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Interview by Annabel Bayross

PHASE9 chats to Andy Holt, one half of the new eclectic duo from Liverpool.

You’re following the trend of all the good music coming out of Liverpool at the moment…

We’re from Wirral, which is right next door to Liverpool, and from there you’ve obviously got The Coral who are doing big things at the moment. They live only a couple of miles away from us but we don’t actually know them.

Do you dig their music?

I really like what they’re trying to do because it’s interesting and different from the norm. It’s nice to hear someone stepping outside of all that.

Phil, the other half of Reno, was actually your tutor at college. It must have been quite weird meeting that way and getting to where you are now…

Basically I was a mature student and Phil wasn’t just an old grey-haired tutor – he had a cool musical background and had helped create A Guy Called Gerald’s VOODOO RAY a decade ago. I don’t quite know how he got into teaching (laughs). After finishing my degree we kept in touch and he came in to help my band at the time as a sound engineer and it developed from there really.

Does he still do lectures?

No he packed it all in a couple of years ago.

What would you have been doing now had you not got it together with him?

Pretty much exactly the same. When I wasn’t working I’d invest all my money and time into my own studio so I’d be doing the same thing on my own.

How was securing a record deal such a walk in the park?

It’s that classic thing everyone says: “you’ll never get signed off an unsolicited demo”, but that’s exactly what happened. Basically, we had a friend doing the same degree as me who was a really good artist and we asked him to do some artwork for this demo we were putting together, to make it look as professional a package as possible. Then we just bashed them out to loads of people at different record companies and we had a few phone calls back saying, “we really like this but don’t know what to do with it”. A while later I had gone on holiday when I got this call from Jive Records saying they really liked the demo and asking us to come in for a chat. So off we trotted down to London and that was that really. We couldn’t believe how unbelievably easy and straightforward it was.

Have you played a live gig yet?

No, we’ve only just started bringing people in and rehearsing to get our sound together.

So you’ll be a bigger band onstage?

Yeah, ideally if we had the budget we would be a massive twelve-piece band with a big brass section and three or four vocalists. That’s always how we’ve seen it.

You brought in three vocalists for the album. Didn’t either of you ever plan to do some vocals yourselves?

(Laughs) We can’t sing for toffee. It wouldn’t have sounded good. We brought in three because we wanted a bit of variation and a big band sound. The vocalists have their own individual sound, which adds a nice bit of variety.

COSTA was actually released today (14th October) and has received a bit of airplay…

Yeah, it’s been on XFM, Radio One and loads of regional stations. It’s slowly being picked up and people are getting behind it, which is great.

The album itself is so eclectic it’s impossible to pin down any major sound or influence so where did it all come from? What have you been listening to?

I think pop music is the simple answer to that… just a good tune. We’ve been buying old records from charity shops for years and using them for inspiration. For me it’s always been, if you’ve got a good tune it’s a good tune. It doesn’t matter where it came from… it could be a Take That tune that happens to be a great song. My musical taste is so varied. I like a lot of old rock bands and a lot of dance music, and Phil’s exactly same.

What are your next steps for the rest of the year and 2003?

We’re gonna concentrate on getting the live thing together. A lot of it will depend on how well the album takes off because that will determine what sort of budget we get for the next one. We’re also gonna be doing some live sessions for radio stations, including XFM very soon.

Good luck and thanks for talking to PHASE9.