Friday, 25 June 2010

Indietracks interview #19: The Primitives

Today we're interviewing our Saturday night headliners The Primitives! And it's exactly a month until they'll take to our outdoor stage! However, before we get to the interview, here's a few quick Indietracks announcements:

  • we're really pleased to say that Red Shoe Diaries and Cowtown have been added to the line-up!
  • we can also reveal that Pic'n'mixx will be hosting the campsite disco on the Saturday night. Pic'n'mixx are also running a compilation CD swap during the festival in which you are all extremely welcome to participate. More details here.
  • we're sorry to say that Printed Circuit are no longer able to play at the festival.
Okay, you're all cosily familiar with The Primitives, we're sure. The band emerged from the independent scene of the mid-80s, alongside The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream and My Bloody Valentine. With the distinctive singing and blonde bombshell looks of singer Tracy Tracy, they combine 60s melodies, the buzzsaw guitars of the Ramones and the pop sensibilities of Orange Juice. The band became household names across the world for their hit single ‘Crash’, which made the top five in the UK charts.

The band reunited at the end of 2009 and have played some ace UK shows recently, and we can’t wait to see them at the festival! We're joined today by Paul from the band.

Hi Paul, The Primitives returned last year for some live shows, followed by a tour this year. Are you enjoying being back?

It was strange going on tour again...took about a week to reacquaint ourselves with it all, but after that we could have just kept on going. We didn’t think there’d be that many people interested in coming to see us when a tour was first mentioned, but we were proved wrong. Overall it was a blast, and as we weren’t promoting anything in particular we got to cherry pick from seven years of tunes, so it was great to be able to play some of the early faves.

Is this a fleeting comeback or a permanent reunion?

We haven’t completely closed the lid on it. We’ll do the odd thing here and there if it suits. There are a couple of ideas in the pipeline... so for now it’s a kind of semi permanent, part time arrangement.

We understand you’ve been in the studio working on a covers project of lesser-known female-fronted songs. Is that correct, and if so, how’s it going and when can we expect to hear it?

We recorded a couple of tracks last year... haven’t decided what to do with them yet. There are a couple of new songs too, which have a similar vibe to the covers - fuzzed up, psychedelicized, 60s girl group type tunes, so I guess we should think about some more recording soon and maybe see about releasing something. A series of 7 inch singles was one idea. Perhaps a Primitives singles club with different bands on the b-sides.

Video: The Primitives - Need All The Help I Can Get (cover cover of a Lee Hazlewood song, originally sung by Suzi Jane Hokom).

You’re often listed alongside a string of mid-eighties indie bands such as The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, The Wedding Present. How much connection do you think you share with these bands and how much was this apparent at the time?

We rubbed shoulders to varying degrees with each of those bands. The Mary Chain were already pretty massive by the time we started to get recognition... they used to come and see us in small pubs, which was nice of them. The other bands were at a pretty similar level and all went on to bigger things and I suppose we all had an influence on stuff that came after... especially Shoegaze and Britpop.

Were you prepared to have an international hit single with Crash (watch the video), and what’s the craziest thing (weird TV appearances, promo gigs, crazy fans) that happened as a result?

Not really. It was a bit like winning the pools. I was still living in this rented slum and we had limos turning up to take us to the airport. I remember us getting the train down to London from Coventry with our guitars to do Top Of The Pops for the first time...felt like we were in a Beatles film. We did a TV show in Holland where they wanted us to mime to Crash in a kind of Temptations instruments, just the four of us standing in a line, moving in unison. It was very cheesy, but we gave it a go anyway. We were pretty awful...can’t imagine it ever got used.

How do you think independent pop music has changed since the mid-80s? Do things like fine-sharing and social networking make things easier or harder for new bands?

Well a couple of years ago, if you had a guitar and a pair of tight trousers from Topman you were indie, but recently it seems to have been reclaimed by bands with a bit more of a grasp of what the whole thing was originally about. There’s also a renewed interest in 80s indie bands and all sorts of other stuff, that I guess people find out about on the internet. For the musically curious the net is like having a thousand John Peels sat on your lab...which is a good thing, but I think the nothingness of mp3s and the fact that they can be shared or nicked so easily has devalued’s great to be able to hear so much stuff, but there’s no real commitment involved. I use Spotify and all the rest of it, but nothing will replace the ceremony of putting on a vinyl record. The bottom line is there’s no emotional attachment to an mp3.

Indietracks takes place on a 1950s railway with steam trains lovingly-restored by enthusiasts. Do any of the band have any trainspotter-style hobbies or unusual interests that they would care to share?

I bought a Lomo camera about 10 years ago and have now got about five shoe boxes full of not very good photos. Tracy collects small hats.

Brilliant, we're hoping to see more photos of people in hats at Indietracks this year!
Thanks Paul - see you in a month!

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