home: interviews: 2003: interview by marc burrows feedback

MB: How's the our going so far?

MM: Well it doesn't really feel like a tour, especially after the first one. This feels more like a little jaunt. But it's gone well so far, only three down but they've all been really very enjoyable.

MB: so you're approaching it differently to the last tour?

MM: In that there's an end in sight. It's good to go out, it's not gonna be as tiring as last time, it's only eight shows. It's not really a different approach though, we're using the same people we've worked with for a very long time so you get into a way of working.

MB:How were you after the last tour?

MM: We stayed relatively excited throughout the tour, but it got harder as the days added up and our bodies started to fray a little bit. Not that you'd know, you can still turn it on for an hour and a half every night. That's what true a professionals all about. You're always paying your bloody dues: reputation doesn't pay the bills.

MB: Albums been out for a few months now and has time to settle in, are you pleased with response? It was a very different album to Science and Nature…

MB:There was a lot of changes between Science and Nature and this recording, plus there were three years between the recordings as well, which is a really fucking long time. Too long. The problem was that while we were signed to mercury anything that we'd have written or recorded or demoed would belong to them, so we just didn't write any songs until we got out of the deal. Once we'd got out of all the corporate wrangling we wrote the whole album very quickly.

MB: The songs hadn't been knocking around for a while then?

MM: One of em was…Code Blue was. But we kept it under wraps and never recorded it.

MB: there's always been quite a gap between your albums though…

MM: Yer there's always been two years in between, but that's just the way it goes. We spent eight months or nine months writing a record ad recording it, then about a year or so promoting it, and ten you've got to get your head back together and start again.

MB: Was it a conscious decision to make Luxemburg more stripped down?

MM: It was a conscious decision, the songs that we'd written were of a nature where they'd benefit from being recorded quickly and without too much fine tuning. Not put under a microscope at al, just get it feeling good and then leave it alone. In the past we've tended to agonise over high-hat sounds and triangle noises and whatever, so it was a case of throw it at the wall and see what sticks. It was a really enjoyable way of working.

MB: It almost sounds like a reaction against the ‘big' production feel of Science and Nature…

MM: Its not exactly against it, because I still think Science and Nature is a great record. Whenever anyone sticks it on I always think “oh yer, this is good”.

MB: it got a name check in John Harris' Britpop book as your best album….

MM:I think it's quite a misconception the way we're connected to the whole Britpop thing. We weren't in the film were we?

MB: I'm assuming you're quite happy with way the record tuned out?

MM: Oh yes, very much. I think we're happier with this record than we ever have been before. Not that the others haven't been our baby, its just for the first time we were the record company as well as the band and there was a different atmosphere surrounding the recording of this one because of that. I really enjoyed it. It was a tough time, what with the complete lack of faith and support given to us by Mercury records. I think a lot of bands might have decided not to continue anymore or lost there love for it. It was very trying but the end of the day the four of us really enjoy working together, and we wanted it to be our decision if we stopped, not somebody elses. I think that really comes across on the record. It sounds quite urgent, and quite pleased with itself.

MB: Do you have any expectations for the Never going Nowhere single, seeing as it seems to be a pattern that second singles on Bluetones albums do better than first ones.

MM: I don't think this ones gonna do better. That is true though… Autophilia did better than keep the Home Fires Burning, Slight Return did better than Bluetonic, …If didn't chart higher than Solomon Bites The worm but it did sell more. I don't think this ones gonna out do Fastboy though, I doubt it'll even go top 40. It just had the push behind it. I'm gonna go and buy my copies later on.

MB: A couple of hundred of each?

MM: I'll buy a couple, I'll buy one of each. It's not like old days when I could go to the record company and ask for a couple of singles. Well, I could do, but then I'd just be taking it out of my own pocket. And I like going in and buying it. I get a pleasure from buying my records in a shop.

MB: last time I interviewed Adam and Ed's they said they didn't have a clue why the album was called Luxembourg and to ask you…

MM: Well…as you may have noticed in the song You're No Fun Anymore the main protagonist exclaims “I can't say the word Luxemburg” I discovered it's quite commonly used as a safety word in S&M sex. So there you go. It's about when you go to such extremes, where can you go from there? Luxemburg is one of the words they say when No means No. There's no real obvious reason for using it as a title though, I like people to attach their own meanings.

MB: Do you ever worry about people getting the wrong idea though?

MM:It kinda depends. When Keep The Home Fires Burning was interpreted as a rallying cry for white supremacy that was annoying. The NME jumped on it because it had a bear on the cover, and Keep The Home Fires Burning is the name of an old between the wars song, and the cover photo was taken on Brick Lane, and they assumed t was meant to be an aggressive statement against brick lane. And we didn't know where the photograph was taken, it was just a photograph! Unless you lived on Brick lane you'd never notice. It was very upsetting because you're defending yourself against being a racist because of a song about something completely different and immediately if you respond you're associated with the argument, and it's too late. People see your photograph with a headline and think “oh, is he a racist? I didn't know that”.

MB: Do you think the industries different now to how it was a few years back?

MM: It's certainly different to when we started out, the whole industry seems to be monopolised these days by one or two publications, the NME and Q magazine, and that's about it. When we started out there were three main weekly's: NME, Sounds and Melody Maker. Then there was monthly's: Vox Magazine, Select Magazine. It seems to be if the NME don't like you there's no other way of getting through to it. They've got such a narrow world view, such an elitist different club. I can name at least five brilliant records that the NME ignored completely.

MB: Go for it!

MM: Well there's The Vessels, their records brilliant and didn't get a look in, Stephen Malkmus hasn't been in there at all, they don't like him, they're idiots. You never read about anything interesting, it's the same bands every week.

MB: How many times can you put the Libertines on the cover?

MM: Exactly and the Libertines don't even sell any records! And they're shit! I think there's only one good song on that album and they're terrible live, really sixth form!

MB: I've been promising people I'd ask about this, but a few years ago there was talk of all four of you releasing solo albums?

MM: I think there's more chance of that happening now we've got the Label in our own hands. It was one of things that got scuppered because there were lots of changes behind the scenes at the record company. We thought we were going to be writing the fourth album a couple of years ago, but we had to wait and we did the Singles album instead, but the plan was to all go off and write ten songs and what didn't get used on the Bluetones' album would go on the solo albums and we'd each play on each others and do the whole Kiss thing. But the money just wasn't available for us to do it. But now we can. It didn't feel right to do it before the next Bluetones album as well, especially with there being such a gap. We could possibly get that together now.

MB: So what's the long term and short term plans?

MM: Well, we're going over to Europe for a little while, and then off to Japan and a short tour of America and then, come next January, we'll start jamming around on album number 5.

MB: Could you say what it'd sound like?

MM: No not really, we won't end up copying ‘Luxemburg' but once we've toured a bit more our heads could be in a totally different place.

MB: I think what I like about Bluetones' albums is each one has its own distinct character…

MM: Thanks a lot, yer…they've all got their own personality.

Have you heard their new record by your mid-90's peers, and did you like it

MM: Not heard it, never been that bothered by them.
MM: Haven't heard it, never really liked Blur.
MM: Not heard any of their albums,
MM: Nope, never heard any of their albums either.
MM: I've not heard that yet, but that's just because I've not got round to it. I've been so into a few records that I haven't really allowed anything else stereo space. But I'm preparing myself for it! I read a good article on it last week in the Independent on Sunday and it really wetted my appetite for it. I've always like them actually, I actually really like the two albums everyone hates as well, Kid A and Amnesiac. I think Kid A's a brilliant album.

MB: So who are you listening to at the moment?

MM: I really like the Steven Malkmus album like I said, and the singles got five new songs on it, I've been listening to that. I really like The Darkness ‘album. The Beyonce album I like, The Timberlake album I like…

MB: I'm with you on Justin, but the Beyonce record left me a bit cold. I liked the single…

MM: Yer some of its really dire, but she's got such an energy about her, like a young Tina Turner. I remember seeing Mel B once on Top of The Pops and she did the whole performance sat in an arm chair, miming, and getting the words wrong, it was just a terrible performance with no regard for her fans or anyone whose interested. And then you see Beyonce and she always puts loads of energy into it and she always sings live and she looks amazing. It's a world apart, and I really like that. That really does impress me.

MB: Like Big Bruvaz Ballroom Dancing on top of the Pops…

MM: Yer, they've got some good ideas but to me they always seem like a Community Arts project to me. Like the go round loads of schools. You can see them doing it School lunch times to get kids of the streets. Like legs Akimbo but with break beats.

MB: Is there anything else you wanna talk about it or mention, or anything you're sick of talking about?

MM: The inevitable ‘B' word always comes up, I think that's our biggest obstacle these days, you know. It's lazy journalism that associates us with a scene that died along time ago. We've always tried to separate ourselves from that but we've never really been allowed to. It's almost as if you're battling against peoples preconceptions all the time. I think there comes a point where you just sort or ignore it.

Interview by Marc Burrows, 10th August 2003.