PEOPLE have been telling Scroobius Pip since he released his solo album that it’s a bit ‘dark’. This to a lyricist who previously made pointed references to topics such as suicide and abuse in his acclaimed work with regular producer Dan le Sac.
Primarily it is because his solo record is urgent rather than euphoric - as the Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip material tended to be - a clash of sounds, throbbing drums and live guitars. Produced by Danny Lohner of Nine Inch Nails and featuring a supporting cast of Travis Barker, Richard Russell, Zane Lowe, Milla Jovovich and many others, Distraction Pieces is a triumphant call to arms, held together by Pips incessant, intriguing and often bitterly angry lyrics, delivered almost in a staccato hurl.
“A lot of people have said that it is darker but I genuinely think that is only because of the production, that’s how it sounds,” says Scroob, real name David Meads, the name a deliberate misspelling of the title of an Edward Lear poem.
“On the Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip records, there were songs about self harm and suicide and spousal abuse, really dark stuff, and yet a lot of people said, ‘you’ve gone dark with this (solo) record’ - but no, it’s always been pretty dark really, you just didn’t really notice before because we polished it a little bit and made it look sunnier. I really think it is because of the live drums and guitars that this feels that bit darker and more moody.”
Pip is a rare thing; a musician-turned-poet-turned-musician who maintains his integrity and creativity in a shifting landscape. Starting life as a punk-bass-player, he became a poet, proffering his everyman polemics on street corners or on absurdly hip stages across the UK before meeting Daniel Stephens (le Sac) in 2006 and seeing a sparking creative partnership born, Stephens creating weaving dance anthems for Meads’ politically disaffected, visually rich lyrics.
Shunning the mainstream, the duo released two excellent albums on Rob Da Bank’s Sunday Best album, Angles in 2008 and The Logic of Chance in 2010 - the latter beat heavy slice of ‘lit-pop’ that made Mike Skinner look like a snot nosed kid. In a rare moment of downtime, Pip decided to release a solo record on his own Speech Development label, but wasn’t expecting much from it.
“It has been overwhelming because when I started on the record and released it on my own label, it was meant to be a small side-project, I didn’t expect that many people to pick up on it and they did, it all snowballed and went down really well,” he says of the record, released last September.
“It sounds a bit odd, but it didn’t feel like it mattered if it sold well, I knew I didn’t have big budgets for it and I knew I was happy with it, so I was happy to lose whatever money it had to be because it was the album I wanted to make.
“The reason I did this as a solo one was because I grew up loving punk and hardcore and I have never really done any music - or in recent years at least - that has had that influence in it. I have been intending to for a long time so that was why I decided to do this little solo bit and Dan is working on a solo record as well.
“We both said we would go off and do our little indulgent projects, doing what we want to do, rather than thinking about what works for the pair of us. It seemed to work nicely. The main difference is it has that has that harder, live drums, live guitar, type of sound.”
Anyone who witnessed the duo playing in Dolan’s after the release of Logic will remember a high octane gig, but this solo offering sounds like it might top that show. Replete with a full live band, Pip can’t wait to show off the new tunes.
“I am touring with a full live band, so it is drums and guitar - it is really good and roaring and energetic,” he laughs. “It is just great to have that change and variation, once we have done these tours I will be getting back to working with Dan, but it is nice to have live drums on stage, and the energy of a live guitar blasting stuff out, so it is cool.
“I love working with Dan because it is very much done by committee, both of us will have to be happy with everything. On the last record there were a couple of songs I thought should have made it onto the album but Dan wasn’t feeling them so they weren’t there, but with this, I was in complete control. It was a nice change, it was nice to have that control.”
Scroobius Pip plays in Dolan’s Warehouse on Monday March 12. Distraction Pieces is out now.