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All right. Too close, huh? Too close. All right, let's do the show. Lock the gate. All right, let's do this. How are you? What the fuckers, what the fuck buddies? What the fuck is what's happening? I'm Mark Maron and this is my podcast, WTF. Welcome to it. You are right. What are you doing? What are you doing for Thanksgiving? It you keeping it tight. You're laying low.
You keeping it in-house like not not people coming into the house. It's a weird thing that's happening on all levels in terms of how people seem to understand this virus.
It seems kind of clear to me that they're figuring out how to treat it a little better, but that doesn't mean it's not a heinous, dangerous. Erratic in terms of how it affects each individual bit of toxic viral. Contagion, and it's worse now than it's ever been. That's that's the odd thing. I mean, I think that's indicative of something. How's it going?
Are you guys all right? I don't want the fucking virus today on the show, I talked to Johnny Flynn, he was he played David Bowie in the film that that I'm going to be in.
That's opening soon. I believe it opens on Wednesday, if I'm not mistaken. Yes. Wednesday, November 25th, in theaters and on demand. The film Stardust with me and Johnny Flynn. You might know him as a recording artist. He says he's got several records people enjoy. And he was in the movie Beast. And in the movie, Emma signed a television series called Lovesick, and I talked to him today. It's an interesting thing about that movie.
That this sort of weird it's it's amazing to me what people get, how they direct their anger. Know there was this immediate reaction to the initial promotion of this film from from people who are like Bowis die hard bouy nerds worked up upset. That they didn't think David wanted a movie about him, they didn't think. The estate didn't allow the music, but I'll tell you one thing about this movie, it's not a biopic.
It's a little window into a period in time in David's life where he wasn't quite sure how he was going to do what he wanted to do or who he was necessarily.
It's a it's an important crossroads in any creative person's life if they're conscious enough to be to know they're standing there. And I don't think any of us really picture David Bowie as being insecure or unsure of himself or not really knowing how to take the next step creatively. But we should. It's one of those things where if you look at all the different decisions he made about his own character and personas in this, in that it would it would, you know, when did that start?
How did that start? What was the decision making process?
This is sort of a a very engaged and respectful exploration of that of that moment where David Bowie didn't know. Who David Bowie should be or who David Bowie was. It's called Stardust. It opens Wednesday, the 25th this Wednesday in theaters and in streaming. So enjoy that.
And I know a lot of the the holdouts, the Bowie loyalists who refuse to believe that somebody who had a 50 year career putting things out into the world, allowing spreading himself out to be judged and criticized and appreciated and celebrated and demanding a certain amount of recognition and admiration and understanding that anybody should sort of take that up and say, well, I want to understand more. I want to I want to explore David Bowie.
In a piece of writing a book, I record a movie. Public people, public artists, especially great ones, are provocative, they're provocative to other artists who make stuff.
This is one of those things, this is part of that stuff, Stardust is the name of the movie.
But speaking of the the plague and the fact that things how things have changed, you remember how terrified we all were when it started and what we were doing, washing boxes, weaving boxes outside, washing vegetables, washing our hands, not going inside places, running in and out of places. We learned a few things about the disease, about the spread of it, about, you know, weather boxes were safe or how much we should clean things, surfaces and whatnot.
But we've also learned since then that it's more contagious than we thought it was, and that masks certainly helps stop the spread or limit the spread of the contagion. But the bottom line is, whatever the case, however we saw it, then, it's worse than it's ever been.
Now. And people have slacked off because they've learned to live with the reality of it. But fortunately, most people. Have not had to learn to live with the disease itself, a great many people have had people in their families die or get the disease, but most people have not gotten the disease. And that is slowly changing. But the attitudes are not I don't know if it's entitlement, self-centered, a. a lack of empathy or just giving zero fucks.
But the reality is this, that you don't know what it's going to do to you when you get it. There are people that assume A, I'm healthy, doesn't matter, really, it may. There are people like, well, you know, Trump got treated with it, you can't have that treatment, but I'm guilty of it.
This is the fucking problem. I'm guilty of it. Nobody can guarantee your safety.
If you're going to do things, you have to decide.
You have to take your calculated risks that help you maintain your sanity, don't want to lose your mind or get suicidal because of the fear of disease. But you do want to take care of yourself. But my point being.
Is that people want to continue doing things they want to do and they want to at least start doing things they want to do and businesses want to start making their services available to people that want them.
Whether it's a restaurant, whether it's a comedy club, whether it's a movie production. They're putting the risk on the individual, the people that are providing services, they know that they can't guarantee your safety. Nobody can guarantee anybody's safety, really.
So it's on you to decide.
So make sure you're straight with your mind and your heart in terms of the decisions you're making. And also, you have to remember that it's not all about you. That seems to be a very difficult thing for people, not Americans, just people, myself included.
I'm inconvenienced, I'm making a choice to take a risk because I want to be able to do certain things. What if that puts a lot of other people at risk?
I'm but I'm not going to I'm not I'm not going to talk to I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to do that. That's not who I am. But you will if you do this. I don't know. I don't know. But I'm not going to.
It's a reality. All right. OK. I know. I know. That, I think, is what's at the core of most people's behavior right now and most people's rationalization in justifying you poke at it just enough and you'll get like, I know, I know, I know it's dangerous.
I get it. Look, we're all angry, man. It's important to take care of yourself, but it's important not to kill people with your lack of. Concern or irresponsibility? Hey, can I say something here? You're not alone if you're dealing with any of these things anxiety, depression, relationship, conflicts, anger, it's hard for everyone out there and better help. Online counseling offers licensed professional therapists who are trained to listen and to help. It's a simple process.
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I meditated this morning. I tried that out.
It was like it was a, you know, guided meditation and I did it. I did what they told me so I did it and I'll do it again and I'm going to keep doing it. OK, I've made that decision.
What a great finally, finally I've done I'm doing something proactive, something people have told me to do for years that could make a difference in my life.
Why do I fight that shit? Also, another word about Thanksgiving.
Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Is that what this is? Everybody who complains about their fucking families non-stop over the holidays. You don't have to go. You can just say I can't because I don't want to die or kill you. So stop asking me to come, you know, I shouldn't I know. All right, then, Mom. Just tell dad, look, I love you, but I'm not going to be there, and then you hang up that phone and go, Oh my God.
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So Johnny Flynn is in the movie, starts with me, plays David Bowie in his man who sold the World Period.
The movie opens this Wednesday, November twenty fifth in theaters and on demand. And I met him on the set. And this is the first time we've really talked since we've done the movie. So this is a Johnny Flynn and me talking and.
I see your Instagram posts when you're doing the live on yourself. I was a guitar every now and then when you're just, like, ripping a Aref up. Yeah. And that that post is weird to be there in the in the flesh.
Well, I mean, I you know, obviously I'm not as good a guitar player as you. That's not true. I do my bit.
That's not true. It's true. I can't. Fingerpicking me. I was listening to some of your records yesterday and I'm just sort of like, fuck, man.
I got a why can't I finger pick? You can try. You can do it. What is it? How long did it take? You got to practice forever. I was lucky.
I was on like a theatre tour when I was like 22. And yeah, there was one guy in the company who had a who was like a master of the finger thing. And I said, oh yeah, we were touring around the world. And I was like, this is my and for a year doing two Shakespeare plays. And I was quite bored a lot at the time. And I just decided, this is my this is my year.
I'm going to do it. This is my apprenticeship. I'm going to be fingerpicking fingerstyle master. Yeah. By now I'm fingerstyle mediocre. But but I did that year doing it so you can do your thumb separate from the other fingers.
I can do that. But what I really wanted to be able to do is flip between the pic. So, you know, Richard Thompson has this style and a couple of other people, I think Lightnin Hopkins did as well, where they instead of because the Doc Watson way is this disciplined thumb where you go bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom bom.
And and if you can do the if you do with a flat pick, hold in between your thumb and forefinger, what you would do with the thumb and then you move everything down one. So you have to use your, your little finger, your pinky finger. You did it. That's what I do. Because it means I can tap into you know, I can go into a into a solo or you know, when I'm with the band or whatever.
Or you could do big chords, big rhythm with the. Yeah, yeah. I can go back and forth, I walk, you know, I'll get it. You can do it. You could do. I mean I'm just it's I've gotten I can do it a little bit and I'm a little better but not that style.
When we, when we jammed in and wherever that was.
Hamilton in Hamilton, Ontario. Yeah. We were in in the studio and doing all the stuff. Right. Yes. Right. And it was like was like a refugee bunker there was. Right. Yeah. Yeah. Everyone can hear us. Right. And I was, I was really blown away by I thought, shit, I can't, I can't keep up so.
Oh come on. I know, I know. You were great. You're great. Yeah. That's what I talking about.
Peter Green is like spreading the gospel of Peter Green also to see that I was I was listening to them today.
They were thinking about you. But, you know, that's gone really deep. Actually, I and now I'm now I'm like I'm evangelical for Fatone.
And he was he the tone master, right? Oh, you that guitar man.
That guitar had the weirdest dance. I was noticing that too when I was listening to the records that at some point. You know, because I had to kind of catch up on, you know, what you do, but like as the records moved on, it seemed like your electric tone got dirtier.
Yeah, yeah. That was before the Peter Green business. Yeah.
I definitely I was always into that stuff. And to be honest, I think my blues I was a little bit sniffy about like Chicago blues because. Yeah. And I was a bit of a not not purist but like I was so into like old country blues, Suresnes and that that finger stuff and that, you know, like Charlie Patton and Robert Johnson.
Yeah. Yeah. I mean those guys. But yeah, it took me a while to accept that because there's a bit more showmanship to it.
And actually reading the book that you gave me, the birth of Lord, I think it's cool. Oh that's great, right. Yeah. Yeah. You gave and I'm thinking about the technology and and seeing like and just allowed me actually to go on a journey with that. So I've been I've been listening to more B.B. King in that kind of stuff and thinking, yeah, this can on the can do this now.
Yeah. It's a middle aged thing for the town journey. You're on the town journey.
Yeah I Bordelais are pedals and everything. I'm just. Oh my God.
Yeah. I stay away from the pedals. Just get yourself a vintage Fender amp. Yeah I do.
I have a I have a blues deluxe. Yeah. They're the best.
Yeah. Really. So. All right. Well it's good to see you man. You too. You too. So what do you think of the movie when you watch the whole movie are movie Stardust?
I really liked it. I mean, I thought I thought it was really sweet. Right. You know, it's a it's a small it's a small film.
It's been so pissed off at the trolls about like go with the Bowie family didn't want it. And this is terrible. It's why are you I, I can't even pay attention to it. I feel bad, you know, just it's just sort of like just shut up and don't see it if you don't want to see it. Yeah. It's not a biopic, it's, it's a movie about this weird little sliver in time.
It's so dangerous. A dangerous attitude to have as well. It's a kind of cancer culture bullshit.
You know, the movie is journalistic in tone and there's an objectivity that I think Gabriel wanted by not being in bed with the estate and not being disrespectful to the subject, but just having that authorial objectivity and being able to tell the story that really it was a movie about, you know, artistic, evolving as an artist.
And trying to sort of source the the the kind of impulses that Bowie had and where his creativity came from at an early age. It's not some sort of art thing. And also it's sort of a kind of an interesting buddy film. Yeah. It comes down to you and me.
Yeah. No, sweet. I like I like road movies and you know, and we went on that, we went on that journey. We were hanging out there. It was cool. Yeah.
We're hanging out in that horrible car in those horrible places. Yeah. Shooting very quickly. Yeah.
We're there to remember the DP. Yeah.
He's eight is eighty now he's you remember he's got what he has hearing in one ear and he has one vocal cord.
It was crazy, the 80 year old DP running around, but he's like the real deal man. He shot John Lennon and all that stuff.
Yeah. He can make it look like the like the real thing, which is all of that is, I think what makes it good.
And it's so I was surprised how good it looked, dude, because when you shoot something that quick, I'm just sort of like, are you sure you got to do every good? Yeah. We moved on here. I know. I think, Gabriel, you did a great job. Thanks for talking.
I was talking to somebody. I said, yeah, if I squint. Did you know you look like Bowie? Totally.
If a square is like Bowie there and I didn't do enough Coke, that's good.
I how many kids you got now. Nine. Yeah I three. I want I was, I was going to apologize.
I've you know it's funny something that's been bugging me, you know, that they, they came to san and I don't know if you remember this, but I thought about it afterwards.
We were having lunch and I was like us sat on the table and and we were coming into the room to find a place to sit. And you were there on your own and the table. And I was thinking, Mark's on his lunch break. You know, he doesn't want to be bothered by these screaming, you know, I know what they're like when they get going. And just so they're like a swarm of locusts, you know. But yeah.
And then we sat we sat on a different table. And I remember you looking over like, oh, did you want to sit with me?
And I and I fell. And then I set off to it's like, oh, I'm sorry we didn't sit with you. And you were like, oh, it's all right.
But I knew that I. See, in that moment, I thought, oh, he would have been OK with it, and I wanted to say it was only that I was trying to protect you from my mania children.
I am so glad you brought that up, because I've been carrying that for months. Twitter, every time your name comes up, I'm like, fuck that guy. And is yeah, I knew I'd find it. I knew I fucked.
And then now it was fine.
So like, what's I like, I didn't realize until I kind of did a little homework but. That you did it not only with the musicianship, but like it seems to me that the acting like it's something you always did was both of them, right?
You grew up in it. How did you like where do you where were you? Where are you from?
I'm from you know how good? It's really complicated. I grew up mostly in on the south coast in a little village in a county called Hampshire, which is like, you know, pretty but not much happening in England.
In England. Yeah. And then and then when I was about 14, my parents moved to fishing village in West Wales to this rural, beautiful coastal village. And and I worked on a fishing boat there growing up that. So I bet you.
Where were you born, though? Well, I was born in South Africa. My dad was an actor. He was on tour with a play.
And my mum, his parents had gone out to South Africa to be teachers, was living in South Africa. And she met my dad. They they got married. They had me.
So your dad was on a tour in South Africa?
Yeah, he was touring a play. Yeah.
So was he a big actor? Well, he was kind of big in England at the time.
In the UK. He did stage actor stage and a bit like he played Ivanhoe in a BBC thing of Ireland. He was in Disney, Dr Sen 60. He did a lot of B movies and he did hammer movies and stuff. But he was like an RC guy, you know, like a stage. And he sang. He sang and wrote songs. So he had a similar dynamic to me. And he he he often was in musicals and stuff in the days when musicals were kind of credible.
So your mom is South African?
Yeah. I mean, she's born there. Yeah. Her parents were sort of British by descent, but she was. Yeah. Yeah. So when he.
So your dad lived there for a while when she was pregnant with you or he. Yeah.
There he moved there. He just dropped everything he had. He must've really loved her.
I think he did. He did. Yeah. He had a family, he had three kids, the youngest of which was 16. So it was no small thing. He left, you know, he went out.
So he was married when he fell for your mom? He was. But they were sort of my understanding is that they were sort of separated, that they they kind of got their own way. And she met somebody the first wife met somebody at the same time who was actually my dad's friend. And we and I'm very I'm very close with them. So my dad's not around anymore. But my the first wife and her partner, they come to see me in plays and they go and visit them.
We had Christmas together. It's really.
And you've got a bunch of half brothers. Yeah. Yeah. That two half brothers and a half sister. And they the brothers are both actors as well. I looked up one of them.
One of them look familiar. You look scary. Yeah. He's said that one the scary ones in the more recently in Game of Thrones. But he was he was like he was a 90s. He also weirdly had a kind of pop career in the 90s in the UK, accidental one, because he sang a song in a show that he was in and then he got offered money to put it out is a record. What's that guy's name?
Jerome Flynn. My brother Flynn. Yeah.
So you a bunch of actors, singer guys.
Yeah, kind of, but very. You know, we don't we don't talk about it well, and we're very different from each other. And then my sister is also an actor. I never know whether to say actor or actress. And she sings and she's in my band. So she's on all the records and stuff and tours with me. And she has a great voice. And she's my full sister. Full sister, right. A younger sister.
Yeah. OK, so you're growing up, you're you're on the fishing boat.
How old are you on the fishing boat?
15, 16 to 18. Know not a life decision in the holiday. It's just. Yeah. So you weren't it wasn't a career choice, you know, but I still think it was like the best job I ever had.
Lifting. Lifting loves to put. Yeah.
Is amazing. I mean, something so mystical and beautiful and you know, simple in that exchange and kind of weird as well. You're holding something up and I still have this. I have a fixation with the sea. A good one. I think so. I don't know.
I mean, I'm terrified of it. Like, like you're about to say you don't know it's going to be in the cage. I'm like, yeah, exactly. I assume there there's massive monsters under the sea. And there are generally if yeah. If I'm in the sea they're nearby in my mind we're just a few feet away from some giant monster that is going to reveal.
Wouldn't you, wouldn't you rather that they were there than than they're not there. I mean it feels like sure.
I just don't need to be near them. I got perhaps the sea can be filled with monsters, which it is. I have no problem with that.
But I don't need to be swimming near them. OK, that's my feeling on a boat. I'm OK.
It's eleven live, right? Oh, of course. Yeah.
I don't want to I don't need to kill them. Have you seen, have you seen my octopus teacher on Netflix. Not yet. I watched a trailer for it. I feel like I got the idea. It's a great idea. It is great. I think you crack open your heart.
Yeah. It seems sad to me. I mean, I'm not crying. Do I have to do what? Have the guy the guy follows around an octopus and then it dies.
Yeah, that's it all in one. You did the trailer, right? Yeah. I mean I hear it's good. I'll watch it eventually.
Netflix, it said, you know the other shows for you to do the voice on the trailer.
So when do you so like in this fishing village, is that where you start acting. When did you decide.
I when I went off to drama school. When I was eighteen. Nineteen maybe. Yeah. The way, you know, the sort of traditional route in this country is if you want to be an actor, you might go through university or just kind of get lucky or get spotted or whatever. But if you really are going for it, you go to drama school and it's like a vocational training, like a three year course, and it's really hard to get in.
Yeah. You know, there's like, you know, five thousand people, ten thousand people auditioning for, you know, twelve places or something. And I got into a good one and I was always playing music. I was I was playing in bands, school and stuff. And then when I was in London Drama School, I started running at Club Night with a couple of friends, basically just so we could play so we could put ourselves on to play.
And we put on these gigs and we invited all our friends in early on.
Like, what was the music, though? I mean, like, were you in a rock band?
Because I was like, yeah, in the first record, you know, you were doing kind of folky shit right away. Yeah. I mean, was that always the thing or did you did you start with rock and then move?
I mean, I grew up listening to a lot of punk music and a lot of like thrash stuff. And I was always there wasn't that I was. Yeah. I think this is why it's quite difficult. I'm often kind of pinioned by the folk circuit and I get invited to play by folk, you know, festivals and things. And then and then the traditional folk musicians often are like, who the fuck? Who the fuck are you kind of thing?
Because I don't know all those hundreds of that still goes on.
Oh, yeah, that still happens. It's still in this country. It's really yeah. It's it's big and it's coming back in a big, big way.
What the folk is but folk into kind of mainstream me sort of. I mean there's a few, there's a few. I find it I find really I always hated being called folk because I it had this connotation of like I don't know, just something kind of really naff. And I like people like Billy Bragg who who who had that energy, and they knew that the folk idiom was just a way of, you know, raging at the political system.
So you listening to punk rock and then the first bands you're in, what's the angle? More Billy Bragg.
Well, what happened was around that. Time in 2004. 2005, when I first started playing out like you're in drama school, just yeah, they aren't coming out of coming out of drama school. Yeah.
So you're playing you you're in drama school, but you're also playing guitar at that point.
Yeah. And you've got guys you play with and you start to run a night where you guys can jam. What do you what do you guys mostly play?
I mean, it's more like a rock band stuff then. It's like kind of just bang, bang, bang, bang. Yeah, good.
So so then you're going to drama school now in drama school. In drama school. What do you do? Like what's the program you learning Shakespeare. Is that what you do. Yeah. Like most is like it's basically high school. Correct or. No, no.
It's like college. It's college is after high school. Yeah. Yeah.
And the training is mostly Shakespeare. It's a you have a Shakespeare class, you do a lot of Shakespeare plays, but you do movement and like it's kind of a bit wanky. It's a bit, it's a bit up itself because everybody takes themselves very seriously. There's this whole kind of concept of there's a there's a cliche about breaking you down and and you do acting exercises where you stare into a mirror for ten hours and, you know, you do trust exercises and all this kind of stuff.
Are you do that kind of stuff along with the classical stuff?
Yeah. Yeah. And then and then classical stuff. And I think the English sort of theater sensibility is that that stuff is intertwined. And if you're really rebellious, then you're reading books. I was reading interviews with Stella Adler and and like that, you know. Sure. That's kind of you know, that's like fifty years ago. That's avant garde in like English drama schools.
And they're not there and they don't do the they're not method. They're not a more classical. Not so much. Yeah. And they're quite proud of that as well. They think that that's the the generally. But we also had some interesting directors who had come in. They would expose us to these kind of individual minds and creatives who would just do their thing. And and that was cool. I don't know. It's a way of becoming like people.
If you if you're like in a theatre company where every week you're doing a different play and rap kind of thing at the end. And then. Yeah, and I was running, I was running the club nights and I was playing, I was busking sometimes on the South Bank like in London, you know, just going down my guitar. I was running, running everywhere with a guitar on my back and, and going from somebody's house to play this jam to do this thing.
Was it was it always the plan though? Was there wasn't it? Both of them kind of ran equal with you music and acting. It wasn't like you were doing the acting, but you wanted to do more music. They were just sort of both what you did because it seems that way. Yeah.
At that point, I didn't really believe that I would make it any other thing. So it's like working very hard both and.
Really wanted to take acting seriously because been a music scholar school, which meant that I'd been playing a lot of classical music, so I had a good sort of good chops for, like theory. And I played violin and stuff like that.
Oh, you can read music and play violin. Yeah. Is that you playing the violin on those early records. Yeah.
That was some wild, weird violin. Oh, and there's some cello as well that's quite out there. So that's not me. Yeah. It's not me tellies. Not me. That's from out there.
Cello. Where'd you where'd you pull the outdoor the out there cello from like John John Cale.
That was John Kerry's inspiration for that stuff. And like Warren Ellis, the way we're in this place with the bats, you know, I wanted to I wanted to have anyway, you don't want to get to that first sound yet, but I wanted to mix loads of things together. Basically, I wanted to have.
Well, that's well, that's the thing that I notice is that, like, I'm kind of curious about the folk, you know, real folk, fake folk war, because out of nowhere, like a few months ago, I got I got turned on to the incredible string band. Oh, yeah. And and I didn't I didn't know their shit. I didn't know anything about them. Right. You know, I was going through this book of like the one hundred essential rock records, you know.
Yeah. Yeah. And and I have most of them and the ones I don't have I don't like you. So but there was the incredible string band. I'm like, I know nothing about these guys.
So I bought one record, you know, I got it wasn't even the farmer's daughter, the hangman's daughter record. It was maybe the first record.
I got this their first album, The Circle is Unbroken or something.
The very first one. Yeah. And I was like, it might it might be self-titled. And and I was like, holy shit, what the fuck is this?
And then I got the second record, the five thousand layers of the whatever. Yeah.
And then that. Right. I think that's the best one. Yeah. I mean it's great that the hangman's daughter is good, but I think that the layers of whatever.
That's my favorite. So in answer to your question, I discovered that stuff like sort of early 60s. I suddenly discovered like, like Fairport Convention and the incredible string band and a lot of those early Ilhan record things and the Pentangle Pentangle. Yeah.
And I was like, this is really cool. It's got such a thing and it's so rooted in my own tradition. You know, my my right this this is my inheritance. You know, this is. Yeah, yeah. And um.
And. I read I read this interview with with Fairport Convention because I love I love Richard Thompson. I love this album.
He's insane. I know that guy. He's like he's the he's so good. He's amazing. I interviewed him and then by coincidence, he was playing the night before I played in Dublin. And I got there and I was all jet lagged and turned inside out. But I went down to the venue because he was playing there. And I just interviewed him a few weeks before. So we actually knew me. He had a frame for me and I was able to hang out with him backstage, but I'd never seen him live before.
And man Kikkan, he can turn a guitar inside out.
Yeah, well he, it's his, it's his picking style that I copy. Right. That's what I went through.
And that album, Legian Leaf, Yelwa, Legian, that was, that was huge for me. But the stuff he did with his now ex-wife, with Linda, Richard and Linda albums.
Yeah. Best man.
That's so good. And I the all of I mean I know that that stuff's all quite spread out, but when hearing that stuff you go this is rooted in something that I have a right to play. You know, these songs are influenced by certain scales that are in my idiom. You know, they're just in my bones through my you know, where I'm from. And I grew up playing where. But where exactly is Britain or what?
Yeah, I'm might you know, my dad was sort of Irish, but yeah, I my my grandfather my mum's dad was Scottish. My mum's mum was Welsh. Right. And my dad's mum was was a cockney like a proper kind of Londoner.
And so you just you felt like it was you know, it was historically appropriate in that, you know, you lived and breathed this stuff somewhere.
I was looking for some authenticity, some sense of belonging. And I'd been the big thing I said. I listen to a lot of punk and stuff growing up.
But the big thing for me was Dylan, like, huge, like, yeah, I'm still his I'm a disciple of Dylan and and everything that that led me to, you know, whether it's like the pull.
But he's he's a he's a Jew from Minnesota. But OK. No, that's what I mean.
But I'm like I, I want to, I want to go as deep as that. But I can't I can't just rip off Dylan so I have to be who I am.
And then I think if everybody if you say, listen, I've ever since figured that out but.
But isn't that beautiful. That's amazing.
It's cool. And Bowie is the same. He just smashed all these things together. And it was and it became its own unique thing. That's the story that we told, which is just just to come back to that, to bring it back.
So it was really it was the kind of those those kind of psych folk and rock folk bands of the. Yeah. Mid to late 60s. It kind of blew you away. I could see that man because I never heard, you know, I just got a Pentangle record and I found them. I thought they would be a little boring, but I just got my first Pentangle record after getting all of the fucking incredible string band records. And they're equally as interesting because the way that the thing I liked about the incredible string band is that they were using bizzaro instruments, you know, international instruments, but they weren't showcasing them.
They were just integrating them. Everything sort of had balance. It wasn't like, look, it's not like Brian Jones on the sitar. It was like they honored the sound and integrated it into something that felt very loose but had a lot of space to it, but hung together so beautifully. It was almost like each one of those records was some sort of, you know, kind of miracle of unity. I don't know how they do it, but it doesn't feel like they it sounded a lot of times like they were really playing all at once and there wasn't much separation.
I mean, when I when I first had the I've had like spiritual experiences listening to the incredible string band, it feels like like an acid trip without taking acid. Feels like. Is that what you just said. It's the looseness and they're just yeah. It's like their hearts are like searching for something together. It's like so it's exquisite and it's crazy.
Yeah. I mean, it's not just that. Oh, you have to read this book, White Bicycle's Joe Boyd, who I have it. It's really good. But it tells the story of when he when he discovered them and then recorded Nick Drake and all those guys. It's a really and his first job was he he was the tour manager when he's like twenty, he took like Reverend Gary Davis and Rosetta Tharpe and all the and Sunny Terry and Brownie McGhee all around Europe as the manager of this blues train tour.
And he's and he can't keep them together. And they're all like fighting. And it's really cool. Wow.
I got to read it. I was sitting on my bed table forever. It's great. So so now you've put together this this is what you've decided your legacy is, you know, you've mashed your brain with Fairport and Thompson and and Pentangle and the incredible string band and Dylan and then you. But what sort of comes first for you? I mean, how do you decide? Because it seems like you started doing some, you know, some television before the record's right.
There was a point early on where, you know, I was really passionate about being an actor and I wanted to work in, like, new writing that I wanted to work at the royal court, which is like a political it's a writers theatre. They just have the writers name in the headlights.
And I worked I was in fact, I was an usher at this place called The Bush, which is like it was a room above a pub. And I saw these amazing little studio play is a bit like the old days of Steppenwolf or Little Black Box. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Kind of theater that you feel is changing the world on one mind at a time, kind of changing the world with an audience of seven at a time.
Yeah, yeah. Not even sometimes. Tuesday night.
Just three. Yeah. But you know, I got out of college and of course you know and I got an agent and they're very sweet. But you know, I was, I was being sent up for these things that I would get on a TV show or something and realize that this isn't where my heart is. This isn't what I want to do. I couldn't get a job in those places. I wanted to work.
And so I and then I and then I put more into the music because it was and I would use I would get a TV job and I would use the money to pay my band.
So what's interesting is it seems fortunate that, you know, because you you know, you're 20 years younger than me. So, you know, and you're liking a lot of the things that I liked, which was, you know, before my time as well, even the 60s was before my time, that we all are sort of in lost in this wave of all that stuff that was done before us. But but you're lucky that you romanticize this stuff because it seems that, you know, whether or not that theater that you wanted to be part of was actually changing minds or not.
And I had the same thing, like this stuff is deep. It's making a difference.
But just whether it was or wasn't or whether or not, you know, that that sort of sentiment has repeated itself with young performers, it did enable you to have some sense of personal integrity around knowing what you didn't want to do and compelled you out of, you know, like I'll do the TV gig, but I'll funnel over money into something that I have complete control over in terms of my expressing my creativity. Absolutely.
Yeah. I mean, I, I, I still believe I think I think, you know, look at the Velvet Underground, you know, that's the one that everyone quotes, like, you know, the band that only 100 people bought records from. And then and then, you know, and now every band, you know, and it all bleeds down.
I just I think when you really invest in stuff with integrity, it pays dividends, like on a global scale, even if you only play that show for three people or whatever. I don't know. I just I think if you apply that to everything, sure.
I think that's true. And I and I think that, yeah, I've definitely done my share of shows for nobody. And I think if anything, it does kind of harden your resolve around what you're doing and and make you better. And then, you know, there's always going to be like one or two people that are like, do you remember that night when you perform for four people and that one go through some you might fuck?
Yeah, he's like, does the best show I ever saw. Like, well, glad you were one of the for that side. Yeah. But but when you're going back and doing the music, I mean you decide were you writing songs just on the guitar and then, you know, kind of building them out.
It's hard to describe what, what I was doing. I was like I was just kind of doodling all the time. I was a lot of what I did was was lyrically based.
You know, I was I studied, I studied. I had lots of notebooks and all those years of being a student and being in London and being broke and being on tour and and stuff, you know, I just it was my way of processing things. I never kept a diary, but I would get on that. And we've got a tube like it doesn't actually go in a circle anymore, but used to be able to go on the tube and go in a circle and just stay on.
Yeah, stay on the line. And I would get on in the morning and I would get off at 4:00 in the afternoon and just go round and round. And I just was a way of processing, you know, seeing faces. And I scribble in my notebook. If I didn't have anything to do then or I'd ride on the bus. And I don't know, I, I think I have and I think that kind of thing suits me very well.
Just. I digest the world and it comes out in lyrics and in little melodies and stuff walking around, you know, and, you know, just always humming little tunes and I have to run home and, you know, before like iPhones and stuff.
So I have to make sure to find and then I would find go through. I had hundreds of notebooks that go through the notebooks and match the right lyric to the right melody. And there's like a jigsaw puzzle for me. And I was listening to so much music and collecting music because it was all still kind of CDs and, you know, almost it was a verge of I really hated when the digital thing came in because I was so proud of these boxes of CDs that I would carry around.
I spent years and now you don't even know where they are. I got a fucking I got hundreds of CDs. I'm not even sure where they are. But now I got the record thing going, which is out of fucking control.
I like I like my records. Yeah, I have. I love it. Yeah.
I've been buying old Fleetwood Mac records. I've heard of Fleetwood Mac. I was just like, oh, they're the you know, it's the Stevie Nicks thing.
And I fucking changed your mind.
You were the you were the gospel, the gospel of Mark.
Hahaha, you got all those Peter Green records. I do. And they sound so good on the on the vinyl I have. Yeah.
Do you know, you know that song. I think I played it for you man. Have you listened to that.
You know jumping at shadows. Yeah. As I listen to the original one did you know like the guy who wrote it was kind of a British, kind of an odd British performer.
And I just, I just now I forget the guy's name now do you know it?
No, hold on. Hold on.
Because he's like he's kind of his own weirdo.
But there's a there's a live version that's really that's the best one there is. But the guy's name is Dustour Bennett. Right.
And I went out and got a bad record. He's kind of like this dude. He's almost like a one man band guy. And the weird thing about him, I think, you know, John Mayall produced, um, let's see.
Yeah, he was a virtuously Koorie. He he played he's like a one man band. Wow. In and he plays guitar, drums and harmonica and it's his song Dude. And like, if you listen to this, it's one of those moments you're going to listen to and you're like, oh my God, Peter Green fuckin guy lifted this guy's vocal styling.
Right? Like, you know, I don't know I don't know what this guy was or what place he had in the world, like in Mary Poppins.
Right. But it was. But but, you know, it was like you'll see it like you're like, who is this weirdo? And I don't know much about him, but I know that Jimmy Viviano said it's a Duster Bennett song. And then I went and got some Duster Bennett music, and he's like totally his own thing. But you can completely hear his total influence on Peter Greene. Okay, cool.
I'm going to Dust Duster Bennet. Dude, you're going to be like, oh, my God, you changed my life again.
Well, I just found it, man. I don't know why it took me so long to check it out, because I just love the song. So I wanted to hear what the original thing sounded like. I don't think there is no studio version of that of Fleetwood Mac doing it, is there?
I found it. It's only the live one, right? Yeah.
That guitar solo man. Jesus. Yeah, no, he's great. And B.B. King said he's the only only one the only white guy that doesn't weep.
So like, how do you feel about Shakespeare. You're good with it. Do you. I mean like you did you do a lot of Shakespeare.
I love Shakespeare. Yeah I did a lot. I did. Yeah.
Early on I did that tour when I was right. It was kind of writing the first fingerpicking tour. Yeah.
The fingerpicking and and I, I loved it because I, I say I was bored. I was never really bored. It was, it was like I was the youngest one. It was all male done, you know, kind of modern dress. But like we were like a traveling troupe in the middle of an old Elizabethton all male troupe. And we went all around the world. We were in New York and they all work in London, Hong Kong, Australia.
And we were like and they were quite there were wild these guys, they were like the wildest, you know, bunch of guys I've ever met and and really fun.
Yeah, it was really fun. Rogues. I nearly died, but it was it. I love that you nearly die from boozing. Yeah, they just yeah. I won't go into details. They played, they played hard and they they're. Your policies, yeah, they're like, let's see what this kid's made out of. I found some images, I found some pictures of that. So obviously I thought, fuck, if anyone sees this, but just like it, it was really it was quite debauched, but like not not in a morally bankrupt way.
Just just, you know, I get it like.
Yeah. The funny thing is, is like, you know, you could have ended up one of them and I didn't know, but I know some of them still there really.
Anyway, I can't.
But then I'm not saying they're bad guys, Johnny, but you know what I'm saying? It's like, you know, you get taken through the paces and either you're going to get a monkey on your back or you're not. There's a higher, higher ambition, my friend.
Well, they yeah, the boozing in the English theater thing is quite a quite a you know, they go hand in hand. They have bud in the old companies. They have they have bars in the side of the stage, used to be able to go get a pint while you wait for your cue or whatever. Anyway, they were straight out of that cannon. And then I at the end of that tour, I got I got a record deal.
I was in New York. I got this call, and Universal wanted to sign me for a five album deal to Mercury, which is the same label I just realized that I worked for in the movie that both. Yeah, there you. So I was signed to Mercury for one album and then they they promised me the world and then they took it away and they were they were really cowardly actually. They were kind of.
You did the first album with them LRM. Yeah, I did that album.
I think they were a bit shocked at how much I went into that, that the old folk folky thing, they were like, where's the drums and the radio hits, where's the pop song. Yeah.
So that but also it was the 2008 crash and the downloads was killing the industry. And also Razorlight was the big band on the on the label and they bombed their last album bombed. So they were like having said, you know, you're, you're a career artist. You could do whatever you want. They said, OK, now. Give us five radio hits, his five thousand pounds, you have to demo five radio sure-fire, you know, a class banger's, otherwise you're you're out.
And I and I think I just handed in, like, the sound of, like dogs fighting, like on purpose. I just got out of the deal of a rebel.
Fuck you, man. I'm not playing your game. It didn't suit me. And I just I just was like, very happy. It was a very uncomfortable thing for me, actually.
I mean, you know, me, I'm kind of shy and I and I felt like they were pushing something that I wasn't happy with. And I don't know I don't know what they wanted from me. I just. Anyway.
But how did that record do the first record?
Well, so considering there were no record sales that sold, like, I don't know what the sales are now, but in that first year it did like fifty thousand or something. It was pretty good. And we were we were I was the only Brit signed to Lost Highway in the States, which is, you know, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams and everything. That was a big kick me coming to Nashville for the first time and going into those offices.
And but anyway, I always felt like a bit of an imposter, not an imposter, but just like, what am I doing? You know, like. I should just be playing the small club, you know, just I don't know, like he's always been pushed too hard. And I think I said yes.
You became very popular, right?
Yeah, I guess so. I think I if I if I was popular, I think it was because I was. Honest or trying to be honest all the time, like and that was what mattered to me, I didn't want to sell any bullshit and ironically, if you're popular because of that. Then, you know, pretty soon you're going to be having you know, you can't see the people that you're trying to be honest to, and then and then, you know, there's nothing else to do but to sell bullshit.
So it becomes vacuous. You know, if you go out and play, if you if you're that person and you want to play in clubs for 20 people, but you sell out and you get put on a support of 50000 people or whatever. It's not right, you know, not not necessarily, but you can do, but you can do that. You go out. We did, we did a little bit, we did a bit of that.
And some of our friends were packed with, like Mumford and Sons and people like that, because it feels to me that that was like the world that enabled, you know, the type of music you were doing to find some sort of public following was that there was that kind of like folk singer songwriter, many people on stage with many different country instruments.
Yeah, but, you know, when we started doing it, I know this sounds, you know, like I'm trying to claim it or something, but there wasn't there wasn't anyone doing it. Weirdly, it was the way to go because it was rebellious to see, you know, it was it was the existing pop music. Yeah, there was it was the end of that what they called the new rock revolution, like the strokes and the high side of that stuff.
And and me and my friends were putting on these club nights and we we felt like, I don't know, we wanted to be original. And so the way to be original was to to get your acoustic guitar and go that way. Go back. Yeah. And then, you know you know, Mumford, those guys are really sweet. And but first time we came to America, they were supporting me and Laura Marling and then they because of the formula of their music and just how it connects to people, that it went huge and they and then they would invite us on tour.
So people always affiliated us. But actually, we you know, we were sort of around their record, came out around the time our second record came out kind of thing. The Mumford record.
Yeah. But with the other ones, aren't there are the luminaires are they another one of that type of thing?
I've seen they're American. They're in fact the later the guy who produced our first record did that big hit for them that we did. We Maiers. Yeah, we made our first record in Seattle and our second record with an American producer, because I was I think, you know, I wanted some of the energy of that like grunge thing, you know, the purity of that. And like I was in love with the the Pixies and that their melodies and the chord changes.
I wanted to see what would happen if you put that in the voice of a cello and a guitar and a thing.
Well, it seems like, you know, between Shakespeare and Fairport Convention and Incredible String Band and the Pixies and Bob Dylan, like, you're very you're sort of hyper aware of of what you dig. But like, I noticed that there was sort of an evolution of production and sound going on throughout the four or five records. You know, as they evolved, you kept to the core, you kept to the core of who you are in terms of writing and some of the instruments.
But there was definitely a shift in, you know, guitar tone and the number of instruments. And certainly the the production became more defined as you went on. Were there were there were there hits?
Um, no. I mean, we're not a hit, but, you know, that's just not something that I'm striving for.
But it's where I mean, sometimes it happens. Yeah, well, we have yeah. We've we've I've had I suppose I get a bit like awkward talking about it, but we, you know, certain songs have become like radio favourite. So the other day I was in the kitchen and so I wrote a song which was used for theme tune for a show which was popular here called The Detectorists. And I wrote this song and it and it was and it's played on the radio like all the time.
And maybe once or twice a week somebody will come up to me or tap me on the shoulder and or write to me online and say, we're getting married in a week. You know, can you come and sing the song or we're going to play the song anyway.
How often do you go to a wedding and do the song? Never, never feel like that's a floodgate. I don't want to. Yeah. For you I wouldn't.
You also said something that stuck with me when we were working together, which is I was like I was a bit washed up with playing live at the time and I was telling you about it and you're like, it's really simple. Just do something new every time. Do you remember that he said something that scares you?
And you said that every time you you're working, you're doing a movie in a different town or whatever you book into the local comedy store and. Right. You do, you do a bit and. Yeah. And since then I've always, you know, on whatever it is, I just and also I say yes to things that I know will fucking terrifying. I was scared to come on the bus by the way, because I'm a fan of the show.
And right now I just I'm now into doing shit that scares me. And it's because of you, Senesco. And how is. It working for you, it's brilliant, my my parameter. You know, I'm living on a different scale of, you know, I know the worst that can happen is I, I freak out and it's not so bad.
Exactly. Yeah. But, you know, it also it puts you into a sort of present, you know what I mean. Like, like, you know, you can there's a response. You get to stuff that you've polished that's like rewarding. But to sort of step out there, you know, and being the type of guy you are with, the sort of desire for authenticity, that there are those moments where you take those kind of chances.
And the it's a much different experience in terms of how you connect. Yeah. You know, and how it connects to you. Yeah. You know, if you're you know.
Well, good man. Well, that's good. You're riffing. That's good. Thank you. Yeah. Man, thanks for that.
But alongside I mean, it seems to me that you are known as a as a pretty significant actor as well. I mean, it seems like, you know, like my manager, one of my managers, Kelly, she's a huge fan of your music. And I hadn't even when I took the gig for Stardust, I didn't know you or your music. Right. And she's like a huge fan and I didn't even know that existed. So. So but it just means that you have a very, you know, a large and dedicated fan base that isn't it's completely based on the the sort of authenticity of your output, not because you're some sort of weird, overproduced hit machine.
Right? Yeah. But it also seems that, you know, as an actor, you get a lot of credit as well.
So that sort of in terms of evolving that alongside of the music, I mean, how are you conscious of that process? How did you re-engage and, you know, transcend this sort of ennui or anger towards commercial acting gigs?
And what happened was I went off and did that. You know, when when when I got off the record deal after the theater tour and I'd done a couple of. Yeah. You know, TV. You know, I did a movie and I think none of it was particularly satisfying for my soul. And then and and and I got the deal. And then I was like, right, this is what I'm doing. And I and I tried to kind of resign as an actor.
I wrote to my agent. So I was like, I'm I'm being I'm being a musician now and I'm out.
I'm out. And then because I just I can't do it with any distraction or I'm giving everything I want to be right. I want my you know, the music bleeding fingers. Yeah. And then yeah. Yeah, I did it for free for like four, four years or five. You know, we did two records and we thought I was like on tour solidly and making the records and we went all over the world and we had an amazing time.
And my band, it felt like, you know, we spent we were you know, you have to work so fucking hard as a band starting out. You know, we were in the bus together driving ourselves. Sometimes when we went to America, we'd all be in, like, one car, you know, with the drums like this.
Yeah. And driving coast to coast. We did that like eight times, you know, and and then I was amazing. I was so exhausted and I needed I was like, I miss I still had that inclination to tell really good stories, you know? And I love doing theater especially. And then out of the blue.
And also you had a family, right. By this point, did you want to stay home? And I was when I was about to have I was about to have a kid. I didn't have a kid yet. I was I was on off, on and off with my now wife, you know, being, you know, mid 20s. And then and then I got an offer from the royal court, which is the theatre that I was telling you about that I wanted to work at.
And it's the only place I ever wanted to work. And they they gave me a great job in a play with Juliet Stevenson called The Heretic and I and then and then my wife got pregnant. And it's such a small theatre that there's no understudies. And they were like, you know, the babies, the baby's due in the last week and you have to sign this contract.
So you're on stage every night no matter what. And so I had to agree with her that that I would potentially miss the the birth of the baby. Anyway, I did the job and I didn't miss the baby. You made it for the birth. I made it for the birth.
But then, OK, so the stage so the shift to the acting was primarily, you know, you started a family, you were exhausted from touring too much and you got a great opportunity with a theatre that you respected.
And from there it just kind of grew out, I guess.
Kept going. Yeah. And at that point I was, I guess, you know, being offered the kind of jobs that I always.
Wanted to do, and it was a lucky, lucky thing, I got to a place where I was like, well, it's never going to happen or it's not. And it kept happening.
And so you got an opportunity to do to do more Shakespeare and then the movies. And I guess that movie Beast is the one that really was huge.
People like that film, I think it was because. Yeah, I don't know. It was Jesse was amazing who was in it with me. And it was this director, Michael Pierce. He'd spent about ten years developing the story. And anyway, yeah, stuff like that was this is what I dreamt of all along, I think because I look too young. When I was 24 to play anything interesting, I looked like a 15 year old. So I had to look like a twenty five year old as a 30 year old.
And then it got.
Well, now you're well, it seems like you're you know, you're aging well. You got a nice family going. I was excited to do the movie with you. I'm glad that I'm glad that it's coming out.
Yeah, me too. I'm glad that the fucking the trolls have they were watching the election. Now they're stuck in a way.
You know what it's like. It doesn't matter.
You know, they you know, it was it it ultimately and you know, I got to be honest with you, a lot of them will see it.
Yeah. You know, it's just they're not going to be able to help themselves. Yeah.
Fuck them. Yeah. Yeah, no, exactly. But I also I just the thing I want is because the trailer and maybe the name star, I don't want people to have the wrong impression, like the trailer sets it up, like it's this big, bombastic, you know, accompaniment. It's a bad trailer and and the music, none of that that music's not in our movie.
Yeah. But also like it's just that people are missing the idea that it's just it's a small story about a guy wrestling with some demons, you know, afraid of becoming like his his mentally ill brother and trying to sort of figure out who he is. I mean, it's really that's what it's about. Yeah.
It's not like some big Bowie biopic. But look, once it gets reviewed and once people see it, you know, that that word will get out. And I'll try to make that clear tonight when I do.
Phalen Coleman. Yeah, nice one. I was really good to see you. Great to see you too, man. Yeah. Keep in touch. All right, buddy, I'm going to I'm going to send you some of the new stuff I've been doing is completely different. It's not it's not the old folkies. Oh, good. Yeah. More tone.
Is this the new toll free Lady Tijani point the time. OK, buddy. All right. Thanks.
Yeah, let's do it. But. All right, there you go. That was Johnny Johnny who texted me after that, he said he didn't like his interview. He thought it was waffly, waffly, and he was on. I think that's just the way he is. And also the movie that Johnny and I are in, Stardust opens this Wednesday, November 25th. I would see it even if you're both fan, people are liking it. And don't forget, if you're feeling depressed, overwhelmed or anxious, better help offers licensed online counselors who are trained to listen and help talk with your counselor in a private online environment at your convenience.
Just fill out a questionnaire to assess your specific needs, then get matched with a counselor in under 48 hours. Better help is an affordable option. And for listeners, you get 10 percent off your first month with the discount code. WTF get started today at better dot com slash WTF. Talk to a therapist online and get help. And now I will play a beautifully distorted, slower instrumental version of a song that I wrote and I played for you last week, but it's a work in progress.
I'm done in this. I'm just trying to evolve it and maybe I'll get into, again, the studio with it when I write a couple other songs. But whatever this is just it's a different approach to it. No singing, just the slow grumbly to sustain of a couple of Penitentes.
BOEMRE lives. Bungay.