Somewhere between an LSD drenched Evelyn Waugh novel with the Catholic guilt hijacked by renegade exuberance and an amphetaminesque 23 step Oscar Wilde with infinitely more rhythm and a damn sight less cut-glass cynicism, strut The Correspondents in alarmingly tight trousers and even tighter tunes. Bursting onto the scene with a spectacularly irreverent, infectious glee they have razzled, dazzled and completely frazzled every crowd that has stepped inside their raucous gentleman’s club of debauchery with their sumptuously flamboyant musical energy and lavishly insane live performances. Christened by a pair of two-tone brogues with a taste for fine wine and an eye for talent, Mr Bruce’s sizzling, hypnotic, barking mad lyrical flow and gloriously unhinged triple jointed fucked up foxtrot frolics have already settled seductively into iconic status on festival stages while Mr Chuckles has picked the pocket of just about every musical style going, rustling and hustling the proceeds together into an inspirational ringing, swinging peak of rampant originality and an epic synthesis of pure groove.
We were quite frankly gobsmacked by the sheer unbound dynamism and passion of their live shows which sparklingly illuminate the possibilities of charisma, talent and inventiveness when let off the leash and poured into a tailcoat. Under consideration by the England cricket team as a means of unsettling the Aussies if the Ashes go down to the wire, setting venues aflame with sonic and visual colour and finally entering the recording commode to lay down an EP, we caught up with them inbetween dropping furious shuffling breakbeats over twinkling orchestral frenzies and fittings for cravats and a morning catsuit
How did you guys initially come together
Mr Bruce: Mr Chuckles started feeding me jazz and swing infused hip hop ditties when I was still studying up in Edinburgh. It wasn’t until we both returned to London and starting tinkering in his makeshift studio that we saw a glimmer of potential.
Mr Chuckles: Yeah, we’re both from the Big W aka. Wandsworth. Our mothers knew each other.
Were you always suitably eccentric
Mr Bruce: Well aside from a couple of years of baggy jeans and grade one hair dos I have always been suitably suited with aspirations for dandyism but I don’t think I would see myself as eccentric…I can’t help but think that the term eccentric is used as a polite way of implying that someone is losing the plot!
Mr Chuckles: To be honest I’m shopping more and more at M&S these days.
Mr Bruce: Not too sure, probably a little surprised by my posh voice and hopefully impressed by Mr Chuckles’ production.
Mr Chuckles: Haha, I wouldn’t say Mr Bruce was a part of the Drum n Bass scene before the Correspondents started. More an avid hobbyist!
What is it about the libertarian decadence of the uptown 30’s that makes you tick
Mr Bruce: The extravagance amongst severe austerity excites me – it often means that people are more inventive but for us it’s not so much the era as the music that existed within in it that makes us tick. I think it’s important not to get too nostalgic, it’s all relative, swing was the 30’s equivalent of our drum’n’bass. Now we like swing, among many other genres of music, so how can we make it relevant today?
Mr Chuckles: To be honest the vintage scene isn’t for me. I just like the music!
Mr Bruce: Funnily enough not hugely. I think the fictional character that had the biggest impression on me was the Master of Ceremonies from Cabaret.
When did you start swinging
Mr Bruce: Well I’ve never had a swing lesson in my life and my car keys remain in my waist coat pocket most of the time.
Has UK Electro swing developed a different strain to the European evolution
Mr Chuckles: Hmm. I wouldn’t say they’re hugely different. I suppose the French tend to be a bit more house orientated. It’s also been more popular there for longer. But to be honest they’re both relatively small scenes so it’s quite hard to make any generalisations.
Mr Bruce: Perhaps. When you look at a French band like Caravan Palace they are more house based because of their national pioneers like Daft Punk and there’s more Django Reinhardt guitar riffs. Over in the UK we seem to be suckling from our dance music heritage of drum’n’bass and hip hop with a touch of musical hall maybe…
Mr Chuckles: Well, our new material is a lot less sample based, mainly for legal reasons! There’s very little live instrumentation, a bit of me playing the saxophone/guitar/piano/rhodes, but most of it is all virtual instruments and synths programmed note by note. Definitely gonna move more in to live instruments and collaborations for the next release. But for the moment, I’m quite enjoying having complete control!
How do the elements fit into place when you begin to build a track
Mr Chuckles: My computer is littered with musical doodles, most of which never see the light of day. But generally the good ones get tightened up and polished into a decent loop with a bit of song structure, then passed onto Mr Bruce.
Mr Bruce: Then when I’ve received the track in it’s primary stages I’ll think about lyrics and then back and forth recording process begins.
Where do you go hunting for angles and inspiration
Mr Bruce: Our single is about the decline of Soho where I used to go drinking on a regular basis. A significant number of old clubs and bars, some that have been around since the 40’s have closed recently and number of Soho’s key figures have died. It’s all a bit bleak but the track is upbeat.
Mr Chuckles: Usually listening to music and other producers. I like to think I have my own sound, however I often try to emulate tracks, much like someone learning the piano would practise the Fur Elise. Then end up making something completely different!
Are your roots ultimately more in live performance than studio work
Mr Bruce: No the studio work is always the spring board for the live show. This isn’t to say that things don’t happen at a gig that we then use in the studio.
Mr Chuckles: It’s tricky because we spend so much of our time on the road, we hardly get any chance to really knuckle down to recording. But really we like both. For me, the studio work is more existentially fulfilling, while the live aspect is great fun, feeds the ego and the coffers!
Mr Bruce: We certainly aren’t aiming to recreate our live show in recorded form as this would be a bit futile. We hope that our releases will show a different potentially unexpected side of The Correspondents. There are little instrumental tracks made by Mr Chuckles that we probably won’t even play at our gigs. I’m personally excited about people being able to properly listen to Mr Chuckles’ production at home rather than always in the live show.
Mr Chuckles: What he said, but also I think It would be nigh on impossible. We’ve had quite a few comments from fans that our tracks don’t live up to our performances. Well most tracks out there at the moment are at least 3 years old when we first started but really, I don’t get it. It’s like complaining to Sky that watching cricket in your sitting room isn’t as good as Lords!
How do creative differences manifest themselves and what degree of highbrow debate / violence usually sees them resolved
Mr Bruce: Well I leave most musical matters to my partner in crime and he leaves most costume, stage props and lyric based stuff to me. Every now and again I over step the line and come up with something a little too silly and he’ll reign me in. No fisty cuffs yet.
Mr Chuckles: We had an arm wrestle once. I’ll let you wonder who won that one!
How did festival crowds initially react to you
Mr Bruce: Incredulity at first then they showed signs of enthusiasm.
Mr Bruce: Perhaps. They just need to step back and see that they are making some funny noises to keep people entertained and at best empathetic.
Mr Chuckles: Sometimes. There’s plenty of room for everyone. Music should make you laugh, cry, euphoric, angry, let out a bit of wee… I wouldn’t say we set out to be comedic though, fun and a bit silly maybe. We try not to take what we do too seriously though. Plenty of other acts who do that better.
How critical are sartorial matters to you
Mr Bruce: Life and death.
Mr Chuckles: Like an elderflower cordial on a warm summers day.
Are Mr Bruce’s trousers just crying out to trigger the next great moral panic
Mr Chuckles: Let’s hope so for all our sakes.
Mr Bruce: Bumster jeans, ugg boots, Bruce’s spandex breeches…The Daily Mail will have a field day.
Do you feel that you bridge the bohemian bourgeois and the down, dirty and sweaty
Mr Chuckles: I think you’re thinking of Vauxhall Bridge.
How much of your shows are open to improvisation
Mr Bruce: Well I certainly have no control of my legs. Half of the what I say is free styling gobble-di-gook and the rest is set lyrics for particular songs.
Mr Chuckles: When we started out it was just a DJ set and a few of my own tunes, so it changed the whole time. We’ve done a fair few shows now so usually have a skeleton plan we follow. But really, it depends on the crowd and how drunk I am.
Are you looking at broadening your live shows into live musicians and Ableton
Mr Chuckles: Haha, if I had a penny for every time someone recommended this. It’s a tricky one. As to other musicians, we have a fairly odd relationship, and I think that comes across well on stage, so am slightly hesitant to mess with the duality of it. But there’s loads of other reasons, some financial, some logistical, some musical. I like the 2 turntables and a microphone (and a conveyor belt) simplicity we’ve got going, it also means we can do more gigs, and are easy to book. However for big gigs next year we’re definitely looking to expand. I would love to get some female doo woop backing singers, and maybe a horn section. As to Ableton. Nah… Don’t see the point. Even the Chemical Brothers really just play CDs on stage. You spend time and money getting the highest audio fidelity for your tracks in the studio, only to play them raw again on stage, slightly worse, by tapping a few buttons occasionally. But maybe a Moog, just one, and some maracas.
Are you looking forward to being hideously corrupted by success
Mr Bruce: depends what form the corruption takes!
Mr Chuckles: I think I’ll leave that to Mr Bruce.
When do the patents drop in for the conveyor belt dance platform
Mr Bruce: Well, we have talked about the Correspondents first keep fit video- ‘The CorresponDance’. We can do a CBDP/DVD combo pack.
Are correspondents really the most practical rave attire?
Mr Bruce: They hold sweat like a cup rather than absorbing it. I have to empty them at the end of a gig. Otherwise a good fitting pair of brogues is as comfortable as a Nike trainer.
How have things changed for you in the last year
Mr Bruce: I’ve finally accepted that I am not man enough to grow any form of facial hair.
Mr Chuckles: He’s definitely not pogonic. Well we’re doing full-time now which is brilliant, and weird, seeing as it’s never been a life ambition for either of us to be full-time musicians. It’s great, don’t get me wrong, but well, that’s just the way life works sometimes, haha.
Have the MCC booked you to play Lords yet?
Mr Chuckles: I would pay them to let us play.
Where does it go from here
Mr Bruce: Finally releasing some music and then who knows. We have no particular plan. We’ll be around for as long as people want us.
Mr Chuckles: Yep, “What’s Happended To Soho? EP” coming out 21st February! Which we’re mainly plugging just so people stop asking us, haha. It’s clichéd, but as I said earlier, our ambitions don’t lie in record sales or fame. If that was a route we were gonna take, we would have already taken it. It’s starting to feel like the Music Business isn’t about what you do, but what you turn down. Which is what a lot of your critics don’t hear about. I just want to have fun, make music and meet more interesting people until everyone gets bored of us!