A Strange Bird: Darrin Bradbury

Eoghan Lyng talks dogs & atom bombs with Darrin Bradbury.

Pictures seem to be a common aspiration for the musicians who venture more guitar chord. Lol Creme, a guitarist who sang on 10cc’s rollicking Rubber Bullets, spent a childhood drawing as did John Squire, a meticulous methodist whose most astonishing post Stone Roses work were his paintings. Then there’s Darrin Bradbury whose first remit is the pictorial. “There was one song that wasn’t deliberate,” Bradbury explains. “It came from a cartoon I drew. I habitually draw. I was looking at the bird, saying weird things and how thoughts come to my head. It’s a short song, songs take away minutes of life, I needed to be a good steward.”

Strange Bird, an idiosyncratic indolent look at the everyday minutiae of laconic living, is one of a tidy collection detailing the daily dignitaries a household brings us. Brevity and introspection were the favoured tools of John Lennon, the lethargic Beatle whose work its easy to compare with Bradbury’s. “The album was written at home, most are very short songs. I’ve been told they’re cinematic, vignettes/ There’s usually an idea to pull together. There’s a lot of watching documentaries about the Manhattan Project with my dog looking at me. I thought Talking Dogs & Atom Bombs was an apt title”.

There’s a macabre wit to his lyricism, matched by the offbeat blues backings he uses (Rolling Stone describe his methods as “…countrified talking blues, oddball folk, and black humour, with some stoner-worthy philosophy about the origins of microwaves tossed into the pot.”), acknowledging Bradbury’s efforts as wordsmith first, singer second. “(Producer) Kenneth Pattengale and (bassist) Jeremy Ivey-Bradbury were kind of the mom’s and dad’s of this record. I’m not really a musician, I kind of speak my thing, so Kenneth was good at selecting the musicians and translating my material. He was an excellent producer and helped with all the right players, helping my job as presenter of the songs. Jeremy’s a great writer, plays great piano, wrote on a song for the album.”

Slow blues burner Nothing Much sits nicely on a collection of pop songs that stand above the average pop writing. Breakfast works as a beat poem, louche lounger Hell’s More Or The Less The Same swings with unnaturally joyful funereal swing. Then there’s So Many Ways To Die A Frozen Pizza a tune more potent than the title might suggest and the excitingly Dylanesque title track opening the album. Bradbury’s style is more raconteur than chanteur, that is left for guest vocalist Margo Price, duetting on The Trouble With Time with ghostly elegance.

“I’ve been friends with Margo a while”, Bradbury recalls. “We get together sometimes for coffee. When she first heard the song when we were working on it, she said she wanted to sing on it when we recorded it. Jeremy’s played with her, she’s really good!”

Dylan and Lennon, two pop writers with Beat intentions and poetic peregrinations, turned to the novel idea of story writing. Given his pedigree, Bradbury could join them. “I’ve written a lot every year. I went through a lot of writing in my twenties, thinking I’ll only be in my twenties once. I have an interest in the short story business and have a lot of things kicking around. I have one song written, sort of looking in to this person living inside. I think I could write an album on that”.

Darrin Bradbury – ‘Talking Dogs & Atom Bombs’is  released September 20th via ANTI- Records.

❉  A regular contributor to We Are Cult, Eoghan Lyng’s writing has also appeared in New Sounds, Record Collector, CultureSonar, Punk Noir Magazine, DMovies, Phacemag and other titles.

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