IN CONVERSATION - Pixy Jones "I'm quite anal about reverb" 2

IN CONVERSATION – Pixy Jones “I’m quite anal about reverb”

It comes as some relief on the zoom call with Pixy Jones for this interview, to not be greeted by a giant rubber walrus head staring back at me from my laptop screen. His press photos are precisely thus, with a rather splendid pair of tusks giving off a ‘Trout Mask Replica’ and jumper vibe. Nothing to be concerned about tonight though; the former El Goodo songwriter and guitarist is – reassuringly – in a t-shirt with Cardiff record shop Spillers on the front and has a human face. Well you never know, do you.

Pixy’s debut solo album Bits n Bobs, released in September will be out under his own name, a decidedly wiser choice than the planned pseudonym name Wallace Russell. ‘I was sharing it all through my Facebook. So I forgot to get the anonymity in from the start,’ he confesses. ‘There was no point after that! But it does come in handy for just put the mask on and take a photo of me, job done…’

Before we start, it’s worth asking where the ‘I Am The Walrus’ interest/obsession comes from; his other project The Eggmen Whooo! adds to the curiosity. He had mobile recording studio at one point. ‘To apply for some funding, I did a business plan and called it Walrus Recordings. The tagline was “we will do a Goo goo g’job”,’ he recalls. The first El Goodo record was made with the 24-track gear. ‘So every time we’ve been recording since I’ve referred to it as Walrus Recordings.’

unnamed 3

Familiar El Goodo 1960s psychedelia seeps into Bits n Bobs, along with harmonies warmly remiscent of the period, and country from the Gram Parsons and Byrds side of the fence. Pixy has been described as a ‘psych pop maestro’ of late and, it must be said, that sounds about right. How does that crown fit?

‘It’s nice, yeah. I think if you get over 40 and still making music, you might get that thrown at you. Whether it means you’re any good or not is another matter!’
He got into early 90s hip-hop during lockdown he adds, there’s a connection there with 1960s samples used. Does he feel the 1960s is a safe musical space to work in, one he finds the most comfortable?

‘I suppose so.  The thing about writing a song is, the song can turn out anyway you want to. You write something on a guitar or piano whatever and by the time you record it, it can be 60s, 80s, modern or a mixture. I never write with anything in mind. I just do the tune or whatever. I’m a big fan of Pavement and I’ve never been able to write like that, it is the thing that’s always eluded me. I suppose the it comes more natural with the 60s stuff, the production. Because I’m quite anal about all that. I like this type of reverb rather than that type of reverb, you know? You don’t like the 60s, just for the sake of like in the 60s, you like the 60s because of the sound.’

Bits n Bobs is a collection of songs, some written in those early El Goodo days, a couple written for the band’s final release 2020’s ‘Zombie‘, originally intended a double album but slimmed down for practicality’s sake. It’s the newer songs covering touchingly personal matters; the tremendous opening single ‘I’m Not There’ has been keenly received. It never seems to be off the radio and manages to soothe, despite melancholic undertones and theme.

‘It was about depression. Or sort of not being very present,’ says Pixy. ‘I don’t think about my lyrics much, but when I do stuff like this, they often like happiest tunes with saddest lyrics. It’s not really a deliberate thing, but I tend to be a bit of a miserablist. So I’m glad you find it uplifting.’

Listening to ‘Bad Throat’ on Bits n Bobs for the first time one might assume it a metaphor for heartbreak but on the contrary, we get the story of a worrying medical situation leading to a MRI, surgery and finally good news, accompanied by noticably perky flute. ‘It was a bit of reporting, that was,’ he smiles. ‘I wrote that was when I was under the influence of anesthetic after the operation.’ It features Stephen Black (Sweet Baboo) on brass and woodwind (‘I told him to bring his full arsenal…’)

The stirring ‘Dewch Draw‘ is a sequel to Bad Throat and wraps up Bits n Bobs. A most suitable album closer it is as well; the sort of anthem to coax folks in a stadium to hold lighters in the air, swaying and get totes emosh. Excuse me one moment, there seems to be something in my eye… It’s inspired by the Ryan a Ronnie comedy light entertainment series from early 1970s, their ‘Pan Fo’r Nos yn Hir’ comparable says Pixy, to ‘Unchained Melody‘.

‘I was obsessed with that. I wanted to get that type of crooner thing, but do it like on a Nuggets compilation.’ It’s the only song sung in Welsh on Bits n Bobs, the result in part of learning the language for five years. A way to showcase his new and refreshed skillz? ‘There was a bit of a bit of that floating around, but I’ve had that tune for a while and sometimes it just doesn’t click, you know. You pick the wrong phrase in English and it sticks and you can’t do anything with it. I was in the house, recovering. I was on scrolling through Twitter and there was something from  Clwb Ifor Bach “Dewch Draw come on over. Come over, come along to this gig on Friday night”.  So it was that that was really the spark. But it was basically about being on my own, bored. Come over, anybody, sort of thing.

Bits n Bobs  features the aforementioned Steve Black, Elliott and Canny from El Goodo played drums and bass on the bop that is ‘Wind Street’ and Rhodri Brooks (AhGeeBe) plays some pedal steel on ‘I’m Coming Home’. But Pixy plays everything else himself on the record. There wasn’t too much of a difference between writing and recording solo and El Goodo, he’s found; life made getting the band – currently prepping farewell shows – together a challenge in itself. The last two albums was just whoever was at the time to turn up and do it. ‘A little bit lonely. Not so much top bantz going on in the studio. But you know, I’m a lazy bastard really, but the one time I’m not is when I’m recording stuff, I’m on it there.’  

Pixy emphasizes how long it takes him to complete albums and that may be true with El Goodo who took twenty years to produce four albums, albeit very well regarded ones. He gets obsessed when writing and recording then that’s it, having a policy of not listening to his output once it’s out, finding himself picking holes. But he’s ‘happy’ with Bits N Bobs right now or as he reveals with self-deprecating humour, ‘I’m not embarrassed by it’.

The new record released on Super Furry AnimalsDafydd Ieua and Cian Ciaran’s  label Strangetown Records, comes relatively hot on the heels of the ‘Zombie’ LP from a mere two years ago. Breaking the habits of a lifetime, maybe? ‘Takes me forever to do anything,’ he insists, not having any of it.

We’ll see, Pixy Jones. We’ll see.

Bist N Bobs is out on 16 Sept 2022. The latest single from it ‘Maureen Dreams No More‘ is avialble on all your very favourite streaming platforms today, and you listen to it below.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.