Young Marble Giants, as you all know come from Cardiff. They had two tracks on a Cardiff compilation L.P. which Rough Trade were impressed by so they signed them up. They released an L.P. 'Colossal Youth' a single 'Final Day' and did quite a few gigs. When I phoned up Rough Trade to try to get an interview they said that the band weren't working together so it would be best if we spoke to Stuart. We met Stuart and Philip (who had come up to London that day) and did the interview at Rough Trade. The interview's getting a bit old now but is still pretty relevant. (All the quotes are by Stuart unless it says Phil, Phil said them.
Have you split up or aren't you working together at the moment? "It's the same thing, we're not working, it's over. We had this idea and we did It, we didn't expect it to happen it just happened. We didn't expect to get a record made, it was a bit of a surprise. It really caught me unaware all the success and fame and groupies, drugs, money, travel and all that. All we wanted to do was sign off."
Were you surprised when you started getting good reviews, cos you came from nowhere and then you were in all the papers?
'We11 not really 'cos obviously we tried our best to write really good music so it s like gratification, it*s great, really nice." Phil: "I found it really wierd 'cos in the beginning we had loads of interviews about all these things that were happening to us that we didn't even know were going on. Like now we can look back over it. It was really difficult expecting US to know what youíre doing." "It's a similar situation to you living in a small place out of London, and we were unemployed we just had to get out of it and we wanted to make music so that explains a lot of why the music sounds like it was. Like we're into rock 'n í roll and we could have just been a rock 'n' roll band but we'd never have got out of Cardiff."
So you had to do something really different to get out? "Yeah, something really extreme, luckily it worked." It worked well didn't it. "Yeah, well better than I ever thought it would actually, it's quite incredible. It brin-s a lot of problems though, it's corny but it's true you do feel you have a responsibility. When we were in New York this guy had come from Texas to see our one gig and you start thinking that you really mean something to some people " What's Alison doing? Phil: "I don't know, she wants to do some stuff on her own." With a backing group? "There's this band called Five or Six who'd like her to do some singles and a guy from Cherry Red wants her to do a track. She doesn't really know what she's going to do."
By the time you read this the last Y.M.G. record, an E.P. of testcard music, should have been released. The E.P. has 6 tracks, all instrumentals, which are similar to the music ve get during the testcard. "It's quite cheeky music, like the stuff you get on early morning T.V. between schools orogrammes. It's our best record ever, I really like it, it's great." Stuart's new group. The Gist, have already released a single 'This is love' /'Yanks' and they also had a track. Greener Grass, on the N.M.E./ Rough Trade tape. The line up of The Gist is likely to be very flexible and not just confined to musicians. "It's not just musicians the idea is to try and uce -oeople who are unknown and give them a break, and also there are lots of really good writers^ artists and musicians around and just use them. Where I live there's an 8 track studio and Iíve just got a A track so we'll record at home."
Thatíll be a lot cheaper as well. "Yeah very cheap. Basically it's friends that I know that can play instuments and painters and just get them to come up for a week and play. (and Paint!!)
The debut Gist L.P. is probably going to be a double L.P. but with a difference "I'm going to do an L.P. myself and then give an 8 track un-mixed tape to Adrian Sherwood who does a lot of dub(Creation Rebel, Prince Far l) and see if he can come up with a completly different L.P. and chuck these both together. "I'll be using about three basses and two drummers and I m going to select which ones I want for which songs and maybe have like two basses on one song and things like that, there'll be so much range.
"So it'll be completly different from anything else you ve done . ^ "It'll be very different. You see I'm trying to write dance music. I'm trying move away From J^at sort of elitist thing that Y.M.G. was all about. It was very elite like we're doing this music which is quite clever and quite unusual and we were guarenteed a certain ammount of success especially being on Rough Trade. If you're using different musicians will the sound be changing all time "I've always been into each song being totally unrecognisable to each other. The + hlnt iftLt in a way it isn't that different 'cos I wrote the music for Y.M.G. therefore it's still me. Hopefully there's enough range of styles in the way play so it doesn't become monotonous."
Are you going to be using any wierd/different instruments on LP. "We're going to use a church organ, we're going to a church í violin, that's like the ultimate keyboard. I've also been trying to get hold a violin. There is so much you can do just with a mixing desk without even using an instrument just using feedback and echo and equalisation. Ve did a whole tr.c. just using feedback from a drum machine and it was really interesting. Are you going to be doing any tours ií "Yeah I really want to get back to doing that. You'll have to get a set band then won't you?
"Well I'll have to get a band but it'll be on a sort of hire or fire a , I hope that won't have to be bought into operation hopefully I will choose people where I can have a sort of informal arrangement. It's a11 a bit vague at the moment, it all depends on what the music " music's almost impossible to transfer to stage, I don t think it wiU be though. "I'm going to do a 12 " after the L.P. which is going to be a live open air recording of a railway yard at night in San Francisco, which is probably no different from any other one, I could probably go to Clapham and do it. Where we stayed it was right next to this railway yard and at weekends they park the trains there and you get all these incredible noises, sounds like an orchestra tuning up, so I' going to tape that and make tape loops and edit it...
TAPE RUNS OUT ANd WE START TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE.
"Actually Rough Trade's a really good label in the sense that the groups are all so different from each other and different from the mainstream. I don't actually like a lot of the music on Rough Trade though." Do you think that it's a bad t&ing that they're off the mainstream, shouldn't they get in? "Musically or do you mean Rough Trade get in? "
Rough Trade get in. "Yeah, Rough Trade are at the moment dealing with Radio 1 & 2, you have to. I think it's really good." Otherwise you're just an alternative stuck with a small following and that's it. "I think it was good to be an alternative when they started out, it was very valid but now everything's changed so much because the majors are really...
The music is so appaling, most of it, and in that context the music on Rough Trade is quite refreshing. The thing about Rough Trade bands that holds them together is that it's more enthusiasm than ability, that is very refreshing. It's like the people are alive even if they can't play or anything at least they've got something to say, well not all of them."
I'm surprised that they're dealing with Radio 2 ? "I'm not really, well it's all publicity. Any publicity is good nublicity." Get the housewives grooving away. "Yeah, music to do the hoovering to." Phil: "That's the best way though, if you appeal to everybody that's the ultimate." Would you go on Top of the Pops? "Yeah I'd do anything for publicity." Are you under a contract? "Well what you do is sign a contract for a record. We signed a contract for the album and the contract is that. What happened was we played them our cassette and they said O.K. go into the studios and they recommended one and we went there ...
After the initial sales it's just all profit so they just split the profit 50 /50, which works out pretty well." "Do you know that W.H.Smith won't take any Rough Trade product at all? " I've never seen any in there. "No they won't.take it because it's Rough Trade. It's like this real reactionary fear of this sort of grimy little place im London, it's their loss. 3ut then again there's all those people that go to W.H.Smith's that we could be turning on. Like one of the high points of my life is getting a record that I really like that s like a really high point in my life and so if our record can do that let's have it in W.H.S. so all the dad's can get into it. It's funny because our dad's really into classical music and operas and when we first played him our record he just came round a couple of weeks later and said "Oh I just don't understand It at all." It really disappointed me I thought it's not hieroglyphics it's fuckin/ music.í*
Young Marble Giants Testcard E.P. is out now. It's described(on the cover) as 'six instrumentals in praise and celebration of mid¨ morning television made and clayed by: Stuart Moxham and Philip Moxham.
The six tracks are 'Clicktalk', 'Zebra Trucks' Sporting Life', 'This Way', 'Posed by Models'and 'The Clock'. All the tracks are good , esnecially Fosed Lcr models which would sound ^reat on the television, though I don't think it's their best record (as Stuart reckoned). Find out for yourself though, lOminutes of music for about one round isn't bad value for money these day.
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