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And Also The Trees
Shaletown

Shaletown: articles - 1990

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Green is the sea
 and also the trees

 

Article by Annie Smitdt
From Tear Down The Sky (May 1990)

    I will not rant endlessly of the admiration I have for And Also The Trees. No description in words could justly depict the beauty of their music, of Simon's poetry and of the atmopheres they create, densely and intensely evocative of deeply sensuous realms, be they meager and ragged, glorious or beguiling. I can only recommend youto delve headlong into their music and to revel in it. What follows is an interview with Simon Huw Jones (singer/lyricist = S:) and Justin Jones (guitarist = J:) followed by a more recent addendum by Justin. Please enjoy. -Annastassja.   

What are your impressions after ten years of musical work?

J:  I've been playing guitar in AATT for almost half my life...it's hard to asses such a period of time ina sentence. There have been many times when continuing has seemed impossible, but what kept us together is probably our friendship that stretches back to childhood and the fact that Simon and I are brothers. I'm happy with the music we've made and are making, but from a commercially successful point of view we've underachieved. By that I mean that we haven't reached as many people as we could.

S:  We've never had any management. When we first formed the band we were very, very naive about the business side of things, I still am and I've only just come to terms with the importance of promotion and marketing. I used to believe that if you made creative and melodic music, you would be rewarded. And I don't want to give the impression that we're bitter, we're not... it's just taken us a long time to realize the whole business is like a game, and that we weren't playing it and no one else was playing it for us.

Could you imagine your life without music or art in general?

J:  I think that without music or art in my life, I would be a completely different person.

S:  There are times when I step back from any involvement in the Arts and almost forget that I'm in a band at all... I think my style of writing demands it. So it's quite easy to imagine life without being artistically involved.

 What projects do you have for the future?

JWe already have enough music for a new lp. When Simon has written some lyrics we'll start working on vocal lines and arrangements. We hope to be recording by the summer time and touring in the autumn. Our immediate plans involve releasing a singles CD, which we're calling "From Horizon To Horizon", and making a video for a song from "Green is the Sea", probably "The Fruit Room".

What do you think about the rebirth of new cold/dark wave music in several countries?

S:  If the bands involved are going to bring something new to the movement, and if they are expressing themselves in an individual way... intent on broadening the boundaries of this style of musical expression, then it will be a positive action. If it means people are going to start writing dirges and singing in voices like Peter Murphy I will find it all a depressing waste of time. I don't really understand the term cold/dark wave. We have sometimes been included under its banner and so have bands like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Bel Canto, Dead Can Dance, Crime and the City Solution... So the descriptions dark and cold only cover a small area of the atmospheres these people make.

In France you are considered like a milestone, leaders of a movement.

J: This statement is a little too flattering. France has been very faithful to AATT though.

You don't seem too considered in England.

J: The Press in this country are obsessed with being the first to champion a new fashion or fad, no matter what the quality is often. They are equally eager about dismissing past movements and fashions and deriding their past favourites. This has a positive effect on the British music industry in the respect that it forces bands to always be searching for new styles... but it's too one track minded and a lot gets overlooked. AATT have never had much press or media coverage in the UK because we've never fitted into the system. The result is that very few people know about us here.

Nevertheless your music, Simon's lyrics, seem strictly connected with haunted ambiences, typical of old English atmospheres.

S: Yes, it's ironic that the country we draw so much of our inspiration from is unaware of our existence. I want to write about what is relevant to me, what i can see in our landscape. The music brings this to mind anyway. We live in a rural area of England where the presence of the past is strong. Here, like in many parts of Italy, the past and the present exist side by side. I like my lyrics to drift backwards and forwards through time.

Your clothes are also a reminder of England in a past century.

S: That can be misleading though, because most of my lyircs are written in the present and intend to give an impression of reaching or being drawn back through time. There are a few that seem to come from a specific time in the past..."Slow Pulse Boy" for example came from a particularly vivid dream where the atmosphere was that of the 1940's. We wore those clothes because we liked their style and elegance, the fact that they created a... historical illusion was an accident at first; we were just wearing the clothes that appealed to us that we'd found in the second hand shops, waist and coats and white shirts and suits. Then I found a frock coat, it wasn't a contrived image, although for the Farewell To The Shade Tour we exaggerated the effect for our stage performances, some people thought it looked good and others thought it was too obvious and unnecessary. I agree with both sentiments: it did look good, but it was probably unnecessary.

 Simon, you are engaged with ecology. Is it to safeguard places and atmospheres that would get lost with urbanization?

S: Yes, but I realize the scale of the problem is much bigger than that. I also care alot about the destruction of the wildlife in this country, the animals, birds, fish, reptiles, insects, plants, flowers... that depend on land uninhabited by man for survival. Too often man thinks of the world as his and his alone.

 Sometimes your lyrics sound like memories of ancient events, as if your lyrics give voice to some errant spirits.

S: Good.

 You've declared in interviews before that you write in a mediative state. Is it comparable with a sort of medianic trance?

S: Damn! I must have been drunk. I always talk too much when I've been drinking.

Your story has been surrounded by a supernatural aura since the times of Shantell.

J: The spiritual depth of AATT is difficult to talk about. I would like to say that music and words of a supernatural nature do not necessarily have to be about the dead or olden times. What is important to the soul.

What about the spirits or gods in the song "Blind Opera"?

S: There was an ancient orchard called Bone Orchard opposite the window I seem to have spent most of my life staring out of. It was very beautiful and wild and it was said that the fruit trees were growing from the land where the plague victims were buried when our village was struck in the middle ages. I imagined often that the trees were inhabited by the souls of the old villagers and lords. It was a very calm and silent place and I loved it with a passion that I couldn't understand the depth of. The orchard was felled last year and there was nothing we could do about it.

 Green Is The Sea was the line from one of your former songs. Why did you choose it for the title of the new album?

J: The words Green Is The Sea had floated around in limbo since their amputation from the name of the group some time in 1979. AATT were sitting in an inn on the south west coast of England earlier this year drinking and discussing possible titles for the album we'd just finished recording, when suddenly the disembodied sentence fell out of my mouth... Green Is The Sea. There was a stunned silence; it all made sense.

 In this album it seems that the music has become a sort of soundtrack that gives emphasis to the atmospheres suggested by the titles and the lyrics of the songs.

J: Interesting that you should mention soundtracks as this year I've written two for two short films. Regarding the relationship between music and words for AATT, the music almost always comes first. This means that Simon is either influenced by and depicts the music with his words, or he chooses the music to suit a lyrical idea. "Jacob Fleet", is a good example: it has a walking bass line so it was the obvious choice for the lyrical idea. Later, in the studio, we added bits to the music to emphasize the words.

Is it important for you to play live?

J: Yes, for a number of reasons.

How do you feel in front of the public?

S: Vulnerable. I'm not a showman, so I can't switch to auto pilot. It adds a degree of uncertainty and unpredictability which I think is exciting. An audience can lift us or bring us down; it's got a lot to do with the mood of the audience and that mood can effect us a lot.

[ Here is a summer update. The author of the article is interviewing Justin on the telephone ]

What is happening with AATT at the moment? Do you plan to tour in the States at any point?

J: We're currently finishing our next album. Tour plans cover Europe for the time being, although if we are lucky maybe an American label will 'realize' AATT and then perhaps we will tour next Spring in your country.

Do you listen to classical music? What?

J: I mostly listen to classical music. The radio provides plenty of this music. I like to discover new (for me) composers. There are none in particular that I favour above others, although I have a fondness of Saint-Saens' Albioni, Vaughn Williams and Rachmaninov.

Can you say some more about "The Fruit Room"? Fruit has always been a very special aesthetic/symbolic image for me in my own writing and painting, so I've noticed the reccurrence in your lyirics (and cover art). What about fruit, and fruit trees draws you in?

J: The fruit element of AATT is largely Simon's influence. The Fruit Room was en environment created by Simon for a party we held. The room was so sumptuously decorated in cherries and bananas that no one felt comfortable entering this ancient beamed room. It was too much of a still life for the living!

What are your obsessions? What in life are you drunk with, inspired by?

J: As a group of 4 individuals we all have our penchants. Mine is Italy and most of the things that come with this extraordinary country.

 

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

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