"We do try, spending hours and hours plotting on how to get onto the radio, and trying to keep up with developments on these social networking sites, all that and then you go back to the records we’ve made and it’s totally incongruous! "
In which three old gits get nostalgic...
IN: It’s interesting you pick up on this heritage thing because there seems to be a plethora of professional second rate copyists who seem content to mention the past as if it were proof of their intelligence and wit…
K: Yeah this new wave of British eccentricity. The latest thing is everyone is eccentric nowadays…
IN: Funnily enough, on the bus to Colne I heard some urchin slag these bands off; calling them “them fuckin’ tweedophiles”… But your idea of British heritage is different anyway.
D: (Laughing) I think it depends how you do it. I just don’t believe you can reference these things on purpose, but of course if you’ve got it in your blood, you’ve got it. Still, I think looking at recent bands; I think Arctic Monkeys have got it. They don’t go round quoting the Wedding Present or John Cooper Clark; they’d be saying “yeah, we like the Strokes”. Just the way they do it, it’s very English. Whereas now there’s a load of session musicians who think it’s important to sing in a regional accent - singing about the Buzzcocks in chip shops. Whereas to me there’s something very more-ish about rampant escapism in music. I know I keep going back to Bowie but this is someone who was trying to sound like a German existentialist, and ended up sounding like an English upper middle class lad. He can’t really escape who he is, but of course it’s a much more honest approach.
K: Ah you can’t deny the Laughing Gnome! (Laughs) I love that!
D: We should cover that! (Dorian and Kate collapse laughing)
IN: (Now a tad drunkenly) But going right back to my first few questions... I like the way you have been trying to fence round or deny my idea that there is a grey area in the music and Long Blondes. That it’s all some form of happy accident. I can’t quite equate the chaotic, Postcard-y, rigorously independent idea you promote with the obvious leads you are taking from your heroes; who were very manipulative; Bowie & Roxy didn’t leave things to chance did they? To be honest, I’m wondering how I can pin you down and say something clever about you.
D: Hit us with your bile Richard! But there if is a grey area, it's one that we haven’t really manipulated. Maybe we’re just being ourselves. I hate the fact that bands can just… I mean, I absolutely adore everything Postcard have ever done, but it winds me up that it’s so easy to copy now. But things like Postcard was more about the ideas that propelled the music, wasn’t it? No one really does that now.. It’s not about stylistically copying stuff, it’s about trying to take the attitudes on board. I think we’re the generation that came after the '80s DIY thing, but before the internet really kicked in. So our view is more long term; I appreciate what you’re saying about the grey area but I don’t think it’s anything more than a happy accident.
K: If it was up to us completely we’d be allowed the luxury of having a bit more time before everything was brought out. At the moment we talk about the idea of having complete control over things, but we’d like more outside of just doing the album sleeve, things that expanded people’s horizons about pop music. But this is an internet age and we’re under pressure to get things up on Myspace on a certain date... and it doesn’t work. It doesn’t give us any pleasure. That is where the link between Bowie and Postcard is; the attention to detail in an essentially DIY way.
IN: The overlooked aspect about movements like Postcard, is that they accepted that not really many people would actually listen to it. They didn’t set out to be a cult, but they had enough ignorance around them to do what they wanted.
D: But don’t you feel that that was a product of the times? I always imagine that Postcard was all about everything is possible whereas nowadays everything’s a lot more rigorous, you know what’s going to be played in the charts.
IN: (More drunkenly) the most terrible thing about now is the fact that you can instantly buy into the past. There’s this dreadful generation of mini Arthur Neguses who run around discussing bands from previous generations like they’re valuable antiques in a way that’s supposed to be the last word on the matter!
K: Even in the mid nineties it was difficult to see bands; it was hard to get access. If you wanted to see a band, you had to go to London. And we taped off the radio.
D: I feel like we grew up in the twilight of that whole era. We were the last people before the door shut and everyone went into Myspace. We grew up without the internet.
IN: Maybe it’s fair to say that’s why the Blondes are how they are. You have taken a template from your youth as to how a band should be but things have moved on and you as a band are judged in other terms. Oh God, enough of the serious shit… I tell you what, let’s take you up on your earlier wish and ask a question you want to be asked. If there was one bit of music you couldn’t lose, then what would it be?
D: It’s kind of difficult that one, because you think of one thing and then you think of another, though I know what I would take and it wouldn’t be a record. It would be a C90 of a radio show. When I was 15-16, I used to tape (on a nightly basis) the Mark and Lard show on Radio 1, when they did the graveyard shift. It’s such a fascinating snapshot of an era. This thing we were just talking about… This has been a generation that has experienced such a change, almost halfway through it, just because of stuff like the internet developing. God I sound like an old man but it’s like… Because of the way the music industry works now you get bombarded with demands to get ringtones sorted out. And I’m not particularly opposed to it but I’m sorry I just don’t connect.
K: It’s just not something that has any emotional pull.
D: I don’t oppose it because of the medium of pop music, it’s not set in stone; it’s a disposable medium in itself. It goes with the territory… anyway this C90. I would have me radio turned down with record and play ready and the pause button set; and as soon as a song finished I’d start taping what they’d say because it was so… anarchic and funny and the music they were playing was just their record collection. And there was so much personality. And now dealing with radio stations is so… You have to appease Jo Whiley.
IN: How does one appease Jo Whiley?
K: She likes us; it’s their producers... It’s the usual. I’ve got a similar thing, a friend of mine, John Holmes, you remind me of him actually (laughs) erm… it’s not the porn star John Holmes I hasten to add! He gave me a tape of a Peel Session by the Fall and they’re doing a cover version of Hark the Herald Angels Sing. It’s the bits in between where he’s getting so excited by it, it’s fabulous. Going back to our generation, they all still have the same kind of nostalgic tendencies about music; it’s interesting to see how the younger end of this generation preserves these feelings because all this music is stored on computers… it’s such a fragmentary way of storing it. It’s a bit displaced. And then if the computer breaks down they either have to buy a new machine and get it all again or they have to go and buy the limited edition vinyl! (Laughs)
IN: Pop is now totally disposable and has reached its ultimate end, no?
D: It’s always been disposable of course. I think if you went back to 1962 and said “in 40 years time you will be selling that single for 100 pounds”, people would find it very strange.
IN: It’s incredible in a way. You’d pay that for say an original single by the Leather Boy and yet you pay virtually nothing for new music! It’s a complete reversal of what you are supposed to do… paying loads of money for old technology. It’s like an antiques market I suppose. Anyway it’s a classic Blondes dilemma. The past is better, how do I fit in to the present?
K: We can’t! But we try! We do try, spending hours and hours plotting on how to get onto the radio, and trying to keep up with developments on these social networking sites, all that and then you go back to the records we’ve made and it’s totally incongruous! And why do we bother? (Laughs). There is no place for us in the charts at the moment because the powers that be have a description for what indie music is and that bracket is The Plain White Tees and Scouting for Girls, who just keep getting churned out of these “Brit schools”…
IN: This conveyor belt churning pout ready-made bands… It’s very Orwellian
D: It was that in the ‘50s and ‘60s too. It’s never changed. It’s like the Beatles never happened. And I’m not a big fan of the Beatles but they really did lay a benchmark for many things.
K: I think the Arctic Monkeys are the Beatles for now actually. They are the only band who is straight and bothered about “being a band” in a way…
D: I think they are the best pop band in the world at the moment.
IN: Running off at a slight tangent…. I must admit that I didn’t really like their first LP, but I do think they have one very powerful weapon and that is that they refuse to do certain things and that makes their art stronger. An artist should only reveal their art when they feel the time is right, and they’ve got themselves into a position where they can do that. You have obvious, Jungian problems with all this stuff, I can see! But to me it’s simple. At present you can take the road the Arctic Monkeys do and gamble on not doing things the way you are supposed to. You can live in a fairyland of your own devising like Sea Power. Or you can be dragged by the snout to the trough.
D: Ha! Yeah, maybe! I am in awe of them for what they don’t do. I didn’t like the way the first LP sounded, it was saved by one or two tremendous songs. The second one’s amazing I think. They are a punk band and they have a forum to be a real band and they’ve grabbed that. But yeah I mean erm… what the hell was your question?
IN: Going off on another tangent, I have this vision of Miss Jackson here, she will become the female equivalent of Mark E Smith but without the nasty habits.
K: I hope not! I’m not gonna end up losing my teeth and drinking all day long am I?
IN: I was thinking more along the lines of becoming the dominant one in the band; terrorizing your bandmates by giving them electric shocks…
K: Its not gonna happen! Well it might actually! (Laughs) I’m just already feeling weary of the prospect of making another 26 albums to get to that stage!
Words: Richard Foster
To go back to part one, click here