French and Regal - One Big Emotion French And Regal Songs

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'In the upper reaches of a terraced house in South East London, I found One Big Emotion going about their business in a cosy 16-track studio. Steve French was poring over what must have been a troublesome piano part on the computer, oblivious to the fact that Gray Regal, whilst making their 13th cup of coffee, Studio Toowas expounding a new theory on the evolution of North American rock music.

From time to time the tape machine would whirr into action and Gray would pick up a stocking-covered coat hanger and croon into the microphone interspersed with the occasional "Thang Yew Ladees and Gennalman".

They were putting together an as-yet unnamed song with the help of guitarist Paul Harvey who was playing a mixture of African and heavy rock rhythms. Emma Byrne (backing vocals and violin)Gray's lyric seemed to suggest that someone was pretending to be in love whilst possibly actually being in love - or something like that.

Steve would occasionally suggest slowing down the tape so that Gray could make a reasonable attempt at the higher falsetto backing vocals, to good effect.

Steve and Gray gave the impression of being an integrated yet vastly different pair. "He's the noisy one and I do the work" said Steve. "I prefer to think of it" interjected Gray "as my being the lyrical melodicist" (Gray writes all the lyrics for the band). I asked them how they got together: Gray - "Steve was touring in a number of bands and writing music and we met up at a Tom Robinson gig and I suggested we approach some companies with Steve's music. We couldn't get anyone to commit themselves to the project so I suggested we write together, and the mixture of my bravado, a wealth of ideas I had carried around with me and Steve's musical experience produced these tuneful and very memorable songs." Steve - "We now have a lot of ideas down on tape, and with the help of our team of highly talented musicians, the music keeps on coming."

At this point Paul packs up his guitar and heads back to his flat in North London. Steve and Gray wind down the studio equipment and head for the pub to play pinball. Pinball? "Essential," explains Gray, "we'd take a pinball machine on tour if it would go in the van."

Jerry Lutchford

Steve French
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