Mike Walker Interview
SJM editor Charlie Anderson caught up with guitarist Mike Walker, already busy touring with fellow guitarist Stuart McCallum, ahead of The Impossible Gentleman’s latest UK and European tour.
Mike Walker formed The Impossible Gentlemen back in 2010 with Gwilym Simcock, Steve Swallow and Adam Nussbaum. After a brief tour they released their debut album The Impossible Gentlemen in 2011, to instant critical acclaim. Two years later they toured again and released their album Internationally Recognised Aliens, to further acclaim. Now, in 2015, the band have gathered once more, with Steve Rodby replacing the original bassist Steve Swallow.
The change of bass player isn’t completely new, as Rodby guested on their previous album. As Mike says, “It was originally Steve Swallow on bass. I’d worked with Steve Swallow before and I’d worked with Adam before, I’d worked once with Gwil, but that was in Tim Garland’s band and I just thought that combination would be brilliant, because I’d worked with all of those guys and they had a freedom about the way they play. And we did a few tours and a couple of albums with Steve Swallow. Then we got Steve Rodby in on the second album to do a bit of producing, and a little bit of playing, and we kind of all hit it off. And then slowly Steve Rodby morphed into being the bass player because Swallow goes away to the Caribbean during the winter months (December to April). So we couldn’t really tour at that time. We were getting offers but we weren’t able to take them. So Rodby ended up being the bass player, which is fantastic.”
With a new tour, comes new material, mostly from his collaboration with pianist Gwilym Simcock. “We’ve got loads of new material that me and Gwil have written. We kind of went crazy when we got together. It was one of those things where, literally, one of us put a chord down and the other one said ‘oh, let’s do something with that’. So it was very productive. We’ve got about fifteen new tunes together. He came here, initially, to my house. I’ve got a piano here so he stayed a couple of days. And then I went to his about six months later. We looked at what we’d got then and then we wrote a lot of new stuff in those few days at his house as well. It’s all very exciting.”
Not wanting to give too much away, at the time of the interview the new material hadn’t even been rehearsed with the whole band. “Gwil is playing keyboards on this tour so he’s thinking about sounds. A couple of other things are going to be on the tour and the album but they’re top secret.” When asked when the album is likely to be released, Mike stated, “I think it’s too I wondered if the plan was to do the tour first and record the album afterwards. “We’re actually recording it mid-tour. We’re going to do about a weeks worth of gigs then we’re going to go in the studio before we go to Budapest. We’ve got a couple of days in the studio to record the album. And then we go to Budapest. And then we’re touring again for about ten days.”
“We’re recording at Curtis Schwartz’s studio [in Ardingly, West Sussex]. We’ve recorded both albums there before. It’s a beautiful place to record, like a live-in place. You stay there and it’s a big, old probably 17th century house with a lot of rooms, tennis courts and grounds. And Curtis has just got a great studio. I recorded there, probably 20 years ago with Mike Gibbs, Peter Erskine and Django [Bates] and a lot of those guys. That studio has just gone from strength to strength. A lot of people record there. Trish Clowes records there, Julian Argüelles recorded there with Dave Holland. It’s a great studio.”
The Impossible Gentlemen are currently touring the UK and Europe and appear at The Old Market in Hove on Tuesday 10th February, 2015. Tickets here.
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This interview appeared in the February 2015 issue of SJM, available here.
The cover photo of the February 2015 issue was kindly provided by David Forman.