Glasgow: King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Thu 23 Apr.
The band who call themselves Gomez all live together in the same house. Like, indeed, the Monkees did. ‘Except we haven’t got the fire-pole and stuff,’ Paul Blackburn, the bass-playing 20% of the five-piece, hastens to add. 'It'd be nice if we did, though.’
Blackburn’s on the line purely because, when The List phoned, he was the first one to wander past and pick up. We can talk to him if we like, he offers. Or he can go and get someone else, if we've got a preference.
Now, such self-effacing, flexible behaviour, believe it or not, is not part of the usual set-up when speaking with a band who have just garnered Album of the Week type write-ups in both the NME and the Melody Maker (nine out of ten-ish and four and a half out of five-ish respectively). But then again, thus far Gomez have somehow managed to avoid most of the usual rituals. For instance, in a move (well, not ’a move', more of an amble, actually) calculated (well, not ’calculated', more completely unpremeditated, actually) to seriously piss- off (seriously piss-off) almost every hard-gigging band, sweating hopefully out there on 'the circuit', Gomez got themselves signed before they'd so much as played a
Gomez: toilet circuit virgins hit the big time, almost
gig, by inviting the thirty-or-so A&R people up to Sheffield to watch them rehearse. This was about a year ago. Only last summer, in fact. Makes you sick. In fact, their first time onstage before a proper crowd was at the Garage in Glasgow, playing support to Embrace just a little while back. Now the veteran of some sixteen gigs, Blackburn reckons that, since that night, ‘It's improved a lot.‘
As mentioned, Gomez have managed to find the time to record an album, Bring It On, which introduces the world to their fuzzy noises. Already Beck, Tom Waits, Dr John, Captain Beefheart and Curtis Mayfield have been mentioned in the press — but, to be honest, Gomez offer a far more traditional sound than any of the scary geniuses above; there‘s enough going on in the background to engage interest, but overlaid is a warm, proper-song security blanket and singer Ben Otterwell's vaguely Eddie Veder vocals — a powerful grumble from a man who, the Christmas before last, was still a budding sociologist. For his part, the bass player was getting ready to study pharmacy - something which life on the rock and roll superhighway will doubtless give him plenty of opportunity to do. And fire-poles too, probably. (Damien Love)
5 Bring It On is out on Hut
Glasgow: King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Tue 21 Apr.
Arnold: gloom but not doom
lt's springtime and it's snowmg. Ideal Arnold conditions. Languorous melodies, acoustic arrangements, overlapping voices raised in harmony — yet there’s still this reflective, negative energy thing gOing on.
Phil Morris, Arnold‘s singing drummer (but not live — they're Just recruned a touring sticksman) can easily account for the group’s seeming inability to cheer-up-it-might-never-happen, Because It did Happen to Arnold a couple of years ago when they were a tight-knit four-piece called Patio. Their singer Rob died and the remaining trio turned insular.
'We could have gone our separate ways,’ he says, "but the band clung together ’cos we all need an emotional crutch. I could relate to The Charlatans carrying on after their Rob died'
On their forthcoming second album Hillside, Arnold are not yet done wringing out their feelings on the personal tragedy, courtesy of guitarist Mark Saxby's Iachrymose lyrics.
’Some of the songs on the album are
a year old from that hangover period after losing Rob,’ says Morris. ’Hopefully With this album that's all out of the way and With the next one it’ll be pastures new. It was a strange time for us — last year‘ was the best and worst year of our lives and all those lyrics are borne out of that experience. It comes down to our goitarist; he is very reflective. Everything we do ends up sounding gloomy.’
There are undoubted Radiohead moments in Arnold's set, although for the most part they follow the failsafe Beach Boys/Big Star/Teenage Fanclub lineage. As with any familiar references reworked skilfully, you tend not to mind that Arnold are not the most cutting-edge of bands. And that way, they’ll never be faddish.
'We are pretty diverse,’ insists Morris. 'You've got to have somewhere that you can branch out for future recordings. But we're totally self- sufficient'
That’s Arnold — branching out, but looking inwards. (Fiona Shepherd)
ROCK Everclear Glasgow Garage, Sat 25 Apr.
'You damn critics — you're so full of crap!’ chortles Art Alexakis. One can but sympathise. Everclear’s frontman has been talking turkey to endless talking turkeys on a Groundhog Day- Iong loop of press interviews. And yet we the world‘s disparaged hacks speak very kindly of his band, our Stateside brethren being particularly well disposed.
'The people at home who didn’t pay attention with the last album have come full circle and admitted they were wrong about Everclear, which, I think, IS pretty big for rock critics.’ Why, thank you. Flattery, though, Will take you only so far in this busmess. The ability to write grungified power pop tunes clocking in at JUSi the right side of that radio-friendly three minute mark is what gives Everclear an extra throw of the dice.
So Much For The Afterglow, the Oregon combo's third LP, already a million-seller in the US, has drawn various comparisons, none of which much impress Art. ’A lot of people pose us as a punk band which I don’t believe we are. It’d be the kiss of death for a punk band to admit to being influenced by Springsteen or Costello or Paul Simon. But I couldn't give a fuck what people think.’
This is self-assured talk rather than the patter of yet another gobby ego merchant. 'This record was kind of a manifesto saying thank you to everyone who believed in us and fuck you to those who didn't. It’s nice when you can do that, even politely'
And a man describing himself as 'iust another loser with a gUitar’ has to be a regular subscriber to the Casey Casen school of physics — reaching for the stars Without resort to a stepladder. 'I think most musiCians who can emote from the soul — that sounds incredibly pretentious, but you know what I'm saying, those who can really express themselves — are fuck-ups in the real world.’
You’re in the driving seat, Art. Emote away. (Rodger Evans)
Everclear: fuck you, politely
16-30 Apr 1998 THE UST45