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Shaletown

Shaletown: Articles - 1991

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Interview of Simon Huw Jones ,Prémonition Magazine, Autumn, 1991.



 Is the group a good opportunity for you to express those feelings that you couldn’t express otherwise?

  Yes, it’s a great opportunity to express myself. By the way, this is our only reason for making music, it’s not because we want to please, or to make money, not even to make a living out of it. Also, I hope to be able to communicate with people by means of our music.

 Do AATT have a general message?

  Not really, nothing in particular. But then, which group does have one? Do U2 have a message? Or Nick Cave, or Marc Almond, or Kate Bush? It’s so annoying, those messiahs… But I do appreciate groups, which are capable of getting a message through in a convincing way…

 Could ecology be your real message, maybe even allegorical?

  In a way, yes, but does it really concern the people who are listening to AATT? If my message was completely allegorical, could they feel concerned about my vision of the destruction of nature? Saying this, I like the fact that my texts contain more than one meaning, like romance or allegory. By the way, I myself often understand the source of what I wrote much later.

 Do people really have to understand what you’ve written, to have access to AATT?

  I don’t think that’s necessary. For example, I don’t understand a word of what Jacques Brel sings, but through his way of singing, through the tone of his words, I do understand so many things… Also, I do not always understand the lyrics of a lot of English groups. For me, it’s good enough to undergo their music.

  Jack, a dream you had?

  I’ve read a lot of feary tales for children, the character of Jack is a result of that. He’s not a real person, he could be anyone. His story is a bit like wandering through my imagination.

  Dreams are important in your writing?

  Yes, but those are not dreams that I get while I’m sleeping. It’s more a state of meditation, which permits me to make up my own lyrics and to let my first ideas well up. Of course, I don’t wake up saying I had an idea while I was sleeping.

  What are your literary influences?

  Nothing in particular, I try to read all I can, in every genre. A lot of people recommend certain authors, but I don’t take those advices that much in account. In particular, I appreciate novels; they are a great influence to me. All people who read are more or less marked by what they read; it can influence them a lot. For example, in the way they write a letter. It happens to me also, when I read authors, such as Hemmingway, or works from the romantic period.

   Are you fascinated by death?

   Death doesn’t occur that much in my work. The lyric for The Suffering of the Stream for example doesn’t tell about someone’s death, which one could think easily, hearing it the first time. In my mind, it’s more allegorical, it’s about the soft death of nature. Saying this, like for everyone, the human condition makes me interested in death, of which one must think on certain moments. But in the same way, I’m also interested in birth. Death doesn’t scare me more than anyone else.

   Vincent Crane?

 This is once more a person born in my imagination. When I’m writing scenarios or short stories, I always use imaginary characters, even if, to me, they seem perfectly real. I don’t want to sound to bizarre, but I often have the impression that they really exist. Indeed, by thinking of them constantly, they stop materializing, a bit like when I’m being presented with memories of someone else. They seem so real to me that they almost could be own memories…. But they’re not.

   Could you write a novel?

   In theory, yes, but if I’m capable of it…? I don’t have enough self-confidence, maybe one day. I consider my texts as pieces of poetry. I always write them, even if I’ll never write a novel. That’s the only certainty I have, my only future income…(heavy silence) I won’t sing my whole life. I don’t see myself standing on a stage when I’m fifty, with a rock band. But, on the other hand, I’ll always write, even after the band.

  Another subject, do you like to play on festivals?

  Often, yes, I like their competitive nature. If you have to play after a band which played well, you feel obliged to do even better. But we’re not a festival group; the crowd’s only there to amuse themselves and to dance, not to discover new groups, like us.

  How are the reactions of the audience?

  I hate those concerts where people in the audience are talking to each other. This makes me feel obliged to give more and more, but unfortunately it won’t break the distance between the audience and myself for most of the times, we won’t reach a sort of dramatic turning point at last.

 Is this feeling, to be obliged to conquer the audience, a stimulation?

  Rarely, because on stage, you often have the impression that what the crowd really wants, is your blood, not lullabies. (laughs) So we have to play more violent and faster to satisfy them.

  Are you afraid of success?

   That depends on what you understand by success. Often we know that we have reached some amount of success, because people are interested in what we do. We’ve toured and been appreciated very much. Is that success? When you’re meaning commercial success, we’d love to know it, but without concessions. It’s true that our financial situation is difficult: we can’t afford certain normal things easily, like buying a new pair of shoes when we want them. I’m tired of borrowing a car, when mine breaks down. But I won’t change for that.

  Would you like to express yourself through another art?

  I’ve never really tried. I’d love to be a painter, but I’ve never dedicated the time needed. I’d like to be able to express myself in other domains in the same way like music.

  Do you make rock music?

  We’re undoubtedly more rock than pop. And how do they dare to qualify us as new wave, although we’ve been making music for more than ten years. With regard to the term ‘cold-wave’, it’s mostly a French thing, and doesn’t correspond to us. I don’t have the feeling that we belong to a certain category… Anyway, we’ve never felt that we are linked with “sad” groups, so to speak, which attract some of our fans, even if I’ve listened a lot to Cocteau Twins in the past.

  Is the live performance important?

  As important as the album itself. I love to be able to perform the totality of our songs. That’s the most intense side to it, the most exact, to rewrite them. It’s indeed a very special feeling to face a crowd, that brings back precisely the meaning of words and of the songs. Also, I can apply myself to revive and reexperience all sensations I felt creating the songs, which is often very hard to do. The audience gets the impression that we’re acting cool to them, but I try as much as possible to move them.

 How did you find the Morlaix concert of which we talked with Justin. (During the Morlaix concert, the group was surprised by a sudden break down of the electricity; only Simon and Nick could perform.)

  It was amusing and terrifying at the same time, because I had nothing behind me. The crowd could easily cover up our pieces with noise. We didn’t have the protection of micros and amplifiers, which normally cover up the noise from the audience. I really enjoyed this sensation; it was one of the most powerful moments of our French tour.

  How do you feel before a concert?

  I cannot calm down, because we have to wait so long without any interruption. I always feel the need to concentrate and if I don’t do this, I get the impression that I’m going to forget all my lyrics, although I know them perfectly.

  Then why do you use a book?

  There are certain songs that I can’t remember. Certainly, it’s more a psychological thing than anything else, but this book makes me less vulnerable than I am. Mostly, I don’t even read the lyrics. It reassures me, that’s all.

 There are some songs, which are very popular, like Slow Pulse Boy, which you play on every concert, unlike So this is Silence….

  We haven’t played it for five years now, and we will certainly never play it again. Concerning Slow Pulse Boy, that’s a rare track of which we’ve never grown tired. Every time, I think we play it correctly, and if one night we didn’t like the result, we try even harder the next time. We won’t abandon it as long as people are appreciating it. On the other hand, we will never play a song of which we have grown tired. Every tour we discuss what we’ll play and what not, especially in case of So this is Silence. There’s always a refusal. Last time, it was Nick who said he didn’t want to play it, that when we played it, he wasn’t moved anymore.

  In which country are you best received?

  Uptill now, in France, but we haven’t played in a lot of other countries. In certain places of Germany, also in Switzerland, we are very well received. Although the audience in Italy was very encouraging, we haven’t been there for a long time. I don’t know why.

  What do you think of your support acts?

  Mostly I don’t see them playing on stage, because I have to be concentrated while they’re playing.

  Is there such a great tension before a concert?

  Yes, but you get used to it. It only improves our way of playing and it creates an atmosphere that can effect the audience deeply. But I would prefer a more comfortable state of mind. Great performers are those who are capable of laughing with the crowd in between the songs. I’d like to be more able to do so, but it is difficult to make fun with the crowd, it scares me. I’m afraid I’ll never achieve this.

  Why don’t you act politically for ecology? Isn’t it useful?

 I don’t think so. I don’t know why I don’t join a party which defends nature. Our village is threatened by the development of all sorts of buildings, which is more and more the case in the countryside. I did engage myself greatly for helping out with this problem, but we’ll see. Just wait.

  Do you share Justin’s reluctance towards Englishmen?

  I love the people, but it’s clear that there are certain things which go straight against the British attitude. It’s not a good thing to pity these people.

   Are you proud of AATT?

 Without hesitation, yes.

 

Taken from:
D.Pittman's site

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