WorldService Project: Articulate Arsonists
As Morecroft, Clarkson and Ower sit around a table in East London, it's clear that there's not only a deep friendship but also an inherent silliness, a Monty Python-esque vibe, with each of them injecting quips as the other tries to articulate a point. But it's that close bond, reflected in an ever-present sense of humor that has, indeed, helped to precisely define WorldService Project. "I think socially is absolutely an important reason," Ower continues. "Dave got me to come across to play some things in York. We did a few things here and there, and we did a few things outside of WorldService Project. So we knew we could get on playing-wise and also socially, which is a massive thing, as we've come to learn, and I'm guessing the same with Raph and Dave."
Raph continues, "It never seemed like Dave came up to me randomly and said, 'I want you to be in this band.' It was more like we knew each other really well from playing jazz in the department together department ensembles and studying the same modules together. Dave would be in a practice room; I remember [Dave] working on "Breathing Space," which is a very old tune, not even on the first album, and playing it to me and showing me the idea for the tune. He would say, 'Come and play this with me.' I remember [Dave] playing with Tim, certain little gigs, tunes where we would end up as a band. So it was a very natural kind of evolution; we'd played together, so we put together a little gig together, and Dave asked me to play in it. It was just an extension of knowing each other well through playing together and getting on musically and socially."
With its lineup stabilizedat least at that pointWorldService Project recorded Relentless in 2010, released later that year. While many of the cross-genre elements that would come to define the band were in place, it was still a more straightforward document of a group still finding its voice. "There are three or four tracks which are bit heavier," Clarkson says. "That was what the band was really moving towards and had already been moving towards for a while. There are also few other things in there, a few kinds of balladic, softer things. The first album was still a bit of a mix of things. I suppose, through winning the Peter Whittington Award at the end of the year and realizingI remember talking about itthat it was the heavier stuff that was really the sound we were going towards. Hearing [Norwegian group] SynKokethat was the time where we learned a whole new set of music, which we started learning after that Christmas ."
"Probably learning it in a way more akin to a rock sensibility," says Morecroft, picking up the conversation. "The very first time we started playing those tunes, it was more structurally set, but within each section there was quite a lot of freedom, improvisation for each person to do. I suppose that, in itself, was a journey with those tuneswe're talking two years ago now, and we're only now releasing the album. So we've been playing these tunes for a long time, and they have gone through a process whereit's weirdit's almost like it's started in a place, gone a bit far away from that place, then come back again and then gone away again. I don't know; it's strange. But I think definitely with more of a rock approach to it, looking at the identity of the band, looking at the ensemble sound and focusing on those things: five equal parts rather than five soloists."