Sunday, October 11, 2009
Interview were a British band formed in 1977 in Bath, releasing two LPs and a handful of singles during their existence. They debuted in 1979 with Big Oceans, in my opinion a decent but somewhat forgettable album of pub rock (though the single, "You Didn't Have to Lie to Me," is catchy enough). Their 1980 sophomore effort, Snakes and Lovers, is much more compelling and is solid enough to be considered a lost classic. The LP finds a balance between catchy, melodic power pop and thoughtful, more adventurous rock that gives it a truly unique character.
Snakes and Lovers kicks off with "Hide and Seek," which would simply be a bouncy pop number if it weren't for its curious lyrics that, according to vocalist Jeff Starrs in an interview on seedyroad.com, are "about a guy who wonders whether or not he's killed all his girlfriends." The other most accessible tracks on the record are "It's Over Now," a breezy 60s-pop inspired gem that really should have been released as a single, and the peppy "To the People." In a recollection on interviewtheband.com, guitarist Alan Brain reflects, "The single Virgin chose to release from Snakes and Lovers was "Hide and Seek," which I felt was one of our weaker songs and I'm convinced that "It's Over Now" would have been the better choice. But then again, I've always been a sucker for the catchy, 3 minute pop song."
Other songs on the LP find the band taking a more atmospheric, abstract approach, such as the anthemic, hopeful "Adventurers," the powerful melodicism of "Crossing Borders," and "Style on Seaview," which can best be described as sounding like being in a dream. These songs represent pop music at its most intelligent and poignant. Also worth noting is Starrs' vocal delivery, which is no doubt one of the most emotive of its time and is instrumental in conveying the power of the material.
All of this adds up to make Snakes and Lovers a genuinely special, one of a kind record that was criminally ignored upon its release, thanks to a lack of marketing and support from the band's label, Virgin.
Although Interview's music still has not officially been reissued on CD, in recent years band members have put the albums to disc on their own and are currently marketing them through their Web site. In a comment on the music site PVAc to 44.1 kHz, Starrs explained, "We didn't make any money with Interview as Virgin were a very tough company to deal with but alot of people have enjoyed the albums over the years, it seems, and we're at least trying to make a few quids on our creations."
The band's site also includes samples of tracks from both Big Oceans and Snakes and Lovers.
For more information:
- Review and discography of Interview records plus an interview with vocalist Jeff Starrs
- "Great Lost Albums" review of Snakes and Lovers