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PSYCHEDELIC FURS (TIM BUTLER) INTERVIEW [2010]

YOU'VE JUST COME OFF A PRETTY BIG AMERICAN TOUR HAVEN'T YOU? HOW WAS THAT?

Well yes, pretty big for us now, we did about six weeks of shows… we take it easy these days, so six weeks this year and last year we did about the same, but the truth is that we can't really take the really huge tours anymore!

WELL THERE'S MORE WORK AHEAD OF YOU BECAUSE YOU'RE COMING BACK TO THE UK AREN'T YOU? FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE, I THINK, 2005…

Yeah, we came over then and did that festival in Hyde Park, what was it called? Wireless, the Wireless Festival… and while we were there we did one London gig and one show in Ireland, so yes we're looking forward to coming back. Actually I don't know why we don't come back more often…

I WAS GOING TO ASK THAT QUESTION MYSELF ACTUALLY… IS IT BECAUSE ALL YOUR FAMILY IS OVER HERE AND YOU'D HAVE TO PUT THEM ALL ON THE GUESTLIST?

Most of the family is over here now actually! But no, we got back together in 2000, or maybe it was 2001, and I am surprised that we've only done three shows over there in all that time… I guess you just play where the demand is…

WELL IT FEELS LIKE THE DEMAND FOR YOU GUYS TO PLAY OVER HERE IS VERY HIGH, I'M REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO IT AND I KNOW THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO READ MY WEBSITE ARE TOO… IS IT NICE TO GET BACK TO THE UK, OR IS JUST A BIT STRANGE FOR YOU NOW?

It's very strange actually; it's become a totally different place since we started living in America, which was back in 1982 I think! Probably for the first few years there were things about England that we missed - a pint of beer, that sort of thing - but after a while that sort of goes away and when you go back there it's like a strange culture! But I'm looking forward to this trip; I'm looking forward to a nice ploughman's lunch with some Stilton!

WELL YOUR FIRST DATE IS IN FROME IN SOMERSET AND I BET THERE'S SOME GREAT PLOUGHMAN'S AROUND THERE!

I know, I saw that the warm up show was going to be there and I thought how much more English can it get!

I THINK I'M RIGHT IN SAYING THAT THE SHOWS YOU'RE ABOUT TO COME AND DO WILL BE REVOLVING AROUND THE 'TALK TALK TALK' ALBUM?

Yes, that's right… it's kind of a popular thing to do now, but the idea is to do that on this tour and then on the next tour we'll do the whole of 'Forever Now', and then the whole of 'Mirror Moves'… I don't know if we'll be able to face doing the same thing for 'Midnight To Midnight' though!

I'VE READ INTERVIEWS IN WHICH YOU TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU DON'T LIKE THAT ALBUM… DO YOU STILL HAVE AN UNCOMFORTABLE RELATIONSHIP WITH IT?

Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't actually. Sometimes I get it into my head that it's a very bad album, that it's very confused and stuff, but then I'll go and listen to it and I think that it's not actually THAT bad… what irks us about it is the way in which we presented it; on the tour we had the ego ramps and all the production stuff… it just wasn't really us! About halfway through that tour we realised that we should have cut back and stopped wearing the long dusters, lost the big mullet hairstyles… but to be honest I think by then the damage had already been done, our hard-core fans just weren't into it…

WAS IT A CASE OF NOT KNOWING WHICH TO JUMP AT THAT POINT? I MEAN YOU WERE A PRETTY BIG BAND BY THEN, WAS THERE A LOT OF PRESSURE ON YOU TO MAKE A HIT ALBUM?

Up until then we had been building very well… 'Talk Talk Talk' had 'Pretty In Pink' then 'Forever Now' had 'Love My Way' and 'Mirror Moves' has 'Heaven' and 'Ghost In You'… but then we went into the studio with Daniel Lanois, and we took in some ideas but he said that we didn't have a whole album, we only had three or four ideas, and he said we should go away and write some more, get some more ideas and then we could do the album. But we were high on the success of 'Mirror Moves' and we just said we don't need to do that, we've got the songs, Daniel Lanois can just piss off… and we ended up with Chris Kimsey, who's a good producer but totally wrong for us. We should have waited… we should have done what Daniel Lanois suggested… gone away and actually worked on some other songs!

The thing is that with your first album you have maybe two years to write it, and then you record that album, then with the next album you have less time to do it, then with 'Forever Now' there was less time again, and then we come to 'Midnight To Midnight' and when you're on a roll of success you have even less time which affects what comes out. Some bands can do it, but I think that around the time of 'Midnight To Midnight' we'd just got stuck...

JUST OUT OF CURIOSITY CAN YOU REMEMBER WHICH TRACKS YOU ALREADY HAD AT THAT STAGE? THE THREE OR FOUR THAT DANIEL LANOIS LIKED?

We had the track 'Midnight To Midnight', I think we had 'Heartbreak Beat'… and a couple of other ones, I can't remember which ones now!

GOING BACK TO 'TALK TALK TALK', DO YOU HAVE ANY PARTICULAR MEMORIES OF THE MAKING OF THAT ALBUM? WHAT WAS THE MOOD IN THE CAMP AT THAT STAGE?

It was pretty good, I mean we were fresh off some success from the first album, we'd toured over here and it had taken off and started to do really well here so when we went in to do 'Talk Talk Talk' we were buoyed up by that, we were getting on really well and I think we wrote some of the best songs we've ever written.

YOU WERE A SIX-PIECE BAND WHEN YOU MADE 'TALK TALK TALK', DID THAT MAKE THE WHOLE RECORDING PROCESS EASIER OR MORE DIFFICULT?

Yeah, it was actually the last time we were a six-piece… but it's less difficult the less people you have. The way we wrote that album was that we had a block of time booked at Nomis Studios in London and we'd start the rehearsal by going to the pub, then go on to the rehearsals, jam around and have arguments about stuff and then go back to the pub at 5.30 before going back for some intoxicated jamming! Which kind of worked because at the time we prided ourselves for building up a kind of wall of melody… but the feel of that was what it was all about, the feel of six people almost competing against each other. Six people who couldn't really play their instruments very well! Bu it worked and I like to think that that's a classic album, not our only classic album, but I do think it helped shape alternative music…

BEFORE THE INTERVIEW I WAS TRYING TO THINK WHO YOUR PEERS MIGHT HAVE BEEN AT THAT TIME, WAS THERE ANYONE AROUND THAT YOU FELT ANY SENSE OF KINSHIP WITH?

U2 would be the obvious one back then because Steve was producing both of us. It was kind of like leapfrog because he's produce us and then he'd go off to produce them and then he'd be back to us and then back to them, so we sort of felt a kinship with them. I'm not sure who else would have been around at that time…

I WAS THINKING MAYBE THE CURE, REALLY BECAUSE OF THE ECCENTRICITY OF THEM; THEY WERE A ROCK BAND WITH A REAL POP SENSIBILITY AND WITH LOTS OF OTHER STUFF GOING ON TOO...

A little bit yeah. Echo and the Bunnymen would be right up there though, and maybe Teardrop Explodes. I can remember that one of our first big shows was with Echo and the Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes and, I think, A Certain Ratio, at the Lyceum in London. Somehow we all got lumped together as this big psychedelic revival… we never said we were psychedelic, it was just our name!

DID YOU FIND YOURSELVES PIGEONHOLED AS A RESULT OF THAT? LUMPED INTO SOME SORT OF SCENE THAT SOMEONE IN THE MEDIA MADE UP?

Yeah… they must have been really disappointed when we failed to wear kaftans and sandals and stuff! But something about the UK press is that they like to build up bands and then knock them down; you can be a hit for a couple of months and then suddenly you're the worst thing that ever happened to music. I think that's often true with the audiences in the Uk too, at least it was back then, I think the audiences were very trend conscious.

IS IT THE SAME WITH THE US PRESS? WAS AMERICA A BETTER MARKET FOR YOU?

Over here I think that if they like you then they do tend to stick with you, particularly audiences, but you have to prove it over here, you have to prove you can do it whereas in England you only needed one hit single to attract a screaming audience!

WHAT ELSE WILL YOU BE PLAYING WHEN YOU COME OVER HERE BECAUSE THE 'TALK TALK TALK' ALBUM DOESN'T LAST THAT LONG SO THERE WILL BE PLENTY OF TIME FOR SOME OTHER STUFF?

Well I think we have to throw in the obligatory semi-hits like 'Heaven', 'Heartbreak Beat'… 'President Gas' probably. In the American shows we've just done we've actually been playing 'Pyjamarama' by Roxy Music so we might play that. Actually that's a band that was a big influence eon us, although I don't think we would have admitted to that back then, but now I think they were definitely one of our biggest influences. On the last tour we covered 'Virginia Plain'…

I WOULD PUT MONEY ON THE FACT THAT IT MUST BE VERY DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO GET THROUGH AN INTERVIEW WITHOUT TALKING ABOUT 'PRETTY IN PINK' AND I KNOW THAT IT MUST BE VERY BORING FOR YOU…

It is very boring, but go ahead!

THANK YOU! HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT SONG NOW? DO YOU HATE IT?

We go through periods when we're bored of playing it, because we must have played it at every concert we've ever done since 1981! But it's a great song and it has stood the test of time. The fact that it became linked to a movie that has absolutely nothing to do with the lyrical content of the song… well that's something that we're still coming to terms with! But it did get us a lot of new fans, although at the time it did also drive away a lot of the old hard-core fans…

DO YOU THINK THE BAND'S STORY WOULD HAVE BEEN VERY DIFFERENT IF THE WHOLE JOHN HUGHES THINGS HADN'T HAPPENED?

Maybe, I don't know. Before that things were going well for us, every album we brought out sold more than the last one, so it did jump us up a few steps. It did put our name out there which I guess was good. We have a sort of love/hate relationship with the song and we do sort of roll our eyes when we play it… it would actually be great to do a set without it and see if people then still go away happy! On the bright side, if we're going to be judged on one tree-minute moment then I'm glad that it's a pretty good three-minute moment!

AND WHAT'S NEXT FOR YOU, AFTER THE UK DATES? ANY CHANCE OF THE LONG AWAITED NEW PSYCHEDELIC FURS ALBUM?

We're working on that. We have got a lot of song ideas and at the moment it's down to Richard to get into gear and write the lyrics, which he is actually doing as we speak! We haven't had an album out for seventeen years so when it comes we want it to be one that we're happy with!

SEPTEMBER 2010

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