“I’m not afraid, I’m not scared at all.”
So sings Juan Alban as he embarks on his solo career.
The declaration is contained in Like I Never Was At All, the first single from Juan’s debut solo EP, Too Long In Flight. “Lyrically, it speaks of total resignation,” Juan explains, “but I feel like the song has this feeling of new-found freedom and optimism.
“Setting all your bridges alight and smiling as they burn.”
Too Long In Flight is filled with magical, mournful moments, from the beautifully brooding Circle The Wagons (“Started out a whisper and it ended at a howl”) to the late-night love song Put Me Under, and the punchy pop of Like I Never Was At All.
There’s also a deliciously dark sense of humour. “When I’m old and broken,” Juan states in the closing cut, Let You Go, “in three years from now.”
The EP takes its title from Ambulance: “I sit awake through the night,” Juan sings, “like a weary bird too long in flight.”
Juan’s solo debut sees him reunited with Cameron McKenzie, the former Horsehead guitarist, who produced Epicure’s first two albums. “Cam hasn’t changed at all,” Juan notes. “He’s very young at heart and a lot of fun to record with. I guess because I’ve done a few records with him now, I feel very comfortable, and he’s well versed in settling me down when I freak out over things. He’s also very conscious of trying to realise my vision for the songs and works hard to make sure I’m happy with the end result.”
It’s not purely a solo record, as Juan was joined in the studio by members of one of his favourite bands, The Hello Morning. “I didn’t just want to piece together a band,” Juan explains. “I wanted a group of guys who had already played together, so you can hear the chemistry. They’re such great players and lovely guys. I wrote some of the songs with them in mind so I was pretty lucky they agreed to do it.”
Juan did just one rehearsal with the band and then spent just one day in the studio. “It was great,” he says. “Everything I’ve done in the past was so laboured. But with this, I wanted to capture the live essence.”
The result is the first CD with just Juan’s name on it. “It’s a little strange, to be honest. I did consider putting it out under another name, but this way, I guess, I don’t have to worry about the band breaking up. Unless I break up personally.” He laughs. “At least I’d get some songs out of that.”
Juan denies that Like I Never Was At All is about the end of Epicure. “No,” he smiles, “I thought my first solo single should be as self-involved as possible. So it’s really just about not wanting to exist at all. Nothing morbid, just peaceful defeat.”
Too Long In Flight? Juan Alban is alive on arrival. And so begins the next chapter in what has already been a captivating career.