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And Also The Trees

Shaletown: Articles - 1985

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Ghouls just want to have fun
Interviewed by Helen Fitzgerald
from melody Maker (March 1985)

        And Also the trees believe in ghosties and spookies and things that go bump in the night.  Which is hardly  surprising if you consider that they come from a little village in Worcestershire that has been almost bypassed by the 20th century. Everything there moves very slowly and time seems to drag its heels, punctuated  only by the reaping of each new harvest. Legend thrives in such surrounds and human character canīt escape the indelible mark of such a heritage.  Not its music either. 
            Thereīs something fey, atmospheric and ancient about AATT, which isnīt  just romantic notion. Simon and Justin Jones  ( vocals and guitars respectively ) might have been farmers if they hadnīt form a band . They have a vaguely earthy charm despite the foppish angles of their battledress.
                    " Everyone in our village died in the black death", Simon points out with expresionless vigour. " The only remnant of those days is a chapel in an  orchard off our house that has crumbled into the ground. Every now and then the plough turns up a gravestone or some other relic and the village is full of old  stories and legens. We live in a 15th century house that has its own share of strange tales,  so I suppose itīs quite easy for us to believe in the paranormal ".
         Have they ever been confonted  with the evidence of such manifestations? 
 " Well, we were  walking up the hill at the back of our house one day, when a weird thing happened ", Simon says a little sheepishly.  "There was a strange glow in front of us and pieces of wood were flying past our heads.  It was horrible ".
"Where we live itīs really easy to believe in the unexplained" ,says Justin. " Itīs just part of everyday life ".
      Not your usual band  scenario this, but AATT seem almost to embrace their detachment from the competitive urban music scene. Their evolvement has been meandering, their success at finding an audience due more to chance than ambition. Theyīve been together for six years, but it wasnīt until `83 that their first single, SHANTELL, was released on future records.
          " We formed the band  I suppose, because it was the thing to do  at the time really", says Simon, who, like his brother justin, favours a kind of high-collared, frock-coated clothing thatīs a mongrel of gothic and Edwardian - A sort of Edgard Allan Poe style. " We were quite happy to spend a lot of time writing material and playing as many gigs as we could find - there isnīt really a lot to do where we live, so most of our energy went into the band".
           They'd  probably still be playing to a select local crowd now,  if they hadnīt answered an ad placed by The  Cure in the music press in 1981.
       " The Cure were setting off on a tour", Justin explains, " and they wanted to find a different support band for every different night - which we thought was a brilliant idea. We sent a really old tape, not expecting to hear back from them, but they contacted us and asked us to join them. Then, after the tour, they threw a party and asked their favourite support bands to play, and we were on the list".
                        This ultimately led to the trees being asked to  do a whole tour with the cure - including three nights at the hammersmith odeon.
         " It was terrifying", Simon laughs, " us country lads being plunged into that kind of place. The best thing was that  there were no
back-handers or hype or buy-ons involved"
 In between the two tours, The Cureīs Lol tolhurst volunteered to produce their debut album AND ALSO THE TREES (imaginative title, uh? ), which came out early last year on the reflex label. By now John Peel had caught up on the action and the band were offered a session on his show.  This, and their renewed exposure with The Cure, along with highly favourable LP reviews meant that AATT were, almost unwillingly, reaching people at last.
       They're not too good at selling themselves, these strange Tree people. Simon mumbles gently through his fringe and stares fixedly  at a spot on the floor, while Justin, pallidly, Dickensian and absurdly vague, seems to inhabit  a permanent daydream. That vagabond sweeting described their new single,  a room lives in Lucy  as a "repetitive melodrama" in a "banshees / cure mould" which is enough to put anyone  off them for life!. To be honest they do stray a little close to familiar territory, but I think theyīve developed enough individuality to outgrow comparisons. Their best songs are simple , vaguely ephemereal and strangely disquieting. Witness  THERE WAS A MAN OF DOUBLE DEED - the newīs single B side, a song fair bursting with fey and  mystical imagery.
                    " The words come from a kind of folk poem that our granny used to tell us", Simon smiles quietly. " I suppose there is something a bit  menacing  about it."
      " It's unfortunate that people associate us with The Cure so much", Simon sighs wearily, "because we've supported them a lot, we wore black clothes and Lol produced  our album. If we'd played with The Bunnymen and Les had done the LP, people would undoubtely be slotting us in with them. I thinks itīs indicative of how narrow minded  people are generally that they have to make constant associations".
    Simon and Justin's favourite album is forever changes by LOVE - which is probably an irrelevant point, but may come as some surprise to those who've slotted them conveniently under the D for doom heading.
     " I listen to old records mostly", Simon murmurs. " I don' t think we're very aware of whatīs fashionable and I'd really prefer to shut myself up in my bedroom with some Doors' records than be going out to gigs in London everynight."
      I asked them if they had to choose one song to do as a cover version, which one would it be. This seems to flummox them for a few minutes.
          " I can't play anyone else's music. I just can't ". Justin muses. " I taught myself to play guitar and  I can only play what we write. I think the only number I could possibly play, the only one we could ever cover, would be  I wanna be your dog by The stooges ".

Taken from:
"Switchblade paradise" site
(no longer on line)


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Shaletown - dancing through the dead trees by Inés Luque is licensed under a Creative Commons 3.0 License.

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