Interview: 10Q’s with Wille Dowling of THE DOWLING POOLE

The Dowling Poole feature Willie Dowling (ex-Jackdaw4/Honeycrack) and Jon Poole (ex-Cardiacs). They have released their debut album, ‘Bleak Strategies’ and they have recently played a series of Pledger gigs as part of their recent Pledge Music campaign to fund the album. To quote the GRTR! review ‘lovers of power pop/pop rock your album of the year has arrived.’ Over to Willie Dowling…

The Dowling Poole

1.     What have you got planned for the next few months e.g. recording, new musical projects etc.

Forgive me being pedantic but I’m not too fond of the word ‘project’. It sounds contrived at worst, and temporary at best, and we both hope that we’re neither. All we’re both thinking about at the moment is The Dowling Poole.

At the moment, it seems to be going rather better than either of us had guessed it might, with some astonishing reviews, and now some occasional radio play, and all of our free time is taken up with trying to stay on top of the curve as each day seems to bring a wee development.

The single ‘The Sun is Mine’ is out on August 11th, as is the official release of our album ‘Bleak Strategies’. Then two days later on August 13th we head to Manchester to do a live session for Marc Riley and 6Music, which will also be the first time that we play as a full ‘electric’ band. After that we’re hoping to do a few acoustic live dates in early September. And if all goes well, we’d really like to play a few full-band electric shows before the end of the year.

2.     You met working on a Ginger album in 2011, why did it take so long to start making music together?

Insecurity played a big part for both of us I guess. It turns out we’d both been thinking the same thought, but neither of us were confident enough to ask each other out on that  crucial ‘first date’, for over a year after we had worked together on Ginger’s record.

I think in truth, for me at least, the confusion of the dying months of Jackdaw4 probably made me postpone making a phone call to Jon for longer than I would have otherwise done, had I been ‘single’ at the time. When I finally plucked up the courage to call him, it was a tremendous relief to hear him say that he had been trying to pluck up the courage to call me, for precisely the same reasons of insecurity!

3.     Could you take us through the excellent new album ‘Bleak Strategies’? e.g. ideas behind the songs, song writing process

I think it would be fair to say that Jon had a better idea of what we were going to be doing when we first began recording. I was still nursing the wounds of the end of Jackdaw4 when Jon and I started recording, and I was happy to be doing anything that stopped me from thinking too  hard about it.

I heard some of his songs and began my part in shaping what he had brought to the table. I was so amazed at his songwriting that I knew instantly that I would have to up my game a little. When I got a sense of what it was that he was aiming for, I kicked in with a little more momentum and started writing along the same lines, and he equally started contributing to my songs and helping shape them, until in the end, it is difficult for others to identify who originated the original idea of each song, but no song would have sounded quite the same without the active contribution of the other partner.

4.     How have you found using Pledge Music? Is this the best way for musicians like yourselves to be hands on with all aspects of the music and its business side?

I have very mixed feelings about it. I think for artists like ourselves and slightly larger artists, it’s tremendously useful in terms of being able to consolidate an existing audience, and thereby forcing the artist to stay on course and deliver to a fairly prescribed timetable. However, it’s limitation is that one is largely still preaching to the converted and you still have the problem of how to reach a wider audience. In that respect, for a new artist, I imagine it would not be a tremendously useful platform.

5.     Where did Edwina One come from and how do they fit into the Dowling Pool story?

I found her in a dump, near to where I live in France. We’d been looking for a kind of visual glue to unite various aspects of the way we were heading, and I’d started to talk to Jon about the Brian Eno idea of ‘Oblique Strategy’ cards that he’d used to produce the three Bowie, ‘Berlin’ albums.

The random chaos principle that they followed according to the instruction on the card, as an artistic approach to whatever it be, whether the guitar solo, or the lyric, or any other element of the recording or writing process. We thought this would be an easy reference point and handle for people to spot and give us an angle of sorts.

However, thus far, no one has spotted the reference, so I’m spelling it out for you now! It’s such a crap anagram; Edwina ONE – ‘ENO’, at least I thought so. Particularly given that the album  is called ‘Bleak Strategies’! Sometimes I’m too pompous for my own good!

The Dowling Poole

6.     Jackdaw4 are sadly no more. What were the highlights with the band? You’ve never gone back to an old musical band/project to date (as far as I can recall!) so I guess there is no chance of a Jackdaw4 reunion at some point in the future?

I can’t imagine it. There’s no idealogical principle behind my reticence to go back to bands of yesterday other than I’ve always figured that life is more interesting to me looking forward and re-inventing, rather than trying to re-live the past.

I used to be far more dogmatic about this, and refused to play songs I’d written in the past. However, recently, I confess I’ve gotten a wee kick out of playing a few old songs in a completely different way on the piano for example. An abject lesson in the idea of never saying, ‘never’.

7.     Is having a song featured on a movie soundtrack or TV series the way to get exposure now, as opposed to the more traditional route of radio airplay? Has YouTube helped promote your music to a new audience?

Frankly, no. God knows I’ve tried! I must have, on perhaps half a dozen occasions, taken a song or a theme that I’ve written for TV, and turned it into a full song in the hope that familiarity would be enough to persuade new people to look harder at the band that created it. I can say with utter assurance that this has never happened for me!

8.     How have the recent gigs gone including the official album launch gig? If you could tour with other bands/musicians who would they be and why?

We’ve played the three ‘PLEDGER only’ gigs, and shortly afterwards, one gig at the 12Bar in July. They were all so enjoyable, particularly the last one where I think we started to gain some confidence, and of course like the whores we are, we’re now desperate to do more. I think we’d enjoy playing with almost anyone who would put us in front of an audience who might get what we’re doing.

9.     What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from music?

For Jon, I’m not sure but I’d guess it might be watching comedy. Alongside his phenomenal knowledge of music and the ease with which he can play it on any instrument, is his ability to quote word for word, lengthy passages from almost any comedy series of note, faultlessly. I quite like growing vegetables and criticising world politics from a distance. Not so much of a hobby, more a failing.

10.  Message for your fans…

You’re a beautiful couple and we hope you stay together for as long as we need an audience….

The Dowling Poole are featured ‘In Session for GRTR!’ on Sunday 30 November 2014 at 21:00.  More…

Album review
Gig review (September 2014)


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