INTERVIEWS

 
FIAT LUX - THE POSITIVE TOUCH (04/83) by TPT

This interview took place on March 8th 1983 at the 'Elephant & Castle' in Wakefield between 'The Positive Touch' and all three members of Wakefield based band 'Fiat Lux' Ian Nelson, 'Sebastian' and David Crickmore, a couple of days before they signed a 60,000 recording contract with the Polydor label.

TPT - Obviously success has leapt rather than crept upon the band. Do you feel that such a quick rise to fame could turn a band into one hit wonders?
DAVE - It could if they only had one hit!!!
TPT - Really?
SEB - We're not that successful yet, we've hardly had a hit apart from the 'indie' charts but the momentum's gradually building up.
DAVE - I do think though that we've got the initial material right to back it up. Like, we haven't thrown away our only 'potential hit', 'Feels Like Winter Again'. 'Winter's' hopefully the first step up the ladder, we know we've got a few things up our sleeves already but the working relationship of the band is just beginning to gel.
IAN - It's growing all the time but this stage now is about the first time we've had to concertedly work at stuff we're going to be producing in the future. Up to now it's been haphazard with everybody contributing but not really working together.
SEB - Just because you have one hit doesn't rule you out for the rest of the stuff that you do. We've stressed to all the people that we've come into contact with that we are going to demand time to develop.
DAVE - So many bands have enough material for one
album and then after that it's just throwaway stuff, so I think we just need to take it easy. It would be nice to have hit singles but it's a hyperthetical situation because we haven't actually had anything anywhere near that..all 'Winter' was, was a showcase.
SEB - It really drew attention to the rest of our portfolio.
TPT - The gallop system has supposedly stamped out the chart hyping...
DAVE - Rubbish!! The trouble is the Gallop chart is that when we were in contact with the record companies when everyone was showing interest in us it was at the same time as the Gallop charts were being instituted and they were all patting themselves on the back and saying that they knew some of the chart return shops and CBS knew some of them and they were all clubbing together. Also they're actually reduced the number of shops that they take the poll from, which certainly makes it easier for the 'hypesters'.
TPT - You're all honest lads, so do you think that all these other bands being hyped into the charts will hinder your chances?
SEB - I don't care if other bands do it , it won't alter out music.
IAN - A lot of the time it's not up to the bands of course.
DAVE - Those sort of things generally go on behind the scenes and they're not really the kind of things musicians involve themselves with. It would be naive to think that behind the scenes Polydor might not be prepared to make those kind of efforts on our behalf but I certainly wouldn't approve of it if I knew it was going on. It's just a question of how far you can exercise control over the mechanisms.
TPT - How much control do you have over record releases?
DAVE - We're trying to engineer the deal with Polydor so that we have as much control as possible.
TPT - But does every band not do that originally?
SEB - It depends on what advice they get.
IAN - We've been very fortunate to have some people working for us that know the business inside out and are therefore insisting on these kind of clauses in the contract that any decision is done in consultation with us.
DAVE - You do find that a lot of bands that do sign up with a major label then that's it, for example Tears For Fears. It's not blowing any trade secrets because they've made it clear publicly that they were appalled at the release of their last single by Phonogram which was done entirely without their consent. It just depends, if bands are uninformed and desperate about getting a contract then they're liable to let these thoughts slip by.
TPT - Where does the inspiration for the songs come from? Do you just sit down and try to write a song?
DAVE - No! It's not fair to do that because that's contriving something which is another throwaway thing and a lot of bands fall into the idea of constructing songs for the sake of it. If we dried up then we dried up. There's no point in being dishonest about it.
IAN - One nice thing about it is having a three way song writing partnership. There are 3 different influences all of which can be used within the overall context of the sound. Therefore, it's fairly unlikely that everyone would have a dry spot at the same time.
DAVE - I saw someone last week who said that they were equally fed up with bands who write sings which are trendy e.g. unemployment, CND, etc, which is just as bad as writing songs like 'I'm in love with sausage rolls'!!!
SEB - Why are elephants big, grey and wrinkled? Duuno? Because if they were white, small and round they'd be an asprin!! (Who is this guy? - Ed).
TPT - Do you think it's important for a band to keep their grassroots?
SEB - Yeah, but it's a bit difficult for us because although we're Wakefield based, he's from Grimsby, he's from Wakefield and I'm from Chester so collectively we're from Twickenham!! No, it's important e.g. if you hear that a band's from Liverpool you immediately expect something.

At this stage the landlady enters into the conversation and refuses us permission to have the tape recorder on the table and says we can use the room upstairs for 1.50 an hour. We thank her and protest. She goes away and we carry on for nowt.

TPT - The time is obviously right for a musical resurgence on a local scale. The Positive Touch is trying to inspire this but money, or lack of it, makes frequent release impractical. Do you think money should be pumped in somewhere by someone (Wakefield Metropolitan District Council perhaps?). Not to the fanzine in particular but to promoting local gigs?
IAN - It would be nice to see something happening in this particular town but having repeatedly tried to get something going in that direction.. There is a great wall of apathy in this town which you have to fight against, i.e. the bloke at the Unity Hall.

At this point the conversation becomes depressingly philosophical....

IAN - You find a lot of people that promote concerts are capitalists but the way to overcome this in this respect is to make the performances successful and to show them that there is money in it for them. But unfortunately people in Wakefield very rarely get behind this sort of venture. That's the problem, you can offer all sorts of wonderful things to people but if they're not prepared to come and experience these wonderful goodies then there's not a lot you can do really. I mean, you can try a couple of times and see if that inspires interest but really it's up to you, the reader of 'The Positive Touch' to come and support your local music scene.
TPT - How do you find people like Peter Powell?
DAVE - Ooooh he's gorgeous(?), he's about this high(?) that's why he always leans over. The thing about Peter Powell, like all DJs, is that he sounds very, very sincere when he says things but you get the feeling that he means it and he actually does care a lot about what he does.
IAN - When I've phoned him up and he's asked what we're doing and you tell him then he gives positive advice like be careful, don't go for the money, go for the deal. Then you think ah well, that's all he wants to know and then I get home one day and there's a message left on the pad saying 'Peter Powell phoned and he wants to know whats happening. He really takes an interest, which is nice and if you're talking to him then he smiles back and it's ok, mates and all that but you know it's going in somewhere and he's going to use it. The reason he sounds so patronising towards new bands e.g. when he says 'oh, I went to see these 2 years ago or whatever but he can say this because he did (unlike some). His programme on Radio 1 is that it's about the only one that has any real commitment behind it. Peel goes that way as well.
TPT - Any plans for an album?
DAVE - Yes, the deal is geared towards an album release.
TPT - How do you get about?
SEB - In the back of an Escort van.

Just before the interview slipped into oblivion and the batteries failed. Dave gave a quick summing up - we've got certain material and we like to play it for people and thereby we've been taken up on the strength of that by a major company. We're not going to write any songs about nothing because people who write songs about nothing are very stupid people and are only interested in the dance beat and the money they can get for it. So as long as we remain true to ourselves and the material we're producing and playing, then people can't slag us off (mind you, they probably slag us off more than if we pandered to taste but there you go).

TPT - Did you know the motto of Liverpool University was 'Fiat Lux'?
SEB - The sinister devils!!
TPT - The Liverpool University bandwagon?
FIAT LUX - Absolutely!!

The conversation then turned into a joke telling session (most of them clean?) and Sebastian proceeded to give an indepth account of how he got a scar at Liverpool University from an encounter with a glass swing door which happened to contain less than it's fair share of glass!! He then started telling a very involved 'joke' which we're still waiting for the punchline from....Goodnight.

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