Adam Ficek of Babyshambles and Roses Kings Castles talks to Time Out music plans and past triumphs
You’re out here as part of your Roses Kings Castles side-project. How did it come about? I just had loads of songs kicking about and I was going to just do a little MySpace thing but then EMI said they wanted to release it. The A&R man went from saying he’d just listen to one song to saying he wanted to print the whole album. But then Terra Firma [Terra Firma Capital Partners Ltd, a UK private equity firm] bought up EMI, went cost-cutting and said they weren’t going to release it and they weren’t going to let me release it.
What happened then? I got the lawyers in and thought: You know what? I’m just going to release it on my own label. That’s what started the ball rolling, really – it was the confidence from EMI and then a feeling like I wanted to kick it and give the corporations a two-fingered salute. Not that they’ll feel it, or even know. But I hate companies like that – Terra Firma’s just a bricks-and-mortar company. They just don’t care about art or quality.
So are Babyshambles still releasing records through EMI? Yeah, but Terra Firma sold off the studio. So we’re just waiting to get a new one and then we’ll get in there.
Will the economic problems at least weed out the chancers? This is what I was thinking the other day. On the one hand, you’ll have a lot of people finding themselves on hard times, but on the other hand you’ll lose a lot of the dead wood. I know a lot of people who want to be famous and they think: Should I be a film star or a singer? And then bang! They’re being hailed as the next big thing, because they got the media on their side and so the record companies threw money at them. All that quality-of-the-art stuff is just bulls***. So I think we’re going to see a lot of the dead skin being cut away.
What’s the long-term prognosis? Everything has to change. I reckon by 2012, music being given away on MySpace and all that rubbish is going to be the way it is. Nobody’s going to get sued any more and people will make their money exclusively from touring and publishing. I can’t see anyone shaking the internet’s grip.
Speaking of touring, what will you be playing out here? I’ll do an acoustic set, some nice acoustic pop songs. I just hope that the promoters don’t hit too hard on the Babyshambles thing, because it’s probably going to attract the wrong crowd. There’ll be the more melodic elements of Babyshambles, but for those people who are expecting to pour drink over their heads and jump up and down and shout and dance – it’s going to be the wrong gig for them.
How would you characterise Roses Kings Castles? I have so many different ideas I can be a bit schizophrenic, but I’ve moved out of my early twee phase and I’m coming up with a few darker things. The good thing about the album [also titled Roses Kings Castles] is that it’s honest – I’ve always tried to stay away from the bulls*** side of things. I used to be a bit embarrassed selling my own album at first, but if you can’t stand by your own art then what hope have you got for other people to get into it?
Have you shaken off that lack of confidence now? When I have a bad gig and nobody likes it, it hits me quite hard. I question myself all the time about whether my songs are good. And sometimes I think people are only buying it because of the Babyshambles connection, but I figure that if I did a death metal album, people wouldn’t buy it because I’m the drummer in ’shambles. It depends how I get out of my bed, really.
You’ll be doing some DJing on the night. Some people are a bit cynical about musicians who do DJ sets… I used to DJ in the old days, so I can do a turn. But if people assume that then f*** ’em, that’s what I say.