SXSW 2015 Interview: Ultimate Painting
Last year Ultimate Painting burst into our consciousness seemingly out of nowhere, though in retrospect, we’d been covering the band for a long time. You see, the band is made up of equal parts Mazes and Veronica Falls, just two dudes who love writing music together. We caught up with Jack to get a few short answers, and hopefully encourage you to see the group during SXSW .
ATH: What’s the story behind the creation of Ultimate Painting? I mean, you’ve both got pretty prominent projects you’re part of, so what led to this project?
Jack: In the grand scheme of things neither of us is in particularly prominent bands. We both have plenty of time on our hands. I guess it’s the same as how most bands get together. We had a similar outlook as far as music is concerned and we didn’t hate each other. Yet.
ATH: Who wins a battle of the bands, Mazes or Veronica Falls?
Jack: Oh boy…
ATH: I really like the fact that the debut seems to have two distinct personalities. Did you write the songs together, or did you consciously make a decision for each of you to record a certain number of songs and have the other guy flesh things out in the studio?
Jack: Yeah… I mean exactly that really. We both brought the basis of 5 songs to the studio and then we fleshed them out together. The guitars were split down the middle and then James did bass and me drums. Whoever came up with the part played it. I played some lead guitar that I’m unable to play live whilst singing, so James does that live and then there was a couple of songs where James played both guitars… but it’s pretty much split down the middle in all ways. James is really responsible for the sound of the LP from an engineering point of view… he’s pretty good.
ATH: I hear certain things in the self-titled debut? What would you say influences your songwriting the most? Be it a traditional genre, sound, life situation, etc.?
Jack: Yeah man… People have obviously picked up on the influence of the later Velvet Underground LPs. It puzzles me when people seem like they’ve reached that comparison themselves… it’s pretty obvious. I really don’t see the big deal. It’s all just the language of blues influenced pop music… y’know.. those three chords played in different ways. But I think the main influence was just doing what felt natural. If it happens to sound like the VU or The Beatles then who cares? As an aside, I find the preoccupation with having to sound completely original pretty bizarre.
ATH: You’ve both worked pretty closely with other labels (Slumberland and Fat Cat), so what led you to Trouble in Mind Records? What did they label offer that others didn’t?
Jack: I like these questions… you’re looking for some kind of beef ha. I don’t know… I think we thought it’d fit well on Trouble In Mind and it did and they turned out to be new friends for life.
ATH: You’ve both been to SXSW before with your other bands. How was that experience for you? Anything new or old you’re looking forward to when you return to Austin?
Jack: I think I was slightly unhinged the last time I was at SXSW. I couldn’t get to grips with the jetlag and thus spent a lot of mornings wandering around like Ringo in A Hard Day’s Night. I suppose I was going through some things, but this isn’t the place to work through that. But yeah Austin… I think I’m most excited about visiting Wheatsville and this place called Rockin’ Vegan Tacos. Playing shows but mainly tacos.
ATH: So where does Ultimate Painting go from here? Do you have immediate plans to record a new album, or do you go back to other projects?
Jack: We’re 95% through recording a second LP as I sit here typing, so I think this is going to be our focus for a while longer.
ATH: We don’t always get the best UK band news over here in the States. Any band or artist you want to hip us to that you think is overlooked in the States?
Jack: I hope they make it over there at some point but Primitive Parts are really good. Former Bullies too…