Chain D.L.K.: How did you meet Lucy and why did you decide to form Ex-Rental with her?
Ex-Rental: We’ve both been fans of the London nightclub Trash for a long time and we met through that. At the time, I was already working with two other guys (John and Harry, who only played at our earliest shows), but I thought we needed a second vocalist so we could be more adventurous with melodies and harmonies. But Ex-Rental isn’t like a traditional band with a fixed line-up – it’s really more like a solo project, though of course Lucy has been an important part of the shows and recordings so far. I think the debut album will mostly feature just myself and Lucy, though the live shows will soon involve other people… it’s all very flexible!
Chain D.L.K.: I noticed on the last songs of the demo CDr a certain ’70s disco influences while "And sometimes" is more 90’s pop oriented (see Blur’s "Boys And Girls") and "Ad Nauseam" is more punk and noisy (like a melodic version of Atari Teenage Riot). Can you tell me:
– do you agree with this?
– how do you process these influences?
– do you play with them to give to the tracks a different "taste"?
Ex-Rental: I’d go insane if I had to make only one kind of music – there are so many good records in every genre of music, and I love hearing new things. That’s why you hear so many different styles in Ex-Rental – if I hear a great R&B record, I instantly want to go and record some great R&B, and if I hear a great punk record, I want to go and make some noise! It happens with pop, electro, soul, glam… everything. I can’t help it – I just love music!
Chain D.L.K.: I know you also do djing at clubs at nights dedicated to ’80s music. Can you tell to our readers how the atmosphere is there and what are your feelings respect playing you music in front of the audience?
Ex-Rental: Actually, Lucy and I DJ will at *any* good club – it’s great playing music we adore and seeing people dance to it. Our sets can be very eclectic in London these days, and that’s largely thanks to the influence of Trash DJ Erol Alkan, who has been very pioneering in this respect. Many people are no longer satisfied by clubs which play only one kind of music, so as long as we choose songs carefully, we’re able to play all kinds of music and people enjoy it. But we don’t DJ at any clubs which are exclusively devoted to the 80s – we like to be able to play things from *any* decade, or else it’s too restricting!
Chain D.L.K.: Recently you played at the The Future/Human League retrospective CD presentation party. Can you tell us something about that night? What Human League’s members have been involved?
Ex-Rental: It was a great night – definitely one of our best shows so far. It was slightly strange DJ-ing after our live set, as we played several Human League and Heaven 17 songs featuring Ian Craig Marsh, who was standing in front of us! Ian, Martyn Ware and Philip Oakey all helped out with the Future/Human League CD, as did The Human League’s current engineer, David Beevers – he found many of the original master tapes for the CD. But most of the credit must go to Richard X, who compiled and released the CD on his Black Melody label. My main contribution to the CD was writing the sleeve notes and occasionally advising Richard, which wasn’t a huge task, but I was very pleased to help!
Chain D.L.K.: "Feeling Ex-Rental" talks about a guy/girl cheated by someone who’s used to treating lovers that way. Since you called the band Ex-Rental, can you tell me what was the concept in the latter case? I was thinking it was kinda the same but referred to musical industry…
Ex-Rental: No, I was using the name Ex-Rental before I wrote the song. "Feeling Ex-Rental" is just another way of saying "feeling used" by a cheating partner, which is what the song is about.
Chain D.L.K.: "Ad Nauseum" seems to be referred to a famous rock star, can you tell us who is? What are your feelings about musical industry and in what way you’d like to be part of it?
Ex-Rental: Heh heh… "Ad Nauseum" isn’t really about a particular rock star, but I must admit I was thinking about the Gallagher brothers from Oasis when I wrote it! It’s about any musician who has nothing to say, and Oasis have been boring me for a very long time now! I might have respected them more if they had split up after their first album, but now they just repeat themselves on every album. "Ad Nauseum" is about any band that does that – I think they’re lazy. As for the music industry, I don’t really want to become too closely involved with the business side of things. As soon as you start worrying about the business, your music suffers, so I want to avoid it as much as possible. I’m very glad that the first Ex-Rental album will be released on a small label (Angelika Koehlermann) run by other artists who seem to love music as much as me. Maybe one day I’ll have to go to tedious business meetings with other record labels, but I want to delay that for as long as possible!
Chain D.L.K.: At the moment you recorded only some demo CDs but you’re preparing your first full length. Can you tell us something about it?
Ex-Rental: It will be great! Very cheaply recorded, unfortunately, but definitely great!
Chain D.L.K.: What songs will it include? Are you thinking to give it a sort of concept or will it be like a compilation of your best tunes?
Ex-Rental: I want to put all the best Ex-Rental songs on the album, even though it may be very hard to follow. It just feels like the right thing to do – every Ex-Rental album should be as good as possible. I’m not interested in releasing average albums!
Chain D.L.K.: Some songs talk about peple involved in show business (like on "Sophie’s Audition" or "Ad Nauseum") and this is curious. Can you talk about this?
Ex-Rental: Well, being a fan of music and cinema, it’s hard not to being fascinated by the entertainment industry. I’m usually either amused or slightly sickened by it, especially the things people will do to become famous or maintain their fame. There seem to be quite a few Ex-Rental songs about the media and advertising too, and I guess these things are all related. But it’s horribly post-modern to write about them, so I’m trying to do it less often now.
Chain D.L.K.: What are your aims with Ex-Rental? What are you doing to reach them?
Ex-Rental: I just want to make the best music I can, and I want it to be heard by people who will appreciate it. I think Ex-Rental’s music is probably too eclectic to ever achieve huge commercial success, because it can’t be filed under one particular genre, and the media and radio programmers don’t seem to understand artists who dare to make more than one kind of music! I really admire artists like Beck, who change their musical style each time they release an album and remain commercially successful, but I want to be able to constantly change styles *throughout* each album, and very few people seem to be doing that.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the situation in England for bands like Ex-Rental? In the ’80s also we in Italy were aware of the British underground but nowadays the situation seems different. What are the differences?
Ex-Rental: I don’t think the real underground scene gets much coverage in the press anymore. Publications like NME seem to invent their own ‘scenes’ in order to sell magazines, based around the latest bands which have been successfully sold to them by clever publicists. Then six months later, they invent another scene and turn their backs on the bands they’ve recently been championing. Unfortunately, very few of these bands are actually good and none of them are original. It’s quite depressing! I don’t really expect Ex-Rental to have much success here unless things change, but I think the media and the public in certain other European countries may be more open-minded and receptive.
Chain D.L.K.: Final thoughts?
Ex-Rental: I think it’s time I went and made some more music, instead of just talking about it!
[interviewed by Maurizio Pustianaz]