Andy Howells chats to prog rock legend Geoff Downes about his latest project with top producer Chris Braide as DBA, Surburban Ghosts.
Three years after their critically acclaimed debut Pictures of You, creative powerhouse duo Chris Braide and Geoff Downes have reunited for the second chapter of their joint venture as the Downes Braide Association (DBA in short), Suburban Ghosts.
Prog legend Geoff Downes has played keyboards in The Buggles, Asia and Yes. He co-wrote the hits Heat of the Moment and Video Killed The Radio Star. Similarly Singer songwriter and producer Chris Braide has written and produced songs for numerous performers including Beyonce, Lana del Rey, Paloma Faith and Britney Spears, in his accomplished career he was awarded Ivor Novello, ASCAP and Billboard Awards It was at The Buggles’ reunion show in London back in 2010 that Chris and Geoff’s paths crossed for the first time.
“Chris was in a band called Producers and said, “I’d really like to write with you one day,” says Geoff, “ He moved to the States straight after that and I happened to be LA a few months later and we both said “Well, lets sit down and write some stuff together.”
With Chris busy working with both Paloma Faith and Lana del Rey and Geoff recording the Yes album, Fly from Here, DBA’s first album, Pictures of You was a culmination of a year of secret ‘moonlighting’ sessions. “The first one was very much testing the water,” says Geoff, “when we finally got together in an organised fashion we thought it would be a good idea to carry on and do another one.”
The sophomore album, Surburban Ghosts, has similarly been put together between both artists other work commitments. The quality of the release howeveris exceptional featuring a collection of melodic pop that is both nostalgic and new. Tracks such as Machinery of Fate and Number One are almost Buggle-esque in approach but with production qualities rooted firmly in the 21st century.
“The one thing we wanted to put to the fore was the synth and the melodies,” Geoff continues, “Chris was a big Buggles fan. One of the first albums he bought was our first album The Age of Plastic, so maybe its an unconscious nod in that direction. We’re not trying to emulate that, but certainly the sounds are nostalgic.”
Geoff has described DBA on his YouTube account as “the best band that will never tour”; I ask if performing live as DBA will always be out of the question? “I do know these things can always change,” he replies, “There are certainly no plans at the moment. Obviously I'm busy with both Yes and Asia touring so I don’t have a lot of time in that department. Chris is flat out with his song writing, but you never know if someone says “I’d really like to put you guys on and see how it goes,” I’m sure there’d be an appetite for it.”
The positive aspect for Geoff is that DBA material is something new for fans to get their teeth into. “Doing something like the DBA album is new music, As much as you want to play your old stuff its important to write new material and develop.”
- Surburban Ghosts is available now through Cherry Red Records.
- A version of this interview by Andy Howells was published in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide during November, 2015.
- Official DBA website