Interview with I Am Kloot’s John Bramwell by Stephen Couse 

John Bramwell, singer from I Am Kloot, is set to play tiny pub venue the Hug and Pint this Sunday, December 20th. Student Rag’s Stephen Couse spoke to John about the solo tour, his hopes to write a musical, how he writes music and his haunting experience on the Isle of Mull.

How has the solo tour been going so far?

We’ve just arrived in Milton Keynes. I’m absolutely loving it. I got in touch with a few people about 18 months back. Ever since then people have just been getting in touch, saying what about playing here or playing there, via Facebook and everything else, so I’ve been winging it for a year and a half now, we must be about 60 gigs in now! It’s really freeform, I don’t have a setlist. I have ten songs or so that I definitely play. Dave Fidler is playing support with me, we share one guitar, we’ve got a rucksack full of CDs and that’s it. It’s minimalist and it’s great.

Have you ever played the Hug and Pint (the venue of the gig next week)? And any other memories of Glasgow?

No, that’s a new one for me. Last time I was up in Scotland I did Wickerman last summer. But first time I’ve done the Pint, it sounds cosy from the name! And the last time I was in Glasgow with the band we played Oran Mor. You get these kind of banquet rooms, these very stately rooms, the dressing rooms when you play Oran Mor. It’s got all sorts in there, armour and kilts and shit. It’s pretty great! We’ve each got our own large leather settee. It’s a good atmosphere to be in before you walk on stage. Beautiful.

Also, it’s not Glasgow, but we recorded our first album on the Isle of Mull. A kind of a mate of a mate of a mate had a house up there. We went with a portable recording studio. We didn’t see any people the whole time, we saw these two kids one afternoon, that’s it. We were driving in the car down the road one night and the headlights pointed into the forest and we just saw hundreds of pairs of eyes. There were hundreds of deer in the forest, but all we could see were the reflections of their eyes. We did see a seagull! I didn’t see any otters unfortunately! Yeah, that was terrific.

  I Am Kloot

Once you do finish the tour, are you intending to release a solo album?

Absolutely. I’m going to be touring again this time next year. Next September I’m going to be releasing an album and it’s called… Well, I don’t know. It could be called Leave Alone the Empty Spaces. Provisionally titled Leave Alone the Empty Spaces! It’s a line out of one of my new songs.

Any plans to get back into the studio with I Am Kloot?

I honestly don’t know. I think we’re all waiting to see. There’s no big problem. We’re 16 years in. We’d have to find something that we all thought “well, we haven’t done that before, that’s great”. And the more you do the less likely it is for that to happen.

Do you find that it is tougher to write great songs after so many years?

I like what I’m writing now. I’ve written some really great sparse stuff that is lyrically and melodically extremely strong. The new songs are really strong, they’re going down well and I’m really happy with it. They’re just not band songs. Maybe I don’t like that kind of stuff anymore. At the age of 51, which I am now, I’m not going to put my nose to the grindstone for something that isn’t what I feel I’m supposed to be doing.

Do you feel like you’ve taken inspiration from anything in particular for the latest songs?

It’s always the same for me, I can’t understand it, I write about the details of life but all the time, the stars and the sea pervade everything I do and always has done. I write about us in a mystic way, about you and I, and the Gods and the monsters. The sea and the stars, they just will not go away. I don’t try to overthink it but they’re always there. I don’t adjust my life for the sake of my writing, ever. I live my life and writing is the by product. I’ve been playing guitar since I was five. Every adventure and every different turn that life takes you, you’ll find something to write about. I don’t think you should tailor your life to suit your writing, in fact, quite the opposite, I think you should live your life and see what you write down.

Do you think it’s something you’d do indefinitely, make music?

Yeah, there’s no stopping me. I’m the real thing. I’m the animal! It pervades everything I do. I like motorbike racing! I go to the Isle of Man TT. And I’m going to watch Valentino Rossi this year. The only thing I spend money on is going to watch motorbike racing really. I think it’s zen, I think it’s like art, it’s very close, very similar.


You did a soundtrack for the TV show From There to Here, is that something you’d do again?

Yes and no. I’m keen to maybe write a musical. Something with some humour, and real heart, I’m interested in doing that. I don’t want to do like a broadway musical. I think there’s a musical that could be done that’s cosmic but down to earth in some kind of way. I’d like to do that.

What’s your opinion on vinyl as a format?

It’s available at the gigs, the Live at the Trades LP, it’s on CD and online. My dad gave me a special Panasonic music system, it’s a 1972 one, when I turn it on first you get this gentle smell of slightly burning dust then you’ve got to set the strobe up on the turntable. If you get proper vinyl that’s deep cut, like mine is, there’s no sound better. I don’t know how the trade descriptions got away with the whole CD thing, it’s just a lie!