Listen to featured bands on the jukebox:
ESN: Why were the early singles only released in Ireland?
BONO: We couldn't get them released in England. They were the equivalent of an independent label. CBS Ireland aren't a company at all, it's like a joke.
ESN: Isn't it connected the CBS in England?
BONO: Supposedly but the management have no idea. They used to run fruit factories and things like that.
Bono considers that the early singles are only demos and therefore not that important. He explained about the master lease deal U2 signed with Island Records.
BONO: Before we agreed to sign to Island we made sure we had complete control. We just prepare the records and sleeves and leave Island to the manufacturing and selling. That's all they do. We might have had a deal earlier when we played dates in London but we were so erratic. I think it's true that U2 never play the same set twice. The songs might be the same but atmosphere's always different. We are quite capable of playing the worst gig you've ever seen.
HELTER SKELTER: Whose choice was it for the Comsat Angels to support?
BONO: We were advised by our management to which we readily agreed. At a time like this when people are paying two or three pounds a ticket to see a band and there's not much money around, I don't think you should hold back as to who is playing with you. We don't care if we are upstaged.
U2 - Bono flat out in the dressing room after performing at Newcastle Mayfair 1981
U2 haven't played that many British dates although they have been touring continuously for one and a half years.
BONO: We're not an English band, we come from Ireland. As well as England we tour the USA, Canada and Europe. We're as popular in American as we are here, in record sales. There are so many people there. In England there's a type of people attracted to us. In America there's a wider range of people in each city looking for what we are trying to do.
ESN: What did you think of London?
BONO: I found it too claustrophobic. Coming from the provinces, I think a lot of the better music has been made in places like Liverpool and Manchester. In London everyone's living on top of each other. People are getting squashed and irritable. The music is made under that sort of pressure. I find less cramped places more refreshing. That's whey we're not playing London on this tour although we'll be playing there at Christmas.
ESN: You seemed really nervous and lost when you played on Top of The Pox.
BONO: I felt stupid. I just didn't know what to do with my hands. I was completely stuck because I was miming. There were all these little girls pulling my legs. You just close in on yourself when you realise there are millions of people watching you. TOTP had this idea of using flames for 'Fire' but they kept going out, so every time they went, "5-4-3-2-1-take: U2 and 'Fire'", the flames would go out and we'd have to stop.
ESN: Why was the LP called 'October' (conveniently released in the same month)?
BONO: I like the word. It's a symbol of how time fades away. October is when the trees are stripped bare, which to me is a symbol of what happened in the sixties with the hippy thing. The album's not 'omnibus' but it expresses the word.
Frustration and fatigue reached a climax for the Au Pairs on their last British tour. The band had to cancel the last two dates of the tour - Hull and Manchester - at short notice. Remarkably, the Hull date was on Friday 13th. I felt most unfortunate to arrive at The Tower after a five hour journey from Newcastle (that's how long it takes by National Express) to find the concert cancelled. A sign outside said it was due to illness. It's true that was the ultimate cause with Paul being laid up in bed suffering from a severe body rash: Jane was totally exhausted and Lesley and Pete were certainly in need of rest.
AU PAIRS - Gig Cancelled at Hull Tower, 1981
Lesley had been looking forward to playing the cancelled gigs as they were with Fast Relief. "It's more enjoyable to play with people you already know," but she felt much better for going home and spending a couple of days in bed. It must have been depressing for her to know that in little over a week's time the band were off to Europe to tour. "People don't realise how unglamorous touring is. Living out of suitcase for weeks on end; continually travelling from one gig to another - stopping off at service cafes. Everyone finds it totally exhausting."
Another problem the band face is a lack of privacy. There are always people around that the band doesn't really know. Shortly after the Newcastle gig, the dressing room was full of various people. Lesley came out of the dressing room to try and find somewhere else to change her clothes. How the band cope up to this point I don't know.
AU PAIRS - Lesley Woods, Newcastle University 1981
Occasionally the band and crew do get away though as in the case of Newcastle. The morning after the gig they went to the Sunday market on the quayside and then to the beach at Whitley Bay. Billy, the tour manager, was behind the idea. He is a Geordie and had some local knowledge. They all set off for Birmingham that evening supposedly for a three day rest but even during that time they had to rehearse.
Pete had been looking forward to getting back to his moped. About an hour after getting home he got a phone call from a friend who had the bike on loan. It had been 'ripped off' as Pete described it. For him the next few days were spent worrying about it and going through procedures.
The short break was soon over for the band and crew. Paul went round Moseley in the hire van rounding them all up, then off to Leicester and whole process begins again.
Tony - Guitar
Jim - Guitar, Keyboards
John - Bass
Tich - Drums
Clare - Vocals
Altered Images originate from Glasgow. After writing a letter to Siouxsie & The Banshees enclosing a tape of their music they were given a support slot with the Banshees at Glasgow Tiffany's. The Banshees liked them and invited them on a forthcoming British tour. Since then Altered Images have supported U2, Athletico Spizz 80 and Adam & The Ants.
At the end of February 1981 they released their first single 'Dead Pop Stars' / 'Sentimental', which made it to 62 in the charts. A few months later the second single 'A Day's Wait' / 'Who Cares?' was released. This did not make the charts but the follow up, 'Happy Birthday', which you'll have no doubt heard, reached number 2 and stayed there for three weeks. At the same time their debut LP, also called 'Happy Birthday' was released.
The band is now on their first headlining tour. Tonight, they're in Newcastle and after sneaking past the doorman, I get to meet Clare Grogan.
If you hadn't met Altered Images before, the first person you recognise is Clare. She's small (a comment all interviews seem to make so we might as well look professional by doing the same) and talks with a charming Scottish accent and giggles incessantly. Clare kneels on a chair opposite me squashing what looks to be a piece of cake. She's asked why she isn't eating it. Clare replies, "I'm too shy to eat in front of other people." The interview begins.
ESN: How did you form?
CLARE: Johnny, Tich and Tony were all at school together. Gerry, who is Johnny's big brother and now our manager was going out with my big sister so by a series of events, I just joined the band. It wasn't a band as such, it was a carry on. We had Ceaser then, he was our old guitarist - he was at school with them as well.
CLARE GROGAN - Newcastle Tiffanys 1981
ESN: Why did Ceaser leave and what is he doing now?
CLARE: Because he wanted to have his own band. It was all quite amicable. He just wanted everything to be his way and he knew it couldn't be like in our band so he left. He's got a band called The Wake who are very good. We all still see him.
At this point someone comes up to the table and asks Clare for something. She leaves the table and returns a few minutes later bragging that she is playing an instrument tonight: keyboards.
ESN: Are you good?
CLARE: I can only play four notes but I think it's good.
ESN: How did you get on Top of The Pops before the record got into the top 40?
CLARE: It was a fluke. We were number 48 and we went down to London to do what is called a post recording. It's just in case you go up the chart again the next week and they won't have time to film you so they've got it in hand but no one expected us to go up again. We were very excited even about doing a post recording. We got the slot because Tight Fit had broken some Musician's Union rules. It was like a big fairytale. The controller came down, shook all our hands and said, "Oh, you're all so wonderful we're going to shove you in tomorrow night; we've got enough time." It's really good because we weren't meant to get it at all. That week was the vital difference.
CLARE GROGAN - Interview Newcastle Tiffanys 1981
ESN: Did you enjoy doing it?
CLARE: Yes, I loved it!
ESN: Are you enjoying travelling in different countries?
CLARE: Well, we've been in Belgium and Holland we're going to Germany soon to do their version of Top of The Pops. I really like travelling.
ESN: Do you get to see many places on your travels?
CLARE: Actually, Gerry, our manager takes us around museums and country parks. We go around quite a lot while we are away because most of the time we have to do something. I've been to the Laing Art Gallery three times (the main gallery in Newcastle).
ESN: Have your relations with CBS improved since the hit single?
CLARE: They've always been healthy. We're in such a nice position because Epic haven't broken a contemporary act before. They've never had to in the past. It's all been Abba and The Nolans. They were all fairly big before they got on the label so we were their big chance.
ESN: How did you get the contract in the first place?
CLARE: They had this nice A&R boy called Simon Hicks, he's very young and he came to see us six months before we signed the contract. He thought we were terrible but by chance he kept seeing us with other bands and he began to like us and so he spoke to the people at Epic.
ESN: How much do you think you owe to John Peel?
CLARE: It's hard to say. It's so hard to put a value on it. He's wonderful. When 'Dead Pop Stars' came out, he played it everyday for four weeks. You just can't put a value on things like that.
ESN: Is there a new single planned?
CLARE: Yes, it's a jolly number called, 'I Could Be Happy'. I think it is better than 'Happy Birthday' it's just not as immediate.
ESN: You've recently been in Gregory's Girl. Do you want to do any more film parts?
CLARE: I don't know. I'm not bothered really. I'd hate to think that people would ask me to do things just because we've got a single in the charts and not because they think I can act.
ESN: Did you enjoy being in Gregory's Girl?
CLARE: Yes. I don't think I can act very well but I did enjoy myself.
CLARE GROGAN - Record signing session at HMV, Newcastle 1981
ESN: What about your appearance in Photo Love (a teenage girls' magazine)?
CLARE: It's so funny. We though it would be a really good laugh. They asked if we would do it and said, 'Yes, alright'. What happened was that somebody from Photo Love had come to do an interview for their pop page as it turned out we ended up doing the photo story for them. It's a just a big carry on really.
ESN: What is the future for Altered Images? Get to number one?
CLARE: Yes, get to number one and just maintain it. But you can't tell what will happen in the future. I think we'll stay together. I can't see us splitting before Christmas.
Clare goes off to do a sound check and interview continues with John, the bass player.
ESN: Did you sign to CBS for a large advance?
JOHN: We signed to CBS and got enough money to get new equipment and have a weekly age of £50. At the moment we are still on £50 a week while we pay off our debt to CBS.
ESN: How many albums and singles did you sign up for?
JOHN: We signed for five years and we'll have to release eight albums in that time. We can release as many singles as we want.
John leaves to join the rest of the band for a sound-check.
Altered Images are a group of young people enjoying themselves and making money in the process.
I make last minute preparations for the interview to come when I arrive at the Pinkies rehearsal studios in Balsall Heath. The studio is part of an ambitious project to bring together rehearsal and recording facilities for Birmingham bands. The project is being delivered in stages and will be completed in about two years.
The Pinkies were rehearsing songs for a sprinkling of dates to come. As they found out during the practice, it was to be their last before supporting the Au Pairs at Leeds Warehouse.
The interview began with Steve, the guitarist. I sat on an amp scribbling away frantically with my pencil (cassette recorder's knackered again).
ESN: Why was the first single recorded in Wales?
STEVE: The studio had been recommended by the Au Pairs who recorded their second single there. They'd said the bloke at the Foel Studios was really easy to get on with. Anyway, it was a good excuse to have a holiday. When we got there it was snowing heavily. Within an hour we were completely snowed in so there were seventeen of us stranded in the studios for two days with no food. The single was recorded despite our hunger and us all being a bit nervous.
A farmer with a Landrover tried to dig us out. He got stuck so the council had to dig us out.
ESN: Which record company was it that messed you around?
STEVE: Loose Records, in conjunction with Nigel Gray who produces people like the Police and Banshees. It was owned by Mike Lenton. Loose Records only existed on paper as they hadn't released any records. We thought, "Great, a record company" and signed a twelve month deal. It turned out that they only wanted us so they could license us out to major record companies. At the end of twelve months they had an option but we persuaded them to let us go.
ESN: How does your deal with 021 Records work?
STEVE: With the single, we paid to do the recording and the mixing then we gave the finished tape to Martin who did the rest. They did the distribution with Spartan. 021 handles the publishing as well.
PINKIES - Jayne in Balsall Heath Rehearsal Studios 1981
The interview took a break. I left the studio with Gary thinking the rest of the band was following on. It turned out not to be the case. That was the last I saw of them!
GARY: The Au Pairs have helped us out a lot with gigs, although it was not meant to be a 021 package at all but our only connection is the label.
ESN: Are any companies interested in your music?
GARY: Cherry Red and MAM have shown a positive interest. At the moment, it looks like Rough Trade may become our agents for getting gigs.
Gary writes the lyrics so I asked him what some of the songs are about. I asked him about 'Hotel Feelings'.
GARY: That was written by one of our past drummers, Steve. It's about feeling lonely and personal isolation and mind games that can make you crack up. It draws a comparison between someone talking to themselves and a telephone call.
'People from Venus' is about gay people and the hatred directed at them by heterosexual society. It has been a taboo subject for so long, although it is improving. Maybe in a hundred years time it won't mean anything and will be accepted as a norm.
PINKIES - Gary and Jayne at Balsall Heath Rehearsal Studios (Birmingham 1981)
'Open Commune' is about the 021 thing, everybody pulling together and helping everyone else. Really it was written for the people who are part of what is happening.
'Caveman' slags off monogamous relationships because of the way the couple treat each other. As the couple never had it right, the do not even realise something is wrong. They don't worry although gradually they are ripping one another apart.
The Pinkies have played gigs in London, Holland and hope to release three singles and an album in the next year. They want to do their own tours and to be self sufficient. They are ambitious and good enough to get what they want.
Rob - Drums
Michelle - Bass & Vocals
Julie - Sound Mixer
Lindy - Sax & Vocals
Gillon - Guitar
I had a ten minute break after concluding the Pinkies interview. I then set about extracting Fast Relief information from Lindy and Michelle (again without my cassette recorder).
Fast Relief had a single due for release on 021 Records some time ago - it was listed as a forthcoming release in the third Zig Zag Small Labels catalogue and even had a catalogue number OTO 4. A continual postponement to this release and a lack of gigs has been due to them being unable to find a permanent drummer.
Lindy tells me, "Fast Relief get through drummers at the rate the Conservatives cause redundancies." Their current drummer was found downstairs from their flat - very convenient but less so, he also plays for the Denizens, thus acquiring the name Rob Denizen. (Everybody I meet in Moseley has their band name as a surname.) "Rob enjoys working with both bands even though it is two different scenes. He's under no pressure to make a decision as to which band he will stay with." (Presumably if he leaves the Denizens then his surname will change, hmm). "It is alright at the moment but when we start gigging there will be too many hassles. We hope he will join us though, it has been hard finding a drummer that fits into the band."
We talked about the names that people are known as locally: Jayne Pinkie, Pete Au Pair and Rob Denizen. It's something that became a habit because it was so convenient. Lindy says, "I used to think all of the Denizens were brothers. It's convenient to adapt band names. There are so many people in bands because they can't find jobs. If there is a good or something on everyone will be there because we all live nearby.
The debut Fast Relief single is due for release in January, still with 021 Records. Fast Relief are starting to play gigs again with a few during the next couple of months. "It's usually easy to get a gig at the Golden Eagle or supporting one of the Birmingham bands. The cinema on Moseley Road puts on gigs as well but it's too big for a band like us to play."
Fast Relief definitely class Julie who mixes the sound for the band as a member. Michelle: "Julie definitely plays an important part in the band. She used to roadie for the Au Pairs. Martin used to mix for us then he showed Julie the ropes and she took over."
FAST RELIEF - Gillon
The interview doesn't really conclude as such, just drifts off topic - that'll teach me to conduct interviews in the pub: Lindy was having difficulty coping with questions, which made me think of the theme to the Au Pairs song 'Headache For Michelle'; it's difficult to think properly when you're out of your head.
SIMON SLEEVE NOTE
Sarah-Jane Owen - lead guitar
Stella Barker - rhythm guitar
Miranda Joyce - sax
Lesley Shone - bass
Penny Leyton - keyboards
Judy Parsons - drums
Jenny McKeown - vocals
The Belle Stars are to support Madness tonight. Before they take the stage, I interview lead singer, Jenny. There is a lot of noise inside and outside the dressing room so Jenny takes me to the Ladies' toilet and we conduct the interview there. With my cassette recorder perched on one sink and Jenny on the other, we begin.
ESN: How did you form?
JENNY: As the Belle Stars, we formed through a band called the Bodysnatchers. Two of the original band left so Lesley and myself joined.
ESN: The Bodysnatchers were an all girl line up, why did you want to keep that format?
JENNY: I think the fact that they had experienced an all girl line up in the previous band was the main fact.
BELLE STARS - Backstage at Newcastle City Hall 1981
ESN: Where does the name come from?
JENNY: An old fifties record: I was in my mate's house and he picked up this record and said, "I've got it, The Belle Stars." This was written on the record label. Later, we looked up what Belle Star was; it turned out she was a cowgirl. This gave us the idea for the image.
ESN: Any plans for an album?
JENNY: There will be an album but not at the moment, probably February or March '82.
Lesley peeps her head round the toilet door and calls Jenny a liar and warns me not to take any notice of her. Jenny reacts quite violently: In a loud gruff voice she tells Lesley to 'bugger off'. She continues, in the same breath, to tell me how sweet Lesley is!
ESN: Do you think gigging a lot before you released a single helped you a lot?
BELLE STARS - Jenny backstage at Newcastle City Hall 1981
Miranda comes in. We are introduced and she leaves. Jenny and I have both forgotten where we were so the previous questions goes unanswered.
ESN: What do you do when you are not doing something to do with the band?
JENNY: We are all good friends and go to see other bands when we are not working. You would not think that all seven of us are such great friends but we are.
Again, we're interrupted - this time by Stella - not surprising given where we were.
JENNY: We all live in the same place in London so it is easy for us to meet up.
ESN: Did you find it difficult to start the band?
JENNY: Personally, I did. I was very shy and it took some time until I was able to sing in front of an audience.
The interview draws to a close as it was time for the band to do their sound check. A lot of people enjoyed the Belle Stars that night, although no-one showed it by dancing because a bunch of skinheads, the sort no band wants around, spoiled the gig by throwing a banger (firework) onto the stage and shouting obnoxious comments. The Belle Stars play good danceable music, which you can sample on any of their three singles: 'Hiawatha', 'Slick Trick' and 'Another Latin Love Song' (all on Stiff Records).
The true Eccentric Sleeve Notes adventuring spirit shows once again as we sneak silently past security and close in on our prey. The victims on this occasion are Department S. They were actually expecting us but it was more satisfying to enter this way than use the front door. The band are about to play the first date on a tour to promote their latest single on Stiff Records, 'I Want'. The interrogation begins.
Vaughn Toulouse and Michael Herbage were originally in 'Guns for Hire' who released one single that went largely unnoticed. I asked Vaughn why that band had packed in. "We had done all we wanted to do, which was just the one single, 'Girlfriend's Boyfriend', which was released on Korova Records - home of Echo & The Bunnymen."
ESN: Which label picked up 'Vic' after it was originally released on Demon Records?
VAUGHN: RCA said if we got 'Vic' in the charts they'd sign us. We said 'yes' so they hyped it into the charts.
ESN: How did they do that?
VAUGHN: Sent people round to get it ticked off in the shops, I suppose. I might as well be honest because it's past history. There must have been some substance in the sales for it to stay in the charts so long.
Department S didn't sign to RCA though. They couldn't stay on Demon Records though as they were only set up for one-off releases. Why did Department S sign to Stiff Records?
VAUGHN: They were the best of a bad bunch really. We had more offers because of 'Vic' and we could ask for more. We got a deal where we have complete say in what we do.
ESN: Are you happy with the deal you got?
VAUGHN: They're not that good as they're not in a position to really push what we do. A bigger label could do more as they could afford to put more money in.
DEPARTMENT S - Jimmy Hughes on bass
ESN: Why was the old bass player, Tony, replaced?
VAUGHN: Basically, we weren't getting on within the band. We never got on sociably. Tony didn't particularly like what we were doing. Jimmy Hughes replaced him. We're not a tight band. People can leave when they want. It's not a strict format like Slade or Status Quo, who might keep the same line up for ten years. We have no permanent members.
I ask Vaughn if it is Stiff Records who stand to lose money on this tour if attendances are low.
VAUGHN: We all lose out. We've put money up front as well with what was left of the advance money we got from them when we signed the deal. Hopefully, we gain back money lost on tour with increased record sales resulting from the gigs.
An LP has already been recorded, which is due for release on Stiff in January or February.
ESN: Are there tracks on the album that have already been released on singles?
VAUGHN: Yes because we didn't have enough songs to put on it. 'Vic's' not on. There'll be a re-recorded version of 'Left, Right' because I wasn't happy with the vocals and a remixed version of 'I Want'. They won't be drastically different; I don't think people like that. When they come to know something they want it to stay the same. Are you going to ask us what colour socks we wear?
Aside from the main body of the interview there was quite a bit of joking between us and the band but as we're the writers, Vaughn doesn't get to finish the piece by comparing us to Smash Hits (the colour of your socks being one of their classic questions); instead we get the final say. The band played a good set that night. They returned to do an encore of 'Left, Right' but oh, the keyboards - they very Gary Numan-ish!
NOTE (2009): Department S didn't release any further records in during their existence but the LP mentioned surfaced much later, titled 'Substance'.
The setting: Sue's flat in Moseley.
The mission: seek out and print Tarzan 5 information that has never been seen before.
ESN: What inspired the lyrics on the first single, 'Boy's Game'?
SUE: It wasn't actually specific events but more of a general attitude.
STEVE: Basically it's about predominant male groups and the way they react to women they see walking down the street: that they are taught to whistle.
SUE: It isn't just that. There's more than one angle to it. It's not just a feminist sort of song. It's not too blatant as other views come into it. Not just the male stereotype but other cliché groups too.
PHIL: Although the original inspiration came from trying to avoid what is expected of 'men'.
ESN: Are you satisfied with the sound of the single?
The band agrees it was played too fast.
PHIL: We did all these takes. Each time it got faster and faster. Eventually, it was too fast to dance to.
SUE: We were trying to get a live feeling to it and got carried away.
PHIL: Originally there was a slower demo of it. If we'd struck a balance between that and the singles could have been much better.
TARZAN 5 - Steve & Sue in their home rehearsal room
(Note the egg boxes on the wall for sound-proofing)
ESN: How did the 021 deal come about?
PHIL: We got a gig supporting Fast Relief at the Golden Eagles (Birmingham) last November. We were doing a sound check. Martin came over and asked if he could mix for us. We were playing and we could hear all these weird sounds come out. We'd never thought of having someone mixing. We would just set the levels and play. This guy was doing something creative. Martin gave us his number, which we promptly lost. I booked some studios and managed to track him down. We asked him if he'd mix for us. He told us about 021 Records and agreed to release what we recorded.
STEVE: It was a bit out of date when it did come out. It was recorded in January but wasn't released until April.
PHIL: There was trouble with Spartan. They were too busy pressing and selling a Toyah single and that Yorkshire thing, Tony Capstick, so 021 had to wait.
SUE: All this happened when we were based up north. It was funny. We fitted in with all these ideas going on in Birmingham. We went down well when we played with Fast Relief as we had two female singers.
ESN: How did you get your equipment together?
STEVE: We've sort of accumulated it
PHIL: We could never really go out gigging with the equipment we had though. We bought the basics for Andy's drum kit for about £40. It depends on what you can make out of it when you gradually add pieces. When we did the Richard Skinner session we had a really crashed out cymbal. We've had to borrow a lot of equipment in our time.
ESN: What are some of the songs about?
PHIL: 'Different Story' is about what was going on around the group at the time. I was trying to get companies interested in the band. They were all calmly saying, "No, thank you." Other difficulties were that we were all living so far apart so the single was like 'when the time comes'.
SUE: We try and cover a lot of topics and not limit ourselves. If something interesting comes along we'll write about it.
PHIL: They're more of a personal, social level rather than blatantly political.
SUE: We tend to make take important issues and bring them down to a personal level. We talk about something that might be important to a lot people but try and bring it down to one person.
PHIL: I think it's also done the other way around because there are so many other people in the same situation.
ESN: What's 'Clean Weekend' about?
PHIL: It's totally off the top of our heads and improvised. Really it's about the way teenagers form into groups to have an identity; things like skinheads; basically about people searching around for a stereotype.
SUE: We don't like stereotypes.
(Everyone laughs although the comment was meant.)
PHIL: We tend to incorporate more into the meaning of a song later on. A song might mean something totally different to us maybe a year after it's written.
TARZAN 5 - Phil in the band's customised rehearsal room in Sue's flat
ESN: Where did the name 'Tarzan 5' come from?
PHIL: I wrote Tarzan 5 on my pumps and it stuck.
Tarzan 5 had a thousand copies of 'Boy's Game' pressed, most of which have gone. The band claim they have given away more copies than they've sold, although it wasn't meant seriously (I hope!). The band had problems with Spartan who manufacture and distribute 021 Records.
PHIL: Spartan made a real hash of it. They didn't have it in the shops where we were playing. They send their reps round every three weeks. The reps didn't even have the bloody single, which shows how much they were behind it.
STEVE: The single wasn't really around when it was being played. By the time it was available it was no longer hot; just something nice but in the past.
SUE: It got slagged off on Roundtable (a Friday night music review programme on Radio 1). The people that were doing it were Tim Rice and Mike Chapman. The next single was by Dave Edmunds, they really liked that so we didn't lose much sleep over them not liking ours.
Tarzan 5 played at the ICA Rock Week a few months ago. Capitol Radio are going to be broadcasting four tracks from each band that played. I asked the band how they got into the 'Rock Week'.
PHIL: Martin said he knew this person who was organising it who liked the single. He would probably get us in. We were at the Moonlight Club trying to organise a gig there. We mentioned we would probably be playing at the Rock Week and could we play round about then. It turned out the bloke we talking to was organising both events. He didn't know anything about us so we thought, "Oh shit, we've blown it here!" Anyway, I sent him off a copy of the single, which he liked so he booked us anyway.
After this, the conversation strayed onto the band playing at the Cure's Christmas party last year.
SUE: It was so bad we promptly split up afterwards - for about five hours. Eventually, we worked it out at a service station on the M1.
PHIL: Everything had gone wrong that night. The security kept trying to throw us out, that was mainly because Andy was pissed. Or sound mixer was arrested for laughing at a policeman.
SUE: Actually, that was quite good because there was more room in the car coming home.
ESN: Can I print that?
SUE: You'd better not.
ESN: I've run out of questions.
TARZAN 5: Good, cos we've run out of answers.
Now for the photo session: Sue runs off to brush her hair.
Wah! are a band well known for their non-conformity to a band's stereotype image and the behaviour expected of them. Wah! rarely do encores as they don't see the sense in coming back on stage as a premeditated thing. It's not that they won't but it must be a spontaneous decision. On this occasion, the first night on their last tour and much to my surprise, the band did retake the stage. Equally unexpected was their performance of the Wah! Heat singles, 'Seven Minutes to Midnight' and 'Better Scream'.
Wah! don't sign autographs after a gig or a 'social' - the term they prefer. They will chat to members of the audience afterwards though. That is when Pete explains that the band won't be touring anymore because "we're not good enough at it". A lot of tonight's crowd would not agree but of course that won't change his mind. Pete continues, "We don't want to be associated with rockism either. We want to swap addresses with people and keep in touch with them then occasionally we'll get together for a chat or have a party." This is an extension of Wah!'s observation that the band are no different to 'the duffer on the street'. It seems sincere and there is a logic behind all that they do but will it happen?
Our next issue features a Wah! interview although not with any members of the band but with their spokesman, David Dubwise, who has the ability to talk for 10 minutes in response to the most mundane question. The very reason Washington paired us with him - more Wah! logic. Discussed in depth are the great Wah! ideas such as Wah! Radio.
ESN: Is the tour going OK?
ANNABELLE: No, not really.
ESN: You're not enjoying it?
ANNABELLE: It's really depressing.
ESN: Is it because you're not getting on with the rest of the band or don't you like the music?
ANNABELLE: It's just this country. It's really depressing at the moment.
ESN: What the travelling?
ANNABELLE: No, the places and the people we're playing to just don't grasp the music.
ANNABELLE'S BROTHER: They're not into it.
ESN: So it's just the reaction?
ANNABELLE: Mainly it's because we've just come back from the Unites States. There are a lot of people into the music there.
ANNABELLE'S BROTHER: They're done very well over there.
ANNABELLE: So that's the reason but we hope to work on it.
ESN: Are you going to complete the tour?
ANNABELLE: Oh yeah, unless someone stops me for some reason.
ANNABELLE'S BROTHER: It's her mum.
ESN: Is she any better now?
ANNABELLE: The other day she got the police onto me and one of my friends, who is also one of the dancers. She told them we had drugs, which is ridiculous - I can't afford to smoke that stuff. She's just jealous because she wants to be in the band.
ESN: So you're not making any money?
ANNABELLE: Yeah, we get regular wages. I get more than £50 a week, that's for sure. We also get royalties off the records.
ESN: What about clothes? Do you get them all from World's End?
ANNABELLE: Usually, but sometimes I like to wear my own stuff. Malcolm gives Vivienne a cheque for the clothes. The other day we all stormed into the shop and took all theses clothes. After all the money comes out of us anyway and we do advertising for the shop.
ESN: Is the Monet sleeve going to be released? (Referring to a photographic recreation of Monet's picnic featuring the band and Annabelle as the nude female in the foreground.)
ANNABELLE: Not at the moment, it can't be released unless my mum gives her consent.
ESN: So you're not bothered about the picture?
ANNABELLE: What's the point? I've already done it.
ESN: Were you happy with it when it was taken?
ANNABELLE: No, not really. I did the picture, which they've done a video of. It's not bad. It might be used with 'Mile High Club'.
ESN: Are you happy with the album?
ESN: And the flip top-pack (cassette only mini album release called Cassette Pet)?
ANNABELLE: I was very happy with that. It was a brilliant idea; it's just so easy to carry around.
GO APE CRAZY
Stuart Moxham was once part of the Young Marble Giants. They split up in early 1981 after releasing a successful LP and two EPs in their two years together. Stuart is now as permanent a member of the Gist as is possible. He explains this in a letter interview with us.
ESN: Why did the Young Marble Giants split up?
STUART: The band was dissolved by mutual agreement. It was no fun anymore on a personal level. We had achieved our aims, we felt totally ready to make music from a different basis.
ESN: How were the Young Marble Giants financed?
STUART: Our social security money paid for the unavoidable expenses although costs were kept as low as possible as we had no drummer, only a necessary three members. We rehearsed in our own flat and borrowed vans and gear.
ESN: Who are the members of the Gist?
STUART: No band is permanent. Nothing is permanent. I intend to make music in whatever format and with whom I decide.
ESN: Do you have any record releases planned?
STUART: One single has [now] been released: 'This Is Love' / 'Yanks' and I am currently writing an LP to be called 'Embrace The Herd'. It is turning out to be very different to anything else I have done to date.
The Young Marble Giants splitting up was a great loss to many people including myself. I hope the Gist will be able to fill some of the gap they left.
A voice over the PA announces, "Please welcome, from Liverpool, The High Five." The set begins with a long instrumental introduction to 'I Have Sinned'. The band seemed a little nervous in-between songs, especially in the first gap before 'Quietly Suffocating'. 'Should I Believe' followed and then the very persistent 'Turn This Car Around' - persistent despite an odd break where it seemed to fall apart but found its way again.
Strong Liverpool accents showed throughout the set, not a bad thing as it's part of why Asa's vocals are so distinctive. By the time the group reached 'Hand on My Heart' he had abandoned his guitar. This gave Steve Burge's keyboards more space to breathe between the solid drumming and bass. They finished an excellent set with 'They'll Be Gone Forever'. They were worthy of their encore, a repeat of 'Should I Believe'.
As soon as the High Five's set was over, we set about arranging an interview and after allowing them some time to cool down we are led backstage to meet:
Asa Hayes - Guitar, Vocals
Phil Jones - Bass
Steve Burge - Keyboards
Rob Jones - Drums
HIGH FIVE - Asa Hayes
We enter an extremely friendly and jovial atmosphere in the dressing room, so much so that it took a while to actually get the interview started. We started by asking why during the set, Asa had said, "Hello, Nottingham." He now explains, "We were taking the piss out of bands that tour for six to eight weeks and don't know where the hell they are." We ask how the band got on this tour. Rob answers, "My friends in the business." Rob drummed on the first Wah! Heat single 'Hey Joe' / 'Better Scream'.) "Mr Wylie owed me a favour." Asa adds, "There's only five dates on the tour; Newcastle, Manchester, Bradford, Birmingham and London."
We ask if any record companies shown interest in the band. Asa answers, "Probe Records have. They're interested in doing a single with us. They helped Wylie out a lot in the early days." After a few minutes of silliness, Asa continues being silly by asking me, "Are you a punk?"
"No, I'm bloody well not." I reply sweetly.
Asa bravely patters on, "I had an effect on punk. I used to be into all that. You're taking me back though. We were all 18 when the Clash played Erics and all that."
Steve interjects, "Yeah, you won't be laughing if they quote you on that."
The interview - as it was, unplanned and unstructured - was cut short. We hope to track them down again soon and speak to them for long enough to separate fact from fiction.
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