‘We wanted an ironic name. We’re quite a quiet group.’
‘…We didn’t have any depth to our material, we wrote most of the songs on the LP as we were recording them. We finished writing it and I said, ‘I’m going to sing these to see what they sound like’. It succeeded in its lack of inhibition. I really had no idea what I was doing. I just did it. It was just a question of surprise when I was able to sing them so quickly.
‘When you’re not in a group you tend to frown on people writing LPs in the studio. But for us it’s more relaxed and there’s more time than when we’re touring. On our 1ast tour 1 hardly wrote a single lyric because I’d pretty much become a vegetable about half way through it…
‘…Norman Mailer. Truman Capote – no I hadn’t read them, they made good rhymes and have specific connotations. Norman Mailer is still known for The Naked and the Dead, a book primarily about the American Way. Truman Capote is known as – or was, the poor man passed on as soon as I mentioned his name – mainly as someone who’d been seen at clubs with Andy Warhol as much as a writer. He danced with Marilyn Monroe and that’s why she was listed as a friend of Truman Capote. It was an attempt to paint a picture of an extremely well-to-do, affluent person.
‘There are an awful lot of American references, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. I’m a bit more aware of what I’m doing now, then it was just writing off the top of my head. I was actually very preoccupied with the American fiction that I’d been reading. I would still hold America as a very stimulating backdrop to something. Whatever we have here they have there in grosser proportions, except charm, of course. The way the law is the dollar, I find that aspect very interesting.’
‘…In the two years prior to the LP I’d have listened to a lot of mid-60s Bob Dylan, some of the songs were definitely verging on pastiche, lyrically not musically. I would always take Bob Dylan as a yardstick of lyrics. If I can get vaguely compared to Bob Dylan lyrics of that period then I must have achieved something.
‘I find music a bit like painting in that respect. You can do a marvellous painting which has got reference points to other paintings that you want people to know about. This bit is a homage to somebody, and this bit is a homage to somebody else but the whole thing taken separately is self-justifying.
‘… There are an awful lot of banal lyrics that have come out of the soul ethic that You should write from the heart and about how you feel all the time. Frankly, I think you should write about what You see you’re going to apply what you feel to what you see anyway. Recently I’ve been making a conscious effort
to simplify songs. I’d like to write slightly more efficient lyrics. Stick the sentiment of it into people’s heads more than 1 normally do.
‘It’s difficult to write concise lyrics in pop music without being banal. What was that Style Council lyric. ‘when are you gonna find the strength in your nature’ – that’s an attempt to he concise and it’s horrible…
‘….. Er, actually I thought the LP would be LP of the year in more papers than it was. I didn’t think there were an awful lot of other good LPs about. Obviously I’m pleased but these things become numbing after a while. I don’t know what 1 feel about critical success anyway. If somebody says something nice I say thank you.’
‘I don’t read the music press as much as 1 used to and don’t really know who I trust anymore which is a shame. I must knuckle down and work out who I do respect. In the old days 1 used to stand by Paul Morley quite a lot. And in the period just before I used to quite like Nick Kent. He, despite himself, could always spot a good record. 1 never liked the Burchill woman. I like to read her because she makes me laugh but I think she’s a very silly woman, she’s always wrong. That’s the one thing she’s never managed to catch onto, all her predictions are always wrong and she still carries on making predictions. Her husband I used to quite like until he discovered soap operas.
‘I do believe that these days there is a lot of confusion in pop music. Certainly the ethic behind the music is more important than it should be. And I seem to read an awful lot of articles which suggest the journalist is more interested in the ethic or the sentiments than the actual record. I think it’s silly. There was the most marvellous sentiment behind that ‘Soul Deep’ record but I would never ask anybody to actually listen to it.
‘The most dreadful travesties in pop music have been done in the name of socialism. Or in the name of all kinds of goos sentiment. What was that Bananarama record? ‘Children on the street’ – one of the worst records I ever heard, about a child getting shot in Northern Ireland. It was just banal rubbish. It’s very difficult to sympathise when people start confusing good records with bad records with good sentiments. With any other art form that’s not the case.
‘Paul Weller is somebody who can be accused of not knowing what he wants other than he wants something to the left. That’s what I would say – I don’t know what I want but it’s something akin to socialism. To actually express feelings as vague as those within some lyric would be a really foolish thing to do. Successful political records are very few and far between. I can only think of one recently and that’s the Special’s thing ‘Nelson Mandela’. That just ‘Free Nelson Mandela’, the verses didn’t really matter…
‘. . . I find that my reaction to the press has been anger and sorrow at the amount of assumptions that have been made about my personality which were unfounded. The assumptions will be made on the basis of a record yet I should have thought that all one could tell from a record was that I had a sense of irony. ‘That’s why I say that a lot of people are caught up in the soul ethic of pop music, they think one should be writing about oneself all the time and that any record that doesn’t is necessarily heartless. That’s an over simplification of things and I feel I’ve been unfairly or even cruelly treated in that respect. I’m very dubious about any journalist I meet these days, about the way they conduct interviews. They seem to be very underhand in their methods.
‘I was very upset by a few things last year and quite saddened by the response to me – not to mention the group because that was marvellous – it seemed that the benefit of the doubt would never be given to me. It wasn’t ‘we don’t quite know what sort of chap he is but he might be alright’ it was ‘we don’t quite know what sort of chap he is but we’re pretty sure he’s a bit of a bastard’. It saddened me reading that kind of thing about myself when I felt I was innocent. It makes me look a horrible person.
‘I made a few errors in the interviews I did last year and said a few silly things. I’m going to be more open in the future, not necessarily about myself but about my general sentiments. People will say are you happy or sad and I’ll sav ‘I’m saddened by this or I’m saddened by that’. I’m willing to do that… “…Paul Young asked if he could cover ‘Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken’ and I said ‘okay, you can if you want’. I can definitely use the money but I don’t really know what he’s going to do with it. I was pleased but if that is seen to be a soul song then I think I could be in trouble. If people saw it as a soul song I would feel I was definitely being misunderstood. The money that it made wouldn’t outweigh being misunderstood…
‘Basically all the ambitions are to get away from the archetype pop music thing. It’s not a really fulfilling business to be involved in on a day to day basis. In fact, it’s pretty horrible for the most part. It’s been worse than I thought it would he be because we’ve been more successful than I thought we would be. Therefore the number of things we get asked to do that we don’t want to are considerably more.
‘Various people at various record companies would like to see us as a new Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers and have us playing stadiums in a year or so. I’ve no benevolence to those people, they’re stupid. They say ‘oh Yeah. guitars, lyrics that mean something – Tom Petty! ‘It’s frightening and you get to the point where you don’t want to sell records to those people. ‘Certainly about halfway through last year when my teenybop presence got to such an irritating stage we ended up realising that we didn’t want to sell records to teenyboppers, we could do without that money. You find yourself alienating parts of the audience, otherwise it would become intolerable. I couldn’t feel any benevolence to a child that came to see us and didn’t listen, that just comes to stare at us. Basically those people are just using us. People who put your picture on their wall and don’t pay any attention to what you’re saying. They’re using you and it feels horrid.’
‘If I was a tennybopper today I suppose Morrissey would be my hero, he’s quite handsome and he writes all those interesting lyrics. It certainly wouldn’t he Wham! or Duran Duran, they’re basically the Slade of today aren’t they?”
‘I would like to sell records to people who listen to records. You find that an awful lot of people buy records and definitely don’t like music. How could that Sade LP have sold if the people who bought it actually listened to it? They just use it as background music, put it on when they get home and talk over it. I would like to sell records to people who listen to them.
‘. . . I’ve been quite miserable this year, success isn’t what I thought it would be. There are too many loopholes. I would find it easier to he in a group who were grateful for everything they got. I must sound incredibly ungrateful at times – I was always accused of being ungrateful as a child. If somebody bought mew something I didn’t like I’d say ‘thank you but I really, don’t want it’ – I suppose I must be fairly ungrateful for a lot of the things that are happening at the moment.
‘But apparently it’s just as bad being a novelist. You have no control over the sleeves your books come out in and imagine picking up the first edition and seeing all the misprints. It must be quite heartbreaking to be a novelist as well, so in the line of work that involves writing there’s not really an awful lot that one should expect. Just expect a hard time and make the most of the enjoyable bits.”
Publication date: 01/04/85