Greg McDonald is one very angry man. "Pop culture is just silence and lies", he spits. "We NEED reality in the pop charts" He often rants uncontrollably whether spitting vitriol or passionately waxing lyrical and has a self-belief that is so often misplaced on other artists.
But Greg has every reason to look upon popular culture with utter contempt because he fronts the most exciting, vibrant and passionate pop band so far this century. Ladies and gentlemen, we are delighted to present to you The Dawn Parade
Formed at the start of this year they consist of Rob 'Cuteboy' Marenzé (guitar), Ben Nemesis (drums), Barnaby Bunkleschnuff (bass), Nick 'Molefucker' Morley (guitar) and Greg McDonald (vocals). With the release of their debut single this monday, they are the latest band to emerge from the much praised Bury St Edmunds music scene. An eternal debt is surely due to Bury's musical father figure Seymour Glass. Surely this must worry Greg as a threat to the band's perceived legitemacy.
"Seymour from Miss Black America played bass in my old band and we've been close friends for years. I even guested on guitar at their first ever gigs. But I've been writing songs since I was fifteen and it wouldn't make the slightest fucking difference where I'm from. I'd still be in a band trying to convey ideas to people through music. The Dawn Parade don't sound anything like MBA. Inevitably, should any of us, blue gandhi or becky jago, or any of the great local bands make it first then those that follow will always be accused of hanging on to coatails. "
So it doesn't worry you ?
"It doesn't worry me"
You just mentioned this notion of 'conveying ideas'. Is that your primary motivation for being in the band ? Playing the old 'conveyance of ideas' card seems increasingly clichéd ?
"I want us to be a force for something genuine and heartfelt and passionate. Remaining true to yourself at whatever cost. That manifests itself lyrically and everything I write has to be true and convey anger. It has to be real, directed and worthwhile."
Are you saying that The Dawn Parade will never let anybody down ?
"People have odd ideas about what constitutes a band letting people down. From the day we formed we wanted to make passionate and heartfelt music and bring it to as many people as possible and to touch lives and I don't see that there's anything wrong with that. Even if it does involve signing to a major"
What inspires you musically ?
"I still find endless inspiration in the likes of The Smiths, Cohen, Springsteen and Dylan.
So you aren't just "a bunch of Manics fans with too much time on their hands" as somebody once described you ?
"All five of us hate the Manics"
"Every word that Nicky Wire utters is cringeworthy and it seems to get worse every time they put their next turgid, lumped whitesnake pastiche out. He's among the most embarassing lyricists ever."
What did you think of the Manics in Cuba ?
"Nicky's not a supporter of Castro and Sean always goes on about his latest Sony gadget. I mean, 'Masses against the Classes' is the kind of fucking bollocks that public schoolboys write on their pencil cases because their mate's dad drives a bigger Bentley."
Would you say that politics is relevant to your music ? "Definitely. 'Hailstone Lullabies' is as political as it gets. I think it's important to name names. I hate the empty rage you get from most 'alternative' bands ."
In a year brimful of fantastic new bands, it's suprising to find Greg so unoptimistic. Despite local contemporaries Miss Black America and Blue Gandhi making a breakthrough and edgy punk being revived on both sides of the Atlantic with Antihero and The Hellhounds, Greg sings a sombre tune.
"It's about the worst it's ever been in terms of exciting new bands. But the internet has opened everything up, so it's a good time to be fan. I'm reasonably optimistic about the long-term future." So, have no new bands impressed you at all ?
"I like Muse. I'm amazed about the fuss in the press about the Strokes ."
You don't like them ?
"I guess I'm indifferent but it is just inoffensive crap. They don't have an awful lot to say To me, they're nothing more than a New York Ocean Colour Scene ."
And Muse do have something to say, do they ?
"No, I'm not convinced that they do but they're doing something a bit more exciting and Matt Bellamy is one hell of a guitarist"
Isn't his guitar playing a bit too 'look at me, mother' ?
"Precisely! That's what's cool about it. Wasn't Hendrix a bit 'look at me mother' when he set his Strat alight ? There's nothing romantic, glamorous and exciting in rock at the moment. The closest you can get is stuff like Marilyn Manson, but it's so vapid I just can't get interested "
So, are the Dawn Parade the answer?
"I hope so. We have one huge thing on our side. We don't give a fuck how sneered at or derided we are. We're unique in pop in 2001 in that we're unflinchingly real and absurdly romantic yet at the same time we have something to say and we're preparded to name names. We want to give everything we have in the hope of being worth believing in. This generation is so world-weary, so ready to sneer at everything, so poisoned by withering cynicism. If we stand for anything it's the idea that you can seek magic in things. You'll be laughed at and WHO GIVES A FUCK?! Who gives a fuck who laughs at you ? That's what songs like 'Good Luck Olivia' touch on. If there's nothing exciting around then go out and find something even if it's no more than a cidery snog on a wet Thursday night. If cheap romance is all the magic you can find then fuck it. We're alive, so let's do something dumb before we die ."
What in music pisses you off at the momen, then ?
"I hate the vapid pap in the charts. Schmindie snobs say it's harmless schmaltz, but most people don't ever hear the White Stripes or read Naomi Klein. Your life is determined by the culture that surrounds you, and if that's Whitney and Britney flogging lies, that's your world.
There's a line in 'Hailstone Lullabies' that says 'paint angels on the ceiling of Burger King' - only the cultured toursists ever see the sistine chapel and the rest of us get Burger King.
I fucking hate indie principles. The idea that the best stuff is for the select few and the rest, the shit, is okay for masses because, hey, it's harmless shit anyway. It's not! People can't think about what they can't see or hear. We need reality in the pop charts ."
Is that not an unrealistic target ?
"I don't think so, no"
It would be a first though, wouldn't it ?
"I think the Stones did it. And Dylan. Sold millions of records and sang about the truth and played with a passion that set the world on fire ."
Do you think Britney and her ilk are dangerous ?
"I think there's a culture of silence and consensus across the board. Centre-right laissez-faire political hegemony unchallenged by politicians. FHM and Cosmo flogging gender roles. Women must be be rounded personalities, career girl, lover and mother and that men must be sexually retarded lads. Hollywood flogging the same old lies that violence is strength, that Americans are good and Arabs are evil. In pop, the charts fill up lives and they are a cesspit of lies. Love is fuck all like the charts would have you believe and it belittles the real thing to have this bullshit myth perpetrated. Pop says dreams will always come true if you believe them. The concept of Britney flogs the ideal of the submissive woman. Definitely more dangerous than Madonna ever was ."
Come the music revolution, who do you want to shoot first ?
"That's like asking me what's happened since I was born. Where the hell do you start ?! For simplicity's sake, let's stick Elton up against the wall. For doing that duet with Eminem. "
What would you do with Ben Knowles ?
"Ha,ha. Let the Molefucker eat him ... he needs the nourishment most ."
Do you think the NME is a shambles ?
"The last copy of the NME I bought a few weeks back had six live reviews. SIX!!! And of them there wasn't a single British one outside London. It's become a London magazine with gossip columns and ocassional spreads with fuckawful US metal bands. But fuck 'em, the net will wipe the NME out anyway ."
As the interview draws to a close, Greg is challenged to issue a decisive stament of intent to the reader. A precise definition of what his band are going to do. "The Dawn Parade are going to give every drop of sweat they have to make pop passionate, exciting, romantic, idealistic, and genuine again, to infuse it with the idea that ridicule is nothing to fear, that in the face of this most grey, vapid, witheringly cynical of generations, you can find magic and cheap romance and beauty, and for all the derision pre-emption and sneering, you can believe in yourself and all you're passionated about ."
The Dawn Parade's debut single 'Good Luck Olivia' comes out on Monday 19th November on NYC Records.