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"Drawn To The Deep End" heißt das neue Album einer meiner Lieblingsbands, und wie es so üblich ist, kam die Band mal wieder nach Deutschland, um Teile davon live zu präsentieren, und wir hatten das Vergnügen, Gene (in sehr guter Laune) am 12.04.97 in Krefeld zu treffen. Lest nun, was Gitarrist Steve Mason zu sagen hatte...
Firstly, I'd like to thank you for making such a brilliant new album - are there any memorable moments whilst recording it?

Obviously, when you're in the studio as long as we were, you get moments when it's very concentrated and very trying to crack a certain point of a song that isn't quite working, or other times I can remember when Matt and Kevin were just dancing around the room, which was quite amusing and stops the serious atmosphere of a recording session going on too long. To be honest, the album took a while to complete, ‘cause we basically wanted to achive more than we'd achived with "Olympian". I think overall the whole session has some very high points and some very low points.

What is your favourite song on the album, and why?

I think at the moment my favourite song is "New Amusements", just because it's so flamboyant really, and especially the end section where we kinda go a bit Led Zeppelin-like, you know, it's something we never really have done on a record before. Things like "Why I Was Born" and "Long Sleeves For The Summer" and "Speak To Me Someone", even though they're much better songs than things we'd done before, they're still very much in the sort of Gene-style. I mean, I like things like "The Accidental", things a bit more dark and a bit less sort of obvious.

On "Drawn To The Deep End" the vocals seem to more aggressive and the whole production seems to be done with more confidence - can you explain that?!?

It's an entirely different production, I mean with the first album we were accused of being a bit light-weighted, but when we used to play live shows, we were a lot more aggressive. I think on the new record we wanted more of the aggression to be heard, coming off the CD rather when you come as see us live, I think the dichotomy that was going on before, where our records were sounding this way and our live performances sounded slightly different, was too great, and we were just trying to lower that down on this album, so it's very grand and aggressive in parts. We've always been confident, you know, we've always had a sense of ambition and a sense of trying to achive things all the time, it was just the way it was mixed.

When you look back on Gene now, did everything turn out the way you wanted it or wished, and are there any parts you would have done differently now?

Erm, there's a few things I would have changed, but overall I'm very happy with it. I'm still not happy though with the rhythm to "We Could Be Kings", and I wasn't happy with it for a long time, I got the guys to go in and re-work it about five or six times. That's about it really...

I still got the impression that Gene is still often underrated, especially with the British press...

I think it goes in circles, I think when we first arrived and put two singles out, everybody was saying "Best band in the universe!", you know, you bring your second album out, which we think is far superior to "Olympian", on a number of different levels, level of ambition, the sound of the thing, the song-writing, it's a far deeper album, and the press have decided, you know, Gene aren't that great this month! Maybe if we'd waited another two months, they'd say "Ah, Gene are great again!", you know. The thing is, the English press is always very eager to put out fresh talent, but it also has the same eagerness to reduce bands to lacking credebility and musical status. There are so many new bands coming up, and after a while you kind of have to live without the press, you know, just see how many people you've reached and just carry on, which is what we are doing. You know, we've got six or seven ideas for the new album being planned, so it's not a question of "Oh, the press don't like us anymore", I don't really give a toss, I know that we're making great records and that's all what really counts.

With the many bands coming up at the moment, do you think that the image of a band is sometimes more important than the music itself?

Obviously, for me the strongest thing in a band is the song-writing, but at the end of the day, I think it would be naive to assume that without a good sort of visual image you're gonna be restricting yourselves, you know. So it kinda goes hand in hand, the image won't sustain a band for a long time, whereas good song-writing will.

What do you think people will get out of Gene's music?

Well, hopefully, some entertainment really. It's a very difficult question. Obviously, I make the record so I know that record inside out, so if I listen to that records at home, what I'm going to feel from that records is entirely different to what you guys feel, ‘cause I know every single thing that's going on, you know, "Oh, the snare drum is slightly louder here", which is very sublimial to you guys, unless I give you the masters or whatever. I don't know what people get out of it, I hope people will get a sense of an emotive-type force really, something that isn't throw-away, something that is quite deep.

Do you remember the first time you've heard one of your songs on the radio? Must have been a strange experience I could imagine...

The first song I think was "For The Dead", and I was very happy. The best thing about hearing your records on the radio is knowing that you didn't put the record on yourself, someone else did it.

You're doing quite a few cover-songs for b-sides or live-shows, and what is the R.E.M.-cover of "Nightswimming" like?

It's alright, Martin really wanted to do that, it's okay. I mean, I'm not a big fan of doing covers and putting them out on records, I prefer to do our own songs, [lowers the tone of his voice] but for some reason we've started doing covers, so God knows why. But it's alright, I wouldn't say it's fantastic, but it's alright.

Tja, und in Krefeld legten Gene ein geniales Konzert hin, und zum krönenden Abschluß gab's dann doch noch einen Cover-Song zu hören, nämlich einen alten Jam-Klassiker, dessen Namen mir aber jetzt zum Verrecken nicht einfallen will.

[Erstveröffentlichung im Baby Talk-Fanzine #10, Mai 1997]

Interview: -David Bluhm-
Fotos: -Meike Witte-

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