Interview: Sargasso Trio

Simon ParkinSargasso Trio scooped the Next Big Thing award and enjoyed national acclaim for their debut album. Having a break from playing live to record their follow-up, they're returning to the stage as part of the festival. SIMON PARKIN reports.Simon Parkin

Sargasso Trio scooped the Next Big Thing award and enjoyed national acclaim for their debut album. Having a break from playing live to record their follow-up, they're returning to the stage as part of the festival. SIMON PARKIN caught up with Pete Murdoch to get the lowdown.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Former Next Big Thing winners and label-mates to Groove Armada and Tom Vek, Sargasso Trio mix world, Latin, folk, alt-country and 80s electro.

Any show involving the Norwich trio - Pete Murdoch, Emily Siddall and Ben Winn, who share duties on guitar, keyboards, a large collection of percussion instruments, harmonies and lead vocals - means you should expect an eclectic night of music.

Most Read

Lately however they've been conspicuous by their absence on the live scene as they've been holed up in recording studios putting the finishing touches to the follow-up to their acclaimed debut.

Now they're ready to unveiled the results of their hard work though, headlining a special line-up at Norwich Arts Centre, put together by local music Escalator.

t What can we expect for this festival show?

First of all we've got someone extra playing with us, James Leeds, he's the singer with Tin Man. He is basically helping us make it happen live because as usual when he write songs we tend to disregard how many people will be needed to make them happen, with as many or as little number of instruments as we like. Now we've written this second album we're trying to make it happen live and we've realised we need someone else to help us. He is basically all singing all, dancing like the rest of us, playing whatever is needed in a typical Sargasso ramshackle sort of style, where we all swap instruments all the time.

t Can it be difficult to reproduce all your ideas live?

Yeah. Some times we have to design the set from a logistical point of view as well as an artistic one. If we do that song we're going to have to bring another drum kit, so we're either not going to have to do that song or just think of another way of doing it. IF you end up with five keyboards and three drum kits it all become a bit ridiculous. So it's going to be bigger and louder at times and just more lush. And James is a great singer.

t Your sound is very eclectic, does that reflect your own tastes in music?

I think all of us now listen to whatever but going back a few years when we first got into music you all got very different backgrounds. For me I was into Sonic Youth and Wedding Present, but now I'll listen to everything. When I first met Ben he was really heavily into Prince and Godley and Cream and hall and Oates. Emily really likes Paul Simon, who you think of as really mainstream but he's an incredibly prolific and interesting artist. So we've got very different ideas about things but we love each other really.

t Does your differing tastes make it difficult to write new material?

All three of us write and present things to the band and some of them get rejected. It happens. It's like, 'no we're not into that'. But if it gets taken forward it gets munched and crunched but the others.

Are you happy to be involved in the festival?

Yeah, it's a great festival. It's got some big international names involved and even the some that aren't, the bar is set really high. There is a lot of exciting stuff in that brochure, especially in Chapelfield gardens, the Spielgeltent all that kind of thing. You feel proud when you flick through the brochure and there you are.

t Tell us about the new album.

It's all but done. Just a couple of bits to do on one song. We've been recording them for 10 months and just write all the time. Then we just need to get someone to release it because we're technically unsigned at the moment. For the second album we got a grant from the Arts Council, through Escalator and the Arts Centre. So we're in a rather nice position of being free of debt and we're just about to send out promos to various labels.

t Is it a radical departure from the first album?

It's still electric, but we've kind of honed the sound down. It's got more of an emotional core. Trying to combine the influences into a sound. A body of work that is too eclectic and lack a little bit of heart.

t Are you looking forward to playing live again?

Playing live is not something we necessarily find really easy. Some of us find it really nerve wracking. It's not so bad when you've done lots of gigs in a row, but I think this is going to be a bit of a nervy one.

t Escalator Music Showcase: feat. Sargasso Trio is at Norwich Arts Centre. May 9, 8pm, �7, 01603 766400

t Further listening: