Jarrod Gosling – Regal Worm

Deep underneath the black shimmer of those northern Satanic mills the Regal Worm has turned a fixation with classic esoteric progressive rock and deep psychedelia into a magnificent sprawl entitled Pig Views. Recently unleashed on an unsuspecting world this fine double slab of pink vinyl (or delivery system of your choice) deserves the attention of anyone who considers themselves a pursuer of the arcane and the odd in the musical universe.

TPA’s resident gnarled attack dog Roger Trenwith met up with the Worm himself (Jarrod Gosling to his Mum) in a virtual café populated by snarks and trolls and sundry untrustworthy characters over a banana dacquiri or seven to discuss the new album, and how to prog in the modern world. Send the servants out to their shed and pour yourself a large one. You may not learn anything but hopefully we may entertain you.

Hi Jarrod, good of you to take time out from prog obscurantism to sit under the TPA spotlight.

Regal Worm - Pig ViewsI jest of course, but your fine new album Pig Views, out now on shocking pink vinyl amongst other delish formats, contains a myriad of musical references ranging from Carl Orff via Eno to Caravan, all filtered through a highly English psychedelic sensibility. In short, where does all this stuff come from?

Hello Roger! Good of you to get me out of my cave! There are indeed many musical references on this and all Regal Worm albums. I suppose it’s a distillation of my music tastes, which are pretty extensive and mostly odd. Actually, I feel like I can’t get it all in. I wish I could make twenty albums a year to cover everything. The music I make in I Monster is similarly eclectic, so perhaps it’s a continuation of that, but channelled through a more progressive rock and psychedelic style rather than electronic pop. In the press biog for the first album it said something like “Jarrod’s love letter to prog.” That still holds true; I’m still writing naughty love letters to the swine! I also think it’s more fun to move in a different way from track to track. I think if I tried to make an album in a very specific style, I would get bored quickly and it would veer off into something else anyway.

A question often asked by folk with either a sly sense of humour or nowt better to do is “Is it prog?”.
Well? Or do you even have an opinion on the most oxymoronic of genres?

Yes, I think it is. But, mmmm, it’s a difficult one. I know “prog” comes from the term “progressive music” which (Wowie Zowie!) was used in the late ’60s to cover much of the music that dared to be a bit different and push the boundaries in some way. Be it blues, jazz, folk, heavy, pop. So, it was a way of thinking rather than a style. East Of Eden sounded nowt like The Moody Blues, who sounded nowt like Pentangle, etc. When did the prog term come into use? Not sure, probably in the ’90s. “Prog” is quite a large umbrella, but some people think “prog” is the actual style of artists that have a number of those trademark attributes…long tracks, odd time signatures, lots of Mellotron, big solos, fantasy lyrics, over the top cover art, etc. So when I started Regal Worm, I wanted to do both. That is to write my love letter and be “proggy”, but try and make it progressive and different without it drifting out of being “prog”, if you get my meaning. I think by the very late ’70s, the most progressive bands weren’t the progressive bands! I’m going mad.

Wowie Zowie! I’ve got that one, of course. And you’re right, the most progressive bands since the late ’70s have not been “prog”. Maybe I’m going bonkers too!

Following some of your Facebook posts, it would seem you have a similar love of ‘Rock’s Rich Tapestry’ (TM) to moi, and I guess we are of a similar age, which may explain why your head is so full of this wonderful nonsense. However, unlike me you have the ability to translate this bizarre strangeitude into boss tuneage, and then some! I am quite enjoying playing “spot the reference” whilst spinning your patter… whoosh… there goes a visit to the Newport Hospital. 10:15 has certainly left the bedroom on this one! Tell us a bit about your musical background.

“Bizarre strangeitude into boss tuneage”, I’m nabbing that! My earliest enjoyable musical moments would have been the stuff being played by my parents. Great hits of the day like In A Broken Dream, All The Young Dudes, Space Oddity, The Shaft Theme as used for an army recruitment ad, SOS by ABBA and much more, plus tapes of Pink Floyd, then Yes, Genesis and Mike Oldfield. I was fascinated with a lot of this colourful, scary music, but, as I started secondary school, I got into the Two-Tone movement.

Bloody Hell, you’re younger than me by years… isn’t everyone, it seems? 🙂

I wanted a skinhead hair “don’t”, but my mum wouldn’t cut it that short. I made up an imaginary band called The Sasanachs and made up an imaginary discography. I wasn’t interested in or able to play anything musical around this time. But, round the corner, after the Two-Tone thing waivered, I leaned towards the hairy again. My friend Jonny Murrell, sadly no longer with us, used to bring in his brother’s LPs to play at break time. Deep Purple’s Made In Japan and Rainbow’s Rising being two particular gems. Whooaaa!! Monumental! This got me thinking, I should grow my hair and get heavy. So I did; I became a rocker. I got in my first band around 1985, playing bass; A Westone Thunder.

I had a lodger who had one of those, we used to make tuneless rackets together, me on my pink Strat, mostly loosely based on Starman, or Psycho Killer. Pity our neighbours.

Basically from there I went from band to band playing metal/hair metal/AOR with no success or gig experience, until I went to college and got in with a new crowd of people. The new sounds at this time were shoegaze, Madchester and bleepy techno. All could be heard at The Leadmill in one night. This, and meeting up with Dean Honer, through a mutual friend, was an important step. I wanted to make bleepy techno music like those early Warp releases (Sweet Exorcist, LFO, Forgemasters, Nightmares On Wax), and Dean did too.
So I saved up for an Atari ST and a sampler and got going. With this new technology (all 1Mb of RAM and no hard drive), both Dean and I began making electronic, bleepy and odd electronic music.

This matured over a few years and we became I Monster in the late 90s. During this time though, I decided to dive head first back into prog and 60s/70s music. This was the crusty, neo-hippie era remember.So I began the quest of seeking out and discovering this endless catalogue of treasures. For every Yes, Genesis and King Crimson, there was a Cressida, Locomotive and T2.

Now, this is what I mean by ‘Rock’s Rich Tapestry’! Cressida were great. T2 were not shabby either. The less said about Locomotive the better…

And then there’s the foreign stuff! We (I Monster) had a hit with Daydream In Blue and some other successes in the early 2000s. With money from this I was able to arm the equipment arsenal. I bought a Mellotron, a Hammond, a Rickenbacker 4001 among other goodies. I could sneak this into I Monster stuff, but it still wasn’t full on prog. It didn’t need to be anyway. During a fallow period a few years ago, I decided to finally have a go and do some full on prog. Let it all hang out.

I didn’t have a clue how it would turn out, but I got my head down and worked on what became the first part of 6:17PM The Aunt Turns Into An Ant (all 26’11” of it can be found on 2013’s quite wonderfully squiffy Use And Ornament album). I was very happy with how it sounded, so I carried on. The Worm hatched! Are you still there Roger?! Wake up Roger!

…Eh…What? Who are you and how am I?

Ahem… Your track titles and lyrics have an Enoesque surreality about them, and singing along to the more bizarre couplets while in the shower has drawn some quizzical glances from my better half… I know, that’s not really a question, is it? 🙂

Bizarrely, I’m actually listening to Brian Eno’s Lux album on Warp as I write this! I love connections. I am a fan of crazy stream of consciousness titles. Pretentious? Probably.

Serendipitydoodah… Do you have a specific songwriting process? How long did Pig Views take to write and record?

It’s not specific to one process. A song or piece of music can start with a singing melody thought of in the bath or something. Or it could start as a chord progression written on an organ or piano. Once started, a track can evolve in different ways. I might change the entire pitch of a section after it’s been recorded. It’s pretty rare that a track is fully written in the traditional way. There are a zillion different possibilities.

Pig BadgePig Views took a long time to do in a way, because it’s a combination of tracks and ideas that go way back to the first album. For instance, the intro music on Pre-Columbian Worry Song was an unused idea from the first album sessions.

Some of the titles and themes come from an abandoned concept idea, which would have been the second album. So, in a way, this third album has connections to the first two albums, which makes it the final part of a crazy nonsensical trilogy that has no particular theme! All three albums are siblings. It’s sort of a rounding off of everything I’ve done so far.

So there is no specific concept behind the album?

Not really. The best explanation is in the previous answer, which isn’t that clear! All the tracks are individual except the long Swedish Winter suite which is made up of three tracks. That’s a sort of a pictorial folk tale of a young Swedish woman who goes missing in the forest and probably falls victim to a vampire. A rescue party go after her.

The end piece Butterfly actually refers to the subject matter of the track Rose Parkington, They Would Not Let You Leave. Inspired by an episode in Hammer studio’s brilliant, but seldom seen 1969 TV series Journey To The Unknown. Pig View is the name of my studio.

That’s a smorgasbord of cultural references for us to chew on! Tell us about the guest musicians on the record, and how you came to choose them.

There’s Mike Somerset Ward on tenor and alto sax, plus a little flute. He’s a world class player who I’ve known for a few years. He plays on all the Worm albums. Peter Rophone is another seasoned Worm guest. He has an exquisite voice. Louis Atkinson was about 18 years old when he recorded alto and tenor sax on the album. He’s since studied at the Royal Academy of Music. Amazing player and totally out there! Big Coltrane fan.

Graham McElearney is another seasoned Worm guest. He plays harp. That’s the big stringed instrument that statues play and not the mouth organ variant. Emily Ireland is a lovely young singer, songwriter and musician from Sheffield. She adds much needed female vocals on four tracks. Heidi Kilpeläinen is from Finland and is a great individual artist and singer. I’ve known her for a number of years. Last but not least is Paul Putner, an actor of repute who has been a good friend since about 2003. He wrote and narrated the Butterfly track. I’ve worked with all these people on various projects for a number of years and they are talents that I can trust. Dean from I Monster mastered the album beautifully.

Indeed, It sounds wonderful.

At the setting of the sun there are three types of music: Good, Bad, and by far the most common, Indifferent. In this day and age, when anyone who knows their way around audio software can make music, and chuck it out there, it is becoming ever more difficult to spot the real gems floating by on the endless sea of detritus. How do you go about promotion in BrexitTrumpworld? It must be frustrating.

It’s very difficult getting attention these days. Stamps foot! It’s actually been very refreshing with Regal Worm. There’s a good and supportive network of people within the prog/progressive community.

The best you can do is knuckle down and try and make the best music you can and keep at it. Trump and Farage won’t like my music and I don’t want them to. But then again Jim Davidson loves Emerson, Lake & Palmer…

So he does. Tells you all you need to know, heheh…

Linked to the promotion thing is the question of live performance. You are of the “one man band” variety, and so that prospect looks remote from here, which is a real shame. Music this good needs to be seen as well as heard. Any plans to remedy that?

Up until recently, it’s been impossible, but because we take Cobalt Chapel out live with a crack team of musical saviours, we might be able to have a go at doing the live Worm thing. Cobalt Chapel is more psychedelic, but there are some sneaky tricks and turns in there, so may be able to get the Worm out and do it justice. It’s also a cost thing. Isn’t everything?

It has been proved time and again over history that the best art is made in times of adversity, and what with the Orange Non Sequitur crashing around like an orangutan with ADHD and Brexit pestilence looming large, times are sure getting interesting. Even if not directly, did the zeitgeist inspire you to the greater lunacy that begat Pig Views? Either that, or there’s something spangly in the Sheffield water!

I do like to escape to my garret. It is an escape from the rubbish that is Trump/Brexit etc., but it’s always been an escape from the ugly side of the world. It’s always comforting to create one’s own safe world, even if there are vampires in it. Some people might do that by writing love songs, but I like to do it by writing about people turning into ants and all that jazz! I’m just as God made me Sir! The world seems much crazier at the moment, and not in a good way, but there is so much opposition to it too, which is encouraging.

How do you see the future for musicians out on the fringes like yourself, now that the Rock Era is practically dead? This has been a time where even a band as weird as Egg could scrape a meagre living by gigging and releasing records that actually sold in the low thousands. A band like that would be no more than a garage hobby nowadays, and would probably only have one member… hmmm… sounds familiar.

I’ve no idea about that. Maybe the end of record labels and the rise of self-released music? I don’t think you can make proper money from just selling music. It’s a shit business.

Back to Pig Views, which after all is why we’re here – the cover picture is glorious. Is there a message in there?

Thank you! There isn’t a definite message in there. Or is there? I’m not sure. There could be. Perhaps? It’s more of a dark lysergic nod to folk art and Victorian nursery imagery. Whoops I’ve said it. I suppose it’s a nod to Nursery Cryme! Or that kind of feel. Very English (in a nice way). Fuck off Tommy Robinson. There’s some hints at my earlier artwork, the lollipop flowers as used for I Monster.

The spider is a Theraphosa Blondi photographed at the Natural History Museum in Oxford a few years ago. There’s also a nod to artists like Wayne Anderson and covers like Never For Ever.

Spider BadgeFly Badge

There seems to be an obsession with flies?

Probably a sci-fi/horror thing. Maybe a nod to the I Monster fly masks. Insects and the little guys are good!

It’s great to see your fabulous artwork and music presented in rock music’s ultimate form, the 12″ vinyl record, and in luscious pink vinyl no less! The small resurgence of vinyl, down to true music lovers demanding something more aesthetically pleasing than an anonymous disconnected MP3 file, or worse, a stream with which to enjoy the artform, has been one of the few good things to come out of the music industry in recent times, wouldn’t you agree?

I would agree! It’s so expensive to get vinyl done. I wish it was cheaper. I’d make LPs every two weeks if I could. I don’t like the fact that the large digital stores only deal in MP3 format. Even with today’s huge bandwidth and broadband speeds. What’s all that about? I love buying .WAV albums from Bandcamp, but I always burn them to CD and play that.

Pig Views LP Sleeve Artwork

I feel that digital music presents a disconnect, an info-vacuum between the listener and the music, that only the physical format, and in particular the LP can provide for the serious music aficionado.

You missed the smell; the smell of the ink! Like the smell of a book, but different. I think the sense of smell is perhaps the most vivid of the senses. That’s an idea, can I make music that you can smell? I’m going to have a go at that.

Of course! There’s nowt quite like walking into a room full of vinyl… that statement makes me think of Smell The Glove for some reason…

“Farty Old Inner Sleeves”…the new fragrance by Lentheric.

The deluxe CD edition with all the ephemera is nice too. While there are still folk who invest more emotional capital into music than using it as general noise to block out reality while driving or doing the dishes, artists like yourself stand a chance. Keep it coming, and get that band together!

I’ll try my best. I don’t mind people doing the dishes to my music as long as they wear Marigolds. Grab the deluxe set folks! There’s a lovely toy pig in there.

So, aside from the gigging question above, what next for Regal Worm?

I haven’t decided. But I am now more inclined to engage in some thought about a possible brainstorming of ideas which could perhaps form the beginnings of a fourth album.

I look forward to it!

Finally, we end with the by now traditional non-music trivia question: What did you think of the World Cup, and Ingurland’s surprisingly refreshing performance?

OR…if football means nothing to you…Let’s go for a meal – Indian, Italian, or Chinese, or something else entirely?

Answer both if you want!

I don’t follow football now. I was pleased at England’s refreshing performance though. And also, it’s good that a number of “lesser” footballing nations made a dent. Actually, I could tell you more about the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. “We’re on the march with Ally’s army…”

As for the meal, Indian…You’re on! Are you asking me on a date?

Ah, the peerless Ally McLeod, the die from which the comedy gold of Rafa Benitez was cast. A date?… Yes, why not? I’ll wear my best merkin, possibly on my head.

I’m going Brazilian.

And with that, we strode out, arm in arm in the dystopian night, grinning like loons…


{You can read Mel Allen’s TPA review of Regal Worm’s new Pig Views album HERE.]

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