Budding Success

Transcript of an unidentified press interview, dated by a gig reference in the copy to 7th November 1986

Text: Karen Sweeney

Trying to get more than three words out of Phil Morris, singer with The Rose of Avalanche, is like trying to get blood from a stone. It could be due to the fact they have just arrived, and, as yet, had time for a drink, but he just does not seem keen on talking.

“The main mistake people make is thinking we got our name from The Sisters of Mercy’s drum machine, Doktor Avalanche” he explains in the longest sentence I mange to get out of him. “We had the idea Rose something, then avalanche something, and eventually decided on The Rose of Avalanche. It describes us perfectly. Beautiful but heavy.”

Four years ago Phil and Paul Berry met, and discovering a mutual love of the Velvet Underground, starting playing together. By April 1984 two others, Alan on bass and guitarist Glenn, had been drafted in. With the release of ‘LA Rain’ as their first single Rose secured a session for John Peel.

“John Peel really like us, and gave LA Rain a lot of airtime. But when we released ‘Goddess’ he hated it.”

Not that they were bothered. The reviews were in the same vein as the ones for LA Rain (which had been described as the “bleak storm that Eldritch never weathered, but probably dreams of”) It also grabbed Janice Long’s attention.

“We were lucky. It got us a session for her show, and airplay for Goddess. When we released Too Many Castles In The Sky she still loved us”

From starting with a drum machine it was automatic they would be compared to The Sisters, although live they are more rock and roll than the Sisters ever were. They toured as support to Balaam and the Angel across Europe before losing Alan Davies, and gaining Nicole Beresford on bass and Mark Thompson on drums.

“They were both in Leeds band ‘Family Dog’. We took Mark first, then persuaded Nicole to join us.

Our musical influences are very much alike, and based firmly in the late ’60s and early ’70s in West Coast America. The American drawl I adopt on stage is intentional. Its all part of the entertainment.”

Their taste is conventional – The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and The Doors. They even cover The Doors “Waiting For The Sun” and they don’t do it much damage.

“At the moment we are looking for a major label. Not just any one. We want to control ourselves, not just be another manufactured band. We had a few problems with the first label we were on LiL. They told us if anything better came along they would release us but when it actually happened they tried to hold us to four singles and two albums. They even released a compilation of all of our tracks called “First Avalanche”. We didn’t even know about it until we saw it in a shop.

“We are finding this tour strange, in the sense that we are playing in front of larger crowds than we are used to. Generally we get a good reception. Last night at Coasters though the crowd we just standing, there was little reaction until someone threw a pint at me. The glass seemed to fly vertically across the crowd and tip up only as it reached me. The glass didn’t hit me, only the lager. It gave me a real shock, so I started shouting abuse at the audience. That got them going. After the show this guy came over and said “Hey you were fucking brilliant. Best band I’ve seen in ages. By the way I threw the lager at you.” Then he flew off before I could go for him”

As the rest of the band join us the conversation gets sillier with a lot of private jokes.

“Do you like hamsters?” asks Glenn. “Someone here doesn’t”

I get the feeling that someone is Mark.

“I used to drill holes in bits of metal” offers Phil

“And I was an artist” explains Paul.

“Rubbish. You were a painter” retorts Phil.

“I was a hairdresser, but don’t put that down” says Mark eating a handful of peanuts. “Put down I was a lorry driver, cause thats cool. One of The Mission used to be a lorry driver too”

“Put down we are a deprived band with not enough riders. We definitely need more riders” announces a voice in the background “Yeah more riders and much more drink”