Glasgow: King Tut's, Tue 19 Oct.
The Auteurs is Luke Haines. and Luke Haines is weary of the British tendency to wallow in nostalgia. So why does his last album, Howl Learned To Love The Bootboys, dawdle amidst the minutae of a 705 childhood - glam rock, sew-on patches, skinheads? ’All that stuff about it being an "anti-nostalgia record” has been overplayed,’ he muses, ’but I did get sick of all the constant revivals. It was an attempt to look back without nostalgia. Nostalgia’s weak and sugary and milky.’
Not qualities that could be ascribed to Haines’s brand of acerbic observational pop music, honed to bitter perfection over four highly acclaimed albums. The latest is a breezy, bitchy memoir that investigates the darker corners of Luke’s ‘very normal, lower middle class, Southern English .childhood’, opening with the irresistably infectious single ’T he Rubettes’. It confirmed the suspicions of the many critics and fans who have long rated Haines as one of the country’s best lyricists and most underrated geniuses. Not that he’s one to rest on his laurels; his side projects Baader Meinhof and Black Box Recorder have been equally
Putting the boot in: Luke Haines
well-received. Why the urge to split his musical persona thus? ’lt’s not enough to do just one thing; being in a band is hardly the most demanding thing in the world,’ he says, turning the tables on the hordes of whingey pop stars who would have us believe their metier is only slightly less taxing than open-cast mining. Whilst Black Box Recorder operates as ’a collective’, with The Auteurs his word is law. ’There are other people on stage. but they play every note I tell them,’ he says. Does this dictatorial approach make him unpopular? ’No; we have a healthy indifference. We’re not friends.’ It’s not just the myth of inter-band camaraderie that Haines rejects; he’s pretty unimpressed with the whole lifestyle. ’Being in bands is bloody boring,’ he states. ’I
always find it really embarrassing when I meet people at weddings and have to tell them what I do.’ He’s certain of his true calling, and it’s not a musical one. ’My rightful place is on TV. I want my own show. I am always haranguing people I know in TV with my ridiculous pilot concepts, and I am always pipped at the post by something more feasible.’ Well, if the Antiques Roadshow ever embraces the concept of anti-nostalgia, he’d be the perfect anti-Hugh Scully. He could break people's beloved 70s lava lamps and set fire to their Bay City Rollers dolls. Till then, we’ll happily make do with the gorgeous music he’s so bored of making.
- How I Learned To Love the Bootboys is out now on Hut.
Therapy? Glasgow: The Garage, Fri 15 Oct. Let us cast our minds back through time. It's 1991, our gentle shores are being bombarded by plaid-clad, hairy Americans, and the indigenous rock scene is to say the least limp. Then, out of a grubby corner strut three young Irish tykes called Therapy"), who along with those other deranged guitarrorists Skunk Anansie, had come to fly the flag for quality rock on this side of the Atlantic.
Both bands quickly went from indie rumblings to fully-fledged rock stardom; but while Skunk Anansie
38 TIIEIJST 7-21 Oct 1999
Head honchos: Therapy?
remained aloof to the pressures of fame, things seemed to go to a bit skewiff for Therapy?. The parallel is now safely back on track, however; this year both bands have put out their best work for some time.
After a couple of records slowly
cruising towards high-gloss commercial
rock-land, the Therapy? bandwagon has made a convincing u-turn and headed back to pastures more honest, raw and interesting with their new album Suicide Pact - You First. ’We set out to make a fairly raw and live sounding album and I think we've achieved that,’ reckons guitarist and
cellist Martin McCarrick. This record, produced by Head (the man responsible for Pl Harvey’s finest hour Rid Of Me), finally captures the dense, live sound that was buried under the weight of production trickery and operatic vocal lines on previous attempts.
The collapse last year of their record label A&M meant their last album Infernal Love wasn’t released in the US, and resulted in an inevitable failure to follow up the success of previous releases. Signing to a US based label Ark 21 was a conscious effort to gain worldwide exposure for the band. ’The label is owned by Miles Copeland, the guy who managed The Police,’ explains McCarrick, 'But I keep telling people it's Miles Davis. Which is kind of difficult as he's dead.’
Change it seems, has done them nothing but good. ‘lt's a good shake up for us,’ concludes McCarrick. ‘There’s new people working on the record and there's not the same kind of pressures; and the music is better as a result, I think.’ Let Therapy? blow your mind once again. (Mark Robertson)
I Suicide Pact: You First comes out on Mon 18 Oct.
The Black Heart Processron Glasgow: 13th Note Café, Sat 9 Oct.
Recent times have seen a quiet explosion of mournful, independent American rock music, and The Black Heart Procession are among the best the sub-genre has to offer. The group’s latest release, 2 (following, inevitably, their debut long player, 1) is not just unhappy mutterings, however, marked out as it is by moments of wry self- mockery and some peculiar instrumentation — including sheet metal and a bowed saw.
This experimental tendency has been with the group since their beginnings. ’l've always been more curious about sounds than music, if that makes any sense,’ says founding member Pall Jenkins. ’But other bands I’ve played with have been like, ’No! Don’t do your weird shit!’ Finally, I started this band and the rules for me and Toby [Nathanie|, piano] were that we weren’t allowed to say no to each other.’
Fortunately, this attitude of compromise results in wonderfully delicate recordings, ranging from the somnabulant, Nick Cave-ish sea shanty ’Blue Tears' to spartan piano ballads like 'Gently Off The Edge', via the Neil Young shuffle and stomp of 'lt’s A Crime I Never Told You About The Diamonds In Your Eyes.‘
Thanks to the intricacy of the group’s recorded output, their live performances vary a good deal from show to show. ’The idea of setting up the band was to allow for change,’ says Jenkins, ’so sometimes it's just me and the piano player, sometimes we add instruments to the mix that aren’t present on the album. We like to hear the songs played in different ways.’
Hitting Glasgow as a four-piece, The Black Heart Procession are essential listening for all who like songs to be full of ramshackle romance, heartbreak and loneliness and accompanied by beautiful, off-kilter music.
(lack Mottram) I 2 is out now on Touch And Go
I saw you: The Black Heart Procession