PAUL FRANKLAND: JOURNEYMAN DOES WOOB
"Gonzo Circus" from January ‘98: interview with Paul Frankland. Text by Peter Wullen. Translated for em:t.cc by bram <email@example.com> and Joris Noltes <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
If my English dictionary is right, "national hijinx" means something like "national joke", making fun of an entire country, laughing at the nation. On his second Journeyman album called "national hijinx" Frankland has a laugh. He constantly provides the listener with false clues. Different styles follow one another at dazzling speeds, thus surprising the listener at all times. You love or you hate it. We love it.
Paul Frankland is a bit of a schizoid dude. As Woob he made two albums - the third is coming - with the weirdest, non-human made music in the 90's. The radio-friendly version of Woob is called Journeyman, but the music is still weird enough to make you doubt whether there's a human behind all of this - or an alien. The real Paul Frankland lives in Brighton: this restless, hyperactive man with a multitude of interests and complex background doesn't find much time to sleep in between his two projects. With a Major in Film, his arrival on the music scene was rather accidental. Journeyman and Woob are set to conquer the (film) world.
A film student, how did you end up in the music world?
(sounding tired) I've been writing music since the age of 14. The visual aspects interested me. It was kind of obvious that one day I'd write a soundtrack. I got my masters in Film, directed a few movies and wrote the scores for a few of the movies made by fellow students. Meanwhile I traveled around, playing as a house DJ. But I soon got tired of this and decided to focus exclusively on ambient/chill-out. A Woob demo found its way into the hands of Mixmaster Morris who pushed me to release my own music. My attention was drawn to an ad in a music magazine and I sent a demo to t:me recording ltd. They gave me the opportunity to record my first Woob album. Coincidentally I was talking to Ninja Tune at the same time about a DJ project with Colin Waterton. Ninja Tune loved it right away! The first Journeyman album "Mama 6" was hard to find, but reactions were positive.
You made 'National Hijinx' almost entirely on your own. Colin Waterton doesn't really seem to be there!
Colin Waterton had lots of influence on the first Journeyman album. The idea was that we'd start a record label as a duo, but it didn't happen. Colin moved on and started concentrating on other stuff. He did work on about three of the songs on 'National Hijinx' though. The bassist Riad Abji, who influenced the timbre of the second Woob album a lot, has had a lot more input in Journeyman.
As a consequence, the two projects are merging together: there is hardly any difference anymore between Woob and Journeyman. 'National Hijinx' could have just as well been the third Woob album.
I really love the first Woob. I am also quite happy with ‘National Hijinx’. I didn't really like 'Mama 6' and Woob² so much. For the third Woob I want a drastic change of course: vocal additions from songwriters and extra input from a string quartet. Sadly enough the label is in some financial trouble, which is why I'm delaying it. Woob² did not quite live up to my expectations. On a compilation I had a track where the band really played together with guitar, drums and bass. I wanted the second Woob album to really sound "live", but that was not impossible. I don't want to risk releasing yet another half-finished album. I'd rather wait until the label has enough money to release the CD. Hopefully next year? I'm also working on a new Journeyman album, which will be released before the third Woob album. It's going to be more of a club oriented album, with a broader musical sound. Woob³ will be more musical, aside from what is ‘in’ at the moment.
The song titles on 'National Hijinx' are anything but ordinary: 'Sloath', 'Eugolana box', 'Tuft it'. Is there a meaning behind these titles?
(chuckles) Sloath is a word used to describe a slow-moving creature. The track is very chilled out and very slow. The song drags along for four minutes like a lounge bar lizard thingy. 'Eugolana box' was first called 'A Box', then changed to ‘Analogue Box’ spelled backwards..
I love the sleeve design. I think I recognized my mom in one of the cut-up faces.
(laughs heartily) While living in Manchester I split an apartment with the bassplayer Riad Abji. A mate of mine - Scabboy - makes these intriguing collages. One day he showed me all his artwork. I chose the cut-up faces, as they fit the mix of styles on the album.
You majored in Film. What would be the difference between a Woob movie and a Journeyman movie?
Journeyman is fast, hectic and trippy. Woob is cinematic with actors and dialogue. If I were asked to write a soundtrack, it would be made under the name Woob. Journeyman would be for a pop video. Although my output can hardly be called pop music. I'm currently working on a movie for the next Journeyman single, which will hopefully be released in March of next year. The video will be shown at live performances, on MTV, and hopefully I'll get some air time on TV. I'm also working on some commercials where I try to fit in Journeyman. If I make enough money - by the time I turn 40 - I want to make a movie.
Do you have plans to go on tour as Journeyman?
Actually I have stopped DJing and doing live sets. 'National Hijinx' didn't get much promotional backing, except for a few telephone calls and an occasional radio show. I have actually done very little these past two years. The recordings for the Journeyman album date back to ‘96. In the meantime I've moved from Manchester to Brighton. The first thing I did was to get my studio up and running. I’m trying to get everything done in ‘98. The idea is to make the next Journeyman album an album that works ‘on the road’. I already have some contacts needed to set up a small tour. But first I want to be ready. I also hope that in ‘98 I will have enough money to start my own label.
Did you get the chance to listen to some other music last year?
(desillusioned) Sheesh, I listened to a lot of stuff, but hated most of it. I really liked the last David Holmes. Portishead was fun too. I listened to several 12" records from smaller independent labels, but there just wasn’t a lot of good material in my opinion. Coldcut’s latest album was not bad either. I thought I wasn’t going to like it, but it turned out to be quite all right. I even made a remix of ‘Timber’. The CD-ROM? I have only recently purchased a powerful PC, so I've only had the chance to take a quick peek at it. I liked it, but despite the potential possibilities of this medium, I still feel the results are rather limited. In an ideal world people should be able to put it in some kind of black box and watch it unhindered by the limitations of machines or technology. Maybe they should just make a Playstation game next time. I don’t know.
Our Woob page of course!