Nette Stars von nebenan
Dubstar sind wirklich nette Leute - so wirklich nette Leute von nebenan, mit denen man ab und zu mal ein Bier trinken geht und über den Sinn des Lebens nachgrübelt. Also einfach gute Freunde, und in ihren Songs kann man sich prima wiederfinden, denn die Texte spiegeln das tägliche Leben wieder, mit allen Höhen und Tiefen. Daß die beiden Jungs, Steve und Chris, gerne mal ein Bier trinken, mußte ich leider feststellen, als ich eigentlich mit der ganzen Band vor dem Konzert im Kölner Luxor am 19.04.96 zum Interview verabredet gewesen bin. Die beiden Herren hatten sich in den zahlreichen Kölner Bars "verlaufen", und haben, wie sich später herausstellte, dem Weizenbier gefrönt. Naja, so hatte ich wenigstens die Gelegenheit, mit Sängerin Sarah Blackwood alleine zu sprechen, was auch ganz schön war, denn Steve scheint das Plappermaul der Band zu sein, und so kam Sarah mal ganz allein zu Wort...
Morrissey declared in 1987 that pop-music would be dead and buried quite soon, and I think he was right, because for a long time there wasn’t anything good coming over - so, do you think pop-music has been re-born again?
Well, I mean, for a long time, pop just meant catchy songs, and we’re classed as a pop-band, and we write about things that are valid, and the whole thing about pop-music is, that you can live your life by it, you know. I can remember for years sitting on me window-sill listening to "Crazy Feeling" by Madonna, and to me, that just summed up the way I felt about this certain boy. For that reason, I think pop-music will never die, really.
I think people have begun to write good pop tunes again...
Yeah, the Cardigans are really good, the Pet Shop Boys are still around...
What do you think people will get out of your music?
Well, I’d be very flattered if people sat on their window-sills and listen to it and could associate it with some point on their lives. Sometimes music sums up feelings that I can’t express about something, you know, you put on a song, and you go "Yes, that’s the way I’m feeling right now!"...you know, someone put something on the tourbus last night, and I thought, oh I can’t go to bed now, and I just sat there, listening to it, and it was just so wonderful.
What about the lyrics then - are they very important to you?
Sometimes, it’s just like the feeling that it gives you, just makes you fell really wonderful. It depends what mood you’re in, really.
To me, Dubstar’s lyrics seem to be more personal, or like excerpts from a diary, or just a letter to someone...
Yeah, we write about what we know about, really. We write about reality and life as it’s lived, so...and all the stories are true, actually.
Don’t you think that some people might use this against you?!?
No, not really. I think you’ve got to write about things you know about, otherwise everything’s contrieved. You know, if you’re communicating feelings to people, how can you expect somebody to get something out of a song, if you don’t really mean it yourself.
In the song "The Day I See You Again" there’s one line that stuck with me for a long time: "...and if the man you’ve grown to be, is more Morrison than Morrissey..." - what’s that about?
It’s basically about this person who hasn’t seen the boy she used to go with for a long time, and this boy has turned into Jim Morrison as opposed to Morrissey, you know, becoming drunk and loud instead of a beautiful sensitive boy. But I like both...
I was quite surpised by your cover of Billy Bragg’s "St. Swithin’s Day" - who’s idea was it?!?
Steve’s like the really big Billy Bragg fan, we all love his songs, but I don’t really know very much about him, but Steve grew up with the man. It was one of the first things that we did when I joined the band, and Steve just said "Learn that, and we’ll try and do it!" - just as a warm-up and a bit of a laugh. And it ended up being the turning- point in what we were doing, it was where we really sort of discovered our direction. I mean, the groove on it, the beats and everything, it’s just so brilliant!
Has Billy heard your version?
Yeah, he loves it! He came to our show in London and he was saying "I’ve never heard me stuff sung in tune before!!!" - that was so lovely, and he’s such a nice man.
Do you agree with his views on politics and stuff...
I mean, Billy Bragg, apart from writing about politics, he writes about relationships as well, and that’s political as well. I think it’s a shame that if you’ve got a platform, you shouldn’t waste it, even if you’re writing about...I mean, everything is political, it doesn’t have to be party-politics.
Do you think songs should have a message?
I think you should be able to relate to something. I don’t like it when people say "Oh, what’s this about and what’s that about", I think you should be free to interpret the way you want the song to be, you know. But I think it should mean something, because it’s horrible if you have a song and you waste the opportunity to say something, and just throw it away with shit and meaningless lyrics.
Have you written any new songs yet?
Yeah, we’ve written loads of new songs, and we’re going in a studio in Berlin tomorrow to record the final b-side for our next release in England, "Elevator Song". As soon as we’re coming back from the European tour, we’ll go straight into the studio, and start working on the new album.
Where do you get your ideas for your songs?
Everywhere, basically. Steve does a lot of the keyboard stuff, and he just plays around during soundchecks, Chris just sits there with his four-track-machine and a guitar, and I write sixth-form-poetry - it’s crap! So far, Chris has written a song, and I’ve written a song for the next album, I mean, they may get on the next album or they may not, we’re just trying to get as many new songs together as possible, and then we’ll decide what’s going on to be on the new album. We’re all writing all the time, we’re hoping to record in July/August, but we’ve got festivals to fit in between...
When listening to Dubstar’s music, people might get the impression, that it’s all written and done with computers, and they might not be able to relate to this form of writing music, you know, they think in the "normal" sense you get out a guitar and stuff...
Well, that’s what we do! We write on the piano and guitar, ‘cause I think as soon as you start concentrating on a rhythm on a keyboard or something, it becomes a track and not a song, and you can become preoccupied with sounds and samples, and it shouldn’t be like that. Our thing is, it’s always about the song, and everything else is sort of secondary. Whatever you sing, whatever you play, whatever the song is like, you should still be able to strip it right down to like piano and guitar. That shows what a good song it is, you know, if it works that way, then...it’s always sort of been our philosophy to write around the keyboards and the piano, otherwise the whole thing just becomes a bit lost.
You’ve chosen Stephen Hague as the producer, and he’s known for producing a certain pop-sound - was that decision intentional?
Well, yes, we’re all big fans of what he’d done, and he really wanted to do it, and he said that he was a fan of the original demos, and Stephen built on what we’ve got already, whereas other producers would probably go and say "Do that again" - plus Stephen’s so good at using technology and live instruments as well, so we thought he’d be the perfect person to work with.
Did he bring in some ideas of himself, or did he just let you do it the way you wanted it?!?
I mean, basically, he made them sparkle a little bit more, you know, he gave them a lot more life. He sprinkled his magic dust over them! He didn’t like do anything really obvious, he’d just record them well, you know. Stephen is not the sort of person who makes a Stephen Hague record, he lets the band’s personalities come through, and it’s really encouraging like that.
Do you remember when you first heard one of your songs on the radio, and how did you feel?
Oh God! It was "Stars", when it was just released, and we were in the car going to the supermarket to get some food, and we were driving up the motorway and "Stars" came on, and I’d just lay in the back of the car, hyperventilating and screaming "Ooooh, it’s me, oh my god!!!!" - it was really weird, and I was completely freaked out!
Could you describe the live experience of a Dubstar gig?!? It must be different to play on a stage and to record in a studio...
I mean, there’s nothing worse than getting a band that just re-hashes what they do in the studio same as live. Everything’s stripped down, and we’ve brought in a live-drummer, and we’ve got an amazing light-show, and we all just stand and look miserable, basically!
But you do enjoy standing on that stage, don’t you?!?
Oh, yeah, but you know, we’re not the most animated performers, except for Steve - he dances in the background, and Paul, obviously, the drummer, but me and Chris don’t dance, ‘cause it looks stupid if I dance. I think the songs speak for themselves, you know, you don’t need to move around and stuff...
Did you read that rather bad live-review in the Melody Maker about your gig in Brighton...
Well, to be honest, he [the writer] didn’t like us as soon as he walked in the room, you know, as soon as he got on the train from London to Brighton, he didn’t like us. He didn’t like us from the start, and I don’t know what the hell he was doing reviewing us. Slagging us of, and being nice people, I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous in my life...
So, is there a typical Dubstar fan?
I don’t know, really. There’s so many different people, I wouldn’t like to say it belonged to any sort of type. Just sensitive people, I think...
Tja, und in diesem Moment sind dann Steve und Chris aufgetaucht, und leider warteten auch schon die Jungs vom "Lollorosso"-Magazin (WDR) auf die Band, und so mußte das Interview hier leider enden. Aber ich konnte nachher noch ein wenig mit Steve über Morrissey plaudern (er hatte passenderweise auch noch ein Morrissey-T-Shirt an) - er hat ihn übrigens mal in der U-Bahn in London getroffen, und Moz muß wohl genauso ausgesehen haben, wie man es immer gehört hat: Langes Gesicht, langer Mantel und einen Haufen Bücher unter dem Arm. Naja, jedenfalls hat Chris dann noch ein "tolles" Bild für’s Baby Talk gemalt, und das anschließende Konzert war auch ein Erfolg, obwohl die Bude nicht sooo voll war. Diejenigen, die nicht anwesend waren, haben u.a. ein Janis Joplin Cover "Mercedes Benz" verpaßt - selber schuld!
[Erstveröffentlichung im Baby Talk-Fanzine #8, Juli 1996]
Interview: -David Bluhm-
Fotos: -David Bluhm / Ullrich Maurer-