We were recently invited to the Birmingham NEC for the Annual Eskimo Freezer Conference, whilst queuing up for a MukTuk burger, we bumped into Alec Bowman from a band called 'The Wild Man of Europe', he was kind enough to answer a few questions, here's how it went down….
Name of band / act? The Wild Man of Europe
Location? Nottingham, England
Names of all members? Alec David Bowman - guitar, vocals, songwriting / Rosey Haze - vocals, musical saw, flute / Jim Broughton - harmonica, mandolin, bouzouki / Roland Parker - drums, cajon / Mark Rolfe - bass guitar, production, keys
When did you form? We grew like a tree when Alec first started writing these songs in January 2012.
Introduce yourself and your music in one sentence…. "An English Gram Parsons for the age of austerity..."
A fascinating fact about you or one of the band members? One of the band is a GP. One is a published expert on bats.
Last time you used public transport and where did you go? I used the express to get from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station
Last time you felt proud? The first time I listened to our record when it was nearly done, the band got together at the drummer's spaceship for a curry and it was a great night to hear the results of all that work.
What classic song do you wish you recorded and why? Ah I could name thousands - "Like a Hurricane " by Neil Young is my 5 second answer, the guitar sound, the simplicity, his voice, it's a perfect moment. 'Heartbreaker' by Ryan Adams, maybe. Mainly, though, I'm proud of the fact that I wrote a record of my own.
Last movie you saw? Inside Llewyn Davis
Last book you read? "The Hydrogen Sonata" by the late, mighty and missed Iain M. Banks. I struggle to accept that there will be no more Culture novels.
What did you dream about last night? I have utterly mundane dreams. I might dream of nearly running out of washing up liquid or moving a cupboard then changing my mind and moving it back. Useful dreams, though, I'm glad of them.
Last time you cried? It takes a lot. I don't really cry. The end of Donnie Darko got me, though.
Last time you were rude to someone and why? Well, this guy in a van was yelling at me when I was driving the other day and so I stopped to find out what was wrong and he was giving it all this, so I was kind of rude to him. But not as rude as he was to me. Probably.
What excites you? I love finding things to love. I recently stumbled upon Zachary Lucky's 'Ballad of Losing You' LP after hitting 'return' too early searching Spotify for a Felice Brothers tune. Moments like that make it all worth while, moments of discovery, the spark of something new, the wind changes so many times, you have to be watching close to really know it.
Biggest musical influence? I've been around for a long time, and I've listened to lots of music. I'm influenced by all of it. If you mean what influenced my record, then it was maybe a deliberate avoidance of inspiration. I guess maybe I could tell you some favourite records that spring to mind, since that's more likely what you're driving at here. No order is implied in this list:
- Gram Parsons - Return of the Grievous Angel
- Nirvana - 'Nevermind'
- Neil Young - 'Harvest'
- Midlake - 'The Trials of Van Occupanther'
- Bruce Springsteen - 'Born to Run'
- Bon Iver - 'Bon Iver'
- Bright Eyes - 'I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning'
- Joe Purdy - 'This American'
- Josh T. Pearson - 'Last of the Country Gentlemen'
- Nick Drake - 'Pink Moon'
- Portishead - 'Dummy'
- Aphex Twin - 'Drukqs'
Thing about musical influences, not only other music can inspire music. An overheard conversation between two hen parties on a train can inspire a melody, a poster in a dentist room can trigger a sequence of thoughts leading to a chorus, the sight of the ruined bow of a rusting ship can help you write a lyric. My brain is malleable; it's susceptible to influence from the moment it wakes me each morning, can come from anywhere. Those records are just a few I keep coming back to.
Earliest childhood memory? I remember my dad pretending to run me over with a lawnmower, my neighbours laughing as I ran, terrified, from the screaming orange blades. Happy days.
Best gig you ever played? I played in front of a few thousand American servicemen at an Air Force base in Suffolk when I was just a lad, doing Nirvana, RHCP, Pearl Jam, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Metallica covers. I don't think I've had so much fun at a show since, one day maybe I will again.
Best band/artist of 2013? Jason Isbell released 'Southeastern' at the start of 2013. He played a few small UK shows and he's doing more soon. He's an incredible artist who I just can't get enough of. I'm excited to hear what he does next and I know 'Southeastern' is going to be in my favourites list for a long time. Patty Griffin's 'American Kid' is another great record from 2013, also wonderful were 'Fire & Fortune' by Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker, 'Pain Is Beauty' by Chelsea Wolfe, 'The Weatherman' by Gregory Alan Isakov and 'Great Lakes' by John Smith. A good year.
Biggest act you have ever played with (supported or on the same bill as)? Elbow, Four Tet at Summer Sundae, Leicester in two thousand and something or other.
The last album/record you bought? 'Southeastern' by Jason Isbell which you should buy if you don't already have it.
Last time you had a fight? I never fight; I'm a lover, not a hater. Well, OK, sometimes I get mad, who doesn't, though but my wife @RoseyHaze keeps me grounded, out of trouble, on the right side of things. She's good like that.
Tell me one of your guilty pleasures? The Civil Wars album. I really like that record. I can't put my finger on exactly why that should be guilty but it feels that way. I'm not ashamed, I just like singing along with it on trains.
Best advice you ever received and who was it from? "If you don't spend your money, you may as well carry around a pocket of stones..." said my late Grandad Victor Norman. I dunno if it really was good advice, but it was mine and that's sometimes the important thing.
Largest amount spent in a single purchase? (excluding property) My 1951 Martin 00-51 (guitar) was more expensive than I could really afford.
Whilst waiting for the nice looking but oddly smelling lady from the MukTuk shack to source some soy sauce (hey, that rhymes…), we rolled out the meant-to-be-quickfire-but-actually-longer-than-most-of-the-questions-above questions….
Coffee or Tea? Thing about quick questions is that I'm not a quick answer kind of guy... When it comes to caffeine intake you have to be careful, you have to measure it out careful or you end up a sad addict. So, a mug of tea first thing, another at elevenses, maybe a coffee with dinner then one more coffee or tea in the afternoon, depends on what kind of day it is and what I need to get done, no more after five though, that's suicide, man, you'll never sleep after that, and I need sleep, more than the next man, don't mess with my equilibrium.
Coke or Pepsi? Man I just don't get those brown sugary sweetnesses, it's not my scene, it does nothing for me, if I'm gonna have a cold drink it's going to be water, or it's going to be alcohol, if the time is right and the land lies straight. These other things is just empty calories that taste bad so yeah thanks, I'll leave both and have a pint of tap water for now, cheers
Mac or PC? I resent the extent to which these machines dominate my existence and I wish for simpler times but then you can't do nothing without them these days, can you? So I have a crappy old windows XP desktop at home which I use to fill in forms and send emails and that, then I carry around an iPad which is great for writing words on trains so a bit of both I guess.
Holidays/Vacations – Beach or ski-ing? I love the Lake District, the Highlands. I have never been ski-ing. I guess it would be great fun. Beaches are fun too but I'm not so into sitting around. Can do that anytime. A break for me is losing signal, getting lost, climbing high, get off the grid, try to keep the map dry, rucksack has everything you need, just you and yours, head in the clouds, feet on the ground, keep going up to the next ridge while there's light, make it home before morning.
Meat or Vegetables? I was a vegetarian for 20 years, laziness really, I could never make meat taste as good as they did back home so when I set out on my own path, I recognised my strengths, acknowledged my weaknesses and stuck to what I knew, no distractions, keep the unnecessary at bay. Things, people change. I had kids and I wouldn't decide for them. So I learned to prepare and cook meat and I jumped back in. A cool red steak is a treat for me these days but @RoseyHaze, my wife, is still a vegetarian so you should ask her the same.
CD or Vinyl? I have thousands of pieces of vinyl at home, not as many CDs, both formats have their practical use. I remember buying cassettes when I was little and I had 'Invasion of Your Privacy' by Ratt on cassette and when I saw it on shiny new compact disc it seemed like the best thing ever to take another ten of my pounds for. Swapping up 'Born to Run' to CD seemed obvious. Of course, CDs are just as flawed as every other damned thing and it was just a way to milk every last drop of cash from the dying carcass of this bloated industry. Plus, now I couldn't listen to 'Junglelands' in my car anymore. Perfect. In today's world, CDs are dead to me but when I made this album and ignored CDs, I got some flak for that, everyone all of a sudden wanted to buy a CD copy, so we pressed up 50. Available from www.thewildmanofeurope.bandcamp.com by now. Probably.
Car or Motorbike? I have a car. I'd love a motorbike but I don't really trust myself.
Cat or Dog? I had cats for years, I don't really like them now. I like other peoples' dogs.
Acoustic or Electric? I'm an acoustic guitarist. I like existing without power. I hate cables, electrical hum, interference, diagnosing signal paths, troubleshooting rusty connections, coping with crackling cables, everything's a distraction and I'm easily taken so I look for purity, simplicity, straightness. Pick up a slab of carefully carved Brazilian Rosewood and strum it, the vibrations in your body are real, immediate, they need no other input to sing, well it works for me anyway. Let others deal with the bits they do and I'll stick to what I know.
Angelina or Jennifer? I'm guessing you mean would I rather get off with Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Aniston, I have to say, man, I question your approach here. They both seem like stand up females, they're both attractive and seem to have given a lot back to the world but I try to not fill my limited brain capacity with such sixth form flights of fancy, plus I'm pretty sure anything you think you know about them isn't as clear as it might look, airbrushing will work it's black magic with images and videos and when you're as rich as those people, the way you look to the world is the way you want to look to the world rather than any kind of truth. So yeah, I'm not going to give you any other answer to this.
Cooked Breakfast (bacon/eggs/mushrooms/toast etc) or Cereal? Seems obvious don't it, this one? But like everything else it isn't this simple, to boil a pleasure like breakfast down to a simple black or white choice is desultory to the best meal of the day. It goes like this: start with a glass of water, freshen the palette, then follow that with a bowl of fruit and some good fatty yoghurt, then cereal comes next, a little bowl of bran or something, keep you regular, no pleasure in food if you're just clogged up, right? THEN it's time for the cooked course, go for your life with the bacon, poached eggs, sausages, fried tomatoes, black pudding, toast if thats your thing and that goes alongside a steaming pot of tea or coffee, hot as you can get. Finish up with some fruit juice and you won't need to eat again 'til lunchtime. That's a breakfast, right there.
So there you have it folks, everything (and much more) than you will ever need to know about The Wild Man of Europe, we hope that you feel you are a little closer to Alec and his bandmates and won't feel shy if you see them in the streets, go ahead, say Hi, they don't bite!
Please be sure to check out their social channels below and if you're in the Nottingham area, head along to their show on May 9th, details below.
Their LP 'Old Fashioned Flames' is available to buy now, click HERE to do so
Social Media Channels
Forthcoming live dates/Shows
9th May 2014 at Bonington Theatre in Arnold, Nottingham