Winchester 7 & The Runners Interview
SBS: Welcome back to our pages once again Winchester 7 & The Runners! People so rarely want to talk to me more than once a lifetime, let alone twice in a single year – so cheers to you, and many thanks for comin’ on back to us to talk some more tunes. There must be something exciting going on…hmmm…if only I could figure out what it was…I wonder what it could be…OH RIGHT – a whole new record! Like I could possibly forget – I probably just posted it up in review at our pages not too long ago…it’s not only still fresh in my mind, it’s still spinning on my playlists over here. Ya did a stellar job on Heart Of The Golden Mystics…and we’ll get to that, I promise. In between the last time we talked on the SBS Podcast and this here interview now, how did you go about preparing for the brand-new album? What changes did you make in between your last record & this one…what was the main priority for you on this album?
Winchester 7: Thank you! It’s terrific to be back and to have the opportunity to talk with you and your readers about the new record.
Jack: We really liked the review too, thank you very much!
Phil: Your love of our New Order cover was quite welcome.
Winchester 7: We worked hard on that one, and indeed the whole album.
But how did we prepare? Well, it probably sounds silly, but I suspect that it boils down to that we watched a lot of mysteries.
Jack: We wrote a song, Miss Merry’s Memoriam, that we imagined would suit a group of mourners at a funeral. Then, with a victim decided, at some point, Win suggested we write a sequel to our song, The Saint Simon Killer.
Phil: The Saint Simon Killer Returns!
Winchester 7: And that ended up being a jumping off point for us! With those songs finished, we started talking whether there may be more story to tell…and one thing really lead to another.
Jack: It’s not a concept album though.
Phil: It’s more a collection of songs which are inter-related.
SBS: Assuming that I have been doing my job and that my review of the new album has been posted by now – was I crazy in hearing more of a digitalized/synthesized aspect of your music this time around, or has that always played a significant role in your music? I feel like that seemed to really come out in this new set of tunes more than I personally remembered it, but overall, I really admired just how complete the material on this record seemed to feel & sound. Were there any significant new challenges that you faced during the recording of Heart Of The Golden Mystics? If there were, how did you overcome them?
Winchester 7: I’m not touching the “crazy” thing [laughs] …but there certainly are more keyboards on this one than is usual for us. So, perhaps that’s reassuring.
The thing is, it’s not as unusual as you may expect! We’ve had some of it on songs before for color. It was just all played by Phil.
This time out, we decided to work more closely with our master mix engineer, Jon Paz. He actually ended up being a co-executive producer, and that resulted in us approaching the production in a more considered way.
Jack: As we talked through what we wanted each song to sound like, the need for more keyboard parts kept coming up. And as luck would have it, Pazzy’s assistant, Norr Madagascar, is an outstanding keyboardist!
Phil: I still recorded many keyboard parts. But, during the mix process, Norr’s would be selected. While there were hard feelings at first, compromise was found in my bass parts becoming more prominent; a happy ending.
Winchester 7: The whole experience ended up working out terrifically, really. Where we used to bring a mostly completed work to Jon for mix, this time, we brought him our foundation tracks and guide vocals to get his initial impressions.
Jack: It took a minute for us to get used to the process, but as it became more comfortable, Pazzy sort of became an honorary runner!
Winchester 7: If there were any other challenges worthy of mention, it may be in the writing process itself. When you start writing about a given topic there seems a world of possibilities. But, after you finish a couple, you find yourself picking between what remains and needing to write more. We usually just write whatever occurs to us!
Jack: Well, Win also came down with COVID in the middle of things. That was a challenge too, but he came out of quarantine having written Married for the Money!
Winchester 7: Yeah, I was watching Danny Boyle’s Pistols. Well, the song may not sound straight up Sex Pistols, but it was inspired by them in a feverish sort of way.
SBS: From your perspective, what was the main thread that ties these new songs all together? Is there a specific theme or subject that you feel rises above the rest in terms of what these tunes are all about? What would you like the listeners out there to take away from listening to Heart Of The Golden Mystics?
Winchester 7: So, there’s the murder mystery thing. It’s a thread, but we tried to tell the story more as “slices of life” than straight narrative. Our rule was that any one song needs to be able to stand on its own whether or not you care that there is a story.
Phil: Thematically, it’s about relationships and desires, love lost, and our regrets.
Jack: But, mostly I think we hope that listeners will tap their feet and want to play it again!
SBS: On the brighter-side of things…what would you say was the best moment you experience while you were recording Heart Of The Golden Mystics, and is there anything you can say that you’ll never forget about making this album that you learned, and that you’ll carry with you into the next record?
Winchester 7: The best? For me, it’s always hearing the final mix. Up to that point, there’s so much crafting going on that I’m never really sure what it will end up as when finished.
Phil: For me, I appreciated where my bass sits in the mix. It allowed me to become more comfortable contributing counter-melodies, of sorts.
Jack: While we were recording, of the better moments for me, was that we renovated the studio around the time we started making the record. Between its aesthetic, gear upgrades, and our work with Pazzy; it all started to feel a bit more polished than it’s been.
After we made the record though, reading your review and getting to have a chat with you about the thing is sound too though, Jer.
SBS: What can you tell us about fans of Winchester 7 & The Runners? Who are these people anyhow? How would you describe the folks within your audience and the people that your music appeals to?
Winchester 7: Well, you may not know it, but our fans call themselves “runners”. We really like that and feel it captures the spirt of things. We all have so much going on in our lives, in the world; that, given a moment, when we can all pull a runner and escape to a place where we can enjoy some music together is a lovely thing.
Jack: Beyond that, I think that they’re all a bit “off”! [laughs] Not in the traditional sense. It’s more that none of them strike me as everyday blokes. They may look it, on occasion; but it’s more a disguise than anything. There’s always something interesting going on with them when you get to chatting. I think we share an appreciation for the absurd, really.
Phil: Yeah, better interesting than dull!
SBS: Let’s talk about…”Miss Merry’s Memoriam.” How much of this song is autobiographical? It definitely stood out to me as the kind of song a longtime musician would definitely write, and I felt like it really came out brilliantly from concept to execution. I’d probably still say that “Her Double Life” likely contains the album’s most memorable/accessible hooks overall, but “Miss Merry’s Memoriam” was pretty close in that contest. I suppose what I’m wondering most is, if the dreams you had “in those early days” are not the same dreams you have guiding you now – what’s become more important to you overall? What are the main motivations that keep driving your music in Winchester 7 & The Runners?
Winchester 7: [laughs] You’re probably onto something there! And, thank you. Is it autobiographical? Well, I suppose that no matter what we’re writing about, some of ourselves creeps in.
In Memoriam, we were telling a story about a group of friends who returned to their hometown for a funeral. There, they honor Merry’s memory, while reflecting on how things were and where they find themselves now. It’s very much the sort of thing that does happen when someone passes.
But, as for those lines in the chorus? Yeah, we were having some fun putting in lines that we related to, as well.
Phil: But, do those dreams guide or motivate our music?
Winchester 7: I like to think that they do.
Jack: There’s one-foot-in-front-of-the-other days and those where you’re chuffed. To me though, we keep making music because it keeps coming! We’re not done yet, mate.
Winchester 7: It always feels like we’re channeling songs from out of the ether. If there’s anything that drives me, it’s a sense of curiosity as to what they’ll become when they’re done and the chance to try something different.
SBS: “Bizarre Love Triangle!” What an incredible job y’all did on this cover! It’s audible perfection, straight up. I’m always interested in cover tunes…mainly because I come from the era where artists and bands would get to choose like, one or two throughout the course of an entire career because recording was always so damn expensive. Clearly, that’s gotta be a hard decision to make! And ultimately, I still think that it can be…we might get more opportunities to do’em in the modern age that we’re living in now, but I still like to think that the majority of artists/bands pick their covers with careful precision. There can be plenty of reasons as to why…so I’m interested in what had YOU choosing “Bizarre Love Triangle?” Hearing the end results…I tell ya…they’re SO outstanding, it was like you knew you had this one in the bag Winchester 7 & The Runners…clearly, somehow, you knew you couldn’t lose by taking this song on. So let’s dig even deeper…not only do I want to know how you came to the conclusion that this was the song you wanted to cover – what made you choose to include it on this specific recording?
Phil: Thank you! I’ve been trying to get us to do a Joy Division or New Order song for a while now.
Winchester 7: When we’re thinking about covers, we write a list of songs down that we might try and give the better contenders a run-through. Across time, Bizarre Love Triangle seemed to become the more obvious choice as it fit our story so well.
Phil: Yeah, but I also challenged Norr a little there. I suggested that if he was going to play the keyboards so much, I’d like to see him take a try at that one. In the end, there was a moment when we were recording it where I was playing the bass and, he the keyboards. We looked at each other and knew it was working.
Jack: We’re still a trio, but Pazzy and Norr factored in big on this one and I hope on more to come.
Winchester 7: It turned into a great experience and proved nice to include some outside perspective.
SBS: As always, I’ve gotta supply the good folks like you taking time to answer all my rambling questions with a space for you to ramble however YOU would like to – the ol’ SBS Open Floor! You know it, you love it, you’ve been there before Winchester 7 & The Runners – feel free to leave the people with some final thoughts, and/or mention anything else that you’d like to that we didn’t talk about in the interview. Thank you so much for your time & answers once again, I always look forward to crossing paths with ya!
Winchester 7: Be sure to listen to “Heart of the Golden Mystics”, streaming near you!
Jack: But, we’d never discourage you from buying a copy either.
Phil: Yeah, we’ve got a Bandcamp page that is very nice.
Winchester 7: And do keep an eye on our YouTube page! We’re in post-production on a video for “Your House of Cards”, a favorite of mine, actually; and have a 3-part sort of documentary that should be releasing soon.
Phil: Thank you for listening!
Winchester 7: And watching!
Jack: Cheers and a very merry New Year to one and all!
Winchester 7: Thank you for having us!
Find out more about Winchester 7 & The Runners at their official website at: https://winchester7andtherunners.com
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