Acoustic Ladyland - Brave New World

It seems hardly five minutes since Acoustic Ladyland were the newest kids on the block, fresh faced and determined to inject a welcome verve and creativity into a dozing jazz scene. With two successful albums under its belt for the Babel label the band led by Pete Wareham has now been signed by a leading rock indie label V2 and is crossing over more and more into the alternative rock scene. Andy Robson catches up with the outspoken band as its new record for the new label, Skinny Grin, is about to come out... Acoustic Ladyland - Brave New World
“I fear for what might happen later,” sighs Tom Cawley. The keyboard player screws up his face in mock despond. He’s joshing because his pal Pete Wareham is just a little speedy, just a little wired; he’s currently wending his way to the bar for his third coffee of the hour, and maybe the caffeine’s kicking in.

Yet maybe there’s a point to Cawley’s jest. These are thrilling yet stressful days for Wareham, front man, sax man, the main man indeed when it comes to all things Acoustic Ladyland. And as Wareham himself puts it, the band is “on the cusp of starting all over again”. They have a new label, V2, a label more associated with indie-minded rock bands than jazz, there’s a new album in the can – Skinny Grin – which targets a broader audience than you associate with improvised music, and there’s talk of singles and major tours in the new year.

The band is on the verge of a brave new world of success, but that success is far from guaranteed. The pressure is definitely on Wareham, especially as he has hauled his own career back from the brink to reach this new dawn. Who knows where it might all end indeed, for both the band and its leader, because the last time a jazz band got this close to smelling singles success in the UK the bloke was playing a clarinet and wearing a bowler hat…

Not that Wareham seems to care. He revels in the prospect of hard-won success. “Love it. Can’t wait. From writing the first note to this massive ridiculous bat costume I’ve got to wear, I’ve loved it all, the tiaras, the incredibly tight pants – no, but really I’d love it if it got big and we did ‘Cuts & Lies’ on Top Of The Pops. Why not? It’s only fun, innit? I’d love to do that and then write some really heavy classical music.”
Wareham talks much as he plays the tenor: hard, fast, at times with an inchoate rage, rarely without passion and always with a fierce intelligence. And of course with a sly, not always subtle, sense of humour. It’s a style that can take its toll on both player and listener: it’s your choice, he seems to demand, come with me on this helter skelter ride or don’t bother, but I’m taking this trip at top speed and the devil take
the hindmost.

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