A narcissistic conversation between Taff Thatcher
and Moose Jaw Records co-founder Ron ‘Lock’ O’Riley
In the absence of any bonafide press interest, Taff sat down with co-founder of Moose Jaw Records, Ron ‘Lock’ O’Riley, to discuss the origins of the band and his plans for the future.
Ron: What was the motivation behind forming The Quaint & the Curious?
Taff: It was formed as a means of distributing all of the old music I’d recorded over the last fifteen years but had never got around to releasing. I had piles of old tapes and CDs full of songs but they were all gathering dust and hiding on iPods. With a little prompting from those closest to me I decided it was time to send the songs out into the world, for better or worse.
From my time in the Whybirds I’d seen how fickle the music industry is and I became extremely disillusioned with the whole concept of trying to sell music. I wanted to do something different, with no constraints on what I could release or how I released it and with no consideration for the business side of things. It seems like the more successful you get, the less important the music itself becomes. Everything starts to become about chasing success and some far off distant dream but the music itself always takes second place. As Mike Cooley very eloquently stated “rock and roll means well, but it can’t help telling young boys lies”.
With the Quaint & the Curious I just wanted it to be about music and none of the other trappings. Whether people listen to it or not, I just wanted the songs to be out there and available, which is why I decided I would give everything away for free. That also gives me a huge amount of freedom as I want to be able to concentrate on making music rather than making money or being ‘a success’. There’s an interview with Neil Young where he talks about the paradox of music being “that it’s really meant to be played when you feel like playing it. It’s not meant to be played like a job. The purest essence of music is an expression, it should be done like a painter. You don’t paint when the audience comes in and pays their quarter.” With this project if I feel like recording an album one weekend and putting it out on the Monday then I can do that. I don’t have any constraints, I can just follow the muse whenever and wherever it hits me. It’s incredibly liberating.
I do plan to release the odd physical CD or vinyl just to satisfy my own love of album artwork, but those will be limited pressings sold to cover production costs.
Ron: Do you think that physical formats are a dying breed?
Taff: Not at all, I love the tangible nature of physical releases and I think there’s a huge number of music fans out there that still do. You only have to look at the recent revolution in vinyl to see that some people will always want to own music that isn’t a digital file. It’s just not financially viable for me to try to release CDs at the moment and, as I don’t plan on touring, I have no way to promote them anyway.
Ron: Why are you not playing any gigs?
Taff: I get chronic stage fright. I may do some in the future but for now I’m just concentrating on the recordings.
Ron: Is this a solo venture or a band? Who else is involved in the Q&C?
Taff: The Quaint & the Curious is just a means of releasing music, whether it’s my songs, covers or collaborations with other people. There are no hard and fast rules.
Ron: What should we be looking for from The Quaint & the Curious over the next few months/years?
Taff: Initially I want to release the best of the music that I have in the archives, which will be a slow process as I need to go through everything and separate the wheat from the chaff. I will also be looking to release any new material I write/record so it’s very much an ongoing project. Some releases will be full albums, some will be individual songs, it really depends on what I feel like doing at the time.
Ron: Some of the recordings on ‘Late Nights on the Western Way’ are pretty rough sounding. Was there any thought given to cleaning them up before releasing them?
Taff: Not really, they were all mixed and mastered years ago through whatever software they were recorded on. I could have gone back and remixed everything and cleaned it up but I think that would have killed some of the atmosphere in the recordings. They were very primitive recordings, and that’s how they sound, but I wanted to keep things pure and real. For me the rough edges add character and the tape hiss and background noises have almost become part of the songs so I wanted to stick with that, plus it helps to create a picture of the time and place they were recorded in. One day I wouldn’t mind re-recording some of the songs again in a proper studio but that would have to be a completely different project altogether.
Ron: Why did you decide to sign with Moose Jaw Records?
Taff: They were the only record label who would have me, but fortunately our visions for the development of The Quaint & the Curious were eerily in sync with each other.
Ron: Where/what is Mudflap Studios?
Taff: Mudflap Studios is not so much a studio as a state of mind… i.e. it exists only in my head.
Ron: Do you ever think that you take yourself too seriously?
Ron: If you could ask Taff Thatcher one question what would it be?
Taff: What does narcissistic mean?