BEE—t Any colour so long as i it’s black ;
He‘s never been the 1\’larion kind, i but Alastair Mabbott is impressed l by the passion and commitment of the Manchester quintet. 1
‘Not :1lot\ changed. to he honest. We‘re doing the same thing we‘ve always heen doing. but it’s on :1 bigger scale. We're in the tniddle ol' l‘rance on :1 sleeper bus now as opposed to inst outside .\lanchestcr in :1 little van with all the gear.‘
Phil Cunningham. guitarist l‘or.\l:1rion. ltasheett awake for half :111 hour and is using up what remains otthe precious hattery juice on the tour manager‘s mobile phone as he ga/es out on the l’reueh countryside rushing by outside. Singer Jaime llarding is still crashed out. snl'l‘cring a case oI lln that has forced them to cancel :1 couple of dates already.
The hands heen on the road for sis or seven weeks. inclttding three in .-\merica. In fact. for the last year or so. .\l:1rion seem to have been continually touring. supporting :1 legion of acts like .\lorrisscy and Radiohead while playing their own. elnh-leyel. headlining gigs. 'l’hose impassioned performances have had the desired ellch. for their I’anhase has grow 11 to the level where they can get into the Top It) with minimal radio play and press on erage
Marion paint it black
The} ‘\e been continually likened to The Smiths. Joy Division and licl1o.-\nd'l‘he linnnymen. but if we're going to bother digging up the early 80s at all. one reference point that can‘t be ignored is UZ’s all- hnt-Ii1rgotten-these-days debut album. Buy. The similarities between .laime‘s voice and that of the young Botto are striking. There‘s the same sense of an untiormed singer testing out the limits of his voice. reaching for something he helieyes cart only he attained by rattling the bars of his music and straining to ievitate above it. Which he never quite does. of course. the rest of Marion matching him with an indefatigable rhythtn section and wiry riffs from (.‘unningham and co-gnitarist Anthony (irantham.
‘()ne thing is that the bands we get compared to - U2. Joy Division and The Smiths — is that their music is all so emotionally driven. whereas a lot of the Britpop stuff at the moment is sort of ironic. quirky. almost cabaret-style stuff.‘ Phil states. ‘I mean. I went to see Blur the other night because they were playing in Italy and we had a night off. I’ve never been a big fan. but it just seemed to me to be a bit of a cabaret-type show. I’ve got a lot of respect for what bands like that are doing with the whole Britpop scene. it's a very healthy scene. people are getting into bands again. That’s what you notice as well from coming to these European places. it’s really big at the moment. So that helps us. in a way. to get across what we're doing.‘
If Marion are always pegged by early-80s comparisons. it could be because their roots are in the late 70s. They started as a school punk band. covering songs by bands like Buzzcocks as well as writing their own material. Incredibly. the most recent single. ‘Sleep'. and an album track. ‘The Only Way'. were written when the band were about fifteen.
The only band of the last five years that Phil admits to having serious respect for is Manic Street Preachers. a group whose passion. if not their judgement. has never been in doubt. This makes sense. given that Marion present themselves as a band with a mission. Phil does think. though. that the fact that the band are never seen dressed in any colour other than black is being taken as too significant.
‘The fact is that with touring so much you have to wear dark clothes. 'cause you get so much shit on them.‘ ls that really the secret? Don’t Marion wear black when they‘re off the road too? ‘Occasionally. yeah. because those are the clothes I‘ve bought to tour in. so I wear 'em at home.‘ Sounds like a well- rehearsed answer. ‘No. ljust thought ofthat one here and now. looking at the swans on the canal.‘
Are they . . . ll/(lt‘k swans. Phil‘.’ ‘Oh. ofcourse, yeah.‘
.Ilarimi play The (Image. Glasgow on Sun 24.
ma:— Kula cats
Halfway through the interview with Kula Shaker in the lobby of a Glasgow 1 Vinyl. hotel, the general manager of the
hotel marches up and hauls the Shaker vocalist and guitarist Crispian Mills and his drumming cohort, Paul Winter, off to his office for a stern talking to. Ahh, the sweet smell of excess. Have the lads succumbed to the temptations of drugs, groupies and room-trashing only a few months after having won Manchester’s In The City and being signed to Columbia?
‘He didn’t like us burning ioss sticks’ explains Mills. It doesn’t even register on the Led Zeppelin scale of bad behaviour but as a sample incident it serves perfectly to illustrate where the foursome are coming from. Their
I influences have travelled from the
mystic music of India, stopping off en
route at destinations as diverse as
i Haight Ashbury, baggy Manchester,
i The Doors and Maharishi-flavoured Beatles. The end product is as passionate live as it is mesmerising on
Having recently performed their new single ‘Grateful When You’re Dead’
1 (spot the Jerry Garcia reference?) on both The Late Edition and The White Room, the lads’ own White Room fantasy league line-up would include ‘George Harrison doing some Indian stuff and Jeff Buckley could be on with his dad, Tim.’ Just in case this all seeems a bit kaftan-like the Tiswas gunk cage also makes an appearance fora bit of light relief.
Their interest in Eastern forms of music stems from travels to India and an all-night concert which Mills went to in London. ‘It was such an experience that it changed my life,’
says Mills. ‘From there we all got heavily into it. There’s something
about it that’s not mundane but really
Interest in the band’s guitar-based psychedelia Is surging already and their high cheek-bones and elegantly wasted good looks won’t be a ;
hindrance either. As to the future, the band have clear Ideas about where they want to be In a year's time. ‘Somewhere where you don’t get hassled lust for lighting loss sticks,’ groans Winter. (Jonathan Trev)
Kula Shaker play King hits Web Web Hut, Glasgow on Sat 23.
The List 22 Mar—4 Apr 1996 37