It's a Monday afternoon in Edinburgh's llMV Records and. appropriately. threatening rain for the appearance of Wet Wet Wet at the store to sign copies of their first long player. the wittily-titled (and packaged) Popped In Sou/ed 0141. released that very day. An immense queue. mainly girls in their early teens. plus a few brave lads dragged

brief word. or perhaps a peck on the lips. from Scotland’s new pop sensations. Behind the counter Wet Wet Wet (Marti Pellow. Graeme (‘lark. Neil Mitchell and Tom (‘unningham ) smile and get on with it. though no end to the queue is in sight.


But there‘s no screaming. no hysterics. Wet Wet Wet fans. on this occasion at least. appear to he a fairly level-headed crowd. The re are even a few dissenting whispers. "l‘hey’re drips.’ says one schoolgirl. along out ofcuriosity. "l'hey live tip to their name.”

Nevertheless. on the strength of two singles. both of which hit the 'l‘op 'l'wenty. the band have sold out the Edinburgh Playhouse faster than anyone since international stars A-l la. And this is just their first proper tour. 'l'heir management. The Precious ()rganisation. had been predicting that the Wets would be massive from the day they were signed. Most dismissed this as Glaswegian braggadocio. But the Wets have arrived. And how. At the moment they have the highest public profile of a wave of Scottish groups (including Danny Wilson. llue And ('ry. Deacon Blue and Love And Money). who are either having big hits or being very strongly pushed by their respective record companies.

our next issue. but for the moment Wet Wet Wet are the flavour of the month.

A spot poll. conducted among the girls waiting in HMV. pinpoints Marti (a man with a truly disarming

a millisecond away from his cheeks)

Graeme running a close second. The most recurrent adjective is ‘brilliant‘. and a frequently-voiced opinion is ‘I just like to see a Scottish hand doing well for a change.’

A few days later I get to speak to drummer 'l‘om (‘unningham and keyboard player Neil Mitchell in

their manager‘sGlasgow offices. and

can't resist asking if they had

~ intended lrom the beginning to he mobbed by screaming teenage girls.

Actually. they had been very

well-behaved teenage girls. but there

were an awful lot of them. From where l’msitting.onaeomfyebair. j looking down at the chatty

! red-haired'l‘om and quiet diminutive Neil.hothlollingonthe l floor in matching Flintstones

l 'l‘-shirts. they aim look like the sex i symbols you see in the movies.

i ‘()bvious|y.‘ says'l‘om. ‘just the

along by sisters and girlfriends. waits under the grey sky for the chance of a

Well he taking a look at the others in

and infectious smile never more than

as the most popular Wet. with bassist

you‘re in the charts makes you a prime target for girls to stick on their wall. It makes you chuffed. but it’s no a serious thing. And you don't choose your audience. the audience chooses you.‘

They're both quietly amazed at the demand for tickets for their tour. They're an improvement on A-lla. that‘s for sure. but they're finding it hard to think about the level on which they’re now competing: ‘We still stay with our parents. We still go back and wash the dishes.‘ ‘What really sent it home. relates Tom. ‘was when we came back up to do our first date in our hometown Glasgow (just after Wishing I Was Lucky became a hit). We‘d played the Pavilion maybe three months before. with Love And Money. And with two hands on together we still couldn‘t quite sell the place out. We came back and thought we might he able to sell it out 'cause we‘d had a single out. And it turned out we could‘ve sold it out five times over.‘ The hand had been dreaming of an audience for a long time. They came together at school in (‘lydehank in 1978. when Graham and Neil were punks. and just being in a hand was enough. Tom. Graham and Neil stayed together through various line-ups. but found themselves in


dire need of a good singer. Enter Spandau Ballet fan Marti Pellow. who would ‘go around the smokers' at break and lunchtime and impress them with his talent for mimicking singers like Paul Young and Boy George. ‘I le always had the grin.' says Tom. ‘As he says. there's so many good things happening to us at the moment. what's the point of walking around with a dull face'." With the new optimism for pop music that followed punk‘s waning. the boys‘ hand began to take shape. spurred on by the idea ofthe ‘real song'. a melody and lyric that would stand tip on its own. played by any



combination of instruments.

‘We got into a lot ofsongwriters.‘ explains Neil from the floor. ‘Songs that in ten years time people are still gonna listen to: Goffin and King. Elvis Costello. Holland/Dozier/ Holland. . .‘

()ne of the LPs released at that time was to have a strong effect on the embryonic Wets: ABC‘s The Lexicon of1.oi'e. ‘A band with strings in it!‘ explodes Tom. ‘It just had so much style about it. and grandeur. It was just so huge.‘

Their attempts to emulate that sound. on a small four-track studio. with a violin player and a saxophonist. were not successful. "l‘he first demo sounded like a pile of shit..

The next demo. recorded with the £20 they had left. was turned down by every company in London including Phonogram. which was eventually to sign them. A flicker of interest by Geoff Travis. supremo of leading independent label Rough Trade. petered out when his new band The Smiths became succesful. and the Wets found themselves back in Glasgow pondering their next IUOVC.

The turning point was the intervention of Elliot Davies. former manager of the defunct Sunset Gun. who came to their rescue and invited them to join The Precious ()rganisation. There followed what Neil calls ‘a two-year learning process‘. playing small gigs. getting the songs up to the required standard and generating as much hype about the band as possible. ‘Before we knew what was happening.‘ relates Neil. ‘there were seven record companies chasing us.‘

Around that time. Wet Wet Wet began to get an inkling ofthe kind of business they were moving into. ‘Just before we signed (to Phonogram. for the largest-ever advance to a Scottish band reputedly £12().()()()). there was a phone call from one of the big companies. and they actually tried to bribe our manager- offered him {25.000 to sign with their company.

Suddenly Scottish bands are making it to the top ofthe charts both sides of the Atlantic. Alastair Mabbott talks to Wet Wet Wet (who are at the Playhouse. Edinburgh

| on ltl()ct) about their remarkable success as a soulband that both the Americans and Glaswegians have taken to

their hearts.


That was the stage it got to: bribes. Basically. that‘s the sort of thing that turns you off.‘

A message on the sleeve of Popped In Sou/ed ()ut reads ‘We are first and foremost a soul band not only in influence and direction. but more importantly in attitude and ambition.‘ It sounds insufferany pompous coming from four young white‘ boys from Glasgow. but whether or not Tom has sensed I‘m about to bring it up. he answers my question in his own way.

We‘re talking about the problems of finding the right producer to work

4'l'he List 2—15()ctober