Articles / Reviews

The Sound - After the Fall (Soundmaker 5-3-1983)

date: May 3, 1983



Three albums and one record contract on. The Sound have arrived at a career crossroads. Adrian Borland has been filling in Dave Bingham on future directions. 'Not as intense as Joy Division', ' Less spirited than Echo and the Bunnymen!', 'Nowhere near as pure as U2!', 'Probably on a par with the Comsats! The Sound have long been dismissed by such unfair comparisons and it's not as if the strong melodies of their best songs, fed as they are by a strong undercurrent of wistful sadness, bear anything more than a passing resemblance to the sublime despair of Joy Division or the edgy irritability of the Bunnymen. The tendency to use these bands as a yardstick to measure The Sounds achievements has, as it has also with the unfortunate Comsat Angels, proved ultimately damaging. If preconceptions are swept away though and the music judged on it's own merits the powerful melancholy of a song like "Monument" or the fragile optimism of "Calling The New Tune" captivating and prejudices fly to where they belong, somewhere out of the nearest window.

DB - When I talked to Adrian Borland, the group's vocalist and main songwriter, he was in a cheerful mood despite the fact that following the recent release of their third, excellent if uncommercial album, 'All Fall Down', The Sound have now ended their contract with WEA. Neither party feels any great desire to renew, resulting in Adrian's head becoming full of half formed ideas and potential plans on new directions for the band. 

AB - "You've caught us at an odd moment really because nothing is actually settled yet." was his initial comment. He sees the split from the label in terms of a new challenge rather than as a massive setback, preparing himself to face the coming months with a cautious optimum that is realistically aware of potential difficulties but which also realises the musical benefits that could be reaped now the pressure is off. Adrian leaned forward in his chair and began by explaining the band's position at present. "Well we aren't on WEA anymore. Things haven't worked out, basically the stuff we're doing now is not what they want to push at the moment. It's too much effort for them to get the kind of thing we're doing into charts or selling in any vast quantities. What we are going to do is rethink the bands musical direction because I don't think there is much point in making a fourth album that is more or less a follow up to the other three, for a new label. We may go independent, but again I think there would have to be a new musical direction to go along with that. 

DB - You have always sold a respectful amount of records, are you looking now to being a successful' band in terms of making chart records? 

AB - "We'd like more success but we're not into being huge. A lot of Pop bands are very calculating, even bands with no credibility, even those will gear something very much towards being a single; it might have all the normal elements of their music in it, but I think a lot is sacrificed musically by doing that. I know that sounds idealistic but we don't have the sort of calculating mind, to be able to still behove in what we do knowing half of it was pure calculation, pure 'will they like this if this goes in'. We don't consciously not put things in, we're not perverse although I think a lot of bands are - they'll reject something if it sounds too commercial, it would be nice though if we could get a hit single." 

DB - Your first band was the Outsiders, how did the change from Punk band to the music you play with the Sound come about? 

AB - "You know about the Outsiders do you? Well we've all got a past, at the time we thought it was good, we did try although in retrospect you can say it wasn't very good." Well look at Warsaw for Gods sakel "Yeah exactly, relative to that I think we were pretty good infact. I remember the first time I heard 'Unknown Pleasures because the Outsiders were getting towards that type of sound with no rhythm guitar, that sound you associate with Joy Division. Some of the Outsider's later stuff appeared on 'Jeopardy', like 'Night Versus Day", it carried over and yet at the time it was said 'Ah this is post-Joy Division.' but we were doing that in 1978, I think of lot of the bands; the Bunnymen, the Comsat Angels and so on, were working towards that sparse, stark sound, unconscious of each other and Joy Division got their album out first so everyone tended to get compared with them, which is fair enough but it doesn't really reflect the truth." Adrian sits back in his chair and a look of great weariness flits across his face as though Joy Division were the bane of his life. His scruffy black overcoat and unkempt clothes are at odds with the ostentatious splendour of the press office. He smiles at me, waiting for the next contribution to this game of words. 

DB - Why do you think that the press need to put The Sound or any other band in some sort of pigeonhole? 

AB - "Well they've got to have a focal point and that sound was a very hard music to label though they did try, 'psychedelic' was one. So instead of labelling they focused on one band, Joy Division. There have been bands that tried to copy them, but that happens all the time, to the Pistols or to anybody who 'is good. But I think it's a shame if people think we're one of those. We're nothing like Joy Division actually." They were a very individualistic and intense band. "I think they stripped it down more to its basic elements than anyone else. We're a lot more colourful band than them and a lot more positive lyrically. We get accused of being gloomy which OK, we're serious, we're realistic but we're not saying it's the end of the world or anything. If we deal with anything like that, as on 'Missiles' or 'New Dark Age' the energy of the track shows that we're still alive and that we can do something about it. It doesn't go along at 2mph, there's more life in it that. If people hadn't heard us I think they could get the wrong idea from our press." 

DB - There is a pause in the conversation and Adrian seems to becoming a little dissatisfied with the things we've been talking about. 

AB - "I wonder if there's something more cheerful we could talk about. I mean a lot of what I've been saying has been 'why we haven't made it type talk which is always a bit depressing to read." How about talking about why you went into music, or what you get out of it? "Alright, well I don't think I choose to do it. Ifs one of those things that in the past would have been 'this is God's word.' Ifs the only thing I consider myself any good at apart from just doing an ordinary job and becoming an unnoticed person. I think a lot of it is to do with ego type things. I've changed quite a lot since I started doing this. Before the band I was a very extrovert type person, I'd be cracking jokes all the time and doing stupid things and I don't know if I've become sadder or if it's the fact that I'm performing a lot on stage and putting a lot into it. I think you become much quieter in your personal life because that side of you, that energy has got out; it's escaped and I'm left being a very quiet person, which I never used to be. 

DB - "Music is a very intense thing to be in because you're putting your own feelings on show. People don't often get the chance to show other people how they feel about things, politically and emotionally, and they tend to be more on guard when they meet you. They expect things from you and you become less of what you are and more of what they want you to be s at the time. I've got a bit away from the question there haven't I? What was it again?" I was asking you why you went into music. 

AB - "Oh yeah, well it is probably a desire to show people how I feel. What is that? Exhibitionism I suppose?" I nod in assent to Adrian's query. "But it is better than singing a load of lyrics you don't believe in, or making yourself out to be something that you're not. The overriding factor for me is personal pleasure in what I do." It was on this note that our conversation drew to a close. 1983 could well be a difficult year for the Sound and it would be little short of a catastrophe if they finally drowned in the great British public's ocean of indifference. The main hope for the band is for the record buyers of this country to snap themselves out of their torpor and discover the enjoyment to be gained from The Sound. Forget the lazy press comparisons and fumbling attempts to pigeonhole and find the truth for yourself. 

David Bingham (Soundmaker 5-3-1983)

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