Bernard Butler Edinburgh: The Venue, Sun 12 Sep.
He doesn’t want to talk about it. Oh, he really doesn’t want to talk about it. Bernard Butler is keen to stress, at length, just how little he wants to waste his time discussing that band he used to be in.
‘There really is no enigma. There’s no big deal. It's just not relevant. You might as well talk to me about Steps.’
Your correspondent would like to humbly note that her intention was to discuss Mr Butler’s forthcoming solo opus, Friends And Lovers, and not his erstwhile cohorts. He has other ideas.
’Everyone’s got a mental block about it except me. Everyone I speak to is like, "Can we mention the S word?" What — that great band I was in once? ’
Right. So, the new album . . .
'I'm pretty alone in the path I’ve taken. I played guitar in one of the greatest groups around, when they were at their greatest, but when you're in a group there are always barriers. It’s very frustrating to have to try and replicate the success of your first album.’
It’s interesting that many of his original contemporaries are also at crucial points in their careers, though: Elastica’s comeback, Blur’s glorious ten-year anniversary, Oasis’s sudden decline in membership . . . ’I feel that a lot of these people have ten years behind them; I have ten years ahead of me.’
Back to that new album. Butler has taken a very straight-ahead rock ’n’ roll path, at a time when it’s cool to veer into the territory of wiggy remixes and inappropriate collaborations.
‘Beck changed music forever; but he’s a genius, and a lot of the people influenced by him aren’t. They keep
Bernard Butler: used to be in some band, apparently
what they do and just stick a drum machine and loops on it — and it sounds terrible. I don’t like gimmicks. I’ve tried to strip this album down as much as possible.’
The Butler voice was an unknown quantity on his first album, but the new material sees him singing with flamboyant abandon.
‘The first time around it was a bit trial and error. But people got a lot out of it; so this time I feel a lot more confident.’
Doesn’t he just? Isn’t he a bit of a control freak in the studio? There have been rumours . . . ’I don’t want to control your life. I don’t care what you had for breakfast. But if you’re going to come and play on my records . . .’
The words 'I will rule you with a rod of iron for my word is law’ dangle unspoken. Bernard Butler: his past is in the past, his album is in the can, he likes the sound of his own voice and he hopes you will too.
(Hannah McGill) Friends And Lovers will be out in Oct.
The Beta Band
Foiled again: The Beta Band
media and an exasperated record company, the Beta bandits have remained bloody-minded and unbowed. They've already recorded a trail-blazing new EP.
’It’s exactly the opposite of what we’ve been doing so far. We could have carried on down this kind of cliched Beta Band road where there's lots of funny little quirky noises and bongo drums, but I never wanted to be in a band like that. We did it all on a computer. It sounds much more clinical; Busta Rhymes or Missy Elliot meeting The Who.’
Impossibly tantalising it may sound, but due to record label wrangles, their forthcoming Glasgow gig may be the only chance we’ll get to sample this new hi-sci-fi trajectory.
Glasgow: Barrowland, Sat 25 Sep.
Beta Band honcho Steve Mason, he of the swathing Only Fools And Horses- theme tune vocals, is not a happy bunny. There was a time his scattershot noiseniks were being hailed as the great white hopes for dragging British music into the next millennium. But after their eponymous debut album (a rag-tag, fugitive fleet of nursery-
rhyming and tumbleweed beats) was released earlier this year, it met with a confused reaction. The situation was perhaps not helped by the band confessing to a salivating NME journo that they hated it.
'She did catch me on a bad day,’ admits Steve. ’That's how I feel, but I probably shouldn't have been quite so vocal about it.’
Trapped between a knife-sharpening
’The record company don’t want to release it,’ sighs Steve. ’We've got another huge battle on our hands. Every day is a struggle with these people, you know? I want to get it out as soon as possible. If they won’t release it, I’ll put it out myself and go to jail for it.‘
Do not go to jail. Pass Go, collect £200 and check out The-Beta Band. (Graeme Virtue)
Musical news, feuds and rumours
COOL STUFF AT the upcoming FuncT festival at the Arches includes Roni Size’s vocal-led drum ’n’ bass fellas Breakbeat Era, the fabulous Quannum, Asian Dub Foundation (pictured), Blacka’nized and Herbaliser. Things kick off on Fri 24 Sep, so polish up your dancing boots and check details in the next issue of The List.
EPIC AMERICAN HYPE-harvesters Remy Zero have been chosen from panting hordes of would-be support acts to join little darlings Travis on their upcoming tour, which hits Glasgow Barrowland on Tue 5 Oct. Don’t forget your hanky for a night of soaring, sweeping and sniffling.
THE REVOLUTION WILL not be televised. Or not on MTV, at least, because they have seen fit to ban Atari Teenage Riot’s ’Revolution Action’ video, on account of scenes of ’mass hysteria, epileptic fits, nudity and sadistic torturing behaviour’! Digital Hardcore Records have issued a response passionately invoking ﬁswas, Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles in the band's defence. What is it with these people and their outdated cultural iconography? Then there's their claim that the video makes 'obvious reference to Eisenstein's Metropolis.’ Spot the deliberate mistake, there to test your fascist-baiting powers of observation.
SCOTLAND‘S PREMIER WORLD music outfit, Zuba, will play a benefit gig at the Tron on Sun 12 Sep in aid of Scottish International Relief. Tickets are £7.50 from the Tron Box Office (0141 552 4267).
SICK OF SELLING your demos at gigs or by mail-order? A new website aims to project unsigned Scottish bands into the global marketplace. Jam Hot will collate pictures, profiles and soundbites, enabling browsers to listen to the band of their choice and, if they like what they hear, order CDs online. ’All we require from artists is that their material is original and on digital format. Jam Hot can handle everything else, from pressings and sleeve design to packing and distribution,’ they say. For more info contact Bill on 01290 553 747.
Getting FuncT: Asian Dub Foundation
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9-23 Sep 1999 THE “ST 33