- DRIFTING THROUGH TIME –
An exclusive with Ocean Colour Scene
- Interview by Dominic Bonner
TAKING time out of their current tour, singer Simon Fowler reflects on the past, present and future for the much talked about Ocean Colour scene and how he feels the bands rather confused public perception, their new album and returning once again to Liverpool.
After the release of a heavy three month schedule recording Northern Atlantic Drift, you would think that rest was a priority for a band that has seen much criticism in the past for their music. But after a two year break, rest is simply not on the minds of the four-piece band from Birmingham, as they are itching to get out on tour.
In ten years they have seen many heady heights in which sliced bread was clearly a metaphor beneath them, as in 1996 their album Moseley Shoals ripped across the country leaving everyone star struck in its wake. But the fact that this band has seen more ups and downs than a bride’s nightie may come as a surprise to many.
Indeed the much overrated comment from the so - called music magazine New Musical Express led to the press frenzy where the label of dad-rock refused to go away turning into a tirade of labels where the word boring often became synonymous with the very mention of their name.
But Fowler seems less concerned with the dad-rock label that seemingly has plagued them ever since their success. The matter of fact is that NME never liked OCS from the beginning, therefore no coincidence that the spawned criticism led to public apathy toward the band. Only the band managed to stay true to its original form – unlike the rather comic looking plastic music magazine that sold its intellectualism out in favour of sales of popular culture. Only for Fowler to smugly have the last laugh as the media have come full circle and warmed once again to the band.
"The thing about the NME, whatever they said about us has never been particularly any good, but what they said about us in 1996 didn’t stop us selling a million and a half through Moseley Shoals. But the irony of the whole fiasco is it’s turning into smash
hits”, he laughs.
“I think they are aiming at a lot lower age group now, younger, there’s no more existentialism - it is more about Britney Spears.”
Even now, musical counterparts still pour scorn on Ocean Colour Scene with a recent spat from The Thrills claiming that the brummie band aim only to sound like some one else’s third album, which Fowler took rather lugubriously, “I don’t know, the dad rock thing it’s sort of, I just took that thing as an insult deliberately. So I don’t really glorify that, I think that we are a traditional rock and roll band.
We sort of carry on a tradition that goes back a long time, but it is pretty rich that an Irish band wanting to sound like the beach boys should blurt something foolish like that. We are not particularly interested in criticism and at the end of the day our opinion counts for us and we just want to get on with
Public life has never been on the agenda for OCS, preferring to stay in the central heartland of their Birmingham home. Fowler and his crew are quite content to let the wannabees and future stars have the glitz of the media frenzied capital. Pointing out that the whole thing is a vacuum most should try to run from,
“Well I think that it probably helps that we live in the midlands, when we lived in London, it was very dangerous. The press are everywhere, coke (cocaine) was everywhere, celebrities were everywhere, as were parties and you just get sucked in to that sort of lifestyle very easily I should imagine.” But surely they aren’t that boring? Indeed that is also false, as their reputation for drinking binges is renowned in many fables across their home town.
“I mean there’s a good thing to blow once in a while but it’s not very good for your health. But we never had any problems with drugs or that sort of thing while we had that sort of level of success. But when you describe that sort of environment, you don’t actually have that sort of thing up here, we’ve always sort of felt slightly outside it.”
Rumours of the band splitting almost did cause them to split a few years back. But after a decade of public appearance and totalling fifteen years together as a group, it seems that Fowler is unshaken by the wolves seeking to tear his dream apart. As far as he is concerned there are still many musical challenges to confront.
Indeed touring has given them an edge that sees their return to Liverpool on September 26 – a particular date that Fowler looks forward to as his connections to the musical root of the city remain strong as they have strong ties with the Real people. In fact a surprise cropped up as an unexpected visitor from a well known Liverpool singer turned up for the early stages of their latest album,
“When we were recording North Atlantic drift. A collaboration of sorts almost happened between us and Echo and the Bunnymen. Macca (Ian McCulloch) was down and he was trying to sing on the album, and he was absolutely
pissed," Fowler laughs.
A sign of things to come? Perhaps. But celebrations for all fans of Ocean Colour Scene are certain to cast new light into the Liverpool Music scene after the lull of summer and rock the Royal Court Theatre on their return.
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YOUNG MUSIC FANS URGED TO TURN DOWN MUSIC
A GROWING number of teenagers are among nine million people in Britain who are losing their hearing, a leading group of hearing healthcare specialists has found.
Some as young as 13 are suffering from ‘ringing in the ears’ and other hearing disorders and experts say the damage is being caused by young people turning their music to full volume when listening to their favourite bands.
Graham Lane, managing director of Hidden Hearing, one the Britain’s leading providers of hearing aids said: “Parents are happy when their children are in their bedrooms playing music with friends – they feel safe.
But they should keep a careful check on the volume, for if it’s too loud, it could damage their hearing in later life.”
This warning comes at a time when the RNID, the largest charity representing the deaf and hard of hearing in the UK, has launched it’s ‘Don’t lose the music’ campaign across Britain. The RNID has been giving away free earplugs at rock festivals this summer in a move to warn young people of the dangers of exposure to loud music.
The Eyes of Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper (Eagle Records)
By Eric Lyon-Taylor
EYES on Alice Cooper have been a composite of the spotlight during his European tour during the summer, and no wonder, this album is a great comeback.
A complete tangent has been taken away from previous albums like Brutal Planet, and Dragontown but this sees a return to Cooper’s Detroit roots.
The album alternates between the late 70’s and early 80’s era music that Alice produced minus the rather comical overt gore themes which entertained the law courts through several American states.
Strangely the expectancy of hearing tracks from the old albums Constrictor or Raise your Fist and Yell appear bereft, although ‘This House is Haunted’ does evoke those moments from those albums.
Although the album was rushed through the studio, there is definitely a polished finesse to an album that sounds harder than raw meat and the result being that there is a renewed enthusiasm and enjoyment from Cooper to his music making this album a more pleasurable experience.
The tracks are strong but I’m So Angry track is probably the heaviest and the most reminiscent of newer rock acts such as The White Stripes or the Vines. The song that doesn’t rhyme, is very tongue in cheek and sung in a sort of dead pan way, it comes across well.
Alice says that “When I began hearing these new bands, they all sounded fresh and exciting, but they also sounded familiar because it’s so similar to the music we made when we were starting out. It’s the kind of rock and roll I have always loved to listen to and always loved to create. I realized that I had been wanting to do an album like this for so long, and it came together so quickly.”
In summary the songs are well written and the music well played, a well needed return to earlier rock and roll days. 4 out of 5 for the album well worth buying if you like your rock and roll and want to see where some of the newer bands get their inspiration even if they don’t know it.
- 4 out of 5
HSE PUBLISHES GUIDANCE ON WORK-RELATED ROAD SAFETY
THE Health and Safety Executive has published free guidance on work-related road safety aimed at any employer, manager or supervisor with staff who drive or ride a motorcycle or bicycle at work.
The manual – ‘Driving at work: Managing work - related road safety’, produced in partnership with the Department for Transport, alerts employers and the self-employed to the fact that their responsibilities under current health and safety law extend to driving at work. It contains generic advice on managing work-related road safety effectively and on integrating it into existing health and safety arrangements.
The production of generic guidance was a key recommendation of an independent work-related road safety Task Group, appointed by the Government and the Health and Safety Commission in 2000 as part of the Government’s road safety strategy, Tomorrow’s Roads – Safer for Everyone.
The Task Group concluded that existing health and safety law adequately covered work-related activities on the road and that there was no need for any new legislation. However, it felt that there was scope for existing legislation to be universally applied in a more consistent method.
David Jamieson, Minister for Road Safety, said:- “I welcome this leaflet and hope all employers will follow the simple guidance it contains to help our efforts to reduce road traffic casualties. I hope the benefits from raised road safety awareness at work will also improve standards of private motoring.”