Air Traffic | Early Inspiration

prof_air-traffic_sm.jpgI kind of want to be Radiohead and I'm really jealous I'm not Radiohead.

 

 

 

 

 

With Fractured Life, Air Traffic have released what is easily one of my favorite albums of the year. It's Brit-pop, to be sure, but varied enough to be innovative and challenging while also tried and true, like an old friend. I spoke with singer/primary songwriter Chris Wall from his home in Brixton recently; we had a nice chat about the band's objectives, their sound, their challenges, and the piano his parents bought when he was but a tyke.

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I absolutely adore the album, so I just wanted a chance to talk to you and do a bigger feature on you than just a CD review.

All right, cool. Thank you very much.

When I first heard the album it sounded instantly familiar and loveable, almost like nothing I had heard before but it just sounded really comfortable, but also challenging if that makes sense?

Yeah kind of, I guess so.

I wanted to know kind of what influences you drew on for the first album?

It's really hard to say because it was a mix-match really of four years worth of stuff that we were writing together as a band. It was four years, from 16, 17 to 20, 21. I started off when I was 16 listening to a lot of Dylan and Red Hot Chili Peppers and when I was 21, I was listening to DJ Shadow. I'm stupidly eclectic and also I'm only one person. We all listen to American rock stuff; we're  really into Weezer and singsong things as well. Jim's into indie music, Tom's written more like The Stones, The Who, The Clash, The Sex Pistols. It's just hard to know even where to begin; I can't tell you, I'm afraid.

I'm glad you gave me the last one because you'd only mentioned American artists up 'til then. I think the album has a definite British sound to it.

I'll give you some more: The Beatles, Pink Floyd.

Take your favorite artist then; what inspired you to make music in the first place?

It's probably Radiohead. Definitely Radiohead, actually. I'm just continually blown away by their innovativity. Innovation, or whatever it is. They are constantly doing new things, constantly write, like as much weird music; it's amazing music. I kind of want to be Radiohead and I'm really jealous I'm not Radiohead.

That's not what made me start music—I really didn't get into them 'til quite late—but it's probably what drives me to continue to make music. Apart from the fact it's a really fun job. My mom bought a keyboard or a piano or something for my dad when I was about two or three. I just started playing it for fun; I think that is why they bought it, to encourage me towards it. I started just jingling around and having fun like that. As I got a bit older, I became aware of the fact that my uncle was a singer/songwriter in Ireland and I just thought it was so cool. I would go see him play sometimes when we were over there; the whole atmosphere and the kind of attention, I suppose, led to me getting into music. I always wanted to make music for the rest of my life, whether for fun or job or what, but I never wanted to actually perform until I was like 16 or 17 because I was just the shyest kind of thing ever.

Actually I can't remember who I was talking to about Radiohead, but everybody wants to be them and the thing I think people forget about is that Pablo Honey is a very poppy pop-rock album with a hit single that enabled them to go as crazy as they wanted.

Yeah, I guess that's why I still think there's hope for us.

Our album is almost a bit poppy. It's central in the whole schedule of things. And I'm not bothered by it; I'm kind of happy. It's definitely not quite closing the Radiohead doors as some people might wish to believe and think, those naysayers. There's still plenty of scope for us to do whatever we want. Whenever bands stop doing what they want to do, that speaks to their credibility and kind of the goodness goes out of it. You shouldn't be writing music for money or other people; you should be doing for yourselves. That's what we always have done and always will do.

I think that's brilliant; that's the perfect way to do it.

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