Tiger Moth Tales

Prog - - Contents - Sto­ry­telling: Ali­son Rei­j­man Im­ages: Stu­art Wood

Clas­sic prog sounds and chil­dren’s sto­ries make up the new al­bum from Pete Jones.

Ahistoric vil­lage lo­cated in the heart of Sher­wood For­est, steeped in the myr­iad fables of Robin Hood, is an ideal lo­ca­tion to meet a master sto­ry­teller. Tales from the child­hood – and in­deed, adult­hood – of For­est dweller Peter Jones pro­vide the over­ar­ch­ing themes of three of the four al­bums re­leased un­der his Tiger Moth Tales ban­ner, the lat­est be­ing Story Tell­ers Part 2.

His “mid-life cri­sis” break­through al­bum, Co­coon, in 2014 was quickly fol­lowed up with Story Tell­ers Part 1, which was recorded in just 28 days in Feb­ru­ary 2015, and full of mu­si­cal vi­gnettes based on clas­sic fairy tales such as Sleep­ing Beauty.

Hav­ing re­leased the darkly sea­sonal The Depths Of Win­ter in late 2017, which fo­cused on win­tery con­cepts and themes and adopted a less per­sonal ap­proach, Jones yearned to re­turn his Story Telling nar­ra­tive. But time wasn’t on his side.

“I was go­ing to look at it in 2016, and that didn’t hap­pen… then again in 2017, and that didn’t hap­pen. I also had a bee in my bon­net about do­ing Part 2 in Feb­ru­ary like I did the first time – and also do­ing it in 28 days – but for what­ever rea­son, that first al­bum was a fluke. This time, Feb­ru­ary never seemed right, nor did I have the time or in­spi­ra­tion.”

Jones’ tight 2018 sched­ule was dic­tated by his busy tour­ing cal­en­dar, that in­cluded live shows with his bands Tiger Moth Tales and Red Bazar, and also tours with Fran­cis Dun­nery and Camel.

“I was pre­par­ing for Camel, but re­hearsals had not re­ally started in earnest. I had just over two months and thought, ‘Let’s get crack­ing and get it done,’” Jones says. “I didn’t want to keep peo­ple wait­ing an­other two years, and I wanted to find some of that spon­tane­ity from the first Story Tell­ers.”

Armed with sto­ry­lines cour­tesy of Hans Chris­tian An­der­son, AA Milne, Aesop, The Wind In The Wil­lows and The Three Lit­tle Pigs, Jones fi­nally found a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity be­tween March and May to record these next chap­ters.

A Snow Queen theme had al­ready been mapped out in Kai’s Jour­ney, on which his wife Kim­ber­ley and guide dog Darby both ap­pear in “speak­ing” roles.

“One thing I love about prog is the mu­si­cal changes that Tony Banks is so good at. A change of chord or in­stru­ment greatly changes the mood and that is what has gone into Kai’s Jour­ney, which is a bit of a free-for-all with key­boards and noodling.

“My old friend Mark War­dle plays a trum­pet solo on it, and then my dar­ling wife does the Snow Queen’s voice – though I don’t think she’s for­given me for putting in a vocoder to do weird stuff!” he laughs. “It is nice to have other peo­ple on it with me. This is unique to a Tiger Moth Tales al­bum: some­thing I don’t think will ever be re­peated.”

With a mul­ti­tude of projects on the burner, Tiger Moth Tales’ Pete Jones has been busy. But he’s fi­nally found the time to re­visit

his fairy tale-themed con­cept with Story Tell­ers Part 2, the fol­low-up to 2015’s Part 1. Jones dis­cusses the art of bal­anc­ing the silly with the se­ri­ous, his DIY ap­proach, and writ­ing

songs on the road with Andy La­timer…

The Palace, the other Snow Queen track, has an at­mo­spheric style that strongly hints at a cer­tain for­mer Ge­n­e­sis gui­tarist.

“I will not mince my words: this is not the first time I have tried to do a Steve Hackett pas­tiche,” Jones ad­mits. “You can hear it in Sleigh Ride on the last al­bum and bits of Co­coon were very Hack­et­tin­spired. All I will say in my de­fence is that you can never con­trol what you write!”

The Boy Who Cried Wolf, based on Aesop’s fa­ble, may also have fa­mil­iar over­tones. “I am very pleased with that one,” says Jones hap­pily. “I thought that in the un­likely event of David Long­don or Greg Spaw­ton want­ing to cover the story, this is how they might do it: that’s one of the in­spi­ra­tions be­hind it!

“I love do­ing se­ri­ous tracks with sad end­ings like this one, then spoil­ing the en­tire am­bi­ence of the al­bum by fol­low­ing it with Three Lit­tle Pigs,” he con­tin­ues. “This is the one I thought would be too ridicu­lous to work, and if there is a sticky track on the al­bum, this is it.”

Suf­fice to say, …Pigs fol­lows in a fine tra­di­tion of silli­ness that started with the ec­cle­si­as­ti­cally ec­cen­tric The Merry Vicar on Co­coon. Jones, as well as ef­fect­ing Pinky and Perky style vo­cals, ac­com­pa­nies him­self on the xaphoon (a hy­brid of recorder and sax­o­phone) and the trum­pet “played very badly”.

Other char­ac­ters who ap­pear on the al­bum in­clude Toad Of Toad

Hall. “I re­ally went to town on that one with a Ge­n­e­sis style,” Jones says. “I am sure if prog had been around the same time as Wind In The Wil­lows, Toad would have wanted to be ahead of the gang and get into it, even though he knew noth­ing about it.

“I felt The Depths Of Win­ter and Tales From The Book­case [Red Bazar] were both very se­ri­ous al­bums, and per­haps a bit too grown-up for me!” con­tin­ues Jones. “When you lis­ten to Big Big Train, it’s beau­ti­ful and mov­ing, but ter­ri­bly se­ri­ous! This is the prob­lem I had with The Depths Of Win­ter be­cause, sub­con­sciously, I was think­ing it was go­ing to be full of grown-up themes. Some peo­ple might say it was a real step up in ma­tu­rity but now you have gone back to do­ing kids’ sto­ries!

“I know that some might say that chil­dren’s sto­ries are a shal­low theme, but their sen­ti­ments are very dear to most peo­ple,” Jones says firmly. “But we can give these sto­ries a dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tion by mak­ing the mu­sic ex­pres­sive and more com­plex.”

More ‘se­ri­ous’ tracks on the new al­bum in­clude his reimag­in­ing of clas­sic story Match Girl and the bal­lad Eter­nity, on which he re­unites with singing part­ner Emma Friend. In 2004, Friend and Jones ap­peared on UK singing tal­ent show The X Fac­tor un­der the name 2 To Go. “I have never hid­den the fact we were on The X Fac­tor and went on the na­tional arena tour af­ter­wards,” Jones says of his pop­u­lar TV past. “It was 14 years ago, but it now feels like a life­time.”

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