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It's been some time since we had our weekly encounters with Salad. More or less accidentally we had the chance to catch up on the latest news. We talked with Marijne over the phone. What happened in between records?
MARIJNE: Oh, we toured most of the time. And then there were many love-triangle things going on. Very sad stuff. But maybe it's got to be that way sometimes.

The name of the new record is "Icecream". Why that?

M.: Well, Paul wrote a song which didn't make it onto the record. It's about this Scottish chocolate war. I don't know if you've heard of that thing...

Is that the one where Scottish director Bill Forsyth made a movie about, starring Claire Corgan of Altered Images?

M.: I don't know because I didn't write the somg but I think Paul mentioned something along that line. Anyway. The song didn't make it. We were in dire need of a title and I said "What the hell, it sounds good", so we ended up using "Icecream".

Salad, Icecream - is food a source of inspiration for the band when writing songs?

M.: I don't know if we are influenced by food. I think we just eat it. We love food - at least Paul and I do, anyway. Rob and Pete are far too skinny to enjoy food. Strangely enough Rob is very adventurous in his musical taste. But when it comes to food all he really likes is chicken and sweetcorn and he doesn't really like straying too much. But we are influenced by everything that happens in life - not just musically.

The new album - like the first one - contains strange lyrics which reflect this state of mind.

M.: I think you can grasp much more what the new songs are about. There's many more love songs on that album - even though they are slightly twisted 'round the bend. You know there's a song about space travel, there's a really bitchy song about slagging your girlfriend off because she's gone out with your boyfriend. I think our lyrics have become much more approachable. Not on first look perhaps. But we don't want to be completely alienating anyone either. It's a lot more fun for me to sing as well if I can get really behind the words. There's a song on "Icecream" called "Raindrops" which is quite difficult and Paul wrote it and he kind of took images he's seen in one of his dad's books when he was very little. In fact the song isn't really about anything - but it's really emotive. And when I sing it every word has a meaning for me - but I wouldn't be able to tell you. So it's kind of like words in themselves can be emotive. It's the sounds of them. They are kind of like instruments in themselves. And I really enjoy that aspect of lyrics.

Was it more difficult this time to come up with new songs?

M.: No, because we always write songs. You probably know there's three songwriters in the band. And when we recorded "Icecream" we had about 50 songs to chose from - which is quite hard. And we had to demo them and ended up recording 20 - 12 of which ended up on the record. And we start recording the third album on Monday - and the second one isn't even out. That's how fast we work. There were 3 years between the first record and "Icecream". But that was because we had so many songs - we sort of had to whittle them down. Sometimes it's the best to do that on tour. So this time we don't want to get in this trap again and we started really early.

So how does it work. Did you - for instance - work hard on the sequence of the songs?

M.: Yes, we did. That took about a month. We had many different orders. And the order we ended up with we arrived at the day of the actual mastering of the record. It was quite scary doing it that way, because we didn't have the chance to live with that. But we are very, very happy. And: You can put a record in an order and it sounds like shit. With the same songs. And it's really important to put that effort in.

It's so sad, because that kind of effort doesn't get appreciated by the audience.

M.: A lot of things a band does don't get appreciated by the audience. You just have to realise that if you'd made a good record and people like it and buy it they are appreciated. If you haven't put the work in, people notice.

What kind of things did you chose, then?

M.: We chose the best one. Very simple. Strangely enough we each have 4 songs on the album. It kind of makes sense. There are some tracks we would have liked on the album, but which quite didn't fit. When you record a song you always like it best. But then you have to chose. When you go into a studio you kind of like paint a picture. You start with a sketch and don't really know how the song will turn out. So it's very exciting at times. When we go into the studio we are completely exhausted, because we come directly from a tour and hadn't time to rest. We are completely exhausted in the morning and by the time the evening comes we are dancing about really excited because the songs are starting to come alive. So you go through this complete range of emotions in one day in the studio.

Was it more complicated this time?

M.: Perhaps yes. I think we layered the songs more with instruments. We also got a fifth member playing with us live. It's a girl called Charlene and she is able to add all those things that we've added on "Icecream". You know, extra guitars, extra keyboards, extra samples and stuff. We took more time on this record. Basically didn't record it in one go but we left it and lived with it and went back and recorded some more. It does give you the chance to put a hell of a lot on - and then strip it off again if you want. But I got more into the keyboards. I bought myself an electrical piano.

Since their songs seem to be more elaborate than on the debut: How do they decide when a song is "finished" - beyond elaborating?

M.: It is hard, but you learn. We do put a lot off and on on our records. I think we learned to use space more on this record. There's four of us in the studio and all of us have ideas and we just pile this stuff on and don't know when to stop. But that's why we've got a producer who says: "Come on guys, that's just ridiculuous." It's such fun - we have so many ideas and there's so many possibilities; but there is a point where it sounds just right. And you just got to stop because even if you got more ideas nobody will ever know you had those ideas. And if it sounds right now, it's not gonna sound different to anyone else. Noone's gonna say: "Hey you could have added this and that."

So what about the live shows?

M.: We played with Charlene for a year now. She plays guitar, she plays keyboards, she plays samples and she sings background. And it is a huge improvement. She's also a real bright spirit. She keeps us alive, she's funny and she's really cool.

Is there sort of a Persuaders-feel on one of the songs?

M.: I think you're talking about "Yeah, Yeah". The instrumental has got sort of a John Barry-feeling. We love John Barry, we are big John Barry fans. And also Burt Bacharach - you know it goes right across the board, from The Beatles to The Pixies to 10CC to Queen, The Cardigans - anybody who is adventurous in music, who understands the joy in music. I think when we are going back to the comedy thing and having fun it's more about joy. We like to take an adventure - so Salad is very much about the joy in music and the John Barry thing comes right into that because it's all about "Life is wonderful", you know. You only live twice.

Speaking about lyrics. What is the meaning of - for instance - "Wolves Over Washington"?

M.: It's just a fantasy, I'm afraid. It's me pining to go to New York. I realised that I hadn't been to New York yet which by that time was really ridiculous. I'm 27 and I haven't been to New York which is ridiculous. So I started fantasizing. I was still in my mode of music-writing where I was taking things out from the back of my head and working with them instead of writing about real life. And I was thinking it was a nice image to fly from Washington to New York with some friendly wolves through the sky, you know just you and the wolves and you could see the moon, it's within your range and New York looks very small from up here. It's just pure fantasy and I think it was a really lovely image.

Note the casual mentioning of the friendly wolves. With Salad absurdity stands right besides the fact. What about the image of "Sky As A Terminal"?

M.: Rob wrote this song and it's basically about space travel. When astronauts are trained they are to be emotional stable and are not even allowed to feel great joy or great remorse. It's about this astronauts. One of them gets a message from home about his son's birthday and he's not allowed to feel happy about it because he would become unstable. And you could also say because it's the last song on the record - the sky is our terminal. You know, we're going up until somebody stops us.

Like in "Sky's The Limit"?

M.: Indeed. On the next record what we want to do is a techno track, for instance. Not so much techno but Salad's view of the techno world. Rob and Pete are the clubbers in the band. I think we should come up with an amazing instrumental dance track.

Okay - so what about touring plans?

M.: We will be touring "Icecream" until it doesn't need touring anymore - hopefully right to the beginning of early next year.

And then there's the next record already...

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

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

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