17th Sep2009

Will Sergeant: The Interview

by Todd
When Echo and the Bunnymen released their first album, “Crocodiles” in 1980, they set a standard in post-punk that few bands were ever able to achieve.  Surrounded by a slew of one-hit wonders, they put out four classic records in five years.  Remarkably, every member of the original four is frequently cited as an influence for generations of bands that have followed.
Since that time, the band has endured tragedy and tumult while continuing to perform their brilliant music to an ever growing legion of fans.  With the release of their new album, “The Fountain” this fall, we were able to get guitarist Will Sergeant to speak with us a bit about what it’s like to be the only Bunnymen to have never left.

TDOA: Your guitar parts have influenced a generation of guitarists that have
followed you.  Who influenced you and who do you listen to know that
inspires you?

WS: Jimmy Page, Phil Manzanera, Mick Ronson, Wilco Johnson, Zal Cleminson, Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison, Tom Verlaine, Richard Lloyd, Eddie Philips, Robbie Krieger…The list goes on and on.

I am playing loads of 60′s psyche at the moment, with the odd new band Wooden Shjips, Entrance, Dead Meadow.  (I) also like that new album by The Decemberists, “Hazards Of Love”. Bring back Prog rock.

TDOA:  You’re already receiving great advance press on the new
record.  After this many years, does the reaction of the music media
matter to you?  How have you weathered the ups and downs of the media’s
treatment of the Bunnymen?

WS: I like the fact that it’s getting good reviews, but I have not gone out of my way to see any of them, so maybe I’m not that bothered.

TDOA: At this point in your career, do you prefer recording in the
studio or playing live?  What does it take to get you excited about performing live after this many years?

WS: Live is best, the crowd is all you need to keep it exciting.  The studio is great if you are trying new sounds out and really getting your teeth into something.

TDOA: Although you did videos, I never felt like the band reveled in them in the same way bands like The Cure did.  Is that a fair statement and do you think the advent and emphasis on videos did a disservice to the music industry?

WS: I hate doing videos.  All the waiting around gets me well cheesed off.  I like making little films for my own entertainment though.

TDOA: I’ve been a fan of the band though the years, all the way through your newer work.  However, I remember making fun of bands like The Rolling Stones for their inability to hang it up when they were still touring in the late
90′s.  How do you answer critics that say the band is “too old”
to still be performing?  Is there added pressure to maintain the bands’
legacy when it goes in to record a new record?

WS: Unfortunately we are not the Rolling Stones and I can not pack it in. What would I do?  Anyway, I don’t fancy packing shelves in a supermarket till I snuff it.

TDOA: Do you ever speak to Noel Burke and how do you feel about the record you recorded with him?

WS: Not seen Noel for a while, I do bump into him now and then, he is now teaching in Liverpool.  It was a enjoyable but foolish adventure.  It was never going to work I see that now.  Fans started to abandon ship ( I don’t blame them.  In their eyes it had become tainted somehow), so it ended.

TDOA: What is your favorite Echo and the Bunnymen record and do
you have a song(s) that you enjoy performing more than any other?

WS: Heaven Up Here, it was a good time everyone pulling together, trying out new instruments and ideas (with) Hugh Jones as the captain steering the ship through. We learned a lot on those sessions.  The pressure was on.  We had are first U.S. tour looming, we would record all night then start again early in the morning, we started to get the giggles, hallucinating, with lack of sleep.  Ocean Rain was also a great experience waking up in Paris cycling to the studio and feeling like a Frenchy for a few weeks.

TDOA: We feel like it would be wrong to neglect to take a moment to allow you to reflect on the loss of Jake Brockman.  Can you talk about his impact on the Bunnymen’s music?

WS: Jake was crucial to the running of Bunnymen world.  He was in charge of all the logistics, equipment and the office.  He kept it neat and together, also helping out with the odd guitar and keyboard duties, live mainly.  Later with Noel Bunnymen, he got more involved with the musical side of things.  He was great to record with;  a  jack of all trades, always willing to get his hands dirty and to help in any situation.  A great, great bloke.  Pete’s best mate in the band, possibly the world.

To explore the music of Echo and the Bunnymen and pre-order their new album click on the cute, little iTunes button below.

Echo & The Bunnymen

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2 Responses to “Will Sergeant: The Interview”

  • Erik Hansen

    That was really great! He’s a funny guy. I’m going to start using the expression “Cheesed off.”

  • Aaron Johnson

    It took me years to figure out that besides the vocals, there was a certain sound that set the Bunnymen apart from the other music of the 80s. That element is definitely the guitar playing of Will. He is simply the best and I feel fortunate to have seen them play with New Order, Love & Rockets, or Oingo Boingo in SLC, Utah in1986 or 1987. I’ve been a huge fan ever since. Keep it up boys!

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