New Band Interview: Misterlee

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You know how it is with these things. You’re sat at home staring blankly at a pile of cds and none of them are speaking to you. This was how things were down here in the Londonist Music dungeon the other day. We needed some sonic sustenance and were about as satisfied as Casanova in an empty chastity belt factory. So we did what we always do in such times, we turned to the in tray, the pile of cds that occasionally drop through the letter box and that more often than not light a beacon in the darkness of over-played standards or unlistenable mediocrity.

Which is how Misterlee‘s Night Of The Killer Longface found itself on the stereo. We’d enjoyed Naturally Borne Blonde on Blang‘s Fruit Machine cd, but it’s chirpy frolick through fields of pastoral pop with a kazoo solo didn’t prepare us for opening track The Caligula Waltz where Tom Waits plays with the clown from Saw whilst Mister Lee Allatson directs us to the crack in the curtains through which we catch a glimpse of his world. A world of anti-folk, Beck-like genre teasing played out in an English country garden on full band and ukelele. Only the garden has been landscaped by Frank Booth and there’s something ugly going on under the fountain. It’s an album that’s at times sparse and understated, at others full of noises that seem to have been carefully misplaced. It’s uniquely English and just plain unique. You can check out some sounds and videos over on their site under the Sounds section.

The cd arrived along with the answers to the Londonist new bands questionnaire and since, for reasons best left to ourselves, it’s been a while since we last brought you a new bands interview, this seems like a good time to see what Mr Lee has to say for himself and this fair city of ours. The prognosis for the latter is not good by the way but it shouldn’t stop you from taking the trouble to have a listen.

Who’s In The Band? Michael-Curtis Oxtoby, Jamie Smith & Lee Allatson

What Do You Do In The Real World? Michael works with people who have mental health problems; Jamie and Lee work in various areas of music.

Describe Your Sound To Us: Highly Ecelctic, Song-Based Soul Manipulation.

How Did You All Get Together? From Lee forming a band and realising that he couldn’t play the songs on guitar and disbanding the band to play solo; to then disliking playing on his todd, so then drafting-in Jamie on guitar and later, Michael on electric violin and bass guitar.

Who Are Your Influences? Many people suggest many things that strike as possible Misterlee influences, but Lee as the main writer listens to very little music and feels the discovery of inspiration to be an importantly inward journey.

What’s The State Of Play With The Band At The Moment? 2005 has been given over to playing live extensively across the UK – we’ll clock-up some 60+ shows this year; several live performances have been recorded during this period and Lee is currently compiling live audio and video for an enhanced CD release scheduled for 2006; plans are coming together for a trip to Chicago next Summer to record and play a small number of live dates… and then there’s always new material being written…

Where Can We Hear / See You Next? Check the Tour list on the ‘News’ page at our website: www.misterlee.co.uk

What’s The Big Game Plan For The Band? To get the whole thing working to it’s full potential and then get the band and the label boxing at their respective weights.

Who Would You Most Like To Support? Ohhh… Currently Iron Maiden? Mozart would have been great…

What’s Your Ultimate Label To Be On? Rubber Czech Records!

What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to? Lee rarely goes to live shows.

Have You Ever Thrown A TV Out Of A Hotel Window? No. Lee has squirted a water pistol out of one though.

Would You Like To? Not especially – sorry!

Any Great Stories From The Road? Lee has a million of them from his ‘difficult’ past, but Misterlee are a seriously cardigan-rock outfit these days. The greatest story from our ‘Road’ now is the one which involves playing a great night, enjoying a quality pint (possibly ending with an excellent kebab), not finishing too late and we’re in our night-nights by… 1am?

Recommend One Album To Our Readers You Don’t Think They Will Have Discovered: Anything by Herb Alpert or Harry Belafonte.

Why Should Londonist Readers Go And See You? Because we’re one of the most important, relevent live acts from the UK at the moment.

What’s Your Favourite:

Venue To Play In London? I think our new fave – The Spitz – has it by a whisker.

Venue To Go To In London? Hmmmm…. Maybe 93 Feet East?

Record Store? I’ve never bought records in London.

Shop (non-music)? There’s a great kebab shop Nr. The Foundry – just off Great Eastern St.

Market? Lee quite likes Portobello Road.

Place To People-watch? Camden.

Place To Chill-out? Lee’s very rarely chilled-out in London.

Place To Get Lashed? Lee only really ever got lashed in London at his mate’s house in Finsbury Park.

Place For A Post-gig Kebab? See above.

View In London? Coming off the North Circular as the sign says ‘M1 North’.

Form Of Public Transport? The Tube.

What Advice Would You Give Ken Livingstone? King Levinstone? Drink more water and try to get your five veg a day.

What London Place Or Thing Would You Declare A Landmark? The same sign that says ‘M1 North’.

The World Is Ending In 24 hours. How Would You Spend Your Last Day In London? Getting away fom it.

Have You Ever Been Sick On The Tube? Very nearly – Lee had just got back from the States having got rather wasted after a funeral over there and hadn’t slept for 2 days. Oddly enough, he was on his way to see his mate in Finsbury Park – see earlier!! :-)

If You Could Sink One Part Of London Into The Sea, Which Bit Would It Be? The expensive, grubby and impossible to drive in bit.

Greatest Thing Ever To Come Out Of London? Lee’s car.

What Advice Would You Give To Someone New To London Getting On A Night Bus For The First Time? Check it’s heading out of London?!

If You Could Write A Song About London What Would It Be Called And What Kind Of Song Would It Be? “I’m leaving” – it would be a love song.

and finally

Sum Up London In A Word… Overrated.

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