Guileless in Nuneaton
Mick Duffy sees eye-to-eye with the geezers from Gaza
Inside the distant aircraft hanger 3,000 people are paying homage to rock and roll.
The interminable racket has something to do with the recent Futurama ritual. More specifically, those earth-rumbling bass frequencies belong to Blue Orchids – who’d be embarrassed to learn that from where I sat, in a nearby field chatting with Eyeless In Gaza, they sound like a pick ‘n’ mix of Led Zeppelin, Motorhead and The Stones.
Peter Becker screws up his face in disgust. “Yeeuugh! that’s awful!”
But be reasonable, Pete. Blue Orchids are Futuramists – amongst our brightest new hopes.
“Bleeuugh! Horrible! Yeeuugh!”
He means rock is dead. Again. “All these bands here today are so traditional,” pipes out Martyn Bates, the other half of the Eyeless In Gaza duo. “So conventional. They’ve all got bass, drums and guitar. They look like the first rock groups. They sound like the first rock groups. This isn’t the future. This is the end of the world!”
Before the apocalypse, check out ‘Caught in Flux’, Eyeless I Gaza’s new Lp, their second this year. Brimming with unique ideas, as much as any other record of this still young decade it’s a rejection of old values grown stale. Eyeless refresh the parts other bands don’t know how to reach and forge faraway ahead of visionless contemporaries still tangled by rock toots some 30 years old.
“You don’t have to acknowledge the past to make new music or be different,” insists Pete. “Yet when certain people see us they make certain comments like ‘You’re only half a band. Where is your drummer? Where’s the rest of you?’ Then they want standard gig entertainment – they expect us to look whacky or macho and project some kind of showbiz image. Ha!
So we play and when we’ve finished they go, ‘Is that it?’ And we say, ‘Yeah. That’s it. Bob’s yer uncle – we’ve done it’ … And they just look sick.”
Mischievous deviationists, Eyeless In Gaza could hardly expect their peculiar brand of modern moves music to be accessible to everyone. But don’t they realise they’re flirting with elitist tricks?
“Well it all depends how you approach us,” says Martyn. “If you’re breathlessly expecting some rock and roll climax then you’re bound to be disappointed. But if you’re prepared to give something new a chance , you could get to like us. Anyone could – young punks, middle-aged housewives.
You’ve just got to keep an open mind and forget about your cultural conditioning.”
Eyeless In Gaza are flexible enough themselves, and will always consider making the odd compromising gesture in the name of common sense. So when they were offered £250 for a 20-minute appearance at Futurama 3, as practical economists in need of a new amplifier they were prepared to suppress their distaste for the Great British Rock Festival.
“Well we’ve got to live,” reasons Martyn. “And we need the money. Though we hate to get caught up in all the trappings of the music business – such an unreal world, full of unreal, pretentious people. We don’t need that shit!”
And wishing to remain as detached as possible from the business, they refuse to go professional – though they’d make a viable touring proposition; having gained strong grass-roots following, they confidently expect to sell about 10,000 copies of the new Lp. At home, in Nuneaton, they’re glad to do their day jobs. Martyn is a hospital worker and Pete is a lab technician.
“There’s no doubt our jobs help keep our feet on the ground – keep us in touch with reality,” says Martyn. “We’d never want to be pop celebrities, everyone saying how wonderful we are and us ending up believing them. Spending all our time at cocktail parties. You’re just a blown up failure. Useless.
So Eyeless are worthy members of society?
“Well, we do worthwhile jobs in the day and like to think we produce worthwhile music at other times. We’re just not totally engrossed in the music world, that’s all. When we get fed up with the band we’ll just pack it in. And that won’t break our hearts if things have gone sour because we’ll have other things to go to, other interests to fall back on.”
He means the common interests normal people have who live in ordinary towns. Well folks, that’s showbiz.