problem (solution?) with music, is that it is just too damn important.
It isn't really is it? There are far more life affirming events
happening at home, at work, and in the world at large – so music
should not be that vital, but quite simply... it is.
1977 when I was 12 I heard the Sex Pistols God Save The Queen.
I bought it the next day. I had already been hassling my father
to drive me down the King's Road so I could look for London's punk
scene. I was utterly besotted with the notion of the youth, the
fashion, the sheer power of the music. Having seen the Pistols'
Bill Grundy interview, I kind of felt that this was something that
I wanted to be part of – but unfortunately I was a hapless spotty
kid, too young and clueless to get out of the suburbs.
through Punk, although not quite having the brains to articulate
or get involved eventually led me to the whole 1979 post punk scene
- namely Joy Division, The Teardrop Explodes and a whole host of
bands from the Rough Trade stable. I didn't really listen to night-time
radio for some reason, so relied on the weekly music press. Great,
I had just read about JD, thinking I should check them out, when
I was soon reading of their singer's demise. I would just have to
get submerged in the vinyl and bootleg tapes - becoming obsessed
and desperate like a million other 16-year-olds. Angst never tasted
so good. I listened to New Order – was lucky enough to see them
touring their first LP – but it did not quite happen for me. I
wanted something that could not exist anymore – and felt really
cheated. We deserved to get a chance with JD, but had to settle
for New Order and unfortunately they were not going to provide the
moved through tons of records, going back through the Velvets to
the Johnny Cash and Burt Bacharach LPs my father used to play me.
I also went to as many gigs as I could – from The Stranglers and
The Bunnymen to Virginia Astley, Sonic Youth and Kraftwerk – I just
had a superb time. The one thing in the back of my mind though,
was great as they were, I never really felt that any of these bands
had completely taken a hold of me. When I read articles about Lou
Reed, or Bowie or Postcard Records, I always thought there was something
larger than the actual music. Something more complete.
keeping an open eye and ears, not too much from the last fifteen
years has really taken my imagination. I am not knocking current
bands – but times and politics have changed - Rock n' Roll is fifty
years old now. The business side of the industry is suffocating
talent in favour of fast returns and aquiesence.
heard about British Sea Power on an off chance, and was immediately
intrigued by their giving a music journalist map co-ordinates for
a prospective interview. Their ideas sounded good – definitely worth
checking out I thought. And so at a summer festival in 2002 I did
so. Yan had flying goggles hanging loosely around his neck. Although
there was no similarity in behavior, I immediately remembered a
picture of Sid Vicious casually wearing something similar. Musically
I was astonished, the band had a full grasp of power, melody and
soundscape, with a looseness of attitude (whilst being seemingly
VERY WIRED) to die for. I found myself thinking of contradictions
all over the place (I have always loved the notion of contradiction).
couple of hours later I passed the (then) four band members in one
of the bars – and stopped to tell them that their performance had
been superb. "Thanks," Yan replied, slightly bemused. Yeah, thanks
achieved this epiphany and reinstated my faith in modern music,
I immediately set about telling everybody that I could back in London
about the band. I was in very quiet heaven. I attempted to find
as much stock as was available and to my delight, I sent a cheque
payable to the band's guitarist for a copy of their first single
release. This felt really global – but close – and very special.
From here on there's been a long catalogue of events marking a personal
journey following the band's progress, and coincidences from people
to places to events. Everything comes to those who wait.
four months after the Remember Me re-release, I was sent
a copy of the record dedicated to my grandfather. Everything comes
to those who wait – it is true. I finally feel that a band with
ALL the credentials are here – NOW – don't fuck it up, and don't
finally, how is it that in our consumer world, a band can inspire
such thought and attention from their fans? In my eyes, it has to
be because they are actually offering an intoxicating way forward
partly influenced by the past. Rehashing fifties bubblegum is not
going to work, and nor is trying to be the new New Romantics. But
taking a look at the world that pre-dated Rock n' Roll (and ultimately
created it), is a masterstroke.
back to the source with interests outside of the product has to
be the answer. For me personally, the music closest to my heart
has been made by people who have had a wider incentive than getting
their faces into the papers or on TV. People that really meant it.
Once they however make it into the papers and on TV, well, that
is the perfect marriage.
do not know the musicians who comprise British Sea Power, but from
their music, lyrics and interviews, I just get the sense they are
having a fantastic time doing what they want to do, and also have
a lot more to offer. The gigs are the best live events I have ever
been to. The anticipation is immense. So, enough of this self indulgent
analysis. As Ian McCullough said at the Royal Albert Hall in 1983:
"Lay down thy raincoat, and groove."