Currently touring the US as the drummer for Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Nigel Powell chats to GIGSoup during a rare moment of free time about solo project The Sad Song Co as they get ready to release their third studio album “In Amber” on November 18th with an accompanying mini tour around the UK in October.
It’s been 9 years since The Sad Song Co released a record, what made you feel that now was the right time to unleash new music upon the world?
The fact that I had time to make some! Since Poignant Device (my last album), touring has been so insane that I never had sufficient space to write. 2015 ended being a bit slower than usual with Frank Turner for various reasons, and after a couple of weeks of not being on the road what was clearly a backlog of songs that had been collecting in my subconscious started spewing out. That’s not a very romantic metaphor. Sorry.
The songs on the new record are influenced by stories of people in and around an old people’s home, where did this idea come from?
I finished Meet You There, which is about saying goodbye to someone for the last time, and Moment Of Clarity, which was inspired by people I had known descending into Alzheimer’s. Once those two were done it suggested a framework that would help focus the other lyrics for me. I always find actually nailing down and completing words a challenge, so giving myself parameters was a definite help.
How much of a change is it for you to be the focal point of the band? Do you enjoy the added responsibility?
It’s a massive change from the last few years. When I was in Unbelievable Truth the spotlight was spread a little more equally, but obviously my ‘day job’ at the moment involves supporting Frank in what he does. I’m not sure I see being the focal point as a responsibility though – the main difference is it allows me to create music that really represents me and what I want to get out of music, which I do enjoy.
It’s well documented how relentless the touring schedule with Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls is, how do you find the time to dedicate yourself to other projects?
I don’t really? It was pretty much a logistical coincidence that left me with enough time to see ‘in amber’ through to fruition. I guess you make time though. It doesn’t make me very popular with my girlfriend though – it’s been a crazy busy year of touring this year, and I’m choosing to take part of my 3 weeks off between US tours to do a solo tour around the UK!
This album was recorded in just five days back in 2015, was this due to time constraints with your touring schedule or did you feel you’d done what you set out to do with this record in that short period?
Partly time constraints, partly budget, but also I value working with momentum and a purpose, which for the most part has been how we do things with Frank and the Sleeping Souls. I had prepared meticulously for ‘in amber’ so there was very little wasted time in the studio. Sometime I guess it would be an interesting experience to make an album where you have lots of time in the studio to find things, but I can’t see that happening in the realworld unless I win some kind of lottery!
Do you envisage a future where The Sad Song Co would become more of a full time project for you?
Given the time and effort we’ve put into inflating the Frank Turner balloon it would be hubristic of me in the extreme to walk out of that situation. At the same time I would like to balance things a bit better so I can take TSSC (The Sad Song Co) out to any people who might like it. I’m intensely proud of ‘in amber’ in a way that I haven’t been of the previous albums, so I could see myself out on the road a bit more to promote it.
How did you come up with the idea to run a special pre-order campaign via PledgeMusic.com and would you look at releasing new music in the future in the same way?
It was the suggestion of a US music industry friend who had used it before. It was a good experience, and a helpful way for me to feel my way back into releasing things after such a long break. I think next time though I will plunge straight into a release. I already have a great deal of the next album made, so time permitting I’m hoping to record it next spring.
You have a small tour of the UK coming up, are you looking forward to a different change of pace and playing some new music live?
Looking forward to it very much. It’s going to be a very different vibe to Frank shows, obviously – smaller, less people, a great deal less shouting at the audience to dance and sing along. It was a daunting prospect, but I’ve been rehearsing with Jason (Moulster, other The Sad Song Co. member and one of my oldest friends, who I was in Unbelievable Truth with) and I think it’s sounding good. I’m now cautiously excited about the whole experience!