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The Cranes Celebrate The Release of Future Songs

Itís very seldom that you hear of a band continuing to maintain the quality and passion of when they first began. The Cranes happen to be one of the select few. Over the years theyíve written several exquisite albums which contained their childlike female vocals over clever atmospheric music. hybrid magazine caught up with founding Cranes members Jim and Allison Shaw and asked them a few questions about their current release Future Songs as well as their future plans.

Justin Schneider: How did Future Songs come about, and how would you compare it to your previous albums?

Allison: Well we worked on it quite gradually and we had a bit of a break after the last album. We spent a lot of time just trying out different sounds and things and rejecting a lot of music that we did. We worked on the album in our home studio and after a while we had three or four songs that felt like they were going in a certain direction and we built it from there really until we had enough songs for an album. I think this album is different because the last album was more guitar based and we recorded that album kind of as a live band. This album was pretty much just Jim and I trying things out in a more studio-based album.

Jim: Itís more of the way we used to do it initially when we first started with means of recording them, so itís really much more of a studio album, defiantly more then the previous one. The roots of the album are more back to how we originally did stuff when we first started.

JS: Now that you have your own label (Dadaphonic) are you going to sign any acts or is it just a outlet for your own albums?

Allison: We would like to work with other bands, but these past few months have been quite difficult with our own stuff, but we do eventually want to release other groups, and weíre looking at a couple of groups at the moment that look very interesting.

Jim: In real terms were just not set up yet, it will be at least until our next album comes out really before weíre in a position to be on our own. Lots of stuff we need to sort out before that starts happening, but yeah itís definitely a big breath and we set up Dadaphonic as a vehicle for the Cranes, and over the years weíve come across lotís and lotís of bands and we just figure a small labelÖ

Allison: It is nice to do things independently again after being on BMG for a long time, and we thought weíve been through that whole thing and we defiantly didnít want to be hooked up with a large company like that at this point. We just thought we wanted to do something independently.

JS: I was wandering if any of you have any side projects?

Jim: Iíve got side projects coming out my ears (Laughs) itís just about getting round to finishing them. Thereís always been talk of an instrumental sorta film-ic score type of thing. But yeah, Alison does some songs with other people and I do sing a little occasionally but my voice is terrible soÖ

Allison: Jim works on film music kind of projects a lot. I sang on two other things recently. One thing was with a French producer who actually did one of our remixes on our remix CD, the Submarine EP. Heís called Dimitri Tikovoi and he asked me to sing on one of his own tracks for an album thatís coming out in Europe. The other song is with a singer called Michael J. Sheehy and heís playing with us in Philadelphia and New York on this tour and heís got a new album coming out and I sang some backing vocals on one of his songs. Itís kind of a country type song and itís called "Dark Country Moment" and itís a little bit like Mazzy Star but with a male singer, and I sang some backing harmonies on that one. Itís actually quite nice to sing with another singer which I havenít done very much of.

JS: I know that the Cranes had a lot of time in between this album and the last. I read that you (Allison) were taking drama classes and the other members were doing other things, I was wandering if you two ever figured out what you would do if the Cranes never formed or if you decided not to continue as the Cranes?

Allison: Yeah it was weird. After we finished the Population Four album when we werenít really working as Cranes, it was weird because it was all that we ever had done all of our lives since the age of 18 weíve been doing Cranes. And it was weird when we hit that spot when we werenít doing Cranes, it was quite a shock, we didnít know what to do. So I had to think about what I wanted to do and thatís why I did the drama thing.

Jim: I tended to walk just round and round in circles in my room and bump into the occasional chair. (Laughs)

Allison: Itís quite hard for us not to do music because I think itís kind of a natural function just because weíre so use to it. But I think weíll always do music in some form or another even if weíre not actively touring or whatever, but weíll probably write songs.

Jim: It certainly wonít be 5 years before the next album, more like one (Laughs). I think weíre looking at January actually.

JS: I was wondering what current music do you two listen to? Have there been any bands that you discovered that you really like or recommend?

Jim: Well, the band that recently played with us in Portsmouth was pretty good. They were called Gillkegger, and they were a really great band from Portsmouth, and we were really surprised to see such a good band. Theyíre a really young band that just started out so I doubt that they have any records out just yet.

Allison: I probably listened to dance music more over the last few years then any thing else. I like Boards of Canada; thatís one of my favorite bands. I really like the new Neil Halstead album and weíve toured with him before. Iím glad to see he put out a really nice album.

Jim: I tend not to listen to an awful lot of music, just generally when I put something on it will be just whatever when people are around, but if Iím on my own it would usually be something like classical music or Tom Waits I guess all across the board.

JS: Yeah he has two new albums coming out.

Jim: Yeah?

JS: On May 7th.

Jim: Yeah we just did a photo shoot and the photographer just photographed Tom Waits the day before.

(Allison to Jim): Youíre a big fan of Tom Waits.

Jim: Oh Iím a massive, massive, massive Tom Waits fan.

JS: How would you describe a Cranes show? And would you consider releasing a live dvd or CD?

Allison: Theyíre actually recording the New York show at the Knitting Factory, but weíre always a bit nervous about live recordings. For instance, say we were doing a tour and every gig on the tour went well, the one that wouldnít go well would be the one being recorded. So weíve never actually had a recording that we thought was good enough to release. Weíre hoping that some of it will be good enough to release and they might be showing some of it on MTV.COM, weíre not sure.

Jim: I get the feeling that it will be cool because I think the present lineup and crew is probably the best weíve ever been I think. And the gigs weíve played so far for the Future Songs album have all gone really well. I think if there is a place to get live recording and film I think it would be this time in New York basically, so fingers crossed.

Allison: I think the shows are quite atmospheric, at least thatís what people say we sound like.

Jim: Itís quite a mixture. Weíre playing quite a lot of songs off the last album on this tour which we havenít really done much over the years. This tour is kind of an odd mixture of songs and we have to be careful how we order them. But Iíd say this tour weíre playing a lot more of the last album then we ever had before. Theyíll be a good mixture of old and new.

JS: What are your plans for after this tour?

Allison: Well weíve been asked to play a show in the summer on July 27th in London in Hyde Park and itís with The Cure. We havenít played with The Cure for ten years, so itís kind of nice that they asked us to do it.

Jim: Immediately after the tour Iím coming back here and hang out here for a week or so in New York before I fly back. Then weíre going to start writing new material and weíre also going to try and write while weíre on the tour as well. Itís always a good time after a tour to start writing new songs. Touring is the most fantastic thing, especially in a country like America. I kind of always feel inspired. So after this tour we can get back and start recording.

The Cranes new album Future Songs is available at most record stores. Cranes official site: www.dadaphonic.com

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