than you are. and in that sense it‘s soul music, and there‘s no point in trying to use it to manufacture a set ofcircumstances that you‘re ambitious for, to make money or to make you look good. I felt the last time that I was saying much more than I knew.‘
There was an idea doing the rounds that the Blue Nile don‘t play live because they‘re shy, or making a statement about the cult of the personality getting in the way of the music. Paul disposes ofthat one.
’I hope that‘s something that we‘ll be in a position to do. Again. it hasn‘t been a policy decision. it just wasn‘t feasible until we made the first record. Nobody was interested then. and we knew we couldn‘t do the music we wanted to do down the pub. so we just limited ourselves to working away. and it actually just happened the way it did. After the first record we were so over-run with the practicalities ofwork that it had to wait again. It‘s mainly an administrative problem now.‘
And the $64,000 question: any plans yet for a third album?
‘We‘ve actually done some work. but I think we‘ll expect to dip out of sight again in the not-too-distant future, because we‘re absolutely skinned alive. We need some time to recover and not to become experts on ourselves in advance. Just when nobody is paying any attention to us. I’d like just to sit around and play some music, as and when we have an idea, and not make any big deal out of it.‘ Later on. he adds. ‘We just set out and keep going until we know that we‘ve got songs that are entirely free from fancifulness— in terms of thinking “We‘re dead good at this“.‘
Well aware that the last few painful years could repeat themselves?
‘Exactly. It‘s like falling offa bike. You get a wee bit nervous climbing back on it.
It‘s just about time to say goodbye. when Paul becomes animated again.
‘Approximately 95 per cent of our story has been a string of ﬂukes and coincidences, and suddenly I feel like I‘m supposed to be Steely Dan or something! And I just don‘t know the answers really. It‘s funny. I was reading an old Evelyn Waugh book the other day. and part of it he‘d written while he was a temporary correspondent for one of the London newspapers. He was going on and on about how differently people reacted to you once they found out that you were a journalist — they would either say nothing or really really labour their point. And I thought Yeah, that must be quite tough. and it‘s one of those situations that I‘ve ended up in as well. Most ofthe time I feel like saying. Honestly I don‘t know!‘
Then what do people say when they find out you‘re a musician?
‘I‘m fairly low-key about it. I don‘t like lying, but generally I‘m just vague about it. I say I work in music and that‘s fine. I think maybe people are polite enough to let it go.‘
‘Hats’ is released by Linn/Virgin on 9 Oct. The single ‘Downtown Lights‘ is out now.
_ GIVING ALL THEY’VE GOT
Though it might be at odds with singer and songwriter Nigel Sleaford‘s belief that an album should be made fairly quickly (‘There's an ephemeral part of pop music that you ignore at your peril'), the newly-released Indian Givers debut, ‘Love is a Lie’, has been finished for six months. However, ‘there’s no sense of occasion,’ announces Nigel on the day of the LP’s release, before the band take the stage at a warm-up gig fortheir current Danny Wilson support slot.
‘The down side of it is that it’s something that we have to continue revolving around. We can't go too far away from it, because we have to go out and promote it and perform it. But we haven’t had the time to move on too far from it anyway. It proceeded with its own momentum. ldon’t know about this "elephantine gestation”, though.’
But it is something of a release, freeing them to develop beyond their opening statement, and the show, while ropey, sees them fiddling with the arrangements already. It ‘Love is a Lie’ shows them putting meat on the bones of the old sequencer-based demos, the Venue gig shows them sprouting teeth. ‘lt’s a Wonderful Life', in particular, ends up a discordant, squalling monster, bringing to the surface emotions which had long been kept at bay by the synthesisers' coolness. There’s even the first hint of rock bombast in there, unthinkable when they played theirfirst gig in the City Cafe. The new material, too, is confident and fresh.
It’s been a year of ups and downs, climaxing in stories of the temporary resignation of the band’s manager. The deal with Virgin seemed to some outsiders to freeze the ever-changing line-up into a partnership that had to learn to work together, for better or worse. Nigel points out the role played by the two ‘session’ players, drummer George and keyboard player Stevie, to ease the occasional friction between the core of himself, Avril and Simon.
‘The hardest thing was that we didn’t evolve at the same time our band attitude evolved. We’ve had to evolve a band attitude since the band existed, in public. We’ve had disagreements with everybody about it. And now I think it’s reached the point where it’s all there, we’re all now pretty happy with the idea of being in this band—finally, after a year!
The first single, ‘Hatcheck Girl’, got radio attention, but the second, ‘Fake ID’, failed to ignite the charts at all. One could make the excuse that Radio One was doing its summer roadshows and recycling the oldies on the way, but to Nigel, ‘that’s an excuse for some other kind of failure. And lthinkthat when you’re looking at failure you have to be prepared to take at least half of the blame yourself.’
While they’re on their current tour with Danny Wilson, playing Edinburgh and Glasgowthis fortnight, Virgin will re-release ‘llatcheck Girl’. Nigel
doesn‘t quite agree with the policy, ‘but 3 it'sfheiriob to do things like that. And if ’
they fail I hope they’ll be prepared to take half the blame as well.’ (Alastair Mabbott)
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The List 15 — 28 September 198‘) 7