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Andrew Fagan And The People Share Album 'Act Normal' + Interview

Andrew Fagan And The People Share Album 'Act Normal' + Interview

Chris Cudby / Friday 14th February, 2020 11:27AM

Poet and songwriter Andrew Fagan, well-known for penning some of Aotearoa's finest pop songs with The Mockers, has revealed his latest studio record, winkingly titled Act Normal. Credited to Andrew Fagan and the People, a good chunk of the album was recorded solo on a ship offshore via Fagan's mobile recording studio, with the remaining half being laid down with band at Auckland's Tone Exchange Studio. Fagan celebrates the launch of Act Normal next Friday at Tāmaki Makaurau's Anthology Lounge with bandmates Darryn Harkness, Kurt Shanks, Joe Dekkers-Reihana and John Murray. He generously spared time to chat with Chris Cudby over the web about the record, his love of sailing, and the enigmatic triangular symbol adorning Act Normal's cover – scroll downwards to read their conversation...

Chris Cudby: Congratulations on your new album. What does the idea of being 'normal' mean to you?

Andrew Fagan: 'Normal' in the context of the song is about conforming to the expectations of mainstream social expectations, or in this case, pretending to, in order to placate easily offended, often judgemental 'normal' dull people; yet remaining true to yourself and keeping the big mortality picture always in frame...

There's songs reflecting on past situations, like 'We Fell Out' and 'Bad Choice', and also the cheery 'You'll Be Fine' and 'Move On' which both look forwards. Do you reckon it's difficult to be active in music and art for any length of time without a few bruises along the way?

I write and record songs because when left to my own devices and given free time that's what I naturally gravitate to doing for sheer self-indulgent pleasure. That primary motivation remains unadulterated.
Sadly one's market place context never remains consistent and one can find oneself in-between audiences... It may bruise your emotions, it may dent one's sense of relevance, but ultimately who gives a shit.
The important thing is to create a body of work that will remain, and ultimately eventually stand as a testimony to one's creative application regardless of how it was received initially, and regardless of who you are, or were, or will be...

'My Favourite Human' has some pretty fuzzy and frisky lo-fi sounding sonics – how was your new album recorded?

The recording credits are in the foldout pages in the CD. Pull out the front cover paper and it opens up...
Half the songs were recorded with the band at the Tone Exchange Studio in Auckland, and the rest were recorded by me hundreds of miles offshore on a ship I was working on where I had my mobile recording studio.
The exception is 'My Favourite Human' which was mostly created by our ex-drummer Craig Horne and I couldn't help contributing vocals to it and then I fell for it...
All the vocals were done at sea, usually seven vocal tracks per song, plenty of time out there to get the takes and harmonies right. You can hear the odd ship noise in the background, but it seems to add to the overall attitude...

What does the triangle symbol with the three circles that's on the artwork (and costumes) for your new album represent?

The symbol is called a Gombolic. It represents the trinity and a Dolphin's brain which has the third part as large as the left and right parts. Mental expansion.
I was interfered with by aliens when I was twelve around the coast of Wellington at a place called Long Beach. I spent the night there alone in a tent for no apparent reason.
They programmed me with the need to propagate the Gombolic symbol in order to help humanity. They gave me a social / emotional manifesto to propagate but so far the time hasn't seemed right to act upon it.
They told me to go to Jerusalem and the so called Holy Land and declare myself the Messiah which I did in 1993.
I fulfilled certain prophecies on the Mount Of Olives and in the Garden Of Gethsemane and at the Eastern sealed up Golden Gate (see 'Jerusalem' YouTube video).
No one really paid any attention at the time.
I'm expecting this album release to be the same.
I think maybe the Aliens were tricking me, or I was just another contestant in their eyes, like a Messiah reality show that never got off the ground.
But I'm still optimistic that I am the chosen one who's just left his run a bit late...

Why are there four different versions of 'On Channel Me' on Act Normal? (my favourite is the trance version)

'On Channel Me' the Lo-Fi version was recorded on the ship offshore. Originally a demo version. Then we recorded a band version, then I gave the demo version (Wav files) to Alan Jansson (How Bizarre producer) to see what he could make of my raw material.
The idea was I liked the song, but how good can a song become when taken in another direction by someone other than me?
So we ended up with four versions and asked interested parties to vote for which version they preferred to be on the album.
All four versions got a similar amount of votes each, which points to the diversity of musical taste we humans have.
So we included all four versions...

Are you still sailing?

Yeah, trying to raise funds to set the record for the smallest solo sailing boat to circumnavigated the planet via the Great Southern Capes... boat prep coming along well... sponsors not so well... as soon as that window of escape evolves.. goodbye.

What can punters expect from your release show on Friday next week? 

I'll be spraying Holy Water on myself and selected members of the audience. If they are evil they'll instantly come out in blisters and everyone else will recoil in horror.
The band will ROCK!
We know how to deliver live music with a rough edge. Punk Rock has never gone away, it's where I started, it boils down to volume, energy, and emotional commitment to songs that not many people know, but we do, and believe in...

Andrew Fagan and the People play at Auckland's Anthology Lounge on Friday 21st February, tickets available HERE via UTR.


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Andrew Fagan And The People - Album Release Show
Fri 21st Feb
Anthology Lounge, Auckland