GRANT LEE BUFFALO FEATURE
that’s going on in the world. what can you say? Who isn’t inarticulate?’
Well Phillips isn’t for a start. In overtly political songs like ‘Wish You Well’ or ‘America Snoring’. Phillips avoids the traps of empty sloganeering or didactic posturing. For all Grant Lee Buffalo’s ‘powertrio’ approach in live gigs. there’s no chance of his songs becoming posed U2-style anthems. ‘I prefer to approach things in the most human way I can.’ he says. ‘lf something gets under my skin. like in the songs on the album that have that political ring. those are the songs that grew out of my own personal fear. real fears about the loss of privacy or the loss of one’s freedoms. seeing all those things taken away from people in other parts of the world or in our own country. seeing those things being juggled around and thrown against the wall. I don’t like this idea where you hand over the decision-making process to a higher force like a government or a neighbourhood. That’s when those things emerge. when they hit me on a personal level. Otherwise I have no interest in being a politician or any of that kind of thing. I’m only interested in the human element.’
The human element in narrative compositions like ‘Jupiter And Teardrop’ allows Phillips’s cinematic skill full scope. evoking mood. place and character in simple. sparse couplets like: She divines by radio Pushing buttons show to show And she wonders about the fate of Lovers in the barrio She for‘gets after a while
When she tunes in on the dial Jackie Wilson ’s Loner Teardrops As she drives another mile.
‘The idea of presenting a story within a song is
an old idea that can be put into motion in a new way. depending on the story.’ he says. ‘I like to use those words and those ﬂickering images. I tend to think in pictures. and the words just try to capture the pictures as rapidly as they come up. That’s sort of an old story. l’tn sure it’s been written in a better way than it’s presented here. but this one has some loud crunching chords that makes it ours I guess.’
The loud crunching chords come into their own in live performance. Phillips knows he’s a rock singer rather than a preacher or a poet. and is far from precious about his lyrical subtleties. ‘Often ifl have to lean one way or the other I’ll go for the feel. Maybe it’s because I know what I’m saying. so I don’t have to stress that like a schoolteacher would. leaning over the classroom pronouncing each syllable. I’ve got more faith in the intuitive factors.’
Hence the textured. often acoustic content of Fuzzy has been stripped down and remoulded into a more a’gressively direct sound that seems likely to last into the recording sessions for the next record. tentatively scheduled for early next year. The current live show is a startling mix of Fuzzy favourites. unreleased songs and maverick cover versions. like a radical take on Neil Young obscurity ‘Turnstyles’. ‘Every so often we do a really hellish version of Elvis Presley’s ‘Burning Love’. says Phillips. ‘ But we don’t do many covers. We’ve so many songs of our own. and we’d rather exorcise those demons.’ Bring your own incense and incantations. Grant Lee Buffalo are casting out the devil every night. with encores. L]
Grant Lee Buffalo play Glasgow QM U on Saturdav 20 November A four-track live [51’ is released on Slash Records on 25 November.
‘Grant lee Buffalo sing about America in a way that exploits their chosen form with style and invention. Grant Lee Buffalo’s peculiarities are as important as their inﬂuences.’
GRANT lEE BUFFALO: No calt measures
The List 19 November—2 December I993 7