|NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS||
July 29th 1978
|Hard luck. They can't stand being interviewed either, but we forced them into it, so you're just going to have to read it, aren't you?|
pic by Jill Furmanovsky
|VAGUE UNDERCURRENTS tell me that This Heat are poised on the edge of some form of popularity. During the two years that they've been together, their infrequent live appearances have been coupled with several radio sessions and a limited amount of interest from the press. This has constituted a very gradual exposure to an ever-growing audience, but at the same time has brought them at least to within spitting distance of the jaws of a 'publicity machine' which all too often in past has been guilty of the total emasculation of its victims, to the point where a band can be criticised simply for not living up to the music papers exaggerated claims on their behalf.
Possessed as they are by a higher than usual quotient of 'press paranoia', This Heat are at the same time aware of their need, both as artists and business men to descend from the Olympian heights of 'unassailable artistic integrity' to offer some kind of explanation of their work (and I won't deny a small degree of resentment on my part that their reticence, though in many ways understandable, makes my job that much harder).
If This Heat are, on occasions,'hard to listen to', then the prospect of piecing together a punchy thousand word synopsis of their music, aims and attitudes is daunting to say the least.
"Yes, Exactly! We want to be able to function, to get our music across, not someone else's idea of it or what someone thinks will sell."
Yet despite a total lack of respect on their part for the "business mentality", they still envisage themselves working within the confines of "a forward-looking record company" (they are at present recording an album and a single with no outlet) as opposed to the more pedestrian avenues of independently released vinyl. They suggest that any dilution of their material by the company concerned would prove as fruitless from a commercial standpoint as it would from a musical one.
This Heat claim, in fact, that they're not trying to be esoteric it's just unfortunate that appearing at such 'culture palaces' as the ICA has landed them with an intellectual, elitist air which is totally misleading. As Gareth Williams points out: "I don't really like the idea of playing 'snotty', 'posh' places, because I don't think our music is 'snotty' or 'posh'."
In Williams view you don't have to be some kind of intellectual heavyweight either to make or listen to music that is experimental in its approach. On the contrary, This Heat arrive at their unique sound by a process of tape, improvisation and selection...
And how do they define something 'working'?
|specific or non-specific, to denote different levels of planning whether we're doing something that's been pre-planned or whether we're doing something where we've no idea of what each other's up to . . ."
So it would be wrong to assume that they offer no more than pure, unstructured improvisation. Although, as they say, their ideas arise out of improvisation.
This Heat's own descriptions of their music are as apt as they are open-ended, and though doubtless less colourful than an indulgent barrage of descriptive prose from my quarter, are less likely to burden the prospective audience member with unnecessary preconceptions. Tell the readers what your music is like, lads...
The fact that This Heat are frequently quite disturbing to listen to, both musically and lyrically, might perhaps be attributed to their 'experimental' approach, though when pressed further on the subject, Charles Bullen was heard to mumble something about "the intensity of daily life" after which he became loath to pursue the issue any further. So I'll resist the urge to paint too black a picture of their music with any anguished sermons on contemporary angst, or the industrial wasteland. In fact, some numbers, like "Aerial Photography", are calm and relaxed, whilst "Rough With The Smooth" (referred to by Gareth as a "weedy and embarrassing Country & Western tune") comes across almost as funny when the group leave their instruments and mime to a tape of themselves.
Which brings me back to the problems of suitable venues. Though they admit to being selective when it comes to gigs, This Heat's choice of venues in the past has been forced on them mainly by economic necessity and the inability of existing places to accommodate the band's large amount of equipment and the stringent requirements of their intricate sound balance.
No, This Heat don't do themselves any favours.
|Recovered from NME by Kevin Harrison. September 2006|