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article imageFive Grand Stereo, a '70s style art-rock' outfit from London Special

By Adrian Peel     Aug 10, 2016 in Music
Chris Singleton is a renowned music industry publicist who also fronts this ambitious six-piece. He now finds himself in the curious position of handling his own publicity. Digital Journal spoke with him about this musical juggling act.
The band are Chris Singleton on vocals and keyboards, Jane Fraser on vocals, guitarist Stelios Kalisperides, Michael Kirkland on saxophone and synths, Zane Maertens on bass and drummer Ben Woollacott. Their debut EP, David Bowie, was released in December 2015 and a new single, "Clip Joint," off their forthcoming album, is out now.
Describing his musical vision (a vision one imagines his band mates share), Singleton, who works for London-based firm Prescription PR, states in the single's official press release: "The idea behind Five Grand Stereo is to take a 1970s band, shove them in a time machine, deposit them in 2016 and ask them to make a record about the world they find themselves in."
How are you, Chris? What have you been doing recently?
"I'm good thanks. How are you? I've been writing and painting - songs and walls, respectively."
You also work as a publicist. How long have you been doing that for and how long have you been a member of Five Grand Stereo? Has music always been your first love?
"Yes, I've been promoting other musicians on and off since about 2012. First time I've promoted my own band, which feels slightly odd. I've been in Five Grand Stereo since around 2012 too. Only getting round to putting tracks out there now... Music has always been my first love, yes - or maybe second, after coffee."
Please tell me about your new song "Clip Joint" and its accompanying video. What's it about?
"The song is about a guy who accidentally wanders into a Freemason's lodge, gets enticed into a dodgy strip bar by a right-wing judge and then receives watered-down alcohol, half a lap dance and then a beating for not paying for the aforementioned. The live performance video for the track is about us trying not to sweat under some quite hot lights."
You're very open about your love for 1970s music. What for you is special about music from that era and who have been your biggest musical influences?
"I think what's special about that era is that you had a bunch of very talented musicians, properly funded by a multitude of labels, being given free reign to create - and create at a time when there was musical ground left to break.
"We take the music of Bowie, Roxy Music, Pink Floyd and Lou Reed for granted now because we're so familiar with it, but imagine hearing the likes of 'Heroes' or 'Perfect Day' for the very first time. Mind blowing.
"My biggest musical influences are probably Bowie, the Beatles and Lou Reed. I feel bad not being more original about that, but if you're going to rip people off you might as well start with the best."
Please tell me a bit about your new album. How will it differ from your debut EP, musically and in terms of content?
"It'll be in the same vein: slightly quirky retro, '70s-style art-rock. For the record after that I'd like to do something completely different - something slightly less in thrall to the past. It's going to involve homemade reverb!"
What themes will you be addressing on the new album? What do you like to write about in general?
"The themes on the new record? Sex, money, sexism, music. What do I like to write about in general? People. For the current crop of Five Grand Stereo songs, I was writing 'character' songs about imaginary people. In terms of new stuff, I'm currently working on songs about me and other real people I know. Watch out everyone. Be nice."
How did Five Grand Stereo first get together? Where did the name come from?
"We got together through a mix of friendships and 'work with that guy' recommendations. The name came from a lyric in the Dead Kennedys song, 'Holiday in Cambodia.' We sound nothing like the Dead Kennedys, however."
You've received a lot of very positive comments from the music press (The Independent called you "a truly fantastic new rock band"). Has that come as a surprise, or did you feel you had something special the moment you all got together?
"It's nice to get some praise from the press. Whatever you might say about me, I know that the rest of the band are excellent musicians and deserve it, so no it didn't come as a total surprise. We sounded pretty ropey when we all started playing together if I'm honest. But that's what rehearsals are for..."
What are your plans for the rest of 2016 and beyond? What ambitions do you hope to fulfill?
"A bit of gigging is in the pipeline - we'll be announcing some October dates soon - and a new single. In terms of ambitions I'd like to convince a national DJ or two to play a song, and finish painting that wall."
For more information on Five Grand Stereo, visit their official website.
More about five grand stereo, chris singleton, 70s music, David bowie, Lou reed
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