2 Apr 2024 05:30

E174: Sean O'Hagan on Microdisney + The High Llamas + The Beach Boys

In this episode we welcome revered High Llamas leader (and arranger to the hip and the mighty) Sean O'Hagan to Hammersmith and ask him about his life and times from Microdisney to new album Hey Panda. We hear about Sean's Luton childhood, his family's move back to Ireland, and his 1980 encounter with the late Cathal Coughlan — the Corkonian with whom he formed the brave and brilliant Microdisney. Their path through '80s pop via Rough Trade and Virgin, and their eventual unravelling at the end of the decade, is discussed with reference to the new BBC documentary The Clock Comes Down the Stairs. The birth of the High Llamas involves RBP's own Mark Pringle, who recalls his production work on the 1992 EP Apricots (a.k.a. Santa Barbara). The influence of Brian Wilson on the sound and aesthetic of 1994's Gideon Gaye and 1996's Hawaii leads to Sean's reminiscences of meeting the Beach Boys and (almost) producing them. A side story involves his amusing memories of backing another cult L.A. genius, Love's Arthur Lee, in London. After we've heard clips from Mike Quigley's 1969 audio interview with Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnston, we return to the arc of the Llamas' story and ask Sean about the influence of contemporary R&B on the Llamas' Hey Panda. Finally, Mark and Jasper talk us out with quotes from the pieces they've most enjoyed adding to the RBP library over the preceding fortnight. Many thanks to special guest Sean O'Hagan. The High Llamas new album, Hey Panda, is out now; visit highllamas.com or your local record shop to get your hands on it. Pieces discussed: The High Llamas: You Can Call Me Alpaca, The High Llamas: Lo-fi Heaven, The High Llamas: A Different Breed, An Improbable History: Microdisney Interviewed, The Beach Boys audio, Ted Nugent Unleashes His Little Ball of Fire, Leonard Bernstein: Lenny's song and dance in Vienna, Lounging with Mr Williams, So why exactly does David Gray have this effect on women? and Terence Trent D'Arby: Neither Fish Nor Flesh.


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