Dog day afternoons
Craig McLean gnaws on a few bones with Blue Aeroplanes and A House, who have pooled their resources for a new tour.
Pop years, like dog years, are seven normal years. The two pop groups, therefore, were 100 and 70 respectively. Now, unless you have ever-blooming success to tide you through this period of dotage, or enough cult acclaim and critical kudos to keep things ticking over just nicely, thanks very much, then you should, really, be sad, bitter and twisted. if you’ve been trotting around for upwards of the allotted three-score-years-and-ten, and still haven’t broken out of the lower-rung club circuit, you'd be browned- off, yes? Let‘s be honest, the odd good review in the papers means doodly-squat when compared to the thrill of baying crowds, humungous sales, and staying in smart hotels in smarter countries than this one. And then, on top of all this humdrum drudgery, if that long-hoped-for deal with a Major Label — where the traumas remain but at least you get to trauma in style — begins to buckle or even collapse, then, heck, the time has come to face the facts: you’ve no business in show-business.
Christ, would you want to be in The Blue Aeroplanes or A House?
Well, yes, actually. Take Dave Couse. He wouldn’t recognise the vulgar picture painted above (neither do I: it was a drop of devil’s advocaat). At present, he and his band A House are experiencing mild cabin fever in a studio in London. They’ve been stuck in a variety of those airless, windowless bunkers for a
A House year now, working on the follow-up to their dead good last album, 1991’s [Am The Greatest. Dave is the first to admit that the upcoming joint tour featuring his band and The Blue Aeroplanes should, demographically, be ‘couples and over-30s only. Us and Blue Aeroplanes, we’re hardly spring chickens!‘ But he‘s like that. Namely, perverse and healthily self-mocking. Just like good pop music, where hard- nosed business facts like the number of punters who turn up at The Venue on a wet Wednesday are incidental to real musicians. So EMl, to whom A House signed from London/Irish indie Setanta (who, in turn, had signed the Dublin band after another major, blanco y negro, had dumped them in 1990), have been giving them gip over the quality of the
_ mooted singles on the in-progress fourth album,
Wide-Eyed And Ignorant? So what? Like Dave says, with eager-beaver chirpiness, ‘whenever you’re on a
‘ major, you take their money and you take the shit
that goes with it . . . i just hope it’s not gonna be one of those situations where you just end up polishing a turd. I don’t think it is. We're happy with the songs . .
Take Gerard Langley. He and fellow Aeroplane Rodney Allen are on a whistle-stop tour of Glasgow and Edinburgh, touting their father-and-son double act round radio stations, pre-promoting the forthcoming Life Model: the Bn'stolians’ sixth album proper, their first for Beggars Banquet after a two album stint at Ensign/Chrysalis. It’s also the ﬁrst they’ve produced themselves and, to my surprise, is more than just clever-clever beat poetry. The lead-off single, ‘Broken & Mended’, throbs with riffs that can stun at 50 paces. Even Gerard’s version of singing - ie speaking - works a treat. At 100 years old, they sound energetically young for their age.
‘We’re musicians, we get inconvenienced by record companies,’ says Gerard — poet, sage and patrician head of the Aeroplanes‘ extended family of members, ex-members and muso associates. He likes playing and he likes whisky — when he can do both, as he is right now, savouring a glass of Laphraoig moments after a live session for Radio Forth, he’s happy. The collapse of Ensign and the takeover of Chrysalis by EM] presaged the Aeroplanes’ own departure. They don‘t care, they’ve found an empathetic home in Beggars Banquet. And anyway, Life Model was completed long before Beggars won the day, in the midst of record company ﬂux.
Which just goes to prove that humbug about age and acclaim and success are irrelevancies. A House and The Blue Aeroplanes are touring together because they're mutual fans and because they love playing live. Wherever, whenever, forever.
‘That’s what you do in the end,’ declares Gerard, all revved up. ‘The business is so shit you might as well just go on having a good time. The good time comes from what you play and perform. Now hopefully you can make enough money so you don't have to do anything else. But really it can’t affect the way you actually play, ’cos you just do it for its own sake.’ The Blue Aeroplanes and A House play King Tut 's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow on Tue 1 and The Venue,
Edinburgh on Wed 2.
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ON FOLLOWING PAGES: THE ORCHIOS O SCOTTISH ENSEMBLE O KENNY O
34 The List 28 January—10 February 1994