1986 Sounds Interview

Published 03/05/86

“Heavy Petal Kids” A thorn in the side of modern pop? Chris Roberts buttonholes The Rose of Avalanche. Cultivated pic: Steve Double.

From Leeds to Harlesden with loud licentious guitars.

Down at the Mean Fiddler The Rose of Avalanche coolly don’t try to be cool.

They’re about to play their twentieth gig and release their third single “Too Many Castles In The Sky” a silvery streamlined sequel to the ravaging “LA Rain” and “Goddess”. Meanwhile a debut album they have disowned rumbles and tumbles around the charts like a rock in a spin dyer.

They’re an unusual group visually, torn between languid laissez-faire and overt incompetence at scissor management. Vocalist Phil Morris, guitarists Glenn Shultz and Paul Berry, bassist Alan Davies and a real live drummer Mark Thompson, find Yorkshire rather similar to America.

They’re not the worlds most sparkling interviewees, but they’re curiously (too?) unpretentious for a group who sing of gutters and gurls and have overtaken the bulk of Leeds league table of cult bands with barley a heavy breath. The career went: compilation track, Peel session, “LA Rain”, then first gig. Bright boys, dark boys.

Do you ever send roses to people? “We haven’t got enough money. Plastic roses maybe. Or a drawing of a Rose?”

Philip, tall, thin, sings in a cutely dumb American accent, quite fancies himself, just about has a right to.

I can’t say we’re really living that whole rock ‘n’ roll thing but we have experienced it. For a few months I loved like the songs are. And saw things the average person doesn’t see.

“LA Rain” relates to the extreme of what could happen to some of my friends: I don’t believe in writing songs which are nothing to do with me or anyone I know. “Goddess” is a friends girlfriend; “Too Many Castles” is about a girlfriend I had that I fell out with. I’ve only ever met one bloke who worth writing about; and he’s too over the top so I won’t.

“Leeds is very like Detroit. At least the characters we hang around with. One kid there deserves…there’s no different between him and Johnny Thunders except that Thunders is “a star”.

But it’d be such a pressure for us to keep up an image all the time offstage. Keeping your audience think – Oh God, what’s the rock ‘n’ roll thing to do now? How do you rock ‘n’ roll when you go to the toilet? There are some people, obviously, who think like that, and you just feel sorry for them.

Glenn, long long hair, very late ’60′s, obsessed with guitars.

I was classically trained but I dropped out to become…ha ha…a rock ‘n’ roller. Classical is just an exercise, not music. You’re trained to move your fingers really fast. There’s very few…only Julian Bream, Paco Pena, who can make it sound like music…all the others are just cold and sterile. Whereas a rock guitarist enjoys it, puts something of himself into it. Some bollocks, not just mechanics.

“I brought my first electric guitar cos it looked really horrible I had to have it. That’s the way my taste’s gone ever since, really. The horribler the better”

It’s very violent, aggressive music. “Seedy maybe. Disgusting maybe. Not aggressive”

It doesn’t sound very 1986.

“People tell us it does, that’s what matters”

There’s this stuff about Baby let’s go for a ride in my car… “It’s inferred as two things – either come for a f*** or just come for a ride in my car. It depends whether you think we’re dirtballs or decent lads”

So you’re not saying your not dirt balls?

“Mmm…no. No! No!”

“The music is. We’re not”

“We never sat down and said – lets put across this filthy dopey VD ridden dirtball image” It just sort of happened that way?

“Aw, the only time you’ve seen us play live before, two of us had food poisoning” “We’re still learning”

The Rose of Avalanche’s fourth single will be “Velveteen”. What a lovely word. It’s this, that and the other, I like.

Ambitions: to write the ultimate song; to make money and live in massive mansions; to be so successful they don’t have to see each other between world tours; “its pointless just being in a band; we’re in it also for the whole thing that could happen to us”; to keep evoking romance with dirt; to make people move their legs about.

The Rose of Avalanche do what they do so very clearly and arrogantly, it’s really not on to doubt the flow. They also have a splendid (tender and menacing) name.

Above all, any group which screams “A goddess of love, yes you’re a goddess, goddess, g-g-g-g goddess of love” over a neighbour annoying barrage of noise, has to be worth its place in the cultural annals of Western Europe.

You agree, don’t you dear?