Longstone are the brain child of West Country chaps, Mike Cross and Mike Ward. Longstone produce music that is very original and never reproduce it twice. They create experimental electronic soundscapes. Just imagine if the Velvet Underground had synthesisers, then this is sort of where this duo live. Longstone are currently signed to the Gloucester-based post-rock label, Ochre Records. I spoke to Mike Ward at an Ochre night in London to find out more.

AS : Is it just the two of you ?

MW : The core is the two of us. For live work though if we have an idea where we want to work with someone else, then we pull someone else in. There are two of us on the recordings. We collaborate with different people if we want to. It's a no rules situation.

AS : So is your music all keyboard based or is that just for live work ?

MW : It's mostly keyboards and analog. Tonight it was all keyboards, but I also played bass. On some recordings we have used guitar. It's sort of a location of sounds. We treat each thing and each new gig as a new project so it's not set. It's not like a track off the album or anything. It's created for the night. A lot of tonight was improvised, but it was structurally planned and we rehearsed it.

AS : I was interested in that ball type thing that Will Sergeant was playing and which you also had one each of on your keyboards.

MW : They's called L.I.F.E.s, little infinite frequence expanders, and they are hand built in Wales by a guy who calls himself 'Technoage'. A L.I.F.E. is a woodern bowl with a silver side CD screwed on, half a ping pong ball and a flashing light inside, but it contains a big chunk of analog and synthesiser and you get eight controls that aren't marked, so it's very random. It's portable and controllable. It's unique so you can get strange sounds out of it.

AS : I have never seen them before.

MW : They are a mail order only thing. We were recording at a session in Wales and Will was there and he had brought some, so they are quite interesting.

AS : The piece you played tonight was a half hour long instrumental. Is all your work like that with no vocals ?

MW : They are not all that long. They are about 90% instrumental. We put the occasional sample on our records. We have only worked with a vocalist on one single and it was a a sort of diary reading thing.

AS : Who are your influences then ?

MW : It's a whole string of things. We are into experimental agents like the Mary Chain, Spacemen 3, Neu, Sterolab, that sort of thing.

AS : You reminded me of an electronic Velvet Underground.

MW : Yeah, I like the fact that our music repeats itself. You get a beat that repeats, that sort of thing. I like classic rock. The Stooges changed me, and the Velvets and the New York Dolls. The thing is you can't do that now because it's so...

AS : Because it's all been done before so it's hard to get a new edge, but I think Longstone have a new edge.

MW : When we played in N.Y.C. in the summer we did some backing tapes with a series of track selections, but we didn't want to do that again. We wanted to move on. We don't work in the normal way, but we know how we want our music to sound, so Mike Cross works the mixing desk on stage, so we are in complete control, but it makes it hard work.

AS : Would you use guitars in the future ?

MW : We have used them on recordings. We are both guitarits as well. We might do something that is a mixture of both. Something that's a bit different.

AS : I was quite surprised tonight because I expected the Ochre Records evening to be more guitar based, but it's not. Talbot (Ochre's owner-AS) was telling me about all the new projects he has. It's quite a diverse little label.

MW : The label isn't commercial and it's taking risks.

AS : Well, thanks for your time.

MW : Thank you.

This interview was published originally in Anthony Strutt's former fanzine, Independent Underground Sound.












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