Articles / Reviews

The Sound - Sound and Vision - interview (Sounds 9-6-1984)

date: Jun 9, 1984


 

SOUND AND VISION 

A British - ER, shall we say "rock" - band whose creative output over the last five years has revealed intriguing depth, are currently enjoying, YES ENJOYING, something of a rejuvenation.
 

Their new mini-album, 'SHOCK OF DAYLIGHT', radiates the soft-spoken strength of ADRIAN BORLAND's unflinchingly realistic but romantic lyrics and the rare power to move that possesses, and is possessed by the musical interplay of the four members of The SOUND - ADRIAN BORLAND (vocals, guitar), GRAHAM BAILEY (bass), COLVIN MAYERS (keyboards, guitar), and MICHAEL DUDLEY (drums). At least two of their recent three Marquee "comeback" gigs were . . . well, transcendent. "Friday, Adrian, Friday!" "If you mention Friday again I'll…. " Friday, Statik Records signed The SOUND this year. This is called WISDOM. Their office is deservedly drowning in sunshine (hopefully the Men Without Hats gold discs are melting) and ADRIAN and GRAHAM and I are sitting in it, all sensibly dressed in black and wondering if my hand will ever notice that my brain keeps yelling "Turn the tape recorder on". 

CLICK. Between the last Korova LP in November 1982, 'ALL FALL DOWN', and the new stuff, what happened to The SOUND? Graham is what you might call a rhythmically tasteful bass player. When he laughs, "We got very depressed" there's probably some truth in it. ADRIAN would (and does) put it this way: ' We toured Europe for the first three months of '83 after getting out of the WEA record deal at last. We didn't get 'dropped' - it was much more natural than that. We didn't want to stay with a label that wasn't promoting us 'cos we weren't "commercial" enough, "Then as '83 wore on, we realized how difficult it was going to be, what with the current trends. Our timing has always bean really unlucky - maybe we should've been *around" when contemporaries like U2 and The Bunnymen were starting to get into the charts." GRAHAM: "We've had a year of hell." ADRIAN: "Oh, it WASN'T, Graham!" GRAHAM: "Absolute f***ing hell on earth.' ADRIAN: "Only for you, cos you worry so much. My guess is that ADRIAN worries sometimes too. Frankly, we're more interested in emotional themes than practical business matters here. "The songs are just reflections of a state of mind at any given time." If The SOUND's second album 'FROM THE LION'S MOUTH' was about winning AND losing AND the sticky bits in between, and 'ALL FALL DOWN' was bitter and jagged, then 'SHOCK OF DAYLIGHT' is unashamedly optimistic. Agreed? "With a few exceptions song-wise, I think you probably CAN draw a line through the albums" says ADRIAN. "For me it started off being enthusiastic and naive and powerful with 'JEOPARDY', quite a young album with a lot of mistakes. 'LION's MOUTH' was us coming to terms with being taken seriously, and 'ALL FALL DOWN' tried to blow away all the deep philosophical attachments which were getting too heavy. "We messed about with a lot of musical and lyrical ideas but perhaps as we were financing it ourselves we didn't have enough money to refine it sufficiently." 

GRAHAM takes up the history. "We've all got different styles and influences, I was keen to get back the clash of these that made 'JEOPARDY' a really good album. There's a driving force within us that has come to the fore on 'SHOCK OF DAYLIGHT', getting rid of self-doubt." "There is a confidence about it which we haven't really achieved before" ADRIAN adds, not biting his nails. "It's the best thing we could've come back with. People will have to grudgingly admit we've got something!" I think the ART button went on pause for a while here. GRAHAM and I argue in favour of black music while ADRIAN argues (correctly) that he never said anything against it. But he does say: "There's more to music than rhythm," Tell me about it. "I just look for a certain feeling, emotion, power . . . " Something which is hard to put into words. "Funny how the songs for 'SHOCK OF DAYLIGHT' came so easy. . . " Fine, but look - Lou Reed is the only other person who got this question - are you a romantic? ADRIAN kind of splutters, kind of laughs; "Well I can't - help falling in love, can I? It's not my fault!" I mumble something inconsequential (a forte, darlings) to serve as a pregnant pause… Apart from bits on "ALL FALL DOWN' I don't think we could ever be called cynical It's easy to be cynical - that's why so many people sneer at rock music. To say that something is wrong - It could be just trappings, the peripherals..." 

Conversation drifts, but we're getting nearer. What about the other one, what's it called - ah yes, "social comment"? "The lyrics on 'SHOCK' are a refinement in a way of the blunter parts of 'LION's MOUTH', which were about the personal and political being very close, in very simple terms - if you physically attack somebody, don't blame a country for bombing another. It's all violence - a fist or a bomb. I hate the self-righteousness of people who hide behind a badge but don't think about what they're doing themselves. - You can't hope for a totally peaceful world, not while human beings have hearts that are beating and get angry and passionate. . . " "Wouldn't it be boring?" inserts GRAHAM. " . . . But you can hope for a world without bombs." Can a band change anything? Adrian: "I dunno, I suppose you can influence a few people into doing things in other areas of life. GRAHAM: "Music to me is entertainment…, ' ADRIAN "Oh cut that: we're not like that" You are (can never be?) too tense . . . ADRIAN: "Sometimes t think we're harrowing …" GRAHAM: I mean in the sense of EVERYTHING being entertainment…" ADRIAN: "A good band should reflect some ideas and challenge others." 

Behind ADRIAN BORLAND's left shoulder there is a wall. If it wasn't there I'd be able to see the sun trickling slowly, reluctantly, from its zenith. But there is a wall. "You can face up to things, accept life, and think - I'm going to go on living. You have to say, yeah I DO wanna know. Why don't people generally take pop music as seriously as literature, or films? It's always regarded as background rather than something which can challenge, or confirm, can philosophize ..." Commercial break. Are you massive in Holland? Yeah…well, very popular, bigger than the Bunnymen. But that's got nothing to done with it." Shortly after this interview, The SOUND left to tour Europe. Can they understand your lyrics? "Yeah . . maybe they make more effort." The next album will be out in November, Back to anti-basics, is there anything you shy away from putting in your lyrics? Is that heart ever NOT on your sleeve? "No, Nothing, Never, Sad, innit?" ADRIAN BORLAND, expressionless, tries to think of something to say next. "lt'd be really weird if we were ever famous! Pubs would be a nightmare It'd be - hey ADRIAN, what's wrong at the moment? A lot of people find my lyrics embarrassing, say, why can't he sweep things like that under the carpet? Anyway, because were now sounding more optimistic, I hope people don't think that means we're selling out - I'm sorry but we ARE feeling a bit more optimistic. "Our band has the power to make devastating commercial music. Good pop is more than just happy, it's realism." We're getting dangerously near. "Sometimes, in the singing, I try and hold back from going TOO far. Understatement is effective. I like extremes, but you can't be both al the same time if you're aware of the strengths of both . . . " If there was a law passed which said you couldn't write any more songs what would you do? ADRIAN shrieks in (mock) horror: "Oh God don't ask me! That actually, is the sort of possibilities which sound ridiculous NOW. But well this kind of moral resurgence that's going on makes me sick. The self-righteousness, the judgements, the lack of compassion..." But what would you DO? 

Enigma time. " I think you know, don't you? Perhaps you don't I can't really say. Might land me in trouble." A long afternoon, we've talked of everything from video nasties to parties, from Joy Division to Marvin Gaye, but not of everything. ADRIAN BORLAND and I are poring over 'SHOCK OF DAYLIGHT's lyric sheet for ten minutes. It's the blues, isn't it? "Ha, there you go Chris, you've sussed me out." He is joking, of course. No room here to quote the entire lyrics of 'DREAMS THEN PLANS', just the last line - 'She is close'. No room either to waffle about five years as an avid follower. two and a half hours as an interviewer, and a thousand half-remembered faces and associations. It's something which is hard to put into words, but what matters is The SOUND. So let's do it like this. 

CHRIS ROBERTS (Sounds 9-6-1984)

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