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A. Wesley Chung

what's in a name? (10 questions)

By • May 5th, 2017 • Category: Feature

Glasgow-based Californian songwriter A. Wesley Chung may not be the most familiar name, but that’s because he usually works under a range of alter-egos – when solo, it’s under the pseudonym of The Great Albatross, while he also is a famed collaborator – with Into It. Over It, Avi Buffalo, and Circle Meets Dot (with Jo Mango).

And it’s that most recent name which will eventually be stamped across the last of three 12″ records that make up Olive Grove’s ‘Archipelago‘ EP series.

However, it’s Chung’s work from 2016 that concerns us in this set of 10 questions…

1. Can you tell ITM what The Great Albatross are about, who the band members are, and what you are trying to do?

The Great Albatross started as my (Wesley) own solo project while I was in my last band, Boris Smile. I started performing with my friend Malcolm and then we formed a full band line-up around the songs I had written for our developing full length. The group consists of myself (singer/guitar), Malcolm (guitar), Calum (drums) and Alan (bass). The Great Albatross has been sort of an organic thing, I enjoy collaboration so that might put us in the “collective” camp, but this line-up has been pretty steady, so we are either an open ended band or a dedicated collective.

In broad terms, The Great Albatross is like most musical projects in that it is a vehicle to write the music I am wanting to write and say the things I’d like to say. In more immediate terms, we are trying to release a full length album and would like to do some touring.

2. And who is helping you to do this (people, record companies, promoters, financiers, maybe no one!)?

As of right now, no one (officially). We have released a split single with our pal Evan Weiss from Into It. Over It. on Struggletown Records and an EP entitled ‘Roots’ with Count Your Lucky Stars Records, but we are looking for a label to put out our full length. That said, we’ve had lots of help from folks within the Glasgow music scene, and especially the amazing DIY scene (i.e. Steven aka Struggletown Records and Boab aka No One Knows Records).

3. Betty has been tracking you down on yon interweb, and did not see much evidence of the “laid-back grunge” sound that was coming across on Friday at Oran Mor. There were acoustic tracks and Summer’s Gone is about the only thing on Youtube or Bandcamp that gives a similar idea of the current live sound. What’s goin on guys?

Just wait for the LP, you won’t be disappointed.

4. Without gettin too Farage on yor airse, you are not fae aroon here, Wesley, are ye? What has made you stick around in Bonnie Scotchland and does anything about it inspire you (most of us are dying to leave, or just waiting to die, only joking of course!)

Haha, yes I’m from California originally. My Scottish wife will always be the main reason I stick around, but Glasgow has been a really inspiring place to write and play music. There is a different vibe to the city that seems to create a distinct sound that you hear in Glasgow-based bands. Everything is so green and grey here, and the personality of the city has always felt (to me) both gritty and welcoming. Its been such a contrast with Southern California, with its blue skies, beaches, vast diversity with a shiny veneer that covers up a lot of its troubles. A large focus of the new album has been to explore the influences from both places to find a sound that fits these songs that were written during a time I was traveling back and forth between the US and UK.

5. What has been your worst ever gig?

The worst ever gig for The Great Albatross was a show where I was told to stand a little left of centre stage due to a bucket that was catching the water from a leaky roof. The sound guy just wanted to make sure I didn’t get electrocuted.

6. How does the songwriting process work for you, or not!

Typically, I write a melody first on guitar and from there work the lyrics around the music. I choose the lyrical ideas of the song either by how the music informs it, an idea I’ve been trying to work out myself in my head or it is a theme that comes naturally within an album I’m working on. From there it can be a few days to a few months before I’m done with the bear bones a song. Then its demos, arranging, etc…

7. What kind of music do you listen to in the car, or on the tube, or the bike, or on foot – Betty just purchased Who’s Next and Lexicon of Love by ABC at her local Morrisons for £3 each, bargains indeed – would either of these float your boat?

Well, I dig The Who, but I’ve never heard of ABC… so I can’t say whether it floats my boat or not. The stuff I’ve been listening to recently on my walk to work have been: Adult Jazz, Sylvan Esso, Attack in Black, Tiny Ruins, Into It. Over It. and Iron & Wine.

8. Should music be available free to stream – discuss!

Good question. I think streaming services seem to be the model the industry is moving forward with. I don’t make much money from streaming services, but I suppose the model is fairly new (historically). Ultimately, I think you can’t close pandoras box once its opened, and now that it is the expectation to listen to music for free, I feel like it is hard to say “no, it shouldn’t be free” when little is gonna stop it. I think streaming services should have membership fees and continue to run ads, since that is what is likely to generate income for the artists that work hard to write the songs people want to listen to.

All that to say, it is a very complicated time to be a songwriter/musician these days.

9. What is in the pipeline for TGA in 2016 – gigs, releases, other stuff like maybe novelty replica stuffed birds (oh that sounds wrong, question retracted…)

Hopefully, releasing the new LP entitled, ‘Asleep in the Kaatskills’, releasing a music video (which is presently being working on) and hopefully touring a bit.

10. And lastly – if you had the choice of Brexit and losing Britain’s Eurovision automatic qualifying place (because that is what these faceless Eurocrats are planning as revenge, have it on good authority) and staying and eating their entire cheese mountain, what would you do – sorry this is the toughest one of the lot!

Haha, I would stay.

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