Features - Interviews

Live and Let Live: The Bonnevilles


From the timeless (Thin Lizzy’s Alive and Dangerous) to the downright ill-advised (Lou Reed’s Take No Prisoners), live albums can be tricky territory for even the most self-assured and adept performers. Throwing caution to the wind with the aim to capture their electrifying live show, garages-blues duo Andy McGibbon Jr and Chris McMullan AKA The Bonnevilles enter that territory at Belfast’s Limelight 2 tomorrow night.

We talk to frontman Andy ahead of the big night about what’s in store.

Hi Andy. Firstly: why a live album and why now?

“We’ve wanted to do a live album for a while now, we’re writing the new studio album at the minute and its looking like it’ll be early next year before its ready to go so we wanted to put something out sooner than that. A true document of one night in Belfast – it’ll be raw.”

As we all know, the quality of live albums can vary considerably. Despite being a consummate live act night-after-night, do you have any nerves about capturing the energy and electricity of a standard Bonnevilles show?

“Yeah, some of them can be terrible, but to be honest this is as much of an indulgence for us as anything. We just really want to do it, we know how we sound live and want to capture that live raw, noisy sound that’s different from our studio work. We are of course a little anxious but it’s more about hearing the result rather than the gig itself.”

How are you recording the show? Is there many audiophiles on board to ensure it stands up to your high standards?

“Oh yes, it’s being recorded and mixed by Walter D’Goon (Master & Dog) who engineered our last album. We’ve got a nice relationship with Walter, he very sympathetic to what the band is trying to do, he doesn’t try and imprint his notions of what you should sound like on to you, he listens and helps you get what you want, although he does need to get a better coffee machine at the studio. Also the sound engineer on the night is Brian Collins who was on hand for our album launch last year. He’s the best we’ve worked with.”

Regarding the performance itself, what kind of set can we expect and is there special – guests, songs, covers – up your sleeve?

“Yeah, we’re going to play a song or two that we’ve never played out live before – hopefully they’ll work well on the album when it’s finished. We can’t tell you any more because we don’t know ourselves yet. We’re rehearsing tonight – something we rarely do but it’s a special occasion – and we’ll decide then. No special guests or anything. Shit, we should’ve thought more about this.”

The crowd on the night are obviously going to play a huge part in the overall character of the recording. Do you have any last-minute appeal to sitters-on-fences? 

“Come down, we’re honoured to have two great support bands who are headliners in their own right – Dutch Schultz and Escobar – and you’re going to be a part of Belfast music history. You can say “I was there” when you’re giving off to your kids about their crap taste in music as you wave a big slab of vinyl in their faces.”

From a more general perspective, do you have any personal favourite live albums?

My favourite album of all time is a live studio record record: RL BurnsideA Ass Pocket of Whiskey“. More recently, Live at the Deep Blues Festival – which went out last year – is fantastic. Going back, I love John Lee Hooker – Live at Soledad Prison .

Touching briefly on your summer: you played a few festivals this year to an expectedly great reception. How have the last couple of months been?

“Interesting, the festivals have been great, we’ve had such a great reaction at them all and being the last ever band to play the spurs of rock stage at Glasgowbury was such a thrill. We’ve also been writing and trying to figure out what the new record will be like but we’re getting there.”

Finally, what’s in store over the next few months and when can we expect to hear the live album?

“The next few months we’ll be touring again, we took a break after the last one. I got a bit of burn out and needed a break but we’re raring to go now. We love touring, it’s what we’re good at we think, which is another reason we want to do the live album. It should be out very soon, November we think, and we’re going to releasing it on limited edition vinyl (with a download card) only on Motor Sounds Records.”

We have a pair of tickets to give away to the Bonnevilles live show at Belfast’s Limelight 2. To be in with a chance of winning, just e-mail your name to info@thethinair.net mentioning your favourite Bonnevilles song. 

is the editor of The Thin Air. Talk to him about Philip Glass and/or follow him on Twitter @brianconey.