Articles / Reviews

The Sound - The Sound & The Fury - interview (Sounds 13-9-1980)

date: Sep 13, 1980



SOMEBODY MUST have said it before, but life isn't fair. In R'n'R terms, you first realise the application of the truth when all the best records played by all the best delays when you're a kid never get within spitting's distance of the charts. Truly Great Musics of any era seem doomed to a dignified form of r'n'r archeology, to be dug up decades later by men with lights on their helmets and a certified interest in keeping the real r'n'r influences alive (and I tentatively toss you Tim Buckley and Richard Thompson as possible examples).

Presently I can feat the whole heist regenerating itself in the form of a band who are not only in the peculiarly rare situation of coming-from-London, but who also seem intent on surprising me again and again and again. When will it stop? For a start, just at the end of the summer time in which I'd been expecting Teardrop, the Bunnymen and (in another sense) Joy Division to have flexed their muscles for the cause of Real Music, in darts this bunch of unknown no-hopers with a single and an album and an absolute aura that defies importance to all else around it. While we've been waffling around with ideals, the SOUND have in their own way come up with the idealistic goods in toto. They've gone a cheeky one step further and pulled the modernist credentials one or maybe several degrees nearer reality.

And that involves compromise; that is dancing a thin line. But the SOUND do it/will do it; and that's why I've been astounded, almost continually by ' them, for the past seven days. The SOUND will have hits. The SOUND will be up there in the unreal realms of the pop 'world' where they will be able to look down on an awful lot of people and where, if I was cynical, I'd say their real influences and stylistic forerunners have a- better than even chance of never reaching. Life is not fair: and the SOUND are profitting by it. The SOUND (truly) have frightening potential and a frightening potential hold upon a frightening number of people. Half of me loves them to death and the other half types this in a stupified state of fearful awe. I mean it. The SOUND are the ideal modernist levelling effect. Which means: they're good and they are bad, but so far the music has stayed unaffected by the latter and aesthetically has pro fitted from the battle. It pulls this way and that but invariably it is still touching upon a valuable central course, which, simply put, qualifies these days as Success. 

Unknowingly the SOUND give shape and form to English music at this moment. They have in one sense for instance, acquired the same storm and stress of Joy Division's music but allied it to a more youthful, a more positive, a definitely inverse set of moods. A quote. Adrian (mainspring): "For every dark thing in life there's a good thing, that's my one and only philosophy. You've got to balance it out in your own mind. Maybe the lyrics are a bit 'down', but the music has hope to it. It's not the end of the world. Basically we're optimistic people." This bright side to the music is staggering. They have one song called 'HEARTLAND' which could almost single-handedly reaffirm the notion of love (make that LOVE) in vital young r'n'r 'HEARTLAND' (the title suggests it) brings them close to Springsteenian pure gut romanticism. It is a mammothly refreshing song, enough to break the most unwilling smile with a taint of hope and endurance. It hardly seems to matter, but last week I went up in a lift in the Sounds building with the SOUND to the destination of Another Interview. That's boring: maybe I should never have gone near them. just left their music to . . . The Sound look totally and unmitigatingly wrong.

Not one bald-patch, not a single long overcoat, not even the odd strategically half-hidden Kafka volume in the odd pocket, strangely enough it grieves me to tell it but the SOUND are crushingly Ordinary. Adrian (mainspring, talk box) Borland, Graham Green, Bi (girl) and Michael Dudley appear slightly gig-soiled from too long on the loser London circuit but still have a Grammar School aura of impregnable innocence and a ravishing hunger to Do Something With Their Lives. The gig-soiled aspect had me worried. It would worry anybody who ever heard the OUTSIDERS, all but one of the SOUND's collective musical rifle-range, a ravaged, quasi-HM trifle who compound the whole mystery by being in degrees Just as 'horrendously unlistenable as the SOUND are ' gloriously prodigal. The OUTSIDERS then Adrian? "It was a start. It was a pseudo-direction. We thought it was a direction but it wasn't really. I had long hair'. And it was during the whole punk thing! We were like a New Wave Patti Smith Group. Seriously, we were!' Adrian who is bouncy and chubby has the unfortunate habit of talking almost exactly like Cliff Richard. He talks a lot, all of it not totally sincere. The entire band are a peculiar blend of lowly aristocratic inbreeding and gig-soiled (that word again) blood and thunder business acumen. They will go far - and they chat later about money matters with the kind of dedication and curiosity that would possibly have put me off them, had not the (actual) SOUND been so terrific 

I TELL THEM I'm amazed they come from London, Home Of Dead Music. Adrian: 'Everybody says that to us! The whole 77 thing was in London, so maybe that's why it's stagnant now. A 'How could you ever follow that?' kind of thing…" Have you met much lethargy in London? Graham: "Yeah, London is a poser's paradise, if something isn't marked as The New Thing, then that's it. Everything about the music industry in London is about following fashions. " I tell them I'm surprised at how they look. Graham: "Fashion doesn't interest us. I think the reason a lot of young bands are making music these days is just so they can look good. The reason we're in a band is because we really enjoy playing this music. " Boringly, it is true (I'll even confess to adding-in that extra 'really' to generate some impression of enthusiasm in GG's voice).

There are few frills to the Sound they've been up until recently gigging of pure noise. Everything else is superfluous The soul speaks, it seems, almost from a vacuum. They tell me how they've been up until recently, gigging around on lousy support spots to almost nil reaction, but didn't even notice or care because they got off on the songs so much themselves. Amazing. But real music always eventually gets through somewhere. People simply can't survive on the feeble industry gumph that they're force-fed. The discerning rock fan may be battered and blown but he's hardly ever starved. Amazing, but, as the r'n'r underlying life-force seems to say it has to be, a constant truth. This Sound will strike out far and wide. No stopping it. 

THE BACKBONE of the music and Adrian's lyrics (wonderfully adept lyrics at that) is hope and the strength of the individual. In passing Adrian mentions the Jam and, indeed, many of the SOUND's themes are Welleresque and coming from the same context. The SOUND are pro-youth, pro-loners/ losers/individuals, pro-love, pro-a reason for looking up and going on. Like the Jam. the SOUND are generated by a seemingly imperishable form of youth-origined energy. Somebody cites 'Art School' as the best-over Jam song. The OOUTSIDERS once supported the Jam. so maybe it rubbed off. The SOUND whoop and yell in the middle of songs. Jam-style. Their single, just-released, 'HEYDAY', has the same exhaustive group force to it as an early Jam. The SOUND are determined, they want to get there, anywhere, somewhere, and the songs are fired along on the crest of that irrepressible enthusiasm. Adrian: "I suppose 'When You're Young' is close to what we're doing, more or less. I don't like the Jam when they're reaching back to the Sixties in such a direct way, but some of the things they do are really, I know it's a horrible word, so modern . . . " To the product: 'HEYDAY' is out now on Korova (aka a swanky little Big Warner Bros offspring) While the album 'JEOPARDY' will be around in mid-October. The album, like the single, is stunning middle-ground rock and roll. Meanwhile they tour with the Bunnymen. 

BUT, BUT. . . I'm unconvinced. The people, the attitudes, the words. nothing stirred me like the music did/does more and more. The Clincher? Here goes: do you want to be a Top Of The Pops? Adrian falters, not for the first time in the face of brusque interrogation (because I like their music, silly): "I'd do TOTP with something like 'HEYDAY'. Of course, bands like the Gang Of four get fucked around and you can't . . . point is, " and here comes the key, "if you tread a thin line . . . you could call it compromise, if you like . . . " The word 'compromise' stands out on the tape documentation like a beacon. It applies all right: the Sound cut a compromise or three. But a second later it's made a nonsense of: the SOUND are bringing modern(ist) dreams home. I got it! The SOUND manage to tread water and make a splash at the same time. The SOUND are fierce. I hope it stays that way and the SOUND never come to grips with the fact that they can change people's Lives. Your life. The impact could be too colossal. 

Sounds 1980 

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