Song choices from a maverick thinker...

Naming yourself after one of British history's most pivotal figures is a bold move, but then William The Conqueror could scarcely be accused of lacking ambition.

A group whose literary flair and in-depth musicality marks them out from the crowd, the three-piece set about constructing their new album last year.

Pieced together as the world seemed to collapse, 'Maverick Thinker' is shot through with a don't-look-back attitude, imbuing each song with a potent form of energy.

Out on Friday - March 5th - the record will be accompanied by singer Ruarri Joseph debut novel, released on the same day.

Working to a musical tip, however, Clash tracked down Ruarri to explore William The Conqueror's musical influences.

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Pearl Jam – 'No Way'

Given that William is a version of my younger self, most of the references or influences came from records I’d been obsessed with as a teenager. It was about trying to tune in and remember what it was that got me excited and wanting to write my own songs in the first place.

Some things haven’t aged well (sorry, 'Siamese Dream') but others transported me fully back to my youth, submerging me like the bad guy in Ratatouille that’s reduced to tears of joy coz his meal is just like how his mother used to make it.

'No Way' by Pearl Jam (from the album 'Yield') is one of those songs that never gets old to my ears. Simple two chord patterns or repetitive riffs is still my go to approach as writer – let the melody and the lyrics do the hard work.

I could’ve cited 'Tremor Christ' from 'Vitalogy' for the same reasons, but that doesn’t have Jack Irons on drums. Jack Irons is always an influence on William’s vibe. And we blatantly stole the tambourine sound from 'No Way' too. 

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Bob Dylan – 'Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands'

I love the stories/myths around this song: Dylan supposedly writing till four in the morning or the band assuming the song was over only for Dylan to loop back to another verse/bridge/chorus and keep the thing going for eleven minutes; Roger Waters apparently citing it as the moment he realised songs didn’t have to be a paltry three minutes.

The title track of our album 'Maverick Thinker' is only six minutes long but I was definitely thinking about 'Sad Eyed Lady...' when writing it. The progression has a carousel feel and if I hadn’t have figured out what I was trying to say in six minutes, we could’ve kept going round and round till we threw up for sure. One day we’ll have a song that takes up a whole side of vinyl.

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Booker T and the MGs – Fuquawi

Straight as a die and solid as gold from the get-go. I can definitely hear the influence in 'The Deep End'. The Vox organ in the middle eight was a nod too for sure.

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The Soul Machine – Twitchie Feet

If I mention the vox in 'The Deep End', I have to mention 'Twitchie Feet' by The Soul Machine too. That mix is so fucking bold. Right on the edge of being painful.

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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street

Nick Cave does apocalyptic storytelling so well. The mood setting in this song is awesome. It’s like you’re sat in a carriage on a ghost train, anticipating the frights you know lie ahead. It’s another looping progression (my favourite kind of song writing) and it builds on itself to drive the narrative deeper and deeper. The live version is even more dramatic in the way it accelerates.

We had a song called 'Suddenly Scared' that we’d played live a few times, but that we hadn’t quite nailed the structure of. It started as big as it ended, and felt like it was dropping the audience into the middle of a play they’d missed the beginning of. In a soundcheck one day, impatiently waiting my turn, I started up the riff, much slower and atmospheric. Harry joined in with a very Jubilee Street-esque rim knock and the lightbulb went on.

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Tom Waits – Filipino Box Spring Hog

It’s absolute classic Tom Waits – sparse, aggressive percussion, occasional nod to what key the song’s in by either harp or filthy guitar, Waits barking the story with his uncompromising authority.

'Wake Up' is one of the few songs on the record that was done to a click track. When we came to do it, we made a super distorted bass/snare loop with '...Box Spring Hog' in mind, so we had something to play to that wasn’t the tedious blip of a digital metronome. We liked it so much we kept it in the mix.

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'Maverick Thinker' will be released on March 5th.

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