- Allan Crockford - Interview
Galileo 7’s latest album ‘False Memory Lane’ is a rewarding listen. Its 1960s rooted psychedelic pop rock jangle is both evocative and refreshing.Carl Bookstein
The Galileo 7’s singer songwriter and guitarist is Allan Crockford, best known as the bassist for the seminal Medway band the Prisoners that arose out of the 1980s and has been often cited as influential.
While the Prisoners’ sound is more garage rock, Galileo 7 is something more bright and buoyant and in keeping with the often referred to Paisley Underground. While not seizing upon particular influences, Crockford has with Galileo 7 come upon something that works.
‘False Memory Lane’ is the band’s third album and its sound is in keeping with their last recording ‘Staring at the Sound’. Galileo 7’s music somehow takes its listener back to the 1960s and brighter, more innocent times, while still remaining current with thoughtful lyrics and chiming melodies.
Referring to the past, but focusing on the present, Allan Crockford took time to speak with Pennyblackmusic.
PB: Are the Medway garage sounds of the Prisoners still close to your heart? I understand you revisit some of the old songs when you play with Graham Day & the Forefathers or also not long ago with the Prime Movers?
AC: Of course. All those old songs are part of our heritage and we generally don’t get tired of playing them, as long as we rotate the set and bring different songs in whenever we play. The idea of the Forefathers was to create a band that can play all the old songs, and we’ve got a lot to choose from: The Prisoners, the Prime Movers (although we don’t play many of those…), the Solarflares and the Gaolers.
It’s ironic that the three of us we were initially asked to play as the Prime Movers last year, but in getting the set together we realised that we really don’t like many of the Prime Movers songs now! So, when we decided to carry on playing together after the Prime Movers tour was finished we had to do it under a new name.
PB: What was the initial inspiration for the more Paisley Underground like direction of Galileo 7?
AC: There wasn’t really an initial inspiration. It’s just me gradually learning how to write songs and that’s what came out. I’m not really aware of many of the so-called Paisley Underground bands. I think it was more an American term for a scene that grew up without us (or me anyway) being particularly aware of it until afterwards. If we sound like some of those bands then we must share a few of the same influences, but it’s not deliberate.
It’s obvious that I’m into 60’s proto-psych and pop, but I’m just as into garage, punk, a bit of prog and classic rock. Mix it all up and then wait until you’re middle aged before writing your first song and that’s what happens…
PB: Was there a particular idea or situation in mind that gave birth to the title track of your latest album, ‘False Memory Lane’? For instance what may have got you thinking as the lyrics state that “My rose tinted specs have gone dark with age”?
AC: I’m interested in how memory changes over time. Whether we realise it or not, our memories of events change. The analogy I remember (probably inaccurately!) is that memory is like a photo initially, but subsequently it becomes more like a photocopy of that photo. Every time you remember an event you are photocopying a photocopy, becoming more blurred and less accurate over time. That gives us an opportunity to change our motivations and justify our actions to ourselves as time fades the details. We invent and overlay our own retrospective narrative onto our lives to give it an arc, when really it’s a series of random and largely unconnected events.
PB: ‘Tide’s Rising’ seems to speak to an apocalyptic age (even if you don’t believe such an event would ever take place). What is your take on a world that is on so many accounts currently falling apart? Does ‘Tide’s Rising’ in any way help you reconcile with that?
AC: That song is more about religion. I’m an atheist and anti-religion in all forms. It served a civilising purpose at some stages in history, but it is mostly a force for bad now. It’s another example of imposing a narrative onto random events to justify your irrational beliefs. The world will always be falling apart. Every generation thinks it is living in some kind end-time, or at least going to hell in a hand-cart. The clock is always ticking. It’s just your state of mind that decides whether that matters or not.
PB: You started songwriting relatively late I understand with the Stabilisers between 2004 and 2009. Do you find songwriting with Galileo 7 to be a rewarding process?
AC: I like making solo demos for the band. That is my favourite part. After the demo is done, I’ve usually got to do the whole recording process again to get the band version down. Writing the song is always going to be the most rewarding bit because essentially you’re making something from nothing.
I was so pleased with myself when I actually got one or two songs into the Stabilisers set, but having my own band is much more demanding. But being challenged and out of your comfort zone is good for the soul, although sometimes it doesn’t seem like it at the time.
PB: Are there any particular musical influences you have looked toward with Galileo 7?
AC: No specific artists, more a collection of sounds, which I mentioned earlier. I think I started writing a bit too late in life to be obsessed with recreating a particular sound or copying another artist. That’s what you do if you follow the normal course of learning how to write songs when you’re young and not so self-aware. You start copying but end up finding your own voice. There are bands I like and maybe there’ll be a song where I think I’d like to have one like that, but they never end up sounding like them, which is a good thing.
PB: As a bass player for the Prisoners and now a guitar player with Galileo 7, do you have any personal preference between playing these instruments?
AC: I love playing the bass. I think I’m reasonably good at it and confident in what I’m doing. I like the way that you feel as if you’re glueing the band together. I do like playing the guitar when recording, but playing the guitar and singing live is a different thing entirely, and I can’t say I enjoy it quite as much, although that might be the extra responsibility of being the singer. I enjoyed just being the guitar player when it happened (Stabilisers, Goodchilde). But again, it’s good to be outside of the comfort zone. I’m getting more used to it, and at some stage maybe I’ll even start enjoying it!
PB: Do you see any musical evolution with the new album from the last one, ‘Staring at the Sound’?
AC: Ask me again in a couple of years. It’s always difficult to be objective about your own stuff. Having said that, I’m more pleased with the sound on this one. There’s more going on and it’s a more confident album. I think the quality of the songs is about the same. I’ve got a large backlog of songs that I’ve been dipping into for each album, plus a few new ones so I think, or hope, I’ve maintained some sort of standard.
PB: Do you have any current touring plans for Galileo 7 or any of your other musical projects?
AC: We do gigs as and when we get offered them. It’s difficult to tour in the UK. There’s not that many places a band like us can play, and we’re all a bit long in the tooth to be doing the toilet venues! We’ve all done the circuit of crap gigs for too long with other bands to say yes to just anything. But we’ll listen to any offers! We’ve been offered gigs in New Zealand, somewhat bizarrely… Amazing that it’s so difficult to play in our home country but can get offered gigs 12,000 miles away.
It is the same with the Forefathers. We play when we get offered something that sounds interesting and not too difficult. I think the days of real touring may be over, but we’re always ready to play.
PB: Thank you.