Gorky's Zygotic Mynci released their seventh album How I Long To Feel That Summer In My Heart in September 2001. It is their second release since signing to Mantra in July 2000, the first being their LP, Spanish Dance Troupe, which was released at the beginning of October 2000. Below this, read the band talking about How I Long To Feel That Summer In My Heart track by track.
Both Spanish Dance Troupe and the new How I Long To Feel That Summer In My Heart marks a strong return of sorts for the band, after one of their most turbulent year since they formed in a Pembrokeshire schoolhouse back in 1991.
Until Autumn 1998, things seemed to be progressing fairly smoothly for Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. The band signed to the Cardiff-based Ankst Records in 1993, releasing two fascinating and formative albums in Patio (1993) and Tatay (1994). Over their three years with Ankst, Gorky's also recorded a series of singles and EPs, including "Merched Ya Neud Gwallt Eu Gilydd" (which translates as "Girls Doing Each Other's Hair"), "Game Of Eyes", the Lllanfwrog EP (aka the Miss Trudy EP) and the Amber Gambler EP, which featured the hillbilly krautrock anthem "Heart Of Kentucky".
These were all classic pop records borne of teenage energy and irreverence, and they gradually brought Gorky's a wide and devoted audience. And with Bwyd Time (1995), Gorky's made the next breakthough, releasing an album that fully showcased their talent and inventiveness, and which made it to No. 1 in the Independent Albums chart.
The band then signed to Mercury Records for the release of Barafundle (1997) and Gorky 5 (1998). Despite being an impossible band to pigeonhole, Gorky's frequently sublime music continued to earn them critical plaudits and win over an increasing number of intuitive fans. The string of classic singles continued - "Patio Song" was the first to get substantial airplay, and it was followed by "Young Girls And Happy Endings", "Sweet Johnny" and "Let's Get Together".
As The Independent wrote about Barafundle : "Just when all the best tunes seem to have been written, along comes a band with a key to a secret compartment full of melodies that no-one has heard before."
Or, as the the Sunday Times wrote about Gorky 5: "They are master pop craftsmen pursuing a determined route towards perfection irrespective of the changing tastes of the Britpop aristocracy. When the dust settles, Gorky's will be revealed as one of the great British bands."
By and large, then, things seemed to be going pretty well - until Gorky's sudden and involuntary departure from Mercury, which happened within a fortnight of the release of Gorky 5 and which left the band label-less and in the lurch with a UK tour imminent. The band completed the dates which, ironically, were their most successful to date. The NME picked up on Gorky's "resilient spirit", describing the tour as "a celebration of bloody-minded independence in the face of corporate adversity." The review concluded: "untidy geniuses seek new home. One careless owner. Applications please to the usual address."
Gorky's Zygotic Mynci had in effect been punished for not being able to reconcile conflicting demands. The idiosyncratic excellence which attracted fans and critics alike led almost inevitably to what looked, from the corporate perspective, like underperfomance in the pop charts. It goes without saying that Gorky's strength had always been their sheer individuality - but it looked dispiritingly like they had become the latest in a long line of victims for whom being original and making great records simply wasn't good enough.
But although the band were broke as Winter 1998 approached, they weren't broken. Free to do whatever they wanted, they wrote a new collection of songs, an d, in the familiar surroundings of Anglesey (with regular cohort Gorwel Owen producing) they recorded a new, self-financed album. Perversely, this new collection of songs may be their most accessible and upbeat yet - by turns sad, romantic, melodic and witty.
It was the strength of these new songs that secured Gorky's Zygotic Mynci a new record deal - a signing to Mantra during the summer of 1999. The release of Spanish Dance Troupe and now How I Long To Feel That Summer In My Heart thus happily opens a new chapter in Gorky's history - and the band are now able to follow their inspired, idiosyncratic path with renewed confidence.
The album How I Long To Feel That Summer In My Heart was released on September 24th 2001.
...written September 2001
Here, the band talk about How I Long To Feel That Summer In My Heart track by track:
EC: Gorwel Owen produced the record (he's been working with the band since as far back as 1995's Bwyd Time) and he plays on the lp again as well. We needed more space this time so we recorded at Rockfield rather than in his studio on Anglesey. Gorwel's studio is a bit cramped and you can't really record live there. RJ: To do that at Gorwel's you end up with half the band recording from the kitchen. EC: The shape and mood of this lp came quite naturally. There were songs that didn't work out but most of them selected themselves. There were a couple that we'd tried on earlier records that never fitted in at the time.
WHERE DOES YER GO NOW? RJ: Where Does Yer Go Now? was written as far back as '93 and we've talked about doing it for every album since. EC: We always knew we'd record it sometime but this time it was the obvious song to start the record. It sets up a mood. I think because we know how to arrange songs better now and the way we used the vocal harmonies it was right this time. It is quite haunting. Gorwel's playing pedal steel with an E.Bow on it. There's a banjo part throughout it as well - bit like the way it's used on 'Smile', I suppose.
HONEYMOON WITH YOU. RJ: We brought that one back to life aswell. EC: We always seem to have fragments of songs. That one never had an end. It is quite country-ish. I was listening to a lot of Gene Clark at that time
STOOD ON GOLD RJ:I wrote that a year back. It's going to be the first single. EC: And the first Richard James lead vocal since 1995 - without the aid of second vocals or harmonies. Since Bwyd Time, in fact. RJ: And about time. I'm grooming myself for that Top Of The Pops appearance. And looking forward to the royalty cheques. Eyeing up property in Jersey already. EC: It helps this record that it isn't just me singing every song. I've always liked records where there were different lead singers and other writers. This is a very democratic record in that sense- everyone is coming in with bits and pieces all the time.
DEAD-AID RJ: That's actually Puw playing drums and Peter playing bass on that one. EC: It's got a lot of space in it, which is maybe a new thing for us. We're not trying to cram too much on to it. It's a confidence thing really. RJ: I think we are treating each song differently. The arrangements are more thought out. So Dead Aid is sparse while Where Does Yer Go Now? is really layered. EC: We used four different drummers. Which was another way of getting different approaches. Pete is on about five tracks. RJ: Pete was a band called Topper who we knew and they had toured with us. He just fitted in really well. This line up has gelled really well.
CAN MEGAN EC: It has an old timey feel, rag-time feel to it. Norman Blake who toured with us on Mynci 2000 - he sings on that one. MC: Very imaginatively titled. It's a tradition now and all my songs will be called that forever. I wrote it on guitar even though I can't play guitar at all. It has a syncopated brass part at the end. It breaks up the mood between the two slower songs either side of it.
CHR ISTINA EC: It was a song I sat down to write to order. I was on holiday and a bit bored so I sat down at the piano and decided I wanted to write three songs in a day. So I created a fictional writing team called The Fevers. I was Ricky Fever so that's a Ricky Fever song." There was another Ricky Fever one called Garden Of Love, which we recorded but is not on the lp itself. Christina is written from the perspective of a stalker who murders his victim. Maybe that one is sad because he gets executed at the end. Sad for him, anyway.
EASY LOVE RJ: I wrote that and played it with Euros who sang harmony and it was always referred to as the Everly Brothers song. It was written around the time we were doing Mynci 2000 EC: It has that stripped down sound that The Blue Trees has. We recorded that one live. It's probably the only one on this album that has that approach since, as we said at the time, The Blue Trees was done deliberately to collect all those more acoustic songs together, before starting to think about this one.
LET THOSE BUE SKIES EC: That's our upbeat country number which we had played live a couple of times before recording it. Once again we slowed it down and started doing it on harmonium. It was a New Year's day song and I was probably still pissed from the night before. It's a very happy song.
THESE WINDS RJ: It's a bit Fairport like, I suppose. A sea shanty. Or sea sickness song. There are a lot of lines about the elements and the seasons throughout this record. Don't think that's a theme. Just easy metaphors, or metaphors made easy. That's mostly me and Megan singing on that one, it's a bit of a round.
HOW I LONG RJ: Euros wrote that and I reminded him about it - it was one of those songs we hadn't originally thought of for this record. EC: It was originally like a mantra song -the intro was added separately. RJ: It's another downbeat song. I was a bit worried at first that this lp was too downbeat but that's what holds all the songs together. Now I realise there lots of different sounding songs, lots of tempo changes and it's has a lot more intricate sounds than our other records.
HER HAIR HANGS LONG EC: That one is much more up and it really builds at the end. It was the first thing we did with Pete for a TV session. At the moment we finish the gigs with that one - it works really well live. Everyone gets to let go at the end. Teflon Monkey, he plays guitar on that one.
HODGESTON'S HALLELUJAH RJ: That was one we tried to record for Gorky 5. EC: That's a moog on that - sounds like those incidental passages on Magical Mystery Tour. There's about three seconds of brass on there too. They played on the whole track but that's all we used. MC: We decided not to decide too much in advance about what we were going to do on each song - if that makes sense. It made it much fresher. Some songs ended up completely different because we'd try them one way and then completely re-think them. Hodgeston's Hallelujah was originally much faster. EC: Looking at it now - it was a bit like a holiday although we happened to be recording an lp at the same time. I think it was the best atmosphere we've ever had while recording, except, probably, when we had just started out on Tatay. I think you can hear that in the record. It very warm and colourful sounding.