FEATURE TEENAGE FANCLUB
‘We had to llve that down at every glg we did and we don’t drink before we play now. You can’t do It, for me It’s
This avowed policy of making the records, slapping them out, and staying fairly low-key about it is all well and good and very artistically PC, but it doesn’t always tend to be how corporate
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‘I think we’d like to begin making another album at Christmas, and do it much more quickly. We hate that attitude where you make the album, present it to the major and then it gets released. We’d rather it was a more natural thing you know, you write some songs, you bring them out, like they did in the old days.’
Not that the lengthy recording period was caused by unproductive, indulgent ﬁddling about with details. The new album is distilled down from some 40 songs banged out during the sessions. Bassist Gerry Love reckons it’s better than Bandwagonesque, but Mr Cautious Blake prefers to think of it as more of the same. ‘All it is is another bunch of Teenage Fanclub songs we’re putting out. It’s nothing more than that. It’s not “yeah we’ve reﬁned what we’re doing and here it is.” We’re not trying to do our Nirvana. It probably won’t have the hype the last one did.’
You get the suspicion Blake doesn’t fancy the gold- ﬁsh-bowl scenario currently facing Kurt Cobain and co as they attempt to follow-up the ludicrously successful Nevermind. He is certainly quick to dismiss any prospect of Teenage Fanclub achieving a similar mass crossover appeal. ‘We don’t think “Let’s try and write a single for America”. We’d like to be successful yeah, but we don’t need it now. And with this album, it’s probably not slick enough to sell anything like that. It's not the right kind of music in that it doesn’t have that Nirvana heavy metal crossover thing. And we wouldn’t really want it to.’
“We all drlnlr In the Grltlln wlth the other groups who all know Stephen Pastel. It's talrly lncestuous.” - llonnan Blake, master of the understatement.
America sees things. Fortunately, according to Blake, the mighty Geffen Records (to whom the group are signed in the USA) are pretty cool.
‘They are actually really good,’ he says. ‘We know Sonic Youth, which helps a lot. Thurston Moore is a really powerful guy there because there’s this real kudos of having Sonic Youth on the label, they’ll draw bands. They’re not a mas- sive selling band themselves, but they are a cool band to have, the coollest indie band or whatever. Geffen aren’t like your huge conglomerate anyway. There’s a guy who works there called Ray Farrell who used to work for SST, and a couple of the guys used to work in college radio and actually know about music. You walk into the label and the guys will be talking about records, men- tioning Big Star and stuff, hardcore or whatever. They’re like that, like fans. And hopefully they’re still going to let us make records, even if this one doesn’t do as well.’
With the album’s release still a couple of months away, Blake is keener to talk about a bizarre one-off collaboration with New York rappers De La Soul. ‘We got this phone call from this guy called Happy Walters,’ he explains, still a little bemused by it all, ‘mad guy but that was his real name. He worked for Immortal Records in LA who do Cypress Hill and some of the new white-rap groups. There’s this dodgy sort of movie coming out, and they were putting rap acts together with alternative bands. They asked if we’d be interested in doing it and we said ‘sure”. At ﬁrst it was going to be that bunch, what do you call them, had the fat guy singer, did the Spandau Ballet song, PM Dawn. But their record company were giving them hassle so the guy said “how about De La Soul” which was great because we loved their stuff.’
The rappers ﬂew over to Manchester to record the track, where after an initial coolness, New York and Glasgow discovered a meeting of minds. ‘They recorded this drumbeat, and we added a guitar track. It’s sort of De La Soully, with us doing a geetar thing, a Booker T sort of thing on top, and they do a great rap, it’s really cool. They were great guys as well. We were saying next time you’re in Glasgow we’ll take you for a curry, it was a really good experience, I real- ly enjoyed doing it. Could be a single as well.’
In the meantime we’ve had ‘Radio’, three minutes or so of breezy summer-airwaves-friendly proof that Teenage Fanclub haven’t lost it quite yet, even if it didn’t quite do the chart action it deserved. For such a slack bunch of poptastic jokers though, there is a harder edge in there somewhere, lurking beneath the clowning facade. Check out the B-side of the single, a cover of Phil Ochs’s ‘no sell-out’ anthem ‘Chords Of Fame’. ‘Yeah, keeping your integrity is more impor- tant than making a load of money and being a big star,’ afﬁrms Blake. ‘Mind you, Phil Ochs killed him- self...’C]
Teenage Fanclub's as yet untitled album will be released in September, preceded by a new single in August.
TEENAGE FANCLUB Selected Discography
I CATHOLIC EDUCATION (PAWSE). Moments of inspiration (Everything Flows, Eternal Light) ﬁlled out with weaker tracks and far too many instrumentals. Worth borrowing. I TIIEKIIMPAPEIIIOIISE). Mysterious instrumental-heavy limited edition artefact with nothing of note included. Rumoured to be a hastily- concocted contractual obligation pay-off. Ignore.
I WWHOREATION). The dog’s proverbials. Loads more cash was spent and it showed, from perfect opener The Concept onwards, Teenage Fanclub at last fulﬁlled their potential. Essential, and a very tough act to follow.
I EVERYTIIIKEFLOVIS (PAWSE). Epic duelling guitars anthem, managing to be plaintive and perky at the same time. This put the band ﬁrmly on the indie contenders map.
I GODKIIOVISIT’STIIIE (PAWSE) . . . and this conﬁrmed their status. A naggingly catchy chorus drives along a conﬁrmed punch-the-air live favourite that still receives the loudest cheers at gigs.
I TIEBALLADOFMIIIAIDYOKO (WITHIN). A throwaway run- through of the Lennon-in-a-bag Beatles single. They’ve done better covers: check out their Mr Tambourine Man on the NME Ruby Trax compilation.
I MWGEPHGIIEATION). ‘She wears denim wherever she goes, says she wants to get a record by the Status Quo’. A touching tribute to a super-groupie (sort of) and the scene-setter for Bandwagonesque.
I STARSK'JKCIEIM). lOOmph out-of-synch harmonics sounding just perfect in this very-nearly hit anthem.
I VIIIA'I'YOUDO'I'OK (GREATION).
The third single off Bandwagon- esque. and a straight-down-the- line fringe-shaking sub-metal rocker. Chorus again more than a little contagious.
I mnmcaumrl). The latest chapter in the Teenage Fanclub classic singles story, this airy and lyrically allusive singalong was just made for the AM (and the FM). Why it wasn’t top ﬁve, we’ll never understand.
12 The List 16—29 July I993