|Halo interview | Middlesbrough Cornerhouse | May 2002|
Saints or sinners?
As I discover to my cost the day before their gig, there is hardly any information to be found about Bristol four-piece Halo on the internet. This explains why, not knowing much about the band, I feel a little apprehensive as I arrive at the Cornerhouse to interview them.
Thankfully, Graeme (vocals/guitar), Iain (guitar/vocals), Steve (bass/keyboards/vocals) and Jim (drums) turn out to be as angelic as their celestial name suggests – or at least they pretend to be as we chat on the tour bus before their Middlesbrough gig. They tell me they’ve never played in Teesside before and are looking forward to it.
"My grandparents are from Middlesbrough though!" Steve announces proudly from beneath bleached dreadlocks.
"Steve played here when he was a small child!" jokes quietly-spoken Iain.
"I played football here," says Steve. "On Redcar beach. Eating a lemon top!"
Fantastic – I feel at home already! Now to find out the history of Halo.
"Me and Iain are brothers," volunteers the equally softly-spoken Graeme. "We had a band and some interest from record companies, but we didn’t really progress so we split that up. Jim’s band split up at the same time in Bristol as well, so we got together with him." And Steve? Graeme shares a top tip for finding band members: "Our manager was on the lookout for a bassist and his obvious mode of recruitment was to go to parties, get drunk and ask people if they could play the bass and would they like to be in a band! And that’s how Steve arose."
Their press release lists Halo’s influences as everyone from Nirvana to Simon and Garfunkel, and Iain admits they listen to "a wide spectrum" of music, so I’m interested to know whether they think this is evident from their sound.
Iain believes that it is and Steve agrees: "We don’t take anything specifically and use it in that kind of sense, but nor do we not do something. We just play what we play because of stuff we’ve listened to and whatever comes out is Halo – an amalgamation of the four of us."
I ask them to sell themselves and to describe their music.
"I wouldn’t really describe it," says Steve. "I’d just say what it involves, which is…"
"An amalgamation of guitars!" Iain laughs at the band’s second use of the word in two questions.
"Combined with a conglomerate of drums," says Jim with a totally straight face. "Utopic bass…"
"Metamorphosis!" says Steve, as Graeme offers, "Ethereal!"
"And why should people come and see us?" asks Steve. "’Cause we’re bloody good!"
"We rock the house," states Graeme.
"What’s a casbah?" enquires Iain, to be met with blank faces. "Well if we ever played one, we’d rock it!" he announces with a grin.
With their debut album in the can, I ask if the boys are happy with it and receive a resounding "yes" from everyone.
"It’s a wicked album," Steve smiles as I ask him to describe it. "I’d say there was a wide variety of expression on there."
"If you come to the gigs, you’ll pretty much hear the songs from them on the album," explains Graeme. "There’s no fillers on there either," adds Iain.
And to finish on a light hearted note, I ask what three things they would take if they were stranded on a desert island.
Iain answers eagerly: "Kylie Minogue! And all the food I could eat for the rest of my life!"
But Steve is looking puzzled. "I’d take a massive boat so I could leave. Why would I want to live on an island?!" he asks incredulously.
"You’ve been stranded!" Graeme points out.
"Yeah, exactly!" says Steve. "So if I could take something, it’d probably be some kind of flying machine!"
Iain joins in, "A helicopter, a pilot…"
"And a couple of beers for the journey home!" finishes Steve as the tour bus is filled with raucous laughter.
Thank you, boys, it’s been lovely talking to you…
Thanks to Halo, Danj and Adrian. Halo’s album is out now.
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