home: interviews: 1995: nme - on feedback


The motion picture starts like this. The year is 1990, the place is Hounslow, West London. Through the doors of the local Our Price walks one Mark Morriss, 19-year-old English student and singer with The Bottle Garden.

He is wearing a V-neck jumper (no T-shirt, natch), green parka, 18-inch faded denim flares and pumps. In his That's Entertainment carrier bag sits a freshly purchased CD single: 'One Love' by The Stone Roses. He is the coolest looking man to ever walk into Our Price in Hounslow. He approaches the counter clutching the cover of 'There's A Riot Going On' by Sly And The Family Stone.

"Can I have that please, mate," he says, "and 'One Love' by The Stone Roses. On vinyl."

Reel forward to January '95 and Mark Morriss, who looks like Tim Booth impresonating Ian Brown, is sitting in a West End pub surrounded by his new band, THE BLUETONES. In a tone that's confident without being cocky, that's wry but sincere, he's trying to explain why The Bluetones are the band that A&R men throughout the land are losing the most sleep over. Why everyone wants them, but they're not signing. Why (whisper it) they have it in them to make records every bit as affecting as the young singer's favourite teenage band.

"It's a good climate for us because young white rock is back in vogue. SO A&R men talk to us in figures but never music because they all live on the scene and we're today's news. But we want to talk about music and the future. Record companies are blinded by the fact that although there are one or two good bands at the moment, there's no-one you can pin your hopes on."

Not even Blur or Oasis?

"Good bands, yeah, but they're not going to carry you through your life. There's no Smiths, T-Rex or Beatles. No-one who can deliver with every record. Which is where we come in. Our country needs us!"

The action cuts back to a rainy afternoon in Hounslow, early 1995. The Bluetones are knuckling down to their day jobs. In their sound-proofed garage (they all live in the same house, of course) they're rehersing their songs again, just as they do on five other days and nights every week. Now that, as the late, great Roy Castle would have said, is dedication.

The song that reverberates through the small garage is 'Bluetonic' (or 'No 11' as they dubbed it for their contribution to Fierce Panda's recent 'Return To Splendour' single) and it is their joyous, uplifting manifesto - the sound of the Roses, Nothern Soul, Orange Juice and the words of a '90's cockney Scott Walker colliding in a suburban garage. Like all their songs, it was written by all four band members ("We can all play guitar and we can all work a tape machine," reasons Mark). The camera pans round the room.

The guitarist, Adam Devlin, 25, is the little fella who sold Mark the Stone Roses single in That's Entertainment all those years ago and he plays with the skill and dexterity of a man with either three hands or Johnny Marr's genes. To his right pounds stern Durham-born drummer Eds Chester, 22, who joined his colleagues after spending ten minutes in the garage with them 18 months ago ("How could I refuse once I'd heard the songs?"). The tough-looking bassist who's into hip-hop and resembles a gangster from the '60s version of The Saint is Mark's 21-year-old brother, Scott.

As the songs reaches a climax, Mark performs one last deft little twirl, turns and applauds his band. Yup, they're ready for the On night with Gene, they're ready for their joint six-week tour with Supergrass, all the songs are there in place for the first record (providing they meet a record company they can trust) and after tours with Shed Seven and Strangelove a fanbase is building up. Soon they'll be invincible.

"But I do think that," says the singer. "They went metal for us on the Shed Seven tour and I know why. If I was 18 years old and I saw us I'd go mental because there isn't that much that's genuinely good and when you see something that is, you know it. I knew it about the Roses."

And you'll know it about The Bluetones for sure. Introductions over, let's cue to the chase...

Interview by Ted Kessler

Extracted from NME, 21st January 1995.