The Dowling Poole have released their second album, ‘One Hyde Park’, another glorious collection of pop gems recalling greats such as XTC, the Kinks, ELO and the band’s own unique twist.
After catching up recently with Willie Dowling, we posed some questions to the other half of the band, Jon Poole. As well as the Dowling Poole, Jon chats about Lifesigns and the Wildhearts…
The new album, ‘One Hyde Park’ is another fantastic album jammed full of pop rock gems. How do you and Willie keep coming up with such great songs?
Firstly thank you!
For me personally I had been writing a ‘certain type of song’ for a long while but had no outlet for this ‘type of song’ until I met and worked with Willie on Ginger Wildheart’s 555% album back in 2011. I saw something in his arranging and writing that immediately got me thinking this is the man! The man who I can work on psychedelic, summer-infused pop songs with!
Getting back to your question, it became very apparent when working on the first Dowling Poole album, ‘Bleak Strategies’ that we both have an intense passion for the kind of song we write and assemble…it comes from a very true and honest place.
Therefore it is now firmly embedded in our collective DNA so there is no way we can stop continually spewing out these paisley-tinted mini-epics.
What do you think you have added musically or perhaps in the way you record songs, since the debut album?
I think familiarity with each other’s work ethic,techniques and personal quirks has helped us focus our efforts into making something that we hope is more direct and to the point both musically and lyrically.
I know I’ve definitely become influenced by Willie’s need to keep songs as close to three and a half minutes as humanly possible for instance!
I think that’s a two-way thing. We’ve both opened each other’s eyes to new alternatives and ideas.
We both share musical heroes whom we no doubt absorb influence from but we both have influences that differ from one another too. When these ones sneak in then things start to get trippy. In a good way.
What do you think makes the song writing and musical process so special between you and Willie?
It’s hard to say really. I guess we’ve both been doing this separately from one another for many years now and have both been in that situation where we are the ‘dominant force’ of whatever project we’ve been working on but somehow, our getting together has quite naturally urged us to surrender and to stop lounging around in our old favourite armchairs.
We genuinely enjoy learning new stuff from one-another and feel that this has a positive effect on our output.
One of us will come up with a different slant on the other’s initial idea and it will be so way off the original intention that it becomes vital that we give it a go.
Perhaps that’s where some of the magic comes from. I find it hard to talk about without getting ever so slightly self-conscious!
What sort of set can fans expect at the upcoming electric shows in May?
We plan on doing a collection of songs from both albums. The ones we feel will work best live. We may even chuck in an obscure b-side? Of course whatever we play there’ll always be someone saying ‘why didn’t you play so and so?’ That’s the nature of the beast I guess. The one thing we refuse to do is to play songs from past bands we’ve been in. That’d be a massive cop-out. Who needs it?
We played acoustically when we did the first album and due to a lack of songs we had no choice other than to pull out the odd Honeycrack, JD4 or God Damn Whores song. It felt like selling your soul to some extent but back then we had no choice.
Now with two albums-worth of material and the odd b-side there is no excuse to revel in past-glories.
As a musician which are easier to do the full on electric shows or the acoustic ones?
It’s hard to say if playing electrically will be any easier/harder than playing acoustically because we haven’t done it yet!
Ordinarily I’d say that to a certain extent you can hide behind the noise at electric gigs and that acoustic gigs can make you feel a little too exposed sometimes but because the arrangements are so intricate in our electric set it may be less of a ‘hiding behind a wall of sound’ experience.
I know there is little room for error in our sound…you might just as well stick a spot-light on the culprit who made the mistake and get the audience to chant the word ‘c**t’ repeatedly at him…or her…we have lady too.
Willie said in his interview that the Dowling Poole were perhaps looking at in the future recording three songs and then releasing them, in an attempt to keep the band at the forefront to peoples’ minds. This is as opposed to disappearing for a year or so to record a whole new album. Do you think this is the way forward and the album may be on its way out?
I can’t accept that the album is dead…I’m too much of a fan boy and music geek to surrender to such a ludicrous concept.
The situation we find ourselves caught up in has kind of dictated our next move.
We don’t want to get stuck releasing an album then disappearing off everyone’s radar while we record the next one. This loses momentum and people start forgetting us so every time we have to win people over all over again.
We’d like to regularly put music out and to keep regular contact with our supporters going. Our fans have been so helpful in terms of spreading the word, re-tweeting and sharing FB posts and when we’ve asked their opinions on what they feel we should be doing to move forward they’ve been more helpful than I ever could have imagined.
They’re a fun bunch and I’ve grown immensely fond of them.
So yes, more contact with the fans and more regular music seems the way forward. We’re talking about perhaps releasing three songs at a time.
Again, as with everything we do in this band, it’s an experiment. I don’t want to say ‘we’ll never make another album ever again’ because I very much doubt that’s true but we would like to experiment with a new approach and regular contact with our mini-army of followers.
You are also heavily involved in Lifesigns and they have been building a steady profile. What has been the live highlight(s) so far?
Yes, I’ve been playing bass with Lifesigns for (I think) two and a half years now. Lifesigns are very much associated with the ‘prog’ genre.
We even make it into the Prog Magazine musician polls now! I’m the 6th best prog bassist in the world don’t you know!!
We’ve played twice on that prog cruise that goes from Miami (‘Cruise To The Edge’) where all the big old prog bands play…Yes, Marillion, Gentle Giant, Steve Hackett, Caravan etc. That was pretty epic and I think I can safely say we all made friends with a few of our musical heroes.
Another huge moment for me personally was playing gigs with ‘Tin Spirits’ who feature my guitar hero ‘Dave Gregory’ from my favourite band, XTC. I went to pieces when I first met him and blurted out something ridiculous like ‘Meeting you is the equivalent of you meeting Hendrix!’…It’s amazing how when you become star-struck your voice goes up an octave and you become 13 years old again! Within a few days I calmed down though and Dave Gregory and the other Tin Spirits lads became great friends.
How did you become part of Lifesigns?
My brother Ed, who is also a bassist plays in Bonnie Tyler’s band. John Young, the Lifesigns singer/keyboard player/mother(!) plays keyboards in Bonnie Tyler’s band. My brother recommended me so I went and auditioned and am pleased to say I got the job! The downside is poor John Young now gets ‘Pooled’ from both sides on a regular basis!
Do you know what the current plans of the Wildhearts are? Is it just a touring entity now and only on select dates or significant album anniversaries?
I think the thing with The Wildhearts is that it’s always been and will always be a forever-changing entity.
All I can say is as we speak there are no plans to make a new album but to say ‘never’ would possibly be a bum-steer. ‘The future is unwritten’ said some bloke from some reasonably successful band or other.
The anniversaries are immense fun and we’re reminded when we play together that we’re actually rather good. I enjoy getting back with the lads as and when it happens.
Message for your fans…
Thank you so much for your support and help. Your opinions and words of wisdom are immensely useful to us and we are eternally grateful.
I must now plead with you to attend our forthcoming live shows. http://thedowlingpoole.com/gigs/
The only way this band can exist as a live full electric act is if you attend shows. We can’t play every town, village, front room on the globe so travelling may have to be an option for some.
I used to follow bands around when I was a lad…roadtrips are fun yeah?!
If I could lick each and every one of your faces I would.
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