13 Questions

13 Questions with Bobhowla

Things are happening with Southport’s Bobhowla, so we threw 13 questions at frontman Howard Doupé to get to the bottom of it all.

After many years doing the usual rounds in Liverpool’s sprawling music scene, Bobhowla are set to make 2020 their own.

With many years in the wilderness, a surprise single came from nowhere early 2018, marking a welcomed return. A recent shuffling of members and a flurry of teaser photos on social media over the last few months has confirmed further recording was afoot.

The announcement of new single Midnight Fears due on September 18 indicates a dramatic change in direction, along with the promise of new material arriving imminently.

In light of the current live situation we decided to catch up with singer/guitarist Howard Doupé for the grilling that is 13 Questions.

Thanks to Richard Taylor and Southport’s Legacy Records for the photo.

1. Where are you and what are you doing?

I’m back home in Southport after a very quick getaway down south in search of some socially-distanced Cornish sunshine. After the turmoil of events this year I can’t believe I actually managed to go anywhere to be honest.

The few weeks prior I was up in Edinburgh with the band putting the finishing touches to our forthcoming debut album.”

2. How is that working out?

Unbelievably well! Everyone around the band is so enthusiastic for the debut full release. It’s been many, many years in the making and having a few determined and convinced people in our corner has made sure we get past the finish line with it.

The back end of 2020 is going to bring a welcomed sense of purpose for the band.

3. How was lockdown for you?

I reckon it was pretty similar to everyone else’s- up and down. Pretty early doors I had an inclination that it wasn’t going to be over in a matter of weeks- especially when watching how the situation was evolving in Spain and Italy. I’ve friends in Barcelona and they were painting the scene quite accurately to be honest!

My own lockdown survival technique involved getting into a fairly humdrum daily routine- it worked for me. Reading, watching, plenty of music listening, albeit not too much of a creative period in terms of writing. Thank god for the decent weather though.”

4. What about the recording?

Aye, things got a little disrupted! The final studio sessions were booked right in the middle of it all. We just had to be patient. The most frustrating thing was being so close to the end. Co-ordinating everyone’s work and family commitments had been tricky enough.

In a way, we were lucky we were working up in Scotland- their regulations lifted in a more favourable rate than down here.”

5. How did you find the whole process?

As with all these things, it was a huge learning curve and a highly enjoyable experience. We’ve been very fortunate enough in both recording and having the album produced by Rod Jones of Idlewild. Post Electric Studio in Leith is a phenomenal space.

Having Rod’s knowledge, equipment and expertise has been invaluable to the overall sound. Getting out of the city to unfamiliar territory really helped us stay focussed. Each session was incredibly productive.

Working with a range of talented session musicians also brought something new to the table. These tracks have a new lease of life- some unrecognisably so!

I’ll certainly not forget the grin our guitarist, John (Brindle) wore when playing Rod’s pre-CBS Fender Jaguar in a hurry.”

6. What was the last gig you went to?

Just before lockdown I managed to squeeze King Creosote in at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. It was the Monday night following the announcement that most things would be in lockdown from the Tuesday.

It was the last night of the anniversary tour for his excellent soundtrack album From Scotland with Love To be honest it was hit or miss if I was going to make it. Right up till the last moment we we’re unsure what to do. They announced it late in the afternoon that the gig was going ahead, when many others had fallen by the wayside earlier throughout the day.

Certainly was a strange atmosphere, the hall is a vast and surreal space when a sold out show is less than half full.”

7. What was the first?

Therapy? at the Royal Court in ‘94. Such a great venue that was. The band were riding the wave of their most commercial and Mercury nominated album Troublegum. That album never left my brother’s portable CD player for months. The singles were all killer tunes. They were the band that I’d jumped to after the Nirvana obsession.

I remember being so excited with anticipation, fuelled by the live set from Brixton Academy earlier in the tour I’d videoed off MTV2. A Friday night in the city seemed so exciting for someone who’d never done so, especially coming from a small town.

Even though we had seating tickets the noise was deafening. Tinnitus for the rest of the weekend.”

8. What was the first record you bought with your own money?

As a child of the 80’s Southport was not renowned for its music stores. Back then, a wee nipper was unaware of the sadly no-more Market Records where I ended up buying in my teenage years. Instead my first 7” was from the stall in the indoor market.

Whilst my mother visited the ‘scoop n save’ I was drawn to the sounds and pictures in the little open stall. Don’t know how much credibility Yello’s The Race gets me- suppose hook-heavy tunes got me early.”

9. What’s your guilty listening pleasure?

I suppose it’d have to be any of the pop stuff that I grew up being bombarded with by the local commercial radio stations that most people seemed to have on in the 90’s.

Not that you’d find me spending my nights in Reflex, I am partial to 80’s chart stuff. I put it down to the exposure of all those NOW! albums through a Walkman. That and Top of the Pops.”

10. Vinyl, CD, MP3 or Streaming?

Nothing but vinyl I’m afraid, I just can’t help it, it’s a nasty habit that’s gotten way out of control. I was sucked back into the resurge that started a few years back.

I’m blaming a good friend of mine who after not seeing for a while told me that he’d bought nothing but vinyl all year. ‘Now there’s an interesting idea’ I thought.

Saying that, I’ve been an MP3 consumer since the pre-iPod days. I had one of the early RIO players. Held about 30 tunes, everyone thought I was mad to even bother.

11. Recommend one band or album that you think we should check out?

Lockdown gave me plenty of scope for listening to the backlog of stuff I’d amassed throughout the year- some even last. The weather really leant itself to the chilled field recordings and found sounds work of artists like Erland Cooper.

It was listening to him, that led me to Bibio. He’s folk orientated, electric and experimental. I knew absolutely nothing about him, still don’t really, other than his latest album Sleep on the Wing came out in June. It’s ten tracks of perfect English countryside soundscape.”

12. Tell us a secret?

Ok, since you asked I may as well tell you the most important one at the moment and reveal the album’s title: Everything’s Wrong, but it’s Alright.”

13. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.  Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Just to say thanks for asking. Been a pleasure. Long live Sun-13!”

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