Articles / Reviews

The Sound - Interview by Peter Erskine (Zigzag 21-11-1980)

date: Nov 21, 1980



The Three Turns, Kingston is a monopoly probably, and know it. Quite simply, and rather surprisingly, you might think, for a town of it's size, it is the only place a Rock Band and a small owe one at that can perform. Hence, the place, or rather certain individuals employed therein, feel it incumbent upon themselves to take certain liberties. Doubtless you've anecdotes of your own, but it does seem common to find power-obsessed individuals of the type to be found at the "Tuns" at most small suburban venues - guys who delight In throwing, their weight around, hassling kids queuing at the door and, in this particular case, even extending their psychoses into the smooth running of the band.

To wit: Myself and The Sound guitarist Adrian Borland are having a quiet chat whilst the rest of the band are setting up; I had been forewarned by some unpleasant Individual not to put my feet one red plastic stool whose surface bore the marks of so many cigarette burns that a blind man might've mistaken it for a joke colander. Having absent-mindedly forgotten this rather brusque warning I replaced my ankles on the aforementioned 'furniture' only to find conversation punctuated by the stool being kicked forcefully away from beneath me (thus causing it far more potential damage than the occasional footmarks) to the a accompaniment of a string of expletive-laden threats, Thereafter, this same individual attempted a personal whittling-down of the guest list from five (there are two managers, remember) to one and was subsequently, having lost the battle, heard to comment loudly that the bend were "a load of shit", "couldn't play their instruments" and were "too loud". He concluded surlily, disappearing behind the bar, that band as shitty as that don't need two managers, just one who isn't a complete wanker," Finally, prior to them going on -sans sound check "The management" couldn't stand the noise, he said, he took Adrian very firmly by the arm, led him out of earshot and explained that unless the band were on and playing within five minutes flat, they were OUT. 

You may find all of this irrelevant, but, from personal observation - time and time again -it is the kind of treatment 'small bands' are receiving at the hands of burly yobs throughout the country. Even as you read this, some musician, some fan, somewhere, is getting a working over, whether verbally, physically, or both - and it's time something was organized to do something about it ... other than simply to veto the offending premises, which would leave one less opportunity for successive up-and-coming bands to be seen, and at the same time gain valuable live experience -especially relevant these days when such gigs have to be used as virtual rehearsals as few can afford the real thing. And The Sound, of course, can't. In fact, technically speaking, although they've been extant for some 16 months they've only just turned pro. By slinging in their various puerile day jobs (barring the keyboard player who'd just graduated with a BA In psychology). Needless to say, the net result of the atmosphere. produced by this one ignorant individual (a frustrated musician, perhaps?) seemed to induce awkward brittleness In a suburban audience that seemed unsure how it was supposed to react anyway, the gig, by all accounts, turned out to be a toe-curlingly embarrassing affair. None of which - charity or no - could possibly be laid at the feet of the band. Inexperienced The Sound may be; maybe even a little gauche at times, but by the time they return from the North to the metropolis (after playing support for Echo And The Bunnymen the chips are down for some very impressive reprises. 

The Sound (I've never been crazy about the name, it's too bland and unrepresentative - wish I'd remembered to bring that up with them) comprises guitarist, vocalist and songwriter (and self-anointed spokesperson) Adrian Borland, bassist Graham Green, Michael Dudley (drums, occasional spectacles) and keyboardist Benita (who decided at press time to revert to plain and simple Bi 'Marshall). Bi is part-French, part-Mauritian, the rest of the band is English. Bi reached grade 8 (or equivalent) in piano lessons, but never bothered with exams. Of late she has taken up the saxophone, which, on her own admission, she still plays rather badly (although her recorded work with the instrument works to intelligently dramatic effect). Adrian's heroes are Iggy and the Stooges and Can - and it shows, without being too obvious. He plays left-handed and idolizes James Williamson, making a damn good job of it, whilst vocally, if you happen to be looking in the other direction you'd swear you were listening to lggy in some of his more controlled moments. The above makes a curious juxtaposition - and a necessary one, in my opinion. Whilst the band obviously have the right tastes in music, here's Adrian doing his feedback/guitar-strangling bit looking a bit like an anorexic Billy Bunter - all puppyfat, Ill fitting strides, Tuf (the shoe with the vulcanized sole) slip ons and terylene shirts. Whilst Benita - sorry, Bi is most content to talk about the fact that her parents think she's crazy, refusing to listen to her music or attend any of the gigs - Adrian, apparently a devotee of warm lager, loves to talk earnestly and at great length about James Williamson and the hopes and aspirations of The Sound. People have asked why I write ALL the material," he volunteers cheerily, "well, that's only because we want to center ourselves, to create a direction. In time, if we find we have it in us, we'll all be writing or co-writing. The lyrics, however, will probably continue to be mostly mine." 

Due mostly to the poor quality of the soundsystem and Adrian's as-yet-unfulfilled apprenticeship with Enunciation and Dynamics those are mostly unintelligent, although forthcoming album and single material (on) the prestigious WEA -sponsored Korova " label) reveal preoccupations with psychosis, alienation and nuclear disarmament. Adrian asks if I'm "a lyrics' Man". I tell him no - unless they leap out and snatch the throat or heart as do, for example, Randy Newman's. He agrees and goes into a dialogue about the way he thinks lyrics should be a dramatic part of the music - not the old 50's progressive thing where the music is made the mule for "The Message." You have only to take a preview scan down the album title listings to see what he means' "Heartland", "Hour of Need" "Jeopardy" (the title track), "Night Versus Day", "Resistance", "Desire" etc. As can be seen, it is early lggy/Williamson Inspired, but songs like "Heartland" and "I Can't Escape Myself" are leaders to the future - especially in the vaguely metronomic Can-type rhythms of the latter. "The Sound" have a way to go but they'll make it because they have taste, a certain philosophy that revolves around an unusual amount of self-assurance for such a young band, but, above all - and the one thing that got me off my butt with the aid of a dying Hillman and a rough-mix of the album is this: PASSION. There ain't too much of that about. 

Messieurs and Mademoiselle ... encore une fois'. 

Peter Erskine 
Zigzag 21-11-1980

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