Friday, May 21, 2010

Interview with Chicanery


Guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, who was a member of Duran Duran for 15 years, and Neil Carlill, founding member of Delicatessen (Rough Trade/Big Life) debuts their first pop project since collaborating on TV Mania in the late nineties with Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran.

CHICANERY is fusing rich sound-scapes shaped by Warren's legendary tune craft – densely woven around Neil's ‘tone poet’ vocals and lyrics – Chicanery is both a revival and a dream of a modern day band…here is DDTTRH's interview with Neil~

[Anitra, DDTTRH]: What was it like to work with Warren Cuccurullo and Nick Rhodes in regards to TV Mania?

[Neil]: It was a little nerve wracking at first, Warren's house (and his studio) was called Privacy in those days and all the DD music at the time started life there, it had blacked out windows and Bars for security so I Was a little intimidated. Once I was inside and I met Warren and Nick they were very re-assuring and wonderfully nice. I listened through to some of the tracks to get a feel for the project, I was very excited because the plan was to have Iggy Pop and Debbie Harry play my parents in the overall scheme.. I still have a cassette tape of tracks we went over, Big Stress, Money Greed and Power being 2 of them. I would record vocals without the full lyrics so I was just concentrating on the melodies at first. Mark Tinley was the engineer and it all took place in the one room with Nick and Warren on the couch and me standing with headphones, then I'd skip outside into the back garden for a cigarette. I did bring a little alcohol for myself to give me that little extra confidence! We had a few sessions like this, worked on several tracks, I got a call once to come over at very short notice to work on a track called Abducted, this session involved improvising from scratch over the instrumental, which was a lot of fun. We talked a lot about music, influences, it was very relaxed.

[Anitra, DDTTRH]: What does the name Chicanery mean / represent? Is this what TV Mania morphed into?

[Neil]: I think Chicanery represents a very human like quality that exists in each person and in more destructive ways in groups, and societies. The art of deception, the treachery of manipulation and trickery. It exists all around us, what we see hides the devious ways people manipulate situations for benefit. It's a very alluring and devastatingly ruinous way to run the world or a life. Our Chicanery is in the complexity and multiple layers the music winds through, the way a hook can draw you into the subterfuge of a lyric. Chicanery also represents all the vagaries of life Warren and I have experienced since we started this. TV Mania introduced me to Warren and Chicanery was the result of 12 long years fighting to do what we love.

[Anitra, DDTTRH]: What does Warren Cuccurullo bring to the music? What do you bring to the music? What does the music bring to you both?

[Neil]: Warren brings first and foremost his originality to Chicanery, his knowledge of music, his virtuosity and his songwriting skills are all wrapped up in his musical self, which is spiritual and dedicated. He crafts and improvises in equal measure which allows me to tap into what he is doing and it's this combination which produces our sound. Songs would usually begin instrumentally and I would work on words and melodies for them, there are a few songs (like Midnight Owls) where I started the music off and Warren would just magically add his own touches to elevate them completely. It's a beautiful thing to watch and hear. The music for us now represents the journey we have been on, those rare moments over the 12 years that connected us even when we were thousands of miles apart.

[Anitra, DDTTRH]: What challenged you both in making this album?

[Neil]: It was written and recorded in different places over long periods of time so that making the album is the history of our connects and disconnects and how we always managed to come back to it, with many personal upheavals in the intervals. We both started the album in England and finished it in the USA, we both left bands we were in, changed our lifestyles, got older, and tried to cope with the Music Industry as it completely transformed. It's amazing to me that it's here now out on dPulse Recordings and now having a life on its own. Go fly away music!!!

[Anitra, DDTTRH]: What do they mean when one refers to you as a “tone poet”?

[Neil]: I think the way I write lyrics is very much like Warren playing his guitar, it's a connection to the sub-conscious a side-stepping of the rational brain to let what's in you spiritually manifest itself in your creative medium. I mess with words as they come flying out of my brain uninvited. I think it's more like prose-poetry sometimes, hypertext, concentrated meaning in a seemingly abstract construction. It can be a little puzzling but there is a narrative but not in the literal sense we are used to... You have to absorb and translate...

[Anitra, DDTTRH]: How have you evolved as an artist since the completion of this incredible album?

[Neil]: I think time will always sink its teeth into your tastes, I am listening to music now I would have shunned as a youngster. Its funny how music goes in cycles, the new wave bands of today all have their original version from twenty, thirty years ago, you learn to pick out the originals. I love to make music and to fool around with words, it's much less a business thing now (we must chart ! We must have the right image!), it's all about creative expression and working with Warren will always move and develop that spirit.

[Anitra, DDTTRH]: What contributions do you feel Duran Duran has offered the music and fashion industry over the past 30 yrs?

[Neil]: They have a unique body of work, enormous commercial success and an enduring place in the hearts of music lovers all over the world. In the early days they set trends in fashion and branding, and later their sound matured and gained a complexity that made sure they grew into their new stature as veterans of the pop game. My wife (Gwen) also claims she would not have been wearing Tiger striped tights and jazz shoes back in the 80's if it wasn't for Duran Duran..

[Anitra, DDTTRH]: What is one of your favorite songs or videos or both by Duran Duran?

[Neil]: I would have to say Come Undone for favorite song. Video, probably Planet Earth as it has an innocence that large amounts of money can not compete with.

[Anitra, DDTTRH]: What can the fans of Chicanery look forward to in the coming months…years? Any concert dates to be announced?

[Neil]: Yes playing live is next, we are working on getting a tour together and we have 4 songs in progress for the next album. So more of the same we hope with fewer interruptions!

The album is now available on and at

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  1. I had a WONDERFUL time doing this interview~ Neil is just a wonderful and pure soul~

  2. Wow this is really really good i am impressed
    well done Anitra.

  3. Great stuff. Relevant and very interresting.
    Get Chicanery's album,it's the kind of opus that grows on you with each listen.

    S. LeClair