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The Sound - Interview with Chris Roberts (Sounds 20-4-1985)

date: Apr 20, 1985



Suicide, girls, the meaning of the letter X - such are the things The Sound think about. Chris Roberts tries to find out why ... 

What you should be asking us," says the drummer of The Sound, "are questions like-what does the letter X mean? And if we were going to commit suicide, which method would we choose?" "Shit, I missed that one," says the bass player. "No, you didn't," chimes the singer. "That was the one question I was telling you I thought what you were saying was crap. In the end you got pissed off with me. That's fair enough, I would've done the same." No, that was a different one. That was that weird Belgian guy who thought we committed suicide, the previous year."

Here we go, feeling curiously spring lamb-like for a Monday actually, and interviewing the very wonderful Sound, who are not at all depressing in the flesh, never have been, and who just released an immaculate new album 'Heads and Hearts'. It's their fourth, or fifth if you count - as you should - last year's 'Shock Of Daylight' mini-album. The new opus is a splendidly fiery documentation of much of the material they've been playing live for the last year or two, from the hypnotic "Wildest Dream' to the forceful and uplifting 'Love Is Not A Ghost', complete with exquisite sax solo. The stuff anthems should be made of; the hell with all this hippy vegetarian self-denial offal. It seems, if you're still hung-up about your headmaster in your mid-twenties. It's assumed you knew everything there is to know about male insecurities. Great. If you write songs about things which do exist and do matter - as The Sound have an unbreakable habit of doing - you're often glibly dismissed as morose or pompous. Simply intangible things, like the struggle to get up on those bad mornings, being really annoyed with yourself for not being able to shift the image of that beautiful face from your mind, and being somehow deliriously happy at the same time. Things like that. 

But before I slip into the trap of writing something, let's talk about girls, "We probably do get a higher ratio of girls at our gigs than The Smiths. I suppose we get a similar sort of audience to The Bunnymen." says singer/guitarist/lyricist Adrian Borland. Don't the coming-to-terms-with-angst bits tend to hook dumb weak gullible males? "I think girls get off on that as well. As a reaction perhaps." Why did The Sound start in the first place? Girls? Music? Money? Girls? Creativity? Girls? "All those things," laughs bassist Graham Bailey. "Everything about it is great really, except the money. We've just blown next October's wages on a less basic light show-" "Ego does have a lot to do with it," says Adrian I'm not sure that's necessarily such a bad thing. It's not just for your own gratification." "It's what makes you want to do things, succeed, create,' adds drummer Dudley. "It's the basic motivation for anything, really." I thought maybe there was something in the choice of title 'Heads And Hearts' about the duality between reason and emotion, between sense and sensibility . . . "Er, no, not really - it just, er, sums up the subject matter; of the album quite well." Why wasn't it 'The Giddy Limit'? "The general consensus was that that was a bit silly really." I liked it. "Oh, well OK, we'll change it" But they won't really, you see, because - oh shut up, child. 

THE SOUND are massive In Holland and Norway, funnily enough, and pretty damn big in Germany and France, Why? Why not here? Are British people really as stupid as one has to conclude when forcibly made aware of Terry Wogan, Chelsea supporters, seats in burger bars which slope SO you can't sit on them. Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy, an underground system where you can't even smoke on the platforms now, and a national press which cites Princess Anne as a fashion leader? "Oh, people are less cliquey in Europe," begins Dudley-,"They don't say 'I won't listen because they are that and I am something else. . '" "It's a shock when people recognise you in the street," laughs Graham. "And they're shocked that you're actually actually walking around the streets!" Do they see you as 'rock stars', then? "It's just.. more, that's all. More. Do you see yourselves carrying on doing what you're doing? "Ad nauseam? Until the Spheres collide?" Adrian is chortling. "Of course. You should only stop if you don't think what you're doing is good. The thing I'm worried about is albums are successful or not before they're made now. I think we've made a really good album but I wonder how much difference that makes. Are the days over when you could make a good record and people would pick up on it'1 Is there communication to let people find out for themselves how good something is, without being prior fans?" "The Sound are in a Catch 25 situation" says Graham. "Having left Catches 22,23 and 21 behind years ago. . . " 

"We are accessible, we're not esoteric," continues Adrian. "But the irony is we haven't reached those who find us accessible! And a lot of people want something more jarring and outlandish. I do myself, sometimes." A further irony is that passages of 'Heads And Hearts', indeed of any Sound recording, express an anarchic rage more fluently descriptive and emotionally accurate than most sheer noise merchants. I found 'Whirlpool' downright depressing in its intensity, but the remaining ten tracks, from 'Total Recall' until 'Under You' ("as close as we'll ever get to disco") and 'Restless Time' ("a hymn to schizophrenia!") to the gently poised 'Temperature Drop', Are uplifting, purposeful, relatable-to. Within that fetching 23 Envelope sleeve, there is much happening. Says Adrian, "There's something good going on. Just say we're quietly confident, or something. It must be getting round to our turn to be hip again." "Some bands are always smiling onstage." conjectures Graham. "There must be some sort of deception involved. Surely. They can't be that f * *ing happy ..." Adrian says thoughtfully: "It's almost as if... to be happy you have to be getting something back from someone. "Anyway, who are you going to compare us to now?" Errrr, Blondie? They were also among the best groups of all time. 

Chris Roberts (SOUNDS 20-4-1985)

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