Certain elements of Our Final Invention may well be familiar to those who took more than a passing interest in Britpop. Or what followed that scene to be precise. That’s because the nucleus of Our Final Invention (Mark Gill [guitars/programming] and Richard Nancollis [vocals]) were also in Manchester’s The Rain Band.
The Rain Band certainly had all the elements in place to become The Next Great Manchester Band. Good looks, an attitude, killer tunes, massive crossover potential. It didn’t happen for them. It’s not an unusual tale.
An invention of a new guise
Now Our Final Invention has launched with an amazing pop song, “A Smile to Remember”, which easily surpasses what I have heard from The Rain Band. Maybe it’s a sense of restraint, of not needing to be in the listener’s face, that sets it apart from those previous recordings.
And make no mistake, the accompanying promo video is something else, a piece of art that Mark himself directed. See below for more details. He and Richard kindly took the time to bring us up to speed with developments.
Q&A with Our Final Invention
Even Butterflies Make A Sound: When I started researching this article I came across a 2015 book by James Barrat called Our Final Invention, which is about AI. What are your thoughts on AI generally? The end of human creativity as we know it or a handy way to speed certain things up?
MG: Like any new technology there’s the initial rush of experimentation and excitement equally matched by cynicism and doom mongering. It’s more than likely it will plateau and find its place but we can’t ever see it surpassing the human experience. At least we hope not.
EBMAS: Regardless, it’s a handy link to the frankly incredible video that promos your debut single It’s a thing of beauty. Use of a medium – video – that no longer seems to have the same cache? Would you agree with this suggestion?
MG: Music videos have always been the place for emerging technologies to experiment and we hope that continues. Personally we’ve not seen enough music videos recently to comment on their quality.
EBMAS: Re the first question. The video surely used AI during the video production. A clear case of using technology well?
MG: We’d have to defer to our collaborator Voltaine to how the AI actually animates the source footage. But my limited understanding is that you ‘point’ the AI at certain images you want it to reinterpret – in our case samurai, kabuki masks, and Edo-period Japan. The you sit back and watch the magic happen.
EBMAS: So, it must be at least 10 years since The Rain Band ended and Our Fresh Invention launched. Please briefly tell us what you have been working on in the interim.
MG: I moved into the movie world, which was what I really wanted to do when I was a kid. But there were no opportunities in the north of England at that time. So I picked up a guitar instead. Richard is a headmaster of a school for autistic pupils. To me this is absolutely amazing as that is real work compared with my fanning around with cameras and actors.
Mark Gill directed the famed Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano (Ichi the Killer, Mortal Kombat) in the “A Smile” video and co-wrote and directed the independent UK film England is Mine (about one Stephen Patrick Morrissey).
Developing vocal styles
EBMAS: As someone who appreciates the group Glass Animals, and my suggestion is a compliment, would it be fair to say the vocal delivery in “A Smile To Remember” is reminiscent of Glass Animals’ vocalist?
MG: I don’t think I’ve ever heard Richard mention them as a reference. I think he just follows his instincts for any given melody and delivery. What I can say is the minute I heard the vocal line I thought it was beautiful.
RN: The vocal to “A Smile” was originally the backing vocal but in the end I felt this was the stronger melody.
EBMAS: Fair to say, the vocals are different from The Rain Band recordings?
RN: To some degree but i think it’s just a case of maturing and having the confidence to try new things.
MG: “A Smile” is the only track where Richard has used this style for the whole song but it is a tool he’s used on other tracks to good effect. But he’s always had the ability even in The Rain Band to hit those high notes. I’d say the new stuff is vocally superior to The Rain Band days.
EBMAS: Name one thing you learned from The Rain Band that you will put to good use in Our Final Invention.
MG: Mostly to follow our own intuition and not be guided by the myriad voices in the industry who all have an idea of about what you should do and yet rarely get it right. I think we’d rather live with our own mistakes than follow bad advice anymore.
EBMAS: And one thing you hope never to repeat.
Thanks again. And best of luck.
“A Smile to Remember” is available on all digital streaming and downloadable formats. Look out for the release of a strictly limited cassette EP. Follow the group here: https://ourfinalinvention.bandcamp.com/album/a-smile-to-remember