Under The City with The Needles - Interview
The awkward steps that descend into the murky, garage rock vibe of The Roadhouse in Manchester, is rendered a notch more precarious by the Glasgow based and Aberdeen incepted, roving rockers of The Needles. This quartet are in the process of cranking up and gritting their back-gazing mourn of 'Girl I Used To Know', from debut album 'In Search Of The Needles' (out 11/09/06 on Dangerous Records), for their sound-check.
The guys take little time in finding their level and singer Dave Dixon, continues to utilise his engaging voice to exclaim the band's rise and roots; "We've always lived in our own world. This helped us, we didn't have to fit in with a local scene or the more common trends of the industry."
Bassist Paul Curtiss lounges back and revels in the nostalgia; "Aberdeen had a busy scene, there was one venue; Drummonds that always seemed to be full. It's good when there's a venue like that. "
They chose to open their debut album with their most potent, forceful and 60s garage rock clinging sound, 'Let You Down'; "That is the oldest of our songs, it is about four years old and the rest of the songs were written around two years ago. With this song we're telling people that we won't let them down for the next half hour or so." Bespeaks the genuine drummer Johnny Wolfe, whose steadfast beats ties together numbers like 'Under The City' and the eerily melodic, Buzzcocks bolstered 'Poison Ivy'. These are two of the highlights from the accomplished debut and, according to Dave the mood of this album is one of; "Forthright confusedness".
No, he was not responding to a call requiring suggestions for a title for Pete Doherty's autobiography when coining the above phrase! The lead singer continues to release the veil regarding the band's sound and direction; "Any band's hopefully a band in transition. Otherwise what would be the point in going on? People have said we have a punk sound at times, but to be honest the Rock & Roll of bands from the 60's is where we probably draw our rawness from."
The tempo tossing keyboardist, Richey Wolfe pins down their main feature; "We're more new wave, mainly because of the harmonies. There are no harmonies in punk and we have them in our sound. 'Let You Down' is more a fusion that has come about from listening to the likes of MC5 and the New York Dolls."
The quartet seems well at ease and they certainly have a shared vision, yet that still leaves room for a range of personalities. Therefore, it is time for the Anne Robinson in me to come out and try to stir things up a little. How do they resolve any creative differences? "We don't have any!" Says Johnny, as he breaks a brief silence, before Dave expands on the issue;
"There's a lot of huffing and puffing." A mystified shrug ensues before he continues; "Generally we just get drunk and apathetic. Also, we talk things through." Richey's modesty suddenly gets the better of him: "Then we agree that I was right all along!"
The road to their debut album has been a winding one built on hard-work and endeavour rather than relying on any real hype, so how do they feel about the role of tastemakers in the UK and the USA? "I think the difference between here and the United States is that you can be relatively unknown in the United States, yet you can still have enough people come and see you play. I reckon that this is a way round tastemakers controlling everything"
This is uttered with a certain romantic undertone by Johnny, who appears reflective as he lets Dave continue the response; "I think it is the same in the United States in the fact that you have one publication and say 3 radio stations, dictating whether a band is going to make it or not. This works against the industry being a meritocracy."
The Needles come across as genuine music lovers, so what was the last gig they attended as audience members and do they compare performances with their own? The universal response is; "We hate going to gigs." Before the matter is cleared up by Dave; "When it started I'd watch things from a not take it in point of view and just get into the band I was going to see, I'd get lost in their world. Although, sometimes I'll watch a band just to say they are shit. You know what it's like when you go to see a band expecting them to be shit and they are, so you're just going along to confirm your point. That's not good at all."
Oceansize decided to grace the Roadhouse with their presence at short notice for some promotional duty, so The Needle's new stage time of 20;30 is as close as Tony Blair's departure as PM. Therefore, it is fitting for Paul to divulge a fact not many people will know about their singer; "Dave was a disco dancing runner up in a competition at primary school."
This fact becomes self evident when The Needles stride onto stage and parade jacked up versions of debut album tracks, such as 'Poison Ivy' that has a spikier edge, with the band's passion being epitomised by Dave's shifty sidesteps and energetic swaggering. One of the most captivating songs is the non-album track 'I Take A Photograph'. The blues/funk direction is a new turn for the band and it helps to draw early gatherers into their ranging ways. 'Delivery Day' is the Aberdonians at their spikiest, seeing Dave's vocals at their most piercing with his passionate reiteration of the song title being pushed home a` la Ray Davies. The most important thing to come out of tonight is the fact that the band, despite having been around since the late 1990s, seems to have a new lease of life and is revelling in the release of their debut album.
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