Another Throwback Thursday confection for all my homies.
Some time ago, we were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves in contact with Barry Andrews via the Internet. He further astonished us by agreeing to an Interview! So, with an abundance of fan input, we put together a "small collection" of the most pertinent questions and fairly alarmed him with a Lengthy Interrogation. Undaunted, Mr. Andrews expressed himself as he most usually does: with eloquence and not a small amount of wit.
- How did you meet Dave Allen, Carl Marsh, and Martyn Barker? How did the band come together?
Errr, met Dave thru Sara Lee –(Bassist w. League of Gentlemen –Leeds connection) He rang me on leaving Go4, Carl wrote him a letter (ever the literary one) and I brought Mart in when we needed a proper drummer –I knew him from Clare Hirst, the sax –player who I was going out with and who played in The Emotional Spies w. Mart. ( I think that’s right ??)
- Did Shriekback try to create an image with your music and visuals? If so, were you successful?
Sure we tried, I think we had our moments.
- Were you surprised with the positive response to last year’s album, "Naked Apes and Pond Life"?
Very much so. I’d disowned the whole project and was off bashing bits of metal (rather than other band members). Had it not been for Lu and Martyn it would never have come out. The fact that it was sonically the least user-friendly of all our work made it doubly suprising that it was getting good reviews (the old ‘fuck em if they can’t take a joke’ ethic again I guess)
- Is that what got you to thinking of the possibility of a new Shriekback project sometime in the future? There’s rumour that both Carl and Dave are involved with the new Shriek project. Would you care to comment?
Dave was in London with a big expense account to abuse, so the Shrieks (class of 85) duly obliged. It was a heady mixture of lurid cocktails, free money and that ineluctable chemistry of 4 old pervs with something still to prove. It looks very likely that we will do Another One. With D & C.
- What are the Seven Pillars of Shriekback?
They were a series of principles by which we intended to focus our, at the time, dissipated and addled energies in order to create a rock band. Have totally forgotten what they were, though..
- Tell us about the Shriek logo. Whose idea was it and does it have a particular meaning. If so, what?
It was Al Macdowell’s design –our sympatico Art Person (last seen being head of production design on the Fight Club film –howabouthat?). I think it was to do with cyclical energy (otherwise known as going round in circles –hmm, be careful what you visualise).
- Do you still have contact with Sarah and Wendy? What are they doing these days?
Oh yes, very much so. Seeing them this Friday, actually. Wendy’s a homeopathic practitioner (with 2 kids) about to Move to The Country. And Sarah manages recording engineers and producers.
- Are you enthusiastic about the resurgence of Shriekback’s popularity?
Now there’s a leading question, with a certain ambiguity. I certainly like the idea of making some more music both with, and without, the Chaps. A Shriek-Renaissance would be handy. Is it happening? Maybe. You tell me… I don’t get out much.
- Why do so many Shriek songs resonate with a subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) spiritual energy, both sacred and profane?
Aww, get outta here. Do they? Cheers. Nice one. Like Jah Wobble (whom God Preserve) said: 'You either make music to see God, or to make money, and if it’s making money then you end up like a million other people all trying to get lucky with a beat.' That’s not exactly relevant really though, is it? I love the idea of touching people in That Place. That’s the main idea, of course.
- Looking back on the albums the Shrieks have made, do you have a personal favourite and, if so, why? Do you have any favourite Shriekback songs? Any you dislike?
Care, because we really had no idea what we were doing but we couldn’t help doing it. It was discovering a place where we / I could legitimately and comfortably express ourselves. Finding a Voice, all that.. The end of a hard, messy road of adolescent angst and it was Going To Be Alright after all. Still does sound like that to me, as it goes.
- Evaporation because it was the first time I got the underwater, Lee Perry, ‘it’s dark but don’t be afraid’ thing to happen. Nice ‘tune’ (meaning melody).
- Black Light Trap because it’s so ..Large. Lots going on. Architectural vibe. Big creaky Gormenghast thing with disco. Sounds like Shriekback and absolutely noone else.
- This Big Hush - A big scary fantastic Love affair in the snows of 85 and everything impossibly vivid. Well that’s what I was doing. Add your own recollections, of course.
- Get Down Tonight (what were we thinking of? oh yeah, making money , that’s right)
- Mercy Dash the single (the intoxication of trying to sound like someone else - don’t do it, kids, especially not with machines that you don’t understand.) Still, that’s it, not bad over 8 albums, is it?
- What songs were made into videos?
Nemesis, Get Down Tonight, Lined Up...
- Any hope of a video compilation? Speaking of videos, who conceptualised the ‘Nemesis’ video?
Probably not, who could possibly have the ‘masters’? and they were all dodgy apart from Nemesis. I did all the ‘conceptualising’, Al McDowell did the visualising, Tony VandenEnde (the ostensible director) made it happen.
- There is word of a new compilation album of obscure and unreleased material coming out sometime in March entitled "Aberrations 81-4". In what countries will this be available? Is there anything further you would care to offer to your listeners regarding this album?
The territories are down to who wants it –where we can get licensing deals. The States will be covered by Nail Records, we think… It will be available from Mauve Records mail order if all else fails. It’s an interesting car-boot sale of weirdness, 9 never before released songs also remixes, live bits etc. Copious sleeve-notes by Marsh and I. We’re going to include ‘Naked Apes’ in the package, so it’s cracking good value for anyone who never got the latter.
- Will we ever see the BBC recordings released?
Hope so, we’re looking into the Legalities (not the name of a soul band).
- Michael Mann used the Shrieks’ music extensively in ‘Miami Vice’ and in the movie ‘Manhunter’. Did you ever meet him and do you foresee any future collaborations?
No and No. Shame: I especially liked it when they were chasing the Miami coke-baron round the harbour in speed-boats, white 80’s trousers flapping and Shrieks are singing some weirdshit in Sanskrit (Running on the Rocks). Obviously made sense to Mike.
- Tell us about your Illuminati project.
Doomed doomed, emotionally overwrought Guitar driven rock, Humungous female vocal, ravishing melodies. Me trying to be ‘non-ironic’ and ‘not weird’. Don’t fight your nature, that’s what I learnt. Still have the album in the can. Maybe release it someday.
- What music do you listen to? What do you think of today’s pop music scene?
- Beethoven ‘Creatures of Prometheus’
- Planxty (Irish trad) ‘The Woman I loved so well’ ‘After the Break’
- Nick Cave ‘The Boatman’s Song’ ‘Murder Ballads’
- Arvo Part 'Cantus for Benjamin Britten' 'Festina Lente'
- John Cooper Clarke ‘Snap Crackle and Bop’
- Slade ‘Greatest Hits’
- Underworld ‘Everything Everything’
- Mouse on Mars ‘niun niggung’
- Will we ever see a collection of your solo work?
Dunno, it’s nearly all only on cassette so it would be a hissy kind of a thang.
- Will we see anymore from The Caretakers, the Refugees, or some other project yet to come to light?
Caretakers are Bruce Mcrae and Carlo Asciutti, both of whom are complicated men to get hold of. Bruce is in Canada and Carlo’s in East Dulwich – which might as well be Canada. Come on guys, the World needs you… sigh, what can you do with ‘em?
- What prompted the song ‘Win a Night out with a Well-Known Paranoiac’?
The Adolescent angst of which I spoke and my snotty scruffy persona, (at 22-23) & resistance to authority which wound up all the right people sufficiently to support a – that’s right - paranoid world view. I liked the idea of a spoken song like Patti Smith’s 'Piss Factory'. It’s funnier though-especially the bit about the 'Underwater Toilet.'
- When did you develop an interest in music?
The parent’s collection of 78’s on the wind-up record player (fuck-I’m old) me alone in the attic playing ‘Shifting Whispering Sands’ and 'Indian Love call'. The rest is history.
- Most of what we’ve heard about your departure from XTC has been from sources in relation to that band. In fact, in the liner notes of the recent XTC box set, Andy Partridge laments your leaving the band. To balance things out, would you like to let your side be heard?
Well, as I’ve said probably more times than I should – I always regarded XTC as a stepping stone –we came from the the same town, were all working class pissheads and were all talented, it was never really a meeting of minds. Thus, as soon as we had some breathing space from touring and getting a deal it was obvious that this combination had run it’s course. You don’t need a degree in Workplace Dynamics to see that both an Andrews and a Partridge is one egomaniac only-child too many. For me that was – as they say in Swindon – ‘it and all about it’. It was great fun for a while though. And loads of shagging.
- Many articles and XTC book passages indicate that you’ve seemingly resented the intellectual labels attributed to you and, later, Shriekback. Have your feelings changed on this issue or do you still wish to stress the physical aspect of your music?
I don’t know why you say this. Anyone who calls me an intellectual will have me purring on the floor and buying them drinks.
Oh, you probably mean that ‘what do your lyrics mean?’ type thing.
It’s really that what I’ve always tried to do with music – specifically SONGS- which are a brilliant art-form and still nowhere near exhausted - is create new places - funny little aquariums where the rules of the outside world no longer apply. Bear in mind that this is not sheet music it’s recorded music so all sorts of subtleties and inflections are possible – the ambient sound in the room, the slapback echo all have different things to say (ambient sound says ‘fly on the wall documentary,’ slap-back can mean Elvis or, add a few repeats and it’s Nuremberg). What I mean is that Songs are perceived sonically, primarily - then we add the strata of meaning. But, as with all good art-forms the most fun is in the grey areas. Where the Delicious Frissons of Ambiguity live.
So when you can’t quite hear what Strummer’s singing on Janie Jones, you hallucinate your own visions into the gap between what you can understand and what you can’t. As one does as a child listening to the grown ups talk. It’s an interesting place to be. When I finally saw those lyrics written down the song was over for me. Not that they were bad lyrics, just that they were only what they were, no longer all the things they might possibly be.
So the lyrics are one part of this tense interdependent little biosphere. Another example: Marvin Gaye's ‘Grapevine’ –it’s dark, the bass and congas sound jungly (like a Rousseau jungle in purples) the song’s about jealousy - there are loads of different ways of saying ‘people are saying that you’re seeing someone else’ but he picks vines – big strangly creepy things with round sweet purple grapes on them and the jungly groove and the sweet sad voice and the minor key all support each other – organically, you’d have to say - the medium and the message all beautifully shmershed together. The lyrics as written don’t tell you any of this, like the sheet music doesn’t tell you how sexy that bass line is. The experience is to be had in front of a speaker and that’s it. SO - even if you use words like ‘parthenogenesis’ and ‘historesis’ you’re still playing the same game. I used ‘parthenogenesis’ mainly because it sounded good and almost rhymed with Nemesis. The meaning was secondary (but relevant). So if you were to apply the ‘Grapevine’ treatment to that chorus - my intention was to get a laugh - or at least an internal smirk - from the big-almost football crowd-chorus, the long ungainly scientific word, the huge daft power chords, and everything within this barmy context of ‘let’s examine the nature of morality’ – like some philosophy professor who went to Vietnam and listened to a lot of Gary Glitter. Still makes me laugh.
Another way to see it is like you ‘get’ a joke, which, if you want, you can explain, and you can even analyse why it’s funny. But the point of the joke is really only in the ‘getting’ of it. If you don’t experience that then all the rest is pointless. Thus, when people make a big deal of 'explaining the lyrics', it very often (experience has shown) means that they never really ‘got’ the idea of the song. It’s turned into some gnarly little Eng. Lit puzzle.
- We know that you are a consummate musician, that you’ve dabbled in filmmaking, and that you’re also an artist, having studied 3-D design. It would seem that you’re quite the Renaissance man. Is that a fair description? How would you describe yourself?
Naah, the trouble with doing lots of things is that you meet lots of people who only do one thing and are therefore extremely good at them. Bad comparisons are inevitable. ‘Jack of all trades’ says it . Still, it seems to be my nature to apply a similar aesthetic to lots of different things and this is as close to a mission statement as I can get: ‘try everything, make up as many things as possible; remember to take notes.’
- There have also been many comments from folks who’ve met you that you exude an otherworldly air. Would you care to address that?
I have been known to drift, somewhat. Oh yes..
- We’ve heard many stories from fans whom have attended Shriek concerts and, afterwards, were thrilled to find you dancing, drinking, and generally making merry with them after the show. Why are you so prone to mingle with the fans when artists, including other members of the band, don’t generally engage in such activity?
Human fucking Beings, man. What else is there?
- In what other projects are you currently involved?
The ongoing exegesis of Parc Stic (a metaphysical theme park) and amassing material for a solo album. And keeping an eye on Finn (the lad) who’s starting his own musical career (which is spooky).
- Being the primary lyricist for Shriekback, it’s obvious you have a gift with words. Do you write prose as well or have you considered doing so?
Saving that for when I’m Really old and can’t do anything else.
- Who or what would you say is your greatest influence?
Alex Harvey, Lee Perry, Patti Smith, the Constructed World (not a band either).
- The dance that you and the Sids perform to ‘The Reptiles and I’ in the ‘Jungle of the Senses’ concert video exhibits a variety of Kung Fu movements. That, combined with the fact that you’ve been spotted many times wearing Tabi, lead us to ask if you’re a Martial Artist as well. If so, what form or forms have you studied?
Mark Raudva – who plays on ‘Naked Apes’ - is a qualified Tai Chi teacher and would piss himself if he read that. I studied with him for about six months and gave up. I did Aikido for about three weeks – way too upsetting.
- What do you think of the world today?
Oh the easy ones at the end eh?
- What would you like see happen at Shriekback.com?
The hub of a new Renaissance, a centre for Excellence, a source of psychic nourishment and high quality gas-masks.
- Is there anything you’d like to say to the fans of both you and Shriekback?
‘Hold fast to that which gives the deepest jollies.’
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