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Interview for Thinking About Verse Zine
By Darren Walker
"LIKE MOST PLACES in the country, there are still lots of Britpop/Oasis bands lingering like a bad smell" They're right too. During the past couple of years, we, the music-buying public have been subjected to a tidal wave of bland, pointless and passionless indie bands. Bands that we are led to believe are the saviours of "Rock 'n' Roll". Bands that recall the sounds of Joy Division and The Smiths but have none of the charisma and intellect that caused those groups to be so important in the history of alternative music. London's The Sailplanes don't subscribe to this trend, and instantly from their first demo they clearly have what it takes to become something special. When questioned about their influences, Tim and Stacey (who both alternate vocals and play guitar) take this opportunity to reel off a list of bands and artists with an enviable passion, some evident in their music, others not so, including Sonic Youth (Tim - "I'm a particular fan of Murray Street and Sonic Nurse- the quiet albums- they've got less satisfying noise than Daydream Nation or Sister, but the depth is incredible"), Sleater-Kinney, Electrelane, Julie Driscoll (Stacey - "...for her astounding voice."), Mission of Burma... it continues.
In fact, it's The Sailplanes' way with words that has made this article so difficult to write. On one hand, I could try to intertwine their answers with descriptive paragraphs like the one above, and on the other, I could just simply copy and paste them onto this very page. You see, The Sailplanes have their own voice, one that has been lost in the aforementioned tidal wave, and one that will continue to be lost if bands like this aren't given the chance to be heard. The bassless three-piece formation they favour would leave most bands' music sounding weak and watered down, but here this is not the case. Tim manages to sum up their sound fantastically "We're all about downsizing, the beauty of economy." Strong words, but as you can probably tell from this gushing feature, I would completely agree. Forming mostly out of frustration with other projects, the three members required a new, fresh way of working. Stacey is first to comment "I was previously in a project that amounted to nothing apart from recording in the bedroom and the odd demo. After attempting to expand and find more members, it fizzled out for many reasons. A main point being that I found writing frustrating as I didn’t get the input I needed from the other member. The Sailplanes works really well as Tim puts in equal amount of time and effort, we’re likeminded in that respect."
Tim: "Stacey and myself write an entire song, then the other thinks up an interesting guitar part to fit. Whoever writes it sings it. That way we each have full creative control, at least for half of the time. I believe Husker Du worked this way. It's the best way to do things if you've two strong songwriters in a group." This is clearly something that Stacey agrees with - “It really works well with us both writing a song and then the other coming up with parts. We then show Ady who adds some fancy drumming. I really like the way we work, as previous bands have involved pointless jamming or lack of effort on the other person’s part.”
One subject that seems to stir interest, particularly in Tim, is their local music scene, and he takes another opportunity to name check more bands. "The London scene is difficult - because it's so huge. 'The scene' will mean a whole different crop of bands depending upon who you ask. There's lots of interesting post-rock things going on, like October All Over from Stoke Newington who're really noisy but quite accessible. Mifune do a great post-Shellac kind of bass-heavy math rock with shouty female vocals, and they're definitely worth checking out. There's supposedly a New Cross scene too, but the bands from that one seem to be hanging on the coat-tails of the urchin/Art Brut garage thing and aren't particularly interesting in their own right. London suffers from being too cliquey in that you get a whole bunch of garage bands with haircuts pretending to be art-rock springing-up all of a sudden and anything that’s different has a hard time getting accepted."
Speaking of being accepted, what's next? (Ady) “More recording and playing live lots, hopefully getting people interested in us.“ Tim's ambitions stretch further "Really playing lots of shows, perhaps a bit of travelling- I'd like to take the band to Berlin and Stockholm. We're in the process of recording our first album on a shoestring - three or four songs at a time. Swoosh was the first part of this process." (Stacey) “I second that, we hope to get out there and play some and gigs and then move onto taking Europe by storm…ahem”
Why should people listen to The Sailplanes? (Tim) "Because we don't strum our guitars much, we don't do 'big rock' and I'm very self-conscious about cheesy choruses." (Stacey) “We don’t sound like most of the crap that’s around at the moment. Avoiding cheesiness at all times is important" (Tim) "You'd be surprised the by the amount of noise we three can kick-up." And once again, they're right.