We first fell in love with Casiotone for the Painfully Alone in 2002, discovering the odd 56-bitrate mp3 (the web equivalent of an old cassette tape) and splashing out on the second album, Pocket Symphonies for Lonesome Subway Cars, soon after.
Owen Ashworth’s lo-fi recordings (initially on answering machines) and commitment to the humble Casiotone keyboard inspired and mesmerised in equal measures, and fitted perfectly alongside East River Pipe, who we were also pretty obsessed with at the time.
Jump forward an album (the equally excellent Twinkle Echo), and CFTPA emerged in 2006 with Etiquette, a radically different prospect, more polished and pleasing to the ears but still as lyrically endearing and musically unique as ever. In the next few months CFTPA release two albums: Vs. Children – the follow-up to Etiquette – and Advance Base Battery Life, a compilation of singles. Here’s a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Streets of Philadelphia (featuring brother Gordon) from the latter, and a q&a with Owen about Morrissey, hecklers, failing health, samplers, soundtracking and his upcoming visit to Manchester.
We were listening to Toby, Take a Bow and chuckling along to the Smiths references the other day. What do you think of Morrissey’s solo stuff?
I’ve never owned any of the Morrissey solo records, but I’ve enjoyed listening to them in other people’s cars or dorm rooms or whatever. Musically, I don’t enjoy the solo stuff as much as I love that enchanted sound of actual Smiths, but lyrically, I find Morrissey is almost always on point. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: one of the greatest challenges I face as a songwriter is the harsh reality that most of the songs I’d ever want to write were already written by Morrissey.
And how do you rate Manchester bands generally?
Manchester does not need me to remind it that there are a zillion great bands from Manchester. You win, okay? There is something in the pollen or the water that makes you really good at bands while the rest of us struggle to not sound terrible. You don’t need to rub our noses in it, guys. We surrender.