How rock and roll... (An interview with Oz)
- San Lorenzo »
** Three-pieces are definitely a good solid basis for a rock group because it allows you to be more personal and improvise more, simply because you can know two people and what they are going to do better than you can if there’s three or four. Of course its less hassle to organise gigs and recording too! Reynolds, Calvados Beam, Trio and Hirameka Hi-FI are all good examples of making a three-piece work. In the USA Yo La Tengo and Lapse do interesting stuff with the format. At the end of the day though who cares how many people are on stage if the music is good….
Speaking of JJ72, are you concerned about comparisons, with you both being a three piece fronted by a boy/girl combination?
** I was thinking the other day that people may make comparisons because we are three white kids with a girl on bass. But as soon as they hear the music they will know that we are coming from a different place.
I’m trying to avoid using San Lorenzo and the term “popularity” in the same sentence after reading a blast about capitalist concerns of the music business by Oz in a previous interview. Is that contempt rooted in any past experience?
** I'm glad you asked about this. We have never had any real success, unless you count press reviews and radio plays, so it is not a view born out of bitterness or anything. I just don't want to be part of the multinational, corporate music business and if that means we never get signed to Sony and get on Jools Holland's show then that's fine. Music is a very personal thing for me, I like to be involved at every level and have real contact with people but it is impossible to do that and be on a major label. People think that some bands on major labels have complete control but that's bullshit. You still have to make videos and play the game. I'm just not interested in that.
** People may now say "well why did you tour with Idlewild?" I think that is a fair comment, but I love playing big shows and being on the radio. For the Idlewild gigs, we played to thousands of kids who wouldn't normally listen to us because our stuff is quite obscure, that was really interesting. Quite a lot of people bought records, talked to us at the gigs and contacted us afterwards and that explains why we did it. I'd play The Brit Awards if it meant a few more people would get into what we were doing. You can use the system to your advantage now and then without becoming part of it. If we get the chance to dip into a world of blandness and fuck it up a little, then that's great. But if you think you can beat the system from the inside then you can't: you'll just end up as airbrushed as everyone else. That's not to say I don't like a bit of airbrushed stuff now and again! I have no problem with good pop it's just not a world I could be involved in with my own music.
Wouldn’t you like a bit of money though? Cash for music, its not a bad way to make a living…
** I completely agree. It is the best way in the world to make a living. When I spoke to Roddy from Idlewild about this his view was that it was difficult to be on an indie label and make a living in this country. That's true. In America it is a lot easier to live as a truly independent band but it isn't impossible to do it in Britain. Obviously there's a lot of fake indies out there and being an independent band involves more than just being on an 'indie label' but I'm dealing with the basics here!
** Some people would argue that I have these idealistic views because we all have jobs/are at uni so we don't need music to provide our daily bread. But then I think that as soon as you start taking financial concerns into consideration at all you compromise yourself automatically. This is often unavoidable for bands. Not everyone has a job or parents to buy their gear etc. I'm certainly not warning people off signing to majors just because it isn't right for me. I just want people to be prepared, to have the information about what they are getting themselves into. If you buy into the corporate world you will be compromised. If you understand that then fine, go ahead.
The debut album is called “Nothing New Ever Works”, is that a social comment or just an ironic statement?
** It is kind of ironic because we tried lots of new things like keyboards and trumpets on the album. John Peel actually started going on about the album title when his CD player or something broke, which we all found quite amusing…especially since he forgot the name of the band. He was like "what was the name of that band who had the LP Nothing New Ever Works?" Bless him. I'd really like to do a Peel session because I used to listen to Pavement, the Drop Nineteens and loads of my favourite bands in session when I was at school. If anyone has got a tape of the Drop Nineteens in session I'd be eternally grateful for a copy! I lost mine a while ago. But I think it would be cool to do something for John Peel, his is the only radio show I would specifically make the effort to listen to.
Speaking of the album, it sounds like the Sonic Youth have been a big influence on someone in the band (all those mad tunings)? Is that an accurate reflection do you think or are you influenced by music rooted elsewhere?
** I think it is difficult to play interesting rock music and not sound like Sonic Youth at some point. They are just this inescapable influence I'm afraid. I don't think our music bears much relation to them but they have done so much stuff with guitar music that, like I say, you can't escape! Our stuff is less flowing than Sonic Youth… San Lorenzo is more about chopping and changing. When I was at school Lee and Thurston were a big influence in my guitar playing.
American High School Rock Song, is the last track on the album. My personal favourite is “Sugar High” from the film `Empire Records’…Are there any that you wish you’d written?
** I guess the whole soundtrack to Rushmore and Dazed and Confused. I remember watching Rushmore and thinking the soundtrack was fucking awesome. It's all Donovan, The Creation and crazy sixties stuff. We used to do a cover of the theme to Heartbreak High though, Believe.
Finally, what’s next for San Lorenzo??? Is world domination a foreseeable objective?
** Ha Ha. I doubt it. But, hell, who knows? We have a new seven-inch single out at the start of December called "Sports Biscuits" which is on Bearos Records. It is a real development from the album and we are all really pleased with the two songs. Then we are going to be lying low, playing some gigs and starting to record our next LP as of February. I have a lot of uni work on so it's not really feasible to start recording until then…How rock'n'roll! If anyone cares I have a solo album out soon too. Which sounds terribly self-indulgent. But it's not, it's songs that I've recorded on my own this summer and some stuff from over the last few years. That should be out around Jan/Feb.
So no cover of Sugar High then?
** Never rule anything out with San Lorenzo!
- 1st December 2000