Work has taken its toll on me writing anything new for yonks, now. October was a very cruel month. But I've not been as quiet as The Popguns, whose first release for 18 years - the bolshy, chunky, altogether gorgeous 'Lovejunky' is out now on Matinee Recordings, to be followed by an album, 'Pop Fiction',
to follow on 2nd December.
I emailed Simon from the band a few questions. He was good enough to reply...
I first heard Popguns on the John Peel show, when Landslide was in the Festive 50. Is it true the single was held off being released because of the Hillsborough disaster?
Sorry, I’ve never heard that one before. Maybe it was an excuse for not getting more airplay?
What are your fondest memories of your first time around as a band?
Going out on our first mini-tour after we’d done a Peel Session and people in strange towns were singing back our songs from the crowd. I remember playing Warwick University (I think) and people were singing along to 'Bye Bye Baby' which had its first play on Peel a few days earlier and was not out on record yet.
And why did you stop?
Lack of commercial success. And ten years of indie rock and roll can take its toll you know. If I dwelt on that too much about that we’d probably stop again now so I won’t.
What brought the band back together?
The rest of the band kept begging me to do it again cos they loved the songs so much I guess. I was actually very reluctant initially as I had no new songs, but it all went down very well and then I had a rush of creativity for some reason so we carried on a bit more to do the new album. I never fell out of love with pop music but this experience has really brought that alive again.
Do you understand why some people are wary about so many indie pop bands reforming at the moment?
Not really, indie bands are not that dangerous at all. It was actually a real surprise that there is so much interest in indie music with all the Popfest stuff around the world. There’s plenty of room in the world for all sorts of music and all sorts of indie bands too. Not every band is everyone’s cup of tea, that’s for sure.
What are the differences between making music and gigging now, and doing it all in the late 80s/early 90s?
Plus ca change… and all that really. Live gigs are pretty much the same, playing a bit too loud and a bit out of tune in small venues to loud crowds and that’s the best bit really. Everyone at our shows are clearly out for a good time and that rubs off on us; it’s just a real pleasure to play our music and see the reaction without the thought that we need to impress some journalists or record companies.
Recording has been a bit easier this time with all the new tech and less pressure to deliver. The biggest difference is the internet I guess which helped keep our music alive and lets us keep in touch with our fan base. Twenty ears ago we relied so much more on the music press and crumbs of radio play to get noticed but now that’s not so important.
Tell me about the new album. What influences have you taken?
Firstly, I’m just really relieved and proud to have made the record I always wanted to all those years ago. In our opinion we never really did justice to ourselves with our recordings and this has to be by far our best album. I was always influenced by great female fronted pop bands (Shirelles, Blondie, Pretenders) and that hasn’t gone away and I can’t stop trying to create that same feeling in our songs. Inevitably the subject matter of songs has hanged a bit but you may not always notice (secret: They are all about The Popguns, ha ha). Actually, there’s one song, “Alfa Romeo”, about the life of trumpet player Chet Baker but I don’t think we could be filed under jazz just yet.
And which new bands are you listening to at the moment?
Of the bands that have come along since we split I guess The Strokes, Libertines and Arcade Fire would have to be 3 that capture what I think is great is about pop music. Although Arcade Fire may not quite fit the uncomplicated pop category. Two albums I’ve listened to a lot this year are 'Crimson Red' by prefab Sprout and 'Help Stamp Out Loneliness' by HSOL (a few years old I admit). My 15 year old daughter’s faves are Taylor Swift… and Arcade Fire and The Strokes! Yay.