Interview for Hybrid Magazine (October 2000)
While clearing out my computer I found this Saloon interview with Hybrid Magazine from the States from way-back in October 2000 before we recorded the first album. It doesn't seem to be on the web any more so I thought I would post it here. Enjoy, as they say.
1. How long has saloon been around?
Amanda: We’ve been together for about two and a half years now, which is quite a long time for five people to stay together when you think about it. We've known each other for so long it seems weird looking back on the early days when we were all so different (some of us were a lot shier then!). Yet, as a band we haven't really changed that much at all. Although our musical tastes and influences have developed, our jobs, hobbies, friends and where we live have changed; we have never lost the reason why we are in the band or why we enjoy making- music together. That's my excuse for making an absolute racket anyway!
2. How did you guys form, meet up, start the band?
Amanda: The idea for the band was born in late 1997, but the line up wasn't officially completed until early 1998. Originally, Adam and Mike had the idea to start a band. They knew of Alison who was playing viola in another band and did a bit of what Adam calls "inspired poaching"! They advertised for a female singer (having as many girls in the band as possible was definitely their main priority!), And this is how I met them. Matt joined a couple of months later, similarly through an advert. We did our first gig a month or so after Matt joined and we haven't stopped since.
Adam: One of the things I’m most proud of is that our sound arrived fully formed and we’ve literally just been nurturing and feeding it. I’d written a handful of songs that were too good to play in my old band, so Mike and myself put together a group that could do them justice. Some of those songs like “Spacer” and “I am the cheese” we still play now.
Matt: I stumbled in one day with my guitar, unable to play a note, but pretty handy with a bit of feedback. I got the job.
3. I hear Stereolab, Velvet Underground and Tindersticks in your singles, what are the actual influences that produced your sound?
Adam: Well we like all three of those bands, we’ve played with Stereolab which was great because we definitely share the same sort of audience. In fact live we must even look quite a bit like them (girls, guitars, moogs) although according to one magazine we look like The Corrs!
I have a really fond memories of us in our first year sitting around the kitchen table with a bottle of red wine listening to the likes of Etienne deCrecy, Spiritualized, Fairport Convention, Graham Coxon while stuffing envelopes. I think evenings like that, listening to loads of different music, really helped to give us our voice.
Matt: All of the above and more. Adam’s choice proves that we’re influenced in equal parts by electronic and guitar music. Most of it resides in the leftfield, my influences at the moment include stuff like Tarwater, Plaid, Yo La Tengo, DJ Shadow and Broadcast.
4. What's a typical audience at one of your shows?
Adam: Sad old men, weedy indie boys, shy indie girls with plastic hair-clips. People like us really.
Mike: A few of my mates who’ve come straight from work propping up the bar and heckling.
Matt: People on the fringes of music (and good taste).
5. How helpful is it to be played on John Peel's show?
Amanda: We've been very lucky because John has now played three (or is it four?) of our singles. It's a dream come true actually. It really gives me confidence that all the hard work does eventually pay off sometimes and that people are finally able to hear our records. It is a brilliant way of getting your music heard by people who are on the same wavelength as us. It's a great way of attracting attention and gaining fans (we have had lovely responses from people all over, even in America who heard the songs via the Internet). Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have the same effect on the industry as it has on the fans.
Matt: It’s really fantastic and it gives us loads of confidence. When I was at college I used to tape the John Peel show each night and listen to each tape for weeks after. I couldn’t even tell you the amount of bands that I’ve got into through his show, and if someone gets into Saloon in the same way then that’s amazing.
6. Has the Internet benefited the band at all?
Mike: We set up virtually all of our tour with Mahogany and Curtis Newton on e-mail, we met Alan (Bearos) through the web, and we’ve been visited in the UK by Dan from Germany who met me on the Broadcast website, and has recently set up a Saloon chatroom for other fans.
Matt: It’s easier to have an argument via email than on the telephone. There are generally less recriminations.
Adam: Email is a godsend. It means I don’t have to talk to anyone all day. Fantastic!
7. Is Saloon destined for stardom?
Adam: It’s strange because occasionally now we get recognised, people shouting at us on the tube or coming up to us at gigs. I think our music has got quite a crossover appeal; indie kids like it, some dance fans like it (probably because it’s electronic with no pretence at being indie-dance urgh!) Because 90% of the stuff has got a good pop tune that you can sing in the shower, I’m sure there is more appeal for the man on the street than say Add N to (X) or Spiritualized (i.e. the stuff we listen to when we go home.
But stardom is not our aim, we’re too proud of our integrity. At the moment we’re into making pop music but if the urge arises to make something in another form – say a double album of feedback and ringing power-drill noises- then we will and we could still call it a Saloon record. Despite how hard-working and reliable we are, it would have to be a brave record label to sign us but I know we’ve more than enough faith and ambition to make it worth their while.
8. Are there any plans for a debut album?
Amanda: Plans for the album are currently in the pipeline. I think that we are hoping to have a finished recording in about six months time. We are negotiating with Andrew from Mahogany about helping to produce it with us, which would be great fun. But we are very eager and very inspired to get something done, it is merely a matter of sorting out studios etc
Mike: It’s going to happen.
9. Are you a better live band or studio band?
Amanda: I think that our music has developed so that it does work very well live. We do have the usual and occasional problems that every band experiences, such as bad sound, bad engineers, quiet vocals and loud guitars, but as far as performance goes we gel a lot better when we are on stage together. We are getting better, but in the past we have found the studio more of a challenge, probably because we have more experience on the stage than in the studio. That is not to say that we have given up on recording though. It is very important to us. Playing live is great fun, but the best way of getting yourself heard is getting your records out there. The album is definitely of precedence to us all and we are all determined to crack the recording process.
Mike: I think we’re a better rehearsing band.
10. Any last thoughts for the interview
Mike: Look after yourselves, and each other.
Matt: If you see a new band, or hear a new band then buy one of their records, email them, let them know that you’re into them. This is the way that unique and individual music survives.
Adam: You only live once, so make it worth your while. It’s human nature for someone to fuck you over for their own gain, just keep your head down, stay resolute, keep pushing at it and your time will come. Most importantly, get an alarm clock.