They're not pretty, wealthy or radio-friendly; in fact the odds are stacked against ULTRASOUND. But when you're one of Britain's most unusualand exciting bands, giving upisnotan option.
Words: Peter Ross
BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE STROBE-STRAFED in South Kensington: nervous girls suck cigarettes and slurp champagne. gorgeous men beamed down from Planet Cheekbones discuss exfoliation in earnest huddles, Johnny Vaughan breezes past. Suddenly. a solitary looming figure strides heftily down the catwalk — an obese man in bad slap and a ticklish mohairjumper. He looks like ten Kate Mosses wrapped up in a rag rug and painted with a bog brush. He lifts his top and reveals the vast prow of his gut. emblazoned. just for today. with the word ‘UNIQUE’ in big orange letters. Somewhere a ﬂash goes off. Crash. bang. wallop. what a picture.
The next day. The Independent carries the photograph on its front page. The caption reads ‘A model aims to make a big impression at Red Or Dead‘s show for London Fashion Week‘. But all over the country. fans of adventurous music gasp with
and include all the singles plus a few other songs that aren‘t as good. Ultrasound‘s debut album. Ei'eijvtlzing Picture. is a 90-minute. twelve-track. triple-vinyl introduction to their private heaven and hell. It‘s a towering. sprawling. mind-blowing. two-fingered gesture to everyone who ever said that Tiny. looking like he looks and liking what he likes. would never amount to a hill of beans. It’s magniﬁcent.
‘Evervt/zing Picture is a defiant gesture.‘ says Tiny in Northern English tones as ﬂat as the Dales. ‘It comes from the fact that I‘m regarded amongst my peers as a failure. and I regard myself as a failure. but I'm not going to give in. It‘s like telling yourself that you're worth it. If no one else is telling us. at least we can tell ourselves.
‘l've never succeeded at all before. I’ve always been in bands that never made it or never quite got together or
and Suede are both key influences - Tiny used to send Robert Plant a birthday card every year. but has so far been too overawed to talk to Brett Anderson despite their shared record label. They are also becoming a cracking live band. Already visually arresting. they try to make each gig as special as possible and are assembling a legion of devoted fans behind the Ultrasound ﬂag.
‘The intention behind the anthemic quality of the songs is to build a musical community,’ says Tiny. ‘I like the idea that a gig is not a giO. it's something that can change your life. Hopefully. people who come to see us will leave the venue changed by the expeﬁencef
That musical community certainly seems to be growing. When Tiny's mic packed in at Reading. the crowd sang ‘Stay Young' (sample lyric: ‘Hey kids. rock 'n' roll is here. so scream all you like‘) for him. while their
They are Placebo's nancy boys (and girl), they are Pulp's misfits, they are creeps, they are weirdos, they don't belong here
recognition as Andrew ‘Tiny‘ Wood. lead singer with Ultrasound. makes a stylish entrance to the mainstream. Ultrasound are not like other bands. but this five-piece could have stepped out of any modern anthem to freakishness. isolation and daring to be different. They are Placebo‘s nancy boys (and girl). they are Pulp‘s misfits. they are creeps. they are weirdos. they don’t belong here. Ultrasound have created a debut album which is not like other debut albums. The first fruits from other bands tend to have ripened too early,
no one had any faith in at all. At one point there was only me and Richard [Green. the Neil Young lookalike guitarist] that still had faith in us. No one else in the whole world did. and it‘s quite a hard task convincing people that you do have something to say. that you are worth something.‘ Luckily for Ultrasound. their music speaks for itself. The excessive length of their songs has attracted a ‘prog’ tag. but a curious mix of sensitivity and bludgeoning riffs locates them closer to Radiohead or Mansun than Genesis. Led Zeppelin
support slot with Placebo at Glasgow‘s Barrowland saw the headliners completely upstaged. The forthcoming performances in surprisingly intimate venues in Glasgow and Edinburgh should be like playing Twister with God in a thimble.
Ultrasound play the Venue, Edinburgh, Wed 17 Mar and King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, Fri 19 Mar. Everything Picture is released on Nude on Mon 12 Apr. The single, ‘Floodlit World', precedes it on Mon 22 Mar.