Norman Blake (Jonny) :: The AD Interview

Norman Blake is a well-known name to people who love their power pop. As a founding member of Teenage Fanclub, he's spent more than the 20 years creating a body of work as catchy as it is gorgeous. Recently, Blake teamed up with former Gorky's Zygotic Mynci frontman Euros Childs to create a project under the name Jonny. Their self-titled debut was released on Merge Records earlier this month and captures two unique songwriters having a great time melding their crafts together. AD spoke with Norman Blake by phone recently about the speed of recording Jonny, the influences in its songs, how Merge Records came on board and why a little humor in music is never a bad thing.

Aquarium Drunkard: I'm a huge fan of Teenage Fanclub. I've only gotten a chance to see you guys once here in North Carolina in 2005 on your tour for Man-Made.

Norman Blake: Thank you. Obviously we're coming back again with Jonny which is on Merge Records again. That's the record myself and Euros [Childs] made together, pretty much sitting around the kitchen table. It started off as the idea that we could produce a 7" single and take some copies each and take them to shows and sell them and give them away. And that blossomed into an album. The group Jonny kind of happened by accident.

AD: I heard the record only took ten days to record in the studio. Was that writing time also, or was the record written before you went in to record?

NB: We had some songs written ahead - maybe five or six. The initial idea was Euros was going to come to my class in Glasgow and we were going to record there with a computer and a drum machine and just acoustic guitars and a little keyboard. But I was speaking with Paul Savage who runs Chemikal Underground [record label] studio, Chem 19, and he just happened to say they had some downtime that coincided with the week Euros would be in town. So I spoke with Euros and then we had this idea "well, maybe we can get a drummer and a bass player to come in and record the songs that way." So sure enough, we called a couple of friends and they came in and basically recorded the backing tracks in two days. It was all completed in about ten and that's recording and mixing.

It did happen by accident. It started as a much smaller thing; it wasn't even really a band initially. We only realized it would be a band a few days before we started making the record. It was all pretty much spontaneous. We had written maybe five or six songs already and then we had another half-dozen ideas. We had to finish those pretty quickly. I know when we're making a Teenage Fanclub record, I'll agonize over the songs. It may not sound that way. [laughs] But I do agonize over them for a long time when I'm trying to complete them, you know? So with this, we didn't have to. In a way, there was no expectation for this at all. We were just going to release a single and that was it and then we'd move on.

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