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Song of the day – 260: Talulah Gosh (the original interview)

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NME: 1986

A pre-single interview.

Extra pop-stock! THE LEGEND! is won over by TALULAH GOSH, out of nowhere and heading up. TIM JARVIS (he’s so dreamy) gets in the picture.

One chilly night in Camden Town not so long ago, I lost my heart.

Talulah Gosh at the Enterprise: rapture on first sight! Hopelessly smitten by the opening chords and simply the way everyone smiled, I was a lost Legend!

Glorious strands of classic pop/noise à la Pastels/Mary Chain coated with an irresistible covering of two tremulous female voices, nerve-ends on show as they rushed through a raucous throwaway medley of songs in a series of perfect examples of what creating pop should be all about. BRASH! INSTANT! NOISY! MELODIOUS! SHINING! Looking about half my age, they made it all seem so bloody simple; it made you wonder why the whole world wasn’t joining in. How can anyone resist such an inspiring pop/noise cacophony as this?

Talulah Gosh—two girls and three boys (including brother and sister), that moment before everything turns sour again, when you’re walking through the rain on the way home from a Shop Assistants concert, when you’re cycling to the newsagents through town early morning and the air’s so refreshingly keen, the tears behind a romance. What do Talulah Gosh do when it rains?

“Carry spotted umbrellas. Lie indoors. Sit in cafeterias playing video machines. The best place to be is in a tent where you can hear the rain pattering down loudly right next to your head and dig trenches to keep the water at bay. Go for a walk. Take drugs. Beat up old ladies.”

GGosh! It’s Mathew, Pebbles, Marigold, Peter and Chris.

Gosh! It’s Mathew, Pebbles, Marigold (now hold on…—ed.) Peter and Chris.

Formed in February in Oxford and veterans of six concerts (two less than The Soup Dragons, incidentally), three in Oxford, two in London and one in Bristol, Talulah Gosh (the name comes from an old NME Clare Grogan interview) have already been featured in three music papers, have a flexi-disc due for release with the seminal Are You Scared To Get Happy? fanzine and have also had three of the hippest independent labels in the country (53rd & 3rd, Subway and Dreamworld) chasing after their signatures on the strength of these fews gigs and a demo tape. They will shortly be releasing a 7″/12″ on 53rd & 3rd, home of the Shop Assistants and B.M.X. Bandits. Are they surprised at all the attention they’ve been receiving?

“Bemused is more the word,” Marigold (curtain skirt and hand-painted guitar, states) “we’ve been very lucky that all the people we’ve passed our tape onto and come to our gigs have been really helpful.”

“It’s nice, but it’d be a real shame if we became famous and some of the more deserving bands around, like Razorcuts and The Pastels, didn’t,” Pebbles (tambourine and shades) thoughtfully comments, “also, I think that a lot of the attention we’ve received is because we’ve got girls in the band, but I wish people wouldn’t make such a fuss of it. That Sounds review was really patronising and offensive—‘get your hands out of your pockets, boys!’ Disgusting!”

“You can’t help people thinking ‘ooh, ooh, they’re dreamy!’” Marigold adds, “I do that when I see boys onstage, but it’s not the same as thinking ‘Oh, we would like to lick their bodies!’”

THE DAY SHE LOST HER PASTELS BADGE

When Talulah Gosh talk, it’s with an infectious enthusiasm, cautious bewilderment and open enjoyment that pervades all facets of their music. Incessant squabblers, onstage they’ll giggle nervously and smile hopelessly at one another before tearing through another number in their flustered urgency to finish. ‘Length of song paranoia’ I think it’s called—quite a few ‘real’ pop bands seem to suffer from it, and who can blame them? There’s a very real danger, however, that, with song titles like ‘Mmm mmm… He’s So Dreamy’ and ‘The Day She Lost Her Pastels Badge’, this bubbly enthusiasm might be taken the wrong way and shrugged aside as mere preciousness.

“It is a problem, but we’re not contrived in any way, it’s in our natures to be like this,” Peter (guitar and glasses) opines, “but when you consider how how awful most of the groups who aren’t precious are, it probably doesn’t matter. Anyone who wouldn’t like a group because they thought they were soppy has no taste in music anyway.”

“One of the reasons we play so fast live is that the girls are scared that everyone’ll think that we’re soppy crap if we don’t play everything at a million miles an hour,” Peter continues, “and so each time we play live we always repeat the magic words ‘punk rock, punk rock’ to each other just to reminds ourselves why we’re here.”

Talulah Gosh are one of a fast-rising new breed of pop band, typified by groups like The Soup Dragons and Shop Assistants, who are good simply because they can’t understand why they should be anything else. Why be bad when it’s so much more fun being BRILLIANT! Nine parts instinct and one part excitement, Talulah Gosh are the explosive marriage between semi-acoustic pop, noise and exhilaration (the Marine Girls meet the Mary Chain) who, in embracing accusations of tweeness and feminity (how shocking!) overcome all that BRILLIANTLY and make you fall in love all over again for the Nth time. Impulsive, raw and adorable, Talulah Gosh are one of those little things in life that are so important. What do the Talulahs care for?

“Strawberries. My new Pastels badge. Ramones albums. Cuboids. Not-small helpings of food! Books, and letters people send us. Bits of fluff on carpets. Garfield. Teddies.”

“I electrocuted our mum the other day,” Mathew (drums and Ramones jacket) discloses, “I dropped the lead of my electric razor into the kitchen sink and she put her hand into the water and went ‘Kzzzkaaak!’ She was shaking for three hours afterwards and screaming that I’d nearly killed her. I felt really guilty.”

“My Pastels badge originally came from my boyfriend,” Pebbles recalls, “because he said it was his favourite possession so I pestered him to give it to me because I thought that if he really liked me he’d let me wear it and in the end he did.”

Talulah Gosh—the small things in life. What flavour would they like this month to be?

“CHOCOLATE!”

I can’t even begin to go into the impact Talulah Gosh have ultimately made on my life – and the lives of others, very close to me.

Suffice to say that Amelia (‘Marigold’) sang at our wedding. And it’s very weird to rediscover one of the illustrations for my Legend! fanzine, 25 years later on the web, captioned as Talulah Gosh’s artwork from the early days, 1986-1987. The reason I’m running this as Song of the Day right now is because there’s a new Talulah Gosh compilation in the works – or rather, new old Talulah Gosh compilation in the works. It’s called Backwash, and it’s due out on Damaged Goods, early in 2011.

I know, because I’ve been asked to write the sleeve notes. Hope you enjoyed The Legend! interview. It appeared on pages 2-3 of the NME, and was one of my first big features for them. I’d reviewed a show of theirs at Chalk Farm Enterprise a couple of weeks earlier. I was told about it by my friends Jon and Jo, later to form Huggy Bear. I actually only went along because I’d got turned away on the door from a Doctor And The Medics show I was supposed to be reviewing (they were big back then), just round the corner. There were about eight people present at the Talulah Gosh show. Anyway, I loved it, wrote about it – with the opening (edited) line “Remember fun? Some of us do”… and the following week went down to see them, same venue. Hundreds outside the door, literally. I wasn’t allowed entry, and it wasn’t until the band refused point-blank to go on stage that I got in.

Oh, for the power to do that these days!

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