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Interview with Mark Morriss

If there’s one thing the Bluetones are keeping burning this month, it’s the charts with a new single and album out.

The recent single, ‘Autophilia or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Car’ is the second track from the album Science & Nature, due out on May 15.

We caught up with the lead singer of the band, Mark Morriss, to talk about their new material, what it’s like being a five-man band – and Britney.

LB - What are fans to expect from the new album?

MM - It’s difficult to sum up the album in one or two words – it’s definitely a bouncier album. If I could choose one work, I think it would be bouncy.

LB - What makes it ‘bouncy’?

MM - The fact that Richard has come on board and we are now a five-piece, it’s like he’s brought a lot to the mix. We’ve ended up playing all sorts of songs and everything he touched turned to gold.

LB - What effect has Richard Payne had on the band?

MM - If I were to make and analogy, it’s like living in a castle and he’s had a key to the east wing all the time while we’ve been living and working in the courtyard.

Now he’s come along, he’s opened up the rest of the grounds to us if you like. He’s by far the most musically minded out of us all. He’s been a really good conductor of our ideas.

LB - So are we seeing a ‘new’ Bluetones?

MM - It’s not like we’ve done a handbrake turn and changed direction, it’s just another turn in the ongoing saga. In a band, you’re constantly moving forward like a shark – otherwise you die.

The album contains mixtures of old and new. The Basement Song and Mudslide are probably the two songs that are quite removed from anything we’ve done in the past. It all resembles what we are now as a five-piece.

LB - What inspired you to write ‘Autophilia’?

MM - It was inspired by a few of my friends who spend too much time on their cars. But I was interested in the idea how people become fascinated by inanimate objects like a cup, a phone or your favourite little bag. The song is not about me – I don’t even drive! I just like the driving metaphor.

LB - What inanimate object fascinates you?

MM - Cinema I suppose. I’ve just seen American Psycho. It’s so well made.

LB - What do you think of today’s music scene?

MM - The charts are back to how they were when I was 15. They were full of Stock, Aitken, Waterman songs like Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan,

I don’t think we fit in today’s music scene at all, to be honest. I think we sit on the side. Right now, we’re at a real low ebb and it’s up to bands like The Bluetones to keep the star shining. But the charts are just like ten years ago before the Stone Roses exploded.

LB - Would you still call your music Britpop?

MM - I never described our music as Britpop in the first place. It was just the media. It was a nice tag then for a whole glut of bands that seemed to be pouring in through the door in the wake of Blur and Oasis. That was the part of the rip tide we sailed in on.

LB - Does that bother you?

MM - It was frustrating when we came to play overseas. It was as if people in other countries had one idea of how British music was.

LB - What are your fans like abroad?

MM - They’re really passionate about our music. Even though I write the words in the band, I think what is important is the melody. The melody is the key because, how else could your music travel across cultures and borders like it does?

LB - What other artists do you think have ‘global melody’?

MM - Bjork’s the epitome of international superstardom. Oh, and Beck, they’re multi-cultural.

LB - When are you most creative?

MM - The best time for me to write is when the whole world is completely still – when I look out of the window and everyone else’s lights are off and you just feel like the only person still awake. I like that, that sense of calm.

I go to bed about four in the morning. If there are people around me, I just won’t do any work. I need isolation to focus my thoughts.

LB - So, who is it – Britney or Christina Aguilera?

MM - I have to admit, I love Baby One More Time, and I still play it. But I think she’s yet to do a decent follow up. But I’m not sure about that whole Christina thing.

LB - Will you be teaming up with any current artists?

MM - There are people who I would like to work with, but I don’t want to sound desperate. I don’t like that Craig David. He’s and idiot. But I like Darren Emerson from Underworld – it would be good if he could do a remix.

Interview by Louise Burke

Extracted from bbc teletext (p579), 8th May 2000 by Fiona Hunter.