A couple of weeks ago, the ever so brilliant DAMAGED GOODS RECORDS label released the sophomore album of SENIOR SERVICE.
So it was time for this blog to have a very interesting and enlightening conversation with Graham DAY who tells us everything we always wanted to know but were afraid to ask.
1) Graham you and you partners in SENIOR SERVICE are veterans of the Medway scene. Nevertheless, for the viewers of this blog who might not know you, What would you tell about SENIOR SERVICE to introduce yourselves? How did you decided to start this particular band together? Who is playing what instrument in the band?
Jon Barker plays Hammond organ in the band. He’s a bass player really, having been in the Daggermen and Buff Medways. He decided he wanted to learn the organ and asked us if we wanted to muck about playing a few Booker T covers for a laugh. I’ve always loved instrumentals so agreed to do it with Wolf Howard on drums (from the Daggermen, Solarflares and all Billy Childish’s bands since the Headcoats) and Darryl Hartley on bass. We soon realised that playing covers was boring and me, Jon and Darryl are all pretty decent songwriters, so we quickly came up with our own songs and the proper band was born.
I’ve played in many bands over the years where I’ve been the singer and front man. Sometimes I get tired of doing that, and I’ve always wanted to be in the anonymous instrumental band that you see playing in the background of a cool 60s film. I don’t think there’s much call for that in real life but it would be fun.
2) About the sophomore full length record, "King Cobra" released days ago on Damaged Goods, what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a live in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs?
We normally record the backing track live in Jon’s little studio in his basement, and then put any overdubs on afterwards. So essentially you have live drums, bass and guitar, and sometimes the organ. It’s important to us that we have a good live and energetic feel to the backing track, especially when we put quite a lot of other instruments and percussion on afterwards as that always mellows out the sound.
3) When I listen to your 2 full length records, I have the feeling that the first one (the 2016's The Girl In The Glass Case) could be qualified as being the "groovy record" and this new one is more the "cinematographic record", every track could easily be a movie theme. Do you agree with this feeling or do you consider there is way more than that.
I would agree with that to some extent. I think with all first albums they’re about finding yourselves and what sounds good, and what comes out is very raw and natural. With the second record we could learn from the first one and develop the songs better. We spent a lot more time on the second album, trying to get the sounds better, adding more instruments and trying to create a more cinematic feel. In a nutshell I would say the first album tracks are like tv themes and the second album tracks are more like film themes.
4) Do you believe it is easier to write a tune with lyrics or to compose an instrumental track?
I’ve always hated writing lyrics, what the hell do you write about, especially when you get older?? but it’s easier to write a song with vocals carrying the tune. In order to write a good instrumental you need more than just a tune and a backing track. It needs to have highs and lows, space and texture. However an instrumental can be limitless; you’re not tied down to a range of notes that someone can sing, it can go anywhere, with any sound you want to add. It’s been great fun using a sitar, brass, baritone guitar and different percussion.
5) Is there a main composer in the band or is everybody involved in one way or another?
Me Jon and Darryl write the songs. We usually write them separately, make a demo then send them to the others before we record properly, but we never rehearse the songs. We like them to have a raw edge to them where we are just beginning to understand them so it’s not too polished. Jon and Darryl have co written a couple of tracks together, but I’ve never really been able to do that. A tune always comes to me when I’m trying to sleep or out walking the dog, and I normally write the whole thing in a few minutes or just forget about it.
6) To what kind of music did you listen to as a teenager and does it still influence your today work? What was your favorite band as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have a influence on your own work today.
My musical tastes have never really changed since I was a teenager. I grew up on the tail end of punk, and then discovered the Pretty Things, Kinks and then Jimi Hendrix. Then later on I discovered 60s garage. But all the way through I’ve been a massive fan of Barry Gray who wrote all the Gerry Anderson puppet tunes like Captain Scarlett, Joe 90 and Thunderbirds, and the majestic film scores by John Barry and Ennio Morricone. I guess the Senior Service are heavily influenced by these composers.
7) Do you have a video on youtube featuring a track from the latest release?
8 What can concert goers expect at a gig of SENIOR SERVICE ? Are you playing any famous cover songs?
As with any band I’ve been in you will get energy, fun and a few wrong notes…. We mainly play our own songs but sometimes throw in a few Prisoners instrumentals.
9) What are the plan for 2018 as far as the SENIOR SERVICE are concerned? Are you gonna hit the road to promote this new full length?
Sadly there’s not much interest in an instrumental band to play live. There are a few surf bands playing at 60s festivals but we’re not a surf band and don’t really fit into any scene or genre. The gigs we have played have been great, but I think some promoters think it’s too much of a risk and we are not well known. We want to play more gigs, and are considering doing some songs with vocals to break it up a bit and make it more appealing for promoters to take a punt on, but to be honest we’d rather stick to our principles and just be ourselves.
10) Anything you would like to say to the viewers of this blog?
Hopefully we’ll see you at a gig later in the year. Come have a dance, make up your own lyrics and sing along!