The Bobby McGee’s Week – Interview

This week sees the long await release of The Bobby McGee’s debut album L’Appropriation Bourgoisie de la Bobby McGee’s. And what better way to celebrate than with a week packed with McGee-goodness. Starting with a interview with Jimmy.

The Bobby McGee’s have been together for about 7 years. How come you’ve only just got round to releasing an album?

A few reasons, firstly, I was never going to pay to have an album recorded or put one out myself. I reckoned if someone else wouldn’t put out our music it was because it wasn’t good enough to be released. I also wanted to work with good people infact I would rather work with good people than make money from working with dodgy people (though some money would be nice!). Secondly we built our own studio, or rather Graeme our bass player did! Converted an old garage, built floors, walls & roofs, equipped it & set it all up…like all building projects it took longer than first thought!

What can we expect from the album?

Some beautiful songs, some wise words, some mad rants and the best use of a ukulele since George Formby invented the split stroke!

Go listen to the bassline in Go Tiger Go!

It seems like everyone loves the Bobby McGee’s. Are you the first twee band to receive plaudits from Kerrang?

I think so, that was ace…

“Pure Fucking Genius!” was the phrase they used.

I was standing in the middle of a video shoot when I heard about it, I was a biker extra in a porn remake of “From Dusk Till Dawn” (don’t ask…but Dawn was a lovely girl!) I had a naked dancer in front of me, a man with a snake in his arms on my left and a bottle of jack Daniels in my hand when I got a text from my friend Jon, “Congratulations on the Kerrang review!”…for 15min I was Axl Rose!

You and Eleanor have very different styles of uke playing. How do you get them to gel together?

L.O.V.E! Girls do seem to just play differently from boys…Boys are all GEORGE FORMBY, fast strums and flashy technique…Girls are more HAWAII, beautiful mellody & gentle picking…but to make something truly great you need a wee bit of both.

Our songs have always been a mixture of my songs, Eleanor’s songs and songs we write together. I like them all!

My technique, I struggle with a rhythm or technique for hours, storm off in a huff shouting “I can’t do this…it’s stupid!”..Eleanor works it out in 2min and teaches me….then Graeme shouts at me until I can play it in time.

You’ve been active on the ukulele scene for quite a while. What’s your view of the ukulele scene at the moment?

If I walked onstage at a comedy club and did a Billy Connolly routine I’d be laughed out the place…That sums it up perfectly I think!

You’re a big advocate of people writing their own music. What advice can you give those who, like me, have no songwriting ability whatsoever?

Book yourself a gig today…or find an open mic’and go play…some real good songs came to me on the way to gigs! Rip interesting sentences from books or newspapers, play G then C then D…add the words…bingo, a song! It’s a start. Writing and performing your own songs is a totally different skill from playing covers and I’m still not sure about the crossover…I had it described best by a man I know only as J Boy Shine he talked about Artists & Artisans and the importance of both…I have a video I made about my 21 tips for songwriting and performance.

What can we expect from the Bobby McGee’s in the future?

Well, I have 2 solo albums recorded: 68 Love Songs(& a poem about shagging) & LOVE SONG 101…(thats a total of 170 new songs! I gave a copy of the 1st album to Billy Childish…I said to him “69 songs Mr Childish, but if I’m honest, only 67 of them are brilliant.” He laughed, but he hasn’t gotten back yet!).

I have ideas for another dozen, some recorded with no lyrics and some drunkenly hummed into my phone. I want to hear dance remixes of my songs…I’d love that! I saw the Japanese band MELT BANANA about a month ago and was hugely inspired, I’ve been experimenting with effects pedals ever since! My playings getting technically better which actually makes it harder to write songs as I always want to throw in a triplet, a split stroke or a 13th Chord instead of just writing a song!

L’Appropriation Bourgoisie de la Bobby McGee’s is released today on Cherryade Records.

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  1. Ian Emmerson June 29th, 2009 7:57 pm

    I watched that video of tips for songwriting and performing, and consistently break pretty much every rule in there. Maybe now I have subject matter for that impersonation (once I can find a suitable beard)!

    Top folk, the Bobby McGees (and videos don’t do any of them justice in the looks department – though for Jimmy that’s not such a bad thing).

    Top, top folk.

    I x

  2. Armelle June 29th, 2009 8:24 pm

    I wonder what inspired them for the title of their album ?

  3. Gary June 29th, 2009 9:26 pm

    Cheers for that, Al. This lot are my favourite band at the moment. I saw them at the Uke Fest and they were great (despite the terrible sound quality!). I would really appreciate it if you could tab one of their songs (preferably “When Father Died, Ferrets Licked Away The Tears”…). Great website!

  4. Woodshed June 29th, 2009 9:39 pm

    Ian: Don’t listen to him, you keep rockin’ that didgeridoo.

    Armelle: I should have guessed that would interest you. I’ll try to find out.

    Gary: Plenty coming up this week. When Father… will be up on *checks schedule* Thursday.

  5. JCMcGee June 30th, 2009 6:29 am

    Ha…just found this!!

    The album title comes from a question I was asked….a few years back …ARTE the French/German TV station came to Brighton to interview us….they spent a weekend at gigs filming us and finished off with a big interview in Queen’s Park (Brighton) where we had recorded a previous EP…I expected the usual questions about influences and ukuleles…nah, they asked “Jimmy, how do you feel about the bourgoisie appropriation of folk music?”…..”How did your relationship with your father affect your songwriting?”…..I gave them the usual daft answers…so they just kept asking the same question until they got a straight answer!

    ….I never saw the video!

    The Ferret thing was a headline in a local newspaper down here!

  6. JCMcGee June 30th, 2009 6:43 am

    Oooohhh…you should interview Eleanor….I’m so full of crap that she never gets a word in!!!

    She’s a great uke player…anyone got any questions??

  7. Phil June 30th, 2009 11:44 am

    Brilliant stuff. Love the Bobby McGees, and it was grand to meet you at the London Uke Fest. Must do it again sometime!

  8. JCMcGee June 30th, 2009 1:19 pm

    Soooo….you all want to learn how to play the songs???

  9. Woodshed June 30th, 2009 5:13 pm

    Jimmy: So how do you feel about the bourgeoisie appropriation of folk music?

    Phil: I’m not sure if the second half of that is aimed at me or Jimmy. But, yes, agreed.

  10. Armelle June 30th, 2009 7:00 pm

    Jimmy : thanks for the explanation ! I wish we could see the video of the interview :) Must have been something !

  11. Woodshed July 1st, 2009 10:20 pm

    Armelle: You should check out the song titles. German, Latin and Indian (I think).

  12. Armelle July 2nd, 2009 5:38 am

    Al : I did ! And you’ll see them in Ukulele & Languages soon !

  13. JCMcGee July 2nd, 2009 9:57 am

    Oooohhh….I have a song about going to Paris with an ex trying to make up….it’s got a verse in French…I was dead happy when i realized that it rhymed in French & English..I’ll post a video of it tonight!

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  15. rico June 9th, 2010 7:04 pm

    Just bumpin this thread cos I think the McGees are pretty brilliant and I just re-read the interview and think anyone who mentions Melt Banana in a uke interview is spot on.

  16. Woodshed June 14th, 2010 4:21 pm

    rico: It doesn’t work like that, I’m afraid. But, yes, Melt Banana are incredible.

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