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trying to make music that was far too ambitious for our capabilities. You got a great response to your debut single Muscles including accolades from Peel. Were you thinking at the time that you could make music as a career? I don’t even think I have a career now, you just get up and do all the same things you’ve always done. Start writing, make some music and it just carries on until 2 in the morning and then you go to bed, just like when I was 16. Nowadays I get paid sometimes which keeps you going for a few months. But back at the start there was no notion that you could do it as a career especially in Blackpool – who’s ever going to find you there? So when we started getting good press it was amazing, like being on a little desert island and a boat going past discovers you! Even if just one person heard your record being played on the radio that was amazing. Me saying this makes no sense to anyone under 30 right now – they’re probably thinking why didn’t we just go on Facebook! But we were just sending endless records out and then suddenly you’d be record of the week and you’d be like, fuck! How did that happen? Tere was no plan but I was trying really hard to get the band out of Blackpool. I would spend hours in a phone box at the end of our road with the wind swirling round outside with a bag of washers that our drummer had stolen from where he worked that were the same size at 10p pieces. So for two years we didn’t spend any money on phone calls! Long cold hours in that phone box. It’s so DIY! So it’s even more amazing that you guys managed to get out of Blackpool nonetheless! You were nearly the first band to be signed to Creation Records, you were on Marc Riley’s label In Tape and you were one of the first acts that Steve Albini recorded. Is it only in retrospect now that you can see how fortunate you were to be dealing with


such leading lights of the music scene? In a sense, but they weren’t big names back then. At that point in time we were pretty much the best known ‘noisy band’ in Britain so when Albini first came over to the UK we were kind of the go-to band. He’d never recorded before so we asked him when we played in Manchester. Marc Riley was in Te Fall and was in another band called Creepers who were on the same circuit as us at the time. So they were just people we knew who could help us out and we in turn helped other people out. Pulp supported us, and now they’re now a stadium band. But in the early days they had no fans – you’d go see them play in Sheffield and there’d be no one there. For 10 years they were a completely ignored band, so it shows amazing self belief that they managed to keep going for so long – they were just slightly out of time until Britpop came along. It’s like Manchester, the Mondays and the Roses– until people started taking drugs these psychedelic-tinged indie bands made no sense but when people all had wonky minds it all came together! So you either drive where everyone’s going or you drive and eventually everyone comes to you, - it’s just right place, right time. Your latest album Dark Matter/Dark Energy is so crisp and clear but still has that wonky feral bite to it. How much of the album was created around the theme of the universe and to what extent do you think it was a reflection of the important life events that you had all experienced during the time that had passed since you last recorded together? Tat’s a perfect description! I’m writing that down now! Yeah, completely. Our early stuff was very youthful – we were very young. Even when I was in my early 20’s we were trying to make music that was far too complex for our capabilities. What I wanted to do was to make a record that I was completely happy with from the start to the finish so we started writing some songs. I did a TED X talk about Punk DIY and met Joe Incandela, particle physicist and former spokesperson for the CERN organisation. He told me all this mindblowing stuff about the multiverse, how they don’t really know what dark matter is or what’s going on in outer space. I thought if I can make a record that makes my head feel like it does when he’s talking about the universe that would be the album that would be amazing. Initially it might be difficult to listen to but if you just let that go then it could be really captivating. Te universe is such a fascinating thing it did affect a lot of the lyric writing. As you get


older there’s more darkness in your life – my father died while we were making the record and that kind of affected it as well. It’s a reflection of life and death in the universe, and I like the idea that we’re all made up of bits of the universe so in a way we all live forever. Will you be working on recording more material in the future? Yeah we’ve pretty much already written the new album, we’re just trying to get it together now. What do you make of the 40th anniversary of punk celebrations that seem to be cropping up everywhere this year? Firstly I can’t believe it’s 40 years ago! It doesn’t feel like it could have happened in our generation. Classic punk is so contradictory – on one level it was never about looking backwards, but on another level it’s really great to celebrate a really important moment in time when people did say no, and a really complex pop scene developed that was never really resolved. It wasn’t quite formed when it hit the mainstream, so no one really knew what punk was, it was a load of question marks, not a definite culture. Tat was what was really good about it because it could be anything you wanted. But it collapsed quickly before anyone could work it out so now you get a situation where everybody has their own version of what punk is.


LIZZ PAGE


INFORMATION Te Membranes play as part of Norwich Sound & Vision at Te Owl Sanctuary for Outline Magazine on Friday 14th October. Support comes from Knowpeace, Luminous Bodies and another act TBC. Wristbands and tickets are available from norwichsoundandvision.co.uk. Read this interview in full online at outlineonline.co.uk


outlineonline.co.uk / September 2016 / 19


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