Interview: One-Way Song

In this interview, I spoke to Luke Gilfedder of One-Way Song – a recently signed band/musical collective based in Manchester. The group, who have an interesting background and an unusual approach to making music, have recently finished recording their debut EP, ‘Passionate Leave‘, with the assistance of a diverse cast of musicians.

The band had an unusual beginning. Can you tell us a little bit about how One-Way Song came to be?

We formed from a theatre group of all things. Myself and Angus Macalister (One-Way Song’s lead vocalist) met at Manchester Grammar and then we started this theatre group with our friends called Finn Youth Productions – but you could call it an anti-theatre group really, it was very much outsider art, we were 18 and had no funding or connections and we had turned down University to start it. We ended up based in Wilmslow at an 18th Century theatre on the old estate of Sir Henry Boddington, said to be haunted by the ghost of a butler and the lady of the house who he murdered out of jealousy. We did Graham Greene’s ‘The Living Room’ one Halloween there – even the cast were spooked! The only rule we had was that we never used ‘actors’ – just friends who understood what we were driving at – we were already like a punk group in that sense. Recently we’d been experimenting with writing some songs for a future production, then decided we should perform them live in their own right… next thing ‘One-Way Song’ was formed, and then we were in the studio recording…

Where did the name ‘One-Way Song’ come from?

It’s from a poem by Wyndham Lewis that we like. But it also reflects the way the momentum kind of snowballed from theatre to music.

What role does everyone play in the collective?

Angus did the majority of the vocals on this EP. I do the lyrics and fit them to instrumentals that either Angus or other musicians who get involved have made. Keiron Melling and Mat Arnold produced the tracks at Hilltown Studios, and Jay Stansfield from All Hail Hyena delivers vocals on ‘Billy Fisher Fitzgerald & The Summer Houses Of The Dead’. Danielle, a model originally from South Africa, works with us on our photo shoots and image – a lot of bands seem to underrate the importance of this element I think.

What are your live performances like and does your background in theatre play a role in them?

We did a show at the Imperial War Museum which involved a large video projection, but no direct theatre involvement as of yet – although there is an audio clip from one of our productions in the song ‘Billy Fisher Fitzgerald’ live. We’re bringing out a full-length EP video along with the release that does feature some clips from our theatre shows.

What influenced the writing for songs on the ‘Passionate Leave’ EP?

You could say it’s as simple as leaving your job and going on a permanent vacation, like that David Johansen song ‘I Ain’t Workin’ Anymore’. Our tagline for it is ‘from the Intense Inane to the Inane Intense, and back again’. There were some specific influences – the lyrics to Riviera Nightmare were written in Marseille at the time of the Lubitz air crash. ‘The Summer Houses Of The Dead’ is our attempt at social commentary about our generation – we get it out of our system in about forty seconds though, unlike most bands.

What genre, if any, would you put the EP in?

Technically, people say it’s post-punk, but that sounds rather dated, and I think we have a more filmic sound than most post-punk bands. It’s very British, I guess. I’ve always liked this line Les Dawson included in the preamble to one of his fiction books: “if it’s rubbish, well at least it’s British rubbish”. We should probably have that on the next EP cover.

You’ve received glowing reviews for your first couple of releases, but your music has also been described as ‘odd’. Is that something you aim for when making music?

I can see why people say that! We definitely don’t try to make things deliberately odd. I think people who are weird on purpose are trying to hide some deficit. We’re actually trying to make things more comprehensible believe it or not! But because a lot of music sounds the same, maybe we end up sounding odd by default.

Who inspires you and do they have any effect on your music?

I can think of people whose work we really respect who came from outside music and did projects in it. Jonathan Meades would be an example, he did that spoken word album called ‘Pedigree Mongrel’ that we liked very much. Colin Wilson did an album too with a group called ‘In The Nursery’. I’m not sure if it any of it had a direct effect, but it did show how you can go from one medium to another quite seamlessly if you have a strong identity or idea.

What does the future look like for One-Way Song?

We’ve got a follow-up album written that we want to get recorded whenever we can fit it in. It’s called ‘Dark God’s Latter Holidays’ and the lead single is called ‘Barbary Spies, Universities Demise’. We’re also writing a play about Wilhelm Reich, that will involve original One-Way Song music – including Dr. Spraza from this EP, and many tracks from the new one. So the immediate future post-Passionate Leave will be comprised of those two things, but as for further beyond that, who knows?!

Finally, when is Passionate Leave out and where can we find it?

It’s going to be out in November, on iTunes and Spotify and the lot. We’re going to announce an exact date very shortly, so just keep checking the One-Way Song page…