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February 2021

BNQT: "Art is meant to be collaborative"

Midlake’s Eric Pulido has hit up some pf his famous pals for a brand new project - and this is just the beginning.
Published: 8:31 am, April 25, 2017
BNQT: "Art is meant to be collaborative"
When Eric Pulido got in touch with some friends to see if they would like to make some music, he wasn’t sure what, if anything, would happen.

The Midlake frontman received a resounding yes from Jason Lyttle of Grandaddy, Fran Healy from Travis, Ben Bridwell, best known for his work with Band of Horses, and Alex Kapranos, Franz Ferdinand’s frontman, and a new supergroup was born.

They would each contribute two songs for a full-length album, but with the musicians spread over continents, it was never going to be an easy task. “The logistics of it probably were the hardest thing with a group like this.” Eric concedes. “ But I think there was a genuine willingness to contribute how we could whether that was remotely by email or file sharing or coming to town.

“Fran and Jason came to town at different times. They were here about a week. That was what I desired for it, for us to commune and break bread and make music and hang out in town but I didn’t want any of their schedules or limitations to inhibit making the record.”

It was a truly international collaboration which gives the finger to the political climate of fear and division that prevails today. Eric is clear this project is in no way a political statement but adds: “That should be a testament to the authentic nature we should have in relationships and a lack of ignorance or fear because when that permeates it’s so debilitating with something like this.

“Art is meant to be collaborative and without borders or any colour or race or religion or creed or gender to get in the way.”

He concludes: “In these times when this is going on if this can be a representation of how good can come out of not having these hurdles or walls up then, of course, I would champion that.”

Right through BNQT 'Volume One' there is a sense of fun and a bunch of friends getting together in whatever way they can to chuck out musical ideas and see what sticks with no inhibitions. “There was a desire that, whatever we do, I wanted it to translate that it was a collaboration, a fun collaboration, one that left all our respective baggage and pretext at the door,” explains Eric.

At this year's SXSW, which Eric likens to a big family reunion, some of the BNQT members got to perform together which has spurred them on to try and get some live dates in the diary. Due again to the practicalities of having members scattered across the globe it may be a while until they take to the road. “With different bands having their own schedules and personal family time and what not, we want to be sensitive to it, so we’re looking at the Fall to try and pull some things together."

There were many influences chucked into the creative melting pot, most notably he likes of ELO, Wings, The Traveling WIlberries and Eric’s personal favourite, The Band, who even helped inspire the project. “The Band are one of my favourite bands of all time, and I loved how they just traded off. Each person would take the lead whether they wrote the song or sang it and it kept things very dynamic and collaborative. Part of that was kind of the foundation for that sense of music making.”

Teaming up is something that Eric is surprised doesn’t happen more often, and this collaboration allowed him to make music with songwriters he had long admired. “Fran from Travis, The Man Who was a huge record for me in 99 and I used to play those songs.”

He continues: “To fast forward through the years and to have met and share a mutual respect with one another and get on as friends and to collaborate and to get to sing ‘Why Does It Always Rain on Me’ together. It’s really special to me.”

Despite the fact that 'Volume One' isn’t even out yet Eric has half an eye on a second record which will include other, no less recognisable musicians. “After getting that initial interest, I can go back to these folks and again the same type of thing, the mutual respect and love we played together in somewhere or another. I mentioned to John Grant that we want to make a record together, we’ve toured together, we’ve collaborated, and it would be great to have him. He’s tentatively said he would be up for that as well.”

This project began from a need to break out of the mold of Midlake’s write, record, tour cycle which had been going on for 15 years. If the resulting album proves anything, it’s that great things can happen when friends get together to make some music.

BNQT’s album ‘Volume 1’ is out 21st April.

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