Chieftain… pow wow

Neil Mason — Neil Mason @ 19:14


Last year, I interviewed the very wonderfully Steve Cobby. It was a for a very small piece into which I managed to shoehorn chat about two of his current projects, the very excellent Hey! Rube, a collaboration with Stephen Mallinder off of Cabaret Voltaire, and the even more excellent The Cutler, him and Porky, formerly big chief of Hull’s much missed Pork Recordings. Check any of The Cutler‘s three albums, particularly ‘The Best Things In Life Aren’t Things’ and ‘Everything Is Touching Everything Else’, money very well spent if you ask us… and the Hey! Rube album is worth it for the sleeve alone.

Anyway, Cobby’s fine work has been in my ears for a loooooong time. As well as being 100 per cent The Solid Doctor he also likes a collaboration. He was one half of Fila Brazilla, one third of Heights Of Abraham, one third of JJ Fuchs, half of J*S*T*A*R*S, half of The Cutler, half of Hey! Rube, half of Peacecorps… where to start telling you about that little lot? Cobby is a proper cottage industry these days and a poke around on the site of his Steel Tiger label will see you alright.

It’s actually pretty hard to keep up. This popped up today, I know nothing about Chieftain other than it’s Cobby and DJ and club owner Adam Regan. He claims he’s been sat on this track for too long and it needs some air. By crickey. Bit early for disco dancing, but you will be.

Cobby is stupidly good company. We chatted way beyond what I actually needed. Seems we’re both of an age where you kind of feel you’ve done it to death, but when you stand back and take a long, hard look, there really isn’t anything else you know how to do. Or love nearly as much.

“You never hear a plumber saying I’ve got plumber’s block,” he said. “So I thought as musicians we should just be able to go into the studio five days a week and produce a lot of material. With Fila we’d clock on at 10 and leave at 6, five days a week. I quite liked the idea of it being pragmatic like that. But the upshot was it became too mundane, it became like a proper job and I never wanted that.”

It’s a tough decision to make, that. I did much the same. There came a point at NME.COM where the job became more about advertorials and dealing with marketing and sponsorship than running the world’s best music website. So I quit, did the school run, hung out with the kids, did dull copywriting and editing jobs. Bored in months.

“With me, the wife had gone out to become the breadwinner, I sold the studio in town and I was quite happy wandering round doing the house husbandry thing,” he explains. “I was too busy bringing up the kids to make music. So when they got a bit older I thought I’ll get on me back legs like a Meer cat, have a look round and see if there’s anything else I can actually do… and there was literally nothing.

“And when you come to the realisation that the reason you’ve spent 20 years at it full tilt is because you love it, you also realise you can only keep tapping those reservoirs for so long before they ultimately need recharging. And there wasn’t any recharging going on. That’s all it was. So now it’s three days a week and I’ve time for the family, time for a life, but not at the expense of music.”

And listening, it certainly isn’t at the expense of the music. Happy all round then.

More hear…
– General Cobby-ness is to be found on the Steel Tiger site…
– More Chieftain stuff on SoundcloudFacebookBandcamp.


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