Interview by Dawn
The Bluetones – remember them? Mark, Scott,
Eds and Adam were fresh-faced young things when their third single,
Slight Return, reached number two in 1996 and thrust them
into the limelight at the tail end of the Britpop era.
Six years, three Top Ten albums and numerous hit
singles later, the boys are still going strong and preparing to
release a new single and Best Of album. We caught up with them before
their recent gig in Newcastle and asked them about the tour, the
music and their return to the North East.
"We’ve played Middlesbrough Town Hall
a fair few times," recalls drummer Eds Chesters,
who hails from Crook in County Durham. "But we played Middlesbrough
Arena ages and ages ago." He hesitates, then asks, "Why
is it called The Arena?!" Delusions of grandeur, we suggest.
"Yeah!" says Eds. "It’s on an industrial estate,
isn’t it?" Indeed. Hardly Newcastle Arena, is it?
"We played there – on that ice rink!"
says guitarist Adam Devlin.
"We did – we played the Telewest Arena,"
says Eds. "Not on our own – with the Beautiful South.
It was really good; I really enjoyed myself that night."
"That’s right – you had your family
down," says Adam. "It was a bit chilly though!"
"What do you call people from Middlesbrough?"
enquires Essex-born frontman Mark Morriss, looking
puzzled. "Mackems? No, that’s Sunderland. And Hartlepool’s
Monkey Hangers, isn’t it?" He looks amused to hear that
people refer to us as Smoggies. "Is that right?!"
Anyway, enough about the North East – tell
us about the new single and album!
"The single, After Hours, is released
on March 25th, " says Eds. "The album will be two or three
weeks after that. It was going to be called Pachinko, but
it’s just called The Singles now. We couldn’t
have Pachinko because of copyright – it belongs to
a company and they wouldn’t let us use it. It’s a Japanese
gambling game," he explains. "It’s a bit like a
fruit machine and a bit like pinball. It looks fantastic and sounds
amazing, but it’s actually a dirty little seedy game –
which we thought reflected the album!"
Many of the bands who emerged during the Britpop
era have since sunk without trace, so what’s the secret of
The Bluetones’ success? "We write
good songs!" says Eds with a grin.
"We just kept our heads down and tried to ignore
it, and eventually Britpop went away," says Adam, who once
said that the band could probably have released anything at that
time and seen it chart. "It was probably true. It was our turn
for a big hit. If it hadn’t have been for Babylon Zoo, we’d
have been number one!" He and Eds give an impressive rendition
of the chorus of Spaceman in honour of the song which kept
Slight Return off the top spot.
So where does the inspiration for these "good songs" –
especially the unique lyrics – come from? Over to lyricist
Mark: "I just have a fantastically brilliant
imagination!" he grins modestly. "No, I don’t know
really. I think your best ideas come to you when you’re least
expecting them, so you don’t remember it that clearly. I like
the surreal kind of poetry by people like Roger McGough and Lewis
Carroll ‘cause we did a lot of that at school and a lot of
that stuck with me. The weird imagery comes out of that –
I try not to be a cliché, you know? I try and think of a
new way of describing something, rather than just ‘as red
as a rose’."
Mark’s imagination is evident in the band’s
videos too, as Eds explains when asked about the new single: "We’ve
been really involved in all our videos. The most recent one was
Mark’s idea of doing a Bugsy Malone pastiche."
But before we can get any further details on the new video,
we’re being interrupted by strains of support band Easyworld’s
soundcheck drifting into the dressing room. For reasons best known to
themselves, they’re playing a version of Hopelessly Devoted
To You, which distracts us all and leads to another Bluetones singalong.
Preparing to end the interview, we find just enough time to get Liverpool
fan Mark to predict the score for when his team meet the Boro at the Riverside
the following weekend.
"Three-nil to Liverpool!" he says confidently,
with an evil glint in his eye. If only the Boro had won and wiped that
grin from his face..!
Thanks to the band, their management
and to Sarah. The Bluetones’ new single, After Hours, is
released on March 25th, with The Singles album out on April 25th.
Visit www.Bluetones.info for
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