‘Choices’ / ‘Brideshead’ is the new single from Drew McConnell’s Helsinki. Both tracks are taken from his current excellent ‘A Guide For The Perplexed’ album, and ‘Choices’ features some guest vocalising from Pete Doherty. The single is released digitally on April 15th and to celebrate Drew will play this special free intimate stripped back show – a double bass, a violin and brushed drums have been mentioned in hushed despatches.
This show draws the curtain on the campaign for ‘A Guide For The Perplexed’, an album with its heart on its tattered sleeve and its tattered sleeve reaching for the ragged sky, as subtle melodies sink into a multi-national gumbo of organic acoustic soundscapes which are jaunty and sulky and ever-so-gently riotous, frequently all at the same time. Indeed, at one choice moment in ‘Choices’ you will experience the exotique sounds of French reggae, and nothing will ever be the same again.
“Being Irish and growing up in Spain and France I think my influences are quite disparate,” muses Drew. “I can hear different elements in ‘Choices’ that to my ear make a sound of no fixed nationality. That’s why I feel at home in a city like London – it’s a multinational place. “The people who make the choices go to sleep, and dream like me and you…” is a mantra to remind oneself that politicians who seem so monstrous are in fact just humans, like the rest of us.
“One night when Peter was around at my house I was playing him some of the Helsinki tracks, and this was one of his favourites. In a moment of impulse we threw up a mic in my living room and recorded his vocal. Seeing as how there’s a French element to the lyrics and Peter now lives in France, this seemed like the best track for him to feature on.”
Such is casual creative life with Drew McConnell, bass player in Babyshambles and musician to the stars, judging by his vivacious CV and the rollcall of musicians on his album. For as well as the guest artists such as Doherty, Albert Hammond Jr, Fionn Regan and Emma Gillespie, the free-flowing Helsinki band vibe incorporates the stellar talents of drummer Seb Roachford (Polar Bear), double bassist Spencer Brown (Andy Sheppard), guitarist Matt Park (Mystery Jets), keyboardist Stephen Large (Squeeze, Paul Heaton), percussionist Jamie Morrison (The Noisettes, Stereophonics) and violinists Johnny Fielding (Larrikin Love) and Gillian Maguire (Soko, Swim Deep). These are the industry’s backroom dreamers helping to haul Drew into the limelight.
Not only that, but he went barking mad with Mongrel alongside various Arctic Monkeys and Reverend And The Makers, and has performed with a multitude of other characters, from The La’s to Lethal Bizzle to Africa Express with Damon Albarn, Gruff Rhys and Flea in Lagos and Paris – all this alongside his long-term involvement with the Love Music Hate Racism movement. Indeed, even as plans were being laid for this single release one sheet Drew was – quite literally – on the road, playing in Danny Goffey’s Vangoffey outfit.