© Fotos & Words by Steve Drury
Interviews Pd: two
Here are a few interviews; the first one on the release of The Spider, the other two at the time of the Glasshouse LP release.
"Depending on the things we said”
lots of familiar reference points finger-printing their contagious stand-outs; ‘Athena’, through ‘Opium Gathering’, and into the riffing 'Tin Sky' but they come out laundered oddly fresh. 6 months later, after a single in a Day-glow bag promoted through a concentrated swamp - operation gig schedule, I see them a second time, churning into a high-sweat situation in a glass 'n' concrete Students Union Hall. What was once promise is now parallel bars of spiral spinal craggy jagged energy rush, what Bart Bertie called "sheet metal and hysterical pagan" music (NME).
"There's a lot to be said for guitar, drums and bass," drawls Martin Steele. "People just kinda latched onto synths. We've tried synths, but they won't fit in for us. You can do anything on a guitar - as you've just witnessed!"
"With just three members in the group the ideas are kept more together," agrees bassist Carl Firth. "Whereas if there's more people involved. . . "
". . . your ideas get watered down."
Drummer Michael Baker, crop-headed and unshaven, comes in - "it's tighter and quicker" - with an admirable concise summation.
"We wanna get away from that thrash - punk thing though," adds Martin in thick slow seams of Barnsley accent.
First time I saw Party Day was as part of a shrieking chic audience in a concrete tomb beneath the vast 'Clockwork Orange' multiplex of the Leeds Merrion Centre.
Amps switched up to infinity, a positive-thrash power-trio roaring (geographically) outta Danse Society territory. I'd heard their tapes, but live there's a hard edge that C30 chrome-dioxide can't trap. Like the result of twisted eugenics there's
Party Day is a name lifted from an early song; like ‘Joy Division’, it's superficially upbeat, masking a menacing nihilism. The name is "a bit cynical," admits Martin. "Nothing is as it appears. There's a lot of underlying nastiness in a lot of things. It's sinister." "We don't want to get to the top too quick or get noticed too quick. You've got to build a steady following if you wanna get anywhere permanent. So we'll just keep going. I reckon we'll be a sort of Pink Floyd or Hawkwind band - but in a different context. You don't know any of the people out of Pink Floyd, or Hawkwind - but you know the name. We're a wholemeal band with natural ingredients . . ."
So where does ‘Opium Gathering’ come in? Is that a natural ingredient? Martin picks up on the line mischievously. "I wrote that. Me and Michael. My half is about going to bed with somebody . . . " A calculated pause, ". . .I don't know what his half is about!"
Andy Darlington - ZIGZAG, Vol.1 No.9, June 1984
Barnsley bus station forms the latest line in exotic locations for a brief encounter with Party Day; the hapless trio who’ve merited your attention for the last three years.
The following is an excerpt of the recently unearthed interview with ZigZag, done with Party Day after the release of the Glasshouse LP. If you want to read the full version, click on ‘interview’.
Dean (guitar) and the diminutive Carl (vocals and bass) do the talking while drummer Mick remains oblivious.
So how would you describe Party Day?
Dean: “Were honest. A warts and all band”.
Carl: “It’s not for us to say”.
Over the past three years Party Day have developed their pop melodies to an altered image context, yet still they remain ridiculously undersold. Are Party Day in a rut?
Dean who only joined the band last April as a replacement for former guitarist Martin, was attracted to Party Day for their sheer faith.
Granuaile - ZIGZAG, February 1986
Dean: “Before this I’d never been in a group where everyone believed that we would actually get somewhere. All three of us have got faith in ourselves. It won’t take long now; it’s coming”.
The Party Day cometh!
Fake cover shot
Photo by Anon
Andy Darlington - 1985
Post-cassette, the fast-paced single “Row The Boat Ashore” – plus their meaty beaty big and brash contribution to the Leeds-based ‘Giraffe In Flames’ compilation, extended that base, up to and including the launch of their debut album. While the only classic Party Day song NOT included on the LP is – oddly enough, the title song! But they’re saving the visionary-anthemic ‘“Glasshouse’ for a soon-come twelve-inch single courtesy Rouska Records, which will emerge post-album.
“Thing is” explains Martin, “if you want to support a major band you send off a demo tape. They hear our tape and they think ‘no way, we’re not having them in, ‘cos they’d blow us off-stage!’ So we never get to support any major bands. No, we’ve played with Attila The Stockbroker, we played support to the Cult in Leeds, and with Danse Society once at Sheffield’s ‘Marples’. I was really impressed with them that night. Other big names we’ve been associated with include Newtown Neurotics. But I doubt if we’ll ever get to the stage of supporting a really major band because it depends a lot who that band is. I mean – XTC used to be big, we’d have done well supporting them. We’d have banged down the XTC crowd. They’d have liked us. But all this pretentious Sex Gang Children rubbish, they’re just after the image side of it. The skull and cross-bones side of it…”
So why the absence of colour about Party Day garb? Isn’t that image?
“Naw. We were at a funeral before we came here. We wear what we want. Black’s alright, in’it? Black just suits anybody. It’s nothing Gothic or owt like that. It’s better than gold lamé suits, that’s all. But we wanna concentrate more on our image, ‘cos we ain’t got one!’ I thought it came across pretty strongly tonight.”
Party Day don’t toe anyone’s Party Line, they just – as The Man says, “Party Party!!!”
It’s unfortunate that change seems to be in the air, just as the album’s on the brink of shoving them out to their widest audience yet. A rift with long-time manager Steve Drury, plus rumours of realignments within the group itself – centred on Martin, complicate the equation. But hopefully we’ll soon be into a post-shuffle period with Party Day in a clearer definition to fulfil the rich promise that ‘Glasshouse’ makes.
Hopefully we’ll soon also be in a post-Margaret Thatcher post-Ronald Reagan period too, then we can start thinking more of the future and less about the cults and icons of the past. But until then you could do a lot worse than listen to Party Day.
The following is an excerpt from Andy Darlington’s interviews unearthed on his Blogspot site. If you want to read the full version, click on ‘Eight Miles High blogspot’.
The first evidence of Party Day’s presence came on a brace of cassettes – early material, such as the percussive “Them” laced with synths, but the distinctive structural sound already established, a long instrumental drive-in, often working up from solitary bass figures, gathering momentum, power, and intensity towards the vocals which, mixed back and faintly echoed, are cleanly separated and word-perfect. Early live material includes ‘Washing Line’ and ‘Springboard’, ‘Bleed Me’ and ‘Sisters’, as well as “Rabbit Pie’ – a song allegedly based lyrically on the wartime favourite ‘Run Rabbit Run’ – ‘so don’t let your life stand still / or you too could end up in a rabbit pie.’
"We've had a bit of constructive criticism over it. Some of our songs are fairly melodic and I think we ought to develop that more. There's nowt wrong with a melody when all's said and done. It can be weird. It can be whatever you want."
The single combining 'Row the Boat Ashore' with ‘Poison’ - shows this development already, but for what it's worth, a track called 'Athena' - even now emerging on a Belgian compilation EP - sounds a stone classic to these jaded ears. When they do it live it's chorus-chant is instantly memorable, yet it's after burn hints at more subtle energies.
Cabaret Voltaire once defined Sheffield for me as a ‘negative influence’ being a recession-blitzed steel town where nothing ever happens it provided a vacuum that they had to fill. But "there's plenty to do in Barnsley," asserts Martin, in a kind of deadpan Party Day send up line I'm now attuned to. "You can go and watch the football. Or get pissed. It depends." But he did neither. "I knew when I was about six that I was gonna form a group. That was my ambition." And through various evolutionary personnel shifts, tonight is the logical end product of that ambition.
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