Days crawl in the country; skies
swept with clouds, and winds violent enough to rouse the dead. In the field adjacent to Simon's house, a chapel was demolished.
The blood of pagans nurtures the earth; this is not a place for the timid. The countryside challenges you, threatens you.
There is no familiar stench of rotting garbage, no stale air. The hum of traffic is absent, as is the comfortable red neon
haze filters of the city sky at night. The stark landscape is disturbed only by the dawn, and the ancient cottages which freckle
the green. There is no sane urbanity here; only heretic nature.
Simon contemplates his cigarette. "We
could go weeks without seeing anybody but each other. Even if we looked out the window all day, we'd only ever see the same
ten people." The smoke whorls relentlessly about our heads. We are sitting in his study, an uneven, low ceilinged white room,
built in the 15th century. Withered flowers are strewn across the bookshelf, tarnished silver candlesticks are reflected in
the mirror. Justin, guitarist and Simon's brother, crouches warily on his chair; his anaconda eyes follow my hands intently.
"I was sixteen when we did our first gig. That was 1981. We supported The Cure at Loughborough University. It was absolutely
terrifying." Simon laughs softly. "You should have seen Justin then. He was a right wee little boy. The great thing, though
, was that we reached the people we'd wanted to reach, rather than playing to people who had no interest or understanding
of our music whatsoever."
AATT formed in 1979. The lineup
has seen no changes; Justin on guitars, Simon vocals, Steven Burrows on bass and Nick Havas on drums. Robert Smith played
Svengali and 'discovered' them, hence their support of The Cure in 1981 and earlier this year. This proved to be a dubious
blessing, though. As The Cure became progressively unhip, losing well deserved chart space to bands like Frankie Goes To Hollywood,
AATT found themselves dismissed as second rate plagiarists. The media had no time for any music which was vaguely intelligent
and didn't make you wanna get down and boogie. The band released a single, 'Shantell', in June 1983, followed by their
debut self titled album, which was produced by Lol Tolhurst. 'The secret sea' EP followed that, and they release another Ep
in January. SImon fidgeted and nervously supped his tea as he played it to me. I can only describe the music I heard as captivating;
a shimmering ocean of sound. "I think our musical progression is similar to that of Joy Division's. If you listen to 'Warsaw'
and then 'Joy Division', their awareness of atmosphere increases." Justin pauses. "Creating an ambience is very important."
"It was the whole punk thing.... you didn't have
to be a god to play an instrument anymore. Music suddenly became accessible. When I first heard Justin play bits on the guitar,
it really excited me. I had thought it would be impossible."
How do you feel about your early work?
"It's difficult. It's like reading an old essay. Cringeworthy.
I haven't actually reached the stage where I cringe at our records..." Justin holds my gaze briefly. "I guess it's just matter
does it have on you to produce a really good piece? justin smirks
"It's great. I can't really draw any parallels."
Simon interjects. "Elation. Pure elation. You become enlightened in moments like that. It's like sex. The problem is you can't
sustain it." Simon changes the record. Francis Cutting's 'Greensleeves' fills the air with a determined wistfulness.
considered unusual around here, aren't you?
"I suppose we don't really conform." Simon sits up. "I don't
understand how people can go out, get pissed , have a laff with the mates, pick up a bird, and maybe later have a scrap. I
really don't understand how anyone can derive pleasure from that. We're removed because of our situation. I personally don't
feel 'in' with other musicians. People inevitably hold grudges." He looks away. "People presume I'm aloof. I'm not. I'm just
find it easier to communicate through music. People scare me.." Justin murmurs. "I guess that's why I drink. It brings out
a side of me that I prefer. It enables me to express myself." Both brothers choose their words carefully.
You seem surprisingly modest.
"That's probably why we haven't gone as far
as we could have. Unfortunately, we don't have the capacity to be really pushy. I mean, I'm just a musician, not a publicist."
Who do you admire?
think it's dangerous to have heroes. You become somebody else's projection." Justin says cautiously.
I found myself intrigued by the pulse of the place; there was a subtle debauchery
about them both, and yet no physical evidence of this perception. They are considerate, articulate, far more aware of the
inference of words than most people. They are acutely attuned to their environment: AATT employ language to communicate, rather
than to satiate. "There are moments when you forget time. Dawn this morning was utterly magical. I lay on the floor, blanketed,
looking out at the dawn. Everything was crystallised, so calm. The anonymity of monochrome is very beautiful." Simon eyes
me curiously, as if expecting derision. Listening to the wind howling viciously outside, I'm silent. Two steps away from being
permanently purged of cynicism. The one problem is that I have to retain my city weapons. And only to my despair.