Following on from his involvement in post-OMD outfit The Listening Pool, Mal Holmes launched new record label Fin Music. Fin managed to put out the critically acclaimed album Loser Friendly by Dean Johnson and at the time of this interview was also working with new singer Jo Mooney…
How is the album coming together?
It’s coming together really well. I wasn’t too sure whether I was going to stay over here in the UK or work somewhere else or just get out of music altogether. I met up with Jo and we started working together about 18 months ago and over time the album was really shaping up as something quite different.
A lot of people have offered songs but it’s ended up myself and Jo probably writing 50% together and then another 50% of the tracks on the album will be me, Jo and Dean and it’s given a nice sort of weight to the album. So yeah, shaping up well. I’m just working at home in my home studio. Gary Hodgson. helped out on the mix on ‘No Love And Lies’, so hopefully I’m going to get Gary involved – he can throw in some ideas as well because he’s a great computer programmer as well.
Hopefully we’ll get more bass playing from Graeme Clark from Wet Wet Wet, I’d like to get him playing on as many tracks as possible. Dean’s going to be playing guitar. Neil Weir’s coming down in a couple of weeks to throw some trumpet down. Then Henry Priestman from The Christians might get involved and also some of the singers – Gary from The Christians doing some backing vocals. So I’ve got a few people that I want to bring in to add parts to it. But I don’t think I’m going to be able to do that until a fair few months when I actually go in and make it a proper record. So at the moment these are good working demos.
I’ve also got connections with a classical music company I’ve been working with over the past 5 years. I’ve got some really good connections with the Phil – the Liverpool Philharmonic. So the idea is to replace all the strings on it with the Liverpool Phil as well.
So I know exactly what I want to do with the album, where I want to take it. I’ve got a really good picture of it. So yeah, first thing I’ve actually produced and written myself and it’s shaping up a lot better than I thought to tell the truth.
You said previously that you had 5 finished songs, are there any more currently being written?
I would say they are in the same state as they were live. So the songs are complete. All I would want to do is go in and mix them, basically they’re all ready to go. I’ve taken them to a stage on the computer where I’d just go in and finish them off. I’d get Gary in with me on a session, re-track the strings and just do all the little finicky bits. But basically I’m working at home on tracks with Dean. They’re going to be finished masters although, what they are at the moment is they’re working demos. But they’re not a million miles away from what you hear.
So is No Love And Lies likely to be the single?
I’m not too sure. I’m going to get feedback on stuff because there’s other things that are shaping up to be quite strong. ‘No Love And Lies’ is quite a dark track. There’s other things that are a little bit more listenable on the album as well. So I’m not too sure. I’ve got a track that I’ve done with Dean and Jo called ‘Wild Honey Hair’ which went down quickly and just ended up great. So that’s the next one to be mixed up.
So yeah, it’s a proper project basically. I mean I haven’t released an album since Dean’s album and that was a great little bedroom album and it had fantastic reviews. What we sort of achieved ourselves in my little studio over the years was great and really helped launch Dean’s career.
I understand you’re also working with Dean on a follow-up to his debut album?
Yeah, Dean’s recorded that album because he wants me to come in and do what I did last time on the Loser Friendly album which is basically take care of some of the marketing. So I’ll be taking it to Radio 2 and making sure that people know about it. Also looking at a new press & distribution deal for Dean so Jo’s record might come out on the back of this new P+D deal that we’re looking at.
So you can imagine there’s a lot going on. Dean’s wanting me to work with him again in a label situation. He’s also bringing some other records to the party: He’s got an unreleased Gary Christian album that we might be able to put out. So it’ll be a little toned down from the Telegraph days and that. I’ve learnt a lot over the last 12 years so I think there’ll be smaller runs at first, but we’ll sustain it a lot longer.
It sounds like everything’s moving along very nicely
Well as I say Paul, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to be over here when I left the house, split up and all this. The last eight months I’ve really just got my head back into doing this – I’ve got my want-to-release-a-record head on so I’ve got the accountant lined up again! (laughs) to see if I can get £50,000 to put it out or whatever.
So all pretty busy on the music front. Potentially, I’ll also be playing drums with The Christians on a little tour in France, so that’ll be the first time I’ve been back on the road.
So it sounds like you’re extremely busy!
Yeah, I am, as well as looking after my friends shop, teaching drums and a million other things! But it’s going well Paul, yeah. Pleased. But the main thing in my life really is Jo and this album. I think we’ve got a really great little album. With Dean’s album we didn’t have time to really mix it as well as I wanted to do it. This time around I’m a lot more hands-on as a real producer if you like. Taking it through from beginning to end so I’ll take my time with it. We’re 5 tracks into it now, being realistic – to allow working and what we do – I reckon we’ll have the album latest the end of the year.
This interview originally appeared on the Messages website 4th July 2003 and on the Official OMD Website 28th July 2003.
Original interview by Paul Browne
Revised text 3rd February 2014
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and The Electricity Club.