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Interview with Chris Olley of Twelve/Six.by Seven
May 5, 2006

We have been fans of Chris Olley for quite some time now & have done a few interviews with him in the past (see the archives).  He just put out a new record by his project Twelve.  & unfortunately the great Six.by Seven has recently broken up....

QRD – How do you know if a song is a Twelve or Six.by Seven song?  Songs like “I hung a stone around our love” seem like they could go either way.

Chris – That song was done for Six.by Seven, but the drummer wasn’t into it.

QRD – The new Twelve disc bounces all over the map from guitarscapes to pop-songs to lo-fi electro to eighties dance music – basically a different style on every track.  Do the songs in all these different styles come to you randomly or do you set out to write a song in a particular style?

Chris – I don’t know, it’s an experiment, that’s what Twelve is, and like all good experiments it’s either going to fail or work.  Twelve works on 2 levels, it doesn’t give a shit and is therefore doomed to fail as its metaphor is not clearly defined.  On the other hand, it works because each song stands up in it’s own right, and if you want to see a thread, I think you can.  Some people actually tell me that it all hangs together nicely even if it is eclectic.  Either way, I just let the songs write themselves and have so much stuff that doesn’t get used for Six.by Seven that it gets thrown on to a Twelve record.  I’m not sure I will ever work like this again and if there is going to be another Twelve album I would think it would be coherent and have a well defined metaphor, or it just wouldn’t happen at all.

QRD – What are the samples on “walking drunk” from?

Chris – The guy talking is Murry Wilson, taken from a session when the band was recording “Help Me Rhonda”, and their father was driving them crazy in the studio with his alcoholic babble.

QRD – Are the two bonus tracks from the same place?  Why was it important to you to put them on there?

Chris – No the others are different, one is Buddy Rich shouting at his band after a show telling them they can’t play for shit and the other is a crazy stones fan called Paul Super Apple, which is very kinda King Of Comedy territory!  I wanted to put them on the record because it was part of an experiment for the record to be about the fucked up side of music, “be careful what you don’t wish for”... so, you know, get into the music industry and have success and it’s still fucked up!  (For some.)  It was also a joke... I thought the recordings were really funny and I wanted other people to hear them and think, “Well what the fuck is that doing on there?”

QRD – What do you use for your drum sequencing for Twelve?

Chris – I have 3 Korg Electribes, a 909, and an Alesis D4 for real sounding kits.

QRD – How do you pull off a Twelve performance live?

Chris – I haven’t done one, it was only meant to be a studio project.

QRD – Six.by Seven was briefly built back up to five piece, how did this effect the band dynamics?

Chris – I think it was cool, unfortunately though the guitarist couldn’t make it very often so it did end up in splitting the dynamic completely!!

QRD – It says in the liner notes of Club Sandwich at the Peveril Hotel that Six.by Seven has ceased to exist.  Is it a permanent end or a hiatus & why?

Chris – It’s permanent.  The drummer has moved on and is doing shoegaze music, something me and James never wanted to do.  We wanted to make a traditional krautrock band, which we are doing at the moment

QRD – So you’re mainly doing Twelve now I assume, what other music projects do you have & what are James Flower & Chris Davis doing?

Chris – I’m not doing Twelve at all, I’m playing in this krautrock band with James and 2 other guys and am recording a solo album with Julian Cope as a kind of executive producer... it’s sounding pretty nuts!!

QRD – It also says that the recordings are not presented in the manner intended, what would have been done differently?

Chris – We would have finished them off!!!!

QRD – On Club Sandwich at the Peveril Hotel you seem to play quite a lot more guitar solos than on past records, is there a reason for the change?

Chris – Not really, I think that is Tony playing those solos, he’s an amazing guitarist and we just kept on firing him up to do them!

QRD – What do your kids think of your music?

Chris – Oh!  They always say, “Dad, that’s really good.”

QRD – What stereotype of musicians are you most annoyed by people associating with you?

Chris – I don’t know!  I don’t really care anymore! 

QRD – Why did you start your label Saturday Night Sunday Morning after ending things with Beggars Banquet instead of moving to another label?

Chris – No other label would have us!

QRD – What have been the best & worst things about running your own label?

Chris – The best thing is the total control and the fact that you make 5 times as much per record so you only have to sell 5 times less to make the same money.  I’m always into making music and putting it out like bands always used to, that you can do with your own label.  The worst thing is filling brown envelopes with CD’s and taking them to the post office!

QRD – Do you think you’ll put out records besides Six.by Seven & Twelve?

Chris – OH!  YES DEFO!!!

QRD – What’ve been the best & worst musical gear purchases you’ve ever made?

Chris – It’s always best to buy gear that is good quality.  You have to dig a bit deeper, but it’s worth it in the end.

QRD – What piece of gear are you currently lusting after?

Chris – I’d like to get a new Mac with the latest version of Logic.  I’m still on operating system 9.2 and using Logic 4.8

QRD – A while back you sold a lot of your guitar pedals on ebay.  How did getting rid of them effect your sound?

Chris – For a long time I have just been using a fuzz box, I sold all those pedals because I didn’t use them.  I bought a Line 6 delay and chorus instead.

QRD – Are the distortion pedals you use now actually custom made for you or just made in limited quantities?

Chris – I use a Colorsound overdrive and have a custom-built valve distortion built by Coopersonics.

QRD – What is your current effect set-up for guitar?

Chris – The fuzz boxes, dalay stereo panner, a Marshall 2000 and a 1962 Vox AC30 with Rickenbacker and Musicman Stingray and a Strat.

QRD – Anything else?

Chris – Yes, but that will have to wait until next time!