was a really nice one as well.

And then we went down to Brighton and played a sort of pub gig – Prince Albert - but that was a bit of a shock to the system. That was obviously without the kids and that was a stage that was just about as big as my sofa. That was interesting, we had to kind of shuffle the stage plan a little to physically get everybody on there at the same time, and every time the ‘cello player ‘bowed’ we had to make sure he didn’t knock me in the knees.

Jon: Either you’ve got an enormous rock star sofa, or it was a tiny stage.

Liz: No I’ve got a really small sofa..... and it was a really small stage. But it is very funky and it is the kind of place to play, and I think that night it was so laid back I did swap my cup of tea that I normally drink for a glass of wine – not deliberately – but somebody decided to present me with a glass of wine just as I got on stage and it was that kind of session that you could do that so I moved from my tea onto the wine, which was quite a lot of fun because it is not something I normally do.

Jon: Gosh that was really rock star of you

Liz: Yes it was a bit. I probably went from – ‘cos its really funny at the other gigs, I always take a cup of tea on with me and everyone always finds it so amusing, but I like it. And yes I think they were a bit shocked and stunned if no-one has ever seen me with a glass of wine in my hand before. I enjoyed it

Jon: Your next stop will be doing a Rolling Stones and having a bottle of Jack Daniels

Liz: Well this is it. I tell you what was really funny. The support band at the theatre gig had left his bottle of beer on stage right at my feet, and in all the photos all you can see is this bottle of beer at my feet and basically it was not mine so in the end we decided to make it a part of the show and we did a lot of walking around it and you know, we tried to get it involved. So that was much more laid back – the Prince Albert – and as I say a little kind of pub gig but the band, yeah you could tell it was really just starting to lock in by then and then the last gig.... oh the last gig was hilarious.

By the time we got to London – from Brighton to London and of course we got stuck in traffic, as you can imagine, crawling and can’t get through and I’m getting calls from the sound engineer going, ‘Just to let you know – we don’t want to panic you but they’ve dug all the road up and you can’t get anywhere near the venue.’

Jon: Oh for goodness sake

Liz: That was my response, Jon. I went, ‘Oh lovely’. And he said, ‘My love, if that all that goes wrong today then we’re having a good day.’ And I said, ‘Yeah that’s true’.

We get a little bit close and I get another ‘phone call. ‘Just to let you know, don’t worry the District Line is shut for repairs.’ So ‘Ok’, and then, 'Well if that is all that goes wrong today we are having a good day.’

‘Yeah that’s true’.

Ten minutes later, ‘Just to let you know that the Circle Line.....' and this just went on all day. It was hilarious. We got there and the PA there’s like no bass, and the poor PA guy is trying to rebuild the gear and stuff was blowing up right, left, and centre while everyone was saying, ’Oh well if that is all that goes wrong today we’re having a good day.’

And it went on and on until we had no reverb at all at which point the poor sound engineer did look like he was going to have a heart attack. He was going ‘We have no show!’ And we were going , ‘Yes we do have a show, we just don’t have any reverb.’ It was absolutely hysterical. Anyway needless to say, it all kind of worked in the end. Don’t ask me why.

People did manage to get there but there were some people who obviously didn’t from the few tickets that had been sold, but people didn’t come, but basically I guess it was a really lovely gig and I think everybody was a bit ‘Oh my God we want to do more now,’ So we’ve all come back to earth with a bit of a bang and we are all having PTD at the moment.

Jon: So are you going to do some more? And if so, when and where?

Liz: I’d love to do some more. We’re doing the Exhibition Road Festival at the end of July and we are looking for some gigs in the States, and I’m seriously going to be looking at a tour towards the end of the year because I just wanted to get these few gigs out of the way to see if and how the band gelled and take it from there really.

We are going to get the live footage together. We’ve got some kind of wobble cam stuff but we did get Harold in to film two of the shows properly, and we also recorded all the audio on to A-DAT that’s all got to be mixed.

It was all recorded live but our sound engineer, our mixing guy, but it won't get together until the end of the month and so at the end of the month they are going to come into the studio and mix that so hopefully it will be a few weeks, but we’ll have some really good footage soon which hopefully we can use to get us some more gigs and hopefully, maybe, pick up a tour or support or something towards the end of the year.

Jon: How wobbly is the wobble cam?

Liz: It’s not that bad. It’s actually very good footage it’s just not professional footage, you know, it’s a little hand held, but it’s a high definition camera and a lot of it is backstage stuff with that.

Jon: That’s what your husband is working on at the moment

Liz: Yes, he‘s working on a little back stage put together, and then he’s got some wobble camera live footage which isn’t bad – it’s as good as a lot of the Youtube stuff you see on camera phones but it is not obviously going to be like the proper stuff that Harold’s doing.

Jon: Are you going to be doing any recordings with the choir?

Liz: Of my stuff you mean?

Jon: Yeah

Liz: We haven’t actually thought about that. Obviously we recorded it live, the two gigs we did - those gigs were recorded properly but it’s got to be mixed yet. So we will have the proper footage with the choir. But I probably will get them in to... I’m going to start working on some new songs.

I’ve got loads of songs to do, not going on the road to do them for me... I don’t know why but I had loads of new songs so I’m going to have to start..... in the next couple of weeks. But I will definitely next time we record some tracks get the choir in. Because they did so well. They are not a professional choir but they just did brilliantly – I’m really proud of them.

Jon: It was interesting what you said about you having an Eastern European part to your heritage.

Liz: Yes, well I’m Jewish. My family is Jewish

Jon: Cos I didn’t know any of this. And when I heard this record the first time I thought that it had an eastern European timbre to it

Liz: Oh well there you go

Jon: I really did. I thought that you voice had that....I’m not quite sure how step-daughters ex-boyfriend was from the Ukraine and it had that little bit of a tinge to it. And I just thought it was a coincidence. Well that’s nice. At least my ears haven’t failed me.

Liz: You know when I was a kid I sang a lot of Hebrew stuff – I used to go and do concerts all over the place and do traditional Hebrew folk songs which was a lot of the stuff I was able to share when we did the Songs from Childhood project with migrant workers. And my grandparents are one of was Russian, one was Polish, one was Lithuanian and one was Irish

Jon: What a mixture

Liz: I know. It was great being a complete mongrel because people were a bit shy at first but so let’s do another song from childhood, and it will be my childhood then so I’d do an Irish song or I’d do a Hebrew song or something, and finally after a little while people would start to say ‘Well actually I’ve got a song and we learnt all this Latvian stuff and Lithuanian songs and Russian and Greek and, you know, by the end we were ramming them in, trying to get everyone’s in, they all got kind of confident towards the end of the project. Good to be able to start it off..

And that was it until next time. As always, Liz was a joy to interview. The pictures, by the way, are by the head Cheesemonger himself..

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