Howard Jacobs on drums is undoubtedly a spectacle to behold. On first sight, audiences often ping-pong between shock, bemusement and outright hysterics. There is something gloriously discombobulating about a turbined, techno-viking letting rip on a wheely, mobile drum kit.
Well, in case you didn’t know, there is so much more to the man than his plaited beard and lethal percussion skills.
Howard is a classically trained musician and has studied with some of Cuba’s greatest percussionists and singers. He’s performed and toured internationally with cult legends Toolshed, Lotus Pedals and Homelife to name a few.
His most recent project is Architects of Rosslyn, working in collaboration with the amazingly multi-talented, musician and composer Mandy Wigby. Mandy is a long-standing corner stone of Manchesters music scene. She’s paid her dues as a producer and instrumentalists, notably as one of the legendary Sisters of Transistors.
What was the first project you worked on together?
H- We first met when I was in a wonderful band run by Paddy Steer called Homelife. The keyboard/synth player Graham Massey sometimes had to fly off to exotic places to play with one of his other bands, 808STATE and Mandy was his substitute. So from the moment we met in the Homelife rehearsal rooms we were playing together. Mandy joined us on tour around 2001/2002.
How do you approach new projects as creative collaborators?
H- Every collaborative project has to be approached differently as the personnel, the parameters, the workspace, performance space and brief will likely all be different… so…most of all we approach new collaborations with an open mind. Often the team will have only a description of a finished piece of work but no clear pathway to reach that goal. It’s important not to panic and to remember that as everybody channels their input to the same end, the once blurred vision gradually comes into focus.
Which project has been the most fun?
H- The best-received piece to date would have to be the Sensory Soundpitwhich was the brainchild of Artist Di Mainstone. It was extremely popular at our Salford University installation during Manchester’s time as European City of Science 2016 and also at Bradford Museum of Science and Media’s recent exhibition.
People loved the way the sounds we created and the visuals projected onto the sand reflected their play and manipulation in the sand pits. We have some potentially exciting news regarding this project which will have to stay secret for now.
But the most fun project to date would probably be creating soundtracks to some of Di’s surreal films. We recorded around the house with scrap metal pipes and ball bearings with gongs at the bottom amongst other things.
Who would be your dream collaborator if you were able to invite one more artist into the Architects of Rosslyn mix?
H- I would say that working with Di and being based in Manchester and already collaborating with amazing musicians and artists, it might seem a little fickle to want for much more! I do particularly like Biophilia by Bjork because of the amazing instruments that were invented to write and record it though.
M- Like Howie, I feel spoilt having already worked with such talented, like minded artists. If the chance arose though I’d love to work with Laurie Anderson, Brian Reitzell & Tom Waits. They’re all great artists who constantly evolve and use great sound palettes.