Having experienced huge success on the kaleidoscopic journey that was the hallmark of psychedelic indie rockstars The Bees, former members Aaron Fletcher and Tim Parkin are back doing what they do best with their new musical venture 77:78. Having been picked up by Heavenly Recordings, the lads returned to their home from home at Studio Humbug on the Isle of Wight to record their brilliant new album ‘Jellies’, creating a mesmeric sound reminiscent of the frayed beauty of The Beach Boys album Smiley Smile, to the ramshackle dub of King Tubby via the playfulness of early Syd Barrett.
We caught up with Aaron to get the lowdown on 77:78 and to find what else the boys have been up to over the last few years.
The MALESTROM: Well hello Aaron, how on earth are you? Life’s seemingly got very busy again, how does it feel to be back in the saddle?
Aaron Fletcher: Hi there. Ya know man… its been heavy and super busy. But ultimately loving being back in the seat, we took almost four years to get the record together. The sessions were quite far apart. But getting back on stage and sharing the music live has been very rewarding.
TM: So just briefly tell us a bit more about what you’ve been up to these last few years? Have you continually made music?
AF: Life moves in a funny way. Its been a time of growing and focusing on the family, we moved house about 4 times as well!!! I’ve been involved with a number of projects and DJ’ed whenever I could. But to be honest, when 77:78 started up it felt so natural and the gap that was between The Bees and this sort of dissolved.
TM: Just for the benefit of the hordes of Bees fans out there, could you give us an update on how the rest of the mob are doing?
AF: Of course, so me and Tim are holding the reigns now. Tim still works in music on a daily basis teaching music to the IOW school kids. Paul lives in America and is involved in a lot of production work. He has a stunning studio he has put together and is also just about to expand his family. 77:78 is still made up of a lot of the recent Bees band, who naturally were stoked to be involved.
Jon McMullen and Andrew Parkin have worked with us all since the beginning – having them in the studio was brilliant. Tommy G on drums and vibes is a no brainer and welcoming Chris Philips into the fold has been a long time ambition for me. Its a beautiful thing.
TM: They were pretty heady days, how do you reflect on that time?
AF: Best times indeed, I’d change very little. Probably say yes more though. When its going so well, you don’t even imagine or suggest to yourself that it might just stop. You have to take as many experiences on as you can. I always thought The Bees would sail on and on. We did, however, do amazing shows, recorded in amazing ways and got to spread our music farther than we ever thought.
TM: Well there was huge success, something your new venture looks set to replicate if the early signs are anything to go by. Tell us about the new incarnation 77:78. And when did you and Tim realise there was something in it?
AF: Me and Tim were writing more and more as a team during the last Bees recordings, we had a little bit of overspill from those days and they were lying around. We thought The Bees would start again but as time ticked on it was getting difficult to say when that would happen.
So we booked some studio time and set at it. We had everyone we needed on board from the beginning, the friends and gang members were really supportive from the off. They could see it was really important to go for it.
TM: Love said (Let’s Go) was responsible for 77:78 signing with Heavenly – what was the story there?
AF: We cut the seven, after we did the mastering, for a trial on the market basically. We were lucky that Sounds Of The Universe said they would put the box in the shop. We were then really lucky that Heavenly stumbled on it. I’ve known them for years and feel so comfortable on their label. They get it. They really do… all the roster, all the events, all the music… are just the nuts.
TM: It must feel great to have that team behind you, they really back creative originality?
AF: Oh yes, that was very important to us, It always has been. We’ve had a lot of big label experience which was ace. But the suits do the business and have the last say behind the the guys who you talk to and trust. Heavenly are respected and loved as much as by the fans and all the industry. There’s no extended hierarchy. Recently their roster has been glowing… throbbing!! SO much goodness.
TM: That video for ‘Love Said (Let’s Go) is a wonderful trippy haze, can you tell us a bit more about that?
AF: John Slade is the artist we commissioned for the designs. His work his cool, its silly and also challenging to understand the first time you see it… and maybe even more times after that too. But we got a friend Called Sam Weisenberg to animate Johns work. He nailed it, it works so well. Really handles the vibe of the song, the psychedelic warmth… ya know a bit fuzzy like a cider and a spliff. Also we were are working on a video for ‘Chilli’ our latest release. Hoping to document some road trips and behind the scenes, backstage giggles.
TM: How have you found it reconnecting with the music industry? Has it changed much in your eyes?
AF: A little bit. Streaming wasn’t really happening last time I put a record out. So thats a big difference. There’s no release date and explosion like there used to be. That’s ok, but was hard for me to compute. There’s a release and then its nurtured and stroked for as long as you can manage.
The socials are massive now and ideally having someone who understands you and the way you communicate and the language you use would be fantastic. Someone who doesn’t sleep and has all their laptops, iPads and phones on all the time who can bombard the universe with everything you’re doing all day apparently is the way to sell records. We try. There’s hope though that the music can still do the talking.
TM: Where did you record ‘Jellies’, was that back on the Island? And how was that?
AF: We recorded ‘Jellies’ with Boe Weaver at Studio Humbug. It’s a great studio on the island. Couldn’t of done it without them, having our background on the island and knowing we wanted to experiment a bit was exciting. Boe Weaver are legends… we’ve known them for decades and I’ve always wanted to work with them.
TM: Can you expand a bit on the creative process, and how 77:78 ended up with this very exciting new record?
AF: Tim is a genius and knows the ins and outs of notes, I can’t do that. I stumble across direction. We let each other do their thing and with alterations and trial and error we got what we wanted. you make what you are by being what you are. We knew we wanted to reflect wholeheartedly want we are about, there’s no plagiarism or blueprint copying going on this record, and we didn’t try too hard either.
TM: Tell us how you experience the new album and what people can expect?
AF: If it was in colours it would be all yellows, greens and reds.
TM: Was there ever a time where you thought about walking away from music?
AF: Yup… most times when we’re trying to organise a gig or a session. With The Bees, the freedom we had with time was amazing, no care in the world, no idea about having responsibilities. That has changed a little bit and there’s a lot more on the plate… we won’t walk away… its completely mad to think so. Maybe walk away from the business, but not the feeling or the love of music.
TM: How hard is it when you’ve had so much success to then go and do it again from scratch, or was it just more organic than that?
AF: Truly it felt like that there had been no time gap. Yes it was very different in terms of personal and loads of physical things and locations… but we had been keeping the fire gently stoked over these years so it didn’t take much to get it going again.
TM: That’s very exciting, although we imagine life on the road has changed a bit now with kids and the accompanying responsibilities?
AF: Can’t wait to bring the kids along, when they can enjoy it and get to feel what’s going on.
TM: When is exactly is the album out and can people pre-order it?
AF: ‘Jellies’ is released on 6th JULY. Preorder here http://heavenlyemporium.com/buy/jellies/ Yeah dooooooo it…
TM: And so we know you have a big record collection and have done plenty of DJing over the years, what three records are your favourites right now?
AF: Right now its these beauties… helps in the heat:
Actually we’ve put together a Spotify list to celebrate the release of our new single ‘Chilli’ – it’s called ‘Hot as Rocks’ – check it out HERE.
Take a listen to the new Single ‘Chilli’ below.
TM: Aaron it’s wonderful to speak to you, we normally ask our interviewees for some words of wisdom – anything spring to mind?
AF: Don’t let the wheels fall off.
‘Jellies’ by 77:78 will be released on Heavenly Recordings on the 6th July – Pre-Order your copy HERE and be sure to check out one of their many upcoming gigs…
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