Once Upon A Time... In Stourbridge


EVERYTHING'S COOL? I suppose it's sarcastic, in a way. It's Everything's Cool with a question mark. But that's the state of play for us, really. That was the state my mind was in when we where recording the tracks for the album. We were pissed off personally to a degree, but it's also to do with the general air that seems to be pervading countrywide, worldwide even. It was really a case of "So this is it, eh? Great".

HOW YOU PACKING? We've gone for a more Earthy feel this time, without wishing to go all Save The Planet or anything. We've gone for a recycled paper sort of look, on the reverse board where the colours react differently than on shiny paper. The CD and cassette come in a box, recyclable and all that. Thing is, we've made quite a lot of records and you try to think about it to make it a bit different. I hate formats myself, but every bugger else is having them and, if you ain't you're just failing to compete. So since we've gotta have them, you have to expand upon the idea of them and make them worthwhile. I just wish someone would turn around and say "OK that's it with formats, it's OK just to put out one CD now". Then everybody would be on an equal footing and you could just get on with the music.


MIXING WITH THE BEST OF 'EM We did a mix track with the Prodigy for his album and we've asked him if he fancies doing one on the tracks from our album. Possibly Trent from Nine Inch Nails as well. And we've had some stuff done already, Fluke did something, and Die Krupps are doing a mix of "Auslander" and "Everything's Cool" at the moment. But really it's all a bit hit and miss for my liking. It's very expensive getting people in if you don't know them and it's done through the record company, and I don't feel very comfortable paying 4 grand when I don't even know if I'm going to like it.


I felt a little bit like that with the Fluke one. That ended up sounding like some old Fluke track that had been knocking around for a bit that they weren't happy with so they put it on one of our things. Like I say, it's hit and miss, sometimes it's great, sometimes it's not.


We've actually done some mixes ourselves. We did one for Terrorvision, who possibly aren't my favorite band. We've done "Alice, What's The Matter?" for them, which might be their next single. Well, they won't have OUR version as the next single, that's for sure, but whatever. You've just got to make something that YOU'RE happy with, do something YOU'RE into. I don't know if Terrorvision are gonna like what we've done, which is make it sound a bit Ministry-like with some softer down-parts to it. It doesn't sound like Terrorvision but they might be into it, it might widen their fans' perspectives or whatever.


The thing I like about remixes often is when people Andy Weatherall pull out one second of vocal or something and then writes a whole new track. I think that's why him and Paul Oakenfold are making their own stuff now, because bands were getting all all this credit for something they really had nothing to do with. But often the only reason it's being done is for the kudos, getting some cool name on your record. That was why our American label, Nothing Records wanted Fluke to do something for us, because they're cool in the right places in America. But, at the end of the day, that's not what we sound like, it's not us, and it's all a bit... daft.


ALONE AGAIN, NATURALLY It was really nice to produce ourselves for a change. We've done it before, on B-sides and stuff, but we always credited it as Unproduced. The album's not as perfect as it might be, some of the loops aren't as super-tight as a professional producer might get them, but that hasn't turned out to the detriment of the record at all. Often you find people clean things up too much, you lose all the rough edges that you originally envisaged. And I don't think RCA would ever let us produce our own album. But as it turned out, we've had more time to work on it because there's been no deadlines, we've been able to live with the songs, work on them, choose what sits well where, and we've managed to get a sound we really like.


Most people who've heard it reckon it's a darker and heavier than before. The subject matter covers Graham coming to terms with his mum dying, someone we know suffering from bulimia, a lot of it's come from a pissed off perspective, being less than happy, analysing what's not right around us. It's got a slower feel to it, you know. I hate to say it, but the only way to explain is that it's a more MATURE record.


LOOKING OUT FOR NUMBER ONE It's true that since we got dropped from RCA we've become a lot more self-reliant. We did the video for "Everything's Cool" ourselves. Admittedly it's probably very low-fi, we shot most of it live at a gig we did in Toronto with Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails. We just took all this stuff into a booth and cut it together, all for ?1500. And when you start doing that you sort of explode the myth around people who get paid so much for doing the same thing. Especially for a band like us, whose video isn't going to get a fantastic amount of airplay anyway, the difference between ?1500 and ?15000 is tremendous.


When we left RCA we did have this feeling of liberation, and not just because they dropped us and wrote off the ?750,000 we owed the, it's like when you look back on any bad relationship, you just think "God, how did I stay there? It was completely unworkable". At the time you don't realise you're making compromises just to make it work. It just got so confusing. We'd go and see our A&R man, Korda, who's now our label boss at Infectious 'cos he got kicked out too, then he'd have to talk to someone else, then they'd talk to someone else and, before you knew it, it was Chinese Whispers and no one knew what the fuck was going on. Now we're out and it's all less DILUTED.


In a way we've been really lucky because a lot of bands who get dropped fall by the wayside and split up. But for us it was still happening, you know. Our last single for RCA, "Get The Girl And Kill The Baddies", went into the Top Ten and we'd already been dropped by then. So we knew we still had something going and we still liked doing it. We believed in ourselves, you know? We've always seen record companies as finance houses so we felt we just needed someone to back us. Which we got.


GROWING UP IN PUBLIC It's really good knowing what you've got to do to stay together as a viable unit. When we first went to RCA we had no idea of how money worked. Like, you're in a studio in London, you're staying in a hotel, getting cabs backwards and forwards and, before you know where you are, your cab and hotel bill's bigger than budget for making the record. We know how to get a better deal. We laid down the samples and tracks with our own gear at home, then we rehearsed it, then finally we went into the studio. It's a hard lesson to learn, because we've not really got much of a reputation for being responsible, but we've learned it well. The deal we had with RCA gave us 13 or 14%, the one with Infectious is 50/50, half our money and half Korda's. And that works well because if we all work we all win, we're all working towards athe same ends.


The way we see it, you've got to keep it together financially then, if you want to, you can go out on the road, drink everything in sight and be completely irresponsible.


WHO ARE YOU CALLING A RETARD? I suppose most people in bands, singers especially are emotionally retarded. I know I am. But then at my age I suppose I'm not going to change so I might as well make the best of it. I don't think I'm emotionally very tough, really, which makes me a bit unstable at times and that's not necessarily for the good. I'm not very patient, I'm quite volatile, which can make you work harder at times, maybe suffer fools less gladly, but generally they're not positive qualities. I'd like to say it doesn't make me hard to work with but, really, when I lose it, I lose it. I think the rest of the band have learned to ignore me, they just let me run my course.


I think we've all grown up together, to be honest, and I've realised that rather than just putting a block on someone else's ideas, if I haven't got anything better to offer, I should just let them run with the ball and see what happens. You know, possibly you don't qite understand what they're trying to do. We trust each other much more now.


Outside the band I don't think I'm really that easy to be around. I don't think my girlfriend finds me that easy half the time. I think I'm just a bit self-centred really. It's OK with friends in the pub and stuff, but in a Life situation I think I am a bit selfish. At the moment that manifests itself in me thinking about the band and what I wanna do, but I wouldn't rule out the idea that if I wasn't in the band I'd still be like that anyway. I think I've always been like that really. I was on the dole for four years and you almost HAVE to be selfish when you're sitting around on the dole.


Also, as a band, I think we did go through that stage of being really shitty and arrogant. It's inevitable really when you're on the road. You do a gig, it's very emotionally charged, you're high on it, then you go and get drunk, and after a few months you just get tired and addled and you lose your reasoning a bit. It all becomes suspect. You enter a rock'n'roll phase of "Where's my cab? I want it NOW!" It's a very sad sight to see. Even worse to've done it and come round two weeks later, calmed down and had to apologise to everyone you know.