JOHNNY: Yeah, we could go out and get drunk and try to do our stuff but usually we're quite sober when we write.
Bis work with "Mr. Drum-Machine". Isn't that hard to write stuff with such a thing, because it has to be programmed beforehand?
MANDA: Actually it's easier.You can record really quickly. There's certain patterns and you can work on the structure afterwards. You can put together as much as you want. Usually Steven does the programming. He's very good at it. The bass comes out of the drummachine as well.
JOHNNY: Usually we stay away from conventional rock rhythms. Sometimes the song can begin with the drums, sometimes the melody comes first.
Some of the stuff they come up with couldn't be done with a live drummer.
JOHNNY: Exactly you would need about five hands to do it.
There are a lot of bits and pieces going on. Do they have a huge sound-archive?
JOHNNY: No, we don't ususally put a lot of thought in it: Oh that sounds nice, lets put it in.
What's their opinion on sampling in general?
JOHNNY: Oh yeah. I just bought a sampler. It's good not to sample a whole tune though because you have to give money to sound publishers and stuff but little sound bites are cool.
Well there's those tracks where they sample the whole song - just like the "Golden Brown"-
JOHNNY: Yeah, I hate that. It's rubbish. Some people do it really badly.
Well one thing nice about the Bis-gang is that they are fans themselves. (In their bio it says that they like "Trainspotting". But Steven admits that he finds it hard to understand - and this comes from a Scottish guy). Manda for instance publishes her own fanzine called "Funky Spunk". A lot of which focuses on Drew Barrymore. What's the angle there?
MANDA: It's because she's not your stereotype Hollywood-actress and she plays various roles and she's really normal looking, she's not anyone fake, she's really normal. She had her breasts reduced in size beacuse she doesn't really care about these kind of things. I love people like that.
Well - as normal as an actress can be in that surrounding.
MANDA: Yeah, but she actually hates Hollywood. I actually hate the music industry, but you have to deal with it. There's this movie "Mad Love" where she picked the songs for the soundtrack. Plus theres this band playing in it, 7 Year Bitch, this amazing girl band. Drew went on tour with Hole (care off her liaison with Eric, Hole's guitar-player). You can imagine what it would be like for a Hollwood-actress to go to a gig. It would be bodyguards all over the place. She's surely normal.
When Bis play live they play with two guitars and the drum-machine, keyboard-bass thing - which has to be preprogrammed. So what do they do to make it appealing - thinking of Dubstar for instance, where the most active thing that keyboarder Steve does is flick his lighter to look at the digits of his computer settings. What do they focus on?
MANDA: We all stand in a row. There's noone in front of us or behind us, just three people. You can play the songs in any order you like, just step on the footswitch.
JOHNNY: We move around a lot. We're the most active band you have probably seen live.
MANDA: It's impossible to stay still with this kind of music.
JOHNNY: Manda even got a chordless mike so she can move around the stage.
Then there's the question of the cover versions - notably the Smiths' song "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side" - which in my opinion they pretty much slaughtered.
JOHNNY: Yeah exactly. We hate The Smiths. It's nice of you to say that, because mostly we get to hear how interesting our version was. I hate the idea of cover versions being exactly the same. If you don't like the song that much, you should try something new with it. We put a toy drum kit on and all the frog noises and stuff.
MANDA: We thought we'd really embarass The Smiths by showing how crap their song and how good our version was. (This is said tongue in cheek)
JOHNNY: We wanted the Smiths' fans to see how crap the song is.
Okay, that's cool, but why take part in this thing at all?
JOHNNY: 4.000 pounds.
Okay fair enough. What kind of music do they like?
MANDA: A lot of female singers, Atari Teenage Riot, No Doubt, Bikini Kill, lot's of powerful bands. Bands from the past that we'd been compared to, where we bought the records, like X-Ray Spex, and Rezillos and stuff.
If anything it would have to be the B 52's if one would like to compare Bis to anything.
MANDA: Yeah it's funny though. I've never even heard the B 52's because when they started I was far too young. It wasn't a conscious thing. There's always a nod here and there to music you like, but it's not conscious copying, more an accidental thing.
JOHNNY: I like Ska, really obscure things, XTC.
So what about the lyrics?