. FEATURE LIST
It‘s some time after 9pm in Studio A. BBC Scotland. where an invited 150 or so fans. friends and press are providing an audience for the recording of Scotland‘s new pop show. FSD. (That stands for Full Scale Deflection. in case word hasn‘t filtered through to you yet. a technical term for when the needle on a meter goes into the red). The
studio is a lot larger than the broom ' cupboard I‘d been led to expect. a
bewildering. shiny. impressive and
amazingly enough. things seem to be
Nevertheless. the tedium for the
. audience is quite crushing. It‘s hot.
there‘s nowhere to sit. the groups are
. constantly pausing to get the OK
from the control room. repeating
numbers they‘ve already played. Not
much ofan atmosphere. I‘ve been in the building since
about halfpast five. hoping to get an
interview with Grahame Skinner. singer ofheadlining group IIipsway.
' and I daren‘t leave the building even
fora bite to eat. having a rough idea
‘ ofmy chancesofgetting back in past
the security. A floor manager. who looked like
} he‘d be more at home warming up
for Larry Marshall. had spelt it out
I for the audience when the doors first i opened. Nosmoking(‘ofcigarettes
or. . . any other substance.‘ Haw
. haw). nodrinksofanykindinthe
studio. no waving at the cameras or
' looking at the monitors. After that
his exhortations to dance and cheer wildly fall somewhat flat. The closest I‘ve so far come to dancing in this atmosphere has been Kick Reaction‘s transformed and kicking (and completely O'I'f) ‘Yesterday. Today. 'l‘omorrow‘. sadly butchered in the broadcast to fit over the
Kick Reaction quit the stage and
: everything stops fora moment. then
as soon as the all clear from the control room is received I am almost pushed over by the sudden rush of young females towards Stage 3. It‘s the first real sign oflife the audience has this far displayed tonight. Ina surprisingly short time they are rewarded. IIipsway take to the stage and. for a few seconds. 150 people make as great a cacophony as 150 people can reasonably be expected to make.
The band are surprisingly slick. putting forth a big. full sound that‘s a lot more impressive than on their self-named debut LP. It‘san interesting. and undeniably commercial. mixture of Black American dance music played by a band who can't help but make these sweeping epic rock gestures. Very competent band. very tight. they‘ll
I go far. But all eyes are on the singer.
Grahame Skinner— Skin to all and sundry — a man whose height stops just short of gangliness.
. good-looking but.enquiries tell me.
3 an acquired taste. It seems strange.
but understandable. that he‘sbeing
i pushed by his record company as
' some kind ofsex symbol. In a hand without any trendy gimmicks he‘s a great visual focus. clearly in his element showing off up there. He‘s a
2 The List 16— 29 May
This year’s next year’s thing are Hipsway. playing Edinburgh Coasters on May 19 and Glasgow Pavilion on May 21. Mab chats to lead singer and ex-waiter Grahame Skinner.
good mover. with an amazing ability to tumble around the stage and stay upright somehow. like a satellite in orbit. constantly falling but never hittingthe ground. And he can sing in tune too.
Glasgow‘s been the flavourof the month before. ofcourse. but in the Postcard days it was the music press that directed its attention to the city. not the major labels. not Top ofthe Pops. Some great music was made back then. But him? Well. now it‘s been shown. by Simple Minds and to a lesser extent by Lloyd Cole. that music can be a realistic alternative to unemployment. And so we have both FSD. the Beeb‘s attempt to cope with/cash in on the new explosion on its doorstep. and a rash ofgroups who seem to have left ideas. like adventure. by the wayside but are fired by the possibility of actually having hit records.
IIipsway are the only group on the show tonight who have so far risen to that level. Formed from the remains ofAltered Images and the unknown White Savages. they released two singles— ‘The Broken Years' and ‘Ask The Lord‘ — which hung around the lower end ofthe national charts for a couple ofweeks. and then
struck it big with "The Honey'l‘hief‘.
a meaty. beaty. big and bouncy slab
7 offunky rock. ‘Ask The Lord‘ is now
re-released. probably to be followed by their first single again. Two more
' potentialTop 2(lnumbers.
When I finally get to speak to Skin it‘s about I 1 o‘clock. IIe‘s tired and
‘ bored. having spent close on ten
hours in the building. and I‘ve just
i seen him do an on—screen interview
with our own Andrea Miller in which he confessed to hating the press and lying to them whenever the
‘ opportunity arose. He tries. with a ' little success. to allay my
‘I only he to people I don‘t like or I don‘t trust. I don‘t like the music press. Idon't think they like me either. I think. maybe. to the people that‘ve met me I‘ve given a false impression. but they‘ve always given a false impression ofme. And I know what my impression ofthem is. I always feel disappointed when I read what they‘ve written about me. Not always. but more often than not.‘
The impression I‘m getting ofSkin
i is that of an easily-likeable. fairly
stable young man who enjoys the life he‘s leading. For the most part
I anyway. Ile‘s certainly not the monstrous cgomaniac. or even closet
alcoholic he‘s been painted in some
' less-than-reputable papers. So has this sudden attention. the shot to pop
stardom. glossy teenage magazines 3 and the Sim. had its effect already'.’ Does he still do the same things he
‘ used to. like see his mates'.’
‘I hardly see them at all. even when I try. But I don‘t try that hard any more ‘cause I‘m so tired now. I don‘t have that much time. But I still know my mates and stuff. they‘re still my mates. it‘s just a matter of circumstances. If you come back for long enough you can catch up.‘
Pressing a bit harder. I bring up Fcargal Sharkey‘s experiences with his old pals in Derry (‘What did you do this week‘.’ A— signed on. got me dole. put money on some horses. did the pools coupon. What did I do‘.’ — Los Angeles Friday. (‘ologne Sunday. London Wednesday. back in Los Angeles on Wednesday") which has resulted in an immovable wedge of fame driven between them.
‘It‘s no‘ just that.‘ Skin replies. ‘It‘s no‘ just the fact that you‘re doing that. it‘s the fact that he would be — I know cause I am - very blase about the whole affair. It‘s not because you need to impress anybody — you don‘t need to impress your friends — but it is hard. ifyou‘re doing something which appears to be glamorous. trying to be normal as well. I don‘t
' think I‘ve changed. but I think a lot . ofother people have.‘
It‘s early days yet. just the first hit.
Is it possible. as IIipsway get bigger and bigger. that it will spoil him‘.’
‘It might spoil some things. but I still take the tube and all that. go out for a drink. I don‘t go to clubs now. It‘s no‘ like badness or anything. you
3 just feel very conscious ofwho you
are. I mean. if I want to go to a club
I‘ve got to get really steaming. and
then I won‘t care. Because I‘ve been down to clubs a couple of times and
r they play your record and what do : you do? People watch you. You walk I into a pub and your record comes on
and you rush offto the toilet . . . ‘It this had happened when I was
younger I would‘ve went crazy. Not insane. but I would‘ve taken the rock. showbiz lifestyle to my heart. I would‘ve have got carried away that way. . . I mean. I just sorta laugh at it. I don‘t think it‘s any great thing. but it‘s a good way for me to earn a bob. And it is quite enjoyable.‘
Does he think he‘s a good singer? ‘Er. I think I am. the same wayl think Iggy Pop‘s a good singer. Lou Reed. They‘ve got a bit ofa grain about them. a quirk in the right places. You can‘t be successful unless your singer‘s good. That‘s pure and simple.‘ Skin allows himself a short laugh. probably remembering that he was asked to sing on the Jazzateers album mainly because he could do a passable impression of the aforementioned Iggy and Lou. What else. then. apart from his vocal prowess. makes Hipsway worth listening to?
‘We‘re pretty earthy. By that I mean dead simple. When we play I might stick my tongue in my check at times. like. I want people to enjoy it. I wouldnae do anything to the detriment of that. We‘re honest about that. We don‘t want to shortchange people. I came from beingawatchertojoiningin . . . and I don‘t really enjoy watching that much now.
‘It‘s hard to say what makes something good. cause it‘s sort of. . . I couldnae say why I like Echo And
- The Bunnymen. ‘cept like Mac. I
think he‘s great. I like the attitude. I‘m sure a lot of people would like
our attitude. People generally wish they were doing that. When I go to
i see bands I like I wish I was on the
stage. My favourite band just now is Love And Money (appearing in the second FSD). They‘re big pals of mine. but I really do like them. When I go to see them I stand right in front ofJames and sing all the words
to their songs. and he just laughs at
me 'cause I get really carried away. . .Ifit‘s a band I don‘t like though.‘
i Skinlaughsagain.‘I‘lljustbe drinking at the bar.‘
Speaking ofwhieh. I suggest
wrapping it up and heading back to
the questionably-named hospitality room. but Skin demurs. ‘lt‘sno‘exactly. . .jumpy. I‘m no‘ exactly jumpy either. I must say. I probably am . . . you were asking.
, Doldothe sarnethingsandthat.
well. I used to be quite a man for going out a lot. I‘m not really like
5 that. I‘d just rather get a couple of 5 cans ofbeer and play a board game
or something with some friends that I
I reallylike.orthatreallylike me. ; which is more important. I‘m not
into that Zsa Zsa Gabor thing— “I want to be alone“ — it‘s more the club thing. I don‘t want to take part any more.‘
But before we leave. another word on Hipsway.
‘I think they‘re good. It‘d be stupid
i to say I didn‘t think they were really
good. but I think they‘re as good as anything else. I think it‘s as good as a Dire Straits album. you know what I mean? I like it as much as I like anything.
‘I reckon I‘d buy it. lfI didn‘t get
them for nothing.‘