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AN INTERVIEW WITH NATHAN HALL OF SOFT HEARTED SCIENTISTS

Soft Hearted Scientists have just released a mightily ambitious album entitled “Waltz of the Weekend” on FRUITS DE MER RECORDS which, to my ears, is a thoroughly accomplished progressive psychedelic album that will stand the test of time. I will be going into more specific details about particular tracks on the album in the next issue of ACID DRAGON, due out in the Spring, but meanwhile, here is my interview, so far:


Hi, Nathan: First of all, congrats on the album. I am intrigued as to how you go about the song-writing process,

I pick up the guitar most days and put ideas down on my phone. Most weeks I start up a home recorded demo in my study using Reaper. I add a lot of overdubs in case they become definitive versions and because I love layering and creating interlocking parts. I love micro details in the arrangements. I leave tracks to sit for a while and the strongest ones with the most enthusiastic support from the rest of the band are taken to Frank Naughton’s studio to record as a full band.


Is there any truth in the ‘blurb’ saying that you had very little musical experience before forming a band, and that you met whilst searching for meteor fragments - could you give a little more insight into a fascinating back story?

Well, I was a cover supervisor in a comprehensive school yesterday and when a precocious pupil asked me how old I was I told them I was born in the 1850s. They said "wow so you lived through both world wars sir?" I replied sagely "Indeed I did. Indeed, I did." I'm a pathological teller of tall tales. And I hate boring band biographies.


Why the name Soft Hearted Scientists?

A bit lost in the mists of time, but I think it was intended to convey that we embraced technology in the music, but with a heart and soul, marrying guitars and analogue synths in an organic way and not leaning too heavily on robotic beats. And perhaps a swipe at unethical science. I did study Maths Physics and Chemistry A levels too so maybe that's in there too.


What were you listening to you at the time you met to lead you into the musical direction you subsequently took?

The Byrds, Beach Boys, Love, Doors, Super Furry Animals, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, Beta Band, Air, Incredible String Band, Floyd's “Piper At the Gates of Dawn” and “A Saucerful of Secrets”, and Kraftwerk.


At a guess, I hear echoes of bands like Love and Spirit; but most strongly early Pink Floyd. Perhaps you could enlighten me about specific influences.

As above. “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, “Fuzzy Logic”, “Bwyd Time”, “Wee Tam and the Big Huge”, “Notorious Byrd Brothers” and “Premier Symptomes” by Air were very inspiring.


Do you agree that the production and arrangements are key to such a strong realise?

I think a good arrangement can elevate a song enormously and I work with obsessive attention to detail. Little sound events and changes along the time line of a song, sometimes on a subliminal level.

Regarding production, I think home-made albums like “Slow Cyclone” have a lot of charm, but with this album I wanted a hi fi production with real drumkits and the phenomenal editing skills of long-term collaborator Frank Naughton who could help turn a 4-minute demo into an 8 minute epic and even graft in new sections. I wanted to come back with a bang with this album, with at least 4 singles and loads of experimental tracks beautifully recorded.


In genre terms how would you categorise your music?

Psychedelia insofar as anything goes and the music is technicolour and meant to make you light-headed. But with lyrics very grounded in reality, albeit encoded and oblique. Never anything so crass as being high in the sky or any of that lazy nonsense. ‘Rode My Bike’ is the bitterest song this side of Alan Partridge but is tongue in cheek and poppy and instant and uplifting and still has trippy moments. The contradictions and confusion of life is in there.


What is coming up for you, and what are your longer-term aspirations for the band?

To play live more often than we have, and to proceed with recording album number nine, releasing singles along the way, until its release in 2025. And to try to prove that the best may possibly yet be to come. Action packed radio friendly singles, and long multi part song suites, taking those opposite ends of the spectrum to extremes.


Thanks very much for your illuminating answers: despite the generational gap five of the artists/ albums you named would be on my hypothetical desert island play list. Anyway, all the best for your future projects.

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