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‘Bottled at Source’ Press Release

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A new press release to celebrate the greatest hits (released 7 September 2009), featuring a look back by Olly and Gale on the past ten years and some interesting information near the end:

Olly and Gale are also making new music and hope to have a fifth studio album out in 2010. For now, however, Bottled At Source – The Best Of The Source Years draws a fitting line under the first phase of a constantly surprising career. With a bonus disc of rarities and demos, plus four unreleased songs from the Dark On Fire sessions, the collection offers something new for dedicated fans and a tempting resume of Turin Brakes’ first ten years for any newcomers.

Full press release after the break >>


Turin Brakes have never been a particularly easy band to pin down. We might know them as two unassuming lads from South London who strum acoustic guitars, sing spine-tingling harmonies and write brilliant, bittersweet love songs. Beyond that, though, many of us don’t really know who they are.

That could be about to change with the release of the duo’s first career-spanning album, Bottled At Source – The Best Of The Source Years. Of Turin Brakes. Beginning with The Door, the lead track from their 1999 debut EP, it follows Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian through the high points of four contrasting studio albums, culminating in 2007’s Dark On Fire. In doing so, it finally makes full and proper sense of a group who have constantly confounded fans by steadfastly refusing to make the same kind of record twice.

‘We seem to confuse a lot of people, because we’re not straightforward,’ says lead singer and rhythm guitarist Olly. ‘But that’s why people like us, too. We have been difficult to market. It’s much easier to sell vanilla ice cream than something with lots of interesting, nutty bits.

‘In the long run, I trust our internal quirkiness. I wouldn’t feel good if we had smoothed ourselves out in order to be commercially successful. It’s now ten years since our first EP, and it’s nice to mark that anniversary. For us, it is about creating a legacy. I hope that people can put their preconceptions aside and realise that Turin Brakes wrote and sang all these great songs.’

Olly met harmony singer and lead guitarist Gale when the two were still in primary school in Balham, South London. The pair spent much of their childhood in and out of each other’s houses and made their first public appearance together at a school concert in 1985. Turin Brakes grew, almost by accident, out of the songs they wrote together in their late teens. They chose their name before releasing that debut EP, ‘because we didn’t want to call ourselves Olly And Gale’.

The signature sound of their early years – shimmering acoustic guitars, vocal harmonies as soft and refreshing as a gentle summer breeze – was captured perfectly on their 2001 debut album, The Optimist LP. Featuring songs such as Underdog (Save Me) and Emergency 72, it was nominated for that year’s Mercury Music Prize. Despite its pristine, acoustic feel, it also won admiring glances from fans of chilled-out British dance acts like Zero 7 and Lemon Jelly.

‘We were seen as strong, original songwriters, but we were courted by dance labels before we signed our record deal with Source,’ says Olly. ‘We were on the same circuit as a lot of dance acts.’

‘We have never duplicated the sound of that first record,’ adds Gale. ‘It’s an iconic album. We’ve since made records that have been just as good, but that one captured some sort of zeitgeist. On the surface it was melancholy, but underneath it was hopeful. That’s why we called it The Optimist.’

Typically, the second Turin Brakes album was a radical departure. Recorded in a Los Angeles studio with American producer Tony Hoffer (Beck, Air, The Kooks), Ether Song found Olly and Gale shunning the folkier instrumentation of The Optimist and embracing a sun-kissed, electrified, Californian feel on songs such as Long Distance and Top Five hit Pain Killer.

‘Our second album was like a knee-jerk reaction to our debut,’ says Gale. ‘We didn’t want to repeat The Optimist, so we did something bigger and more ambitious. We found ourselves playing with Air’s drummer plus guitarists with Mohawks and a string of special effects pedals.’

With a hit album and single, Turin Brakes were suddenly in demand. They toured with a full band, sold out two nights at Brixton Academy, supported David Gray in America, gigged with Coldplay in Italy and, in 2004, found themselves part of the Band Aid 20 cast for the revamped Noughties take on Do They Know It’s Christmas, alongside Paul McCartney, Radiohead and Robbie Williams.

‘After Ether Song and Pain Killer, things went crazy for two years,’ recalls Gale. ‘We did 30-date tours in which every gig was sold out, and the whole operation began to feel like some sort of travelling freakshow. At the time, we just ploughed through it. Looking back, I can see how pressurised things had become. We weren’t happy, because we weren’t really in control.’

Continuing their tradition of making records that were a direct reaction to the previous album, Turin Brakes re-engaged with their old selves on 2005’s Jackinabox. Made in their own studio, their third album took the duo back to basics without being quite as stripped-down as The Optimist. The album’s first single, Fishing For A Dream, told a tale of celebrity parties and the red-carpet life, while the record as a whole was driven by the realisation that home, after all, is where the heart is.

‘We learnt a lot on the road, and Jackinabox was a reflection on that,’ says Olly. ‘It ended up being a summer pop record. It gave us a break from our more intense, melancholy songs, and it felt as if we were on holiday. It was a feel-good album, but it still sounded like Turin Brakes.’

Another change of tack followed with 2007’s Dark On Fire, a raw, electrified album produced by Ethan Johns, a man whom Olly and Gale had long admired for his work with Ray LaMontagne and Kings Of Leon. Recorded at Olympic Studios in London, the record hit home with a meaty swagger and what Johns himself termed ‘some extraordinarily truthful performances’. The album’s first single, Stalker, with its clanging guitars and sinister lyrics, set an eerie, slow-burning tone.

‘We wanted to work with Ethan partly because of the soulful string arrangements he did for Ray LaMontagne,’ says Olly. ‘But, when we got to the studio, he said that he was going through a change of style and didn’t want any strings on the record. He wanted a raw sound instead.

‘Ethan was really firm about keeping the live essence of our performances and we went along with that because we didn’t want to tie his hands. He didn’t want to do any overdubs, and he fought us tooth and nail to keep things live.

‘I understood where he was coming from, but I didn’t think all of our performances were as good as they could have been. That led to some tension. But, even when we were fighting, we also trusted him. It took us some time to understand our own record.’

Since Dark On Fire, Olly and Gale have been highly sought-after as songwriters. They have worked with Dido and emerging Anglo-Australian singer Lisa Mitchell. They also supplied a track, Here, for Take That’s chart-topping The Circus, and jokingly claim that, following their efforts on Band Aid 20, they have now had a UK Christmas number one in both the singles and albums charts.

Olly and Gale are also making new music and hope to have a fifth studio album out in 2010. For now, however, Bottled At Source – The Best Of The Source Years draws a fitting line under the first phase of a constantly surprising career. With a bonus disc of rarities and demos, plus four unreleased songs from the Dark On Fire sessions, the collection offers something new for dedicated fans and a tempting resume of Turin Brakes’ first ten years for any newcomers.

Author: Stefan Meeuws

In real life, Stefan Meeuws is an online strategist, combining his writing skills with his web skills and project management. He likes music, internet, media, social and cultural things. As if that's not enough he enjoys Turin Brakes music most of all and making this very website.

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