Lush interview (old)

Written by mitchell clearfield .

Hello Lush fans everywhere...

The following interview was transcribed from the promotional casette, "Words and Music". I've posted this before, but it's been...jeez, probably more than a year. I figure there are enough new people around to justify another post.

Also, and I mention this only by the way, I would gladly furnish a copy of this (or some other this-listy live stuff) to any kind soul who could get me a copy of the Slowdive tape.



Miki: Hello. I'm Miki, from Lush. And I play the guitar. And sing.

Emma: And my name is Emma. And I sing and play guitar, only not in that order.

Miki: And there's two more, but they're men so we don't want them here. They're Chris and Steve.

Emma: They play drums and bass respectably....Respectably

Miki: Well, I think because none of us are particularly brilliant musicians, certainly at the beginning, um, if someone wrote a song, they'd have to write all the parts. So, y'know, if I wrote a song, I'd have to write Emma's guitar part, and the bass line, and everything, because we weren't good enough to just sort-of go, "oh yes, that's in that key," and then just make something up on the spot, so everything had to be quite laboriously worked out. And we've sort-of stuck to that just because it's become habit now, I think.

Maybe it will change, but it's really difficult now because we're so sort-of used to the idea of writing a song and it's totally your song, and you write every element of it, and it becomes a bit difficult now to, I don't know, just offer up a bass line to Steve and let him write it, because you already have a fixed idea of the whole song.

I mean, maybe we will do that at some point, certainly if we have to write lots of LPs, where there's stuff where maybe it would be too time consuming, to have to write it all on your on. But at the moment, I'd say we'd still stick to that way of writing. I mean, I can't really see me and Emma sitting down in a room with guitars and having some sort of jam session or whatever and working things's just so different to the way that we write songs now.

Emma: We actually used to do that.

Yeah, me and Miki have known each other since we were fourteen. And we both got into music sort-of around the same time and everything. We couldn't play, y'know, it was theory, but we couldn't actually play anything or write. It was just a slow process.

Miki: We just wanted to be in a band together, really.

I met Chris and Steve at Polytechnic doing a degree. And, um, Chris joined first. And then...I think Emma was playing bass then and I was playing guitar and we had a different singer. And then...we all changed what we were playing and stuff, and then Steve joined. He could play a bit of guitar, so I just asked him if he wanted to play bass, and he said yes. That was it really. Really ropey beginnings.

Emma: Well I think what happened was we did want to start playing gigs as soon as possible, however abismal we were; we just went out and did it. We had about, I dunno, five, six songs, and we just played and played and played. And, uh, this line-up really was..sort-of final- ized, if you like, around October '88 (No..Yeah?) Yeah, Ocotber '88. And...we sort-of just improved our song-writing and our playing. It wasn't like we were brought and we could play and it was, like, really good, it was a slow, learning process.

Miki: Still is.

Emma: Yeah, still is!

Miki: We've still got a lot to learn.

Miki: I think it was just that, y'know, we didn't know what was happening. We had this big review, and then there was all these A & R people phoning up, and then they came to this gig, and we were really bad. And they never phoned again, y'know. But we didn't care. We just went on playing. I mean, I suppose there was a bit of press-... y'know, people started to say "oh, they're really bad, but they're getting, y'know, this good press." But I think what it was, I think the songs were there, but we just weren't really that competent in playing them. But I think it was the songs that sort-of won through in the end, if you like.

We did a demo, of two songs, "Etherial" and "Second Sight", and we sent them about six companies, independent ones. And... we were going to go with another one first, to do a single, but Ivo [Watts-Russell, boss of 4AD] kept phoning just to see what was going on. So he was interested, but I think he'd heard from people that, y'know, we weren't very good live and whatever, so he was a bit cau- tious. But in the end he said, "Well, I'll put you into the studio, and you can record three songs. And, y'know, if I like them, then we'll see what happens." And so that's what we did. And so we went into the studio and we did "Baby Talk", "Thoughtforms" and "Scarlet". And he really liked them. So he said, "Well, why don't you go back in the studio and do three more?" So we did. And we did "Bitter", "Second Sight" and "Etherial". And that was _Scar_. So really _Scar_ was like...demos, really.

Emma: At the time we were quite pleased with the way the demos came out. Looking back, y'know, it could be said we should have gone in and done maybe two singles, or whatever. 'Cuz there was at least...two singles could have been off that record. And then maybe we should have put a lot more time in them. But I think they did sort-of capture what we were like quite well.

Miki: I mean, both..., um, even the record with Robin was done quite, well, obviously more time was taken, but it was still done in quite a sort-of live way.... I think it's still quite raw.

Emma: Innocent.

Miki: Well, on _Scar_, we did, y'know, quite a lot of vocal over-dubs, and guitar over-dubs and stuff. And I suppose in a way the recording process for _Mad_Love_ was similar, except the actual sounds were different.

Emma: I think there was more attention paid to the actual quality of sound (yeah..). On _Scar_ we didn't spend a lot of time getting a certain guitar sound or anyting, it was just either clean or distorted, that was it really. Well, obviously Robin knows a lot about guitar, so a lot more attention was paid to that side of things.

Miki: Well, I think certainly once we did release _Scar_, it made it a lot better for us live, 'cuz, um, it meant we actually, y'know, I mean, people already knew what we sounded like to an extent, having bought the record, so that made life a bit easier. And then we got a tour with...(was that the Darling Buds? Yeah.) We got a support tour with the Darling Buds. Which was, y'know, it was was pretty hard work, because we only had a really ramshackle van to sort-of push around the country; but it was okay. And then we played with Loop. We did a tour with them, almost straight afterwards. And then as soon as we finished that, that's when we recorded _De-Luxe_. And then... And then we did our first headline tour the following year, followed immediately by a European tour with Pale Saints.

Well, basically things would get easier and easier as you go along. I mean, we now have someone to do our sound. We had a lot of really bad problems early on, because either we didn't have anyone doing our sound, or else it was someone who just didn't understand what the band wanted to sound like, so consequently there'd be, like, whatever prob- lem. We'd sound dreadful. And then...what after the European tour?

Emma: Then...yeah, then we did a show at ULU [University of London Union], in London, and then we did Glastonbury, which was, um...

Miki: Educational...

Emma: But it was a good experience. And then we did a few more shows after that, just in Manchester and Leeds. And then after that we played with the Cure, um, at Crystal Palace, which was good.

Emma: It's funny, actually, we both were in bands before, we both played bass, and both bands did a lot of cover versions in their set. And I think we wanted to get away from that

we never played a lot of cover versions; we never played more than one in the set. But "Hey Hey Helen" was the long-standing one, 'cuz it's easy.

Miki: Well, I think, first of all we kept trying to play....What's that song?

Emma: "S.O.S."

Miki: "S.O.S.", yeah, which is a more well-known other song, and we really wanted to play it out, but it was just too much effort, it just kept coming out really rubbish, so then Emma sort-of found "Hey Hey Helen", which is a bit more obscure, but a *lot* easier to play.

Emma: And it makes a statement, as well.

Miki: Yeah...women's rights, and stuff like that.

Emma: But the album version is actually a lot heavier...

Miki: A bit more rocking.

Emma: Well , yeah, I mean, there's this Manchester thing at the moment, where there a lot of good bands coming out of Manchester, and it has been linked, well, is linked with the dance/house phenomenon which is happening here. Though some of it is a bit tenuous, I think. Like, I think Inspiral Carpets can't really be classed as a dance act. The fact they're from Manchester, I think...I mean, I think they're a good band, y'know, but some it I think is blown out of proportion a bit. Um...though, I mean, we're not against it; I mean, we like all, y'know most of those bands, but we're also obviously not part of it... we're not...y'know....[deliberately] My favorite band is the Cocteau Twins .

Miki: That's 'cause Robin's standing over her with a hammer. No, he's not really.

Emma: No...I think the Cocteau Twins have been a really big influence on us.

I mean, we all like a lot of different stuff. This is the thing...We're all into a lot of different types of music. And what one person would listen to, the other wouldn't touch with a barge pole. And I think this is possibly reflected in our music.

Miki: I think any comparisons between bands on 4AD....I mean, I think all the bands are so different, that I think it is really quite ridiculous to draw such comparisons. Well, I mean, it's just the image of the label, I think, because [name] designs whatever type of sleeves, every band is considered to be a bit high-brow and arty. I mean, even a band like The Pixies, which are, to me, a really good, but very basic, rock and roll band. And like, they're still, even in certain inter- views, there's still this accent on some sort of arty-type angle...I don't know, which wouldn't happen if they were on any other...if they were on Sub-Pop [my, how appropriate] or something, it wouldn't happen. Y'know, yeah, I suppose you get compared to the Cocteau Twins, but that's because Robin produced us.

Miki: Yeah....Um, we really didn't know anything about Tim Friese-Green. And it was just suggested to us, that we work with him, and then a lot of people seemed to think that was a really good idea. So we then went about trying to get in contact with him. And as it turned out, con- veniently enough, he'd heard of the band, and was interested in them, and he was gonna come and see us anyway, when we played in Cambridge. So we met him very briefly then. And worked well. No it didn't, actually. [incomprehensible mumbles & giggles] Um, well he came to see us, and anyway he was into it, and so we sort-of arranged to meet him. At first there was a couple of other people we were sort-of thinking of working with, but he did seem to be the most en- thusiastic, and the most...y'know, not looking on us as just another job, but as a specific band, that he was interested in. So, y'know, we thought that was quite important, so we decided to work with him, but we really didn't know that much about his stuff at all. We had to sort-of run out and buy Talk Talk LPs, and find out exactly what we were laying ourselves in for. But he's a fun guy.

Emma: Yeah, I think it was his attitude more than anything that impressed us.

Well, it was approached a lot differently, I think, that the pre- vious records. We took a lot longer, recording and mixing it. I think Tim, he changed quite a bit of the song

he changed the drums, and he added bits, and he took bits away. [it = "Sweetness and Light", I think.]

Miki: Wellll, Mum lives in Hollywood, so I've been going there regu- larly for about the last 10 years or so. that's the only bit of America I've been to, really, is Los Angeles, so...I don't know how representative that is. Gee, we can't wait to get across that water.

Well, we'll...When are we going? November. We'll be coming to America. I don't even know how many dates it is, but just to promote _Gala_, really. And then I suppose....Are we meant to go back again?

Emma: Yeah. Possibly go back in March.

Emma: I used to make sandwiches quite a lot. And I used to work in the Social Security office. Filing... But the sandwich job was good.

Miki: Riveting stuff!

I handed out leaflets outside Selfridges for a day. That was it.

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