With The Big Up Festival just days away, I had the great opportunity of compiling a list of questions for Maff Scott of The Egg to answer before they take stage in Claverack, New York on Saturday August 10th. The Egg is an extremely influential and talented British electronic band formed in the early 1990’s and they have toured all over Europe as well as Australia and Brazil. It is truly a pleasure for Upstate New York to be able to experience such amazing music at a festival so close to home.
Maff Scott: Well there’s myself (Maff) and Ned. Ned started getting better at the piano and I picked up the drums. We started jamming at home, using saucepan lids and a pedal that we made by attaching a rubber band to a marching band big drum (it only worked once and then fell apart.) We’ve played with a few others over the years. We used Ben Cullum’s (a great house producer and song writer) bass lines to play electronically. We also wrote and toured a bit with Matt White who we met through Pete Doherty (whom we wrote the song “For Lovers” with). Drew is playing guitar with us mostly; he’s done quite a few tours now and co-written stuff (something to do) and he’s great. Most musicians we generally meet through mutual friends. We also tend to meet a lot of people through the West London scene. We met Sophie Barker (Zero7) whom we’ve done lots of UK gigs, and even a recent gig with Mick Jones (The Clash) and Greg Hunter (Killing Joke, The Orb). We’ve done lots of recent production for a new release with him, and used his parts for a tune “Psyfunk” in the set. He’s on tour elsewhere but we will try to connect if we can. We also met a great trumpet player, Richard Wendel, while playing in Costa Rica. We jammed with him… and it was brilliant. He runs a great jazz club (The Bitter End) in NYC so we’ll be having him do some crazy trumpet at the Webster Hall show.
JW: Can you tell us a story about a day in the band’s life?
MS: Erm, well there was the time we were driving to Cleveland, famous for Spinal Tap’s scene where they get lost on the way to the stage (“Hello Cleveland”) – We’d overloaded the van’s alternator with all of our UK converters, laptops and phone chargers. The final straw was putting ‘Spinal Tap’ on the DVD player. We drew too much power and snapped the dynamo off which busted the van. We were stuck in a ‘Bennys’ for the night and missed the show. Ironic that it was Cleveland and Spinal Tap. How we laughed.
JW: What goes into your process of creating a new song or album?
MS: Years of hell and stress! Sitting up late playing with electronic bits and bobs. Sometimes it’s a loop or a chord structure Ned has created which we can jam on and take the parts into rehearsal and make an arrangement. Of course, it changed when we play it live for a while. We’ve been known to stay up for days on one tune. Sometimes in hotel rooms or soundchecks or instead of actually rehearsing for a gig: we are VERY undisciplined.
JW: What are the biggest obstacles for a band and what is the hardest part about working in the music industry?
MS: Errr.. getting paid! It’s hard to get people to buy stuff when so much is given away. But we’re happy to give away live recordings. The hardest part is keeping the excitement levels up. Web stuff is hard because everyone is competing for your fans attention using the same tool.
JW:What are some of your pet peeves when performing?
MS: Time! We always run out of time and don’t get to play the entire set, and the best tunes are at the end. We’re also really warmed up by then and so is the crowd. Maybe we’re too ambitious with set lists thinking we can do it. The best gigs we’ve done are the ones that have no time limit. The tunes have the time to develop without stopping to squeeze the next one in.
JW: How do you feel about online music sharing and how has it changed for you as a band since your start?
MS: We don’t mind sharing a few live shows and all, but as for albums, well, it’s hard to get paid for sales if people are downloading them for free. Sure it gets your attention to a bigger reach, but if everyone does that then it doesn’t really make you stand out as ‘the band who gives stuff away’ – Even though everyone expects it nowadays. The emphasis is now on live shows I guess. We’ve definitely found people who’d never heard of us elsewhere so in measure it’s a great thing (as long as you hold something back).
JW: How was your experience playing a festival as huge as Glastonbury?
MS: We’ve done it a few times now. It’s like a city that never sleeps and you don’t know who you’ll reach. There are massively long walks everywhere and it is sort of split up into villages really… mad crazy villages where everyone is the village nutter. There have also been some crazy muddy years, but that makes a comic bonding effect with everyone. We can all look at each other and laugh. This year was fun.. like another world. You feel weird going back to reality sometimes.
JW: What do you want Big Up goers to expect for your performance musically/visually?
MS: We have video triggers and a synced up set of dance music and electronics with lots of different styles and live musicians. Basically Moog baselines, an influence of deep house, but mostly eclectic house vibe: guitars, vocoders, a bit of ambient bleeps, crunched up this and that… I think they’ll like it.
JW: What advice would you give to other artists at The Big Up festival who have less experience?
MS: Less experience is good! New bands have hunger and faith and blind optimism. That’s all you need! Generally, be good at what you do and don’t piss anyone off. Everyone’s ‘good’ in a way, depending on what music you like, so someone not liking you as people will have far more effect on your next booking than how good you are. Criticizing other bands doesn’t make your band better either. It’s a backfiring effect. I’m sure they’ll all know this. I don’t want to patronize but I personally don’t bother with covers. It’s easy to think your music is so different that no one will get it, but that’s the reason they’ll notice you. Being yourself is always original, because we’re all different. So be yourself! I’ve often forgotten that. Anyway we’re crap at other people’s music and we can only do our own.
Make sure you don’t miss these guys at the Space Ball City Tent on August 10th.