Cranium Pie: 21st Century psych from Wiltshire

The wonderful Cranium Pie were brought to our attention by their equally superb label, Fruits De Mer. We caught up with Rob from the band, who proved to be a fascinating interviewee, and a knowledgable music fan himself.

Here also is their frankly twisted version of Madman Running Through The Fields:

Wiltshire: is there something in the water? XTC, Dukes Of Stratosphear, Cranium Pie…

Yes, there’s a pig rendering plant near Tim (the water table’s very high round there), and Hinckley Point Nuclear power station near Steve. Dan lives in a museum and drinks King Bladud’s urine (least that’s what he likes to believe), Rob eats homegrown vegetables brought up on Fukushima rain, and Julian, well, he’s not from these parts, but he does fill his car radiator from the chalice well in Glastonbury, if that counts.

I love your self description as ‘psychedelic rural electronica’, but are you comfortable with being described as prog, as some see it as a pejorative term.

‘Psychedelic rural electronica’ was really used to describe a side project from Rob (‘a peculiar accumulation of particles’), though some of the baking research we’re doing does fall into those categories.

With the Pie – we don’t describe ourselves as anything. If others describe us as prog to make sense of our music then that’s ok …but… it is futile to define prog. Prog is all around…I suppose we like to encourage thoughts from far in the mind. People these days seem afraid of their own minds. If the music is remotely imaginative then we get accused of taking hundreds of tabs of acid. Maybe we did, but that’s not the point…kids fairy tales are all about the imagination. As soon as we ‘grow up’ (or try to) we’re discouraged from such activities. The powers that be don’t like our minds to wander…we might stumble across better ways of doing life…perish the thought.

We were called a psych band too, when we made a couple of psychy songs. We’ve also done acid folk . Might do a jazz number soon.

Where does the shellfish obsession come from?

We wanted to make a film about jellyfish first – then we tried octopus, but those American signal crayfish have a certain vibe about them…unnerving…they’re very photogenic, plus their rates were the most reasonable.

Your music has echoes of the ’60s and ’70s but sounds very fresh. How do you do that?

Well I don’t have a vintage studio for a start, so using a computery digital setup does give it a more modern sound, but the instruments are all pretty old I think, so the ingredients are there…it’s just we use a microwave to cook them.

Rob also makes his own keyboard sounds from tape (it’s called ‘tronsonic’). He’s made new mellotron sounds that don’t exist (he made a virtual mellotron/ mini moog synth , which appears on ‘This Is Now’).

Your cover of Dantalion’s Chariot’s “Madman Running Through The Fields” manages to sound like a beautiful menage-a-trois of prog/psych/electro. Is this reflected in your audience?

If I understand correctly, you’re asking if we have a diverse audience. Yes – a right bunch of weirdos and beardos, normals and formals, odds and sods. Actually – we don’t know.

Name 10 great albums.

Electric Ladyland – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

In The Court Of The Crimson King – King Crimson

The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter – The Incredible String Band

The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn – Pink Floyd

Cosmic Slop – Funkadelic

Hot Rats – Frank Zappa

We’ll Talk About It Later – Nucleus

Gong – Camembert Electrique

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II

T2 – It’ll All Work Out In Boomland

Name 10 great singles.

Hurry On Sundown – Hawkwind

Positively 4th Street – Bob Dylan

Strawberry Fields Forever – The Beatles

Exodus – Bob Marley

I Had Too Much to Dream, Last Night – The Electric Prunes

All Along The Watchtower – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

We Are The Moles – The Moles

The Green Manalishi – Fleetwood Mac

World In Changes – Dave Mason

Paint It, Black – The Rolling Stones

Has the internet helped you to gain a larger audience?

Definitely…started with MySpace, though that’s gone weird – we’ve been locked out for over a year – the robots in charge are clearly threatened by our presence.

Do you feel a kinship with any current artists? 

Well we’re a bit isolated in our subterranean research station – but yes- there’s certainly others out there too…

What are your plans for the rest of this year?

Getting our teeth stuck into part 2 – doubt we’ll be surfacing from our research for a little while…these catacombs can be tricky to navigate.

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