Festivals For All managed to grab a quick interview with Simon Friend to talk about Simon’s new side project ‘Seismic Survey’, the Levellers, and his plans for 2012.

FFA kicked off proceedings by asking Simon about his new side project, Seismic Survey, which is a collaboration between Simon Friend (Levellers), Mick Doyle (No Right Turn, Neverland, Bloodsimple), Paul Miro (Apes, Pigs & Spacemen), & Andy Cooper (No Right Turn). Simon & Mick have played together sporadically for over 20 years and have recently joined forces with Paul and Andy for their inaugural gig.

“Due a family illness last year I spent lot of time in Derby and got together with Mick. It had been a few years since we’ve done that and played some music. We said why don’t we get together and do something - so we did a gig and it worked really well. It sounded great and the audience reaction was really good, so we thought why not – let’s do it and give it a go! I’m just making myself even more busy – but there you go! Simon laughed.

Did you just fancy doing something different FFA asked: “I used to work with Mick years ago as a steel erector… we used to play in the pubs for beer money basically. I’ve been playing music with Mick on & off for years. I do get gaps in between what I do with the Levellers you know and it’s quite nice to play different styles with different people….. In a way it’s light relief from our respective bands but basically we all lost people we love last year, we were all at a low point at the time and Seismic Survey gave us all positivity… it was refreshing to do this stuff.”

Does it make a change from the occasional solo gig’s you play; “if it’s just me then it’s just me with a guitar, but with Seismic Survey it’s mandolin, banjo’s, electric guitars, tin whistles, etc – it’s just a wider variety of sounds.” He explained.

Do you have any new material specifically for Seismic Survey; “Not yet – we plan to though!” He laughs. “It surprised us all… Paul & I get on really well. We are both writers and there is stuff I’ve written before and the Levellers haven’t used and Paul is the same…. he’s got music coming out of his ears really. There is a strong possibility we’ll be doing some recording. The Levellers are busy, with a new album out in June called Static On The Airwaves… and it’s looking great. So with the Survey we won’t be doing huge amounts this year, or probably any year to be honest, but we’ll do a few things here and there.”

What about the next Seismic Survey outing at Off The Tracks in May FFA enquired; “We’ve only played live once before so we might change a few things, but it will be some old Levellers stuff, some of Pauls stuff, and some of Mick‘s stuff. I played Off The Tracks with the Levellers a few years ago – I think it was an acoustic set. Yes it’s a nice event.”

FFA ask Simon about the Levellers longevity (around 25 years and counting); “It’s probably down to fact we are all equal and all good mates to be honest - we all get on. We are all similarly driven and motivated… not exactly the same of course but we all enjoy playing & performing music. I like to think we are all competent enough to keep it going!” He laughs again.

The Levellers have played gigs focussed around album anniversaries in recent years, but you always manage a good mix of old favorites and new numbers on stage – what do you think about the old / new song balance FFA asked; “Weapon Called The Word and Levelling The Land were some of our biggest selling albums and when we realised it was 20 years we thought let’s do it!  We play a cross section of music and are not fussed about doing that – no one wants to hear the same songs all the time and we don’t want to play the same songs all the time …. We like to think all our songs are good enough to hold their ground as well…. Of course with our next album and the last one obviously you try to keep things moving without changing yourself too much. The new Static On The Airways album is part of our natural progression. It sounds very good too – Sean (Lakeman - Producer) has done us proud. I’m quite excited by it really.” He said.

Finally, 2012 is the Levellers own festival, Beautiful Days, 10th Anniversary – why is it so special FFA asked; ”It’s exactly what we always wanted. We’ve played enough festivals to know what we like and what people like, and every year we expand it slightly to make the whole thing even better and more colourful. We are very proud of Beautiful Days….a lot of people come along who are basically our fans but it’s slightly more than that: our fans are very mixed people so it quite nice to try and provide a mixed bag of entertainment.” Indeed!

You can catch the very special get together of Simon Friend’s Seismic Survey at the 2012 Off The Tracks Festival in May. The Levellers are appearing at various events throughout the UK. ….. Got a feeling 12 is going to be good year!

More info on Simon Friend’s Seismic Survey HERE

Levellers HERE

Off The Tracks HERE

Article by Barrie Dimond