Sunday, October 11, 2009

Interview


interviewtheband.com

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

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

have always liked these 2 albums a lot and yes the 2nd is pretty startling far too good to be ignored 1st was good -not much like pub bands i knew-lyrics were sometimes pretty obscure dealing with an american writer hart crane [or was it artist]and so on.

keef

Frank said...

Thanks for the comment. You're right about the lyrics on the first record -very obscure topics in some of them.

Anonymous said...

Are there any sites you can pay for digital copies of these sings?

Frank said...

I haven't seen them for sale digitally yet, but it might be worth e-mailing the address on the official site to request it.

steve simels said...

Good for you for posting this...I've loved this album since it first came out, but lost my vinyl copy in the late 80s.

Around 2000, I found Jeff Starrs online, and he was kind enough to burn me a copy, even though he didn't know me from adam, and he had to pay overseas postage.

Jeff is a mensch, is what I'm saying.

Anyway, thanks again for writing about this...

Frank said...

Thanks for the comment, Steve. Great to hear that about Jeff!

Anonymous said...

glad I could hear samples first....no big deal here

kathleen said...

I think the first lp big ocean is a great lp. not sure where your comment about it being pub rock comes from as the lp musically is well crafted and mature. My sister and her boyfriend saw them open for the pretenders and raved about them and we listened to their Big Oceans incessantly. The lp stands heads and shoulders over many of the lps released in the nascent new wave era.

Tom Cravens said...

Big news! Snakes & Lovers will be available as a download purchase on Amazon.com (U.S.), on July 13, 2013. Spread the news. If enough people buy it, perhaps they'll make Big Oceans available as well! Here's the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Snakes-and-Lovers/dp/B00BWL89WW/ref=sr_1_1_title_0_main?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1366639275&sr=1-1&keywords=snakes+and+lovers