December 2011

 

Interview by Niels Kolling

 

21st March 2011 saw the release of first new Human League material in almost 10 years as the Credo album was released. It got great reviews amongs fans and most of the press and besides being packed with cracking tunes it was also lauded for it's sonical pleasures not at least because of I Monsters awesome production. So I caught up with knob twiddler supreme Jarrod Gosling that was part of the production team behind the unique sound to learn more about the proces of making the album.

 

First a little background. How did you become involved in the music business in the first place to end up as producer and musician?

 

My first entry into the music business, as in getting paid for it, would have been production work on Moby's 'Play' album. This was a result of connections with Mute records at the time. I consider myself more a musician/composer than a producer. I suppose if you're making electronic music, as we have done in the past, then the two roles are blurred.

Since you’re Sheffield based and titled a track “The Circus Of Deaf” on your last album “A Dense Sense Of Ancient Stars” I’m guessing you’re well into the bands vast history and back catalogue?

 

Well, the 'Circus' title was Dean's idea, so I'm not sure. I have always been aware of The Human League (obviously), going back to about 1981. I loved 'Being Boiled' when it was released as a single. I preferred it to the contemporary singles from 'Dare'.

 

Would you label yourself a fan?

 

I'm not sure what 'fan' means these days. If it means that I love their work, but don't have posters of them on my wall, then yes I am! However, I'll show you the tattoo one day.

 
It was a bit of a chance meeting in the local park between Philip and Dean that made the contact. So what were your initial thoughts when Dean told you I Monster were gonna produce the new Human League album?

 

A chance meeting, yes, but Phillip is always in the area and never far from contact. I thought, "cool, something to get our teeth into". At the time though, we weren't sure if it would lead to anything. We were just going to try some ideas out first. But it was exciting.

 
How would you describe the demos for the album? Were they fully evolved and could your trained ears already spot some hit potential?
 

Spotting hit potential is particularly difficult these days. There was a whole album's worth of demos. Some more evolved than others. 'Sky' stood out from day one. That was the "hit", in my ears, ie, it's a bloody good song, and classic League.

 
As I understand it was recorded in a very modern way, exchanging files over the internet. So was any time spend together in the studio recording the old fashioned way?

 

Filers weren't sent over the internet. We did it kind of old fashioned - Phillip brought the files down on his pen stick! We spent very little time in the studio together. They recorded any new parts at their studio and dropped them off for us to work on in our studios. It was a very relaxed and agreeable way of working.

 
It’s a bit unusual to have a two-headed producer, so how were the roles defined between yourself and Dean? And was there ever a need for one to step forward and be the boss to make a decision?

 

We both throw ideas in and agree or disagree. Two's company - three's a crowd. I worked on some tracks at my place, Dean at his. We worked on some others simultaneously. Of course, we got together to finish them all off. It's usually a very democratic way of working.

 

Since Human League fans have waited a long time for some new songs I was hoping we could pamper them by going into details about the individual tracks of the album. So looking at the song titles, I hope you can elaborate on the challenges of getting each track right?

 
Never Let Me Go
Also a single, therefore it needed tweaking, tweaking and extra tweaking in every department. Edits, and big edits they were, due to the album version being much longer and the arrangement quite unusual. A challenging track to do.

 

Night People
Again a single. This was the first single. Many mixes and tweaks were done here. This one had to appeal to the clubbers. Quite different to 'Never Let Me Go' and 'Sky'. I love the lyrics BTW.

 

Sky
The first track we worked on. As I said earlier, my favourite. A pleasure to work on. This one went quite smoothly as far as I remember.

 

Into The Night
This one didn't prove to be too much like hard work. I thought this was interesting, in that it sounded quite different to typical League. The songwriting I mean.

 

Egomaniac
This one was the first one that I initially worked on at my place. We kept the trancey synth line that runs through the chorus, which was on the demo. I love what Susan and Joanne did on this. That wasn't on the demo, but it really adds a lot to the song.

 
Single Minded
A lesser track I think. The original version that we worked on had a completely different chorus, which had very 'Dare' like properties.

 

Electric Shock
A companion piece to 'Night People'. A clubbier track. I love the vocal break that Susan and Joanne sing in the middle. Reminds me of Buggles for some reason! Which, in my book, is a good thing. A quirky moment, which is important when a track is very linear.

 
Get Together
An early favourite for many of us. A good one to work on, as it's such a great song. This one, out of all of the Credo tracks, sounds the most like something from the Dare-Hysteria era.

 

Privilige
The most Mark I sounding track on the album. Lots of old synths on here. This was the closest to the Mark I sound we'd dare go (pun intended).

 

Breaking The Chains
Nicky played a great synth guitar line on the demo of this. We decided to throw that it in as an intro to the song and make more of it and I think it really works. I recorded some Mellotron right at the end. A first for The Human League!

 

Stars Start To Shine
A quirky one. Great. This one always stood out in demo form and wasn't changed too much. A great way to end the set. I always compared this one with 'Into The Night', as it has a 'musicals' feel to the songwriting. I think Phillip should write a musical.

 

Philip Oakey has mentioned in interviews that they had enough material for 2 albums, so any tracks left over from the recording sessions for future use?

 
There were numerous bits that weren't developed. I'm not sure if anything will get a future release if worked on.

 

As time has distanced you a bit from the album, how do you look back on the creation of it? Any favourite tracks?

I've not played the album since it came out. My favourite is 'Sky'. I love 'Egomaniac', 'Get Together', 'Stars Start To Shine' and 'Never Let Me Go'.

 

The 3 singles from the album has been promoted by the best Human League remix packages for decades, so have you heard any of them?

 

Most of them. Some are good. I'm not a huge fan of clubby remixes though.
 
The signing of The Human League to Mark Jones cool Wall Of Sound label looks like a perfect match?

Mark is a huge League fan. He'll probably have the posters on his wall too! I think it's a great match. Cool band and cool label.

 
Being part of the Sheffield music scene for many years, have you experienced many Human League gigs?

Just the one - December 2010 at the O2 Academy in Sheffield. It was a rescheduled show as the original one at the City Hall was cancelled due to colossal amounts of snow.

 
The Human League has a vast collection of vintage synths and electronics stacked away in their Sheffield studio. Which ones were the most fun to fiddle with the knobs?


They have a huge amount. We borrowed a few - the Jupiter, Oberheim 4 voice, Pearl Syncussion...
 
Out of the bands vast back catalogue, can you name your favourite Human League album, single and song?

'Travelogue' - why not?

 

'Being Boiled' or 'The Sound Of The Crowd' - because I like them!

'Do Or Die' (at the moment) - love the synth riff or 'Sky' - because it's great and I'm shamelessly promoting it.
 
I Monster also do remixes, so if you could choose any Human League track, which one would you like the most to remix?

 

A progressive rock version of 'The Black Hit Of Space'.
 
The Human League has some very loyal and dedicated fans that try to get to as many shows as possible on a tour. Have you had the same passion for a particular band? You know, following them around the country, sleeping on train stations as you wait for the first train home?

 

Never
 
I Monster is not only a production team, but also a band in itself, so can you tell us a bit more about what you want to achieve under this moniker?

 

I would love loyal and dedicated fans that try to get to as many shows as possible on a tour and follow us around the country, sleeping on train stations as they wait for the first train home.

 

 

The technology has evolved at an unbelievable rate in the music business in the last decade. So how is it working in a studio today, compared to when you started out?

 
Compared to the very first demo tape I did in the mid/late 80s - a universe apart in terms of technology and cost. It gets better and better, but I am a fan of old instruments, so a buzzing Hammond organ is always going to buzz, weigh a ton and be a pain to record.


You seem like a very busy man, so what are the future plans for Jarrod Gosling and I Monster?

I'm working on two solo projects at the moment - both progressive rock orientated.

 

The first is called Regal Worm, which is mostly instrumental 70s style progressive/psychedelic music. There's plenty of analog synths on there. The other, called Sovereign Of The Skies is a more song-based thing which will be much heavier and darker and modern sounding.

 

We're planning a new I Monster thing, which will be a collection of adult fairy tales/odd childrens stories, narrated over music, maybe with a book to accompany it.

 

We're also working on a large scale musical/concept/soundtrack album with a Sheffield Victorian criminal, two kids and some ancient Nordic aliens as main characters. We're not sure what name this will go under yet.

 

Check out these links to learn more about Jarrods current and future projects;

 

www.imonstermusic.com

 

http://twitter.com/#!/IMONSTERBAND

 

http://www.discogs.com/artist/Jarrod+Gosling