Field Music. A Clunk Back and Forth with David Brewis.

Hello Field Music. Welcome to the Clunk universe!


Field Music has been going for a few years now. When, where and how did it all start?

Peter and I had been making music in various guises for years, quite often with our school friend Andrew Moore. I suppose we were trying to figure out how to turn our ideas into something tangible on a record or at a gig, but we were just too awkward to make that process easy for ourselves. So, for instance, from 1999 til 2003, we had two separate bands – one for my stuff and one for Peter’s – even though we both played in each other’s bands. In late 2003, it really dawned us that if we wanted to make a record, we would just have to do it on our own. We couldn’t wait for someone to show us what to do. So we started recording in earnest in our little practice room in an old college building in Sunderland, and that became the first Field Music record. We sent it to the handful of label types we’d met and liked, along with an ultimatum that if they weren’t interested, we didn’t want to wait around so we were happy to crack on with releasing it ourselves. Thankfully, Ollie and Matt at Memphis Industries liked it and we’ve been making records with them ever since.

Why the name Field Music? It wasn’t because Bros had already been taken was it?

Ha! We just wanted something which didn’t sound like a band. This was back in 2005 so everybody was The Something-or-Others and we would always rather be awkward than follow the zeitgeist.

What was the first song written by the younger Brewis brothers? What was it called and what was it about?

The very, very first song was called What’s The Pie Doing In The Sky. I’m guessing we were about 4 and 7 at the time. It was about a mysterious flying pie which might splat in your eye if you weren’t careful. For some reason we always sang it as if it was reggae. I have no idea why.

You were asked by the Imperial War Museums in London and Manchester to write some music for a project. Please tell us about this and did you jump at the chance or did you have any reservations?

We were initially approached to do a performance which would be part of a whole season about the aftermath of the First World War. I’d never been to any of the IWM sites so there was a bit of trepidation – the words “Imperial” and “war” don’t have many positive connotations for me. However, when we visited IWM North and really took in what the museum was about – far more about the impacts of war on people than measuring military hardware – then the possibilities for how we might approach the project really opened up. We decided to look for stories across the hundred years from 1918 to 2018 which had some kind of direct link back to the war itself and that led us in all sorts of unusual directions – the development of sanitary towels, the invention of ultrasound, the Tiananmen Square protests, Becontree housing estate…

What piece was the first written for Making a New World? I mean how did you find a starting-point and did the rest roll on once you started? Did you get stuck at any point?

I really can’t remember. The starting point really was nailing down the concept and then starting the research. A lot of the songs came very quickly once we’d found the right story and decided whose point of view you’d be telling that particular story from.

The Field Music work on this project has been well received. That must be most satisfying.

It’s had a few nice reviews, and it’s always nice when you feel that a listener gets what you were going for and is judging the record in its own context. This one’s also had a few really critical reviews, but we have to accept that it’s not useful to argue back even if you’re itching to rebut some of the criticisms. Having your work out for review is one of the strangest things about making records (or, I imagine, writing books, or making films…). We’re well aware that we rely on good press to sell records but it’s a pretty unhealthy thing to base your self-worth on.

Here at Clunk HQ we have been listening to Big Thief, Thom Yorke, Snapped Ankles, Bilge Pump, Hilary and the Hate Crimes and Beak in the last week. What have you folks had in your ears?

Peter’s moved on from a massive Joni Mitchell binge to a massive mid-60s Dylan binge. My kids are very demanding with the CD player at the moment so it’s either The Beatles’ red album or John William’s music for the original Star Wars trilogy.

Fancy playing Carlisle some time? There are a few venues to choose from.

It’s been twelve years since we played in Carlisle. We didn’t pull much of a crowd then and I’m not sure we’d do much better now!

Thank you for taking the time for Clunk. See you in Kendal!

You can purchase Making a New World here

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