Articles / Reviews

The Sound - Interview with Tom Vague (Blam fanzine nr.6 1982)

date: Jun 12, 1982


 

THE SOUND isn't exactly the sort of band that immediately grabs me. Especially after seeing a dismal performance from them on the 1980 Bunnymen tour. Then I caught them again at Futurama last year and became much more interested. When they recently visited Bath Tiffany's, we thought we'd go along for a lig. But they're so enthusiastic, that we get whisked off to a sympathetic wine bar and are given the Sound manifesto on life, the universe and everything. 

Line-up; 

* ADRIAN BORLAND - VOX/GUITAR 
* GRAHAM GREEN - BASS 
* MAX MAYERS - KEYBOARDS 
* MIKE DUDLEY - DRUMS 

TV: THE WAY YOU CHANGED FROM THE BUNNYMEN TOUR TO FUTURAMA WAS CONSIDERABLE. HOW DID THIS COME ABOUT? 

ADRIAN: It wasn't the same band really. In a way it was a shame we did that tour, because a lot of people came to see us before our time and wrote us off. After all that hype from Morley and McCullough stopped, we realised we weren't really ready to do something as big as that. 

- strong criticism of the music press covering small bands only to boost their own egos - 

ADRIAN: ...what are we talking about Paul Morley for anyway? 

TV: DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELVES IN THE SAME SCHOOL AS THE FACTORY BANDS? 

ADRIAN: We get compared with the Doors and the Velvet Underground usually. I 'spose it is the same type of music but to me that's just the surface, there's a lot more different things going on in the lyrics, which is more like the Doors than Joy Division. But I hope we sound like a contemporary band. In Holland we're regarded as the post Joy Division band. They see certain similarities in our lyrics. But whereas Joy Division's are a dead end, we're more hopeful. We sing songs about missiles and stuff but we mean 'Fight it'. I hate all this doom music that says 'Give up and die'. I hate getting labelled as that. We present the facts and then say 'Look, fight it if you don't like it.' 

GRAHAM: The feeling of 'From the lions Mouth', the music may be a little gloomy but that was because we were gloomy at the time. It wasn't without hope. 

ADRIAN: Last year was gloomy don't you think. It looked like something was going to happen but it didn't. 

Conversation somehow leads onto German scene then by another miraculous change gets back to their next album - 

ADRIAN: Our next album will be thoroughly different. It means a lot to us because, like finally we're there - fulfilling what we thought we could do. At the time of the Bunnymen tour, there was no way that we were anyway near what we wanted to do. 

GRAHAM: It's like something you're aiming for. You don't really know what it is. You know what you want to hear. I always look for a band that is doing what I want to hear but there's nobody doing it. We're getting to the stage now, where we're doing exactly what we want to do. 

ADRIAN: It's like climbing up a wall. Most bands climb up the wall and then jump over the other side and that's success so they think. I think we're like crawling up the wall in the dark and trying to knock a hole in it and walk through it. I'm sure Stored Images and people like that, really feel the age-old pressure of fame. but with us it wouldn't effect us, because we've experienced the whole thing. Like in Holland we're really famous but it doesn't mean anything to us. Bands usually go down hill really quick after that. Musically if not commercially. Maybe because management wont let them do certain things because it won't make money. I dunno, it's their problem, not ours. We manage ourselves now. We've eliminated 2 managers. 

GRAHAM: Since kicking out the managers we've gained confidence in fact. 

ADRIAN: If we get a single in the Top 40, which we might do with 'Hothouse' our new single, we'll be the only band in that chart without a manager. We don't care about getting chucked off a major. We know we can get publishing deals abroad. 

TV: SO YOU THINK THE NEW SINGLE COULD BE A HIT? 

ADRIAN: Yeah it's about the nearest we're prepared to go too commercial. If 'Hothouse' isn't a hit then we'll probably never have one. But it depends. You can have good songs that are hits and songs that are written to be hits and they usually fall flat on their faces. 'Temptation' by New Order is commercial because it is such a good record. Whereas Altered Images now have become very formulated, losing all their originality, but songs like 'Happy Birthday' and 'I could be happy' are songs they've written almost from the heart, We've done 2 albums already but we know we're never going to be perfect 'cos we know when we get near it, it's so easy to go one step to far. So we go somewhere else. 

GRAHAM: We like taking risks. Like tonight we're gonna play a song 'Monument' that we've only played 3 times before in rehearsals. That's a risk. ..although I 'spose it's not a great risk really... 

ADRIAN: It's no good going on knowing exactly what you're going to do unless you're drunk, 'We're still not sure what effect our music is having on the audience. We're still working out the reaction. It's like always pushing. I don't think people really think of us in that way. That's only because we haven't been around long enough. The next album will show people that we really are pushing. 

- Formalities time - background - 

ADRIAN: We come from South London. We were a longhaired Punk band called the Outsiders. More like Patti Smith than other UK Punk bands. Like Patti Smith or the Ramones y 'know, were very revered figures in the early punk days. Amongst the real elite there was copies of them. But then we came along with longhair and leather jackets and of course because we were English it wasn't on. We should have had really short hair dyed pink or something. I liked all those bands but we didn't really belong. So that didn't last long and we soon died away. We sounded awful on record. Graham joined towards the end and we became the Sound and our style changed as we brought in keyboards and stuff. Sort of like Devoto changing from Buzzcocks to Magazine. That was about 2 years ago. We never look back because we're so close to what we want, not success, making music that we want to hear, basically. 

-Politics- 

ADRIAN: We're more pro-spirit than anything else. We're against people who claim too much. We're more in favour of people who actually do things. It's like the student scenario. They complain about society and then go out and make it that little bit worse by becoming part of it. Part of the thing they were complaining about. Another thing people do a lot is preach to the converted. A lot of Rock music is politically aimless. If I was singing to Barry Manilow fans that would actually mean something politically. 

TV: DON'T YOU THINK POLITICAL POP SONGS ARE LOST ON THE MARKET. I MEAN HOW MANY PEOPLE BOUGHT 'A TOWN CALLED MALICE'FOR THE MESSAGE AND NOT THE TUNE? 

ADRIAN: I think it seaps through. I quite like the Jam because they sound like they're doing what they believe in and they sound good and they get into the charts. 

- talk 'bout the Jam leads ontopically to security guards of whom Adrian isn't too fond after receiving a particularly vicious battering outside Hammy Palais - 

ADRIAN: They're dangerous people I was coughing up blood and there was people that had just been watching me on stage walking by. I had got really wound up on stage and you just don't do that (unless you're the Pop Group) it's not entertainment. 

- Lyrics - 

ADRIAN: Basically they're about things I see happening around me. Most pop groups lyrics are a) Meaningless and b) just explore one subject in a very facile way. I like to see two sides of the story. Nothing's in black and white. It's grey. We're not grey as in doom grey. You can't really draw lines. The easiest way to write a song is by trivialising some emotion. Everything's excluded for the sake of the song. 

-Love songs- 

ADRIAN: Most of those "Futurist" bands degrade everything. They put it into a category that it isn't. 'Love 'is now a dirty word because it's been so misused. It no longer means love between two people. It's like adverts that express how you can love a car. 

ADRIAN: I write love songs when I'm experiencing that particular emotion. It just comes out. You can't really explain why people write songs. There aren't many people writing good songs. 

ADRIAN: You dot get many musicians that are good poets as well. People should look to that more than superficial fashion, 

-Fashion- 

ADRIAN: We do care what we look like on stage. You can say a lot with what you're wearing. You can be very anti-social. Like your haircut is anti-social. When you walk into a pub people know you don't stand for exactly what they stand for. But you talk to them politely and say 'Please can I use your power point to do an interview?' So they begin to realise that we can look one way and act another. It starts to defy categories, which is what I'm into. We dress in black but we're not colourless people. It's just making people think about clothes, fashion to me is a way of not making people think. 

GRAHAM: It's a way for people to make a lot of money very quickly. 

ADRIAN: I think basically we're a contrived attempt to be as honest as possible... 

by Tom Vague

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