Euros Childs has long been perhaps the most enigmatic and prolific musician of Wales’ indie-pop community. That said, phrases such as indie-pop don’t really do enough justice to Childs’ music, which incorporates as much folk and psychedelia as anything else. Euros was the founder and figurehead of the much loved Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, who formed as a school band over twenty years ago and enjoyed a fifteen year career. He has since gone on to enjoy similar success as a solo artist, as well as starting a new band, Jonny, with Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub, and another called Cousins with Meilyr of Race Horses. We caught up with the man himself for a verbal tete a tete…
What have you been listening to lately?
An album by the North Sea Radio Orchestra called I A Moon. Also the album Jazz by Queen, and the American radio station WFMU.
I’ve noticed you have been self-releasing your most recent recordings, making them available from your website. Is working without a label something you’re enjoying, and what are the benefits?
I’m still on a label, it just happens to be mine! In terms of artistic freedom, things are pretty much the same. I’ve been lucky in the sense that I’ve never experienced much record company meddling in the creative side of things. I’m enjoying the day to day running of things and sending the albums out in to the world. Maybe I’m a frustrated postman.
Following on from that question, if you were a new musician just starting out today, would you favour self-releases via the internet over trying to find a label?
What works for me might not necessarily work for a band that’s starting out. If you’re playing the long game and not searching for a big deal you could be better off doing it yourself. That is if you’re willing and capable to get your head around the way everything works. I certainly couldn’t have done that when I was younger. Saying that, it’s much easier these days, with the internet, to build up a fan base than it used to be. It can be done without the aid of a record label deal and the printed press. But if you’re completely skint as a band, you need money.
You’ve enjoyed a lot of success, firstly with Gorky’s and now both as a solo artist and with Jonny. Aside from your own hard work, is there anyone you would consider to have been a big influence in helping you achieve all you have done?
Artists that have stuck to what they do regardless whether they sell records or not. I’ve just come across someone called R Stevie Moore, he’s recorded at home since the 70s to the present day from what I can make out. Seems like the kind of artist who would be doing what he does whether he sells records or not. Those kind of people are always inspiring.
You’ve worked with many good musicians over the years; who stands out? Is there anyone you miss not being around any more?
I’ve been lucky since Gorky’s. I’ve played with some very talented folk, Alun Tan Lan who is a solo artist and member of Y Niwl, Dylan Hughes and Meilyr Jones of Race horses, and Stephen Black (aka Sweet Baboo), who’s played with me in my band and also recorded a few of my albums. With Jonny I’ve have played with some fine muscians too, Stuart Kidd (drums) and Dave McGowan (bass) and of course Norman Blake. I’ve played with various members of Gorky’s since we split, Peter Richardson who has played drums on my albums, Megan Childs plays violin on the new album and I sing a bit on Richard James’ new album Pictures In The Morning. Me and Richard also collaborated on a live soundtrack for two short films by a Russian animator called Yuri Norstein in 2010. We did one performance in front of 300 school children in a theatre in Jersey. They seemed to enjoy it, they didn’t make a sound so I think that’s a good sign.
With At The Drive In and Refused re-uniting for Coachella, it seems there’s no end to the money a band can make for getting back together. Some people hate reunions, others can’t get enough. Would you ever consider reuniting Gorky’s?
You’ve obviously got a good friend in Norman Blake, but when did the mutual appreciation start? How did you meet?
I’d always been a fan and Gorky’s supported Teenage Fanclub in 1997. That’s when we got to know each other. A few years later Norman joined Gorky’s on a tour called Mynci 2000, he played guitar. It was around 6 years later I went up to Glasgow and we started writing together.
What did you think of the Teenage Fanclub cover of Christmas Eve? Did they tell you they were going to do it, or was it a (hopefully nice) surprise?
We thought it was great, and were very flattered. I think we’d been tipped off.
The song on the Richmond sausages advert of last year had a vocalist that sounded an awful lot like yourself. Is there anything you’d like to tell us?
A few people have said something similar. I heard it, and hated it, and hated the bloke’s voice. Made me wonder if I hear my own voice in the same way as other people do.
What’s your favourite pizza topping?
Good choice. And finally, what does 2012 hold in store for you?
Meilyr Jones of Race Horses and myself recorded an album under the name Cousins, the album’s called First Cousins, that will be out in March followed by a re-recorded single version of Spin That Girl Around. And then another solo album will come out in the summer. There’s also an album by a group called Short And Curlies that will be released this year.
Photo: Kirsten McTernan
Interview and words: Max Hicks