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Schöne Vorstellung
Subcircus are a new band which is quite unlike any other. Being it for the fact that they consist of two englishmen and two danishmen or because their music doesn't sound like any of those. Their show at the Alternatent of Rock am Ring went over quite well - there seemed to be the usual crowd of fans gathering in the wake of anything remotely English nowadays. The sound was powerful and so were the songs. Which was surprising, given the fact that there was no soundcheck.
Joshua: It's a leap into the unknown. Noone had a soundcheck. You can end up with a very strange kind of sound. But it was fun.

So what on earth is a Subcircus?

Thomas: Most of the time it is a band. It's the four of us: Nicolai, Peter, Joshua and me, Thomas. We've been around for two years...

Peter: ...28 years.

Thomas: The whole thing started out when Peter Bradley...

Peter: ...junior...

Thomas: ...junior, with the tie and vocals, put an ad in an underground music newspaper to find somebody to make music with. I don't know if he knew what he was looking for. But Nicolai found the ad and they hooked up after a bit of talking on the phone. They started writing right away. And then I joined - I knew Nicolai for ages, we are both from Kopenhagen. Then there were three of us. Joshua was the hardest to find.

Joshua: I was hiding.

Thomas: He was hiding in the pits doing musicals somewhere, making a living.

Joshua: I'd given up hope to find the right band.

What was that like playing in a musical orchestra?

J.: You don't see the audience at all.

T.: You don't get to put your feet on the monitor, do you?

J.: No, you can't really rock out.

T.: We got Josh and were fully formed in April '95. We got a record deal with an independent label called Echo in December. It's got babybird, too. We've done loads of gigs, recorded the album.

What did you do musically before?

T.: I've moved over from Denmark and did loads of stuff with bands. I was looking for a more creative thing though.

Nicolai: That's the thing with all of us. We all tried loads of different ways of doing music, but when we met it felt like together we could like not restrain ourselves. I think none of us has been in a band where he would feel comfortable until now.

Do you write together?

N.: The plan is to develop it all the time. Peter and I wrote the most stuff for the first record. But when we take it down to the rehearsal we all change it together. When we now start to write, it'll happen.

J.: We all come down to the rehearsal-room with ideas. Basically everyone else rejects them and then we argue about them and eventually come up with something that we all like. We all have to like it. It can sometimes be a difficult process.

T.: It's not like we schedule things. But we fool around and arrange stuff. We all like circus music and stuff so we have some fun. Sometimes we do a cabaret version of a song and sometimes we even record them. We all bring loads of influences into the songs. We never talked about a specific style.

Well most definitely Subscircus doesn't sound typically British.

J.: It's basically what we all like. Two of us are British and the others are Danish - so that has got something to do with it. But it definitely didn't turn out like a B**tpop sounding band. That wasn't intentionally though.

P.: Generelly B**tpop as I see it is a bunch of lads coming from a similar subculture. The subtotal of that is B**tpop. We all come from different cultures, different parts of England. So we didn't design to sound like that. We opened up for the first time and felt a common friendship between us and an emotional contact.

T.: We never know what's gonna happen when we go on stage. And we never even rehearse the songs we play live. We mainly work on new songs. We never get to prepare ourselves. That makes it interesting for ourselves.

When one listens to the record there could be the impression that it goes weirder and weirder as it goes along.

P.: For us the songs don't sound strange and weird really. A lot of people say it, though which is cool for us. Wait 'til you hear our next. That was our mainstream album.

Are you already in the process of developing the next album?

N.: No, we're in the process of developing as a band, developing out live sound - which means - we're playing old songs or new ones. For us, this album is not yet finished.

P.: It hasn't got it's realisation yet.

Are you pleased with the result or would you like to have done something differently?

J.: You can always look back and say you would have done something different. We all laid down a hundred gigs and we recorded that album when we were young as a band. If we were recording the album now, it would sound different, because now we are a slightly different band.

P.: It was a moment in time.

N.: If we recorded it in June instead of April, it would have sounded different. When we'd done it in a different studio it would have sounded different.

There's loads of different instruments on the album.

N.: Yeah, I play a 12-string cheapo mailorder playwood guitar.

P.: There's a mellotron, too. We hired it - even last week to record some b-sides.

J.: There's also a singing saw on the album.

There's sort of a symphonic quality with the sound. Do you go for that?

P.: The landscape thing? Again it was not planned. It is the subtotal of what we are together as a band. And again: If anyone was not to be in the band - perhaps it wouldn't sound like that.

J.: Generally for the right song we like that kind of sound because it can contain lots of different elements which can add up to something effective.

T.: We are not trying to persuade people. But as people we are a lot of things like humorous, ironic, sad. It's a mix and maybe that's got to do with the circus thing as well.

And with country music. But what are you aiming at with your lyrics? It's sort of an acquiered taste - either you love it or you don't. Is it to impress people, to tease people...

P.: There's a little bit teasing there. But it's little observations I make and see from things around me. It's not something I think about too much when I'm finished, you know. I can always relate to them and to me they are not mad. I can listen to them and see the story within them. All of the guys can too.

Do you write fast?

P.: Generally it takes a while. Some of the songs come really quickly, but I am very pedantic lyrically. I like to spend time, making sure to make it as perfect as can be. And it's my favourite thing in the whole band.

Do you write other stuff apart from lyrics?

P.: I do, personal stuff but not for personal distribution.

Have you got a video out? What does it look like?

J.: We've got two. Peter wears make-up all the time. But in the "You Love You"-video we all got to wear make-up.

Any intentions to venture into film?

J.: Peter's actually got a small part in a film.

P.: A new movie called "Velvet Goldmine" - basically it's about Glam-Rock. I sing a song in it. It'll be out in about 10 months and I think it's gonna be the movie of '98, the "Trainspotting" of '98. Ewan McGregor is in there. It's mostly based around David Bowie.

Do you like "Trainspotting"?

P.: Yeah.

Did you understand it?

P.: Yeah I live basically on the border of Scotland - so...

Yeah but you never know - Bis - who are from Scotland said they couldn't understand it. Whatever: How important is humour in your music?

P.: It is extremely important, but it has to be done spontaneously. Humour cannot be calculated and manufactured. Lyrically and sonically. It's twisted humour, usually.

Do you actually try to capture humour in songs?

P.: I think that all depends on how the song sounds and if we are all letting our idiosyncrasies into it. The great amounts of sadness and humour. I think that the album and the new songs got a great amount of both.

What are you really aiming at - given the fact, that this was your "mainstream album".

P.: I was pullin' on you there. The next album will be completely different. There's always to be a vibe of Subcircus. That's what it's all about.

What challenges you most when making music. I guess you never take the easiest way?

T.: No, it's never easy to be in that band. We set really high standards. And to give 100% always when recording, playing live and doing videos is straining. We never set out to aim in a specific direction. We give it everything we got.

P.: If we don't come back from our performances and feel like emotional wrecks we haven't done it properly. We've got to come back and really feel that we gave something - to whatever format. You've got to affect people.

It's the fine balance between weirdness, whackyness, oddness, strangeness and full frontal commitment what makes the gist of Subcircus. Plus they are not really predictable. They do take their work seriously, but not themselves. And all of that makes Subcircus a very fine band, indeed.

[Erstveröffentlichung im Baby Talk-Fanzine #11, August 1997]

Interview: -Ullrich Maurer-
Fotos: -Ullrich Maurer-



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