Interview with One-Way Song
Formed in 2017, Manchester-based One-Way Song released their debut EP ‘Passionate Leave’ last year and are currently working on a follow-up full length album, entitled ‘Dark God’s Latter Holidays’. The band started life as a theatre group and their music has been described as ‘otherworldly’ and impossible to categorise into any one genre, with multi-media live performances that are as artistic as they are musical. We talked to the band about their unique formation, sound and appeal, and their experiences at a local haunted theatre.
You hold the rather unusual title of being the first Manchester Rock band to have formed from a theatre group - can you tell us a bit about how One-Way Song was conceived?
[Luke] One-Way Song was initially conceived as an extra string to the bow of the theatre group. Like One-Way Song, our theatre work was neither underground nor mainstream. We performed things like Arthur Schnitzler and Bernard Shaw at our base in this 18th century theatre in Wilmslow, along with producing some originals in the city, like one called ‘That’s Jam’ at The Royal Exchange. We were always aware of what was going on musically in Manchester, and believed that if ever we transferred our theatre ideas to music then there would be a niche for us. It finally happened when we wrote our own soundtracks to use in a new production and ended up putting lyrics to them. Things soon snowballed from there.
Tell us more about your experiences at the theatre in Wilmslow, which is believed to be haunted – did you ever see any ghosts there?
[Luke] The theatre at Wilmslow was our base during the first few years of the theatre group. It was spooky! Even if we did a comedy, it still felt spooky - which of course made the comedies even better. It was at the back of a large estate, so you could always guess the audience size by looking over the fields at the approaching headlights. Angus (singer) heard a ghost once of a little girl laughing when rehearsing lines late at night with a cast member. Maybe she was warning us off doing this show, Graham Greene’s ‘The Living Room’, on Halloween. We scared off about half of our audience with that one!
Where did your band’s name come from and what inspires your songwriting?
[Luke] The name is from a Wyndham Lewis poem of the same title, but it also describes the direction we took from theatre to music, which sometimes feels like it is ‘one-way’! With One-Way Song starting initially as a side project, the things that most inspired the songs were the side projects of some of my favourite artists - everything from the novels of Les Dawson to the films of Norman Mailer, or spoken word by Jonathan Meades. The style of those works just seemed to fit what we wanted to do with One-Way Song.
Your music encompasses several genres without neatly fitting into any - how would you describe your sound and would you say you’re comparable to any other bands or artists?
[Luke] People have called us neo Post-Punk, but it is hard to categorise. Filmic is the only word I would really use - maybe we could call it Filmic-Punk!
[Angus] I wouldn’t say we are comparable to most of our contemporaries, but this is more by accident than design. Working from the outside-in, from theatre to Rock, we have to try to simplify our ideas from plays as clearly as we can into songs, whereas they are going in the opposite direction of adding bells and whistles to make things more intriguing.
When you formed, you operated as a collective rather than a traditional band setup – what was the reason for this and how did it work? Do you still operate that way today?
[Angus] Initially we stuck to our theatre group model, which was a collective approach, working with a rotating cast of collaborators rather than fixed members. It works great as there is lots of freedom and flexibility. We’ve now formed a more traditional lineup for live performances, but we don’t want to sacrifice the collective element at all, especially with new recordings, so it will be the best of both worlds.
In November 2017, you debuted your songs at the Imperial War Museum in Salford as part of its exhibition on Wyndham Lewis. Tell us about that performance and how it was received.
[Luke] It was a video performance, a huge projection of the EP film in the main room. You couldn’t have asked for a better setting for the themes of the video, so it worked well and we were very grateful to do it. We got to see the full Lewis collection later, which was brilliant.
Can you tell us about your new album ‘Dark God’s Latter Holidays’? What are the songs about and when is it due to be released? How do you feel it differs from your previous record and what are your favourite tracks on the album?
[Luke] We hope to get it out in the summer. It will come straight out of the blocks with my favourite track Barbary Spies, Brytanici’s Demise - which is like ‘Carry On Up The Khyber’ meets Rammstein! It’s about everything from double agent Kim Philby, to John Dee, Elizabeth I’s advisor and occult philosopher, who coined the phrase ‘British Empire’, and who first used the moniker 007… he even lived in Manchester at one point. This new album will be like the winter sun version of ‘Passionate Leave’ - instead of being about the Riviera or Marseille, this one was written almost exclusively in
England and Hungary. Tracks like Elizabethan Russia Sky obviously set that cooler tone. The spy theme picks up again on what will be the album’s centerpiece - a big, snarling, bass-heavy track called Orphan v. Prodigy. It’s a follow-up to Dr. Spraza Lies from the first EP.
[Angus] One other big difference to ‘Passionate Leave’ is that this record will tie in with a radio play we are releasing alongside the album, so adaptions of album tracks will also appear in the play. Hopefully it’ll make the album more immersive for listeners, like the full-length EP video we did for ‘Passionate Leave’. If this all sounds a bit avant-garde then we promise it isn’t, as the songs are very catchy and hook-driven, especially Buda & Pest, which is the first real pop song we have written.
Who do you think your music appeals to the most and do your have a target audience or demographic?
[Angus] The audience so far seems a little bit like our theatre audience, in that you can’t really generalize - people who are just intelligent and open-minded! We even get random things, like we just had this review in Germany from the dark wave scene in Cologne about Dr. Spraza!
[Luke] The responses to the EP were promising in that people either refused to write about it or wrote a lot about it - it was polarising. There were even two essays written about the EP; one about the film we did and one about the track Billy Fisher Fitzgerald. They’re very perceptive and that’s the kind of response to our work we really value.
What are your plans for 2019?
We’ve been in rehearsal for the past month and we can’t wait to start gigging as soon as possible this year, both to promote our last EP and premiere some of the upcoming album. The big plan is to release the play and the album toward the summer and build on the work we started with ‘Passionate Leave’.
One-Way Song are:
Luke Gilfedder - Lyrics
Angus Macalister - Vocals
Matthew Webster - Bass
Eilish Burns - Drums
Adam Smithson - Guitar