There are many ways to be a cult hero.

You can play in one of the most legendary and at the same time cursed bands in the Liverpool offspring of the Fab Four (the La’s), or you can put together one of the most formidable psychedelic garage bands of the 1990s, only to disband it after just the first record (the Stairs); you can lend your bass guitar to some of the most important British musicians of the last three decades (Ian McCulloch, Paul Weller, Johnny Marr), or you can dissipate your overflowing talents into a succession of acronyms and albums (Isrites, Big Kids, Edgar Summertyme, E. J. Free Peace Thing, E. J. & The Joneses).

Edgar Jones did all this and much more. 

He also released one of the most genuine and sincere records of the past year.

A record we liked so much that we wanted to catch up with Edgar with some questions, to chat about his latest “Reflections Of a Soul Dimension” (see our review here) and ask him about some of his past adventures.

Enjoy the reading!

Hi Edgar,
First of all, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.
Let’s start right away and start with the new record “Reflections Of a Soul Dimension. I thought it was a particularly inspired record, perhaps because it seems to be a work “of maturity”: no excesses, everything is calibrated from the perfect writing to the arrangements that are measured with surgical precision. Tell us about the genesis of the album and explain what you think this record represents in your career;
Aye, well as with most LPs, except maybe debuts, the end of the last LP is where things began. The initial plan was to make another LP with Skeleton Key Records, this time within a Studio rather than at home, with James Skelly producing. It was a whole different bunch of material, very mid-60s Detroit, the only song of the original bunch that made it to the eventual release was “The Walls Came Tumbling Down”. A whole bunch of contributing factors stopped this from happening, but the folding of the label about 8 months after “Song of Day and Night” was the final nail, in this project. Then, with a rather splendid friend of mine, the writer Lois Wilson, a plan started to be hatched for me to try and either license or record for an American label, their contemporary soul scene being already established in the likes of Daptone, Big Crown, Fat Possum, etc. Demos were started to send over but never finished, as unfortunately, other people had to start to notice how good the band Peach Fuzz who were backing me. 

They eventually had to stop doing their own music, becoming the go-to backing band both studio and live for most local labels and projects. 

Then we had covid; at first, I decided to down tools, not wanting to write some uninformed protest bullshit that I’d noticed others doing. That changed one time when I was self-isolating and started having some ideas. Unfortunately, I only had a bass with me, not a guitar, so I started doing this thing with bass lines using 1,2,3 of the scale to differentiate between Major and Minor chords and that’s how the bass lines on the verses of “Torture” (although it uses 3,4,5 for the A chord) and “Place My Bets” were written. Nathaniel Laurence from Peach Fuzz was a great help when lockdowns eased, letting me demo in his home studio for a few hours here and there when he could, which really helped keep me sane looking back. I guess I was adrift, no label, no backing band. A more intelligent man might have given up, but thankfully I was far too stupid. It had been 5 years since the last record now, and I’d amassed a shitload of new material, I’d have gone insane if something didn’t happen soon but luckily it did. A musician friend James Cole, with whom I’d been involved in a few projects over the years, including  “Live On Mars”, a Bowie tribute band, messaged me with a link to some “Northern Soul”-styled tracks that Steve Parry had been recording to see what I thought. I guess I’m the local go-to guy if people want an authenticity rating on a retro project. I knew Steve, as I’d had him in playing trumpet on Masked Marauder, and had worked under him as an MD on some things. I was kind of in awe of the guy musically, his fantastic ear, his enthusiasm for rallying musicians. I  found working with him like an educational holiday. Also occasionally we’d conversed and reached into places musically that I don’t often get to talk of much. I often felt alone, in that my appreciation for the 60s studio musician and producer scene being stronger than my affinity to bands, yes even the fantastic bands of the 60s. I’d wanted to make that kind of record for quite some time, but you need a team, a strong team dedicated to those kinds of ideas, wanting to make a very specific kind of record. It always seemed too expensive and complicated to make come true. Although it would turn out that Steve’s multi-faceted involvement would mean our team could be a wee bit smaller. Anyway back to Steve’s tracks, I loved them and told him so, with great gusto, writing nigh paragraphs on WhatsApp messages to James. Now whether it was my enthusiasm for their project, or just Steve and James putting feelers out, I’ll never know, but what’s important here is that I was then asked if I’d like to record a single for the label.


So we did a session, myself, Steve, and James to record a single for release. “Place My Bets” was the initial choice for the A-side. I played through the song so they could chart the structure, and rehearsals commenced instantly, some brief guidance from Steve on which chops James should hang, and we had the song nailed within 20 minutes. Then ready to record the basic backing of drums, bass, guitar, and guide vocal. A couple of takes and a safety was all it took. This was generally how all the rhythm track sessions went barr maybe “Lord Give Me the Strength”, (also done that day) where I played guitar or no matter what, where we used a click to act as conductor during the ebbs and retards that the track demanded. I could talk a lot more about this and the other tracking sessions but I’ve noticed we’re still on the first half of the first question, so I’d better move on. Before I do though it’s probably worth mentioning, that the results of the session, post Steve adding the Initial arrangements, (strings were all done in 1 day at the end of sessions) had me so enthused that I went on a writing binge, the likes of which I hadn’t known for some time. Songs were being shelved left, right and center with new ones taking their place. It was a great time for me, I had fuck all in my pocket, and I came soooo close to being evicted but I felt like one of the richest men in the world. As far as what the LP represents in my career, personally, I’m hoping it represents a pivot point. It’s definitely made me a little less fearless when it comes to belief in making my more grandiose ideas come to life. I’ve noticed in the past I’ve almost been considered a musicians musician, but the production values and finesse brought by Steropar are beautifully translating my music to the man on the street. You don’t need a stretch of the imagination to ‘get me’ anymore. I’m hoping that’s a good thing.

I live in the hope that the human race isn’t quite finished with writing and producing songs like “Wichita Lineman”, “You Only Live Twice”, “Walk On By” or “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” and if there’s anything I can do to instigate it, I’m there.

Your discography is absolutely eclectic and all over the place: pop, psychedelia, jazz temptations, rural blues, gospel, garage etc etc. In “Reflection” it seems to me that you have made some very definite choices. On the one hand, you firmly embraced soul as a genre of reference (can we say that the soul component prevailed over the psychedelic one?) and on the other hand, you decided to put the musician at the service of the songwriter. Is that the case? 
Yes, I guess you’re right, thank you for noticing. I guess I’ve come back around, in that my first 60s 7” that I bought was “You Keep Me Hanging On” by the Supremes. Also around that time (age 15/16), I was hangin’ round beatniky flats on Lark Lane and Catherine St and starting to hear the hangout tapes (a local club I wasn’t old enough to attend, that did tapes like nuggets but better compiled) and the likes of Scott Walker and Nancy & Lee and lovely psychedelic music in general. At this point in my life though, I had absolutely no idea of the immense lengths and breadths of soul music, that came much later. I guess it’s like that excellent Albert Camus quote on the back of “Scott 4”. (“A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened”). The songwriting is the most important to me, I’m always trying for what I call “the Oliver effect” where you want several songs to be vying for the singing on the way home from the theatre.  Buy occasionally of course I’ll get the call to do something maybe a bit weird or grandiose, variety being the spice of life wot wot. I guess my manifesto musically is ”do what thou wilt and worry about playing them live with a small group later”

In the review we wrote about the record we talked about “a northern-side soul, full of sixties spirits that, in a manner not unlike Amy Winehouse’s, aims to transcend the categories of past and present, projecting himself into a temporal elsewhere in which this music sounds neither old nor new, but simply has existed forever..” What is your relationship with time and in particular with your time, the time you live in? Do you like to immerse yourself within it from an aesthetical and cultural point of view, or does it come naturally to you to escape, using musical stylings that refer back to mythical seasons?
My relationship with the present? I think it’s batshit crazy… But in recent years I’ve been really into a YouTube channel called “Esoterica. Dr. Justin Sledge, a scholar in all things esoteric (gnosticism, kabbalah, witch trials, alchemy etc.). A short dive into the origins of old testament times will make anyone realize that we’ve always been batshit crazy… One person or a group decides a certain idea of the way things are and then it’s kind of up to the popular vote as to what gets handed down to the next generation. It doesn’t matter how idiotic the voters are … For these reasons, I’m very skeptical of religion but also utterly fascinated by the sociological aspects of it. At present I’m writing a song called ‘The Veil’, that contrasts these early times with our own sociopolitical landscape. Aesthetically, lyric wise I do like to keep my style of prose old fashioned or classic if you like. But the things I write about are very much rooted in the present. ‘This World Today’ is a perfect example of this I guess. Albeit in a gallows humour way, but I’m a sucker for gallows humour. Love songs can be drawn from the present or past, it depends on the vibes of the music, and how those vibes seem relevant to an experience, whether that be long ago or more recent or right now. This confuses the shit out of my partner at times, god bless her. To return to what you were saying regarding Amy Winehouse, this is very true for me too, you’re correct. I’ve coined a name for it but it’ll probably never catch on. NEO CLASSIC POP. It’s based on the name of a classical movement from the 1930s when a lot of the composers, who’d gone a bit naughty and atonal every now and then in the first 20 years of the century, like Stravinsky, Prokoviev, etc, decided it’d be nice to return to the prettier tonalities of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms etc, calling themselves neo classicists. I live in the hope that the human race isn’t quite finished with writing and producing songs like “Wichita Lineman”, “You Only Live Twice”, “Walk On By” or “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” and if there’s anything I can do to instigate it, I’m there. These and records like them are close to religion for me, in that they make me experience a fullness that defies description at times. 

Edgar 'Jones' Jones and the Joneses - 'The Way It Is'

Speaking of mythical seasons: let’s go back to the glories of the Stairs, a band that we loved very much and that you once described as a cross between James Brown and the La’s (a band you were also part of for a short time…). If the first record “Mexican R n R” is pure myth. Tell us about the post-Stairs bands you have formed (Isrites, Big Kids, Edgar Summertyme, E.J. Free Peace Thing, E.J. & The Joneses) and which often lasted very short, is there one you wish would have lasted longer?
Regarding the quote you gave there. That was actually about the Isrites, the La’s, and James Brown thing. I’d not long ended my tenure in the La’s and was going through a massive “James Brown” phase.  Anyhow to the Stairs,  this was my first band, which started forming in and around my time at Liverpool Youth Music Project which was a government backed “Youth Training Scheme” or YTS as they were known back in the day. You got to study a skill and got 2hrs music lessons on the side.  You could either take a lesson or Jam with other musicians for that said time. I took electronics as you got 2 months in a basic recording studio they had there to learn the basics of multitrack recording. It’s where the La’s recorded the demos that got them signed and they would return there eventually for one of their many attempts to capture that thing Lee was after, which always seemed to be alluding to him. Paul Maguire joined about 6 months after me and we hit it off and would skive off to the music room for a jam whenever the opportunity arose. He had an uncanny ability for someone who just started playing, and our musical intentions and humor fitted perfectly. I was already friends with Pete Baker who was in the art module and he introduced me to Ged Lynn a drummer at the time but had an unusual organic ability on the guitar which he was developing. The first jam myself and Ged had together seemed so natural and effortless, I remember telling Paul about it the next day and we were soon plotting a band together. I’d recorded a plethora of demos during my 2 month studio time, which the guys were all into, so we had the people and the songs so we formed a group. Initially, it was me and Ged on guitars, with Paul drumming and Pete on bass originally. Unfortunately, Pete wasn’t working out well on bass as we tried to slick up what we were doing, and it was around this time I’d been taken on as a bass player for Ian McCulloch’s group for his brief solo group the Prodigal Sons, so my move over to bass seemed the natural way forward. Musically we were all big fans of 60’s psychedelia and its precursors like the British RnB boom etc etc. We especially loved the American garage punk which by then was very easily procured on the likes of “Pebbles” and “Nuggets” compilations. But being a British band I guess we ended up with a very British sound kind of like a British reaction to the Chocolate Watchband 30 years too late. We ended up signing to Go Discs Records (home to the La’s and soon Paul Weller also) and recorded an LP, Mexican RnB, which is now a semi expensive artifact if you can get your hands on one. The A+R man who signed us left the label shortly after and we floundered around on the label making lots of demos and trying to get subsequent A+R men on board to be sympathetic to what we were doing (to be fair things were becoming a lil unhinged musically, especially the toe rag studio demos) but we ended up leaving and recording an unreleased (at the time) self financed 2nd LP with a more late 60s outlook sound wise and a smattering of soul influence here and there (with a new 2nd guitarist Carl Cook) but with that taking a lot of time and no label wanting to release it, we called it a day in either 93 or 94. Paul lives in Iceland now, but we occasionally get together for a gig here and there, in fact, we’re doing a small UK tour at the end of March this year. I occasionally write a bit of new material for these gigs, but we’ve yet to record any.

Aye, I guess the one I really feel didn’t anywhere near reach its potential was the Free Peace Thing. I’ve never really spoken of it at length before. I was so depleted and depressed at the end of it, that I’ve always kind of glossed over it. It’s been nearly 15 years or so since it all now, so I guess it’s time to talk about it. I’d been fooling around with some heavier material with 2 of the Joneses Oz and Jamie, as we were starting to have trouble getting everyone’s timetables to match up, and besides it was a laugh to stretch out with a bit of volume once in a while. Around that time a local group, the Pedantics, who had my nephew Nick drumming were in the throes of calling it a day. My brother Trefor had been demoing them in his home studio and he suggested trying our Nick and guitarist Stu out on this new heavier material I’d been writing. We had a jam, and the material wasn’t played as slick as with Oz and Jamie but it was very exciting and exuberant, and I saw great potential, almost unlimited in fact. So I was caught at a crossroads as to who to carry on with. I sent a few texts out to see how people felt about forming a group and Nick and Stu replied instantly and Oz and Jamie got back a few weeks later, so I made my decision out of implied keenness I guess and moved forth with Nick and Stu. We started to make some demos which turned into an independent release with a view to flogging at gigs and tinterweb and somehow Mr. Noel Gallagher (he was a fan of Stairs and Soothing Music LPs and liked the Pedantics too so I guess someone thought it relevant to pass one to him) got one and subsequently, he invited us to join Oasis in a month or so on 10 dates on their European tour that another band had had to back out of. The only problem was we only had 3 tunes so I canceled all my appointments for a week or so, bought a big bag of espresso beans and a big bag of weed, locked the world out, and emerged about a week later with enough material for a debut LP and then some. I did leave the house occasionally for milk and cigarettes. We rehearsed up the new material and did the tour, it went rather well, we were going down fantastically with their audiences. Getting back home, we proceeded to record more with my brother in his home studios and it was going reasonably well, to be fair Trefor was getting some great sounds but because of the home situation, we were unable to record live. We had to play along with terrible sounds on headphones whilst Nick got a drum take, then we’d overdub over this but there wasn’t even room to swing my bass around so it wasn’t really the way to get the vibes we were after. Nick’s takes weren’t too great, full of inconsistencies of time and attenuation which wouldn’t have stood out so much if we’d been playing live and loud but I guess to be fair he was as rock’n’roll as he could be wedged between a bookcase and a window. But that said they were a real ball ache to overdub at times. At first, I was able to live with the performances, but after listening back to them for a month or so whilst continuing to work on the record, I was becoming very disenamoured with how things were going compared to how exciting things were in rehearsal. Also I was having a lot of trouble getting the vocals down as the extreme high ranges of some were giving me terrible throat trouble. It was decided to shelve the project for a while. I decided it was time to develop the band properly, being caught on the hop with the great opportunity of supporting Oasis had meant we’d had to skip that initially. This is where the trouble began, I guess. My spider senses and the general reaction from the Oasis audience told me that great things could be afoot here. I really set myself off on a big hardcore inner mission to push these 2 toward the greatness I felt we 3 were capable of reaching together. We had the room set up with my 8-track at the ready to capture everything we did. (It’s recordings from here that I subsequently edited and mixed for release on the “Viper” label CD just after we split). The only trouble was the others probably didn’t have the overview of experience to what we were doing and what was needed to do to make it fly,  basically, we needed to really work our asses off for a few months. Every day was the same, an arrangement to meet up at 11 AM and get to work. At first, they were always an hour or so late, which wasn’t the end of the world, I could mess with recordings we’d done or play on my own for a bit. But as the weeks went on they’d turn up 3, 4, even 5 hrs late, which wouldn’t have been so bad but they always got these phone calls from their girlfriends about 4 o clock to ask if they’d be home soon. The weeks turned into months, the months turned into a year, and I was turning into an angry frustrated mess, I was totally depressed and was hospitalised with big stomach troubles shortly thereafter as it happens. The final nail was when I took a session gig with a large ensemble (17 including the vocalists). I was 40 minutes early for the first rehearsal and I was the last to arrive. We played our asses off for about 8hrs plus, as there was a lot of material to get through. (No 4 o’clock phone calls…). Just in time, I’d been reminded what it was like to work again with people who care about what they’re doing and made some calls and split the band up 2 days later. There was so much potential in those 2 guys though, it was such a funking shame.

You are highly regarded by colleagues: Noel Gallagher wanted you to open some Oasis concerts, Johnny Marr often supported you… What is your relationship with fame and notoriety? Is it something you chase or is cult hero status (minus money that is never enough) something that fits you and you feel it like a dress that fits you particularly well?  
Yes, I am very lucky, in that, I’ve had some very large hats tipped at me, from some very high places.  Yes, I’ve never really had that urge to be. MASSIVE as such. I’ve thought a small fortune might be nice but with the ability to maintain anonymity enough to still use public transport. I like buses, I like the sense of equality it bestows upon those on board. You can’t really make out you are better than anyone else on the bus. I like that. I never really had any massive heroes growing up, I think that’s where these thoughts are established. My big brother was kind of my hero growing up, he always seemed to be onto something new and cool (until he got heavily into 4AD, nah couldn’t follow him there) so I guess I was too enamoured there and keeping up with it all to formulate my own heroes. It’s a bit crazy how unaffected I can be at times. I remember on my first trip to New York with Ian McCulloch‘s group,  the record company organised a big arse posh restaurant dinner for us all and I was rather enjoying the apparent strength of my first smoke of the new strain of weed which was recently invented called Skunk and remember asking the guitarist, “why is Dustin Hoffman sitting up the table from us?”. “That’s Leonard Cohen ya div”, he said laughing. “Oh” I said, as I said ridiculously unaffected at times. I think it’s more a case of believing they belong with us rather than me belonging with them. I’m not totally unaffected though,  I can be totally starstruck, just not in the usual ways. The other week I got a pinned comment on my favourite YouTube channel Esoterica I mentioned earlier.  I was totally chuffed for about a week. The guy is just so intelligent in a very contemplative and witty way. One of the few people I would vote for for President of Earth. It was nice to be noticed briefly by such.

Yes, I am very lucky, in that, I’ve had some very large hats tipped at me, from some very high places.  Yes, I’ve never really had that urge to be. MASSIVE as such. I’ve thought a small fortune might be nice but with the ability to maintain anonymity enough to still use public transport.

Speaking of clothes: you are always very stylish and we can see that you care a lot about clothing with the attention typical of certain mod culture. Is this a fun game or, as with music, is it a way of affirming your identity and belonging to a culture?
Aw thank you for saying so, I’d never assume such but it’s lovely to hear. I guess I was lucky to find some things that worked for me early on in life and have only had to adjust them slightly to taste as the years went on. I think I recollect trying to fit in with norms more in my mid-late 20s, especially during my tenure in the La’s. Didn’t work so I returned to what I knew best and have kind of stuck with it since. To me, I guess I’ve always been stuck somewhere between modernism and hippiedom. Often wondered does that make me a Mippie or a Hod? Loved the flamboyance of Tom Baker’s Dr Who growing up and guess I still do. I’ve been very lucky with 2nd hand shops over the years, especially on the shirt front. I guess I’m like a shirt womble, finding the awesome shirts everyday folk leave behind. One small piece of advice I’ll leave for any young mods reading. If the shirt is awesome, fear not the extreme collar length.

Are there any concerts planned in Italy? Is there any possibility of seeing you at work live?
You know I’d love to come to Italy, Europe in general, the US, Ireland even. I’m often asked and wish so much I could comply with people’s wishes. But the awful truth is that I’m saddled with so much debt at this point in my life that I just can’t afford to take any risk with losses at work for the foreseeable future. I just don’t have the fanbase numbers to make it work. I can’t afford to lose the guitar and bass I have at the end of the day, it’s not something I’m prepared to risk. It’s really unfortunate that it’s come to that, but it’s how it is. I feel such an ass at times not being able to comply but I think a lot of people can get very enthused about an artist like myself and not realize just how under the radar we are when it comes to selling gig tickets. I really wish it were different. 

Peace and love Edgar x

The Full Hit Live Session. Edgar Jones - I Aint Giving Up On Love