Rose: Philip Morris & Mark Thompson
As with early singles ‘LA Rain’, ‘Goddess’ and ‘Velveteen’ which were baptized in warm praise, The Rose hope that 1989 will be when they ride into hearts with rock flower power once more. Thanks to certain disagreements with their old label Fire Records, the Rose disappeared for 18 months, up to December 1988. Several chapters in pop history passed during this time, and to say the least, they are relieved to be back, re-establishing their reputation. Angela Lewis cascades into conversation with Phil and Mark at a ‘return to the live scene’ gig at the ULU.
What was it like being away for so long lads?
Phil replies (in a good solid Leeds accent, I’ll have you know) “It was hell. A lot of us went through sleepless nights for weeks on end, not knowing what to do. We nearly split up twice. It’s very hard to go through something like that; just see you life disappear down the tubes”
What exactly happened between you and fire Records?
We were not happy with the way they were handling us. They were ripping us off – hadn’t paid us a penny in three and a half years, and released sub standard material. There was an LP that came out called ‘In Rock’, which wasn’t even finished. It started off as a 4 track 12″ single, and they turned it into an LP by taking the vocals off 2 tracks so they got 6 tracks, and they added the B side of an earlier single. He (not named personally) is just a rip off merchant. He’d say to us I’m gonna do this, and we’d say no, it’s crap, and he’d say you signed the contract I’m doing it anyway, adds Mark. Phil adds, we didn’t want to carry on with Fire Records but he wanted to keep us because he was onto a good thing, you see. We were making money for him.
ROA have put themselves in the driving seat by starting up their own record label, Avalantic Records. It is now they who decide what records are released, and when, what the sleeves are like, etc.
Er… how do you manage to pay for it?
We have a financial backer at the moment Phil says mysteriously. He’s going to get his money back, and quite a big percentage of the profit, easily.
I think the Rose hope part of the profit comes from ‘Never Another Sunset’, their album due out in March. While the Rose hope the lolly will come rolling in, fans eagerly clutching the new plastic on the way out of the record shop will be hoping it’s good stuff, of the quality of past singles. Phil: Some things you will be able to tell are The Rose Of Avalanche, some are new a bit different.
The title track?
It’s dynamically sound. One of those the women like, Phil says happily.
He more than a little chuffed to be able to say this. It’s true his lyrics are remarkably sensitive at times, and quite seductive for female listeners. He’s got a book at home…it’s erm ‘How to write sexy lyrics’ Mark laughs, I’ve seen it under his bed! It’s written by Paul McCartney.
But is it true you’re a shy person, Phil?
I’m shy with strangers but I’m not when I’m…”Pissed” interrupts Mark. Not when I’ve got my Philip Morris hat on, Phil continues. I think most people in bands are, like when they are at home, doing nothing. Mark: I’m a manic depressive. It’s true what Phil says, I think all this business about a living Rock & Roll life style, to do it for a year you would be dead. I have heard stories about bands that put across that sort of attitude, “Let’s all go and do it, maan”, and they come backstage and have a cup of tea. Which is fair enough, I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with that.
Ahh, the trails and tribulations of gigs. Not on only one occasion have I sensed a bit of tension between the Rose and a section of their audience.
Did you like the gig with Balaam last December?
Phil: To start with, until all the prats got on stage and started jumping off. It would be a hell of a lot better if people just didn’t do that, because it gets to me. We’ve got a new system so anybody who does that gets taken backstage by our roadies, gets the shit beaten out of them, then kicked out. A lot of bands like to say there isn’t a barrier between them and the audience, “we’re friends, blah, blah, blah”. I like that barrier there because it creates an atmosphere, a mystique about the band, which I like. Mark: Going back to what you were saying about the 18 months we weren’t doing anything, I think one of the reasons why we stayed together, is because generally, as a band, we haven’t really got the same outside interests. As a band generally we like the same kind of music, but at home we very rarely see each other socially.
When you were at home, was it depressing seeing so many of your contemporaries get so popular?
Phil: It was soul destroying. A lot of bands who used to support us have become quite big, like Fields of the Nephilim, The Wedding Present, All About Eve, and the Wonder Stuff. If we had the backing they have had, instead of like the put down that we have had, and hindrance from the record company, we would have been as big as the Mission, I honestly believe that.
Certainly, their early singles showed great style and promised even better things to come. But they belong firmly to yesteryear, and only Never Another Sunset can show us where the Rose are now. They’ve got their freedom, now many people are hoping they can prove they can really cut it.