Special thanks to Dirk Horst for contributing the vast majority of these articles.
Darling Buds; Failure (The Roxy; 450 capacity; $16 top) Daily Variety December 29, 1992 by Troy J. Augusto
Promoted by Avalon. Bands: Darling Buds: Andrea Lewis, Harley Farr, Matt Gray, Chris McDonough, Jimmy Hughes; Failure: Ken Andrews, Greg Edwards, Robert Gauss. Reviewed Dec. 21, 1992.
Pale-tressed Andrea Lewis led the five-piece Darling Buds through an energetic and satisfying hourlong set of razor-sharp, guitar-driven rock that managed to bridge the gap between sweet pop melodies and angst-filled, punk-rooted shouts.
The Welsh band ended its U.S. tour with the Roxy at only half-capacity, but filled the room with wave after wave of tales of all that love is--finding it, keeping it, losing it.
In Madonna's world, erotica means something cold, calculated and emotionless. But on "Erotica," the third album from Chaos/Columbia and Darling Buds, listeners learn, much to their relief, that eroticism is rooted in love, sadness, commitment, isolation and desire. Not so much blind ambition as blonde affection.
The punky "Isolation," the obsessive "Long Day in the Universe" and "Please Yourself," which sounded like British group Ride, were examples of the Darling Buds at their best. The dual fuzzy guitar attack of Harley Farr and new member Matt Gray kept most of the songs from being too syrupy.
Lewis' vocals weren't always perfect, but she does have stage flair and relates well to her audience.
The biggest weakness of the band is that, even in a short set, many of the songs begin to sound much too similar. Lewis, with all of her stage buoyancy, sometimes fails to deliver the heavy emotion required of the songs she sings.
Opening act Failure certainly didn't live up to its name, instead offering a modestly engaging L.A. style of grunge (the band apparently prefers the term "sludge"), with "Princess" and "Muffled Snaps" being the best tunes played. The trio's Slash/Warner Bros. debut, "Comfort," is a promising effort, as is the group's minimalist, Nirvana-inspired stage show. Musically, the sound and songwriting are very one-track and lack variety.
But given time -- and the continued popularity of the group's sound -- they could very well find themselves on a future Lollapalooza bill.
Darling Buds rise to the occasion, bury Mary's Danish - The Boston Globe November 27, 1992 by Jim Sullivan, Globe Staff
MARY'S DANISH and DARLING BUDS At: The Paradise, with Failure, Wednesday night.
At the risk of sowing the seeds of terminal discontent during just the second week of this joint Darling Buds/Mary's Danish venture - which stopped at the Paradise for a soldout show Wednesday night - we're going to declare Wales' Darling Buds one of the coolest noise/pop-rock bands of 1992 and Los Angeles' Mary's Danish one of the most predictable and pedantic.
Let the chips fall where they may.
The night-closing Mary's Danish has scored the bigger alternative-rock hit with "Leave It Alone," a bratty, punkish song that ranks in the A-1 realm of kiss-off punk/love songs via its terse intro: "Don't care what you say/Don't care what you do/Don't care what you love/Don't care care where you go/Don't care where you live," and its subsequent reiteration and angry, wrenching guitar skronk follow-up hook. Killer stuff. But the Darling Buds have roamed a more consistently inclusive, expansive, and catchy turf - one that it is as melodically inviting and psychedelically invigorating as it is lyrically agitated.
So: The Buds soared and the Mary's downed.
So it goes.
There was a great couplet sung by the Buds' Andrea Lewis in "Please Yourself:" "Once I wished I was a boy/Very soon, I changed my mind . . . I don't mind." This was set to a gliding, bittersweet melodic line. The effervescent Lewis - looking like a mid-'60s "Blowup" girl, or Valerie Perrine - later sang about a knife sinking into her heart, but delivered the tragic line with post-punk panache, coming back with a smile.
The Darling Buds lovingly plundered guitar riffs from Tommy James & the Shondells ("Crimson & Clover") and Neil Young ("Cinnamon Girl"), while still appearing fresh and raw with "It Makes No Difference," "If I Said," "Please Yourself" and others. Their Wednesday set proved to be a near-perfect meeting ground of the Jesus & Mary Chain and ABBA, a place where sweet and sour cannily collided, making peace.
For the Buds, it was a far better showing than they delivered in 1990 at Nightstage: The passion, pop and punch all joined hands and rocked out in 1992. "We're not the flavor of the month," said the Buds' Lewis, backstage, after their set, and about their third album, the one that's titled "Erotica," the same as Madonna's. "We're into Erotica as much as when we started. We just think music is really sensual. It's not just a picture, or a vice, or a positive thing. You should see our pictures."
Mary's Danish, a sextet fronted by singer-songwriter-guitarists Julie Ritter and Gretchen Seager, fell short of Wednesday night's apotheosis, stumbling into generic Led Zep mannerisms - a lumbering sound cut with country-rock maneuverings. Their late-set rendition of "Leave It Alone" boasted a flourish of fiery punk anger; yet it was overwhelmed by a surfeit of slow-moving, hard-rock riffing.
And that's the way the hour-plus set, with most songs drawn from the Danish's third "American Standard" album, evolved: Slow-crawling, bluesy, hard, punk rockers imbued with lyrical introspection and decent, countryish, female-fronted vocal leads and harmonies. Good enough, generically, to sustain a buzz, but not great enough to rise above that fray.
Failure, a Nirvanaesque trio, opened the night by mashing together heavy bass lines, damaged vocals and fragmented guitar lines into a way-too familiar sound and style.
Darling Buds of Mayhem - Lime Lizard Magazine September, 1992 Interview by Mark Sutherland
No video with the flexi we're afraid but here's a few mental images to be going on with: Paul Schofield and a sheep, Harley breast tweaking fat naked ladies and Mark Sutherland engaged in under water coitus with Vanessa Paradis. Yes, The Darling Buds are back.
If ever there was a band perfect for a time it was The Darling Buds. In happy days of the late 80s their music fizzed like a fresh bottle of Tizer, the nation swooned and they appeared everywhere from the cover of Melody Maker to Saturday morning TV. They symbolised the first days of the indie crossover, when entering the charts was a novelty not a necessity and seeing the Buds on Ghost Train was more shocking than plugging yourself into the national grid. And a lot more fun. Days long before crass commercialism mugged the independent aesthetic, when just hearing 'Burst' of 'Shame On You' on the radio could make your whole day.
After the glorious debut, the Buds' second album was the sound of a particularly excellent party being gatecrashed by a gang of surly Mancunians and turning rather sour. The odd song like 'Crystal Clear' was still so heartrendingly magnificent I had to bite my lip to stop my head from spinning but the times had changed and nothing would ever be quite the same. If anyone should be yesterday's papers it's The Darling Buds.
So how come at least half their new album makes me want to skip like a ten year old let out of school early? How come 'Sure Thing' and 'If' make me grin like a Cheshire cat on Ecstasy? How come 'Wave' and 'Isolation' are more fun than underwater sex with Vanessa Paradis? How come 'Erotica' as a whole makes me want to shin up Nelson's Column and proclaim loudly to the world that I think The Darling Buds are pretty darn marvellous?
The world won't listen, of course. No, the world will spit and snipe and snigger and slouch off to listen to Pearl Jam or Iron Maiden or whatever old toss is being served up as cool this week. The world's like that sometimes. It can be a right bastard.
Mention you're interviewing The Darling Buds and people will ask you two things "Are they still going?" and "What label are they on now?" and I'll say "Yes" and "Still on Epic" and reserved for harmless but bewildering eccentrics.
But I arrive in Newport to find Andrea (vocals) and Harley (guitars) in fine spirits and getting the beers in and willing to talk about anything from Catherine Zeta Jones to those glory days.
"We never really realised we were famous at the time cos it goes by so fast. We were gigging all the time, going places and doing things before you know it two years have gone by," says Harley.
"I'm just glad my mum and dad have got it all on video," adds Andrea.
So, did it all go horribly wrong?
"To a certain extend, yes it did."
In 1992 there's a lot more to the Buds than the hop, skip and jump of 'Pop Said'. Andrea's voice is much stronger now and a tougher, more abrasive guitar sound runs riot over 'Erotica'. Almost the Darling Buds of Mayhem, in fact.
"I think we've always been like that really. We were left alone for this album so we did what we wanted. We're much harder live, we're still quite poppy but there's lots of rough edges. We were never just a pop group," says Andrea.
"Well, pop means popular so we're definitely not one now!" laughs Harley.
Doubtless there will be those who cry Noisy Guitar Bandwagon when they hear some of the Bud's new stuff, but today's groups have reason to be grateful to the DBs.
"I think we did change things in a way. We did get in the charts, on telly, on kids' programmes when no one else could. Lots of bands do that now and it's no big deal," says Andrea.
"We'd go on these programmes and the boys would be so rude and jump around and then it would be 'Camera on' and we'd go back to licking lollipops."
"I told Philip Schofield that shagging a sheep over the edge of a cliff was better because they push back. He was quite amused I think," claims Harley.
But the 'benefits' of fame don't seem to mean much to the Buds; it's the music that matters.
"In a band you don't know what's going to happen, you're taking a risk. When I gave up my job for the band everyone told me I was an idiot but it was in me, I had to do it. One guy was leaving the same day to play professional cricket and they said to him 'Great, if you ever need to come back we'll find a place for you.' He's selling cars now, finding life difficult. I don't find life difficult cos I'm still making that decision, making my life turn around. I'm still here drinking," says Harley.
Good point. The lager's flowing and things are getting frivolous, a process that will end in missed trains, Bryan Adams covers and hangovers. But that's another story. Instead, let's explore the Buds' idea of erotica.
"People always have their own perception on it. Matt, our new guitarist, sees it as a medical term, but I think of it as classical Rubenesque paintings," says Andrea.
"Fat naked ladies, that's what it was in those days. With small breasts and someone always tweaking them," smirks Harley.
Andrea regards her cohort disparagingly. "Now I know what job you'd have gone for in the 17th century; breast tweaker at the back."
"No, music is erotic though. Do you get songs that are so good they make you shiver?" asks Harley.
Oh God yes. Why else would I be writing about music?
"Exactly, I mean, how many times has sex made your back tingle? Never for me. Music does it all the time."
Has the tingle gone out of pop? There's a PhD thesis in there somewhere, but in the meantime The Darling Buds are trying their damndest to put it back. In full bloom.
Sure Thing review - Melody Maker August 29, 1992 by Mark and Derry from EMF
Mark: Nice song. Predictable chord changes, but nice.
Derry: I was never really into these blonde bands. The Primitives were a bit more thrashy, though. But this isn't really going to stick its head up, not with what's going on in music at the moment. It's not going to get anyone's attention.
Mark: But I don't think they should necessarily give up.
Derry: That's what you want us to say, isn't it? Andrea Darling Buds should go and work in a bank. But we're not going to.
Darling Buds from Wales are coming into bloom - The Associated Press, February 8, 1991 by Mary Campbell
When the Darling Buds got together in Wales, what similar pop bands were around?
None, say the Darling Buds.
Singer Andrea Lewis and guitarist Harley Farr had started writing songs together. She saw a newspaper ad for musicians to play local gigs; she phoned, and bassist Chris McDonagh answered. It was the only call he had.
The quartet, which has released its second Columbia Records album, "Crawdaddy," is from Caerleon, near Newport in the south of Wales. Jimmy Hughes, who replaced the original drummer, is from Liverpool.
Lewis says that soon after playing a few times in Newport, "I moved to London, and Harley went abroad with a different band. At Christmas time we all got back. Chris got in touch: Would we do a gig again? We rehearsed a couple of days, did the gig.
"Harley was right into it. He decided a little recording we had done should be released on vinyl. We did that. We sent it to John Peel, a radio person on BBC Radio One. He loved it and played it right away."
Peel invited them to play something well known in Britain as a "Peel session." Lewis says, "You go in and perform and they broadcast it." Farr says, "It was all go from there."
When they started, says Farr, "We had hundreds of gigs. We played all the time, all over the country, traveling places to play, losing money."
Those dues-paying, fan-building days are recent enough to be strong in memory.
The street band Farr had been with had a van. He bought it from them for the Darling Buds. "It was permanently breaking down," Farr says. "We had to push it several times."
"It broke down on our way to Newcastle," Lewis says. "We sat in a service station. We knew the band we were playing with was called Culture Shock. We didn't know them.
"We were feeling miserably sorry for ourselves. A group of people walked in. It was Culture Shock. We said, 'We're supporting you.' They said, 'You can all get in our van.' We actually made the gig. We thought we'd miss it."
After the second Peel session in September 1987, Native Records signed the Darling Buds.
"Just before Christmas, we went into the studio," Lewis says. "We recorded six songs in four days. About March 1988, the first single of that session came out, 'Shame on You.' It got into the Top 5 of independent charts in Britain and started to do very well on some European radio stations as well. We released the second single then, 'It's All Up to You.' That got to No. 1 in a few charts, Sweden and Spain. Melody Maker put us on the front cover.
"It was like our second single busted everything for us. John Peel carried on playing us. We did an all-night festival in Spain, went on at 5 in the morning. It was still packed. They were going for it. We walked off stage and it's like dawn."
When they got back to England, they found their record distribution company was out of business. "A lot of independent bands had unreleased material," Lewis says. "We were in the fortunate position there were major companies interested in us. We wanted to stay independent at the time, to keep more control. We probably wouldn't have released anything for months.
"We finally decided to go with Columbia in the summer of 1988 and went straight into the studio to start our first album." Everything on that album, "Pop Said," was new except "Shame on You."
They feel that their music now is of higher quality than "pop" implies and that it's still improving.
At that time, Farr says, "We were all skint, penniless. Because we enjoyed doing it, we carried on doing it."
"We were borrowing money," says Lewis. "We would prefer to do the gig and lose money. We'd drive, get 50 quid for petrol somehow."
"We had lots of T-shirts done," says Farr. "Andrea used to go around with a box with T-shirts, records and badges, like ice cream ladies in movie theaters, to get our money home."
It was fun, Lewis says. "It was hard work," declares Farr. "Even now, I could get more money with a 9-to-5 job somewhere."
McDonagh, who has a degree in applied statistics, was earning more before, as a computer programmer.
Farr's parents were schoolteachers. "They thought education was the most important thing in the world," he says. "They weren't too keen to start with."
"They're dead keen now," Lewis adds.
The band's idea when they started was that a guitar should sound like a guitar, Farr says. They did the songs that he and Lewis wrote, with only one non-Buds song a night. "Love Me Tender" was a favorite of the fans, Lewis says.
Their name comes from "darling buds of May," which they later learned is in a Shakespeare sonnet. They knew it was the title of a book. "The book is about a family enjoying everything in life," Farr says. "I thought it summed up what we were doing. The music was happy and bouncy, enjoying everything."
Farr says they listened to a lot of 1960s music. Lewis adds: "I think we modernized it. It doesn't sound like it stepped out of the '60s. It's got our own label on it." Farr adds that he started buying records in the punk rock era and was inspired by that, too. "We just plug our guitars in and play." Farr says. "We don't sit and analyze it."
Crawdaddy: The Darling Buds on Columbia Records, The Tech, MIT, January 23, 1991 by Sande Chen
ALTHOUGH THEY HAVE had little impact in England, the darling buds have caused quite a stir here in the States. Their second album, Crawdaddy, with singles "Crystal Clear," "Tiny Machine" and "It Makes No Difference," has garnered considerable success, showcasing their particular brand of cloying light pop music.
The young band attributes their newfound success to past experiences. Guitarist Harley Farr explained in a recent interview on a New York radio station, "After recording the first album, we sort of saw the mistakes that we'd made. We knew what we wanted to do. With the first album, it was all drum machine. The drums were put down, and then Chris would put the bass down, and then I'd go in and I'd record my guitar through a Walkman and all the guitar sounds were exactly the same, and then Andrea would sing the vocals, so everything was sort of too det det det det det det....
"There was no feeling, no emotion. It was all done very quickly, and we thought when we come to record the next album, we'd try to take a better time out. For start, we'd play it live, because we're basically a live band, and we'd try to get more emotion, we'll use some more variation on the instruments, and things like that. In a way, it was a progression. I wouldn't call it maturity, just a progression. I suppose, yeah, if we did the second album exactly the same, we would have died."
Indeed, from the beginning guitar riffs of "it makes no difference " to the last verse of "the end of the beginning," this is a well-executed album. It is complete in the sense that the band succeeded in what they set out to do. However, there could have been more exploration. They sound like the Primitives.
"Crystal Clear," "It Makes No Difference," and "Honeysuckle" deserve attention. "So Close" carefully avoids the seraphic birdsong arias that have plagued other female vocalists (witness Lush); instead, it is tender and touching, full of emotion. The only slight disappointment is "You Won't Make Me Die," which begins to waver in the direction of inspiring drivel a la Tiffany, but even that isn't so frightful. The other songs on the album are also worth noting.
With such a welcome start, no doubt the darling buds will continue to progress to bigger and brighter avenues.
Copyright 1991 by The Tech. All rights reserved. This story was originally published on Wednesday, January 23, 1991. Volume 110, Number 60. The story was printed on page 7. This article may be freely distributed electronically, provided it is distributed in its entirety and includes this notice, but may not be reprinted without the express written permission of The Tech. Write to email@example.com for additional details.
Darling Buds: The bloom is off outside the studio - The Boston Globe, December 5, 1990 by Jim Sullivan, Globe Staff
MUSIC REVIEW THE DARLING BUDS At: Nightstage with 9 Ways to Sunday, Monday night
The Darling Buds, a clever, crafty, diffidently exuberant band fronted by singer Andrea Lewis and hailing from South Wales, have painted themselves into a rather dicey corner: They've made two superb pop albums, including "Crawdaddy," one of this critic's 1990 Top Ten contenders, but they're nowhere near the live band their discs suggest they might be.
Or, at least they weren't Monday night at Nightstage, an early date on their first US tour. They exhibited more than a few common traits of numerous, so-called "baby bands" - in sum, they're not quite there.
The Darling Buds' hour-long set was often tentative (from presentation to between-song chat), and while their pure pop pleasures were in evidence, they were muted. That is, what was full of defiance and verve, bursting with sparkling hooks in the studio - aided ably on "Crawdaddy" by producer Stephen Street - was just partially there in concert. The Buds still had the defiance, some of the verve and all of the hooks - but their attack had little of the body, edge, expansiveness and psychedelic splashiness of their recorded work. It seemed tame and overly formal, yet perhaps not entirely their fault.
Lewis' voice was, to borrow a title from one of their better songs, crystal clear, but the quintet's volume was toned down. Moreover, the Buds were faced with the dilemma of how to compensate for the alluring, lush, high vocal harmonies rendered in the studio - courtesy of a multi-tracked Lewis - in a live setting. Guitarist Harley Farr tried at times, but the whole thing couldn't help sound thin. Their concert recalled the old Deborah Harry-and-Blondie conundrum, though Lewis was on-key much more than Harry usually was. Both Harry and Lewis need backing vocals in concert.
This set wasn't dreadful, just disappointing in comparison to their recorded music. An attractive blonde in black, Lewis spins an entrancing weave: part come-on, part kiss-off. She'll "Catch You When You Fall"; she'll wonder why you keep breaking her heart; she'll be "falling and laughing . . . till I hit the ground"; she'll declare that "You Won't Make Me Die"; and, ultimately, decide "It Makes No Difference," sighing over and over that she "feels nothing." This, mind you, was all within the context of wondrous pop songcraft and rendered during the first half of the set. But the romantic-smart stance wasn't matched by the musical muscle.
The semi-breakthrough came near the end when New Order's "Temptation" flowed out of the Buds' "Take My Breath Away." Here, Lewis let rip with the delayed chorus - "Up, down, turn around/Please don't let me hit the ground/Tonight I think I'll walk alone/I'll find my soul as I go home!" - and the introspective musicians found a grungier groove and wilder mode. They carried that a bit further on their own, but exited and left you wanting more. Not more songs, exactly, but a more realized concept of flesh-and-blood passion.
The New York band 9 Ways to Sunday opened with a mixed bag of low-key tricks. They, too, were soft and muted, but their languid, gently buzzing, Eno-esque guitar lines were more suited to the sound. They covered Roxy Music's "Mother of Pearl," and endured a catcall of "How dare you?!" from one punk. They dared and succeeded, stripping the song of Bryan Ferry's cabaret attitude, scrambling verses, and building on the nervousness and the rhythmic groove. The band tailed off toward the end, but their subtle, hypnotic sound had promise.
The Darling Buds blossom in their second album - The Boston Globe December 1, 1990 by Jim Sullivan, Globe Staff
Don't pity the Darling Buds. They've got a stunning second album out now called "Crawdaddy," and it's a delightful slab of punk-pop-psychedelia that pushes all the right buttons. They're on the eve of their first American tour, which touches down at Nightstage in Cambridge Monday night. Their producer, Stephen Street (also the producer of the Smiths and Morrissey) makes noises about them like this: "They manage to be dirty but sexy and sleek at the same time. Singer Andrea Lewis and guitarist Harley Farr are destined to become the Chris Stein and Debbie Harry of the '90s!"
But the Darling Buds almost got lost in the dirty old pop shuffle. Back in 1988, the Buds made "Pop Said . . .," one of the most acclaimed debut albums of the year - at least in their native England - and were readying to embark upon an American tour. Then . . . disaster . . .fallout.
"We meant to come over quite a few times in the past," says Lewis, on the phone from San Francisco, "but we had a different management company that was really dreadful. And every time they came over to America to set up a tour they just got drunk all the time and didn't organize anything for us, even though we had people on the phone saying 'Oh do what you can - we just want to see the band!'"
Instead, the band did nothing and the album, in America anyway, died on the vine. Their drummer left, exasperated. It could have been the end of a very short story.
Rather, this story has a second chapter (as well as a new drummer, Jimmy Hughes) and it reveals a tougher, denser, more hard-hitting Darling Buds. Some credit for that goes to producer Street. The strong, mid-'60s-derived pop instincts are still there - Lewis lists the Beatles and Rolling Stones of that era as primary sources - but the band has a harder edge. "It Makes No Difference," the leadoff track, is a blistering, if blase, kiss-off to a lover; "Do You Have to Break My Heart" asks that steely question as it is accompanied by a bouncy melodic arrangement; "You Won't Make Me Die" is a strong declarative statement about surviving a breakup. The exuberant joy of earlier tracks such as "Spin" and "Let's Go Round There" is somewhat muted.
"I got fed up with writing about nicey-nice things all the time," says Lewis. "My life wasn't a lot of nicey-nice because of what was happening with our management. Things weren't running smoothly and I had some bitter, nasty things to say. I was writing how I was feeling. At this point, I'm definitely more streetwise to the music industry. You don't trust half as many people as you did when you started."
Lewis says she transferred those negative feelings about the industry into the context of love songs. Harley, influenced by first-generation pop-punk bands like the Undertones and the Stranglers, wrote the bulk of the music. Now, Lewis stresses, the songs are not all true tales of her own offstage life. "All our songs are about love," she says, "and if all my songs were about my own experience I'd be in a mental home, a really screwed-up woman."
The Darling Buds surfaced as part of England's "blonde wave" that includes the Primitives, Transmission Vamp and the Heart Throbs, among others. Naturally, the English press extolled them, and then pitted them against one another. "When it started happening," Lewis says, "it was nice to be written about, but we knew we weren't just another band like the Primitives or Blondie. We're all very different bands. I can't say I dislike the Primitives because that would be a lie. It's everyone else that tries to make it look like we're all at each other's throats."
Live review at The Waterfront Norwich (supported by the Bardots) - Melody Maker December 1, 1990 by Iam McGregor
Then it's the turn of The Darling Buds, and the question is, "Do they know what time it is ?". The first song leaves the living dead unmoved. But after a sly cuss from Andrea, they wake up and get on down, all spectacles on Andrea. Spinning reds, yellows and blues reflect off the ceiling ducting and the area fizzes with sparkly pop brightness.
The new songs seem to have a looser beat and a tighter guitar. Andrea looks radiant, Harley looks seriously worth considering and the bass player looks like a Macc Lad. A cover of New Orders "Temptation", "Burst" and much indie shake and thrash fizz along before tonight folds in on itself. It's 11.00.
The Darling Buds - Spiral Scratch Magazine November 1990 by Tim Eames
How do you judge a great pop group? Some people would say a band who gradually build up support and then go on to reel off a string of successful albums over a number of years, like say the Rolling Stones or U2. Other s may cite a band like the Beatles, whose records are arguably as popular today as they were when first released. I tend to prefer bands who are maybe only around for a few years and only manage a couple of albums and a handful of singles but for that short time have that certain something that makes them shine brighter than the competition. And that's how I'd like to remember the Darling Buds in the years to come. Live their roots were so obviously set in Punk, but they managed to exude such a joyous enthusiasm for their music that was second to none.
I first came across them one evening in 1987 whilst listening to Radio One. Janice Long was preparing to interview the band of the moment, the Beastie Boys and preceded them with the debut single by a band I'd never heard of before. 'If I Said' blaring out of a little mono speaker sounded wonderful and from then on I was in love. Looking back, I'd rate that song alongside the likes of the Jesus & Mary Chain's 'Never Understand' and Primal Scream's 'Velocity Girl' as the best of the decade. That was the start of the Darling Buds proper, but as is often the case, they nearly didn't even get that far!
Like many successful songwriting partnerships, that of the Darling Buds grew out of a previously long standing friendship. Andrea Lewis and Gerrait Farr more commonly known as Harley Davidson (on account of having a father who was a former Hell's Angel!), both attended the same school in Caerleon, South Wales. Though it was to be several years before the two of them began writing songs together. Both left school not really knowing what they wanted to do. Harley got a job in a factory and Andrea worked briefly as a nanny.
Bored with his job as an apprentice engineer, Harley jumped at the chance of a job in a local recording studio. Though the nature of his work made him a general dogsbody or teaboy, it did have the perk of cheap use of the studio. At this time, Harley played bass in a band who were rather unimaginatively named The Party. They had a dark, moody image, dressed in black clothes and played Joy Division and Velvet Underground covers. Unfortunately they weren't interested in Harley's self penned songs, regarding them as too pop orientated, so his songwriting career was put on hold for the time being. That is, until a chance meeting with Andrea some weeks later, when she agreed to sing on a demo tape he had recorded on his portastudio. The results were pleasing, so much so that they decided to form a band. First a name was needed and this time a more imaginative one than The Party was looked for. Harley's parents' bookshelf was used for inspiration and a book by H E Bates came to the attention. The book was called The Darling Buds Of May and the band now had a name they liked: The Darling Buds.
Studio time was booked in order to record the three songs Andrea and Harley had written and in two sessions in May and June 1986, 'If I Said', 'Just To Be Seen' and 'Mary's Got To Go' were recorded. Also around this time, Andrea saw an advert in a local newspaper looking for bands who were wanting to play in Newport. Having contacted the organisers (one of whom was Chris, later to play bass for the Buds), a gig was arranged for the following week. This took Harley somewhat by surprise, as they only had three songs, no bass player and a temperamental drum machine! Thankfully, Harley's best friend Simon, who had played on the studio session, agreed to play live dates for them as well. The Darling Buds' first public performance took place at El Seico's in Newport on 24th June, 1986. Six songs were played - the three already recorded ones, a new song 'I Couldn't Remember' (written by Harley and Andrea in the week prior to the gig), plus cover versions of the Cramps' 'Human Fly' and 'Femme Fatale' by the Velvet Underground. Although the drum machine behaved as though it had a mind of it's own, the audience reaction was favourable enough to give them the incentive to play again.
Further local gigs were arranged and from the second one onwards the band had a permanent drummer; Bloss had played in one of the other bands on the bill at the Buds first gig and was persuaded to replace the out of favour drum machine. Bloss also being cheaper than his battery heavy computer counterpart.
During the summer of '86 the band was put on hold while Harley and Bloss went busking abroad. At the turn of the year though the Darling Buds reformed and set about their plans for world domination.
Due to the ominous mountain of demo tapes the average DJ or record company receives, they reckoned on having more chance of getting heard and noticed if they put two songs from the demo tape out as a self financed single instead. 'Just To Be Seen' and 'If I Said' were chosen and the master tapes sent off (ironically to CBS, who the Buds would later sign a major label deal through) to be pressed into a 7" single, with a run of 2000 copies. The possibility of an ultimate Darling Buds collectors item were dashed when Andrea left the only test pressing on the back seat of a car and the sun melted it beyond recognition. The single was issued as a double A-side on the bands' own Darling Label (the label's only release) and officially released on Friday 13th (!) March 1987. A distribution real with Revolver of Bristol ensured that the record was relatively easily available nationwide. Copies were sent to night time Radio One DJs John Peel and Janice Long and to the music press. The decision to release a record rather than send out demo tapes paid off, with John Peel playing the flip side. So a decision to make it a double A-side seemed a good one as well. The music weeklies were similarly impressed. Melody Maker's Mick Mercer describing 'If I Said' as "Brilliant! Tullulah Gosh on meths", while Rodger Holland of Sounds perfectly summed up the record's appeal with his review: "'Just To Be Seen' is standard John Peel fare circa the 1981 girl group boom boom, but 'If I Said' is slower, better arranged and perfectly, precisely wonderful." Many fanzine writers also rushed headlong into praising the band to the hilt, but the Buds popularity as yet remained on a small level, with the single eventually selling out more than a year later. Impressed by the debut single, John Peel invited the Darling Buds to record a session for his radio programme. This was recorded on the 1st of April 1987 and broadcast later on the same month. The session is of special interest, as it includes the track 'I Couldn't Remember', which has not subsequently been released on vinyl. The John Peel session helped introduce the Buds to a wider audience, bringing with it the offer of various gigs up and down the country. Constant gigging and the willingness to play anywhere and everywhere that would have them, played an important part in building up support for the band. Early concerts in the far North of England may have only been attended by a handful of people, but the numbers would increase substantially each time they went back to play there again. Sometimes the enthusiastic demand was such that the encores would consist of five or six songs which had already been played in the main set!
Also around this time 'Spin' was recorded and released on a flexi disc given free with Norwich based So Naive fanzine. It was backed with the track 'If Only' by Bubblegum Splash, a band who were at the time in a similar position to the Buds, having released one single for an independent label. As the number of gigs the band were asked to play increased, this brought a problem for Simon, who was finding it increasingly hard to get time off work. As he needed a regular income to pay off a newly acquired mortgage, he was reluctantly forced to leave the band. A replacement was found fairly easily. Chris had played guitar for a number of local hardcore bands around Newport and had helped to organise the Darling Buds first gig. He readily agreed to be the band's new bass player and played his first gig with them in Port Talbot two days later.
Autumn 1987 brought another Radio One session for the heavily converted John Peel, who commented at the time: "There are a lot of bands around at the moment making a similar sound, but the Darling Buds I prefer to most of them."
In September the Buds signed their first record deal, to South Yorkshire based Native records. It was a deal that would lead to large record sales and a high showing in the independent chart, eventually leading to a major label deal, but also a contract that in the long run would prove difficult to get out of.
The first half of 1988 saw the Buds playing mainly pub and club venues up and down the country at regular intervals, averaging around two gigs per week. In between times Andrea and Harley found time to write a few new songs and used some of Native's money in the studio, eventually recording six tracks. These were released on two singles in March and May, with three songs coming out on each 12".
'Shame On You' was chosen as the first single and sold fairly well, getting the Buds into the independent chart for the first time. It also sold well in Europe, even though it was available only on import. In Spain it even reached number fifteen in the national chart, which by the Spanish by radio system meant it got played every hour!
IN THE PAPERS
Acclaim in the UK however, remained on a smaller scale. Coverage in the national music press was shortly to change. Towards the end of March the Darling Buds played at Kennington Cricketers in London and witnessed by Melody Maker's Chris Roberts (who had been largely responsible for breaking the Primitives a few months earlier). He proceeded to give them a rave review and within a month the Buds were given a Melody Maker front cover and a full two page article. A second front cover followed in June, by which time the other music weeklies had started to give the band similar attention.
The second single for Native, 'It's All Up To You' was backed with a low budget, but none the less imaginative promotional video, directed by former Slits' member Viv Alberine. It enabled the Buds to be given their first airing on British national television when it was shown on ITV's The Chart Show. There was also a limited edition numbered gatefold 7" issued, which included the version of 'Spin' from the So Naive flexi as an additional track.
As audiences grew and their two Native singles scaled the indie charts, major labels began to take notice. The Darling Buds eventually signing to CBS subsidiary Epic in June 1988. It was a deal whereby they were still signed to Native, but the records would be marketed by Epic. Thus, a larger budget would be available would be available for recording and promotion, whilst artistic control was kept, due to Native having the final say over what was released.
On June 17th the Darling Buds played their first overseas concert, at Valencia Barraca Club in Spain. Billed as a festival titled The Conjuring Of Dances, the whole event was bizarre to say the least. Also featuring the Corn Dollies, the Waltones and The Man From Delmonte, the 2000 capacity event was sold out weeks in advance. The whole show, including band interviews, Spanish dancing and trapeze acts between sets, was broadcast live on Spanish radio and television. The Buds finally went on stage at 4 AM, after having consumed the mountain of free drink provided by the promoter.
On returning to Britain the band then undertook a short five date tour supporting the Wonderstuff, before preparing for their first major tour which was to coincide with the release of their next single.
Their first release on Epic, 'Burst', though being on a major label brought with it a multitude of limited editions and special formats and also opened up the foreign market for collectors. 'Burst' was the first Darling Buds record to be released overseas, as well as in the UK. European pressings of the various Epic singles are fairly easily available from countries such as Spain, Holland and Germany, These can be picked up for around £4 for 7" and £7 for 12" issues.
'Burst' was by any measure a great pop song. Bouncy enough for daytime radio and with a killer chorus sure to get all but the most lifeless soul singing along. Aided by a plethora of promotion in terms of music press adverts and interviews, a video to go with the single and the Buds first appearance (on Saturday morning children's programme The Wide Awake Club!) it just failed to dent the Top 40, peaking just a few places outside it. A limited gatefold sleeved 7" was issued with a much altered "Slightlydelic" version of 'Shame On You' as an extra track.
'Hit The Ground' was released as an immediate follow up and this time the Buds entered the national charts at number 33. An appearance on Top Of The Pops ensued, a nice gesture to those who were ready to write the band off as no hopers in the early stages. The Darling Buds were now at the forefront of the resurgence of British guitar based rock music, along with bands like The Wedding Present, The Wonderstuff and The House Of Love. Readers of NME voted them third best new band in their end of year poll and 'Shame On you' featured in John Peel's Festive Fifty listeners chart.
An official fan club was set up early on in 1989, under the name of Perfick. All new members received a flexi disc containing live versions of 'Valentine' and 'That's The Reason', recorded at Bournmouth Academy the previous year.
POP SAID POP SAID
In February 1989 the Buds long awaited debut LP was finally released. The album was originally to have been called Pop Art, but this idea was dashed when Transvision Vamp used the same name for their debut album. The retitled Pop Said contained twelve tracks, including the last two singles, plus another previous single 'Shame On You'. Pop Said was a cover to cover collection of timeless pop songs and as ever with The Darling Buds, had not a filler in sight. The music press were by now unanimously converted and the album was branded a classic by more than one writer. In fact, the only real criticism that could be argued is that of over production. In a few cases this gave the new songs a feel of too much polish and not enough spit, whereas a more basic, rougher live sound would have suited the songs better.
'Let's Go Round There' was lifted from the LP as a single the following month and as has been The Darling Buds policy, was backed with unreleased material on the B-side. Whilst the A-side was slower and something of a departure from previous singles, 'Turn You On' and 'Different Daze' were yet more examples of effortlessly fine sparkling pop which could have quite easily passed as A-sides themselves. As usual, several limited edition versions of the single were issued. There was a yellow vinyl version on 7" and a laser etched 12" with the three tracks on one side and a flower etched into the vinyl on the other side. Perhaps the most interesting though was a gatefold 7" which included a "flip flop" version (ie slower and over a hip hop type drum beat) of 'It's All Up To You'.
After a rare couple of months break, in June the band set off on a short tour of Europe, taking in Holland, Germany, France and Spain. A further LP track was released as a single in July, 'You've Got to Choose' being the song chosen. The B-side saw the long overdue release of the excellent live favourite 'Mary's Got To Go', whilst the 12" boasted an additional new track 'I'll Never Stop'. A short five date UK club tour accompanied the single's release, before the Buds played to their largest ever audience - at Cardiff Arms Park as support to Simple Minds!
A larger tour followed in October where several new songs were aired, even though there was no new vinyl released to coincide. A feature of the live shows at this time was the addition of a rhythm guitarist, introduced as Gringo from Barcelona. Apparently he had persuaded the band to let him play with them whilst in Spain and they hadn't been able to get rid of him afterwards! The turn of the year was spent in the studio, recording a new single and material for a second LP. During these sessions the band underwent a change in line up when Bloss vacated the drum stool in order to become the band's new manager. A replacement was readily found in Jimmy Hughes, who had previously drummed for Black, the Christians and the Icicle Works. The first fruits of the recording sessions surfaced in May 1990. 'Tiny Machine' was chosen as the new single and backed by more experimental tracks which were generally not as strong as previous material. Perhaps a somewhat surprising choice as single, considering last year's live shows had included several seemingly more obvious choices. It was not much of a surprise therefore when it failed to chart.
The second album 'Crawdaddy' has just been released to the expected acclaim and the Buds next moves are eagerly awaited.
Live review at Leicester University - New Musical Express November 10, 1990 by Stephen Dalton
Pop stars who smile and mean it are a highly cherishable, dying breed. Andrea Bud chats to the crowd, reads out birthday requests and generally comes over all chummy and sincere for the Leicester fans. Which might explain why these former chart guests and indie pop figureheads are back playing draughty student halls and poxy little clubs instead of arenas.
The Darling Buds' recent dip in popularity has nothing to do with and lots to do with fashion. Early in tonight's set they hammer out favourites from their hysterically praised first album, still sounding stiff and stodgy. Then they flow into the dance informed fluidity of their cruelly under rated and vastly superior new LP, complete with psychedelic light and film backdrop and it all makes perfect (pop) sense.
Their main problem, of course, is not being very rock'n'roll, which is fine by me - we've got more than enough clueless young men trying on phoney attitudes and accents, thank you very much. You just know Harley's revved up riffing on 'Burst' and 'Hit The Ground' comes from riding a moped around Newport and Andrea's arms akimbo dancing has been perfected at her local rugby club disco instead of during wild crack orgies with NWA.
Consequently these rock poses seem mannered and unnecessary, especially when the recent tunes like 'So Close' and 'A Little Piece Of Heaven' display an elastic momentum and dreamy sultriness missing from the early hits.
Powered by these gushing grooves and daringly raunchy lyrics, the Buds steam into late evening with renewed confidence and shimmering grandeur. Even old B-sides like 'Turn You On' get the funky Midas touch, but their most inspired move is transplanting a huge chunk of New Order's 'Temptation' into 'It's All Up To You'.
And yes, the kids are dancing.
Live review at Liverpool Polytechnic - Record Mirror October 20 1990 by Melissa Blease
Male first year students visibly swoon as Andrea Darling bounces onstage flaunting her trademark swishy blondness and chucking flowers at the crowd. The light show kicks into trippy psychedelic action and three guitars roll happily into the noisy jingle-jangle that is essential Bud.
In these days of baggy pants, boring anoraks and thumping dancefloor mayhem, there are still some bands who believe pop rules and guitars are fun. And by gum, this is one of them.
The Darling Buds are a painless experience: pretty to watch and sweet on the ears. Uncomplicated, they're fresh and innocent, quirky, danceable and popping. New material from the album 'Crawdaddy' provides a blast of maturity amongst all the early dreamier stuff. 'It Makes No Difference' and 'Do You Have To Break My Heart' make the album a must have and the live show groovy. But old faves are real highlights even 'It's All Up To You' sounds fresh as a full bloom daisy and 'Hit The Ground' encourages some insane stage diving stunts, appropriately.
All in all, it's a bouncy night, with any occasional verges on the bland forgivable purely because it's admirable to see a band who aren't just giving into current trends and are playing by their own swirly rules. Pop rules - OK?
Live review at The Bierkeller Bristol - Melody Maker October 13, 1990 by Chris Roberts
Andrea Lewis' earliest memory is of being told to sing "Little Donkey" in the school play at the age of five, while wearing a dress with red camels on it and banging two halves of a coconut together to make clip clop noises. Another little girl, thus relegated to playing Joseph or a wise man or something, grumbled, "You're not very good, you're not". Andrea turned on her ferociously "Listen you, if it wasn't for me you wouldn't even be on this stage". Born pop star, or what?
Strange how the bold brave men of the music press queue up to kick little girls when it's fashionable. I especially respect the ones who breathlessly stuttered that the Darling Buds' first album was a pop classic but now twist themselves into knots so as not to appear faithfully unbaggy in front of their equally trendy sheep like colleagues. Probably something to do with diminutive genitals, subsequent insecurity.
Anyway the Buds seem to be as hip as harikiri right now, which of course, sends those of genuine artistic temperament such as myself racing off to defend them, there being no invitations to a Spanish civil war in the postbox. Little is quite so glamorous as a defiant lost course. In Bristol, backs against the wall, the Buds burn with such a simple clarity of vision and purpose that I am compelled to compare them to Ernest Hemingway. Ernie would say "Write the best you can and write it as straight as you can". Andrea sings "If it's real, really real, you say that it's real". You see my indisputable point.
The honest and seamless matching of intention to execution would be clinical were it not for priceless vulnerability. As their song writing and sense of dynamics improve (the guitar crazy "Crawdaddy" album has as much to do as Mancdance as tigresses have to do with water buffalo), the overall buzz that is the Buds live keeps its essential rough exuberance and persuasive conviction.
The light show may be the most psychedelic in christendom (I spend half the gig squinting and Harley has trouble locating his hands on the guitar) but the seductive hums of "Fall" and "Tiny machine" and razorblade rotations of "Lets Go Round There" still fizz ingenuously. "Makes No Difference" is a jagged jewel the Pixies would relish. "So Close" is a warm cleansing wave of yearning and rapture. Anyone claiming otherwise is placing sheaves of sixth form theories over their ears.
Again like Hemingway, and I've never been more serious, The Darling Buds emit great shooting star moments from the solid slender splendour. Tonight these are several, and as customary to the Buds as falling off a log. The one that puts napalm in your heart is surely the second when you realise "If I Said" ( their first and most skeletal single) has mutated into New Orders "Temptation", and they can't! They can! "Oh you've got grey eyes, oh you've got blue eyes." This is more of a spine kidnapper than I can possibly convey. Suddenly Andrea has forgotten to be all jolly and friendly and self effacing and this band is a very serious and venomous proposition. They're are chewing up the flak and spitting fire.
Great blondes don't die, they just unnerve academics. This was. dauntless. Earth may be full of dumb schmucks but Heaven loves The Darling Buds.
Crystal Clear review - New Musical Express October 6, 1990 by Jack Barron
Thinking about it, didn't we go through some silly moments in the '80s? One of the silliest had to be the glut of bands fronted by women who all had a severe dose of Blondie in their formative years but had neither the charisma not the voice to match. Did Andrea Bud fall from this branch? Who knows? Mind you, the catalogue number for this record is blond 6, which is perhaps more interesting than the music.
Crawdaddy review - New Musical Express October 6, 1990 by Steve Lamacq
The Darling Buds' long overdue second LP starts with the gorgeously tense 'It Makes No Difference', a surprisingly Pixies-esque fuse-wire spite song that fizzes its way into your consciousness. Sadly, that's also where the surprises end. 'Crawdaddy' is disappointing, wandering record, born out of the Buds' year in the wilderness.
It's an example of how fast pop has moved in the past two years that The Darling Buds, 18 months (but who's counting?) after their last LP, return sounding so out of time. That's not a crime itself, but this record feels like a halfway album: a mix of their old shiny Blonde simplicity and '60s influenced crossover pop.
'Crawdaddy', which isn't half as mean and grungey as the title suggests, is a weird collection of psychedelic influences, pop tit-bits and half good ideas. Where their debut 'Pop Said' was a bittersweet, simplistic, punchy record, this is the dazed follow-up. It sounds like it's trying to make up for lost time.
If you imagine their 'Let's Go Round There' single a year and a half on, this is where you end up. Strangely off beam. The Buds have tried very hard on 'Crawdaddy', paying a lot of attention to detail which was missing on their 'Pop Said' debut. But really that's not the problem - no matter how much Mr. Sheen you apply to tracks like 'Fall' and 'A Little Bit Of Heaven' they'd still be bits of old tat.
Amid all this, though, there are some flashes of beauty, including 'Honeysuckle', the spacey 'So Close' and the bursting, berating 'Do You Have To Break My Heart'. But in the end it's a too incomplete, too pedestrian record - despite Andrea's lyrical efforts - to denote a great album. Grown up yes, but dazzling no.
Crawdaddy review - Sounds October 6, 1990 by Paul Mardles
'Pop Said', you won't watch me growing old and hairy.
The Darling buds have always embodied the imprudent antics of adolescence - the perennial thrill of the chase and the mind numbing chill of the rebuff. Hitherto, however, The Buds perfectly commendable stance has been severely tarnished by their feverish, flimsy fumblings, which, more often that not, dangle perilously close to disintegration.
'Crawdaddy', though, portrays The Buds in an entirely different light. The innate chirpiness of yesteryear has been bolstered by a charming, intoxicating undertow that suggests The Buds have always owned a respectable set of sinews but were previously forbidden from flexing them.
Which is a crying shame. Because aside from a couple of cheap, nauseating efforts ('Do You Have Top Break My Heart?' and 'A Little Bit Of Heaven'), The Buds decision to flaunt their full blooded frothy side generally plays dividends. 'It Makes No Difference', the opening track, starts like a long lost blood brother of The Roses' 'I Wanna Be Adored', before breaking out in a rash of juicy riffs and lusty vocals, while 'Fall' and 'So Close' ache with a potent combination of lust and dread, careering down a path The Buds would previously have gawped at.
Who cares what pop said? The Darling Buds have started shaving. This is no bad thing.
Crystal Clear review - Melody Maker October 6 1990 by Ian Gittins
So this is what all the fuss has been about! Personally, I can't see why folk need to get outraged about Andrea mugging a dance beat. The Darling Buds have always been no more (no less) than a pop band, and "Crystal Clear" strikes me as a fine pop song. I dunno, maybe I'm missing the point, or something. It's a large advance on the punkier jabs of "Pop Said".
Crawdaddy review - Melody Maker September 29, 1990 by Andrew Mueller
This album was always going to be on a hiding to nothing. "Pop Said", as far as debuts go, was a pretty definitive effort, an admirably executed flashbomb of gleeful derivation. After that, the Buds could have done the same thing again, and we'd have accused them of only having one idea, which wasn't really theirs in the first place (though that was never the point). Or they could have attempted to progress, to move on, to explore vistas anew. And we'd have dumped on that because they were better at what they were doing before. It occurs to me that this argument is getting somewhat tangled.
Anyway, as it happens, they've done neither. "Crawdaddy" is the sound of a band going "Er, um".
From the cover (a close up shot of a flower possibly inspired by Swans' "Burning World", very probably not) to the insidious guitars and breathy vocals of "It makes no difference", which sounds alarmingly like The Heart Throbs, The Darling Buds want us to know that they've changed.
And guess how they've changed boys and girls.
As you might expect, the result makes roughly as much sense as Happy Mondays attempting a collection of starry eyed Blondie pastiches. "Tiny Machine" and "Crystal Clear", the singles, are sadly indicative. They have wah-wah guitars and shuffling drums and they are delivered with all the conviction of a band who think this is probably the right thing to be doing but they're not sure. At least the Soup Dragons have the gumption to be wholeheartedly opportunist.
Elsewhere, even the which more evoke the Buds of yore ("Do You Have To Break My Heart" and ""Honeysuckle") suffer from the no guts, no glory syndrome. The epic ballad "So Close", it of The Sundays-ish guitars, is redeeming because it's surprising and the record totters (where once they skipped) to a close with "The End Of The Beginning", all staccato sub Hendrix guitars and a chorus pinched from the verse of The Adult Net's "Take Me", thief stealing from forger or what?
This is a hopelessly misplaced each way bet. "Crawdaddy" has one foot in each of two graves.
Crawdaddy review - Record Mirror September 29, 1990 by Liam Wraith
This is not the one. After 'Pop Said''s promise and the romping singles 'Burst' and 'Hit The Ground', the Buds have moved sideways rather than upwards with 'Crawdaddy'. The sound is stroppy and full - probably thanks to Morrissey's former producer Stephen Street - and quite clearly aimed to set arms a whirling and bums a wagging on the dancefloor. Not that they are set to fail, either.
Apart from the embarrassingly limp early single 'Tiny Machine', the Buds have now fully mastered the whirling dance guitar and thumping drum machine. It works on 'A Little Bit Of Heaven' where Andrea stops pissing around being all fey and girly and is forced to fight her way to the top of the mix.
Nor does she really sound as good as she once did; her voice unfortunately beginning to grate on my fickle palate. At times, like on 'Do You Have To Break My Heart', which is so wet you could do your washing in it, she seems to think that cuteness alone will get her through. Being so closely shadowed by Harley's guitar doesn't help either; anger is what she needs, not mollycoddling.
Still, despite such harsh criticisms, there's enough here - 'Fall', 'Heaven', the growling guitar on 'It Makes No Difference' - to suggest the Darlings will fight again.
The Darling Buds: Groove Over Darling - Record Mirror September 15, 1990 interview by Gary Crossing
The latest one time indie popsters to take a bold step onto the dance floor are The Darling Buds, who've returned with guitars and grooves a blasting, and a monster of a new single. Two years ago, before this once proud nation had danced itself completely and utterly dizzy, Wales' own Darling Buds basked in the spotlight's warm and nourishing rays, with their light footed and charming indie rock creations.
Ending an almost 20 month long fallow period since their debut LP 'Pop Said' and singles such as 'Burst' and 'Hit The Ground', the Buds have returned to pop's sweet and fragrant garden with their new album 'Crawdaddy' - a name taken from the legendary Sixties club frequented by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
Produced by Stephen Street - of Morrissey fame - it has already spawned the monster singles 'Tiny Machine' and the current 'Crystal Clear', the latter being a drum machined, brash guitared and flower powered dance record which more than adequately leeks up with the Ivor Joneses. It's also seen the Buds join the legion of indie dancefloor crossover artists with a blistering club remix courtesy of Hercules, aka John Schroeder, whose previous work includes a stint as engineer for The Stone Roses.
Singer Andrea Lewis and guitarists Harley Davidson, full time Buds and one off models for New York photographer Annie Liebowitz's Gap clothing store pictures, sit in the British Museum caf‚ in leafy Bloomsbury. In a single fruitless bid to be topical, we have wandered mummified and Roman jewelled corridors in search of a crystal room in which to chat. A nifty and original idea which, alas, was doomed to perish. So instead it's "milk and two sugars please".
So, what are we to expect from pop's favourite sprouts this time around?
" 'Crawdaddy's' definitely got a harder edge to it and a better live vibe," says Andrea. " 'Pop said' didn't flow very well. It wasn't like our live shows at all, so we wanted to capture the live sound this time.
"With the first album we used a drum machine which I programmed myself," joins in Harley. "But with this one we used real drums provided courtesy of former Black sticksman and our new Darling Bud member, Jimi Hughes."
"Our style of writing has changed," continues Andrea. " 'Pop Said', like almost every band's first album, was a collection of old personal and live favourites which were probably written three years before they were recorded. 'Crawdaddy is a lot more relevant to how we're feeling now."
Fans and doubting Dylan Thomases alike will be pleasantly surprised by a newly found rich, raw edged, vinyl maturity which Andrea and Harley put down to the fact that they took their time and adopted a more considered approach. Stephen Street's guiding hand was also much appreciated.
"Stephen's very enthusiastic and involved," says Harley. "He believes there's too much attention drawn to producers these days; he thinks it should all come from the band. So, from the time you're in the studio with him, he basically becomes another band member."
Renowned for their live shows, The Darling Buds haven't toured for over a year. They take to the road in October. A prospect which Andrea finds thrilling, yet daunting.
"We've been having tour withdrawal symptoms for about six months. I'm a bit scared because when you haven't done something for a long time it's all new again. You don't know how the audience are going to react, or what people are going to think. I'm a bit nervous, but it's a challenge and we're going to get back out there and do it all again like when we first started. Only this time we'll try even harder."
This will no doubt please the Slullf**k Crew, the Bud's staunch supporters. Despite the Darlings' disc drought of late, they still keep in touch, occasionally popping in for elevenses.
"A lot of them have gone off to see other bands while we've been away," says Andrea. "But when those bands play in Cardiff, the fans find out where we are and come in for a cup of tea."
Hardly typical pop star behaviour from hardly typical pop stars, The Darling Buds are probably the most friendly band in the world.
"I pride myself on being a very down to earth person," says Andrea. "I couldn't ever be stand offish."
"Basically, what you have to do is organise your time so that you can fit everyone in. We like meeting and talking to people. We're not going to snub anyone really. I think that would be stupid. It's bad attitude that rock'n'roll has had for a long time."
Equally ardent is the band's refusal to leave Wales. They live in Newport, where Harley, Andrea, their friend Dave and newly acquired puppy, Holly the Collie, share a flat.
"I'm in danger of becoming a dog bore," barks Andrea. "I can't wait to go out to the pub and tell everyone what Holly's been up to."
Andera's other current obsession is shopping. "I just like spending money on anything from Tuppperware to eyeliner," she says. "I'm a junk freak, I buy loads of it."
"Yeah," complains Harley. "She'll only pop out to post a letter and all these strange things are brought into the house."
"I like cherubs at the moment," says Andrea. "I've just put a huge gold one on top of the TV."
In response, Harley's strategy is a shrewd one. "We just put up with it. After a while Andrea forgets about them so we put them in the cupboard."
Modest mites that they are, do Andrea and Harley ever get embarrassed by the attention they receive?
"If you're in a club or walk into a record shop and people say 'Look there's The Darling Buds let's put their single on', it's dreadful, we have to walk out.
"It is embarrassing," Andrea continues. "It's just like your mother getting out pictures of you in the bath when you were two. You may have a really cute bottom, but you don't want people to see it."
Having originally arrived on the crest of the blonde pop wave alongside The Primitives and Transvision Vamp, The Buds are constantly dogged by the inevitable comparisons which tend to annoy them.
"The trouble is, because I'm a girl singer with blonde hair who fronts the band, we get pigeonholed with the other," explains Andrea. "People don't think about the songs we write or their structure, they just see a band with a girl singer. Bands fronted by boys are allowed individuality. Why aren't we?"
"What I find annoying," interrupts Harley, "is the fact that various bands like The Primitives and ourselves were very much talked about, maybe a year ago and were a big part of a lot of people's lives for a long time. Now though, a lot of press don't have much time for them. Dance has taken over to such a great extent that a lot of other bands are forgotten."
Andrea doesn't see this as the end of the traditional four piece though. "There'll always be people who want to go to gigs and see a real band on stage; one that actually has songs and melodies and banter in between."
Will The Darling Buds still be blossoming 20 years from now?
"I don't know, I could get bored with it pretty soon," says Harley.
"It's not a very nice business for an artist to be in. You have to have a 50 per cent business head on you at all times," adds Andrea. "It's kind of like the sixth form really. It's good fun but you've got exams all the time."
The Darling Buds: Buds-U-Like - Sky Magazine, August 1990 interview by Paul Lester
Behind their pop outlaw image - which recently earned them a modelling assignment for The Gap - The Darling Buds have a crowd of hardcore fans who jump on stage to hug singer Andrea Lewis. Now back with a new album, Crawdaddy, they dispense with punk pop in favour of a more complex, hard edged sound.
In 1988, when mots everyone was converting to acid house and disowning their rock heritage, a trio of groups emerged who flaunted their punk roots and pop record collections.
By sheer coincidence all three outfits were fronted by diminutive, pretty, blonde, females and were backed by the male rock trinity of guitar, bass and drums. From Coventry came The Primitives (whose Tracy Tracey is now brunette), Wendy James's Transvision Vamp sprang from London, while Wales offered The Darling Buds.
Like their peers, The Darling Buds played basic guitar-pop ditties that, even though the band had signed to a major label, Epic, were little more than quick indie rock thrills. Today, after a couple of hits and a brief dip in the mainstream, The Darling Buds have a tougher, more sophisticated sound, while their media profile looks set to be raised by a recent modelling session involving potential pin-ups, guitarist Harley Davidson and singer Andrea Lewis.
Harley and Andrea are old schoolmates who share a flat, remain cagey about the extent to which they are "involved", yet speak about each other in the most glowing terms. "Andrea's a very strong person, I live with her, see her every day, but it's still quite hard to describe her. She's a beautiful person, really," Harley says, without the slightest hint of condescension.
"Cheers Harley," she responds, obviously touched, before slipping into an American soap opera accent and adding "I think you're a beautiful person, too!"
"Well," says the guitarist, "you know where my bedroom is baby! No, honestly, Andrea's great. She knows what she wants: and she'll go out and get it. She looks after us, takes on a lot of responsibility for the band and she does it very well."
After seeing them in the flesh, Andrea and Harley's recent modelling assignment for The Gap with celebrated New York photographer to the stars, Annie Liebowitz, would seem to make some sense. In the footsteps (or rather, cheekbones) of such dignitaries as Neneh Cherry, Roland Gift, footballer John Barnes and John Lennon and Yoko Ono follow the two most photogenic Buds (bassist Chris McDonagh and drummer Jimi Huhes are not in the photos), Harley sporting a leather biker's jacket and white Gap T-shirt and Andrea a short sleeved, black Gap polo neck.
"We had a call from Annie Liebowitz, saying she'd seen pictures of us in our record company's New York offices," says Andrea. "It's not like, 'The Darling Buds go modelling'. It's a one off. The adverts have already been in The Times' Sunday Supplement, Elle magazine, obviously in The Gap's shop windows and they're also going to appear on London buses.
"How much did we get for doing them? Well, about five million for the nude shots." Ask a nosey question, get a stupid answer. "We got a pretty tidy sum," she says. "Let's just say there were quite a few noughts involved."
In their press shots The Darling Buds have a traditional rock'n'roll outlaw image, drawing on a lineage that can be traced back to Elvis Presley through to The Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground and punk forefathers, The Clash. While the rest of the country clamours for all things baggy and pastel coloured, The DB's are sticking to their jeans, T-shirts and black leather jackets.
"I love that whole look," says Harley. "The Velvets and The Stones were permanently cool and Elvis Presley - he was outrageous, the first real punk! Over the last few years, bands have started to look good again: My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Jesus And Mary Chain.
As far as coolness goes, you've either got it or you haven't. Some people can look cool and sexy in their underwear, whereas others say Jesus Jones will never be cool, they just try too hard."
To what extent does The Darling Buds behaviour coincide with this rock image? Have they ever lived out the rock'n'roll fantasy experiences implied by the way they look? "I like to get drunk occasionally, but we're hardly wild rock'n'rollers," says Andrea, sipping from her bottle of cider.
We keep ourselves to ourselves to ourselves most of the time," Harley goes on. "I'm too tranquil to go over the top. We have actually tried to trash hotel rooms in the past, but you just can't do it now - they nail everything down in hotels these days!"
"It's true", says Andrea, "we once put a shoe cleaner in the lift, but it kept finding its way back into the room!"
"Mind you, I have stripped off a few times on tour," Harley quickly adds. "A couple of years ago, after a gig in Houston, they refused to serve alcohol in our hotel 'cos it was too late, so I got down to my boxer shorts - and they gave me a drink!"
"Groups do seem tamer today, there's none of the wildness of the sixties. That's what the Stone Roses are trying to go back to, all that stuff about throwing paint over someone's car [referring to the infamous Wolverhampton incident, for which the Roses have been taken to court] - it's hardly wild rock'n'roll, is it?"
What The Darling Buds do have in common with Ian Brown and co is a ferociously loyal herd of supporters. Their most ardent disciples remain The Skullfuck crew, a small but vociferous bunch hailing from Walthamstow and Watford who regularly sell T-shirts at DBs gigs, place stickers all over the Budmobile (a blue Ford Transit van driven by Andrea because the others have yet to pass their tests), graffiti the group's name all over the toilet walls at gigs and shower the stage with confetti whenever the mood takes them.
"They're great," says Harley. "Once, in Brussels, one of them - Gilbert - got drunk, had his clothes chucked over the hotel balcony by some other Skullfuckers, so he climbed over these gates and pissed onto some major monument or other in the local park. Then he had to run naked through the town square to get his clothes back!"
The Darling Buds pride themselves on their approachability, on the refusal to drift away from their Welsh routes (Harley, Andrea and Chris all live in Caerleon, near Newport) and the fans who are such an integral part of their success.
"Lots of fans jump on stage and give me hugs," says Andrea. "The roadies get all worried and treat them a bit rough 'cos they think they could have a knife on them."
"Half the time, though, people are afraid to come up to us," counters Harley. "They think we're different 'cos we're in a band who's been on Top Of The Pops and they start shaking with nerves. But we're just the same as them. I've got spots and we all wipe our bottoms like everyone else - c'mon, even Paul McCartney does that!"
After Andrea finishes cringing at her flatmate's colourful language she goes on to offer her opinions on Tracy Tracy, Wendy James and the two bands who enjoyed chart action and TOTP appearances at the same time as The Darling Buds.
"I like The Primitives, they've got good songs and melodies. But I don't like everything they do. As for Transvision Vamp, well."
"They make power pop singles," Harley says. "But there's no feeling in the music. The main difference is that whereas Tracy and Wendy don't write a lot of their stuff...."
"... I actually do," says Andrea, finishing the sentence to prod the point home. "I'm really mouthy in the studio, y'know, 'cos it's me that writes the songs and I want them to sound a certain way. I feel very strongly about our music and I don't see how, if you haven't contributed to the writing, you should have a say."
Andrea is determined to set the record straight, eager for people to realise that her role in The Darling Buds amounts to rather more than being the alluring visual icing on the musical cake. The singles, If I Said, Shame On You, It's All Up To You, Burst, Hit The Ground (which reached number 26) and You've Got To Choose (their biggest seller to date), as well as the tracks on the 1989 debut LP, Pop Said (60,000 copies sold so far), were all joint Lewis-Davidson compositions.
"I come up with the melody lines and the lyrics," she says. "I don't just go into the studio for five minutes, sing a bit, then come away to make sure my hair still looks all right. I'm part of the whole process - that hasn't come across before."
Writing credits for Crawdaddy are also shared between Andrea and Harley. The new material, produced by Stephen Street, is harder edged and more hook laden than before. The Buds are dispensing with the punk pop buzzsaw tinniness of old in favour of a more complex, textured sound.
"The new songs are harder," says Andrea, "but they could all be singles." Tiny Machine, the recent single, was the first DBs product for a year, while Crawdaddy comes nearly 20 months after Pop Said. Is Andrea nervous about returning to pop's centre stage?
"I don't want to think about how well we'll do this time. You can't predict these things, you just have to let them happen. But look at Sinead - she went away for ages, then came back bigger and better than ever. Personally, I don't like looking too far ahead."
"We didn't think we'd ever get this far," Harley recalls. "I remember watching Top Of The Pops, thinking, 'look at all this crap, we could be on that' and a year later we were!"
The Darling Buds: Petal Music Machine - Melody Maker, May 26, 1990 interview by Everett True
Pretty much written off in their recent absence, the Darling Buds are back with a new single, "Tiny Machine", and an album called "Crawdaddy". These are the records that will finally put paid to their previously wimpish image, argues an impressed Everett True. Pics Joe Dilworth.
Pop said "Because we're in Newport and because we're in love and because the sun is shining and everyone has disappeared, lost among the flowers, along old railway tracks and deserted woods and because we have PG Wodehouse book for company and because it feels to me like we're very close to tears, it must be time for another interview with the Darling Buds.
Darling Buds is an anagram of "darlings bud". I like that idea: it's been proven true.
Harley pours a third cup of tea and talks about his parents. "I've learnt from them, definitely, my tidiness, for one", he remarks "It was from them I got my habit of looking up words in the dictionary if I don't know their meaning. They were very strict and I rebelled against a certain part of that, but they did teach me to respect others."
Did you find that attitude at odds with the environment you encountered as a musician?
"Oh yeah, it didn't fit at all", he agrees, reaching for a chocolate cookie. "In my situation, I can do whatever I want, pretty much. I don't have to respect anyone, but I do because of the way I was brought up. I've been conditioned. So I'm quite a pleasant person, really."
Is there anything you wouldn't like to do?
"I wouldn't kill," he replies, although he thinks he could. Is that because it'd be too messy? "No, it because I'd be caught and I don't want to go to prison," he responds. (Which amounts to the same thing anyhow.) "Punk made me feel I could do anything," Harley continues. "I could spit and I could kill, but it was wrong. I couldn't because I was too young and my parents were still head of the household".
So when were your wild years?
"I'm still living them now, I suppose. I don't think I'll ever grow up. It depends what you mean by wild".
What do you mean by wild?
"Like an animal, not to care for anything, to have no respect", he replies, and I reflect how this notion must fascinate and repulse this disarmingly honest guitarist.
Pop said "I am something intangible, something bright and bewitched. I am something to lift into your arms and stroke until you purr, something to hold against your face and squeeze until you bleed. I am a cat, with grooves for claws, a sleeve for my arched back and a stylus for milk. I am something terrible and apart, a puppy growing up to be a doberman. I am the culmination of mankind's hopes and fears and the racing tips from last week's meeting at Newmarket. "I am pop am pop am pop am pop goes pop am pcp. "I am the idea that three minutes of transient pleasure could change your life. I can even cause you to smile".
I smiled recently. Last Thursday, I heard a new tape by the Darling Buds and became strangely moved by a song called "Makes No Difference," particularly Andrea's exquisite vocal and the way she delivers the title line. It's the toughest thing the Buds have done - a biting reply to those critics who've sniped at the group since they first appeared and have always been eager to write them off as insubstantial, merely lightweight pop fodder.
It turned out, however, the song was merely a taster for their forthcoming second album, "Crawdaddy", and not this week's new single on Epic at all - that honour went to the second track on the tape (which is a damn funny way of making up a demo tape, if you ask me). The single's called "Tiny Machine" and, sure enough, spirals and glows and tumbles and does everything pop singles should do, but...
It isn't "Makes No Difference". And neither does it have a vocal to compare to Harriet Sunday (which "Difference" does).
So, here I am, in Newport, feeling frail. Next to me is Jimmy Hughes, the Buds' new drummer who used to be in Black and the early Christians. Jimmy is a Scouser, tanned and affable.
"The three most influential people in my life", he says, for my question don't tend to vary too much when I'm in this frame of mind, "are Blakey of "On The Buses", me grandmother and Gene Krupa".
"Blakey because I haven't got a clue, me grandmother because she brought me me first trumpet when I was five and Gena Krupa because he was the first drummer I ever got into... He was like the world's greatest drummer in the Forties."
How did Jimmy come to join The Darling Buds?
We were recommended two people and we picked him cos he was the cheapest," remarks Harley with pride.
"That's true," says Chris, the so far silent bassist.
We all laugh.
"It's okay playing with the Buds," Jimmy remarks. "With Black, it was really complicated stuff, but with the Buds it's more straightforward rock'n'roll. It makes a change form having about 10,000 things all going on in my head at once."
I can imagine, Jimmy, who travels down from Liverpool for rehearsals and listens to Forties jazz replaced Bloss, the Buds' old drummer, at the start of this year.
Pop said: "Give me your hearts and I'll see what I can do." Not having any choice, we did precisely this and she (pop is always a she) promptly lost them.
Here's the moment all the boys are waiting for (I suppose).
Andrea seems slightly flustered. "Oh god, what was the question again?" she asks, embarrassed at being in the spotlight. I've just asked her what I'd earlier asked Harley and Jimmy - to name the three most influential people in her life. "Well, I don't think I have three anyway, just my mum and that's because when I was little I spent lots of time with her and she was the one who guided me into whatever I'm doing now."
"My mum is quite young, and she was really in touch with what was going on. She didn't tell me not to do this or that, she'd just go, "I hope you don't take drugs". She never rammed it down my throat and that's good, you know, because if you start putting up barriers then there's that little forbidden fruit and you'll want it all the more. I was quite bad and naughty and the same as everyone else, but I was never like that.
"Also, my friends, especially the people next door who were like my brothers and sisters, and, like Harley said The Beatles - because I listened to their stuff from an early age, and only started to listen to punk when I was about 16."
Pop said: "F*** this for a game of soldiers, I'm off to listen to the new Lemonheads single. Pop always was the most flighty of companions.
How about you, Chris? Who are the three most influential people or things in your life?
"I can only think of two things," the tall thoughtful bassist replies. "My parents who pushed me through the education system, and punk which influenced me to pick up the guitar."
We seem to be straying into abstracts here, but never mind. "If punk hadn't happened I probably would have just been an academic and ended up with a PhD is statistics or computing."
Chris used to be quite a leading light on the Newport thrash scene, and it was through this that he first met Harley and Andrea. The talk turns to why Chris wanted to be in a band.
"When I was at school," he continues, "I played trombone in the orchestra. We would go on tours and play in front of lots of people - we even did a tour of the east coast of America. It just came from there, the big buzz which occurs when you step up on stage. Everything else I've ever done just doesn't match that buzz."
"The most memorable experience I've ever had playing live would be Cardiff Arms park, supporting Simple Minds, walking on and seeing 50,000 people in front of me, absolutely crapping myself."
"It was terrible," Harley recalls, "I stood on stage and on the very first note, a can hit my guitar. I thought, "Ah, this is going to be good". They kept coming through the rest of our set. But that's what you're in it for: the challenge."
Chris: "It's always an achievement when you walk off stage, knowing you've just been on stage and you've done something. There's a tremendous feeling of satisfaction, and knowing that those people out front want to be where you are. Not that we are above anyone else, just that you're up there doing it."
During their absence from the public eye, the inevitable rumours started flying around about the Buds' future - whether, indeed they ever had one.
Andrea, "We opened up the papers one day and it was like, "Oh, we've split up!", and "You've left, Chris!" Melody Maker had our next single down as "Tiny Miracle" and the album as "Belladonna". Bloss was called Mike something and his name's Richard - it just goes to show." [see Melody Maker, March 17, 1990]
Harley: "I don't believe half of what I read, otherwise I would've been worried!"
The new single, "Tiny Machine" sounds, I'm assured by a close photographer friend, as if it's travelling along the path the Buds should have followed after their first single (i.e. it's not too over produced, it has bite and it melts even the iciest of hearts at 50 paces).
"Yeah, our songs aren't so frantic now, they have more feeling to them," Andrea agrees. "This time around I'd be embarrassed if I came up with a bad lyric, because I had to sing it to Stephen (Street, the producer of the new album)."
"We had Pat Collier for the first album, and that was right for the time," Harley says, diplomatically. "But when we started recording the second album with him, we realised we needed a change. Stephen was really good for us: he'd tell us we weren't doing what we're capable of, he wanted us to come out more."
Andrea: "It's not that you're not trying to be yourself, it's just that sometimes you don't have any confidence to bring yourself out, especially with singing and playing music. If you're in a studio and there isn't someone going "Yeah, that's really good, make it more like that", then it's very difficult. That's why Stephen was so good, he brought us out of ourselves."
Would you say that the praise you got affected you more than the criticism?
Andrea: "Yeah, because with criticism you just look at and think, "Oh, that's right let's carry on". A good album can sometimes cripple a band in that respect."
"More tea, vicar?"
Andrea pours out another cup, too milky for my taste.
Let's be momentarily blunt, What's the new single about?
"It's horrible when people ask you what a song is about. It's about people putting you down," Andrea says. "It makes no difference to me. You can twist me as much as you like, but I feel nothing. I've taken so much, I'm not listening anymore. Go ahead!"
That's not the single though.
"No, we just want it to be," Harley explains. I can't think of a higher accolade awarded to a journalist in eons, than to have such a magnificently tempestuous pop song inspired by their negativity.
Andrea: "Our songs are never actual events - like my little dog died last year - but about feelings. "Tiny Machine" is about these tiny machines inside me, every organ inside me - how small we really are, how life doesn't really make sense, but how I'm still important to some people."
Like Pop once said: life is as important as you choose to make it.
Harley: "The album's title ("Crawdaddy") is the name of the nightclub which was the site for a famous meeting between The Beatles and the Stones in 1963. It's also the title of the US underground magazine, named after the club, while craw is the crop of an insect or bird."
"You can see Harley's done his research, "Andrea notes, teasingly.
"We were going to call the album "Belladonna"," she reveals, "but the first thing everyone thinks of is 'Beautiful woman'." "Beautiful woman? Why? Surely belladonna is deadly nightshade or somesuch?
Andrea: "Exactly: that's why we liked it."
Harley: "Belladonna is Spanish for beautiful woman. So people might have thought we were putting Andrea on a pedestal, rather than under a pedestal."
What's your most memorable experience as a Bud?
"Our first john Peel session," Andrea replies instantly. "it was my birthday, and Harley rang me to tell me, and I just burst out crying. Harley had paid to have all these singles pressed (with the pension he'd earned from jacking in his engineering apprenticeship) and he'd sent them out to everyone, and it was Peel who first picked up on it. I was just so excited doing that: it was only the second studio we'd ever been in."
"But that was with the band," Harley reminds her. "Apart from that, it was losing my virginity. I'm not going to tell you about it. I've told far too many people and it's become smutty now."
Harley, as had been previously noted, has a predilection for talking about matters like these and the size (or lack of) his penis. We'll try to keep a lid on it, this time round.
"Also seeing the record for the first time on vinyl," Andrea adds. "You don't care about anything else for weeks on end. You want to frame it. All these mad things people do with first singles - like making clocks of them - you can see why. It's a bit of history."
When the Buds are on tour, their drinks rider is one of the biggest I've ever encountered. A casual inspection of their drinks cabinet reveals four bottles of Martini, a bottle of Southern Comfort, passport scotch, a few litres of wine and various sundry items. Yet they still have a reputation for being - oh, I dunno - fey?!
"When we played The Marquee the last time, we were so totally pissed, it was frightening," Andrea reveals "I know how bad it was, bit I can't remember being on stage. I was singing verses in choruses, and I dropped the radio mike and couldn't find it cos there was so much confetti on the floor. People were blaming other people for us, because we didn't eat anything and all we could do was drink. And to cap it all, Epic brought along four bottles of champagne!"
Harley: "All I remember is Kevin pushing me back on stage telling me I had to play another song and giving me hell for not being able to play all the others. Now, how was I supposed to play another one when I couldn't play all the others? CBS America came over to see us and walked out, while our merchandise guy thought it was the best thing we'd ever done."
Andrea: "I hardly ever drink at home because I drive all the time (she's the only member of the Buds who can drive), so that's why it affects me so much when I go away. One sniff of a wine gum and that's it."
What advice would you give your kids about appearing on a pop show?
Andrea (adopting patronising tone): "Don't swear because there's about 40 million people watching you!"
"Every time we appear on TV," she continues, "we're always told that. It's okay miming, but when you're asked questions, it makes you feel like a dummy. If you're talking to Sarah Greene, you can't exactly go (leaning forward), Well, f*** me, Sarah, that's a really good question!"
"So they ask you things about touring, and you just go (looks delightfully dumb), Yeah."
Harley: "Once we were asked to lick lollipops down by the dock, so we do (Harley imitates licking in a particularly gross manner) and somebody comes and hits us round the head, and tells us we're not going to be on TV again if we do that. What can you do?"
Andrea: "The best thing was when we were on "Wackaday" and they asked us where our name came from. We said "Shakespeare", and then we all started going "rough winds do shake" and all this. So our interviewer asked us what a rough wind was, and we'd be going "Oh yeah, Harley's a rough wind" and the whole conversation turned to farting. He was trying to steer it away the whole time, but he couldn't."
Pop said: "Stick with me and I'll make you a star. Oh, even if I don't, we'll have a few memorable moments along the way." So, we did.
Tiny Machine review -Melody Maker, May 26, 1990 by David Stubbs
I thought the winter of a discerning public's discontent had long since nipped this lot in the Bud. They're back however, with a song that may well be far and away their best effort, but is still piss weak. Andrea Bud's vocals are still very prissy, polished, just so and prim, as if she's telling on the boys for chewing gum in class. Musically, they've got a bit of a production job in, but it scarcely enhances their tentative, unadventurous sound - it's a case of the suit wearing them, rather than them wearing the suit. What's most annoying is how utterly un-blonde it all is - about as blonde as lump of treacle, in fact.
Tiny Machine release announcement - Melody Maker, May 19, 1990
The Darling Buds release a new single "Tiny Machine", through Epic on May 21. Written by vocalist Andrea and guitarist Harley, it come from the new album, which is due out in the summer. The B-side is "Me? Satisfied?", while the 12-inch and CD additionally feature a remix of the A-side and another new track, "Sugar City".
Both the single and album were produced by Stephen Street, who also co-wrote "Me? Satisfied?". The single features new drummer Jimmy Hughes, from Liverpool, who has previously worked with Black.
Andrea said this week "When Bloss left the band, we were in the studio recording the album, and we needed a new drummer, Ian McNabb of the Icicle Works suggested Jimmy to us. We tried him out and after his session, we decided to use him for the rest of the LP. And now, like all Scousers, we can't get rid of him."
News release - Melody Maker, March 17, 1990
The Darling Buds, currently in Milton Keynes recording their new album, "Belladonna", have confirmed that Mike Bloss has vacated the drum stool to become manager of the band.
Andrea Bud told the Maker: "The decision was taken after we recently pulled out of our management deal. We'd been having a lot of problems with the management and when they left and Bloss expressed his interest in the job, we thought, Why not? He knows us better than anybody else."
The band have found a new drummer, Jimmy Hughes who's played with Pete Wylie, Black and The Icicle Works.
Commenting on the LP title, Andrea said "If you look in the dictionary, Belladonna means deadly nightshade but in Spanish it means beautiful woman."
A single, possibly called "Tiny Miracle", should be released in early April.
Live Review at ULU, London - Record Mirror, November 4, 1989 by Tim Southwell
So, on come The Darling Buds. Every student population has a band to provide its soundtrack and The Buds are the ultimate student band of '89.
Andrea bobs about on stage more purposefully than usual tonight, punching her tamborine triumphantly and flicking her golden locks about with gay abandon. On this sort of form, The Draling Buds are a great live band. Hit singles 'Burst', 'Hit The Ground' and the classic 'Shame On You' are reproduced with efficiency while also acquiring an exciting rawness not found so effectively on disc. All in all, there's something indefinably sexy about The Darling Buds (surely shome mishtake - Live Ed). It's true their music can often be too 'nice' but tonight they were almost entrancing. Almost.
Perfick Issue No 1 - Darling Buds Fan Club Magazine October 1989
THE INSIDE STORY
Trying to remember back to the bands early days proved difficult, our collective memories were not worth very much, but with the help of a few old diaries a rough picture was put together and here it is.
Harley left his job as an apprentice engineer, he hated the job and he couldn't wait to jack it all in. After a short time out of work he got a job in a local recording studio, as Chief tea boy and rat catcher. A perk with this job was to be able to record at reduced rates. He was at this time playing bass guitar with a local band called The Party. Harley wrote some songs that he thought could be used by the band, but the songs were poppier than what the band were playing and it was obvious that they were not really interested. Harley continued playing with that band, but when one day he met Andrea coming off the bus, he asked her is she could sing on a demo tape he had recorded on his portastudio. They thought it might be a good idea to record the three songs they had written. An evening was found to be free in the studio, so in May 96 the first songs were recorded. The three songs were 'If I Said', 'Just To Be Seen' and 'Mary's Got To Go'. The songs were not finished that evening, even though the amount of recording actually done was the bare minimum. In June 86 a second recording session saw the tracks finished. Andrea had seen an advert in the local paper asking for local bands who were wanting to play in Newport. So she phoned up and a gig was organised for a weeks time. One of the organisers was Chris who later in the story will no doubt reappear in this tale somewhere!
When Harley was told he was slightly taken aback as they only had three songs, no bass player aad a temperamental drum machine. Harley asked his best friend Simon if he would play bass and he agreed, although he had not played a bass before. Two practises in the local school later, The Buds were ready!
The first gig was on the 24th June. The Buds were supporting Eat That Phone Book and Go Una Go. Go Una Go was a busking based band which Harley played in as well. This is where he got to know Bloss as he played a snare drum in the band.
The gig was an eventful one, as the drum machine needed a foot switch to turn it on and off. Harley had made himself a switch from an old fuzz pedal, unfortunately to get it to work you had to press it twice, which caused a few problems as he couldn't remember how many times he had pressed it. So a few songs either finished with no drums or they would carry on regardless after the song had finished, but I am sure every one thought it was all part of the act though. On that night they played six songs, the three they had recorded at Loco Studios plus 'I Couldn't Remember' and two cover versions 'Femme Fatal' and 'Human Fly'. The reaction of a small crowd was very favourable and an incentive to play again.
They next decided that perhaps the best way for them to get their songs heard, would be by putting two of the demo tracks out as a single and as Harley had received some money when he left his job he decided to take the chance. As he worked at the studio still he organised it through them, and the master tapes were sent off to CBS to cut into a single, a strange coincidence, in fact the chap who cut the single remembered it. He didn't say it was bad, he just hadn't heard anything like it before. Things were moving slowly it was now December 86. On the 2nd December, The Darling Buds played their second gig again at TJ's Disco Newport. Gone was the troublesome drum machine and in came the troublesome Bloss! Simon was less scared this time, well at least he could feel his fingers. They were supporting The Depraved and Bad Beach, both were hard core bands and this caused us to play quite fast, perhaps if they had been supported by a smooth cabaret band then things might of been different but I doubt it.
Harley had to decide how many singles he wanted to be pressed, 2000 was decided on, a massive amount when he wasn't completely sure if he would be able to sell them all. Most people thought he had gone over the top a bit and even Harley wondered a bit when he saw all the boxes.
The sleeves were designed by Harley and Andrea. They used a friend's picture, one that he had in his portfolio, it was of a statue that can be seen in the streets of Paris, but even though the band played over there they still haven't seen it.
The finished record was delivered to Harley in early February. They needed a distribution deal and the local member of the distribution cartel was Revolver of Bristol. They heard the record and said they would take it on. A release date was decided upon, Friday 13th March!! 320 records were delivered by Simon and Harley on the 12th. Revolver were a bit unhappy however, because the single was only pressed in 7 inch form. 12 records give distributors more money, hence their upset.
As soon as he received the records Harley sent off records to all the radio stations including John Peel and Janice Long at Radio One. John Peel played "Just To Be Seen" straight away and Janice Long played the other side "If I Said." As the band could not decide which side should be the A side, it proved to be a smart move to make it a double A side.
Harley also went to London to give copies of the single to the music press. NME took a single off him at reception, but never reviewed it. He went to the offices of Melody Maker only to find no one around. However he saw a cleaning lady and asked her if there was anyone around. She asked him what he wanted and he waved the single at her. OK she said follow me. Down several corridors and into an office, they came across a pile of records, she took the record off Harley and quickly put in the pile. It was reviewed that week 7th March by Mick Mercer. Sounds would not take a copy!, Harley however kept going back but still no joy, so he sent one in the post and then another. Persistence paid, as it was reviewed by Roger Holland on 28th March 87.
A couple of weeks after he had first played the single John Peel asked if they would like to record a Radio One session. The band were spread all around the country when this news came through. Andrea was living in London, Bloss was in Wolverhampton, Simon and Harley were in Caerleon Wales. Some mad phoning around and a postcard to Bloss later the band went to London on 1st April 87! This was produced by Dale Griffen, the old drummer of the seventies group Mott The Hoople, so he was a bit amused when Bloss strolls in with just two drums. It was all a bit nerve racking but it all went well with no major problems.
The recorded four songs, all of which had to be new tracks, so they recorded, "I Couldn't Remember," "Mary's Got To Go," "It's All Up To You" and "The Other Night."
During the summer they played some gigs around the country, John Peel had announced there appeal for gigs and a few offers came in.
Simon was finding it hard to get time off work and he was getting a lot of pressure off his boss. He was worried because he had just got himself a mortgage and could not afford to lose his job. So he had to leave the band and this left the band bass less so a replacement had to be found.
They knew Chris from his involvement in putting bands on in Newport and that he played guitar with two bands. They asked if he would be interested in playing bass and he was.
We kept playing gigs where we could, one of which was in Newport and was watched by Jon Langford who was reviewing the main band, his friend Carlton B Morgan. The review was a favourable one in Record Mirror. In time he introduced us to his friend Robert Warby who was interested in working with us.
Also around August '87 a fanzine called "So Naive" contacted us and asked if we would do a track for a flexi disc he was putting out. The band recorded "Spin" at Loco Studio on 13th August 87 and sent him the tape. When it was released a copy was sent to John Peel, who played it. They were also asked to do another Peel session on 23rd August '87. The songs recorded were "Spin," "Shame On You," "My Valentine" and "Think Of Me." It was broadcasted on the 2nd September '87.
On the 3rd September 87, Robert Warby and John Langford offered to put us in a studio to do a quick demo which they could send off to some record companies. The band went to Lion Studios in Leeds and recorded all the songs they could do, all eleven of them.
On the 21st September The Darling Buds had their first communication with Native Records of Doncaster!
The end of part one, there will be more as we remember it!!!
I was 7 when my Dad gave me an old acoustic guitar - he'd painted in bright blue to cover up the state it was in. I loved it.
We lived in Dorset for seven years, moving back to Wales when I was eighth to a little village called Usk. My friend called Michelle lived next door, she also had a guitar and we started our first band when we were 10. Mostly we just mimed along to Beatles records and Michelle's mum's Rolling Stones albums. I never really listened to the radio, or the charts that much, but we used to play lots of old 60's stuff - I loved Herman's Hermits!
The fist gig we did was organised by Michelle and I. By now she could play all the songs on her guitar, but couldn't quite manage the lead breaks, so we would both sing the songs and then when it came to the lead breaks I'd sing them trying to sound like a guitar. It's a technique that still comes in handy for when Harley doesn't quite make it!
We decided we would do a charity concert, the money going to the Magpie appeal (remember that?) and the school let is use their hall. From what I can remember it was quite a success, we got our picture in the local paper, but I wouldn't say it was a sell out!
When I went to comprehensive school I wasn't really into music lessons, though I was in the choir and I loved to sing in the school plays. By about the second year, Michelle and I decided to get a band together. We got all our friends and performed in assembly. We'd play things like "My Sweet Lord" with bongo drums and maracas and sing "Wonderful World" emphasising the bits like "don't know much about history, don't know much biology!"
Anyway, we carried on playing in fetes and busking around the town and the pubs. One night while we were playing at a party in our local village fire station, a German man saw us and asked us to got to Germany and play in a music festival - all we had to do was pay to get ourselves there. I was 14 at the time and we really wanted to go, so we worked like bloody slaves, cleaning peoples houses and babysitting, to add to the money we made from busking.
We played in a massive marquee in Graben-Neudorf near Heidelburg. We were so nervous we had to have a bit of Dutch courage so we could get up there on stage and sing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." The bubbles went to our heads and after we played they took us to a fair and I was sick on the dogems!
I knew Harley from the band he used to play in called
The Party. We would go and see them play live, they'd play Velvet Underground and Joy Division covers, look moody and wear black - sound familiar? They won a competition that allowed them to go and record a song in the studio. Paul, the vocalist, wanted female voices to do the backing vocals on his song so he asked us to do them. I'd never been in a studio before and was really nervous, but the band were really nice and we all got on really well. After that I became good friends with the whole band. After about a year Harley started to write his own songs and he asked me to sing and help with the lyrics, so I went to his house and sang on his portastudio. We both really liked the sound of it and so we decided to start a band - The Darling Buds.
Born in Singapore, at an early age my parents moved back to Wales. My parents are both teachers and my father secured a job at Caerleon Comprehensive School the school I went to. I first picked up a guitar when my sister was studying for her O' levels. She had been having guitar lessons and stopped to study. I was listening to some Beatles tapes which my parents had and I thought I could do that. After about two weeks my father refused to let me play it, until I tuned it! I took the guitar to the music shop and asked somebody to tune it for me. On the way home, I met a neighbour, Paul Wesson. He had just bought a guitar I told him that I had taken my guitar to be tuned, because I couldn't do it. He said "I can tune a guitar, you should come down my house next time." It was not until two weeks later, that I found out he couldn't tune a guitar either. So we formed our first band.
We shared the same taste in music and spent most of our time swapping, playing and scratching records. These records were by bands like The Jam, The Stranglers, The Dammed, The Sex Pistols, Secret Affair, The Buzzcocks, The Undertones to name a few!
There were several important factors missing from our band, drums and bass, so we got in two friends in to play. One of these school mates was Julian Manchee who introduced R&B and Dr Feelgood into the band. He played bass for us, but could also play drums, guitar, piano and basically anything you gave him. Andrea Butcher played drums, he couldn't really play but his brother had a drum kit. It wasn't long before he was kicked out.
We then became a three piece, Julian on drums, Paul on guitar and I changed to bass and we called our selves Private Sector. We practised regularly, playing lots of covers, Dr Feelgood, The Jam, The Stranglers and The Dammed and played anywhere and everywhere.
Every Friday, we would get on the bus into town and go down to Emlyn street, a closed down school which was being used as a venue. We would take our guitars and would just ask if we could play (it has since been pulled down!).
About this time my musical tastes were changing and I was beginning to listen to Joy Division, Velvet Underground, Bauhaus, Furs and The Birthday Party.
Some other friends of mine who also had a band and were playing original material, asked me to play bass for them and I couldn't turn them down (I ended up playing for them for two years).
Paul Watkins was the main person in the band, writing most if not all the songs and playing guitar and vocals. The name of the band was The Party. We practised regularly, but gigged very rarely. This was one thing that I wasn't used to, but the music was moody and I really enjoyed it.
We came second in a competition held at a local college and won a free day in a recording studio. Paul Watkins and myself knew of the all girl bands in the school and Paul asked if they would record some backing vocals for us. One of the singers was Andrea and that's how I first got to know her.
After a while Nobby (the band's second guitarist) and myself started writing songs for the band, which had changed direction and sounded more like Talking Heads. However my songs were not right for the band as they tended to be poppier! So that's when I turned to Andrea and The Darling Buds were created.
When asked to write about yourself, you would think it to be the easiest thing in the world. Yet when it comes down to it you start to wonder what would interest the poor person who starts to read it. Whenever I start reading anything, it normally has to grab me in the first couple of sentences, something I obviously preach, but do not practice.
A small potted history of my life so far won't take long, I suffered school and I think school suffered me, just! I was always the one in the class who could do better, I always thought I was working as hard as I should, but come the time of taking home my report I wished I had actually bothered to take in a bit more than I had. An average of 49% just about sums it up. However, with a handful of O levels, I thought I'd put off having to make a career choice by staying on to do A levels. I started off doing Geography (always a favourite) Economics and Art. By the second week Art was dropped (too much writing, not enough painting), bloody academics. By week four, I found out I was unlikely to become the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Having a part-time job after school did not help to concentrate the mind. With some spare cash and a desire to get some wheels, I was lead into the world of motorbikes. £630 with the helmet thrown in left me the proud owner of a red Honda XL125, I nearly polished the thing away during the next year. A Suzuki GSX 250 followed. I've still got this bike rusting in the back of the old dear's garage. One day it might be resurrected.
Having left school with one measly A level I joined the world of the unemployed, not reluctantly I might add. Me and my mates Bilko and Ron formed a trio rather similar to Compo, Clegg and Foggy. As the three of us always discussed music in infinite details we thought we'd better start a band. With a strange combination of me on keyboard, Ron on saxophone (a bargain at £35), and Bilko on bass, The Executive Monkey Test was formed. Definitely an underground band that should have been buried at birth! A lack of anyone stupid enough to play drums for us led to ask this guy we sort of know, because we had seen him play locally quite a few times, to lend us his drum machine. Therefore with much trepidation Harley lent us hid nearly high tech drum machine - I think we still owe him the pint we promised him, we'd better keep that one quiet.
Eventually, I went to college in Cardiff to study Catering and Hotel Management. When Christmas came along money suddenly became a bit short so the three of us, plucking up our courage and drinking quite a bit of the Dutch variety, decided that a bit of busking was in order. The Police didn't. We were asked to move on, but fortunately it was due to us pulling a crowd of several hundred people who were causing an obstruction. That was my first introduction to playing a drum, as my previous attempts on an accordion led to a distinct lack of rhythm, so the other two bought a snare drum and from that time I never looked forward again. Time went on and a general discussion (over a pint no doubt) led to Harley and his guitar coming along to a practise. He seemed a bit fed up with his other band never playing live so our offer of at least one gig a week (albeit on the streets) definitely seemed to hit the right chord, pun intended.
We played as much as we could and somebody asked if we would play at her party. Fine, we said, we'll do it for a few beers and a deal was struck. As we played, two girls in basques decided to dance along - as we were standing on top of a table our view of the crowd was severely distorted!!! This caused us to play faster and faster, as the two girls jumped along in time. I have since come to the opinion that this is why we play so fast live!
Eventually we got enough money together to buy a Transit van, so our grand plan of going abroad to busk started to come together. The day of our departure came around and we still didn't have enough money to get further tan about 50 miles or so, so we had to busk as we went along. Six weeks of sleeping either scrunched up in the back of the van or being bitten to death by a swarm of mosquitos was just about enough for anyone. Having left with a fiver, I returned with a tenner and enough stories to keep my grandchildren well and truly bored!!!
Bilko, Harley and I then moved up to Wolverhampton, mainly due to the fact that it was cheap. We went there to try and form a band, but the house was so cold it was too difficult to play in gloves and balaclavas. Harley wanted to get The Darling Buds under way so he went back to Wales while I stayed on Wolverhampton. With the release of the first single things suddenly stepped up a gear and when John Peel asked The Buds in for a session I joined the band full time - they haven't been able to shake me off since!
Born in Newport sometime in the sixties, I went to school at a local comprehensive. I left school with 7 O' levels and 3 A' levels and went to Liverpool University to study engineering science. The first thing I did with my grant was to buy an Everton season ticket! After a year at university I was kicked out for having too much fun and not doing enough work. I then went to Liverpool Polytechnic to do Applied Statistics and Computing. Four years later I left with my degree to return to Newport.
I formed my first band after college (The Bugs) and the only way for us to get gigs was to organise them ourselves. So "Scum City Surfers" was born to put on local bands who otherwise would not be able to play in Newport. The Bugs split, to form Fenella Fielding. I also became the guitarist with the thrash hard core band the "Cowboy Killers." It was Scum City Surfers, who put on The Darling Buds first two gigs. About a year later at a Big Black gig in Newport, I was asked to join The Darling Buds as a bassist. I said yes and two days later, after about six hours practice I played the first gig in Port Talbot. I don't remember much about it, apart from being very nervous and watching the cartoons on the video screen in front of the stage while we were playing. I still get nervous but there's no more cartoons.
So there you have it, a very patchy profile of myself. See you soon, Chris.
YOU'VE GOTTA CHOOSE - VIDEO SHOOT 11 MAY 1989
Location: Somewhere in London (It all looks the same to people from the valleys)
Progress Report: Harley is chatting up a dog! Chris has just woken up, it's now two hours since he got out of bed. Bloss has got bad wind due to eating several breakfasts and Andrea has got the concrete mixer ready for the boys' make up.
The day started as usual - far too early. Why is it you can never get to sleep early the night before doing a video? It must be nerves or stupidity.
Chris, Harley and Andrea awoke at the hotel. Chris set his alarm for 6:30 AM just so he could have an hour's lie in!
Bloss was panicking due to having been given the wrong address the previous day, so after two visits to the Police Station to get directions he eventually phoned Harley, who at the moment was at a delicate stage of his shaving and nearly gave himself the Van Gogh look for the video.
Bloss and gear were supposed to arrive at 8 AM, whilst Chris, Harley and Andrea would arrive by 8:30 AM, early enough for anyone.
By the time Bloss got there everything was well under way. Electricians were having a smoke break and everyone was drinking tea. By this time Bloss was already sussing out the food!
Cups of tea always seem to make the day go easier, so after the umpteenth cup, there is a rush to the toilet.
10 AM. Make up. Andrea is sorted out, Harley is looking like Harley, which is a feat in itself when you're looking like an extra out of "Thunderbirds". Chris can't decide whether to go for the Christopher Lee or the Boris Karloff look! Bloss had to chase his remaining hair on to the top of his head.
Harley is already complaining! Because he went to bed so early he woke up at 4 AM. His hair has gone curly, what else could possibly go wrong.
10:30 Practise run through.
Sorry, a lie. Run through actually starts with Andrea at 11:45. Bloss, Chris and Harley stand around with their make up making them itch (makes a change from the usual infestation cause). There ain't half a lot of hanging around involved. Bloss is looking forward to another meal. Harley has been ripped off by a video game at 50p a game (!), but then again it is London. Chris has been slowly smoking himself to death.
Andrea has done the one run through on a close up and it's now time for a bit more standing around. Patience is the name of the game. The good thing is, it should all be over by 8 PM, which is much earlier than normal. It's quicker today because they are using two cameras and not so many different shots but it's still not a good idea to get hopes of finishing early. Just as long as there's time for a pint at the end. Everyone is getting bored. Nobody has any money for the machines. It's now 12 noon. Time for another cuppa! 1:25 lunch. Lamb or chicken. Chris has chicken. Harley wishes he had it too as the portions are larger than the lamb.
Food: Chicken or lamb
That should keep away the spots. The mums would be proud.
Chris, Harley and Bloss scarpered down to the bank to get 10p pieces for the video game. Spent them all in 10 minutes.
It's now 3 PM. Andrea is still doing various run-throughs. Chris, Bloss and Harley wait their turn. 3:03 PM, time for the lads but they have to go to the toilet. Later, dozens of run-throughs; Andrea and Harley spinning around, Chris standing still for a change and Bloss on his fat arse most of the day.
8:00 PM soon came around. Yes they were telling the truth - it's hometime!!
5 down, bring on the next.
Live review at ULU London (with Boys Wonder) - Melody Maker October 28, 1989 by David Giles
This is obviously some ENTS officer's idea of a joke.
In the main hall, The Darling Buds are powering away merrily, while barely 100 yards away, separated only by a bar of beer swilling rugby boys, Boys Wonder are performing yet another blinder. It's rather like having England v Brazil on ITV clashing with an England v West Indies test on the BBC, except that a machine that zaps matter from one place to another in milli-seconds is yet to be invented. So it's two songs from one band, followed by scrum, then two songs from the other, followed by another scrum, and so on.
Lurking in the shadows is a fifth Bud, doubling on guitar and adding some much needed backing vocals - "filling out" the sound, you could say. Tonight we get a healthy quota of new material, some of which sounds alarmingly good. "Tripped Up", "Harry Subtle" (I think), "Turn You On" - all firmly rooted in the Bud tradition, powerchords and simplistic melodies wound around the internal dynamic that's the essence of the Buds' craft, a buoyancy that seems to spring naturally from the collision between loud noise and nursery rhyme melody.
Andrea is playing the perfect foil to Boys Wonder exaggerated brattishness. She is ingeniously ingenious, a gloriously delirious fount of carefree abandon. Her beaming face radiates a warmth and positivism that is a million times more uplifting, inspirational and life enhancing than the mordant miserabilism of Front 242 or Loop. It's simply a more meaningful experience. Why should all great art be solemn? Why should humour always rob art of its dignity? Who needs dignity anyway? "Thanks for coming, love you all", chirps Andrea, waving goodbye. Don't mention it.
Live review at Malet Street University Of London Union - Sounds October 28, 1989 by David Cavanagh
Bring swimming togs, encouraged the invite, for tonight is Freshers' Nite at ULU and unless you're diagnosed as having any unpleasant skin diseases, in between bopping you can have a nice refreshing dip in the ULU pool with this years bumper intake of keen to socialise undergraduates.
Well, fortunately, I have quite a few unpleasant skin diseases, so a report of the evenings musical festivities will have to do. For the most part these consisted of guttural renditions in the gents' of well known 'I've Just Had My First Pint Of Lager And God Am I Regretting It' song.
Sadly, there were still enough of the blighters left standing to give a warm and thoroughly unmerited reception to The Darling Buds. This is a bloody disgrace since, as was once made patently obvious by their limp affray chez ULU, they have nothing, to offer. If this is party music it's for a hideous toga party with no alcohol and an 11pm curfew. Ot even the addition of a second guitarist could beef up what are and will forever remain wafer thin bleats. To paraphrase The Mirror's opinion piece on another inveterate whiner, For God's sake, go!
Live review at Manchester International - New Musical Express August 12, 1989 by Mandi James
Darling, It Hurts. Taking their cue from the contemporary vox pop genre, The Darling Buds have less vigour and vitriol than The Primitives and obviously more style than the godawful Transvision Tramps. As purveyors of disposable pop they have condensed the essence of post modern music down to a fine art form - aesthetically pleasing, of little substance and immediately forgettable.
But sod the crappy rhetoric, tonight's pop pickers are here to dance. They've come to fuel their unrequited crushes, throw confetti and become intimately embroiled in the mesh of skinny adolescent bodies. Such faithful and painful devotion. And Andrea plays the part perfectly, with all the precocious appeal of the girl next door.
She delivers each pouting popsicle with a giggle and a shake of her peroxide locks. Pubescents kiss the air she breathes and swoon with sexual ecstasy. The rest, hyperventilating wildly, religiously mouth the lyrics to each and every indistinguishable track. It's hard to tell who controls who, who panders to the man made image of little Miss Perfect and who exploits it.
As a Darling Buds virgin I manage to restrain myself from being launched into paroxysms of delight, besides, I hardly know any of the words. I wait patiently to be bitten by the love bug, to share the secret of their success. I remain unenlightened.
I'm more intrigued by the materialisation of a mysterious fifth member on the stage with all the charisma of a potato. A lunk head guitarist of gargantuan proportions who remains po-faced and immobile throughout the entire set.
Andrea breezes through the familiar territories of love, rejection, jealousy and anger with a voice that could charm the candy coating off a Smartie. Yet the persistently frothy formula is irritatingly obvious and despite a chaotic beat, the little darlings are soon caught in a melodic rut of rambling, breathless guitars.
The sound is just too predictable and pretty to be anything other than safe and sorry, all the passion and excitement is concentrated in the laps of the audience. For a fleeting moment around the brash exuberance of 'Hit The Ground', they veer dangerously close to being good. I'm almost moved, but not quite. The Darling Buds remain comfortably and wonderfully crap.
Live review at The International Manchester - Melody Maker August 5, 1989 by Everett True
There are a multitude of reasons to like and dislike Darling Buds, all precisely the same. They're throwaway, obvious, third generation, girly, dumb and blonde. Their album is at least over-polished and cloying. Their singles are at best generic. But so what? You've got to choose. Life's too good to waste on sordid negativism. Tonight, the Buds shine.
"Burst" explodes upon us like confetti stardust from the sky, steam pouring out like dry ice from behind Bloss' drum kit. Next are "Tripped Up On Love" and "Turn You On", two new songs which tingle as much as they self-efface. But it's the energy, damnit, the unaffected delight the Buds so obviously derive from their debilitating dazzle which makes me warm so readily to them.
Andrea is wonderful; hyperactive one moment, all solemn and sparkling the next, her brilliant blue dress is sodden halfway through the evening, so hard does she exhort. She washes away any last remaining doubts by her very presence. But that's not to discount the music, however, No way.
Painfully simple riffs married to blazing shards of loud guitar and Andrea's vagrant voice, the sound spills back through the monitors and gleefully batters us into submission. "Big Head" appears as a delirium jar of ecstasy, followed by a shimmering "Hit The Ground". Andrea dons a "F*** CBS jacket strewn at her feet by an angrily protective follower. Chris wipes a rivulet of sweat from his immobile expression and Harley exchanges ready banter. I'm in love, and I'm telling you why.
It's in the way Andrea dances during "Turn You On", arms swinging, drink spilling, oblivious to all but the enchantment of being there. Every drinks she pours ends up the same way, before it's even quarter finished. It's the way she bobs along vivaciously to "Big Head", five bushels of exuberance to everyone else's peck, half a beat behind each time she reaches for the microphone due to her rather over-zealous movements.
It's the way every song sounds faithfully familiar - Ramones, Mary Chain, Carpenters - without being irritating. It's the proximity of the four boys in leather (Harley cheerful, Bloss chummy, Chris stoic and Gringo smooth), bashing their hearts out, unaffected. But mainly it's because Andrea is the direct antithesis of Tracy Tracy. Andrea would never even consider worrying what colour her hair is.
"This is a new one, you won't like it cos it's crap," Andrea announces disarmingly, introducing a nail biting nervy three minutes of pleasure. Typically she's wrong, for "Honeysuckle", a stop-start-let-go-what-the-hell-are-you-playing-this-for smoocher is the crap one, not the unfairly maligned "Break My Heart".
The one time the Buds slow down, on "When It Feels Good", the guitars find themselves turned up full, past endearing level, thus vouchsafing the Buds' reputation as no-nonsense rockers. "Thats The Reason" distils the essence of pop a thousandfold, while "Lets Go Round There" is show stoppingly daunting. "Things You Do For Love", "Tiny Machine", "Shame On You", "I'll Never Stop" - songs fly past, ravishing yet indistinguishable, burnished bright with ardour.
The Buds depart suddenly, too suddenly. The crowd, bewildered, are too exhausted even to clap, so Andrea urges her Buddies back on for a crystalline "Rain", and the ebullient "She's Not Crying". Second time around, we make no such mistake, and to much delight, the first single "If I Said" is trundeled out and torn apart. I grab a set list. Enthralled. Darling Buds at the International: pop as it should be. It's time to pass the batton.
Interview - New Musical Express July 29, 1989 by Steve Lamacq
Freedom of Choice. The nitty-gritty of the interview begins 25 minutes after the tape's started rolling when we hit the topic of The Darling Buds' lords and masters CBS. It's then that our Welsh foursome begin unravelling the tangle of the Record Biz politics they've been caught up in since signing to the major label eight months ago.
"Our press officer said to me before we left, 'Now you're not going to slag us off today are you?,' reveals Harley aghast. "And I said of course we are."
It transpires that, though they've just returned from a successful two week debut tour of Europe, all's not well in The Darling Buds camp. Their career seems to have currently come to a grinding halt. Six months after their debut LP "Pop Said" was released CBS (through their offshoot label Epic) have just put out a fourth 45 from the album, the undeniably lame "You've Got To Choose".
This isn't just a kick in the teeth for Buds fans, who are expected to go out and buy it for the two unreleased tracks on the B-side (forget CBS claims that the A-side comes in a 'New version', it's 99 percent the same as the old one) it's also a hopeless waste of time for the band and a mercenary move by the label to try and wring a few more sales out of 'old material'.
It demands the question 'Just how much control do the Buds have over their work?' It also leaves you worried that Epic/CBS might ultimately F--- up the momentum that carried the band from Indie Big Knobs to cute Major signings.
The story goes like this. The Darling Buds were in the perfect place at the perfect time. Just like Kylie, Acid and Terry Venables, they were exactly what people wanted At One Precise Moment.
After releasing their coy debut single "If I Said" on their own label in 1987, the follow up "Shame On You" on Native records came just as the Blonde Phenomena, led by The Primitives, was beginning to take off. Caught, unwittingly at first, in the wake of The Prims success, The Darling Buds released the 'average' third single "It's All Up To You" - which despite being their weakest record to date took them into the top three of the Indie charts and had major label scouts (anxious for a piece of the Blonde action) chasing their signatures.
Following an exuberant tour supporting The Wonder Stuff, The Buds signed to Epic and as they told NME at the time, seemed happy with the deal they'd secured. The first Epic single was "Burst", a gushing guitar pop song that took them straight into the National Top 40. The follow up "Hit The Ground" came close on its heels, and was only hampered by Radio 1's reluctance to play it in the wake of the M1 air crash.
The first weeks of 1989 saw the release of their LP "Pop Said" which bundled its way into the Gallup Top 30, accompanied by another successful tour that saw The Buds still playing gigs in their delightfully shambolic no bullshit way. Two months later, faced with having to lift a third single of the album, the band fought for and got their choice of "Let's Go Round There" - despite the labels sullen argument that the track wouldn't get any airplay. CBS were right and it just crept into the Top 75.
However, rather than go with the group's wishes an get some new material recorded for Summer '89, CBS have now put out "You've Got To Choose" - again from "Pop Said" and now a full six months out of date. The justification probably goes something like: A) All labels do this now, its customary practice, or B) Because of our budgeting we need to make more money back on the first LP before recording the next one.
Whatever the sales talk, it's a move destined to outweigh financial return with mistrust and disgust from the fans.
"It's not as if the LP did crap", complains Andrea. "It got to 23 and now it's starting doing well in America. But it's gone, we've finished with it - sales should just tick over on their own.
"But no matter how much you talk and argue with them (Epic) they've always got these figures from other bands and start saying. 'You should do what Altered images did' or something. In the end we get our own way sometimes like with "Let's Go Round There" and they won with "You've Got To Choose."
But being the fourth single from the LP, it'll undermine people's faith in you.
Andrea: "It will, you're right, and that makes me feel bad because they might think it's us trying to cash in on the album, but it's not. When they told us they were going to release it, we said 'Well we won't promote it', but they were going to release it anyway, so we thought we'd try and make the best of it and play some gigs at the same time."
Harley: "We've had bad reviews for "You've Got To Choose", but we expected it, as far as we're concerned when people say it's last year's music, well they're right. But it's no fault of ours. We've got new songs now that are much better."
Andrea: "We'd never have got an LP out as quickly as we did if we hadn't signed to a major and at the time we just tried to pick the best contract we were offered - but no matter what, things have gone wrong in the last year. Ideally we'd be onto the second album by now, but it just hasn't happened like that. It never does. No-one has got the perfect contract. No band ever."
It's interesting that Andrea mentions Altered Images, probably the last similar band to the Buds to have graced the Epic label. Altered Images were signed to the major as the best commercial bet from a wave Scottish pop that was undeniably fresh and a touch naive.
The Buds, with their own charm and fallibility were the little Welsh four piece plucked from a nation-wide wave of simple indie pop that again grew from jangles and fringes.
Both enjoyed the early blessing of John Peel, both were faced with coming to terms with record company machinery. Altered Images were guinea pigs for pop-dance remix 12 inchers and special low price debut LP's. The Buds were showered in marketing with Blonde vinyl, box sets with freebie badges and specialist laser etched editions.
In both cases it looks like the label went on a spending spree to break the groups in to the charts. So does it worry The Darling Buds, that they're getting so much money piled into them?
Andrea: "Oh god no, we're the poor relations now. All our money's gone. We wanted a thousand pounds more for the last video so we could get the person we wanted to produce it for an extra day, but they said no."
Harley: "I'm sure they are spending quite a bit on us."
Andrea: "But it's a bit of a con really. You're given a certain amount of money and think 'God I could buy a house with this', but then you have to spend it on recording the album, and you don't want to do it as cheaply as possible, so it costs a lot of money. And we have debts to pay off from the time of 'Shame On You.' "
Harley: "when you sign to a major label, people automatically assume you've got a huge amount of money - when they know you've got a good advance prices go up. I'm sure of it - like studios and places think it's OK, CBS are paying, but they're not it's coming out of your pocket. We've had no money personally from this at all. We spent last year on the Enterprise Allowance Scheme."
The other similarity between The Buds and the Images comes when you draw the line from Claire Grogan (sweet Scot with a tough centre) to Andrea Bud (tomboy Welsh blonde with a hint of sexiness). Both have brilliantly cute smiles and both faced the inevitable kick and shove into the limelight as The Good looking Girl Singer.
Grogan survived OK, but rumours (more rumours!) say Andrea is feeling the pressure; that she's on half a bottle of whiskey a night; that the entire band is on a downer after hassles with the record company and pressure from the public.
Nearly all these things prove to be untrue.
Andrea: "I know what people are worried of, but I can handle myself. I think compared to some bands I'm not as much a focal point as other singers - the rest of the group help absorb the pressures. I haven't been affected by criticism that badly, but if it did start to get to me I'd leave. Or if I saw something more attractive I'd leave. I don't see this as the only thing I want to do with my life."
Bloss: "Oh no, Darling Buds to split."
Andrea: "No, but if you look back, we could have split at any time over the last year, and possibly that'll happen over the next year."
Bloss: "The thing is, people think when you're out of the public eye, you must be at a really low ebb, but we've been having a bloody great time. As you start ironing out the problems and working with nicer people it becomes more fun."
It has been a struggle the last six months, but they're quick to offset the Crapness with Greatness.
There are, throughout our 90 minutes of inquisition and banter, always airing on the bright-ish side, Harley confirming that the next batch of songs - many of them tested out to good response on the European trip - are their best yet. This is what we wanted to hear.
Andrea: "The European gigs were the best thing we've done all year. No-one really wanted to go but it turned out to be brilliant. Next we're going to be recording a new album in August, spend about a month on that and then we're going to tour at the end of September/October. The LP will be out at the start of next year, a year after the first one."
Hits in the making?
Andrea: " 'Tiny Machine,' nothing to do with Tin Machine, 'Tripped Up On Love,' 'Do You Have To Break My Heart.' "
It's more unrequited love then.
Andrea: "Well the first one "Pop Said", was like a 'Slap Around The Face', this one says 'Don't Bother In The First Place'. "
Just remember, as the phone in the bar goes and Andrea hurries off to talk to their desperate press officer, all is fair in love and war.
Live review at the New Morning Club, Paris - Record Mirror July 29, 1989 by Stephanie McNicholas
Starry eyed young French men hovver around the sleazy New Morning Club, clutching bouquets of flowers for the object of their desire - Ms. Andrea Bud.
One sunny smile from the dainty one and the Parisians have forgotten they've just paid the equivalent of nine English quid for an evening lasting barely two hours and ending before the sun sets. Wales' pop Darlings may have laid firm roots down in Britain, but over here they've got to start sewing their seeds afresh.
Andrea spins effortlessly from 'Burst' to the near hit 'Let's Go Round There' to the latest, 'You've Got To Choose'. The Buds have blossomed into a five piece with the addition of guitarist Anthony, whose backing vocals add a lush dimension to new toons like the cute and catchy 'Tripped Up On Love' and the pure pop perfection of 'Turn You On'.
Two encores for this passionate crowd the blooming Buds are crossing Europe's pop borders with two fingers up to the customs men.
Singles Reviewed by The Darling Buds - Record Mirror July 22, 1989
Singles of the Week
Shellyan Orphan - 'Shatter'
Harley: Brilliant! I really enjoyed that, it's just got that excitement about it. It doesn't rely on guitars to be exciting, but it's still like a heart attack or something. It's the only record this week that I'd put on again or go out and buy. It's a lot more poppy than their other stuff.
Andrea: It's very orchestral and the voice has a touch of the Tracey Thorns about it. We've never known what formula you need to get on the radio and at the end of the day you have to make records for yourself. That's what Shellyan Orphan have done. And them doing the Cure tour will mean a lot of people will get to hear this, which is good.
Stone Roses - 'She Bangs The Drum'
Harley: I've already heard this on the LP so maybe it's a bit unfair, but it's really good. It's still got a real edge and a great tune. It's another Sixties sound and I really like that as they had more tunes and songs then. An excellent record.
Andrea: Another little corker and I haven't heard the LP. It's our sort of sound.
The Man From Delmonte - 'My Love Is Like A Gift You Can't Return'
Harley: It's got much charm and charisma than most things we've heard today. It has a certain naivety to it - like when the Housemartins came along with 'Happy Hour'. I don't want to be biased because we know them, but I like it because there's a lot to it.
Andrea: The man from The Darling Buds, he say yes!
The Primitives - 'Sick Of It'
Harley: It's a real groover. It's a dance song, though I'm not a fan of fade outs like this and a lot harder than their last stuff. A lot of people think we're in competition with The Primitives but I'd much rather hear this on the radio than a lot of the crap they play. You don't just get one reggae band in the world do you and I'm sure there's plenty of room for us, The Primitives and other bands like that. Thumbs up from The Darling Buds.
Andrea: It's very exciting compared to what's in the top 40. I don't think it'll do as well as 'Crash', it's 11 months since they've done anything.
Buzzcocks - 'Sunset'
Harley: It's not as exciting as the original Buzzcocks but I like it. Great beginning.
Andrea: Steve Diggle shouldn't call FOC the Buzzcocks though, because that band split up and you should move onto the next thing.
Alice Cooper - 'Poison'
Harley: I've got a really horrible confession to make. I do listen to this stuff now and again. It really reminded me of a Guns N' Roses single when it started. I don't really know what to say about Alice Cooper. He's been through everything, backwards by the look of it and when I was a kid we were into 'Schools Out'. It's good though - lots more exciting than a lot of stuff.
Edwyn Collins - 'Coffee Table Song'
Andrea: At first I though it sounded a bit Princey - the drums had that basic sound - but I don't think it's the best dance choice for a single. It's certainly not what you know Edwyn Collins for.
Harley: I've liked Edwyn since Orange Juice and I can understand this because there's a really good song in there and I can understand him progressing. I think he's made this record purely for himself. But I think he's gone too far away from the OJ style.
Kevin McDermott Orchestra - 'Where We Were Meant To Be'
Andrea: I love the beginning. Put the start on again. There's nothing really wrong with the song, but it's not really what I'm into.
Harley: It sounds very American and could get played a lot on the radio.
Womack & Womack - 'Missing Persons Bureau'
Andrea: First of all a Darling Buds apology to all those Womack & Womack fans out there because if you liked the last stuff, you'll love this, but we hate it. It's just made for all those types who wear white high heels and I'm afraid I've had 'teardrops' up to here.
Harley: Hmmm. Lovely family and all that but I don't know what the little kid in all the photos does in the band. Sorry, not for me I'm afraid.
James Taylor Quartet - 'It Doesn't Matter'
Andrea: Two things really spring to mind. Firstly, when the vocals came in I thought it was Bloss, our drummer, 'cause he sings like that when he's driving the van. Secondly, the music's a bit like 'Sale Of The Century'.
Harley: I like some of their early stuff, but I find a whole album really hard work. It's the sort of thing they used to have on Saturday light entertainment shows at half time when the dancers came on.
Aswad - 'On And On'
Andrea: We went to Jamaica after our tour in February and this was coming out of every radio we came across. It's good dance stuff and it'll be a hit and we've been told reggae is set for a resurgence, but I don't know. Not too impressed.
Harley: It's the sort of record you'd put on if you were having a smoochy night in with your girlfriend.
Andrea: God, would you? I'd be off like a shot!
Dead Or Alive - 'Come Home With Me Baby'
Harley: Another dance track. It's guaranteed if you do a dance track it'll do all right somewhere. Pete Burns had some hits a while ago and this sounds exactly the same to me. It's going to go down well in the charts and that's what's killing music today.
Andrea: Ah! Here he goes, shut up Harley! It's just this HI-NRG stuff that goes dinky dinky ting ting that I hear they play in the gay clubs.
Harley: Exactly! We could go into the studio tomorrow and do that, no trouble. Anyone could.
AR Kane - 'Pop'
Harley: Well, that was the long version and thank God there's a short version. Very well done, but there's something about it that really grated - a drone that went right through it.
Andrea: I liked the beginning and was waiting for something to happen but it never did.
You've Got To Choose review - Tracey Tracey (The Primitives) - New Musical Express July 8, 1989
"Now this has got to be Single Of The Week," screams Tracey as soon as I produce this record, promptly changing her mind when she hears it. Listening to 'You've Got To Choose' is a disturbing experience. Like being stuck at one of those parties where only the bores want to make conversation and the stereo is turned down low. The fourth song off the album and a stinker to boot, what is going on?
Oh it's just The Darling Buds really. I never thought they were particularly good songwriters. The lyrics always sound like they've been thrown into a hat then pulled out and used in no particular order. our lyrics are meant to be throwaway but these aren't even thought about."
Forget the lyrics, forget the music, poor Andrea - the new Mark Tow GLAMOROUS Andrea - looks like Bette Midler on this sleeve.
"Yes, well, she's always reminded me of somebody you'd meet at the local youth club, really ordinary, but I'm not going to sit here bitching. It's what everyone expects me to do and it isn't my style at all."
Live review at The Town & Country Club London (CND Benefit) - Melody Maker April 8, 1989 by Paul Lester
Andrea delays her bubbly appearance until afte r the lads have settled in comfortably, increasingly confident in her role as sparkly pop attraction, Sandie Shaw's giggly, naughty niece. Darling Buds are a jamboree bag, a lucky dip of golden delicious segments, as gossamer featherweight as Altered Images, but with the same post-intellectual rock hack framework, that Claire's bears had built around them, proving that, for us journos, things are never as simple as they seem. "Burst" is a considerable initial strike, Andrea's voice quivering and wavering just nicely.
"Turn You On" is brand spanking new, the sinister riff from "Don't Fear The Reaper" coated with the Buds platinum logic. Bloss gets a teddy from a girl in the audience and Andrea puts some flowers in her hair that fetchingly offset with wafer thin black petticoat, fashion buffs "Pretty Girl" and "Valentine" are more frame from Darling Buds' sonic comic, their cartoon monsoon of loony toons. Andrea frugs her way through "Let's Go Round There", the current single, the first five seconds threatening to turn into the Cocteau Twins' "Pearly Dewdrops Drops". The coda is a bit Smiths, just in case the Sundays are watching "Just Say So" flicks through pop's back pages, dips into "Femme Fatale", "Always Something There To remind Me" and "Drive My Car" as the Chris/Bloss engine motors on. When Andrea puts on a CND tee-shirt well, it's sure ain't Frankie's "Arm The Unemployed" on Top Of The Pops in Summer 1984, buts it's a mildly subversive tickle that warrant the generous applause. Two encores, Darling Buds take our breath away, and we leave exhausted but happy. Is that all there is?
Let's Go Round There review - Melody Maker March 18, 1989
There's no point in trying to be smart about this one. It won't wash. The Darling Buds are perfectly harmless little mites and that's the sum total of their appeal. But sometimes it's really nice to have no demands to meet and the only requirements for a full appreciation of this single are a full set of half cocked ears and the ability to jump up and down on the spot. At six o'clock in the morning, having spent the night sifting through 98 singles it's infinitely more healthy than the 14th mug of coffee. Tank you Andrea.
Interview - Offbeat Magazine March, 1989 by Ronnie Randall
Total Eclipse Of The Art
You can gauge just how quickly the big time has caught up with The Darling Buds by the fact that, even with two chart singles and a delayed album out, the band are still drawing their £40 a week from the Government's Enterprise Allowance Scheme. From the dole queue to national media figures in under a year.
Then again, not all new bands kick off with such a fine debut as the collection of punky pop tunes that makes up that debut album, Pop Said. It's speedy, simple, direct, and catchy. Perfect pop sense, seemingly bred in another era - I'm thinking along the lines of The Buzzcocks here - but mostly, when I'm thinking about The Darling Buds, I'm thinking Andrea, But, I'm sat at a table with three strange men and I'm not exactly sure why, until someone mentions they're the band! What band?
"It happens with any band," claims someone called Harley. "No matter how democratic you are, it's always the singer that everyone remembers. It's kind of natural that the voice becomes the mouthpiece and face of the band. If I was the vocalist it would be me you recognised. Everyone wants to know how we feel about Andrea grabbing all the limelight."
Actually, I just wanted to ask you about space and fun things like that. You know. Like, er, chatty and totally irrelevant. Stuff that has nothing to do with music or what you do in the recording studio.
"Well, I play guitar," Harley continues, "Bloss plays drums and makes funny little quips, oh and I almost forgot about Chris, the quiet bloke. He likes to keep out of things. I think he's shy, but I know he plays bass. I bet you're wondering how three blokes can put up with a mere girl in the band?"
Well, no, not really. I was still thinking about space. You know, the final frontier and all.
"We appreciate how hard it is for her - being on all the covers, constantly in the limelight. She can't ever sit out of a situation. She has to do all the interviews and all the photo sessions."
It must be terrible. So where is she?
"At first," interjects Bloss, "you want to be in everything, but it's mentally exhausting always having to be on your toes for journalists. They prod you and ask about every subject under the sun."
Ah! Yes, the sun. Speaking of that, it's in space, isn't it? I was going to ask.
"We couldn't leave it all to poor Andrea," admits Harley, "it wouldn't be fair to let her cope with it all. We're here to protect her. Besides, we're not Andrea and her backing band as one reviewer called us. The Darling Buds are comprised of four essential parts. We cant help it if the music papers want to crop us out of all the band photos so they can get a close up on her face."
Face! Space! Let's do word association, like now. OK, Space Invaders.
Harley: "Here's Andrea."
War Of The Worlds
Andrea: "F***in' hell."
Andrea: "We just got back to Wales and here we are rushing up to London again."
Andrea: "I mean, we hardly had time for a cup of tea."
Bloss: "Yeah. There's seven floors at our label CBS and each one has cropped up with a different itinery for us."
Harley: "Yeah, After we were on Top Of The pops, there was a massive explosion of interest and ever since it's been go go go."
Bloss: "Sometimes we don't know what's happening from one minute to the next. I mean, anything could happen in the next half hour."
Bloss: "And, somewhere amid all this chaos, the label want us to record a completely new single to follow 'Let's Go Round There' What do they think we have? Amazing powers?"
"Are you here to interview us, or what?"
Can I ask about astrology?
Harley: "I don't remember a track about astrology on the album."
There isn't. It's just a subject to talk about. Remember?
Harley: "Oh yes, Well, I'm really into it. The stars are the first thing I read in a newspaper. I'm Cancer." Andrea: "You're nothing like a Cancer. You're not a mummy's boy. I'm an Aries and I think I'm really like the sign. I don't know how, though. I mean, if one in 12 are supposed to be Aires, we can't all be alike, can we?"
Harley: "I suppose not. I'm a horder, a real Cancerean."
Bloss: "I'm Scorpio, the deep one. Well, my voice is deep. Chris is a Pisces, the quiet one."
Andrea: "Aries are very self assured, creative people. Very energetic, they can go out and achieve anything once their minds are set."
Harley: "But they blow their tops a lot, don't they, Andrea? They're extremely volatile."
Andrea: "OK. I admit it. I'm basically calm, but once something bugs me, I fly about in a rage. I went to see a fortune teller once. When I was 18 I went to London with Harley and saw Madame Rosa in Camden and she told me about my past and how unhealthy I was. She told me how I should live in the future and how to put my health right. Then she predicted in the future that I'd be writing songs and appearing on stage - and that was before I had any connections in music. She also said I'd be in a relationship in my early 20s and have two kids. I haven't had the kids yet, by the way."
But did you believe it? Surely fortune telling is like a kind of subliminal advertising. If you have faith you can become susceptible to ideas and subconsciously your mind considers acting on the suggestions and predictions.
Andrea: "My mum went to a fortune teller about six months ago and was told that she had a daughter who would be on the front page of a magazine - which was amazing as I was on the cover of the Melody Maker at the time. How do you explain that?"
So you'd like to believe in it?
Andrea: "There are so many mysteries and so many possibilities that you can almost believe in anything if it sounds plausible enough, especially where space is concerned."
Yes. The earth being flat theory seemed plausible once.
Harley: "People actually devote their whole lives to astrology, it must mean something. Newspapers wouldn't include it if people didn't believe it."
Bloss: "People devote lifetimes to making crap music, too."
And newspapers write acres on Kylie Minogue.
Harley: "That's not quite the same thing. Kylie's just a form of moon madness."
Andrea: "Yeah, the moon affects people. Our manager's wife told us to stay clear of our manager on full moons, because he turns into a lunatic. And, we've noticed it, too. Suddenly, when the skies are right, he'll phone up with a paranoid tale about how we'll owe millions unless we split up now, then in the morning he's his usual positive self."
Harley: "That's where the idea of werewolves originates, the fact that people's personalities change so drastically and temporarily when the moon changes. Why shouldn't it affect us? There's the planets, too. Like radio waves - they're floating around all over the place, but we can't see them, the only way that we know they're there is because we built receivers to harness them and turn the gobbledygook into sense. In other words, radio stations."
It's a thought, but wouldn't it be good to turn some of the radio stations back into gobbledygook?
Harley: "Sure, but we haven't mastered it yet. But who's to say we aren't affected by other kinds of waves that our minds receive, but for now we don't realise what's happening? The best science fiction books and films are always based on unknown quantities like that."
Bloss: "But then there's others that are just plain daft. Like Lost In Space where there are so many aliens running around in furry costumes and saying things like 'Golly gee chaps, I'm from Jupiter', with a cowboy hat on and travelling in a medicine show type spaceship."
Andrea: "I love it. It's total crap. But it was good for its time, I suppose. We've learnt so much about space in the last 20 years. Remember that Twilight Zone episode where this pretty girl had an operation and the doctors are taking off the bandages and saying 'I hope it's worked this time, this is the fifth operation'? When they take the bandages she's got a horrible snout and piggy ears and you think, 'God, no!', but the doctors all laugh and when the camera pulls back they all look like that too. It's a comment on the way we use looks to decide if someone is good or evil."
Harley: "Those Twilight Zone episodes work in the same way as Roald Dahl stories. There's a wicked or funny twist in the ending. They're so unnerving."
Where does the universe end
Bloss: "Nothing can't end. It's unexplainable. The human mind can't cope with the idea that space goes on and one into infinity, like Gary Glitter. There can't be an edge to space. And, even if there is, there has to be something else beyond it. It hurts my mind just trying to imagine it."
Andrea: "Maybe there are lots of universes like tennis balls and someone's carrying us about in a big basket."
Harley: "There's all sorts of ideas about black holes which sound equally as plausible, but who can physically prove the theory? Einstein was a theory man. He never proved one of them himself, he was just great with ideas. Some of them were right. Look as Galileo, it was accepted that the world was flat and that the sun and the planets revolved around us, then this geezer comes along and theorises that the earth is a sphere that revolves around the sun. He got into a lot of trouble for it."
There has to be life among all of those planets. How do you imagine it?
Harley: "Much like us. Like, say, David Bowie in the Man Who Fell To Earth. His alien form is very human."
Bloss: "Well, they couldn't make him look like an octopus, could they?"
Andrea: "I imagine aliens to be more like slimy animals, but I'd prefer them to be like the Clangers, especially the Welsh soup dragon - they would make nice aliens."
Bloss: "Well, you're all wrong. The Sunday Sport says they're like sprouts and other vegetables."
Harley: "I've tried astral projection. Where you relax and allow your soul to leave the physical confines of your body to travel anywhere, America, outer space. But, I haven't succeeded yet." Bloss: "It's a wonder Freddie Laker hasn't tried to start an airline using the technique, it sounds cheap on fuel."
Andrea: "Chris would be good at astral projection. He's always relaxed and quiet. Aren't you Chris? Chris? Is there anyone in there?"
Harley: "Chris is affected by the sun and the moon. He can't do anything when either of them is out. We're waiting for a total eclipse to see if that helps."
Andrea: "We have to pinch him from time to time to see if he's still alive."
Bloss: "Chris likes big women."
Chris: "The bigger the better."
If you were characters in Star Trek, who would you be?
Bloss: "I'd be a tribble."
Andrea: "All the women are so meek, I'd have to be Captain Kirk, the woman at the helm."
Harley: "I'd be Captain Slog who's always mentioned at the start of each episode."
Chris: "I'd be an extra so I wouldn't have to speak at all."
With all the fame and fortune the album is going to bring, what kind of living space will you choose when you leave your parent's homes?
Harley: "I'd like a house of my own. I need a lot of space, a place where no one can hear me scream."
Andrea: "A large, all in one room, like a massive warehouse with the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen all mixed up together."
Bloss: "I hate being on my own. I'm a gregarious person. I don't function alone, so I'd need a house with other people in it."
Chris: "A dark corner."
So, there you have it. The Darling Buds aren't just a cute blonde girl, they're a four piece band with equally daft opinions and love and life and the universe are an equally integral part of the unit. Now, er, Andrea, can I take some photos of you alone for the cover, please?
The Darling Buds - Confetti Junction Melody Maker February 18, 1989 by Ian Gittins
With their first Top 20 single and a critically acclaimed debut album, Andrea and the boys look set to blossom in the public arena. Ian Gittins joined their whirlwind tour and brought back tales of the unexpected.
11:20 It's Saturday morning kiddie time, and The Darling Buds are shining out of the telly. After Bruno Brookes and the Red Arrows display team, there's a burst of punky life in "Hit The Ground", all andles, spikes and honey. Phillip Schofield explains to a few million that "John Peel's show is nothing like 'Going Live' and asks Andrea which bands she likes. "Wonder Stuff, House Of Love, Jesus & Mary Chain," she decides. There's a pause. "And we're all right I s'pose". Thee talk about this and that. She goes on the video panel wit Holly Johnson and a Red Arrow. She votes for Julian Cope - he wins. It's the sort of daftness they're getting used to.
5:08 Bruno's back! But it's bad news. As he skips through the nations charts, the chirpy cretin reveals the Buds have slipped down nine spots, after "Top Of The Pops" boosted them to Number 27 last week. It's no surprise. In the wake of Lockerbie and Kegworth, Radio One haven't been playing "Hit The Ground" too much. The Buds take it in good grace. What can they do? As Radio One say, it's "unfortunate".
6:20 We're in Birmingham. The Darling Buds have cantered into town as part of their month long haul to promote "Pop Said", their debut LP. We're trying to meet and say hello, but are having no luck. The Irish Centre, their venue for the night, reveals only luguburios bassist, Chris, mooching around with jovial drummer Bloss. They're busy. And along the whole wall of the hall runs a florid mural of swelling hills, lakes, cottages and a lone fisherman. An aesthetic disaster.
So we try and find the others, and wind up in a chintzy hotel where Andrea is in the bath and Harley is edgy, jumping around. We all mutter at each other. As we do, a fat man comes over, sits in the middle of us and puts "Coronation Street" on very loud. "We always watch this," he says. It's time to go.
8:30 The curry house is warm, red and cosy and the food is good. Then we realise Andrea is coming over the quiet local radio, except we can't hear her over the clatter of plates and lids. When we ask the waiter to turn it up, he smiles and turns it off.
So we walk to the Irish centre, where Blue Aeroplanes have just sweated blood for a stolid crowd. "The stage is too small," Wojtek tells me. For him, it always is. The crowd liked them, but they're waiting, chanting out odd Buds lyrics in impatience. And then at 10:15, the lights go down. Andrea bounds onto stage and yells "Hello, pop kids!"
Bursts of thunder. Guitars like hammers. Confetti from heaven. The Darling Buds make an entrance, erupt all over Brum and play a great punk gig. Harley goes walkabout, Chris is static, Andrea is lost, whirling in storms of confetti and the energy of the moment. "Burst" is glorious, "Human Fly" superbly contrary, "Uptight" drills away at the nervous system. They impact through shock value. And all the time Andrea is central, taking charge, lifting it higher. Guitars scorch. "You've Got To Choose" is flat and raucous. How d'you stand aloof from this? You don't. Just go with it, and hope for the best. Join the triumph. It's one more victory for them.
12:30AM The hotel is smart, the bar is open, it's time to break the ice. It's not too hard. There's been a few drinks backstage after the gig and the Buds are up for fun. After slogging through a dull interview, Andrea and Harley start a rampage. Harley talks about the local radio DJ and how he asked them about the Primitives. "Why do they always do that?" he complains. He looks like he really doesn't know.
A plastic plant next to us looks like a cannabis shrub, but about six foot tall. Andrea and Harley yank leaves off it, put them in their hair and parade round the bar, heckling a poor waiter for a jar of iced water. It soon comes. Harley talks about his willy, as he does, until Andrea complains, "the room is spinning around". She lies on the plush seat and sleeps while we talk around her. And about her. At 3AM, they drag her off to bed.
12 noon As the train pulls out of Birmingham, I think, who are these Darling Buds? "Pop Said" is their new LP and like all they do, it's very pop. In certain ways. In the way, for instance, each song is shot through with buzzsaw energy, a sense of urgency and dynamics which owes everything to punk. In the way each song sings about love, and boys and girls, and the way the heart beats. In the way it has five or six slices which, as singles, could easily bring a ray of sunshine streaming into daytime radio. A lot of them have been singles already.
For me, The Darling Buds are a fine live band because their one joke, the one thing they do, hangs around life and vigour and making the biggest mark possible. The chant and chirp and smile, and look good, and do loads of things through a mixture of fun, stirred with ambition. They care enough to put on a show. How well that can transfer to 12 cold inches of vinyl is uncertain, yet "Pop Said", as well as the trademark punky energy, sees the Buds calling at a few more points. It's not just the tiny thrash you could expect. They're learning.
Sonic architects the Buds ain't. But they are a fine pop group. And now, as the world starts to notice them, we're off down to Cardiff. It's a big night. This is the hometown gig, and they're going to be blitzed by friends, relatives, acquaintances, enemies, all coming out of the woodwork and grabbing a piece of them in the wake of "TOTP" and Bruno Brookes. They're sort of looking forward to it, and sort of very nervous. TV confidence and gig skills can collapse when your mum is watching. It's another world to all those other nights, just singing to strangers. Will they handle it? Oh, sure. But it won't be easy.
5:30 The day's chores - travel, radio interviews, soundchecks, fanzines - are all done. The play can almost start. In the Great Hall (Neuadd Fawr) at Cardiff University, the stage is set. A porky roadie in a Then Jerico tee shirt makes us laugh with a remote controlled red racing car he crashes into the walls. But the Buds are restless. Their folks are on the way! It's time to talk.
5:45 Andrea is very pretty. That's not sexist! Chris is very handsome. She's also sharp, chripy and has this way of talking as if you're her very best friend, or at least you've known her for many, many years. She's very warm. It may be a careful charm, maybe it's just the way she is. Either way, I think I like it.
She also talks like crazy, partly because of the nerves of a big gig coming up, partly because she just does. That's fine. It makes my job easy. Except she tends to stick to a party line - how exciting the Buds are, how daft the fame lark, how they must work to "progress". She doesn't want us going in too close. Well, you can't blame her. Who needs it? She's got a lot to do.
Do you enjoy being looked at, Andrea? Being the main one?
"Yeah! It can get on my nerves, though, y'know? I don't mind being the front person, cos I am a talkative person. I wanna be involved. There's always someone in the band that pushes the rest. That's me. But I think being in the front is what I'm suited to doing. I'm not suited to being a moody bass player."
So you enjoy showing off?
"I s'pose in a way I do. I've always shown off since I was little. Done things for attention. When I want to show off, it's fine. But now people expect me to when I don't want to. It can be an effort. At this party I felt really ill, and all this nice woman asked me to award a prize, and I didn't want to, and I still had to do it."
But it beats being ignored? Andrea laughs. There's no doubt here.
"Oh, yeah! I'd have more to scream and shout about if I was being ignored!"
There's many kinds of fame, though. How do you find this sort? Standing on stage singing loud? Is it easy?
"I can get nervous. I never thought I would. It's less nerve racking when you can stroll to the stage from the crowd, play to your mates, know there aren't all these people waiting to be impressed. This tour, I'm aware there are people going "Who the hell are the Darling Buds anyway? What's so good about them? We have to impress them. But it depends on the audience, as well. And drink. Last night I was pretty pissed, and that helps."
How can you get around fear? Deep breaths? Positive thinking?
"Yeah, I s'pose, taking a deep breath. I remember one time, having a drama school audition and being really nervous, and my mum saying 'Drink some vodka first, they can't smell that.' You have to hype yourself up, you only live once. If you make mistakes it doesn't matter. When I'm 30, I can look back on all this and laugh at it. If the whole stage collapses tonight, it doesn't matter. I never think, 'I'm the best, I'm great'. That's not me. If I read my review, and it's shit, I can still hype myself up. That's all right."
So has it always been an aim of yours? This pop thing? There's some hard thought.
"I think in a way I did always want to do something like go to drama school or be in a band. That sort of thing. The thought of a nine to five job frightened me. I'd prefer to waitress, know what I mean? I went to business college and got really ill. I hated it, I had ulcers, my eyes looked really awful. I was really in a state..."
I can believe it. Andrea is filled with great, looming need to be noticed. That's more than okay. It helps what she does. So does she love the opposite? Being on telly?
"Saturday morning, I didn't really want to do it. Didn't want to cancel tour dates. It's not really on, is it? In the end we didn't have to. But my hands were soaking wet when we were singing. Every time the camera moved away, I wiped my hands. Had to!"
Are you like a fish in water? Or is it all unreal? Surreal?
"It is unreal. You can't believe you're doing it. When I was a kid, I'd always have a bath before 'Top Of The Pops', then sit and watch it. Then we're on there! But it was so rushed. Maybe in 10 years time, I'll sit back and go f***ing hell! I've been on 'Top Of The Pops'! But right now, I can't take it in. So much has happened."
Are you a good pop star? How would you describe yourself?
"Oh God. I'm, not hyperactive, but always buzzing about. Quite friendly, I s'pose, towards people. I put my foot in it a lot."
Do you feel out of place as a pop star? You're not larger than life.
"That's right, people really build you up. And we're just normal people. I used to think of Abba as being superhuman or something! Big, huge people." Pause. "And it's just a job really, innit? It's weird that people write to us and say we're their favourite band. I can't understand it. It's like, why, y'know? What have we done? What buttons have we pressed to make it right for that person? I dunno why."
Are you totally normal? Is there nothing special about you? It's at this point that Andrea defines herself as well as anybody ever could.
"I don't know how to say this, but I've always been winding myself up to do something. I would always do dares. A lot of kids wouldn't. If I get drunk, and someone says, oh, I don't know...to nick something, I probably would do it, because I wanted the dare. Being in the band, it's a bit dangerous - not like the Butthole Surfers, or anything, but sometimes people say 'Andrea, you're a bit mad' and I just wonder, why doesn't anyone else do that? Maybe I'm different like that. But then I look at it from another way and think, God, I'm just completely normal. Just he same as other people."
How do you let yourself down? What's the worst bit of you?
"Probably that I have always have to have my own way! I sulk if I don't. That sort of thing. I'm a bit bossy. I get into moods, take it out on people. Then feel guilty afterwards. I'm always either really happy or really sad, and if I'm angry, I'm gonna bloody hit someone. No fight, or anything, but, smash a mirror."
How d'you find writing? Do words come hard, or easy?
"Mostly easy, I s'pose. I know we've done some crap lyrics as it is. But they're not meant to be brilliant or anything. When I write 'em, they mean something. Normally they're just little stories. They do come pretty easy. They're not all about me. They couldn't be! I'd be bloody crazy by now!"
Could you pour your heart out to everyone?
"No, I couldn't. I wouldn't want people to know really. The songs are all things I know about, but..."
You're too shy?
Are you easily hurt? Have the press bruised you yet?
"Nah. We laugh at it. Some of the bad press is funnier than the good. The Jonh Wilde thing. And the Stud Brothers. It's hysterical, the way people see us."
Right. So, what about all this Buds stuff? Is it a career? A joke?
"Mmm. I prefer to see it as more of an adventure, and a joke. There's so many things to do yet. I really think the album's good, but a lot of the songs, there's still something missing. I don't know what'll happen."
Do you ever feel like it's all so good, it's never going to stop?
"No. I feel like it's all so good, it's gonna come down like a ton of bricks. I always think, 'It'll end any minute now!' maybe now, cos we've got in the charts. I always expect a backlash. Things to drop and fall apart."
Do the Darling Buds help you life make sense, or do they mess it up?
"Oh, I don't [expect] life to make sense! Why should it? Right now, every gig we do, I think, 'I couldn't be doing anything better!' It's the best time of my life right now. There'll be one day when the best thing I can think of doing will be falling in love, having a child. I won't want a band then. I'll be a recluse in Scotland. That'll be the be all and end all."
Savour it while it lasts.
"Yeah. A while ago, when we were juts a normal little band, going up and down playing to 30 people, I never dreamt we'd get here. But we have. Who knows what's next? I don't."
6:30 Chris does fit the image of the moody bass player. On stage, he hardly moves, keeping an aloof distance. Off stage, he speaks when spoken to. Not before. This doesn't mean he's hard to talk to. In fact, he's very easy.
Chris says what he hopes most is the Darling Buds make people happy. It does it for him. So can't music depress you?
"Not me," he says. "The only music I can't listen to is opera. Any opera. And folk music. And country and western. Anything else I like, generally. Apart from the disco crap and..."
Bloss drums for the Buds. It's not the only way he holds the band together. He's a few years older and you can tell. Got his head screwed on. Good fun, but knows where to draw the line. That sort of thing. He's happy like that. Well, good for him. "Happy go lucky and down to earth" he calls himself. Two out of two.
Bloss is very steady, with a big fat sense of fun. And if the Darling Buds make you a fortune, what'll you do with it?
"I know that already. I'll open a restaurant, maybe with a pub. That's what I'd like. Work for myself. Not for anyone else. Even if I was running a hot dog stall. Control your own destiny, that sort of thing. I need to do that. The Darling Buds are my way of getting there.
7:45 Harley is the most complex Bud by a street. He can seem too loud when you meet him, too brash, strutting round full of himself and keen to impress. He talks about his willy. He's very excitable. Yet with Andrea, he's the motor of this band, the one who keeps them ticking over. And talk to him - he means all of it. Every word. To him, right now, the Darling Buds are life or death.
"I'm very much an extrovert. I come over strongly. I dunno, I'm not a very deep person. None of the bullshit. Just very down to earth. When I worked in this factory, I used to be into Bauhaus, Bunnymen, all those bands and go out and buy all those long coats and penguin suit coats, and everyone ripped the piss out of me! But I thought it was great, y'know. People thought I was a total plonker, my dad thought I was a poof."
Do you feel important?
"I like to. When I met Julian Cope for the first time, he had this aura around him, probably cos he's so big and I want to create something like that... not create it, have it around me. You either have it or you don't. Like sex appeal; you can't try and have that. It doesn't work. I'd just like to think perhaps I've got that little something extra there. I don't wanna sound big headed, y'know. But I like to think it's there."
It seems to me like you're keen to make you mark.
"Well, The Jam said it in one of their songs, 'The teachers who said I'd be nothing.' I had some rough times at school and I'd just like to show I'm not a run of the mill lad. I want my neighbours to think that."
Do Darling Buds songs ever catch at your heart? Do they mean anything?
"No, all of our songs are very disposable. I think that's how pop songs should be. They're there. They have their moments. People enjoy it at the time, then it's gone. Andrea's very involved in writing now. Much more than she was. It's like we compete to be better, and we never talk about it, but I always want to be better than her. I'm sure she feels the same. And we work very closely together."
Harley lowers his voice.
"And sometimes she writes things and I think 'Bloody hell! That's good!' but I don't tell her..."
Harley, who says what he'd like most of all, would be to go to the moon, talks long, hard and entertainingly and it's not always about his willy. That's just one more way of making his mark. I decide he wants to be a pop star very, very much. He decides, he knows that already. And in his sense of contrary glee, his wilful charm, he's just like Einar Sugarcube. Really. I wish I'd told him.
8:45 A drink in the bar with Bloss. As we talk a fancy dress parade walk in - rabbits, ducks, sheikhs, pirates, knights, the normal. He looks up and gulps. "Blimey, I thought the confetti was bad enough.
9:00 The dressing room is packed with parents, fussing and cooing. In the midst of it, Andrea is being photographed, a flower etched on each hand. I act as an impromptu security guard for a trip through the hall to the toilet, where she knows every third person she meets. Forget Blonde, forget 'TOTP', forget Bruno, I realise. Down here, they're just local lads made good. And everybody wants a piece. A seven foot Goth snaps her picture. She smiles through it all. What a trooper!
Back in the dressing room, the parents have been shoo-ed out. Harley whips out his pride and joy and pees in the sink. "See, I told you it was small!" The ghost of Jim Morrison turns in his grave. The locals are waiting. The Buds are ready to rock.
10:15 The Darling Buds flower over Cardiff. This is no place for an inquest. The gig's a success. How could it be otherwise? Everyone's on their side. Andrea has the sexy smile, Harley the mean stare. Chris is a statue. And guitars rampage like crazy. The Darling Buds, I realise, are a great pop band in the way that The Beatles were, or Blondie, or the Buzzcoks. Instant, urgent and raw. One song can pull you into its sense of focus and make you look at yourself, know all kinds of stuff. It may only take seconds, but it counts. Pop said.
They need more, of course. They know this. Singles which excite when they appear among the daytime radio stodge, all gleam and cutting edge can be blunted when they're all we get. The impact can be lost. Like the Wedding Present, the Darling Buds have to find new angles, branch out, take a few deeper breaths. Twenty three minute rushes of vigour are a lot to take. They could diversify.
But really, as Chris mutters later, what band doesn't flag at least twice in a huge set? There are some. But not many. The Darling Buds are learning and what they've learnt so far is enthusiasm is big fun and guitars exhilarate. The rest may come. It's been a mere sprint so far. The marathon is ahead.
But enough! Cardiff loves them. "Shame On You" is a coarse high, "Big Head" a scorcher, "Spin" an adrenaline dance. "Human Fly" has some great trash guitar, even if Andrea's squeal can't reach Lux Interior's growl. Everyone in the city knows the words to "Burst" and "Hit The Ground". One song transmutes into the most unconvincing version ever of "Light My Fire". Morrison spins again. We all laugh. When it's not dull, it's fire and brimstone. The way it was always going to be. One more great punk gig. And there's Andrea, tiny in front of the scrumming, belching mob, never looking like loosing control, with her big red grin. The homeland is wooed and won. It's easy.
12 Midnight Backstage is pandemonium. Sisters are crying, uncles patting Buds on the back. There's lots of hugs and kisses. Three fans tumble in and ask the Darling Buds to support the Val Doonican Rocking Chair Experience, Harley's happy, Bloss is content, Chris is missing again. Andrea's mum comes to meet me and tells me she hopes I do a good job. I tell her I hope I do, too. And then she catches Andrea's eye, pulls her over next to us, and whispers "You were levely".
Outside the rabbit, duck pirate and sheikh all walk past again. They're a bit pissed. "Here," says the rabbit, "that's her from the Darling Buds!". It's the way to end. With a laugh. Pop said.
Pop Said review - Record Mirror February 11, 1989 by Andy Strickland
The Darling Buds have taken advantage of the mild winter to blossom into our finest three minute pop singles band for several years. Andrea's voice and Harley's guitar combine on a way that The Shop Assistants, Flatmates et al never managed and when there's a strong song beneath these twin towers, notably the singles but also 'She's Not Crying', then The Darling Buds are unbeatable.
However, we slightly more mature pop fans are plagued with a history that means the names the Skids, Girls At Our Best, Blondie, Ramones and even early Clash invade the sights and sounds of The Darling Buds on 'Pop Said' whether the young Welsh quartet realise it or not.
When they signed to CBS, the band accepted all the major pressures which include squeezing a premature debut LP out of every new signing in case that initial singles success proves to be the last and this lack of faith means 'Pop Said' would undoubtedly have benefited from another six months writing and recording. But cheer up - the signs are already here that Harley's music will develop beyond the limiting, if polished, power chord pop and if Andrea's lyrics can mature likewise the band will eclipse this record easily and swiftly. The Bud's young audience will lap up 'Pop Said' and they've already produced a classic in 'Shame On You'.
Pop Said review - Sounds February 11, 1989 by Peter Kane
The Neo-Primitives slurs are obvious, of course.
There's the same fascination with fast tunes, scraped guitars and adolescent angst that found some sort of perfection with the Buzzcocks; not to mention the flaxen headed nod in the direction of early Blondie; and now, even, the switch from minor to major. These people are plainly asking for it.
'Pop Said' just shrugs its bony shoulders and says, So what? It's hard to argue with this logic and not be swept along on the tide of elemental solos, adrenaline beats and songs about being stood up, put down, fobbed off and generally having less fun than everyone else in the whole world. Ever.
Andrea's fashionably thin voice is custom made for the zip pop of 'Burst', 'Uptight' or 'The Other Night', all of which find her down but not quite out. Fact is, when it comes to the crunch, she's not just a wig on a stick but something brassier altogether. 'Shame On You', reeks of vengeance and self assertion and if that's not enough, how about the catty put down of 'Big Head'?
There's nothing coy or clever about any of this. Just 12 spiffy pop songs that buzz like a bunch of bees on their birthday. One dimensional it may be; but The Darling Buds know their limitations, play to their strengths and, on vinyl at least, it works a treat.
Pop Said review - Melody Maker February 4, 1989 by Steve Sutherland
Before we begin cleaving our way through the customary verbal foliage of bursting seeds and psychedelic pollen that makes reading about the Buds an experience somewhat akin to stumbling upon an undiscovered extract from Coleridge's private diary written on a very high night, I think it's as well we examine the word "classic."
I say this because a classic is undoubtedly what "Pop Said" will be called, because a classic is undoubtedly what "Pop Said" is. According to the Oxford Concise Dictionary (never far from this writer's elbow with other muse ticklers like David Crosby's autobiography), "classic" is "of the first class, of acknowledged excellence, outstandingly important." Well, there's no way that'll do.
"Pop Said" is an LP you can easily live life to, but it's hardly the sort of record you live your live by. It's not a turn your head around and look at this a different way LP. In fact, it's not in the least outstandingly important unless, of course, you happen to believe that thinking you're in love and then discovering you're not or vice versa, is outstandingly important.
We'll skip the bits in the dictionary about Latin and Greek antiquity, if that's okay with you, and move right along to "simple, harmonious, well proportioned."
"Pop Said" is also about as "harmonious " as they come - there's little here like chalk dragged down blackboards except the way Andrea occasionally accents a line towards scan rather than meaning. Still, for every clumsy "I I I didn't mean to upset you" (upset pronounced like a hiccup to fit the bustling "Burst") there's a rather fetching, colloquial "smile" pronounced "smy-yule", which absolutely makes "When It Feels Good." As for "well proportioned" - well, sneaking swiftly past the sex angle by saying that Andrea sounds every bit as scrumptious as she looks and yes that'll help the LP sell and yes, it'll also prejudice a lot of crits against them because this is the age of the beast, not for beauty and our pop should reflect our crumbling inner cities and disintegrating morals and should celebrate mindless violence as an art form and should stand for standing for nothing by becoming as unlistenable as possible blah blah blah.
All I can say in reply is, if "Lets Go Round There", as perfectly formed a song as ever was written with druggy swirl and breathless drive, doesn't bring you out in a rash, you're an utter dickhead. It has a chorus you see, which means that, although you've already realised the Buds only had one song - a crystalline cracker and all that, but one song nonetheless - and you've already reached the conclusion that Andrea is unlikely to spring anything on you like the modern equivalent of the Gettysberg Address, you can still sort of simultaneously stop listening and stay singing along. You succumb, caught by the chorus like a wasp in a jam jar.
Back in the dictionary, it says something about "having literary or historic associations." Well, I doubt they'll thank me for pointing out that The Primitives arrived first, but "Pop Said" is a far better debut than "Lovely" because, although its scope is far narrower (they seldom trip out or slow down or anything) it sounds less ashamed, less forced, more natural.
And then there's Blondie. Assuming Andrea's half Ms. Harry's age, there's none of her charismatic carnality, none of the worldliness that made "Parallel Line" such a knowing exercise in pop. There are no subtexts to "Pop Said", no undercurrents or twists. It's pure. What you hear is what you're getting and its lack of dimension may not stimulate the brain too much, but it washes through the senses like a shower seeing off a hangover.
The dictionary concludes classic means "not much affected by the changes in fashion" but sod the dictionary, I reckon it means timely, of its time and yet timeless and I can pay "Pop Said" no greater compliment than to say that, from the skinned shin burn of "Hit The Ground" to the Bo Diddley bike rev of "Things We Do For Love" (with the exception of the rather Jilted John "Big Head" and the rather Kev's missus in "Corrie" "You've Got To Choose") there was nothing else for me, no yesterday, no tomorrow, while it held me in its trance. Darling Buds are a great big NOW.
Live review at the Kentish Town and Country Club, London - Sounds February 4, 1989 by Keith Cameron
Blue Aeroplanes are supporting The Darling Buds. If they weren't, the Buds would fall over.
I've seen the Buds play crap and still be miles better than this squeaking, squawking misappropriation of pop. 'Let's Go Round There', their best song by a considerable margin, is buried by their Luddite machinations. Harley's overly efficient riffing numbs everything and all Andrea can do is holler blithely on, functional and useless.
Worthy of the admission price on it's own is a mind boggling cover of The Cramps' 'Human Fly'. The Darling Buds attempt it note for note and end up with a Carry On theme tune. Oh, but of course this is subversive; this is ironic, it's a laugh. Yeah and Andrea is Woman Of The '80s. Give me Kylie Minogue any day.
The evening ends as it began with Blue Aeroplanes coming onstage and stealing everything: our breath, minds and sense of reason. Even in collaboration with The Darling Buds when a guitar laden (I counted eight), version of Tom Verlaine's 'Breakin' In My Heart' is blown out over our heads.
Live review at the International Manchester - Melody Maker January 28, 1989 by Paul Lester
From Simon Reynold's held back vituperative vitriol to Chris Robert's rapturous rivers of rhapsodies, there's no denying the sheer weight of wise or wondrous words that The Darling Buds seem to inspire, notwithstanding whether you dangle your feet from the dear or dreary fence. I was ready to hate The Darling Buds tonight, if only to redress the critical balance. But this was impossible. And believe me, surrender was never so simple. The Darling Buds at Manchester was the least boring hour in which I have ever been spent.
The sunkissed burst of electric intuition that is "Pretty Girl", just one of a super surplus from The Darling Buds' giggly ziggurat, speeds ecstasy next to me with cherishable cheek. It stays there all night, thanks Thanatos. "Things You Do For Love", a slice of ravished relish, is a double deckered blinding blend of Harley's spunky punky buzzsaw guitars and Andrea's vivacious vocal aspirations.
Andrea's demi lascivious deadpan ululation's are as cute and deadly as cocaine spiked Coke. I disembowel the braindrained moron who squeaks "she's like a chipmunk on helium". We are showered with confetti as "Burst" sprinkles gloss and glamour form the skies in supremely generous proportions. Andrea tames and teases the lionizing hordes and turns their "Manchester, la la la!" charmless chant into a potential Number 1. I've brought it already as Bloss and Chris pump curvaceous, throbbing thunder through the International infrastructure, Harley flicks flame red guitar flares under and upwards, aided and gilded by Andrea, who squeaks and spiels about macho bragadaccio in "Big Head".
Atomic and angelic, The Darling Buds palpitate excitate and tantalise with "Shame On You", a thrilling spillage of blazing instrumental radiance and Andrea's peach perfect singing. Then the worst occurs. Harley's guitar f***s up. Chris and Bloss murder time with bad ass funky renditions of "Baa Baa Black Sheep" and "Jack And Jill". Andrea mock hangs herself with the microphone cord. Our hearts sink to the centre of the Eart. I've not been so distraught since that Ted Moult incident. Suddenly, a shimmer of bass and a flutter of drums suggest the best. Harley plugs into his plectrum and we bounce back on board for the dizziest dazzles of this most light of nights.
"Hit The Ground", fresh and flustered with flash TOTP, success, is spasmodic, melodic and just plain tangy as hell. Andrea smiles for miles. "It's All Up To You", not The Buds' most ticklish vinyl titillation, thrives alive at Manchester. The Skullf*** squad takes impolite leave of its senses as The Darling Buds fade away and vanish from view. Dazed, but not confused, by this cornucopia of Utopian delights, this ardour must be renewed post haste.
Live review at the International Manchester - Record Mirror January 28, 1989 by Tommy Stigwood
It would seem that the good ol' English public have something of a weakness for pop outfits fronted by short, blonde women. As soon as the Shop Assistants took voluntary redundancy, the Primitives gladly filled their noisy shoes. Now with Tracey Tracey taking time out, it is the turn of The Darling Buds to frantically grab their allotted 15 minutes of fame.
One hit single richer and with a 'Top Of The Pops' appearance already under their belt, the Buds are at present riding on the crest of the New Wave. Along with the Wedding Present they took the independent route to major success whilst giving off the air of being 'normal'. Staggeringly normal in fact.
Buzzsawing their merry way through a set of so so three minute ditties, they showed a distinct lack of imagination. "Burst" ignited the crowd and was, in a na‹ve sort of way, not bad. "Hit The Ground" will do. But where to now? The law of averages has blessed them with a couple of listenable songs which seem to have done the trick, but tonight, running dangerously low on pop fuel and with no charisma or wit, they were walking on thin ice. When the guitar conked out we were faced with an awkward, five minute silence. Come on Andrea, SHOW US YER WITS! Ho, hum.
During a limp version of the Cramps' "Human Fly" she repeatedly proclaimed "I don't know why," simultaneously with your truly. Her parting words, "Thanks for listening to this shit." What can you say?
Interview - Record Mirror January 28, 1989 by David Giles
One by one, the petals unfurled, and the tiny buds became beautiful flowers.
"We came off stage last night," says Andrea, "and this fanzine writer wanted to interview us; he said 'we didn't think you'd be doing these any more.' But that's nice really - one night it's 'Top Of The Pops', the next you're in some grotty backstage room doing a fanzine interview."
As "Hit The Ground" climbs the Dirty Thirty and their faces are beamed via TV screens to homes throughout Britain, The Darling Buds are rapidly having to come to terms with the fruits of fame...This is the first time they've visited Scotland and they're not quite sure what to expect. In Edinburgh, the club is shoebox sized. The front door practically leads on to the stage and the dressing room is somewhere down the road. But the gig goes fabulously - lots of splendid new songs are aired and the people dance deliriously, so much so that the railings at the top of the steps being to tilt over at the alarming angle of 45 degrees! Fortunately, nobody's crushed and all ends happily.
Afterwards the band come back to our posh hotel (Jacuzzi etc - they have to slum it in a humble bed and breakfast) for a soiree. The management stuffily refuse to open up the bar for us so we hold our own bash in the foyer with drink from the hotel room 'mini bars'. I bring down a bottle of champers; Andrea wrenches the cork off and it goes rocketing into guitarist Harley's forehead. Harley collapses, as does a drunken Scottish journalist who later has to be carried out to the street. The following night's show in Aberdeen goes even better, although the roadies go a bit mad with the dry ice so that drummer Bloss is obscured from sight for half of the set!
"Over Christmas I went shopping in Newport," recalls Andrea, "and this girl was walking towards me and I could see our T shirt under her jacket. I was really embarrassed, so I kept my head down!" Reluctant popstars? Time will tell. At the moment the Buds are enjoying their little brush with he big time, watching excitedly as their breezy, bracing, guitar driven pop thrash nestles up there with the Kylies and Jasons. What makes it all especially bizarre is that the band are probably the nicest people ever to have a hit record, some of the nicest people in the whole pop world in fact. Andrea: "I think it's good that there's a band like us around. People come and see us and think, oh, they've done all this struggling by themselves! We haven't waited until we got SAW or someone in."
Andrea is miles prettier than any of the pictures you've ever seen of her. Somehow photographers have tried to capture her as a femme fatale, when in reality she radiates natural charm and affability and will talk to absolutely anybody, even a mad Californian poet who stumbles backstage after the Aberdeen show and ends up massaging William, the band press officer's, neck! Like the other three, Andrea grew up just outside Newport in Wales and after an unsuccessful term at college, went abroad and worked as a kind of au pair. On returning to Newport, she found that all her friends had buggered off to university, so she joined one of them in London just after she and Harley had recorded some songs. One day - Andrea's birthday, in fact - he rang up with some good news. "Some of my friends were holding a surprise party for me, and so I was already a bit emotional and Harley goes, 'Guess what? John Peel wants us to do a session!' and I went, 'Oh, brilliant' and burst out crying!"
Harley was always Mr. Musician. He worked as a tea boy in a recording studio for a while before deciding that he wanted people to make him tea. He reminds me a bit of Billy from 'Bread', though not as stroppy and is wonderfully honest and open about everything, even his, er, nether regions.
Andrea: "Your knob has got bigger, hasn't it, since we signed to CBS?"
Harley: "Not really. A little bit. I haven't measured it for a while, I haven't got my chart with me."
Bloss, the drummer, spent a lot of time travelling around with Harley as a busker. He also trained to be a hotel manager.
"I thought, I don't want to do this - the hours are long and the pay's appalling. So I joined the band. The hours are long and the pay's still appalling!"
Chris, the bassist, is the quiet one. Very much in the Bill Wyman mode of bassist, he stands stock still on stage, pumping out a solid rhythm and barely says a word off it. "I went to university and got a degree in applied statistics and computing, I came back to Newport and worked as a computer programmer."
Bloss: "He had a cushy job. Really high pay. And he gave it up for this!"
Andrea: "That's enough, Chris. Look he's in a cold sweat now."
Bloss: "You've done really well, that's an exclusive. He never talks."
When the Buds play "Hit The Ground" in Edinburgh, there's much hilarity a Andrea suddenly starts the chorus during the instrumental break. The following night, Harley goes wildly out of key in the brilliant "Let's Go Round There". The mistakes are an integral part of the show. That's what makes it all so exciting.
Harley: "You buy a Genesis live LP, and it's exactly the same as if you put together all the tracks from the 18 studio LPs. And it's so boring."
Andrea: "My mum heard the rough live tracks on the 10 inch and her face just dropped. She said, 'Oh, it's very different, isn't it?' and I was trying to explain how it was different on record. She said, 'Never mind, love, the Beatles were terrible live!'"
Harley: "We're not making excuses for our mistakes, or anything, but, everybody makes a mistake!"
Yes, I tell them. Psychologist Edward De Bono says that we need to make mistakes in order to become creative, to open up new avenues, explore new ideas.
Bloss: "That's probably it. I hope so."
Andrea: "A lot of our best songs have been mistakes. Like the B sides. A lot of people prefer them to the A sides. But they were songs that were done quickly."
Perhaps that's why chart pop can be so dull, because all the mistakes are ironed out.
Bloss: "When we signed to CBS we got free tickets to go and see Bros. We watched them and it was just too perfect. Everything was like the record and it was quite sickly. Too good, too perfect. When things go wrong we have to rely on something else to get us through it. Maybe it's personality."
Could be. Andrea conveys the band's enjoyment at playing live by her cheerful countenance on stage. That and the confetti that gushes into the air at the finale each night, released by a 'bomb', puts the emphasis on 'fun', not in a crude, contrived sense of 'havin' a good time', but just basking joyfully in the melodies, the mayhem and the mistakes.
Andrea: "The reason why our first bass player left was that he fell in love, you see. He'd always leave practises early, didn't want to be away from home, wanted to be with his girlfriend. The Darling Buds don't fall in love."
Harley: "I've fallen in love with a lot of people! They just don't seem to fall in love with me. When I was young I used to be really spotty."
Bloss: "What you've got to do is advertise in Record Mirror."
Harley: "There are these two girls that write to me and I met them when we played Newcastle. But they're very young."
Andrea: "Eight and 12."
Harley: "Anyway, I haven't got a girlfriend, so if anyone's out there."
Live review - New Musical Express January 28, 1989 by Helen Mead
In Full Bloom
The Darling Buds hit the North. Helen Mead follows the confetti trail from Glasgow to Edinburgh. Chris Clunn catches the petals.
It's the most appalling example of lip synching I've ever seen. Unbuttoned to the waist, an acned Glaswegian Mozzer spreads his arms and croons. Eye contact with Andrea established, he gives up the pretence of knowing the words and mouths "F--- me! F--- me!" oh so discreetly over the barrier. Andrea smiles at his girlfriend. There's going to be ructions at home tonight.
Maybe men don't understand women. But Andrea understands that men have faults. In the opposite way to Wendy James and Tracey Tracey who flaunt their sexuality to make themselves appealing. Andrea has beauty, the brains and the wit to be herself. In return those very creatures that allude, betray, two-time and lie in her songs eat the confetti out of her hands.
So why should the male population flock to her stageside knowing that for the next hour they're going to be publicly flagellating themselves? Perhaps it's just a reflection of relationships: if one affair crashes you don't become dead to the world, you're still looking for the perfect partner.
The Darling Buds are still searching for the perfect chart equation and in songs like 'Let's Go Round There', the next single, they can achieve it. But it shouldn't have to be by increasing tweeness. So avoid the LP and listen to the bootleg.
But it's all very different live. An arch example is 'Big Head', which in its inflated glory grunges and groans, dragging in pastiche lines that mix innuendo with piss-take: "And all the girls have said/You ain't got no rocket/No gun in your pocket/Just a great big head." Andrea spit out Mae West and all her 42 inch chest stood for in the same mouthful.
Come within six feet of '89's blonde with the mostest and you'll be in no doubt of her sexuality. As gap toothed as Chaucer's Widow of Bath, Andrea oozes more sensuality than Wendy James could ever hope to capture in a Tatler front cover.
Sadly, production on the album simply glosses out all that passion and zest for experiencing life, strangling Andrea's blood and guts characteristics that make her an angry Kathy rather than an apathetic Jane Eyre. The Darling Buds achieve withering ass opposed to wuthering heights, even the guitars twinkle rather than throttle the air out of you lungs. Tonight as Glasgow's rooftops, the Buds squeeze blood from a stone with ease. That's how they should always sound.
"Do you want to be a popstar?" The young lass who yells the invitation into the audience doesn't seem the same as the airbrushed character on Top Of The Pops. And that in turn is as alien as the huddle of travel weary starlets gathered round the TV set in their bed & breakfast. Clinically checking out their first appearance.
Andrea has 'Pop Said', the title of the Buds' debut album, scrawled in white across the pair of Rayban's she's wearing. Her press officer puts his head in his hands and moans "I can't believe she's wearing those", every 30 seconds until she removes them.
Harley, notable for his varied collection of white on blue polka dot shirts, is still recovering from his experience in the Beeb's make-up room: "I said I usually just have a bit under my eyes to cover the rings and I come out looking like an Indian, they'd even left a great big mark round my neck!"
While Harley (guitar), Bloss "that's short for blossom" (drums) and Chris (bass), were wandering around moaning about what a prima donna Tanita "Tik-ar-am" was, Andrea got to share a dressing room with Jason Donovan of Neighbours. So cramped were the seating arrangements that every time the Bud tried to style her hair she lynched him with the hairdryer wire. A rather alternative necking session.
Which leads us on to the most likely reason why The Sun turned up in Glasgow: a sleaze expose on new platinum Pop Goddess and Ramsey Street's bit Jason. Nothing going unfortunately. Well not until we all piled into a singles bar after the gig for a quick drinkeepoos and a bop to blondie.
Curiously enough, by lunchtime next day the bravest are on coffee, decaffeinated. Mind you, coming from Wales, they're used to rough living. After all, if you came from a part of the world where your cherished but decapitated Cabbage Patch doll was sent back to you by the manufacturers in a coffin you'd think the world was tough too.
The real professional cookie behind the quartet's success turns out to be a notorious trainspotter of impeccable taste: Smudgie, Harley's budgie and musical advisor.
The Malcom McLaren of Birdland, vets (sic) all Darling Buds demos. "He can't talk because we didn't catch him while his beak was still blue, but if he hears something that's going to do well he whistles like mad. So I lay him all the Buds' demos and if he doesn't like them we have to go back into the studio."
This tough old bird has already signalled the hits and misses of everybody from Hot Chocolate to The Butthole Surfers, The Wedding present and My Bloody Valentine. NME's Editor is, as I write, trying to retain Smudgie to listen to all our demo tapes for us.
What Smudgie hasn't vetted are the Buds' adventures into home movies. Blondielocks And The Three Bears was the brainchild of a rainy day in Sheffield and the discovery of a Super 8 camera. An improvised script later and Blondielocks managed to find herself in the weirdest fairytale situations from the Big Bad Wolf's (roadie's) bedroom to an Acid House party! Epic have yet to announce details of any release date but it's believed to be pending.
Andrea could have picked up a few acting tips while sharing the CBS award bathrooms with star of The Sun, screen and soft porn Pia Zadora. Slightly taken aback when Pia gave her a mammoth hug and flourished "You were wonderful, darling," Andrea dredged her memory banks for something clean to say to the lady and ended up going through the family photo album with her.
Somebody needed to pep up the member of Buds' posters about time, for when the band arrive for their show at Edinburgh Venue the jostling crowd queuing outside don't recognise Andrea and refuse to let her in with jibes of "Who do you think you are? You can't push in, we've been waiting for hours."
Inside it's a capacity audience the fire officer wouldn't approve of, packed into the 50 yards from the stage to bar. There's no respite from the crush but thankfully last night's posey angst audience have given way to the hardcore.
This tour has been the first time the Buds have hit Scotland, but the audience are already familiar with everything from early Peel faves like 'If I Said' (the first single) through to the album (see LP review section). All 12 tracks get a thorough airing, as well as a manic six legged 'Human Fly'.
Bypassing a HI-NRG disco we arrive back at the hotel, where the reception staff decide that not only can we not eat without shirt and tie, but the Buds have arrived too late to be our guests and are only allowed to sit in the lobby.
After emptying one or two mini bars out of our holdalls and onto the reception table the Buds are demonstrably bubbly. Andrea goes in search of the ladies and nearly falls from an over hanging balcony, saved only by a porter who has her firmly by the ankles. Then the real rock'n'roll debauchery starts as she wrecks all the hotel's flower arrangements so we can each take a pink carnation home with us.
A real Darling Bud.
Interview - Sounds January 21, 1989 by Keith Cameron
The Greenhouse Effect
Bursting into the charts with their new single 'Hit The ground', The Darling Buds are blossoming from indie favourites into fully fledged pop stars. But will success spoil Andrea and the boys. Keith Cameron uncovers their modest ambitions and finds out about the strange kinks in their deal with CBS.
Blood is everywhere. En route to a rock rendezvous with Liverpool's youth, The Darling Buds Metal Death Brigade (South Wales Chapter) decide to stop off in Coventry for a showdown with arch rivals in bland, er, blonde pop, The Primitives.
It's no contest. Marshalled by axe wielding, leather clad rock god Harley, astride the throbbing vehicle, the Welsh dragons vent their fury against those ultimately responsible for every last "Primitives Mk II" slander.
A bejewelled hand, red nail varnish chipped, stirs slowly - but with a brutally swift placement of her stiletto, Andrea, Queen of the Buds, stamps out all remaining vestiges of resistance.
The assembled onlookers shudder at the carnage. Can this really be Pop Life '89?
No it can't, because I made it all up. Coventry was simply a photo opportunity port of call.
The reality of Pop Life '89 is one of peaceful co-existence, even between bands like The Darling Buds and The primitives, whose re-readings of the punky power pop aesthetic, through rose tinted '60s shades, are similar enough to almost preclude the success of both.
So, sitting in the bar at Liverpool's Adelphi Hotel, the four Darling Buds - loquacious Andrea, the laid back Harley, the genial Bloss and the near silent Chris - refute "enemy territory" jibes.
Harley: "Yeah, we were wondering when that was gonna be mentioned. Aw, but we're not that bothered."
Andrea: "People are always trying to build this up The Primitives vs. The Darling Buds, but I really like their stuff. We wouldn't be doing a similar sort of thing otherwise."
Bloss: "There has to be room for both bands. It'd be sad it there wasn't."
It's typical of these utterly charming people that they refuse to indulge in the snide put downs at which Ms. Primitive is so tediously proficient. This is to their credit, as is their lack of pretence and delusions of grandeur. Just as well, really, for The Darling Buds are nothing special. Or rather, their chosen pop niche is nothing special.
Entering the world as one of the many hellishly obvious post Shop Assistants, three cords and a girlie (and, initially, a drum machine) bands, they followed their self financed, self produced 'If I Said' debut with two singles on the Native label. 'Shame On You' and 'It's All Up To You' boasted relatively expensive production and promotional values but were so bereft of inspiration the mind boggled.
This wasn't just Primitives Mk II, but inferior Primitives.
So when The Darling Buds signed to CBS in a corporate music world atmosphere of post - 'Crash' frenzy, one couldn't help but feel a draught of cynical trepidation at the results of this unholy alliance.
Sure enough, just as spring had ended with a 'Crash', autumn began with a 'Burst', a yukky stab of identi-Prims "power" pop that, along with some frankly nonsensical press froth, had me questioning the sanity of agreeing not only to meet these fuhrers of fuzz by - aarrgh! - go on the road with 'em!
Not to worry. They're fine folk and it was instructive to note that, until the current chart smash, 'Hit The Ground' The Darling Buds' singles had not done them justice.
Live, they're a tight unit, exuding cohesion within their traditionally lazy territory. Harley, a fine guitarist, could doubtless push himself further were he required to.
The pristine awkwardness of much of their forthcoming album, 'Pop Said...', is glossed over live, so while 'You've Got To Choose' is just too nice on record, in a crowd of sweaty scousers it's a veritable toe tapper.
But a day and a half of careful diplomacy takes its toll. I express my reservations at the nature of their press coverage so far.
"You either like it or you don't. Journalists are just like anyone else," says Harley. "I don't really know whether you like our music."
Well, I don't find it exciting or innovative but in the sphere of what you do it's good. On the strength of last night's performance I'd say you could piss all over The Primitives, but is that all you want to do?
"Exactly," says Andrea. "That's the last thing we wanna be remembered for. We want to build up our following. You want people to come and see you because you're you, not because you all say, Oh, The Darling Bud are much better, come and see them."
Don't you think that the amount and nature of the press and the fuss surrounding your signing to CBS, might have raised expectations too high?
"Yeah, I know what you mean, but then someone knocks you down five minutes later and says you're crap."
"What can we do? We can take it all very seriously and end up changing, think we're crap live and we'd better do this. You can never win, how can you win?"
"Nothing's new these days," says Harley. "I mean, The Sugarcubes don't sound that original to me."
Sure, but it is at least possible to take tried and tested methods and still create something refreshing and different.
Aren't you elbowing your way into a market that's pretty saturated anyway?
"No it's not," says Andrea. "It is when you think of it like Sounds, NME and Melody maker have been going on about these bands for the last three years and to you lot, it is probably, Oh f***ing hell, not another one of these girl singer bands. But, I must be honest, you say to the everyday person in the street, Have you heard of us, or have you heard of The Primitives, or even Westworld, who I know had a hit single a year or so ago? But people forget these things and they'll say, Not really."
"Don't forget," says Harley, "we're trying to sell records, you see. It all boils down to this - we write our own stuff, we like it and the record company are trying to sell records."
This attitude, of course, is pure indie heresy but The Darling Buds - again, entirely to their credit - couldn't care less about it.
Andrea continues her argument. "People haven't heard of these bands. And we've gotta face it, that's the sort of market we're into now. Steve Wright played 'Burst' and called it the debut Darling Buds single. I though, John Peel did a session with us 18 months ago, what are you on about? But you can't stop it - you just have to laugh about it."
"I know that, being in Liverpool, you have to mention The Beatles," smiles Harley, mentioning them, "but all their songs were very consistent and they were very similar. Why can't we be consistent?"
But they were doing something that was completely new at the time.
"But what's new at the moment?" demands Andrea. "What band is really new at the moment? You see some bands experimenting with new sounds, new equipment and it just sounds crap, it's not exciting, even. Yeah, we're not doing anything new. We're just doing little pop songs with guitar, bass and drums but for me they're exciting. And I know that for our audiences there's something that makes them wanna get up and dance. And as long as we can keep going like that, that's fine. There's no messages in our songs, we're not changing the world or anything like that. But as long as for that moment when we play they wanna dance, or when they buy the record there's that line the can sing, that's brilliant."
Andrea and her friends play the music they want to hear. One can hardly blame them for that but this self conscious deification of the status quo is precisely what has rendered the British 'alternative' pop music scene so glumly stagnant - feeding as it does on a pool of jaded punk attitudes themselves coloured by a hazy impression of some long gone pop Utopia, vaguely rooted somewhere between Elvis and The Beatles.
So yeah, I'd prefer The Darling Buds on TOTP to Climie Fisher, but only just.
After all, as Andrea said, that is the market they are now into.
It's heartening to observe The Darling Buds' lack of awe at being locked into the CBS empire, though dogged insistence lingers that Native remain the middlemen in the deal.
"With Native, y'see," says Andrea, "if things go wrong with the contract we've got , we can get out of it, say, Look, this is a band that are signed to Native Records, not directly to CBS. We can get out of it and just do everything independently."
I don't really understand.
"Well, we don't... I know it's been explained to us millions of times but when someone asks you, What is your deal, it's really hard to explain. There are so many different fields to it."
I don't necessarily think it's a big deal (excuse the pun) - I just see "Copyright CBS Records" on the label.
"I don't care, right. Personally I don't really care what label it's on, as long as we're bringing out the same stuff we would have brought out and as long as I'm happy with it and proud of it. I'm not really bothered and the day CBS make us do something we're not happy with we'll probably either split up or leave."
The Darling Buds wouldn't be the first and they won't be the last. Welcome to Pop Life '89, where the song remains the same.
Hit The Ground Review - New Musical Express January 7, 1989 by Terry Staunton
Had it not been for Holly Johnson they would have walked it. I think we've had our quota of brill singles for the rest of this month and the next. The hardest thing in the world is clipping your nasal hairs on a tightrope, the second hardest is writing a really simple pop song, but the Buddies do it time and time again, putting a bit of beef into the shallow fry bubble 'n' squeak that passes for a Primitives single.
Andrea is in terrific voice, avoiding the awkward yet endearing vocal phrasing of "Burst" ("liiiiii didn't mean to upsetchoo"), and the confident band performance ensures a smooth landing. "Pretty Girl" is wasted on the B side, as it's another surefire single (maybe a bit too familiar with certain elements of the Blondie back catalogue) and I can't wait to get my mits on the "Pop Said" album.
Interview - New Musical Express January 7, 1989 by Len Brown
Tomorrow Belongs To Us
The House Of Love, The Wonder Stuff and The Darling Buds are the best new bands in Britain. Their respective vocal/focal points Guy Chadwick, Miles and Andrea - are the hopeful face of British pop as it rumbles relentlessly toward the 1990s. Len Brown oversees a tripartite summit meeting on pop, fame money, travel, the future and splitting up the band. At the dawn of 1989 I'm confronted by Guy House Of Love Chadwick, Andrea Darling Bud and Miles Wonder Stuff. The first, an anorexic Brian Jones lookalike, forever in danger of catching his shirt tails in the nearest door; the second, a blaze of electric blue with blonde mop and Welsh lilt; the third, a tangle of dark curls and ruddy workman's boots, just like the bloke in that "put life in your equipment" battery ad. ("Hey, boy, don't they have barbers where you come from?")
Exactly a year ago all three and their respective outfits, were barely a twinkle in Pope John Peel's crystal ball. The Darling Buds, having two years earlier released their own debut single, had just signed to Native Records after struggling for donkeys playing "pretty shitty gigs". Creation's House Of Love had just lost their fifth member and were restructuring: "We did some dates with Echo And The Bunnymen but otherwise it was pretty depressing really".
Meanwhile, The Wonder Stuff were just beginning to get courted by major record companies "but we weren't interested, because it was our baby, we wanted to do it ourselves. We were touring with Big Country this time last year - a Virgin subsidiary got us that tour and they were trying to impress us by introducing us to Ian Astbury, that sort of rubbish."
Who'd have thought that, 12 months on, after a year of doing it for the kids, all three bands would have forsaken the independent scene, find themselves snugly on major labels and now acclaimed by you, our wonderful readers, the Best New Acts to emerge in 1988!
'Post-Smiths Pop', Danny Kelly branded it. Ever since the Mozzer, Rourke, Joyce and Marr deserted Indie City for the rat infested metropolis, it's become increasingly predictable, almost respectable, for everyone who can to follow them. Two years on and it's almost assumed that if you ain't gone major you deserve to be minor. The death of independents?
Guy: "There are still really good independent labels, I mean we sold quite a few records on independent labels. If we'd been on Factory or Mute or Rough Trade we'd probably still be independent, they're labels that've all succeeded in the same way as majors. And they're pretty successful abroad as well, phenomenally in Europe. Okay so Rough Trade haven't got The Smiths or Scritti Politti yet they handle New Order in Germany and The Netherlands. But the successful independent labels have become as difficult to deal with and get involved with as majors. They get so many tapes they've had to adopt that attitude that so many bands find dispiriting."
So what's the real problem with the other independent labels, like Creation and Native? Pride in independence seems to have been eaten away by promotion and distribution difficulties.
Guy: "Distribution's the real problem."
Andrea: "Yeah that's one of the reasons we decided to sign. The records just wouldn't be in the shops and also, looking at the independent charts, it's all Jason Donovan, Kylie Minogue, Yazz, Bomb The Bass. I'm not having a go at those bands it's just that those labels have taken over from the indies, from actual real live bands that gig up and down."
Miles: "With all those sorts of acts in the indie charts it's hardly worth thinking about anymore, it doesn't exist."
Andrea: "Before it used to give everyone a chance. If you saw your record in there you used to think 'Brilliant!' Now it's bloody hard to get in there, our sort of labels aren't happening any more, can't afford to do it."
But it's still regarded by many, hacks and fans alike, as the kiss of death, signing to a major record company. A watershed in a bands career, a taboo thing to do.
Andrea: "When it came out that we'd signed to CBS someone said to Native on the phone, 'Oh no, The Darling Buds on CBS! And they were such a good little indie band'. I thought 'That's nice, good little indie band but we're a shit major band'. It's just stupid!"
Guy: "The fear everyone has is that a change will come. Groups such as the Mary Chain didn't change at all, they tried, they wanted hit singles, but they couldn't because of the nature of the band. They're on WEA, they only had one independent single and yet they're seen as an independent band because of the nature of the music. The other thing that all the big independent groups here like The Smiths, New Order and Depeche Mode go out on major labels anyway in America. It's only England that they're independent bands; in America there's no such snobbery about being independent as far as the audience is concerned."
Andrea: "The Sugarcubes are on Elektra in America."
Guy: "Yeah, The Sugarcubes have sold something like 500,000 LPs in America and yet here they're perceived as an independent band."
Now that you've all signed for major record companies - Darling Buds for CBS, The Wonder Stuff for Polydor and more recently The House Of Love for Phonogram - what have been the greatest drawbacks?
Andrea: "People plan things for you, whereas before you were doing everything yourself. We used to organise when things were released but now it's not just the band, there's always someone else. When we signed to Native and recorded 'Shame On You' (the second single) we just sat down with Kevin of Native and spent a bit of time working out when to release it and sorting out the cover. Now it's too busy. Miles asked earlier, 'When's the album coming out?' We haven't got a clue!"
Miles: "You happy about that?"
Andrea: "Well it pisses you off a lot, you want to get involved because that's the way we always used to do it. Whereas at Native you had more time to plan things, now it's more hectic. But we're still the same band playing the same music."
But there's this question of control. Aren't you intimidated by this idea of a civil service, a bureaucracy, working 'for' you all the time, behind the scenes?
Andrea: Yeah, cos one minute at CBS they're doing it for The Passadenas, next they're doing it for The Darling Buds. Our product manager does The Stranglers which is at least more like our thing then The Passadenas, but they can make you look bloody stupid. Like we did bloody Number One magazine, which I wish we'd never ever done!"
Miles: "That's what appals me about getting stuck into the majors. Before, when we did a record it was basically six of us, working together, doing it because we were friends. There's a couple of people at Polydor who I value as friends but there's a lot of people there as career move. Since we've been there three pluggers have been sacked, straight after each single we've released. I don't like having to mix with people who aren't into what we're doing. Like you go abroad and it's a complete f---ing fiasco. This TV thing we did, the guy that set it up was a decent bloke but he didn't like the band. So when we blew our top at him saying, 'why the f--- have you dragged us away from England to do this load of bollocks?!' he basically said, 'We're not gonna let you out of the country again cos you don't know what you're doing'. I don't want to have that sort of conversation with somebody, I want to be able to sit down and talk about where it went wrong."
Whereas the Buds and Stuffies have had eight months of major involvement The House Of Love only recently signed on the dotted line. They've also got Creation boss Alan McGee now managing the band and cushioning it from Phonogram's wonderful world of Status Quo, Dire Straits and Def Leppard. But why is it that indie bands who sign for majors still tend to be regarded by those companies as outsiders, as if there's an independent aura or odour to them that influences the way they're marketed? Or are they seriously signed up with an eye on the Top 40?
Andrea: "We've all got pop songs, they've got every right to be in the charts, but in a way they probably do think of us as indies."
Miles: "I think also every major record company likes a band, because they aren't that many about. I mean we give them plenty of headaches and they enjoy that as a reason to go to work, rather than have some little tosspot who's gonna say yes to everyone."
THE COMPANY OF STANGERS?
Miles: "When people say 'you've cracked the Top 40!' I go, 'Well, so what?' Who wants to keep company with Bros and Acid House and those sorts of people? I don't respect what they're doing, so why should I be pleased for myself when I'm thrown into the arena? But then I remember, when I was 14 or 15 and I put the telly on, The Clash were on and I was blown away. It was followed by Money M and I'd be thinking for a month 'How good are The Clash!' Now I can't imagine people thinking, 'There's Bros, there's Rick, here's The Wonder Stuff yeaaahhh!'"
Andrea: "But it happens, the people who come and see you would do that. It's a change. When I saw you at that Ibiza thing, compared to Belinda Carlisle, I thought, 'Yeah, really good!'"
Guy: "It's like New Order on Top Of The Pops recently. So funny, as if it was their first gig, they looked so disorganised, stood out a mile, fantastic."
Miles: "You can go into it with that sort of attitude, 'weren't New Order great, it was wrong, they shouldn't have been there, that's why it's great!' But then you start saying, 'It's okay to do Top Of The Pops', and think you're not the norm, you're different. What worries me is that you start accepting that and become what you hated."
Given that the vast majority of commercially successful music is dross and that your respective record companies would obviously like you to be commercially successful, what marks you out from bands like, er, the Pet Shop Boys and Transvision Vamp?
Miles: "I can't see that as being anything to do with what I'm involved in, not at all. Bands like Transvision Vamp, you know what's going to happen next, they're doing what's expected of them, what they feel they should be doing. It's a recipe for disaster."
But how do you retain your individually? If you're offended by the Top 40 what do you aim for?
Miles: "We've got no ambitions or aims, we just meander along. I don't think we'll see another New Year after '89, I think we'll split up."
Andrea: "I think that too, we do it for ourselves, I could stop wanting to be in a band next week. We could spilt up tomorrow. I enjoy it, that's what I've always wanted to do, we write all our own stuff, it comes from the band and I'm proud to sing and play. But the day I want out that's it. It won't be, 'Andrea, you're on CBS now, you haven't had a hit, let's get a different production', I'll just say 'F--- Off!'"
So it's all down to attitude, the refusal to compromise one's musical aspirations in the corporate pursuit of dosh? What about you, Guy, are you doing it for yourself or the kids?
Guy: "Ultimately for myself, but I've found that by reaching a certain point you've gathered an audience and you have to respond to that."
But how far do you go attempting to take your music to a wider audience?
Miles: "The nature of it all is self-destructive. Like a lot of the stuff we're recording, I'm into it now and will be for about a month. But when it actually comes out, we're talking six months from now and I'm thinking, 'F--- that!' We've been playing songs from the album that are basically 18 months old and I'm not the slightest bit interested in them, I think they're dreadful. But like Guy said, you've got a responsibility to you audience. Clint from Pop Will Eat Itself had a real go at me, he said 'you abuse the audience too much, I don't know if you think you're funny but I'm telling you you're not funny, people don't pay five or six quid to come and be abused!' And I said, 'They obviously do, they've been coming for months now'. I intend to continue being unsociable and particularly nasty because I don't want to feel the responsibility that Guy was talking about."
Guy: "I didn't mean it like that. You shouldn't change because of it, that's the way you are, your attitude onstage is important to your audience, you're seen in a certain light. But this thing about touring LPs, ours has just come out in America and it's doing really well and we were supposed to play dates there two weeks ago but couldn't face playing any more of that LP. But when we go out there next year we'll have to play them for the people who've brought the LP or they'll feel cheated."
LIVE AND DANGEROUS?
Obviously one of the major differences between you and many of your bedfellows is that you're living, breathing artists who can perform live rather than machines with human faces which don't really exist off vinyl or Top Of The Pops. All three bands have built their reputations touring the nation. Performing live is part and parcel of your success.
Miles: "Before we were signed up we were just a sweaty little four piece band playing in a little club. Then we were at Reading Festival and I just didn't want to do it, I thought it couldn't happen! Our music was designed for places like Dingwalls, maybe we could get away with support tours but I was thinking, 'This isn't going to happen!'."
Guy: "But I remember the thing we both did in Belgium. I watched The Wonder Stuff set and it really worked, in front of 8000 people. Certain types of music work on any level. Your stuff is very powerful, it converts to as many people as you're playing to - if it's got melody and a backbeat you're okay."
Miles: "You start forgetting, being in the band you no longer see what the attraction is. You perceive it differently, then you have to say to yourself, 'The tunes work, don't worry about it'."
To what extent has being on major labels affected your live audiences and performances?
Andrea: "It's just got a helluva lot bigger. We played to large crowds on The Wonder Stuff tour and this time round we've been playing to them on our own. We just couldn't bloody believe it, by being on a major label a lot more people hear you."
Guy: "I think the level we've all reached has a lot to do with the press, but we've possibly reached the point now where the press can't affect that many more people."
Miles: "When I used to see The Jam I would be in complete emotional disarray, tearful and frozen, down the front to the death. But I never imagined our audience being like that. Then I saw a video of our show at the Astoria and it was like a sea of people. Yet at the same time I was in a foul mood, couldn't stand the material, just wanted to go home to bed. I don't really feed off the energy."
Andrea: "Oh I do, once I get out there I get into it."
Guy: "When you're holding your guitar and singing it's a big handicap, it stops you thinking about it, you're concentrating."
Andrea: "I'm concentrating on my tambourine you know, bloody had work."
What was the most significant live show you played in '88?
Andrea: "Fulham Greyhound in the summer, that was really good. We just wanted to get out of the studio and play. We didn't practice but it was really good, really great atmosphere."
Guy: "In February, the Falcon in London. We were really despondent at that stage, we'd only had two singles out. We did it expecting only 10 people but it was full and we thought, 'God, at least we're getting somewhere!'."
Miles: "I haven't enjoyed a gig this year full stop. Well, I enjoyed The Sugarcubes but I don't enjoy our own gigs. Reading was impressive, more of a shock really, I enjoyed the fact that we got it over and done with and survived. But if I could go to a gig once a month that would blow me away I wouldn't need to be in a band."
Miles: "Look at what The Primitives did! I think that's appalling, posters of the girl and the only good looking member of the band."
Guy: "That's unpleasant, it comes from within the group or the management."
Miles: "As soon as The Primitives did that I no longer considered them to be doing the same thing I do. I put them in with the Pet Shop Boys and Rick Astley, I don't consider that as being music as I know it."
But surely these are the sort of moves you're expected to make on a major label? What about you, Andrea and the dangers of being marketed as a blonde?
Andrea: "When 'Burst' came out I opened one paper and there was just a picture of me. I rang up CBS and said 'Look we're a band, it's not just Andrea's Darling Buds'. The fact that I'm blonde shouldn't make any difference, it's not going to sell records, people aren't stupid enough to think, 'Oh, she looks all right I'll buy her record'. If they are I don't want that sort of audience."
Isn't it important to you, for artistic reasons, that as many people as possible hear and buy your records? It's obviously important to your record companies or they wouldn't market you that way.
Miles: "By the time our singles come out I couldn't give a f--- about them anyway. I couldn't give a f--- what they do. I've done my bit, it's up to them. I do try and take care of what it looks like, so it looks as if it belongs to the band. You can smell record company sleeves a mile off. It's actually nothing to do with them. They're a glorified distribution service and that's what they should remain."
Guy: "I agree with Miles, that record companies should ultimately just be distribution services, that the artist should control everything else."
What if they suggested you try releasing a cover version? It didn't do the likes of The Communards or The Fall any harm.
Miles: "If you haven't got a song what's the point in releasing anything?"
Guy: "Sometimes it can be really good. Laibach's 'Across The Universe' is genius, beautiful."
If you had a hit with a cover version you'd make your name and possibly, improve the chances for your own material.
Andrea: "But you can get yourself known doing your own material."
Miles: "Someone like Laibach, they do something with it, rather than Doctor And The Medics trying to sound as close to 'Spirit In The Sky' a they possibly could."
What about re-releasing, re-mixing your own independent material?
Guy: "Yeah, our first single 'Shine On' sold only 3000 copies and we're almost certainly gonna re-record that. I hope it goes on the next album but it might be released as a single. Personally it's my favourite song, I want more people to hear it. I was really shocked because it was an NME Single Of The Week yet we still scrambled around like a lot of other groups. It won't sound the same, it'll have to be where we're at now, man."
Andrea: "Our very first single, 'If I Said', we only had 2000 done. It would've been nice to put it out again, but it's now an extra track on the 12 inch."
Miles: "Don't you feel like songs have a time and a place? The MD at Polydor would do anything to get 'Unbearable' out but we just want to move on. It did what it did, it was there for a reason, but now it belongs in the annals of time.
Any regrets image wise?
Andrea: "Number One Magazine!"
Live review at the University of London Union - New Musical Express December 3, 1988 by William Smith
"F--- Me!" exclaims Andrea Bud. Before I can register my protest at the needless promiscuity of such a remark, The Darling Buds burst fittingly into 'Burst' which offers priceless reassurance to a shattered heart.
Some might choke on such words and rightly so. Andrea Bud can't get them in fast enough for the band who, solid as the Gibraltar Rock and twice as heavy, are too eager to get ahead and often leave poor Andrea struggling for prominence.
Andrea's idea of mobility may end at her childlike impression of a windmill, but the sickness, tiredness, intolerance, humility and regret of her lyrics conveys a knowing maturity. Neither bashful like Tracey Tracey or sexually suggestive like Wendy James, the main Bud is stronger, more demanding of our support. If we agree to endorse the positive use of her sexuality it's because the bottle blonde in black leggings would rather kick backsides than coy girlie heels.
New songs such as the smack in the face and dispel my masculine pride and complacency of 'She's Not Crying' already show an adventurous attention to detail and order but, for the most part, The Buds perform by virtue of a trashy will and shambolic courage. They wrestle with the basics and flaunt the value of imperfection in a way that enriches the legacy of punk and gladdens the hearts of all those who see energy as the only way to overcome.
Unfortunately, demand is such that 'Shame On You' is long, drawn out and slaughtered to death with an ugly indulgence which suggests The buds should not be encouraged to hang around for longer than 30 minutes. Let's give them time to do some writing. 'Love Me Tender' is reduced to its knees begging for respect and the boy Buds take dutiful pity and slash it to pieces, Andrea stomping merrily through the slush of sentiment.
As another in a long line of casualties is fished out of the pool of partisan support, the whole thing begins to resemble a coronation ceremony. The Queen may be dead and living in Victoria, but Andrea Bud is hereby crowned as the logical successor in a glorious rainbow of confetti. I'm throne by it all.
Live review at the University of London Union - Melody Maker, November 26, 1988 by Ian Gittins
The Darling Buds' roots are set firmly in punk, of course. It's always been certain. After just four seconds in this sweaty, heaving pit, it's surer than ever. Just take in that buzzsaw energy, the sense that every declining second has to be grasped, not allowed to fall away. Hear the guitar and look in their eyes. You'd be a nutter to claim they're original. But it doesn't mean they can't combust.
Tonight is An Event. They're loud and lewd, it's packed, the folk at the front must have lost a stone. I lose count of the casualties yanked from the throng. So, the punky Darling Buds start to shamble, get a little coy. Even the Press people are admitting they're tired, after hauling themselves round Reading and Dudley for the last month, poor dears. But still Andrea pretends they don't know how to play "Burst", their hit single, when, of course, they do. We all know that. It does them no favours.
Despite which, The Darling Buds are good tonight. Truly. I have a great time. They do have something which no muso snob can ever totally dismiss, and that's a lust for life. A love for life. A love for it all.
Guitars can sting like electricity, or sudden lightning streak in the night, swing us round to stare at them. They hunt for kicks and get a few. That tonight is never plain sailing makes it all the better. After the abysmal Corn Dollies, who precede them, they seem the very definition of vigour.
So first things first. For most of tonight, Andrea Bud sings flat as a pancake. A horse would be a compliment. In the middle of never ending streams of confetti, balloons, skullf***ers, razor guitars, she's having to try and hold it all together and a few times it's just too loose. It gets slack and collapses. Like the Wedding Present, who they strongly resemble, The Daring Buds need a few more colours on their palette, rather more ways of seeing the world. They repeat themselves, all night long. It's the same old formula.
Yet when they glow, it's abrupt and bright and lovely and reminds us just how sharp each moment can be. "Hit The Ground", the next single, is a celebration, Andrea fisting balloons into the throng as guitars make like Inter Citys and she yells in glee. "Pretty Girl" is fickle and shallow as in boy/girl tiffs, love, the heat of the moment, all pop's usual gear. It's tweely self conscious and a bit over slick and everyone's pleased when Andrea cuts short to ask the crowd to "scream, sweat, dance!" and pulls out her instamatic to snap them. It could have got sickly.
They're either great or they're crap. "Shame On You" is lovely, sleek and near as the next breath and makes me think that if The Darling Buds did start to diversify, slow down, vary what they did, then they might just lose the whole daft bunch they have now. It's throwaway and cute, Andrea standing and giving out like a kid answering back her parents, on the verge of stamping her foot. It lasts about a minute and so it should. Less happy is the sequence where they bang out a motor beat and Andrea skips through snippets of "Venus In Furs", "Happy Birthday" and "Pretty Vacant". It could be a party kid chirping "Top Of The Pops" hits too indulgent relatives' chuckles. It doesn't work, she simpers too overtly and the level of intensity drops, loses the tangy sweetness they've built up through sheer enthusiasm. Maybe it's just the smooth we have to take with their bit of rough? Maybe it's a joke?
But The Darling Buds are a great punk gig. When they're sharp as steel, we're in their thrall and nobody means maybe. The camp, kitsch version of "Love Me Tender", a gift for the skullf***ers, reminds us of when punk first pulled the rug from under showbiz with sarky cover versions. Now it's a bit old hat, but well - why not do it? It does no harm, there's a few hundred smiles and we all decide to get well away. The best thing about The Darling Buds is how they can make you get well away.
So, The Darling Buds work like maniacs and juts about get there, sweat buckets rather than stand and shimmer. The rabble call them back three times, all deserved. And when they finally make their exit, Andrea informs us they'll do a song "we ain't even rehearsed yet" and they crash bang wallop into it, all elided strings, volume and rushed words. Oddly, it sounds just like Vice Squad. Well, it's not so far away, is it? Guitars turned up and home at a canter.
When they get lazy and wander, it's thin. But The Darling Buds strive hard and win. Well done. Tonight a sweatpit, tomorrow, the world?
Live review at the Liverpool Polytechnic - Melody Maker, October 22, 1988 by Penny Kiley
Confetti? Isn't this a bit premature? After all, we've only just met. But this seems to mean just laughter and lightness and maybe a touch of romance in the air, though it's almost too down to earth for that.
The Darling Buds are in fact nicely straightforward: a girl next door, the boys next door, other people's records shared. The result is a sound and a look of simplicity and similarity. The group look like a club, and the songs sound like a family. The band all wear black and there are leather jackets and a pretty guitarist with a red guitar and a girl who shakes her bob and her tambourine with an unaffected smile and pours classic pop lines out of her mouth. These look like fans.
The big bassist, the nearest thing in looks to a typical musician, is slowly perfecting deadpan expression while ignoring the confetti in his hair. The boys are all solid, but the guitarist looks capable of flights of fancy and later nearly proves it. Andrea's tentatively delighted face lights up at a particular piece of music, and in the audience, somebody shouts "Change your tune".
The tunes change, now and then, while you're not noticing. Bouncy voice pop with guitar undertones turns into something where guitars drone and squeal and the drums stay solid and the voice just keeps going. Somewhere there are hints of violence. Not "aggression", they're too nice for that, but something real, the B side of all this affection. For a band that you thought were about songs, they're almost turning to "sound".
For the moment, though, the songs are what counts. "Burst" has an eternal tune that sums up years, but it's when they play the older singles that the boys by the stage grab their mates and drag them to the front for a jostle. Love? I don't know about that. But this group you could certainly be friends.
Live review at Dudley JBs - Sounds October 22, 1988 by Adrian Goldberg
The only staging post in a one horse town, JBs is a unique melting pot, a time-warp where SLF T-shirts remain hard currency and Black Country accents insist a bonk is a place where money is saveed. A venue which really tests bands.
The Darling Buds blew it. They started so well, too. Festooned with ticker-tape, they charged into 'You've Gotta Choose', an effervescent pop opener, succeeded by the oh so catchy 'Valentine'. Up front, they were causing a commotion. And as dragging heels were transformed into dancing feet, even seen it all before locals looked up from their pints.
Not for long, though. By the time 'Burst' was bludgeoned, seventh song in, it had struck with the force of a Paul Davis punch that The Buds had no plans to re-write history. Rather the thesaurus of powerpop, complete and unabridged - with buzzsaw guitars, dervish drums and quick come choruses. A bit like The Undertones, without the charm.
Shorn of double tracked vocals, clear harmonies and the other accoutrements of studio manicure, their often appealing three minute moments merged into indistinction.
In a way it was fun. The long wait for the spark of wit or a moment of inspiration was, however, in vain.
Interview - New Musical Express October 8, 1988 by Steve Lamacq
Go Buddies Go
After a run of indie hits, The Darling Buds are now 'Burst'ing out all over - thanks to a handsome deal inked with mighty CBS. Steve Lamacq reckons it's not a moment too soon and asks blonde Andrea Bud whether big will continue to be as beautiful.
Andrea Bud is small and tough and sensitive, like a tomboy Milky Bar Kid. She sits in the corner of the speckly lit pub, round the corner from where The Darling Buds are recording and sips away at her pint of lager between gusts of conversation. Later when the rest of the band get a word in edgeways it's only to say they can't get a word in edgeways.
It's been a beezer year for the Buds, what with touring with the Wonder Stuff and signing to CBS - but all this attention has hardly gone to their heads. They are charming people, all of them, Andrea, Harley, Bloss the drummer and bassist Chris, who doesn't say anything but has a good T shirt and gave up a 'really well paid job' to get really badly paid with the band.
These Buds are blossoming. The deal that gets their records licensed through CBS was 'exactly what we wanted' and in return CBS have got exactly what they needed. The best pop band they've signed since Altered Images, but one that won't go all sticky after being in the office for a year. Their latest single, "Burst" is the sort of now record that's needed to throttle that reissue by The Hollies and who ever comes next (Gerry and his Pacemakers?) Copies should be shoved down the trousers of every DJ in the country until they can't possibly ignore it.
In the meantime, Andrea and the boys are a little non-plussed by their meteoric rise. But they know they deserve it.
"People say 'how come you've done this well?'" says Andrea indignantly. "But we've bloody tried hard in the past two years. It was bloody horrible travelling hundreds of miles to a gig and not getting paid. Bloss had to phone round and beg for gigs."
The Darling Buds, this is your life, 'If I Said' / 'Just To Be Seen' (DAR001); double A side recorded in June 1986, but not released for yonks because they didn't have the money to have it cut. There were 2000 copies pressed with a photocopied picture of the band and their address slipped inside the sleeve. Andrea: "It's probably quite rare now. And I let the test pressing warp on the backseat of my mum's car."
Harley: "And do you know what, it concertinaed all the way round, so if you held it up, it looked like a flower."
'Shame On You' (Bud 1): their first single for Native Records - a Blonde bombshell of a single that made them press darlings for the first time. After the shuffling subtlety of their debut, this came delivered with a bouquet of barbed wire guitar and a kick up the bum.
Harley: "We played a gig just after it had come out and all I could hear was people singing along to the chorus, it was frightening."
'It's All Up To You' (NTV 33): an immediate indie hit to follow up the success of 'Shame', but it sounds slightly cumbersome in comparison. Some rattling drums, and subservient guitars bend over to be spanked.
Andrea: "What was our last single called?"
'Burst' (Blonde 1): brilliant for its simplicity, its vibrancy and because it's the same notes as 'Blitzkreig Bop', only in a different order. "Burst" is to the Buds what "Crash" was to The P-s. It's magical. It's got two layers of ebullient guitar and it's just too short. What we need this week is immediacy.
Like quick decisions, impulse buys, like "Fast Cars" by The Buzzcoks. Twelve inch remixes are out again this week, because waiting for them to get to the point is like waiting for a bus that never comes. "Burst" has got just enough extra harmonies and the odd solo to bring the song up to its potential, but it's not over produced. And it shouldn't be under valued.
The only thing that "Burst" isn't, is 'perfect pop'. It's a classic, classic moments I can handle, but perfection is a load of bollocks that punk never quite managed to kill. Even the bloke who manages Bros realised this - deliberately finding three boys who weren't quite God like looking. If they'd been too attractive they would have been to inaccessible.
The Darling Buds have never been too clean, or too good. They've occasionally been crap and they'll be crap again in the future some time, but they are approachable. And when the Skullf---- Crew (their loyal supporters) throw confetti at them on stage, they know they're getting personal attention.
"Andrea should sign a sponsorship deal with a confetti company," muses Bloss.
"It makes us feel like we've left our mark on the place," adds Andrea. "You look at the stage covered in confetti and you think 'we've been there'."
Harley will now do his Spinal Tap impersonation again. "When you're on stage and you get that excitement for the audience, it's something you can't describe. More than an orgasm."
"More than an orgasm?" Bloss is puzzled, "Not quite."
"He doesn't know what he's saying," adds Andrea, "he's getting carried away, look he's had more than a pint and a half."
As a measure of how quickly the Buds have snuck into their envied position at CBS, their recent gig at London's Fulham Greyhound was unbelievably their first proper headline appearance in the capital. The venue was so full and so hot, that the beer glasses were sweating. Not to mention all the Romper Room tiller boys on a Bud frenzy at the front.
"I'm terrible," concedes Andrea. "I always expect the worst, y'know maybe they'll hate us. But in the end I'm doing it for myself, because I enjoy playing live. Everything's happened so quickly and we've had lots of nice things written about us, but now that could all change. I'm not particularly worried because it happens to lots of bands - but you just think why? 'What did they do wrong'. They used to be great all the time. With us we've been crap a lot of the time, we've been shit but we've still had good reviews."
"Gong back to what you were saying about perfect," says Harley, "it just wouldn't work because The Who used to make perfect pop songs and now look a t them."
"And if you get something that's perfect," adds Andrea, "how do you follow it up? What do you do next?"
"We're unperfect pop," asserts Bloss "Definitely."
Andrea and Harley went to somebody's wedding back in Wales yesterday. Harley was an usher and Andrea was a bridesmaid for the third time.
This doesn't mean nobody wants to marry her. I could walk to the Falcon pub in Camden right now and find you several volunteers. It doesn't mean that she's sick of men, which you might think from her lyrics. I'm not sure where the confetti at their gigs fits into all this though.
"The songs are about love," she ponders, "but they're not about my own relationships. If they were I'd be in a terrible state. At one time people kept saying to me 'why are all your songs about love and wimpy girlfriends?' and I felt bloody guilty about it, y'know perhaps I should sort out the Third World. But why should I? I'm going to keep the songs the way they are."
"She gets more bitter as time goes by," grins Bloss. "She hates blokes."
"Well they wind us blondes up. Bloss is a blonde. We can't wait to get to play in Japan 'cos he'll be Bros'."
So what's the curious menage a trois the Buds are in, married to both their old label Native and CBS?
"CBS have given us a lot of advice but they haven't interfered," Andrea jumps in. ""And because we're signed through Native there's a barrier in the way, so if things do go wrong we'll be able to go and do them independently."
There are plenty of benefits of course. For recording their debut LP CBS settled them in Greenhouse Studios which has a pinball machine that Harley can play and a settee that's plonked in front of a soap soaked TV.
They get their sleeves knocked up from their own ideas by bionic art bods ("it only takes them three days") and they get to do videos which I'm trying not to think about. Every time I think of somebody trying to direct Harley and Bloss I remember what I was like dressed up as a tree in the primary school play. Ludicrous.
"The bloke who did our last video, I told him somebody once said I looked like Adam Ant and he ripped the piss out of me all day," moans Harley.
"I came back after lunch and Bloss told me that the director wanted me to ride a motor bike out at the end of the song - and I can't ride a bike. And they had this ramp and Bloss said 'what you've got to do is wheelie up that but make sure you stop before the end.' I went really quiet - I believed him totally!"
"And we had a make up artist which we've never had before," adds Andrea. "And I was really worried that I'd end up with a Dolly Parton face. I closed my eyes so she could put make up on the eyelids and when I opened them I had black eyebrows this thick. I had to tell her to take them off, it just wouldn't have been me. They kept theirs on."
"We looked like extras from a Charlie Chaplin film."
The Darling Buds, this is your life (reprise).
B is for baldness. When Bloss takes the piss out of the spot on Harley's forehead, Harley retaliates like this.
"I've seen a lot of adverts with Bloss in recently,'bald, don't worry, come to us. We'll help you if your hair is falling out."
Bloss: "We'll sweep it up."
B is for B side, where "Burst" was going to go, until they recorded it and found it was too good to be filed away on the flip of anything. It's also for 'Blonde' which was a musical tag that came from the pigment of the press' imagination.
U is what you get Shame On.
D is a mark on old school reports. Both Harley's parents are teachers and when they went to yesterday's wedding there were loads of their old tutors there.
Andrea: "They said I was a right little devil until the fifth year but then I calmed down!"
S is for sugar and spice and all things nice. On the contrary, they Buds aren't that sweet and Andrea isn't a real girlie like the girlies who go and scream at Michael jackson. I bet she bosses the boys round. I also bet they need it. S is also for 'Spin' still one of my favourite Buds songs and about as snappy as you can get without being stupid - just dizzy, fizzy pop, which juts about sums things up. SIMPLE.
The Darling Buds aren't everybody's favourite band, but at least they're somebody's favourite band. You only have to be at one of their gigs to see this. People bouncing on their heads for 40 minutes and loving every minute. Like the Shop Assistants and The P-s, it's love or hate. It's undying lust or it's puke. They get fan mail they're modest about it. They'll get Valentine cards next February and at least one of them will try and decipher all the postmarks.
"I don't know how we can be anybody's favourite band," says Andrea unassumingly, "I mean, what have we done?"
"The Stranglers used to be my favourite band," adds Harley. "I remember buying every single they brought out. But now I'm a bit more aware."
"Nowadays," returns Andrea, "Hugh Cornwall is in the CBS office just before us, it's really weird."
"I might meet the guy," says Harley staggered. "I used to go and see them when Jacques Burnell used to jump into the crowd and hit people. And then I saw them at bigger places. So if I saw him now I'd probably say something, imagine in the lift with Hugh Cornwall."
What would you say?
"What would I say? Get your knob out..."
Do you keep diaries or a scrapbook?
"I used to keep a diary, me and a friend shared one," says Andrea. "We went to Germany while we were doing it and got everyone to sign it, it was about this thick. One day we'll have to get it published.
"We keep all our cuttings now, we've got a scrapbook with our first single in there and all the things to do with it, all the orders."
"I always imagined that when you got older your knob would get bigger," interrupts Harley, as sober as Ollie Reed. "But it never happened. That's my diary of life."
Andrea achieves another first by sighing and smiling simultaneously "I think it's Harley's bedtime."
Burst Review - Sounds October 1, 1988 by John Robb
The Welsh anorak troupe have been snapped up by Epic and are now poised to enter the real world of the grown up charts.
Now featuring a more polished sound and sleeve than before, there must be corporate dreams of catching up with The Primitives with this one. The track itself chugs along in post Tourists vein, but it's still more than a trad indie pop blur.
Offbeat Magazine - October 1988 by Andrea Lewis
"You know, it's very rare that women kill for pleasure. It's usually for children, love or revenge, never for the sake of it. It's men that do all the weird stuff. I've been reading a book called Murders Of The Black Museum, which is Scotland Yard's collection of artefacts from notorious real life murders - Christie, Crippen, the ripper and so on. It's disgusting, but you become really addicted. The saddest cases are the normal people who just panic - like the bloke who pushed his girlfriend and she died after banging her head - an accidental death - but he was scared of being blamed for it so he chopped her up and sent the bits off in the post."
Interview - Melody Maker September 24, 1988 by Chris Roberts
Beyond the valley of the Blondes
With a sunburst of pop charm The Darling Buds are poised to release their first major label single, "Burst". Chris Roberts follows them around the whirl in eighty ways.
There are some people, believe it or not, who don't like The Darling Buds. They don't recognise this music as the very Taj Mahal of arrested development, fail to appreciate its accidental sexy drive as it clears every fence like Tuesday weld and Montgomery Cliff on amethyst amphetamines. But this is not a problem. We know no chargin, hold no truck with chicanery. Clambering onto a zenith of zen, we clutch dissenters to our bosom, baptise them, bless their furrowed brows. For we know not what we do. Insecure in the gut feeling that the oblique shall inherit the mirth, we cross napalm with six and sonorously chant the hollowed mantra: "Oh, non riesco a controllarmi. Non lasciarmi appesa al telefono. Attaca e corri da me!"
Works every time.
"What could be more glamorous or necessary than The Children's Army, 'an army of youth bearing the standard of truth' as we used to sing in my fourth grade classroom at Our lady Of The Sorrows under the unforgiving eye of Sister Scholastica who knew how many angels could dance on the head of a pin." (ensuring quotes in italics from "Come Back Dr Caligan" by Donald Barthelme).
Scenes from real life
1. "Life's a piece of shit," says Andrea, wobbling precipitously on a Tube station platform "No it isn't. Hic."
2. The Darling Buds, a necklace of bombs, walk into an office at CBS and 26 executives stand up and applaud. Harley, embarrassed, hides his head in his hands. Andrea stammers something about how nice it is to be in London and puts the tape of the new single on. Twenty six executives tap the table with their pens. Tapping out of time. "Burst" finishes. Everyone applauds again. Andrea wonders if they can go now. Harley peeps through the fingers in front of his face and sees, directly in front of him on the boardroom table, the new Michael Jackson single. That's next on the agenda. Harley, an honest young man from South Wales, feels bloody weird.
3. Five to seven on a Sunday morning some Darling Buds and myself and various other disreputable youths decide it would be a really sensible move to go to Primrose Hill where the Welsh contingent will be able to view the London skyline at night. When we reach the summit (a noble, super Hilary achievement), it occurs to me that as the declared literate member of this rabble I should raise my bottle to the heavens and say something intensely significant and immensely profound. I ponder momentarily as a plane cruises over and a dog barks incredibly meaningfully in the distance. Before I have formulated anything Harley skips over and yells in my ear: "Chris I was just thinking - have you got enough stuff for the interview this time?" no one can quite grasp why I find this hysterically, uproariously funny. But it's not a problem.
Why blonde had to go
Because it was getting boring. Because novelty is lust, lust novelty. Because so many cretins thought it was just about their hair colour, which was like thinking Fitzgerald was about jazz. Because it was f---ing up my social life vis a vis brunettes. Because all good things must come to a bend and wilfully skid off. And because these pop groups are too damn good to fit under one eiderdown.
Blonde: The Wake
There's some sort of Night Network anniversary party at The Astoria and I am arguing about the theory of relativity and nuclear disarmament with Andrea when The Primitives arrive, fresh from "Wogan". I feel a truly great moment in pop history coming on.
"Andrea, Tracey. Tracey, Andrea."
It's a truly great moment in pop history. Tyson meets Ballesteros. Joyce meets Stalin. Napoleon meets Deneuve. Or something. Andrea is so affable Welsh girl next door that Tracey's cool I'm ever so slightly a bit of a pop star now has to meet it halfway. They make each others' acquaintance. Each showily ruffles my hair intermittently and not being quite a complete fool I wonder if this is what is known as the spirit of the playful feminine competition. I feel a bit like an umpire and a bit like I shall just go and hide in the toilets for three hours, call me when it's over. But Frankenstein too had obligations.
Dwanyne, The Primitives' manager, says to Andrea: "Oh, look, you're about the same height as well..." Dwayne's such a little bitch. I love him dearly. Later Dwayne says to Harley:, "The thing is, no matter how good you are, you're always going to be three steps behind us, purely by chronology."
"Shit," says Harley. "I thought it was four. We always try to keep it to exactly four, then if we fall out of sync we get worried..."
But all drummers are Welsh and everyone can talk about studios and stuff and Andrea is not exactly the shyest person in the world and CBS throw in a bottle of Moet and besides I am there in the customary social grace and charm so I think everything goes fine really. Paul Court isn't too impressed by Harley's ladybird boxer shorts but Harley, rather dashing himself on a good night, agrees with me that Paul is fatally handsome, and Steve Prim is a ever the most pleasant man in the world. All this helps. Voice Of The Beehive join in at some point (Tracy B on Tracy P: "Shit, she's so pretty." Me: D'you reckon?") to cap it all I am struck by the revelation that this is The Wake of Blonde (what a line!) and with a sudden rush of blood to the head buy a round costing 25 quid. But, er, it's not a problem. It's not. It's not. It's not not not. I take a few seconds out to weep on Steve Sutherland's shoulder, something coherent like ohshitjesusandmarysteveohhellfirewhathaveIdone??
Fortunately the following week's Record Mirror is light years away, everyone says how much they like each others' record, a Blonde super single is briefly discussed then unquantitively forgotten. , Andera has her bag stolen and everyone must, post blonde, do what they wanna do, live like they wanna live. The notion of calling the Buds' album "Lovelier" doesn't get many laughs but some other things do. Andrea drags me off to get Nick Heyward's autograph and give hi mine. This too seems like a very good idea at the time. Poor old Nick.
"Look at this," mutters Paul Court. "Think of how much you can write about what's happening around this one table."
No no no, I assure him, I'm not working tonight. Besides, it's all a dream.
Pop music is one long brief fantasy. And should be. That's what it's all about. Not real life. Then Wendy James shows up and takes me to The Hilton in a taxi in which The Whispers are singing "And The Beat Goes On". Sure. Pinch me.
Post Blonde: A Manifesto (what blonde did next)
"'Baskerville, you blank round, discursiveness is not literature. The aim of literature, 'Baskerville replied grandly, 'is the creation of a strange object covered with fur which breaks your heart.'
1. "Burst/Big Head, a great single. (Back to roots?)
2. No sleep till bedtime
3. Nothing is too odd (here we align neatly with pure as opposed to bastardised post modernism). Nothing is odd at all.
4. Linear identities for all leading characters.
5. F***'em if jokes don't make them cry.
6. When the going gets tough the tough go: 'Oh hell, this is a bit of a rum do'; and smear it with dubbin.
7. The violence of emptiness, the brutality and pathos of a passionless world. The gorgeousness of the hollow.
8. Vote Plaid Cymru. Stare at "Sylvette VI" by Picasso. Try to eat less chocolate and more tangerines.
9. Money can't buy you love, but it can buy you literally hundreds of bananas and good books and nice pictures. Akso petrol.
10. Post Blonde means nothing, thought is produced in the mouth by the mouth. Capable of being turned in any direction by the limpid wind of momentary sensation (with apologies to Tristan Tzara's Dada manifestos). Above all, inconsistency equals consistency.
11. Never apologise to men called Tristan.
12. Baffle. Get away with it.
"We value each other for our remarks, on the strength of this remark and the one about The Andrews Sisters, love becomes possible."
Scenes from real life
The Darling Buds are about to release their fourth single, "Burst", a wonderfully exciting rush of Sex Beatles guitar pop classicism, "April Skies" meets "Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart", backed with the rude and raunchy "Big Head" and possibly also "Shame On You (Slightly Delic Version)". It's the first to be distributed by Epic but is strictly speaking on Native records. Produced again by pat Collier, it's far away their best to date, forsaking indie jangle for a more potent pushy poise. Epic will have to realise it's not Luther Vandross or Bros. It's The Darling Buds beginning to fulfil the potential some of us gasped at all those months ago. At Greenhouse Studios in London, between being beaten at pinball by a wickedly cheating Andrea, I hear one or two other tracks from their album, expected out on Bonfire Night. These (particularly the radiant future number one "When It Feels Good") are equally refreshing and irresistible.
They can't decide what to call the LP yet, if "Even Lovelier" is out of the question. "Pop Up" was a possibility but then Transvision Vamp reinvented "Pop Art".
"So it looks like it's going to have to be 'Chris Roberts' with a picture of you playing football on the cover," says Harley. Of course I vigorously veto this (ooh yes, go on, go on), so "Pop Said" is currently leading by a whisker. Not only is this a fine phrase but it's also a refrain from HE Bates' novel "The Darling Buds Of May". Two of The Darling Buds are at present reading books about famous murderers.
I was tremendously shocked the other night, Andrea.
"What? Why? When?"
When you said that what you looked for in a man was a large penis.
"That was joke, you idiot. Really I go for. I dunno, complexion?"
Harley owns a budgie called Smudgie, who is "dead cool".
Andrea: "We play our demos to him and he whistles. He knows. He knows. You put something like Tom Waits on and he's not interested."
Harley: "He likes The Wedding Present and My Bloody Valentine. And he's quite keen on the Wonder Stuff. Anything with guitars. The only problem is that he's learned how to masturbate.
Can a budgie do that?
"Mine can. He grabs the cage and goes like this, rubs his whatever he's got against the bars..."
Andrea: "Really fast, like this."
Harley: "And my mother was watching him once and he started doing it and she said, 'Oh dear, he wants out when he does that'. So sometimes we let him out and he flies around. When he gets back he's all groggy like he's just been down the pub. What he does is he shits everywhere, eats himself stupid, flies back, throws up in the cage, masturbates, then goes to bed. The only thing that's missing from his life, really, is a curry."
The other unusual thing about Smudgie the budgie is that he is black. Budgies are not normally black.
When Andrea was about 10 or 11 she was cycling down a hill when she fell off and knocked a tooth out. She was concussed for a while but went on to the children's barbecue she was headed for. There the grown ups put her in the car and started to drive her home. Around now she regained full consciousness and gingerly touched her teeth with her tongue. Then she started to sob: "Oh no, I can't be a famous actress now! They won't take me to Hollywood! They won't!" And the adults said, as adults: "Don't worry dear, they can do brilliant things with teeth nowadays." But Andrea was "just crying and crying. Just crying and crying and crying and crying."
Ten things you may not have known about The Darling Buds
1. Andrea has nearly as many fillings as me.
2. Harley owns four pairs of boxer shorts.
3. Andrea is one of only 17 pop stars I have ever called a "stupid bitch". I called her a "stupid bitch" because she sprayed baby lotion all over my favourite seaweed coloured jacket at a party Paul Mathur took us to. I don't normally call females "stupid bitches": indeed I felt very bad about it. But you don't find many seaweed coloured jackets in this godforsaken country.
4. Bass player Chris has a regular spot at Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park, where he can invariably be found pouting on about Third World famine and recent developments in callisthenics.
5. Drummer Bloss nearly dies from exhaustion after every gig. "I'm nearly dying," he is often heard to exclaim. "From exhaustion! Bloss didn't believe that Andy Gray had scored for Aston Villa the other week, it was a new Andy Gray.
6. Harley took his stage name "Harley Davidson" from a popular motorcycle of the same moniker. His real name is Geraint. He will undoubtedly kill me for this.
7. Andrea hates being alone because she's scared of creepy monsters and spooks so Harley has to share hotel rooms with her. This leads to many observers assuming they are "an item" but both strenuously deny such slurs. 8. The Darling Buds had trouble with sibillance during recording. 9. Andrea's real name is Bobby Bud, which is a little bit like the title of a Herman Melville novel. Not "Moby Dick", one of the other ones. 10. When The Darling Buds jovially cover "Love Me Tender", or "Georgy Girl", or "I'm Not Your Stepping Stone", as they are wont to do, everything in the world seems tangy.
"Once in a movie house Bloomsbury recalled Tuesday Weld had suddenly turned on the screen, looked him full in the face and said: You are a good man. You are good, good. He had immediately gotten up and walked out of the theatre, gratification singing in his heart."
Another time the tape recorder is on in the pub so of course everyone clams up completely. Some interesting fish in a glass tank next to the table serve as cabaret, and inevitably there's bassist Chris's non stop barrage f knock knock jokes and rants against the near sightedness of second generation Fascism.
Andrea: "Oh God what's that fish doing?"
Please don't call me God, you know how wearying it gets...
Harley: "Headbutting a rock and spitting out stones, and he's got a nervous twitch."
"But what a wonderful view of the city, Huber commented. So now, Whittle said to Bloomsbury, give us the feeling."
Should we perhaps talk about "Burst"?
Harley: "I probably interpret it in a different way to Andrea, who wrote the lyrics, but, it's someone who's really upset about what's happening, a very serious thing. You know what it is, like you really are in love with somebody but they juts don't want to see you again, they're just not bothered. It builds up so much, it's a headache, it's really desperate and you just want to go to all four corners of the universe. You just don't want to be there, as yourself. You wish you were different so that they'd like you. Something like that. You wish you could explode and come back as something different."
"I think Harley's done quite well there," says Andrea. "I know it sounds like I'm one hell of a screwed up woman, but, when you love someone and you can't stand it. Well. With me, if I'm angry, I do throw a bit of a wobbler, I mean I really do."
You always seem so chirpy on the surface...
"I suppose I do. But when things go wrong I blow up. I've had arguments with boyfriends, whatever, and I can't listen to what they say. I can't sit down and reason. I just fly off the handle. I'm really bossy as well: I boss this lot around. I threw a deodorant can at Harley the other day."
Harley: "Then the plate, the chair, I got the lot. It was the night she was going to leave the band."
Andrea: "That lasted about 10 minutes. Then it's all over. I just have to get things out of my system. Anyway for a 'trivial love song', 'Burst' is very angry. They're stories, y'know? I can sing about other girls in relationships. They're not personal. Stories. Your head bursting. Arguments. Hitting the ground after the happy part. 'Shame On You' where the girl's pissed off because all he wants to do is go to bed."
You didn't just invent that. Something must've happened.
"No, really no! It's all imagination, they're not about this or that boy upsetting me. I probably wouldn't want everyone to know if it was. All stories - 'Big Head' about someone who thinks he's got everything, beauty and brains and doesn't have to try, 'Mary's Got To Go'... CBS always say, oh goodness, you've got such good little songs - you think, bloody hell, they're not that good. We also write some crap stuff, y'know?"
Poppycock. So anyway is love The Main Thing?
Harley: "Oh yes. And it can hurt more than going to the dentist."
Andrea: "I don't think it can."
Harley: "It bloody can! It can really f*** you up something terrible. Really can. Oh well, sorry, I suppose everyone's been through it. Perhaps we're reminding our critics of this experience with our songs and that's why they go, 'Oh dear, I don't really care for that'. So, to succeed it, when I get a girlfriend and everything's running happily, then there'll be different things. I can't seem to score these days though, I don't know why it is."
Flashback: Valencia, June 1988. Harley's chat up line in Spanish disco: "Ere, four eyes, d'you speak English?" It didn't work wonders. But then the music was loud; perhaps she didn't hear him properly.
But you don't think love is more painful than anything, Andrea?
"I just meant the dentist. I don't like the dentist at all."
Oh is that all you mean?
Aren't you a sloppy romantic like Bloss says he is?
"I don't think so. Romantic yes. Sloppy, no."
Harley: "She's more a sloppy eater."
Andrea: "Oh we just enjoy a 'bender' every now and again. I don't go out every night for my daily 86 pints or whatever."
Harley: "I do."
Andrea: "...but really sometimes I just can't tell myself to stop. Then there's the hiccups. Then I fall over."
Flashback: London, July 1988. I am carving my phone number on Andrea's arm with a penknife at a Wonder Stuff lig (I missed the gig: like I said, I'm not a complete fool), when that long haired geezer out of Pop Will Eat Itself strides over and has a go at me for persistently slagging off his band while championing only jangly indie bands with girl singers. That's bollocks, I say, no way do I only like bands with girl singers. Verging on fury, he screams 'Look at yourself man! Look at yourself at this moment!' Andrea, wobbling a little, chooses this moment to hand me the litre of whisky and gargle, 'Here y'are Chris, finish this off'. I look at myself at this moment. Okay mate, I concede to the long haired geezer, knowing we may lose the occasional skirmish but The Children's Army is fated (it is written in the scriptures) to win the war, maybe you do have a point.
"We're not into drugs though."
Bloss: "Margaret Thatcher would pat us on the back for saying that. Edwina Currie will sponsor us. 'The Buds Say No'."
The buds very nearly were in a film with Vanessa Redgrave last week. But it rained, or something. Did you dream about being on "Top Of The Pops"?
Bloss: "Yeah. About being in the audience."
Harley: "I'd shit myself with happiness if we ever got on it. Really. When I was a kid it was the first good thing. Then again everything's not so exciting when you come to do it."
Andrea: "We always dreamt about being Pan's people. But Chris's legs were too good. So now we want to be Village People."
Harley: "But I'd be really chuffed. It's about time Wales had something."
Andrea: "Did my Welsh quote in Talk Talk Talk mean 'Happy birthday thank you very much shut the door'? Ah yes, that's what my mum said. People who phoned us up after the first Peel session used to be despondent that we didn't sing in Welsh."
Harley: "I always remember this chemistry teacher at school telling me I couldn't do anything and I'd never get anywhere. And I love to imagine that his kids are buying our records now. Ha! And it's entertainment, everyone needs entertainment and pop records. As far as I'm concerned it's a big thing in life. And if we do have a hit single I'll have proved to loads of people that I'm not just this kid that flunked school: I'm something else."
Andrea: "I felt exactly the same when I was little. I'd think: I'll get you back. When I'm big and famous I'm gonna go on telly and say how horrible you've been to me."
Harley: "At CBS they're all saying to Andrea that she'd better enjoy walking around London now cos she's not gonna be able to do it in six weeks' time."
So what will you do then, Andrea?
"Dunno. Have to get a bike, I suppose."
Lateral thinking; I love it.
"Talking to people who are not in The Army is strictly forbidden. Other people don't understand The Army."
"Nowadays," says Harley, "if you do happy songs the attitude is oh they're just joking about everything. They seem to think 'young people' should be serious, should be interested in the way our Government's run and if you're not serious in that way, their way, then you're just messing about."
The Skullf*** Crew are The Darling Buds' most loyal followers (apart from me). They came mostly from Watford and have terrible haircuts and sometimes wear Primitives tee shirts in a futile attempt to wind the band. The Skullf*** Crew boast an enthusiasm bordering on dementia (they came all the way to Spain off their own bats). I have a badge which proves I am an honorary member. I was also given a cap and instructed to share it (limited edition) with Bloss's girlfriend, but I left on the floor at another party. The Skullf*** Crew also know a lot about fish.
"At the beginning of this year," says Andera, "we'd play a gig, collect our £30 and go home and that was it. Whereas now we often don't get to see the people we want to see. We cling on to 'Skullf***', but I can see how bands lose control, things get out of their hands, when we heard it was five whole pounds to get in to our last gig we thought there'd be nobody there!"
It was of course packed.
"We've stopped worrying," says Harley. "There'll always be someone there who won't like it, like Simon Reynolds, which is fair enough..." (a touch of Budism there, Somon!) "...but you've got people there loving it."
"There's no point us trying to 'get our act together'," finishes Andrea. "Because we are the way we are. That's the way it is."
And you always seem so happy onstage, it's infectious.
"But were we as happy say last week as the first time you saw us?"
Oh definitely. If not more so. (They give it their all, like Olympic sprinters. And like Olympic sprinters, all the agony and ecstasy of emotions we cannot for the life of us articulate is etched in every expression. Also every spin, every conflagration of guitar, every simple chorus.)
The Darling Buds, crazy as it sounds, capture release. Andrea you were gone, whirling around with those tambourines like.
"Yeah I know. Yeah it's really."
her face illuminates the taboo glory of inspiration. What is it? What is the best pop music?
"It's really brilliant!"
The day after they finish the LP The Darling Buds commence their 327th tour this year.
Burst And Last And Always
I'd be the first to confess The Buds' last single, "It's All Up To You", was vapid. It was the wrong choice, a disappointment after the rosy panache of "Shame On You". This time they've again hidden a diamond on the B side ("Big Head"), but in "Burst" they've done (in) the business. "Burst" is one of the most natural thrills you'll hear all year, it races away with itself, impetuous heart over head, sweet and savage, destination delight. A gleam in every twinkle. Despite the fuss, it doesn't really matter whether it's "a hit" or not. It exists. The oyster I first saw in a grotty pub in March is starting to expectorate pearls. Already. I now expect strings of the things.
"Well here we go, we laugh again."
Rather unfairly, I get Harley talking about his willy one more time.
"I found my willy when I was 12 and it's still a lot of fun, like how many years later?? Now if this record company and us could enjoy a relationship like that, well hell!"
"Gurramies," announces a Skullf*** Crew member.
"Gurramies, they look like, those fish. And the big one's a schreitzmuller maytaenis."
Wow. Can you spell it?
"Yeah I can, give me a piece of paper."
Oh sod it, I'll make it up. Do they look healthy to you, as an expert?
"Yeah. The gurramies do anyway. Not sure about the schreitzmuller, I think he's dead. Demised. Hullo? Oh he is moving. He looks like he might be called Eric. Don't tap the tank, Andrea!"
"Well it's like an earthquake for the fish."
"I was babysitting after school once," begins Andrea, who would rather be a princess than a queen, "and they had these, what are they called, those tiny little things with shells, yeah, terrapins, they had those. And I was doing my homework and I absentmindedly started stirring the water in their tank with my pencil and I started going round with it really madly chasing them round the sides, tickling them, the next morning the woman said she'd found the things quivering in her shoes. I flushed a fish down the loo once, but it kept coming back. Every time someone went to the loo there'd be this goldfish. For days."
See? You can no more rid the earth of truly great pop music than you can exterminate resilient ornamental pondlife. You've danced on the tomb of Blonde, you've read the post Blonde manifesto, you've got the terrapins in your shoes, so shake. Fit to burst and filled with gyroscopic baubles. A fluorescent flurry. The past is so much confetti. Go on, admit it - like the whole of human life, The Darling Buds are here and now. Love comes in spurts and goes out fighting. It's not a problem.
Live review at the Fulham Greyhound, London (supported by Avo-8) - Melody Maker September 10, 1988 by Simon Reynolds
Accusations of sexism - from the people who tried to tell us Kensit deserved more than a shudder and a soft, sad shake of the head - are rich, but I'll rise to them, if only to make a point or two. Women In Pop was never a carte blanche to be asinine or uninteresting. There are women in pop - Kristen Hersh, Mimi Goese, Sinead, Siberry, Liz Frazer, Ki Murphy, Bjork - who are worked up, who have something to work out of themselves. And there are those - the nouveau power pop axis - who faff around, hide behind outmoded imagery drawn from obsolete pop models. If you want a pat opposition, it's between dark depths and shiny surfaces (although the surfaces of the new power pop really aren't that lustrous, more like the dull gleam of some obsolescent Sixties synthetic). Between a special kind of unease with yourself and the world and being easy on the eye and eager to please.
When it comes to 'identifying', it's never been a question of gender, but of whether anything is going on in there. Hersh et al, at their best, are so involving you're laid low with a kind of traumatic empathy. But I could never 'identify' with an identity as small and sure as Andrea Bud's (I'm talking about her stage persona - for all I know she may be a kaleidoscope of contradictions. In which case I wish she'd share them).
I mean, we're hardly talking glamour, are we? I', all for glamour as reinvention of the self (although eclipse of the self is better), but it's got to be done with a sight more verve and contrariness. The horror of The Darling Buds is not that the 'sweetness' is constructed, but that the fabrication is of such a paltry and precedented nature. Some come -ons are so obvious, they make you cringe. That a few people find this simpering spectacle 'erotic', I can only attribute to libidinal retardation. Avo-8 work up a nice head of bile in your reporter, with their seventh hand reductionism, their ghastly echo of The Tourists, their rewrite of 'Crash' ("He'll Slip up One day"), their punk riffola of the same wattage as the second Pistols album. The hellish spawn of the Prims would appear to be legion. Then everything is confetti and balloons as The Darling Buds hit the stage. The band are artisans, tight, even fierce, within their self imposed limits, but everything's over as soon as the girl opens her mouth.
Andrea's cooing, dulcet tones condemn her to trace the tritest melodic paths, which in turn demand the worn doggerel of the lyrics, their lazy reshuffling of the lexicon of luv. Unlike Kylie Minogue, however, this is reduction the Buds have inflicted on themselves. Vanilla was never my favourite flavour.
In truth, this was "unpretentious fun". Yeah, that minuscule. It was un-sultry and very provincial - which is to say neither urban or pastoral (the two poles in rock fantasy), but based in that dreary suburban stretch of reality in between that most of us have to inhabit but few actually want to see celebrated in rock.
Nonetheless, there are those who argue that we writers should try to get inside the provincial mindset, rather than lead it forward. Last week, we were grateful for the revelation that the Nephs are wonderful because of their "paucity of imagination". That may be, but what's unwondrous about The Darling Buds is their paucity full stop, their meagreness in every degree. To hallucinate "transcendence" in something this stinting and stunned, involves going through so many intellectual hoops, that really, boys, you shame us theorists. But in truth, this double think - "they're meant to be crap", "every platitude contains a truth" etc - seems a rather convoluted route of bliss.
But oh, they love to imagine it's the grim grid of theory that stands between me and the "simple pop thrill", the "immediacy", of Darling Buds, Transvision, etc. Arse about tit, again, chaps. First, comes the gut level reaction: a wave of nauseous indifference. Then comes speculation: what is the deja vu weakness, who does it recur? Then comes theory an resolve. If the Arsequake league were the Politburo of Pop, we'd treat The Darling Buds and their male equivalents like the Wonder Stuff, like Stalin dealt with the kulaks: uproot them from their dismal allotments of jangle and force them at bayonet point into sampling factories to forge futurist rock, a la Front 242 and The Young Gods, as part of a Five Year Plan for the regeneration of Britpop. But we're not, so we'll heckle on and sometimes stoop to state the bleedin' obvious, steamroller over grapes.
The gig? Oh, it was crap.
Live review at the Fulham Greyhound, London (supported by Avo-8) - New Musical Express September 10, 1988 by Simon Williams And so, another dip into the shallow whirlpools of fuzzy pop, sparkling on the rocks. And confrontation is usually good competition, but tonight is no Battle Of The Girlies. Had it been designed as such, The Darling Buds might just have cried off - AVO-8 are that impressive. They even dare to change the rules by NOT sending their forked vocals on a wild, loose chase after the guitar. And by keeping a tight control over waywardness, the Scots set a fiery standard.
AVO-8 play well, but it's only a friendly and the Buds are the epitome of genial warmth. The foundations were laid long ago - the confetti, the balloons, the brazenly mating tambourines, man - and in physical respects, the Buds are fine: 'Burst' predictably explodes, while 'Hit The Ground' is a frazzled dive for cover. And if they rarely digress from their briskly-travelled path, at least familiarity is far from breeding contempt.
What galls is the superficiality, whereby each love-line is cheerfully discarded and thus rendered meaningless. Even the encore of 'Love Me Tender' was covered with more feeling by Roland rat, such is the amiable curse of disposable pop.
Of course, we're not allowed to bury the Buds yet. Dare to damn the Darlings and you'll turn to find a perspiring mob on your back. I don't intend to spend the next week looking over my shoulder - I like them. Why? Because Andrea doesn't change her hairstyle for every new release. Grow Buddies, grow.
Live review at the London University (supporting The Wonder Stuff) - New Musical Express July 9, 1988 by Michele Kirsch
I suanter into the gig as the Darling Budweisers skip onto stage, fresh as shamblin daises. Fully expect that fourth rate flower power pop shite so beloved of misguided editors, who play the Press Darling Buds on the office stereo at full blast, somersault off the desks and shriek 'Now the world is a better place'.
What caused the salivating masses to go so earnestly gaga over some simple speed pop? Why do they throw confetti and not broken bottles at this mildly pleasant rehash of Poly without the braces, Lulu without the vocal range, Cilla without the scouse, Tracey without Melissa?
The Debbie Gibson of the Indie world is endearing for trashing the "I wish I was there in '77" ethic in favour of the far more sensible "I wish I was there in '66". More cheerleader than singer, with tambourines for pom poms, the most Darling Budette zips through a section of "Venus In Furs": The Velcro Underground generation, rah, rah, cis boom bah.
Who care if Andrea drops several octaves down the delightfully bizarre mid section of 'Gregory Girl'? The Buds' good intentions, good sense of speed and infectious enthusiasm allows them to transcend the mop top mediocrity of their songs.
When I go home to play the record, it's all one to twee four indie crap all over again; baby where did my love go? Left it under someone else's lunch at ULU.
The Rain In Spain Stays mainly Indie Plain - New Musical Express July 9, 1988 Interview by Danny Kelly
They may be relegated to the back rooms of pubs back home, but in Spain Britain's brightest indie guitar bands jangle to thousands at smart, media attended festivals! Danny Kelly took a package tour to Valencia with the Darling Buds and discovered an appetite for their pert power pop even Franco's ghost cannot tame!
We make pretty unlikely bedfellows, Generalissimo Franco and me, but this time we're at one. I'm pinching myself to ensure I'm not dreaming; 350km away, the old dictator is spinning in his grave!
In a giant dance hall in Valencia the last traces of Spain that old Franc'd recognise are being danced into dust. Naked nubiles perch provocatively on swings suspended from the disco's glass ceiling, while below them the levered in crowd of 2000 are inescapably enveloped by the blasts of pop spurting from the club's stage.
The Spaniards - young, arty and expensively dressed - stare uncomprehendingly at the stage front gaggle of 30 or so Britons who've abandoned themselves to a bout of frenzied flesh flailing. Video crews compete to capture the grinning, drink heightened gyrations, adding to a media presence that already includes radio - broadcasting the proceedings live - and close circuit TV being beamed onto a huge screen in the car park outside.
And the oddest thing of all is that all this commotion is not being caused by a local favourite or some jetted in megastar, but by Welsh poppers the Darling Buds (hardly household names in their native Newport, never mine downtown Iberia!). They're one of four British indie bands whose music soundtracks and punctuates the unfolding lunacy.
The all night madhouse finally ends with the morning sun streaming through the glass roof and last band on (London's Corn Dollies) wondering what'll get them first - exhaustion or heatstroke.
And in distant Madrid, the General tuns one more.
Here we go, here we go, here we go
I accepted this mission - 'The Darling Buds in Spain' - expecting a cosy commando raid and end up on a full scale invasion.
So in addition to the Darling Buds, the coach carting me away from Madrid Airport also contains the forementioned Corn Dollies, the Waltones from Manchester, the mongrel Man From Del Monte and a motley assortment of journalists, photographers, soundmen, label folk and liggers. All four bands, it transpires, are going to play an event whose Spanish title translates as 'The Conjuring Of Dances' or some such tosh and a football match against the local music biz has been arranged for the following day. A weekend of disaster looms.
Our unexplained arrival at Madrid, when our eventual destination is Valencia, has condemned us to a marathon coach trip across the unchangingly scrubby wastes of central Spain. The sticky boredom of this ordeal isn't helped by our drivers insistent banning of on board alcohol. He's heard the stories of the beer monster Brits abroad and he's taking no chances!
In reality, though, he's hauling a busload of sweeties and the journey's closest brush with deviancy is the sight of the Corn Dollies - a band so trouser rippingly rock 'n' roll that their contractual rider insists on 'tea making facilities' - thumbing through the scuzzier bits of Stephen Davis' Led Zep coke bonk frenzy handbook Hammer Of The Gods.
After seven hours of teetotal tedium occasionally shattered by a burst of 'Y Viva Espana' over the tannoy, the driver's (very) little joke - our none too magical mystery tour grinds to a halt. Our hotel nestles at the foot of a slumbering volcano and is moated by a languidly mobile sewer. It is also, disconcertingly, a good 30km out of Valencia town. Apparently it's the only place within a 50km radius willing to take a party of pre-pension Britons. It's enough to make you burn yer Union Jack Y-fronts!
But if our hosts are a trifle trepidacious about us as a mob, they compensate by being mustard keen on and serious about, this dance conjuring lark. So much so in fact that we hacks and a representative of each band are press ganged into doing interviews at the local radio station with DJ Jorge Albi and his insanely grinning interpreter.
These are not a triumph. From 15 minutes of linguistic It's A Knockout we learn that Manny Waltone likes The Shamen and thinks they're English, that Steve Corn Dolly's 'passion' is something called 'Crystal Palace Football Club', that Andrea Bud's favourite word is 'Blonde', while Shelia Del Monte's is 'taramasalata'. The latter revelation at least has the merciful effect of bringing this fiasco to an end.
With publicity like this, it's fortunate for the promoter that 'The Conjuring of Dances' has, apparently been sold out for weeks.
All Night Long (Caramba!)
Last time I saw the Waltones they were playing to a few dozen people in a room above a Camden pub. No surprise there - dingy, half full lofts and cellars are the nightly reality for Britain's indigenous indies. All of which made the scene that greeted us at the Barraca Disco (venue for the weekend's main event) no less startling.
La Barraca is a sprawling warren of bars, dancefloors, balconies and stages. Hours before midnight commencement of festivities the place is alive. The paying customers are already well into their routines, while TV and radio personnel scamper themselves into a techno frenzy. The British bands, we learn, will alternate with Spanish ones and local 'cabaret acts' that turn out to include the usual avant garde theatricals, plus strippers and a pornographic dance troupe!
Backstage, the bands sort out their dressing rooms then join the rest of us at the gates of Heaven bar! A bar - immorally well stocked, administered by a trio of mini skirted heart stoppers and totally free - has been laid on for the duration. Its effect is soon evident as Roxy and Michael (trombonist and singer from Del Monte) and your correspondent spend a full 20 minutes studying a small lizard as it works its way through a multitude of dozing flies. 'This ain't rock 'n' roll', I remember thinking through the gathering alcoholic haze, 'this is insecticide!'
Inside, The Conjuring Of Dances progresses relentlessly, the well oiled visitors sliding into their slots between the Heavy metal and the heavy petting. The Waltones are a textbook example of just how quickly and how much a band can improve, Mark Collins' marvellous guitar showering sparks onto James and Manny's passionately paired vocals. The Man From Del Monte throw up worrying echoes of early 70s art school rock but time and again save themselves with a good natured warmth that's embodied in the uproarious zest Roxy coaxes from her 'bone, and the Buds are just Darling.
Their 'Shame On You' debut made significant waves in Spain so the locals greet them with high expectations while the flower of Thatcher's Britain gather upfront in anticipation of some formation dancing. Neither camp is disappointed. With only her pocket dynamo personality for a raft, Andrea is whisked along on the white water of Harley Davidson's guitar. During 'It's All Up To You' and a blood changed 'Love Me Tender' the exhilaration of her rapids ride shoots onto the audience as jagged jolts of pop electricity, sending her compatriots into gleefully seething scrummage. Nos amigos probably think that this is the Falklands spirit psycho riot they've been promised, but no, this is what we do for fun.
Sing When You're Winning...
In the half hour after the DB's set - it's maybe five in the morning - Spanish bemusement at their guests' (strictly peaceable) behaviour reaches new heights as the largest of the dressing rooms is rocked by an outbreak of community singing of quite epic proportions.
With Andrea keeping gloriously erratic time on her tambourines, it's empty vessels maximum volume as we career madly between divisive football chants and arrestable assaults on the pop classics of a bygone age.
As 'Knowing Me, Knowing You', 'I Love You Love Me Love', 'Puppy Love', 'The 59th St Bridge Song' and a selection from South Pacific are each disfigured in turn, a succession of Sensors and Senoritas chance a quick butchers into the cauldron of noise then scurry away shaking their head and crossing Southend off their places to visit list.
A rush of reckless curiosity (and most probably drugs) compels one of the performance artists to make an entrance. He's all of six foot six, flaxon haired, painted gold and arrayed in a floor length kaftan; and he beats a hasty retreat when subjected to a spontaneous barrage of 'One God Almighty!.... there's only one God Almighty!'
The Corn Dollies play in the unfolding daylight. Going on last after seven solid hours is the ultimate short straw but these boys are hard core. Singer Steve has spurned the free sclerosis in the interest of band cohesion, while sometime bassist Steve II has come all the way from his native California for this do. Even violinist Johnno - six six of carrot topped Scousse get and karate international - makes it onto the stage, no mean achievement for a man who just minutes before was swaying like a paper giraffe and thrusting two gigantic paws into the face of a terrified looking Spanish girl: "see dese 'ands?, dese are musician's 'ands."
On the way back to the hotel, the night's events jostle for attention in a brain trying hard to put up the 'Closed' sign. The amazing scale of the whole shebang lingers, as does the sozzled bonhomie. But the strongest and most lasting, thrill was in seeing a music - literate, melodic rock - now largely consigned to the fringes in Britain, being valued, feted and enjoyed. In those pub back rooms the motivation for bands even bothering to play live often eludes me; here it all made perfect sense. And while the home front may continue to be a struggle, La Barraca proved that it's a struggle worth enduring.
For the Darling Buds, however 'struggle' seems an entirely inappropriate word. Their ascension to the verge of serious pop fame has been, to the outsider at least, an effortless glide. The dazzling vivid "Shame On You" was an indie chart topping debut earlier this year and the follow up, "It's All Up To You", has flirted teasingly with the grown ups' countdown these past weeks. CBS will be distributing the next one; Top Of The Pops beckons, no problem.
But the sales returns of the best group to come out of Wales since the Pontypool front row tell only part of the story. Whether onstage or in the close up form of singer/lyricist Andrea, the Darling Buds omit beams of something between charisma and charm and an uncomplicated, exuberant joy at the power of music. In a self obsessed, self deluding pop world, that's an infectious combination.
When Andrea and Harley formed the DBs (the name taken from a Shakespeare sonnet) they'd both been in groups since their mid teens. Andrea can only ever remember wanting to do one other thing.
"I quite fancied drama school, even did a few interviews about it when I was in sixth form. But I don't think it's really me. I don't think I could really be taught how to act, and I'd have to spend half my life as a waitress as well... "
What made her want to be in a group? Reading 'Hammer Of The Gods'?
"No," she grins, "I think it was something to do with Mary Poppins."
When the honeymoon period with the press is over, the Darling Buds are going to get some fearful hammerings. By their own admission, neither their sound nor their lyrics are particularly original nor laden with great meaning. Which isn't to say that Andrea's about to start apologising. Far from it:
"People give us stick because the sound is very simple, predictable even, and we don't pretend that they're anything other than little pop songs. But I do really like them; they're fast, exciting and I find something in each of them. I can remember Harley saying that any band can be on Top Of The Pops if you go for the right sound but I don't want to sound like Kylie Minogue. We do want to get on, to have hits, nut in the right way. Same with the lyrics. Sometimes people want us to say something like 'we're from Wales and we want this or that for Wales' but I don't think we could do that very well. Other bands can. I write the sort of lyrics that I like and while 'Shame On You' has no deep meaning, I worked hard to make it good in its own way. The other day I was thinking that if we sang in Welsh we could tell people that if we sang in Welsh we could tell people that the songs are about vegetarianism or politics or whatever they wanted."
And there's none of the usual defensiveness about the simple fact that in the present climate her sex won't do the Buds any harm either.
"I cannot escape the fact that I'm a girl, and a girl in a band. Nor can I do much about it when I'm asked questions or put at the front of pictures - the same thing happened to Morrissey but he wasn't 'The Smiths'. The others have put a lot into the band as well and I think there's something specifically attractive about a group."
And about that, as with so much else, she's right. Right now the Darling Buds are bigger in Spain than they are in Britain, and that's enough to make you burn your Union Jack shorts as well.
Carnage In A Foreign Field
Nursing hangovers the size of Asia, we now know it was all a cunning continental plot. We've been systematically and comprehensively wrecked while the Spanish footballer's have no doubt been on the Philosan and early nights for a month. We console ourselves with the thought that it's only a Sunday afternoon kickabout.
And we are wrong. After a short drive from the hotel our intrepid squad is horrified to find itself in a fair sized municipal stadium. And there, like some ghostly reminder of the excess of a few hours ago, is that damn TV camera again! Fielding a 'team' comprised of various Waltones, Corn Dollies, journalists and label types, we present the opposition our pennant - a Dollies' shirt scrawled with the legend 'AFC Armada 400'. The joke, to judge by the look on some Spanish faces, loses something in translation.
The first half hour is a dour affair, notable only for the fairly towering contribution of yours truly, corpulently resplendent in surfing shorts and Argyll socks and a tireless font of Vinne Jones approved inspirational abuse. At the interval the score is deadlock at nil nil (with both sides lucky to have managed nil!) and the visitors make a crucial mistake. To tumultuous applause, myself and the fearsome Johnno Corn Dolly are replaced by a brace of John's colleagues. Fatal moments too late, it's discovered that the dugout from which the subs haul themselves is ankle deep in empty beer bottles and reeking of herbal exotica.
Under the triple handicap of the afternoon sun, a local referee and the pair of orbiting Dollies, the British challenge fades and despite a breathtaking goal by Mark Collins, the inevitable defeat (3-1, just like the 'real' England team!) ensues. It's enough to make you burn your...
Homeward bound after three fantastic, in every sense of the word, days; Franco keyrings and bull fight ball points safely stowed and time for one more social event. On the flight I organise a sweep on who's gonna get the rubber glove treatment from Gatwick customs. Sun Bingo sized prize money (11016 pesetas and £5.42) is collected, names drawn and the appropriate tension generated. In the nothing to declare green channel I'm left wondering why I pay my bloody taxes! Thirty odd music types, all obvious drug fiends, enter the country without as much as a frisking. Results: smack's 20 a hundredweight on Liverpool council estates and Chris Darling Bud, possessor of the previously mocked 'Nobody' ticket, cops the moolah.
Which says a lot about this whole jaunt really; right now everything is going right for the Darling ones and the rest of us are going to struggle to get into 'Hammer Of The Gods 2'.
Interview - Melody Maker June 25, 1988 by Paul Mathur
Bouquet Of Barbed Wire
The Darling Buds' jagged sound promises to accelerate their rise from indie adulation to pop adoration. Paul Mathur charts the course of petal power and learns the facts of life and the traumas caused by Welsh hippies, Singapore doctors, first kisses and the strain of growing up.
Look, I don't want you to start thinking I'm picking up any kind of relay baton here, hightailing it into the middle distance, lungs bursting and legs akimbo. The blonde bandwagon has long left town, scattering its quixotic imperfections to the grumpy breeze. I was there, waving goodbye, or at least thinking about it over a swift half. It was awful.
You'd look good with black hair, Andrea.
"I think I would. It was green once."
The Darling Buds are not brilliant in the way New Year's revelations in locked bedrooms are brilliant. They're not even brilliant in hyperbolic dry wank hack terms. They're just greatish. So you can calm down.
The Darling Buds have a great taste in sandwiches; ham and cheese, tuna things with dead animals in them. That's important in this crazy world as their musical know how. You've got to realise that. Don't believe that we stay up into the wee small hours playing ANYBODY's records over and over, I mean, life's too important for all that. The Darling Buds are better than okay and worse than the sky. Get the picture?
You could be forgiven for not noticing this latest tickle in the pop solar plexus, these frisky little angels who've scuffed our ears with their delicious nonsense. Really, you could. You might have heard the name, seen the pictures, dismissed the whole bloody business as a Primitives rerun, a testosterone fuelled leer at anything with a pretty girl in it. I've seen it happen. Terrible business. I'm as startled as you are - after all, I hate The Primitives with more muddled vitriol than a thousand missives about Julianne's engine appropriations. And yet, The Darling Buds trip me up, spin me round, beguile me, with a shocking fierceness.
How? How long is a broomstick?
"There's a lot of people who hate us," says Andrea. She's the singer, just in case you're a bit slow on focal points. "Oh yes indeed," says Harley, the guitarist. They know already, realise that consensus may not be the better part of valour, but understand that dealing with heretics is such a boring waste of time.
Harley: "It's like in Aldous Huxley's 'Brave New World'. There's people who are born or conditioned to do mundane jobs and others who are there to entertain. We always wanted to be in a band. It's the only thing we can do, or at least, that we would want to do. I met a friend of mine from school, a guy I hadn't seen for ages. He beckoned me over in the street, wearing his shades and his hat. 'What are you doing?' I said. He told me he was a roadsweeper and he was really please with it. That's great, it's what he wants to do. We want to make music in the same way he wants to sweep roads. It's good."
The Darling Buds have released two singles. The first was called "Shame On You", the second "It's All Up To You". They've played 42 gigs so far this year. This is their shiny, unit shifting history. But before?
Andrea: "I was born in Swansea, then, when I was little, we moved to a little farm in the Dorset countryside. It was great because we were at this school where there were only three teachers for 150 children, so we all used to mess about."
Were you a hooligan?
"Oh no, not a hooligan, but we used to have a good time. I was in a band when I was seven, playing a guitar and shouting. It was great."
Did you ever think you were perhaps a bit peculiar?
"It never occurred to me. There was this hippie family nearby and they never sent their kids to school. When the kids came they used to wear things like a nightie and shoes, no socks. We were very normal compared to them."
Harley: "I grew up in the jungle, because my folks were in the RAF, going round the world everywhere - Singapore, Bangkok, Egypt. It was all very strict though. There was this picture of when the Rolling Stones came to play in 1965 or something and all these kids were there from the bases. The military looked at the pictures and sent home all the families that had kids at the gig."
Harley's chance to be a rebel without a cause in Newport were severely stunted by the fact that his parents were teachers.
"I used to get bullied at school, spreadeagled across the railings with my trousers down. One day my mother looked out of the window of the cookery section to see some kids burying me head first in the sand pit."
Although a couple of years younger than Harley, Andrea remembers him at school.
"One of my friends used to fancy him, but he wouldn't go out with her because she didn't like The Stranglers. Every time I saw him he'd be lurking in the woodwork room."
Harley: "That was only because I didn't want to get beaten up. I spent a lot of time there, but I never made anything. Someone made a guitar once, so I spent ages watching him make it. Then when it was finished I tried to pinch it, but I didn't get away with it."
The first crush must have come around then?
Harley: "First crush? Mine was orange. Or was it grapefruit? No, it was teachers, neighbours, anyone really."
Andrea: "Mine was on a guy in hospital and even now I can vividly remember how he smelt. It was a really evocative smell."
A rampant stag? Stale sweat? Halitosis?
"No, porridge. I'm not saying I've got any erotic connection these days between sex and porridge, but at the time, I always thought porridge was the smell of boys."
Harley: "Of course, at that time, you'd only ever be interested in all those sort of things. When you've really little, you never want to have a bath, then once you discover your willy, you're in there for ages, half an hour sometimes. They can't get you out. Then you get spots and spend half your life looking in the mirror, trying to squeeze them."
Do you still sit in the batch discovering things about yourself?
"No, not any more. My mum and dad got a shower unit you see. Anyway, I'm too busy with music now to think about sex. I have to catch up with it when I can, so I'll always read a book that's a bit saucy, or watch something on TV if it looks like it's going to be a bit."
At this point Harley arches his eyebrows in a manner that can never be fully appreciated in print. Something like a small explosion under his forehead. "I'm not a pervert though. I want to make that quite clear."
Perhaps it all stems from a confusion about The Facts Of Life.
Andrea: "My parents were very good about that. They had a lot of photocopies of things that they gave us. I understood it all quite early on."
Harley: "I saw these books shortly after my experiences in the bath, but the pictures of the male and female genitalia looked completely different from anything I could relate to. I remember how my dad always used to get an Indian meal on Sunday and after we'd had it we used to go and watch 'The World About Us' on TV. I picked up a lot of my sexual education from that. And then I had my fist kiss off this girl called Virginia Jones, a good Welsh name. She was the first girl we knew who had breasts as well, so we used to investigate those quite a lot. I used to go out in these fields with her and we'd spend some time kissing each other. Then my friend wanted to have a go, so we both used to call for her to come out and play and take it in turns to kiss her. She got a bit bored after a while and moved to South Africa."
Andrea: "I remember my first kiss. It was with someone who'd been drinking a lot of sugar in their coffee so their tongue tasted really sweet. I though it was always going to be like that, so I was a bit surprised when following kisses with different people tasted of nicotine and things. It's funny isn't it, how you think things like that?"
Did you ever get in trouble about it all?
Andrea: "I used to use rude words without realising how much they were going to shock people. Once we were on the beach at some Sunday School trip and I was playing with my friend. We were lying there and I said, 'You be Mrs. Hunt and I'll be Mrs. C**t'. That outraged a few people, but not as much as when this hippie walked along with a big beard and a long white robe on and I said, "Look everybody, there's Jesus!' I really thought it was Jesus, but would you would wouldn't you?"
Harley: "I got caught once for having all these Sun clippings. It was the only way we could get our looks at what the female body was like, so we used to cut out the Page Three girl from The Sun each day and I was in charge of keeping them all. I used to carry these big wodges of clippings around in my pocket."
While this voyage of sexual discovery whirled around sleepy Newport, The Darling Buds were starting to take shape, a mixture of predestiny and rigorous determination.
Andrea: "I wanted to act first, do drama and stuff. I wasn't bad and I never used to get scared before I went on stage to act as I do when I have to get there and sing. After I'd done drama for a bit though, I realised I hated the way all the girls were so actressy. It was horrible. I preferred the idea of being in a band."
Harley: "I was working in this apprentice's job, but I left and when they asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I said I wanted to start a band. They said I'd never get anywhere, that it was a stupid thing for me to want to do. There was this other guy who was also leaving and he said it was because he wanted to play International Cricket. They were really positive to him, saying he should go off and play for Worcestershire for a couple of years then if it didn't work out he could have his job back. It was incredible. Being an international cricketer was seen as being much more feasible and acceptable than being in a pop group. That guy's playing in Australia now apparently, but my dad, who knows these things, says he's never going to be good enough to play for his country."
How much of The Darling Buds' rationale comes from being deliberately contrary, from doing things you're told not to do?
Andrea: "I've always been a little like that, never taking any notice of people's advice. I went off round the world nannying, then did all these jobs in London, but I was convinced what I ultimately wanted to do was be in a band."
Harley: "I always used to listen to other people's advice, but never did what they said. My dad would say, 'Don't do that', and I'd just ignore him. My grandfather was different though, he'd just say, 'Go ahead then, put your hand in the fire if you want. Find out for yourself."
You must be covered in scars.
Andrea: "Oh yes, he's got scars all right!"
Harley: "I'm covered in them. Mainly on my willy. Circumcision. They haven't a clue how to do it in Singapore, cut too much off. Either that or they couldn't find it properly in the first place."
Scars alone were not enough to stop The Darling Buds blossoming into life. Andrea and Harley got together to record a couple of songs, both of which are still included in their set, one of them being their debut single. On the strength of two songs, Andrea managed to get them a gig.
Harley: "It was a bit of a surprise to me because what with only having two songs, the idea of doing a whole gig seemed a bit impractical. We ended up doing cover versions to pad it out."
"'Human Fly' by The Cramps and 'Femme Fatal' by The Jesus And Mary Chain, I mean The Velvet Underground."
The last bit isn't a joke, he really does get them mixed up.
"Well they all sound the same don't they. Our version of 'Femme fatal' was absolutely dreadful."
Nevertheless, The Darling Buds' debut show went down a treat with the Newport youth ("even though most of them are into hardcore") and while working in a recording studio, Harley got to meet all the greats "like Julian Cope, Gaye Biker and Aled Jones". The heady wine of fame was already to be guzzled.
"I wanted to be like them, well not like Aled Jones. He's a little creep, but don't write that."
With the Big Time just around the corner, The Darling Buds did what was expected of them, and split up.
"Well it's what you're supposed to do isn't it? Actually, I had a commitment to go busking around the world and I ended up wearing a kilt and getting arrested in all sorts of exotic places."
Were you wearing your kilt on a whim?
Andrea: "No, on his waist."
Harley: "It kept me cool. Not cool as in posey cool, just let a draught in."
On his return to Newport, Harley found Andrea had moved to London. Fortunately she'd told him first and in the wink of an eye, The Darling Buds were back back back. Success and critical acclaim came quicker than any of them expected.
"It was a real shock how fast it all happened, but I think we've got it in perspective."
Andrea: "We get all these nice things written about us, but we're quite prepared for the time that's going to come when it's Hate The Darling Buds Year. Hopefully we won't get too hurt about it."
Harley: "We've already had criticism from people like Jonh Wilde and it's just been unfortunate that he's been reviewing the singles both weeks that ours have come out. It's obvious he doesn't like us, but because he's written about both of them I almost feel like I know him. What's he like?"
Oh, a rascal. He won't be converted.
Andrea: "We can cope with criticism because we get so much support from the people who DO like us. When we can make a whole room of cynical Primitives fans dance, like we did in Sheffield, we know we're doing something right."
Several hours after the interview, The Darling Buds do all sorts of things right in their live show, lacing the confetti with a boisterous pop frenzy that's hard to ignore. Songs like "Burst", the prospective next single, rattle along with ferrets down their pants and eyes raised high. It's all rather exciting.
In the toilets, a young fan approaches Harley and relates a few tales about tracking the length and breadth of the London Underground to catch the band. He leaves to get a drink, only to return a moment later complaining that because the toilet door is so close to the stage, it feels like everyone is watching him when he leaves.
"They ARE watching you," says Harley. "They think you're a poof."
Very Oscar Wilde.
"Is all this what you wanted?" says Harley?
"Well, I wanted to play heavy metal when I started, but I got the wrong guitar, so I had to do this. It meant I had to cut my hair of course."
Of course. Darling. Buds. Everything.
Live review at Barraca, Valencia, Spain - Melody Maker June 25, 1988 by Chris Roberts
Pile down the front for The Darling Buds, recently Number 1 on the Spanish alternative hit parade. Get confused when Jerry Hall struts onstage and starts modelling frocks and pouting. Find it hard to believe Harley has changed that much since Dingwalls.
Everything falls into place, or at least out of the sky, pretty sharpish. The Buds' loyal Skullf*** Crew have made the treck from Blighty ("Come and have a go if your blonde enough"), which is handy, otherwise I may have been in charge of confetti throwing. Tonight they deserved telephone directories. A short staccato set with every pop dazzle under the sun and over the moon. Sprinkle and twinkle and laughter ever after, all the greats. A fear tears. Marvellous cinematography. I'm not listening to song titles again, but you will be soon. If there's a more perfectly flawed moment anywhere than the one in which The Darling Buds twist "You've Got To Choose" into "Venus In Furs" than pandas fly helicopters and my name's Tuesday. During the encore of "If I Said" it occurs to me as a pop theorist that Andrea's bumblebee bonhomie is mile different from Trace's Machiavellian grace. There's room for both, there's room for all us, it's a big big world.
Live review at Camden Dingwalls (supporting Shack) Sounds June 25, 1988 by Sam King
Like The Primitives, The Darling Buds have got just one idea which, in these days of pinch and mix ideology and instant attention spans, really isn't good enough. It may be one idea more than most new House records, but it's nowhere near enough to challenge The House Of Love or The Sugarcubes.
Interview - Record Mirror June 25, 1988 by Andy Strickland
A nation held its breath last week with the news that The Darling Buds were the latest in a sticky list of young bands from the independent sector to seemingly have been snapped up by the big bucks boys down major street. There was much wailing and gnashing, because it looked like a classic 'sign em up' change 'em then dump them when they don't sell a million' tale of the kind we've seen too often in the last couple of years. The Record Mirror Independents phone buzzed through to singer Andrea for the real story.
"Don't worry," she told us. "We're well aware of all those pitfalls and the reason we've signed is basically to improve the distribution of our records. We'll still be releasing records on Native, but now we won't have people coming up to us at gigs and saying 'we can't get your record anywhere'. Were well aware that people thought we'd turned into The Primitives but that's not the case at all. We know our sound better than anyone and we've been told to go away and do our thing and they'll get the records into the shops."
For a young Welsh band that's only released two independent singles (both of which got into the top 100 of the national chart), The Darling Buds are pretty dammed 'hot' at the moment.
"We are this week, yeah," says Andrea drily. "Don't know about next week though. We were really surprised when 'Shame On You' did so well because although we'd played loads of gigs and done two Peel sessions, there hadn't been much written about us and we were just looking to build in the future. We were getting lots of mail and big crowds so we knew our sound was popular."
That sound has led to one or two dismissive comparisons with the once mighty Shop Assistants; in other words, buzzsaw guitar and girl vocals. It's not something that surprises Andrea.
"Oh, we expected all that. Harley was in a band at home that sounded like that ages ago, before I joined and started writing songs with him. Then we heard The Primitives and we knew that by the time people heard us, they'd compare us. Coming from Carleon," (a rather picturesque, quiet Welsh village) "it was very difficult for us to get the band off the ground. Getting a gig in London was almost impossible. But now, I don't think we've been home at all hardly this year, we've already done 42 gigs. Mind you, it's nice to get back to the quiet and go for a walk in the fields."
Not much time for all that at the present. Andrea's keen to get off the phone 'cause the band have to buy flight cases for their guitars for a weekend of Spanish festival mania in Valencia. Then it's back to record a Liz Kershaw session before heading off on tour with the Wonder Stuff and then back into the studio to record their debut LP and another single for late summer. It's all a long way from Caerleon to this budding career.
Live review at the Fulham Greyhound, London (supporting the Flatmates) Melody Maker June 11, 1988 by Chris Roberts
Fulham in the spring; or maybe this is where summer starts. There is confetti (torn up school essays) in everybody's hair. Any review of it should just repeat the phrase 'speedy confetti' four dozen times. It is undeniably a blonde classic, just when we though we'd got bored with all that.
It's an evening telling you that though The Darling Buds may tread on water on record they are right at this moment one of the three most uplifting live pop groups in the country. Tonight their stage really and truly catches fire (this is no a metaphor; we had the fire brigade in and soda siphons and everything) and frankly one isn't surprised. One had already stripped naked and rolled around in calomine lotion, by means of preparation.
The poor old flatmates don't stand an earthly coming on after that, 11 nil down after the first leg. They do, however, notch about five consolation goals and to achieve this when following an act tougher than Billy's Boots at a karate lesson showed considerable spirit. (Will you please understand, The Darling Buds sound more like The Velvet Underground than they do Abba. The guitars are immense). Both tonight's West Coast bands (Wales, Bristol) exhibit a very juicy attitude.
The Darling Buds have so many rough, pinpoint songs - 'Spin', 'Burst', 'Just Say So' - which are better than the ones on their singles, that there will be bells and angels when they get it right.
'When It Feels Good' would suck the fur off any disbeliever's heart. 'Mary's Got To Go' is break neck and riveting. Harley is inspired, Andrea is concentratedly buoyant, the rhythm straddles your spleen and the roof is melting like best butter, but all the guitars are broken so there's no encore and The Darling Buds have once again been cheerful, cherubic assassins. The sirens are wassailing.
It's All Up To You Review - Sounds June 11, 1988 by Sam King
The Darling Buds straddle the minimal boundary between the Shoppies (hard fuzz guitar) and the Primmies (post shambling personality pop) with a amiable degree of efficiency.
I can't help thinking that the record's total lack of any real emotional dimension is a symptom of today's moral pop crisis.
Material World: The Darling Buds - New Musical Express June 11, 1988
'Hamlet Pow Pow Pow' - The Birthday Party
'Dick Cheese' LP - The Hard Ons
'Ecstasy' LP - My Bloody Valentine
'Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay' - Otis Reading
'Let's Play' LP - World Domination Ents
'Makes No Sense At All' - Husker Du
'George Best' LP - Wedding Present
'You Sexy Thing' - Cud
'Cat House' - Danielle Dax
'Ghost Of An American Astronaut' - The Mekons
'Christine' - House Of Love
'Yo! Bum Rush The Show' - Public Enemy
'In The Ghetto' - Nick Cave
Carry On films
Gilbert from Get Fresh
Tea (copious amounts)
Theakstons Old Peculiar
Country Most Wanted To Visit
Where the grass is high
Under Harley's kilt
Rainbow Annual 1982 (Chris)
Collins Road map
Sowing Seeds Fanzine
Darling Buds Of May
History Of The Leather Jacket
Smudgie The Budgie
White high heels
Rod, Jane and Freddy
Stuffed sheep testes (Welsh dish)
TV & Films
The Gong Show
Car 54 Where Are You
Cary On Up The Khyber
Woody Allen Films
The Cocteau Twins
The Jesus And Mary Chain
The Farmers Boys
New Order/joy Division
The Velvet Underground
Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
If We Had A million Pounds Each
I'd be a millionaire
Give it all away
Give Chris a face lift so he smiles permanently
And a willy extension
Interview - Two Pint Take Home Fanzine Issue No 2 May 9, 1988
Aaaaahh. How I enjoy seeing The Darling Buds perform live. They are one of those rare bands who enjoy playing and they exude an enthusiasm for their music which, quite frankly, is second to none. And so it came to pass that after a very hot and sweaty gig in Birmingham Synatras I sneaked off with Andrea and Bloss for a chat and a pint. It went something like this...
Did you enjoy playing at the Dingwalls all-dayer?
Andera: MMmmm. Brilliant. A few drinks.
Bloss: And lots and lots of smoke. We felt like we were the Fields Of Nephilim.
Are you pleased with the success of "Shame On You"?
Andera: Oh God yeah. It really surprised us. Since the single's been out it's been brilliant. Like an overnight success, even the music press have been really good to us. You never know though, they could hate us next week.
Bloss: The funny thing is we haven't sold any records. My mums just gone around the country buying them all up.
Would you like to be in the same league as The Primitives?
Andrea: Yeah, I think so. It would be nice to see some more indie bands on OTP. Bands like The Soup Dragons, PWEI and the Wonder Stuff, cos that sort of music's just so much more exciting than the crap you get in the charts.
Bloss: It's also much more relevant to the youth of today.
Are The Darling Buds saying any message to the youth of today?
Bloss: Yeah, just get up and enjoy yourselves.
Do you associate yourselves more with The Primitives or with The Wedding Present?
Andrea: Hmmmm. We all like the Wedding Present and I think we've got a much harder sound than The Primitives. We were sent this tape from a female DJ in Australia who was playing a couple of songs and they were just soooo fast, she must have had the tape at the wrong speed.
Actually Hov was saying you're quite popular over there?
Bloss: Does this make me big down under? (oooer-sounds a bit rude....)
That's enough of that I think. Have you any plans to appear on TV?
Andrea: We're doing a video for the next single next week. I'd really like to appear on programmes like Get Fresh and Razzamatazz.
Bloss: Oh, I'd be so nervous, I'd have to wear a big hat if we did.
Andrea: We'd like to remain close to our audience though. That's really important. We were talking to David Gedge the other week and he was saying that he really wants to play small venues again but because of the bands popularity can't.
Would you change your name in order to play small venues?
Andrea: Yeah, I think we would - that's a good idea. We'd change our name to the Mayflowers.
What happened to your tambourine today?
Andrea: Well I get a bit furious on some songs and I keep breaking them. I've got loads of bruises on my legs from bashing them with my tambourines.
Are you an angry band then?
Andrea: Er, Yeah. A bit of anger, a bit of live.
Bloss: We like to keep the tempo up.
Are you an anorak band???
Andrea: We're a Bobblehat band. We're too dirty to be the twee band. We're just a young and angry band that's too young to remember the original Blue Peter line up.
Any plans for an LP?
Andrea: Yeah, we're going into the studio to start recording in a couple of months. It will either be out at the end of this year.
How do you (Andrea) and the band feel about you being singled out for being the singer???
Andrea. I'm glad you said for being the singer and not cos I'm a girl cos that's just rubbish. It's nice to be singled out cos people think I've got something to say but it's still very important for us to be a band.
Bloss: Yeah, it is very much a band.
Andrea: We're a unit.
Bloss: We've all got our little bits that we play with. (?)
Andrea: Me and Harley write some stuff on a prota studio, take it along to a practice, throw it up in the air.
Bloss: See where it lands. If a song doesn't work we'll all realise it and send it back to the factory.
Where you sad to see Janice Long leave Radio One?
Bloss: Anyone who plays our records is all right by us.
Andrea: She didn't just play good music she also had some good discussions.
Bloss: She had a good show.
Can you see yourselves being around for a long time???
Andrea: Er, yeah, I don't see us as a flash in the pan.
Bloss: It'd be nice to be able to build up a following like The Fall or the Wedding Present.
Andrea: Our audience is growing. Just since the last singles been out our audiences have trebled.
At this point an indescribably ugly face appeared at the window screeching "Woofy we're going" and so for fear of further embarrassment shame on me I thanked the band and departed. As a final note I'm going to stick my neck out and predict that the Darlings have at least one song in Peels festive 50 this year. Shame on you if you don't vote for them.
Interview - Melody Maker April 23, 1988 by Chris Roberts
Move Over Darlings
Are The Darling Buds the new Primitives or is it too soon to have more fun? Chris Roberts finds out whether they were born blonde or if the new white indie hopes cast shame on such trivial pursuits.
So we won't compare them to a summer's day, then. Summer days are the longest, the most languorous. The Darling Buds are flecked with snowdrops and have speed and Jamboree Bags for brains and disposable culture in our happening free West.
What we'll do is agree with Simon Reynolds' conviction that bands with blondeness of the soul never make great records. This is obviously true. A great record might as well be "Whiter Riot Of Pale" and frankly you're welcome to it. Bands, or better stars (for if we reject stars we end up with slugs on the kitchen floor and Volcano Suns), with blondeness of the soul, make pieces of eight of nine or pieces of trash. They might make the occasional "great record" by accident, but left to their own devices they get it just a little bit wrong, a fraction askew and it's this very nuance of imperfection which makes me love them.
Loveliness is not an equation. Loveliness, or perhaps now darlingness, is what happens when she turns satisfied away from the mirror and her hair falls down an inch from where she thinks it's fixed. Or when the Mediterranean footballer scores the goal of the century, then trips over as he wheels round to start his celebratory showing off. It makes the hair even better than perfection. It makes the goal unforgettable.
It's the winning horse looking at death's door as the camera zooms in. It's the self conscious giggle after the poetry recitation. It's the stain on the party frock. It's the way "whirr" just fails to be an onomatopoeiac word, it's the appalling sexist bit in your favourite French existential film and rather than the things you wish you'd said at the time, it's the things you did say and wish you hadn't. It's human, but not because of the human. The human is the prism through which the embraceable light of this hung over morning dew refracts. Blondeness had angles for cheekbones.
Or, as Norman Mailer put it in one of the greatest lines in literary history, anyone who chooses to become a blonde is truly blonde. Blonde is not a hair colour. It's a state of mind, much like being a white negro. There's never been such majesty as "Union City Blue" or "Hanging On The Telephone" or "Atomic" for me, never in the whole story of this fictitious fantasy art form has anything left me so breathless, so viciously. But you also have to comprehend that "Twentieth Century Boy" was a blonde souled record; "Hang On In There Baby" was blonde; "Pretty Vacant" was probably the blondest of them all.
Princess Di, Sting and Bobby Davro are not blondes. See? The Sugarcubes and George McRae and George Best and Maria Callas and all good TV commercials are. It's got a lot to do with strut, with streamlining, with a certain (haphazard) placing of impact over depth, with arrogance and conceit and desire and rushing headlong and senseless but holding back just enough to flirt with the imagination. It is impressionistic. It is very rarely "passionate". It is nearly always cold and somewhat stylised, generating a sirocco heat. It always always judges by appearance. Pain is not a slogan but a twitch. Blondes will annihilate a doctor's plaster lawn attachments - flamingos and lantern brandishing gnomes - and call it class warfare.
If I rationalise it any further the thrill will be gone. So if you haven't got it, then, that's right, you haven't got it. But give me blondeness of the soul over long haired cheesecloths discussing plectrums and monitors and technique every time. With ice.
Cats are invariably blonde, especially black ones. And now I'm going to turn around and say that I don't think The Darling Buds are overwhelmingly blonde. After all that. They talk too much about plectrums (not really, but essentially - the "indie" circuit has coloured their personality). I don't know if Andrea dyes her hair because the conversation we have today is all very matter of fact and unsparky. Nevertheless, The Primitives exist and therefore we ham, The Darling Buds have made regal blonde souled single with "Shame On You" and halfway through their live set I knew they would make three of four (who wants nine or 10?) more. Their next two singles will be "Think of Me" and "Burst" and if that don't catch you, then the sandman will.
Spasm. Staccato. Transient. Ephemeral. Quicksilver Warhil's "A To B And Back Again". Harsh. Too sweet. Petite. Two left feet. A sleet to wash the sawdust off the streets.
SAY SOMETHING REMOTELY INTERESTING
Have you ever suffered for your art?
Andrea: "Yes, all of us did really."
Harley: "The old bass player bought a house and got a girlfriend; so he suddenly lost interest and..."
Andrea: "He fell in love, see. One thing we've learned in this band is you musn't fall in love. That's the sacrifice we've made."
I think of Lloyd Honeyghan, the blonde boxing champion. After regaining his world title recently he panted, "A message to all boxers, 'Arry. Don't go fallin' in love."
There was a chronically profound pause as Lloyd's brain cells stoked themselves up for another epic.
"Else you loose."
And with that, the lion of the ring smirked and walked away, surrounded by acolytes. It was a tremendously blonde moment. I nearly wept, which is much more blonde than weeping.
Harley: "I think it's quite a big sacrifice, really."
You can't choose not to do it though, can you?
Andrea: "Well no, you're right, exactly. But once you do it's..."
Harley: "Bloss is on the verge of falling in love. We're gonna watch him like a hawk."
Andrea: "Ha ha, no he's got his head screwed on."
And so she talks about hard it is to make contacts in the music industry, how for a while before their debut indie release 'If I Said', the band split up and she went to London while Harley (guitar) went to Wolverhampton and Bloss (drums) busked and Chris (bass) ran his club. You're beginning to see what I mean, aren't you? Soul blondes shouldn't have their heads screwed on.
Chris by the way is The Darling Buds' bass player, and he comes nearest to being blonde by saying nothing at all. As if rehearsed, our grand finale is me saying "Are we going to get a last word out of Chris then?" and him saying "No". Days like this I feel like asking life's scriptwriters if they could maybe jazz it up a little.
Or perhaps The Darling Buds are the most blonde pop group ever born. Despite their unaffectedness. They simply aren't aware of what they do does. Certainly they are the only pop group ever to hop out of the gurgling bogs of Wales and I stand by this wholeheartedly, with a hole in my tinsel heart.
OUT OF THE VALEY
Harley: "Everything has to be done by post from Newport, that's why the first single was such an expensive mistake."
Andrea: "It is a town, but there's no encouragement. You'll never be in the right place at the right time. For what we're doing it's just too far out of it. We sent a single to the guy who does the pop column in the local paper. I don't know what he does then! I wonder how they make the prospectus for the local art college sound exciting. There's masses of pubs; I suppose that's a plus."
There are no Welsh bands apart from The Hepburns, who are jolly good and The Alarm.
Bloss: "Considering it's the land of song, no."
Andrea: "Shiley Bassey. Tom Jones. Aled Jones. Scritti Politti! Hey, when it said Buttonhole Surfers' in the first thing you did on us, was that your mistake?"
No, sadly I can't claim that one.
Bloss: "There's nothing really Welsh about our area. At one time they tried to teach Welsh at school, but it didn't take off. Some time ago Newport belonged to England, but the border changed."
Andrea: "All the parking signs and loo signs are in Welsh, but that's just the council trying to make you act Welsh. But we're just not into it."
Harley: "You ask the one photographer to take a shot and he'll go: 'Ooh, I dummo, I'll have to get the steps out if I'm gonna do that, I don't really want to get the steps out.' One of the proudist traits of us Welsh is our indomitable sloth. When it comes to laziness, we are utterly peerless. We'd prove it if we could be bothered. There's hell of a lot of travelling at the moment. Whoever's driving is always knackered by the time we get to gigs."
Would celebrity change you?
Harley: "I think it's bound to."
Andrea: "I don't think so."
Bloss: "Oh, it's impossible to know what I'd be like. If you couldn't go out to the shops or something, it'd be surreal."
Friends of The Darling Buds have been known to bring the following props to their gigs: blow up dinosaurs, pretend guns, a rose which Andrea thought was a rolled up poster, a 'nicely decorated" tambourine and a camera to try and get a picture of Chris smiling (for a bet).
Harley, the guitar windmill, is very mobile.
"I like to be, you know. I love it."
Andrea: "Once I was shaking so much I though I must be epileptic."
Harley: "There was one 'Flintstones' episode where if he ate this sandwich he got the jitters and came over with fancy footwork. I do like being onstage. As long as the audience fire back. 'The Flintstones' is so clever. When I was a kid I used to think it was just a cartoon."
What other heroes do you have?
"Herman Munster, so much character, a great bloke. And The Beverly Hillbillies. I get really annoyed if people ring up in the middle of that. And I used to have a massive Siouxsie Sioux poster on my wall. I though she was dead sexy even though she's got that nose."
Andrea: "And Tabatha in 'Bewitched'. And 'I Dream Of Jeannie'. When I was in the sixth form I applied for drama school, but I didn't get in 'cos I was too young. That's what I always wanted to do."
What - to be too young?
"To do ballet, stuff like that. Not saying I was, like."
Did you play in 'Macbeth'?
It's all right, I'm psychic.
"Oh well yeah, I was one of the witches. Hubble bubble, toil and trouble, fire burn and..."
Harley: "Suited the pat, with your cackle. Pimples and warts and all."
Andrea does her cackle. Sorry, I can't spell it.
"But no," she goes on, "I've never really had one idol. I like the usual things like Marilyn Monroe, but I didn't worship them."
If Marilyn Monroe was 'a usual thing' I'm a packet of Smash potato pieces, rich in vitamin C.
Harley: "My mum always used to say me, 'Why do you copy everyone else? Why don't you do something yourself? Why not set a trend?' So that made me think. Before that I'd see something on TV and go around thinking I was funny cos I was copying it. Now, though, she wishes she'd never said it."
Andrea: "Mine was always saying, 'Get a proper job' and 'She'll grow out of it'. And I just never have grown out of it. I could never work in an office as a secretary or anything; I'd hate it. I'd prefer to work in a pub and meet people. But you're supposed to grow up and get a nine to five and a proper income, then get married and all that."
What will you do when you grow up?
Harley: "You're never too old."
Andrea: "There's always so much to go on to, working for one of the music papers?"
"I could teach, I really like children. That'd be fun if I was teaching drama or something, I could end up doing that when I was about 55."
Always plan ahead, that's what I say.
WALKING DOWN THE STREET
Harley: "The songs are moods, I think. That's all." Andrea: "Everyone knows a bit about love. I'm sure we will do songs that aren't about it."
"Songs about, walking down the street, stuff like that. Yes I'm sure. It's depressing when you hear people going 'Oh, government.' It shouldn't be done for the sake of it, like 'Let's be Welsh nationalists' - we probably know a little bit about it but we wouldn't, y'know. There's love and there's hate. And there's cockiness: 'Well I don't like you so you can f*** off' - a lot of the songs are about that, aren't they? 'you treat me bad and I hate you now' - all very I'm being tough about it. Rather than whimpering I still want you, I still need you. The cheekiness of it works when girls sing something bizarre. We put a lot into ours. I wouldn't want people thinking they're shallow."
"It all fits in, it's all right, it's our characters coming out. It's not what the lyrics say, it's what they do. If they're going 'wooh' like that, it's another way of saying something, oh I dunno."
And she was just getting going! If you brought an LP out, would it surprise us?
Andrea: "Nol" In a nutshell what's the difference between you and just taking one example out of all the ones I could possibly have taken in the whole world, The Primitives?
Andrea: "We don't go boobydoobydoo' or 'nanana'."
But you do go "wooh".
Harley: "We don't use the same chords in every song."
Never mind, nobody said you had to be supreme.
SOMETHING TO HANG ONTO
Harley: "The Velvets and Elvis both did the same thing for their time, didn't they? His pelvic thrusts, their horrendous noise."
Andrea: "I love the Elvis films where they're singing on the beach. I mean - would you burst into song on a surfboard?"
Bloss: "I do, occasionally."
Harley: "John Cale was Welsh, wasn't he?"
If The Darling Buds, who murder both "Venus In Furs" and "Love Me Tender" quite brilliantly, made an episode of The Monkees, would it be hilarious?
Bloss: "Except that Chris would have a non speaking part, like Harpo Marx."
To crank it up rather desperately - are you or are you not devastatingly sexy?
Andrea: "Harley might think he's sexy. I like a beard, something to hang on to."
Bloss: "You've heard of Elvis The Pelvis; Harley is Enis."
Andrea: "If you think you're sexy, it's a real turn off. Whereas Beatrice Dalle in 'Betty Blue', even though she wore clothes that were off the shoulder, or, well, had her tits hanging out - she was good. It's when people try to be 'commercially sexy' it's useless. There should always be an element of fun in it. And what's sexy to one can be really ugly to another."
Harley: "My sister thinks clean shaven men in suits with very smart haircuts are sexy. That walk nicely, speak well. If you looked like Bob Geldof she'd run a mile. But anyway it'd be nice if one day little girls did stick me up on their wall. No not me - pictures of me."
And your worst fears?
Andrea: "Well you know writers have writers block?"
Today, yes, I know.
"Well we could have songpeople's block. Or something."
Harley: "Or I lose my arm in an accident."
Andrea: "Or I lose my legs."
Harley: "Or if there was a sudden throwback on the whole thing we're doing. If because of The Primitives on 'TOTP' it was seen as old hat in the indie scene. That'd be terrible for us."
But you could diversify if you wanted to?
"Mmm, don't know how easy that'd be. Noise - I like noise. I always remember sticking 'Heroin' on the record player and opening all the windows to upset the neighbours. I used to think that was dead cool."
Still is, always will be.
"Apart from the stuff about Andrea being caught in a fire with no knickers on and my enema and how to shag sheep, it's difficult to think of things that haven't already been said a hundred times before."
So the svelte Celts may not be orators. But as you know by now, going 'wooh' like that is another way of saying something and anyway 'Mary's Got To Go' says a whole lot more. From The Flatmates to Transvision Vamp, from Throwing Muses to - I dunno - Vanessa paradis, all this refuting of the macho under the guise of a giant pandering, gets finer by the second. The Darling Buds may not be the first of anything, unless it's May, but they could be the cracker with the nuclear mistletoe whistling low inside.
I have just been to see The Darling Buds live for the second time and feel 80 years younger. That makes me minus 160. That's pretty good going. "And if I said a thousand words and all at once you take my breath away."
Something and nothing. Bo ifs. Buds.
They're like a 45 minute holiday, that's what!
Every day is like Friday night it you want it to be.
Live review at the London Panic Station - New Musical Express April 23, 1988 by Steve Lamacq
Chews Your Partners
Just try putting one of these cute pastels in your mouth without chewing it.
You can't, can you, suckers. You are hooked, insanely savaged by a hungry sucrose appetite. And this time it doesn't matter. Contrary to the botch-ups brisk-pop has laden itself with in the past two years, The Darling Buds' set is uppity, fizzy and tasteful; a cross pollination of Prim pop and indie snot. And they blow it out their noses.
A relevant crowd looks on and dances rabbleishly, assured by 'good' press, reassured by a light brash stream of head decongestants. No one dares raise a hand against them, no one secretly wants to. The Buds have the crowd in their sweaty mits without even knowing it.
It's simplicity itself and the songs are plainly engaging - through 'Spin', 'burst' and new single 'Shame On You' - The Buds are naturally unruffled, dead chuffed and a smidgen surprised.
Barraged by ticker tape receptions for any song more than walking pace, the little buggers whizzed, only drawing on the brakes for the likes of 'When It Feels Good', a blushing admission of a song and the pole axing 'The Other Night'.
Guitarist Harley, a smattering of Adam Ant resemblance round his forehead, ambles around while Andrea is a restrained tinderbox in a flowery dress, ready to flame with two tambourines brushing themselves up vociferously.
Chris ponders his bass looking concerned and Blossom's alternate between a rattling speed and directed shuffle.
Debut single 'If I Said' sounds strangely out of place, its harboured bitterness attached to a surpassed sneaky tune, but all around mini bursts of blazing guitar were taking bows.
Stout in their leathers, sweltering no doubt, it was their night and they could do no wrong, even with a triple paced cover of 'Love Me Tender', that threatened to break bones but settled for the odd cricked neck.
They are the only band I've seen this year whose followers' shouts of "get yer knickers down" are aimed at the blokes.
Live review at The Cricketer's, Oval, London - Melody Maker April 8, 1988 by Chris Roberts
Fade away and radiate with the unbearable lightness of being! The Darling Buds are perfect tonight. The songs go 'Burst' and 'When It Feels Good' and 'If I Said A Thousand Words' and the pleasure factor is such that my spirits genuinely sag when they chuckle to a close. This cute dump is where I first saw The Primitives about a year ago. It won't, given the opening of floodgates, take The Darling Buds that long to get up your drainpipe, though your curtains and under your skin. One way or another.
There are those who will wrinkle their noses at the ongoing (I can't believe my luck) 'Plastic Letter'/'I Don't Mind' revival, while the next minute sombrely heralding a Black Sabbath or Van Morrison resurgence. Let them sulk, the imaginary W.H.I.R.R movement is now in irresistible motion, its immovable object the lacing of veins and sparking of dry bones (milk it, Roberts, milk it). Five times as much fun as 'War And Peace' and twice as serious, the fact that The Darling Buds win over a Primitives devotee such as myself with indecently innocent haste knocks the copyist accusations on the head before you can say "This one's called 'It's All Up To You', 1-2-3-4." The Buds spend a fair amount of time onstage talking about spangles and removing the mick from my very dear friend and joint ninth favourite writer in any medium, Jonh Wilde, who, I am beginning to realise, has the dodgiest taste in music ever known to homo erectus. As a side issue, this magically apposite quartet are the best pop group ever to come from Wales. I'm not being partisan here, just staggered. At last we have one!
Andrea is more Kristin Hersh than dolly bird, Harley is an excellent possessed windmill and the thrills spill with every delicious decibel. There's one about bending her fingers backwards which makes me want to squeal with comfort and one which metamorphoses into 'Venus In Furs' just as you're trying to master the art of keeping both legs still for five seconds. The encore fellows the splenetic 'Shame On You' single with a hysterically hammy 'Love Me tender'. The sort of thing which deserves to be written about in liquid rubies, without punctuation.
Bliss. I ascended to the heavens at least eleventy one times and am saving up for a Travelcard. The Darling Buds thrash and tremble out an ideal, non-indulgently, savagely sweet, timeless pomp free pop. This is a vintage year, fresh as marigolds.
Tomorrow tell me I walked into a burning building and rescued 20 starving refugees: I'll believe anything. Hiroshima for the happy in gladrags.
Interview - Melody Maker April 2, 1988 by Chris Roberts
"You've got to eat and live," says Andrea, and The Darling Buds' new single is the kind of rushing bliss that makes you not want to argue with that. It's another poke in the eye for the conservatives too bogged down in their American "rock" albums to wake up to a new arrogant pop glee - which began around "Stop Killing Me" and ends... well, that depends how far we can romance this.
"Shame On You" is flawless, not a second is wasted as Andrea dryly pulls the chain on some dunce then lets him know he's hers for the fingerlicking. The guitars know their place too. Their place is just the other side of the chequered flag. Like they say on all the best chatshows, I heard it once and swallowed the sun.
The Darling Buds spring from a little Welsh village between Newport and Caerlon. This demonstrates the tidiness of the scheme of things. Around the time the local football club drops out of league, Newport will at least have its first famous pop group.
"Nothing really happens there; everyone knows Jones The Milkman," Andrea The Vocals informs me. "But it's been a good place for us to live cheap on the dole and practise a lot. Newport's very hard-core, strangely enough. The last three gigs I've seen there were Big Black, Firehouse and Swans. We supported The Butthole Surfers once. No, you'd be surprised, it went down extremely well."
Andrea Bud, Harley Bud, Chris Bud and Bloss Bud, named their floral express train after the Shakespeare sonnet but also after an H.E Bates novel. I tell them I've never heard of it.
"Oh, it's, mad," proclaims Andrea. "It's about this fat husband and his even fatter wife and all these thousands of kids they have. It's funny, no it's not, it's funny funny. I never finish books anyway; I just look at the pictures."
Describe your colleagues in terms of just looking at the pictures then.
"Ah, well if I'm the shortest, Chris is the tallest. He never says anything. Ever. Although I believe it's rumoured he said hello to our manager once. Harley on the other hand will talk to anyone. Bloss is cute in a witty Yogi Bear sort of way."
Are The Buds a sexy event? Does everyone fall in love with you?
"Of course they do."
Harley would appear to have the knack of this interview frolic. I soon learn that when The Darling Buds formed (May '86) they hadn't heard of The Shop Assistants or The Primitives. Now they can't get away from hearing of them. I tell them this is because most "music journalists" are in fact frustrated scientist and have no love of fun or glamour or pazazz in their blood.
"Yes well," muses Harley, "We've just always done what came easiest. It's also very different to both 'be natural' and not just look like hundreds of other bands. So we wear black and we've got leather jackets. So we can't afford to chuck them away yet. So I suppose we're lumbered."
There first single, "If I Said", was released independently; "Shame on You" and its equally irresistible B-side "Valentine" come via Sheffield based Native Records. Peel sessions have rained down; major labels are trying to work out how to put one foot in front of the other as quickly as possible. Andrea only gets stage fright (they're just finishing a brief tour) if people she knows personally are there; she's been singing since she was 15.
"I'm just happy with things the way they are at the moment. The Primitives' breakthrough has been such a good thing for a lot of bands, but no doubt now we'll get slagged for the similarities. Which is silly because they wouldn't say we were The Ramones."
It's a vaguely anti-men song though, isn't it?
"Oh no, just anti-boyfriend. It's no more vicious than 'you naughty thing!' We'd never write about politics - all our views would just split up the band in a matter of minutes if we did. But it's not just about relationships. 'Mary's Got To Go' is about being beaten up... 'bare my legs and twist my arms'."
When did that happen?
"In school. Things aren't like that anymore."
Are you a bit more mobile now?
"Yes. You could say that."
Of course the indefatigable Buzzcocks' legacy gets a mention too (what do I get? Why, posterity, Peter), but in this reviviscent medium of Va Va Voom pop, a single either has it (like The Flatmates' delightful "Shimmer") or doesn't (countless... The Heartthrobs?? Let's reserve judgement there.) "Shame On You" has it, like a zillion wired carnations. Trapped in the pongy mire of fringe boys' music, The Butthole Surfers and Iron Maiden could never be subversive, just sweat and laboured. "Crash", however has gracefully pulled the music business establishment's finger out of its dyke and now the dambusters are coming in spurts.
There will be a lot of missing the point magicless offshoots, but trust me just this once to discern pure stealth from daylight robbery and nectar from marge. The Darling Buds, coming up roses between sharp white teeth.
Independents Article - Record Mirror April 2, 1988 by Andy Strickland
Welsh outfit The Darling Buds take the honours for highest entry in this weeks independent singles chart. 'Shame On You' follows a well worn path of buzz-saw guitar and girl vocal but there's a slightly more discerning ear at work here. Andrea's vocal manages to stay the right side of the singer debate and guitarist Harley realises that a few embellishments go a long, long way. What's more, there's quite a decent song here and if this sounds grudging praise it's simply that this buzz-saw/Shoppies style of independence isn't exactly progressive any longer. Still, you people obviously like it judging by the chart, so who are we to argue.
Shame On You Review - Sounds April 2, 1988 by Keith Cameron
Despite the polished production, "Shame On You" is blessed with as much merit as your standard anoraky flexi - ie none.
Consider the apparently limitless fount of enthusiastic young people with no talent who insist on inflicting their records upon us, with the inevitable girl singer(s) aping Debbie Harry. The Darling Buds even stoop so low as taking the "gonna gitcha gitcha gitcha" bit from Blondie's "One Way Or Another" without even attempting to conceal this pathetic plagiarism. He ho, let's grow up.
Interview - Underground Magazine April 2, 1988 by Holly Wood
My Tapes Gone!
Last time The Darling Buds came to London, King's Cross Station burnt down. This time they got up long before their breakfasts to van it to Camden to cut their great new single, 'Shame On You'.
Cutting is the process which transfers music from tape to disc for the first time. So obviously you've got to start with your tapes.
"Guess what, this fool's forgotten to bring the tapes!"
When The Darling Buds signed to Doncaster's Native Records, they thought they were signing to a together organisation.
"But who'd come all the way down to London to cut a single and forget to bring the bloody tapes? Never mind, we'll just have to go down the pub instead."
While the record label mogul's wife is busy putting the tapes on the first train to London, the record label mogul (Kevin) finds himself buying round after round of drinks to atone. The cut was booked for 11 am, he thinks he may be able to get back into the studio at 3 pm (actually they were eventually underway at 7.30 pm) but God knows what state the band'll be in by then!
Out of Caerleon near Newport near Cardiff near England, The Darling Buds have been acclaimed as probably the best band to emerge from the fuzzy pop mayhem of the past couple of years. Certainly John Peel's said as much and fanzines like Sowing Seeds and So Na‹ve have had no doubts.
These DBs will be compared with The Shop Assistants and The Primitives. It's inevitable. Because they play a simple silver pop. Because they've got a personable blonde singer. And because lots of heartless jealous bastards love to desecrate this church of innocent pop.
But there's an invigorating freshness about The Darling Buds that raises their short, sharp shocks of sound high above the usual carping criticisms. A one-string bass, a two up, two down drum kit, a barrage of sharpened teenage kicks guitar and a voice of genuine melodic beauty. These are the things that dreams are made of.
So meet the band of your dreams.
On drums, Bloss, frustrated Elvis impersonator.
On bass, Chris, successful Dave Gedge impersonator, and the quietest man I've ever met.
Bloss: "Chris is studying to be an enigma."
On guitar, Harley. The musical genius and Jonah of the band.
"I'm the one with the bad luck. Nothing's ever gone right for me. This business with the tapes is just typical. I'm only 22 right, but a while ago I had problems with ulcers. Ulcers! Most people have to have a barium meal so the hospital can get a good look at your insides. I had to have a barium enema."
Tough luck indeed.
And on helium honey vocals, Andrea.
I'm not exactly lucky either. I lived in London once for about two months, sharing a bedsit above a restaurant with a girlfriend. One night we woke up to find the whole building on fire, and the only way was up on to the roof. So we got up there, two little girls in our nighties in the freezing cold, just screaming for help.
"Eventually the fire brigade came and they put up a chute for us to slide down. Now we only had our nighties on, no knickers or anything and they wanted us to slide down this chute with hundreds of people down below watching us! I thought oh sod it and went down the shoot, but my friend insisted she wasn't going dressed like that. So a fireman had to take her up this huge pair of fire resistant trousers before she'd come down. We were all over the papers next day, but luckily they didn't, or couldn't publish any photos of my great escape. My, but it was windy though!"
Harley: "She always sleeps in her knickers now."
They might not be the luckiest band in the world. But The Darling Buds are the most infectious pop thrill around.
Interview - Dreams Never End Fanzine Issue No. 1 March 1988
What's it like to be Welsh?
What did you think of the Rock Garden gig?
Andrea: We had this person who was helping us get gigs & he just got that gig - it was a contract, so it was a bit late for us to pull out of it. He'd signed on our behalf, so we just had to go ahead and do it. We didn't really want to play there, it was too expensive to get in, the drinks were too expensive and it wasn't the right sort of crowd. We did it anyway because it was advertised and all that but I don't think we'd want to play there again.
Bloss: We'd do anything once, but if its bad we won't do it twice.
Melody Maker this week described Shame On You as your debut single and accused you of copying The Primitives, what have you got to say about that?
Andrea: Oh, I know, we read that and as Bloss said, we've got tough skin, but what we were saying is that people who review singles, or at least that particular person, must think that it takes about a week to get a single out, but we recorded that single in December and it was written nearly a year ago, last April and so if he thinks that it's all like The Primitives, well it is like The Primitives, all these bands like us, we're all a like but...
Bloss: It's hard and faster than The Primitives though, we've got a harder edge to our sound I think.
Andrea: We're faster!
Well The Primitives have sort of softened up and become more commercial really.
Andrea: Yeah, that's right, but it doesn't really bother us.
Bloss: We would have liked a nice one.
Well he'd never heard the 1st single anyway, so.
Andrea: I don't think he'd heard of us from Adam but he had to categorise us as something so he just said "oh this is like The Primitives". If you read all the other reviews on the page, which he did, they all sound awful. The Soup Dragons got a really bad review and...
Bloss: So the guy had a bad head on him!
Andrea: He must have got out the wrong side of bed.
So thumbs down for Melody Maker. Can you tell me about Native Records then. Are there any other bands on the label and have you got a proper contract?
Andrea: Yeah, they're from Doncaster and they've got quite a few other bands on the label, none of which are like us. They're all sort of dance bands.
Bloss: They've got about 4 bands. He's just starting the label and he's got us there and 3 other bands. He's trying his hardest now, but the main thing he does is "Strikeforce", a company he runs which does promotions all around the country. He does jobs for different independent bands. The Soup Dragons, The Wedding Present.
Andrea: Yeah, he's done The Wedding Present stuff and all that, so he's started up this label and he wanted some bands on it. He just seemed a really enthusiastic person. We had a lot of other people ringing us up and saying "Yeah, we'd like to put a single out", but Kevin was the only one who really liked our stuff the most, we thought and he seemed the most sincere. We thought that as long as he likes our sound, he's bound to do his best. I mean anyone can put a single out and think it will sell, but he wants a bit more than that.
Bloss: And it's a proper contract!
So your signed to do more records then.
Andrea: Ten years.
How many albums is that?
Andrea: Eighteen albums!
So have you sold many copies of the single yet?
Andrea: Well apparently, we can't believe it, we've sold quite a lot yeah. In a week he's had to have it re-pressed, I'm not sure how much and apparently we've got an office in Spain and we got quite a lot of orders there.
Bloss: They might be sending it straight back.
Why does 'Uptight' get the whole of the 12" B side to itself?
Andrea: Well we just thought that since 'Shame On You' and 'Valentine' are 2 sort of fast things and they're both on the 7", we'd just run them into each other on the 12". We really like 'Uptight' and we thought that people might put it on automatically thinking it was the A side (we didn't really think of that).
Bloss: It's just different really,
So why no track 4?
Andrea: Well we recorded 6 tracks in December to go on 2 singles, then our studio time was being cut down and cut down. We were in the studio that wasn't in the middle of being built, but there were still things being finished off.
Bloss: Bringing in settees and stuff.
Andrea: So we started off with about 6 days and it got cut down to less and less, we ended up doing only 4 tracks and then going back to do another 2 for the next single. So we just thought we'd put 3 on this and 3 on the next, but we won't tell you what they are.
I see, that was a latter question surprisingly enough.
Andrea: Well actually we would tell you but we've been back to remix them and then we've got to put another track down as well and everyone said "Oh don't put that as the A side, keep that song, don't put that on." so we don't even know ourselves.
Bloss: So we might do a show of hands tonight, see who likes what and then decide.
Andrea: It's all up to you really...
Now there's this theory going around that Valentine was put on the B side because you didn't want to be mistaken for T'Pau. is this correct?
Bloss: No, well everything got delayed so.
Andrea: Well in a letter, it might have been your friend, someone asked if it was originally called 'My Valentine' and they put 'Valentine' on the sleeve. We haven't complained to them, we just thought 'oh never mind'. Because I heard it was going to be on the A side at one point.
Bloss: We change our minds as we go along.
Andrea: We didn't want to have 'Valentine' out as a real naff thing on Valentines Day. It could have worked, but it probably wouldn't have.
Bloss: It didn't work for the Godfathers.
Andrea: It didn't work for T'Pau either.
So have you got much of a following in Newport then?
Andrea: Apparently so, we played a gig last night and it was really good. We played about a month ago and there were a lot of people there, not the biggest crowd we've ever had, but for the people coming along just to see us its got a lot better, hasn't it, really good!
Bloss: We're quite amazed!
What about London?
Andrea: It depends.
Bloss: We've got a hard core of about 6 people who come along.
Andrea: Yeah they travel all around the country just to see us.
Bloss: But it depends on the night doesn't it.
Andrea: Yeah, like tonight I just can't see it going very well somehow, but then again it might be great. Its definitely the audience in London that makes the crowd. Sometimes, I mean no offence to anyone, but your spoilt for choice up here.
Bloss: I think some people go every night to see bands.
Well they would if they had the money.
Andrea: We'd let them in free as long as there's a crowd.
So how do you see things progressing from here?
Andrea: Well I don't know.
Bloss: More records.
Andrea: Yeah more records, its been funny really cos we released a single about a year ago as a demo of us and since then so much has happened. We hadn't released another single but people still come to see us, all there have been is Peel sessions, but we have quite a lot of people at our gigs. Now we're in the NME chart at 25. We're told that we're 144 in the Gallup chart.
Bloss: Only 143 to go!
Andrea: Little things we're just happy with I suppose and we'll just want bigger and better things.
So do you think you'll get an LP out then?
Andrea: Oh yeah, definitely, at the end of the year.
Bloss: Well its under contract and we have to do it.
Andrea: We're all really looking forward to doing the LP and getting that out.
Do you know what's involved in doing an album then because most bands do one seem to come out of the studio saying 'Bloody hell, that was murder!'?
Bloss: Well it's going to be 3 weeks of hard recording.
Andrea: Well most fans and friends have already got LPs of us because most people get all the tracks by their favourite band and stick them all on a tape don't they, but I think it'd be nice to have all the tracks with all the right recording, the same production, not like half off the radio and half off someone else's tape.
Well the trouble with The Wedding Present LP for me was that I'd heard so many of the tracks before that it wasn't really like buying a new record...
Andrea: With 1st LPs its like that isn't it because they're collections of what the bands done in probably the last 4 or 5 years.
Bloss: They're normally the best LPs as well aren't they.
Andrea: Cos with the next album.
Bloss: You've only got 6 to 8 months to record it, to work out the new songs.
Andrea: To work out a lot of stuff.
I suppose The Primitives LP will be like that, their live set on record.
Bloss to Andrea: Well there's only 2 songs on it you didn't know. But I'm sure there'll be a few surprises in there.
Andrea: Yeah, hopefully.
Well they said there would be, how did you react to only coming 3rd in The Sowing Seeds dreamy girls chart?
Andrea: Me! Oh I don't care, what do you mean only coming 3rd, I don't think anything twice about it. They're a really good crowd.
Bloss: They came down to Bristol didn't they.
Andrea: Yeah, they came to the Bristol gig, they're coming to the Oxford one on Saturday as well.
Bloss: Six of them in a Volkswagen Beetle.
Pub Chef: I've got a shepherds pie with a bit of ham on the side (This is irrelevant but it came out on the tape so here it is).
How did you learn to play your instruments?
Andrea: We saw that 'Rock School'.
Chris: From a book, Bert Weedon's 'Play In A Day'.
How long did it take then?
Andrea: 365 days.
Chris: Ages and ages. I'm still learning.
Andrea: Yeah he's still got the book now, you can see it on the floor of the stage.
Chris: I'm on page 4 now. I can just about play the Hovis tune. I started off on the guitar and now I'm on the bass, a bit different.
Andrea: I'll tell you what you're lucky that you've got Chris to say a few words.
I didn't think much was going to be uttered.
Andrea: Harley's been playing with himself for so long we thought we'd better get him an instrument.
What's the surfing scene like in Newport?
Bloss: Not bad when the Severn Bores in, the surfing's quite good in Newport actually, once a year anyway.
Do you know what happened to all those Welsh bands who suddenly turned up on the Tube and Whistle Test?
Andrea: Yeah, we played with one last night. Dat Pluggi, I don't know how you spell it.
Bloss: And Anhrewen.
I've heard of them!
Andrea: Anhrewen are doing all right.
Bloss: They play a hell of a lot, they've played in Germany.
Andrea: So we've played with those 2 and they're still battling away, doing well. Anhrewen better than Dat Pluggi.
Well they seem to be the ones who get the most publicity, but there were loads of them all over the tele at one point.
Andrea: All Welsh speaking bands, yeah, so we thought nobody would pay us any attention because we're Welsh but we don't speak or sing in Welsh. It was a bit of a fashion at the time.
Bloss: So we got the Bert Weedon 'Learn Welsh In A Day' book, we're on page 5.
Would you consider doing a song in Welsh?
Andrea: No, I don't think so.
Bloss: It's too hard a language, its really difficult I would have thought.
Well if the Sugarcubes can manage Icelandic.
Andrea: Well my mum speaks Welsh, she could probably teach me but...
Bloss: There aren't very many people to communicate it to. It's not a very pretty language either. It's quite hard so it'd be good for punk but somehow for poppy love songs.
I only know 'dim parlio'.
Andrea: It's like 'warren ether' which means 'services' you see it all the time.
Bloss: 'Dim ford allen' - 'no exit'.
Well now I've got to ask you if you know any really bad jokes for the Darling Bud's joke page.
Bloss: Oh my god, we're stupid more than joke people aren't we.
Andrea: I always listen to jokes, laugh and then forget them.
Chris: What's orange and sounds like a parrot?
I don't know.
Chris: A carrot
. Bloss: Well it's the worst joke in the world, but it's the best that we could do.
Entire pub collapses in hysterics, end of interview. The Darling Buds are absolutely megawondifulous live so you'll jolly well go and see them if you know what's good for you.
Just To Be Seen/If I Said Review - Sounds March 28, 1987 by Roger Holland
Andrea Darling sings out from under a dense protective fringe of fuzzed guitar hedge. "You don't know what you put me through/ You can't see what you've done to me." "Just To Be Seen" is standard John Peel fare circa the 1981 girl group boom boom, but "If I Said" is slower, better arranged and perfectly, precisely wonderful.
Interview at the George Robey, London - Sowing Seeds Fanzine Issue No 4 October 14, 1987
Probably the best band to emerge from the fuzzy mayhem of the past year. The Darling Buds stand at least head and shoulders clear of the competition. They will soon hit town with a new single, new vengeance and all the irresistible energy and enthusiasm you could want. For those of you who missed them in '87, listen up because I'm certain '88 will see them achieve the recognition they deserve...read on....
Did you use a drum machine on the single?
Harley: Yes, it was done as demo really, instead of a tape, we thought a single would stand more chance than a demo tape.
Andrea: It worked. I mean John Peel played it straight away, we knew if we sent him atape he wouldn't.
Harley: The idea was to put out another record, but we've no money left now!
So you put it out yourselves with no help from anyone else?
Harley: Yeah, we did two thousand, we were naive at the time, we thought 'two thousand.'
Has it sold out?
Andrea: No we've got loads left.
Harley: We've given about five hundred away, sold about five or six hundred. The thing is another mistake we made, or I made. I didn't put a catalogue number on the sleeve, so people find it hard to order. Because it's a demo it's not exactly brilliant, but the songs I think , are good. 'Just To Be Seen' .. 'If I Said' is a really good song, all it needs is just a bit more time in the studio. They're good songs, we could do something with them and make them a lot better. I'm sure a lot of people are buying the single and saying the standard of recording isn't very good.
Andrea: If we do an album then we'll definitely do something to them, they're the first songs we ever wrote.
Have you got enough songs for an LP then?
Andrea: We have just about now.
Harley: The problem is managing a band and working doesn't leave much time for writing songs. I've had to cut my hours at work down to just mornings, so I can get all the back dated stuff done.
What about the flexi you've just done for 'So Naive'?
Harley: It's all right, that was the first interview we did. John Peel read out our phone number and he rang up.
I was going to do that, but I thought you'd be flooded with phone calls!!
Andrea: It wasn't that bad!
Harley: The funny thing was, my sister's a physiotherapist and she was on call that night, there were people calling about one o'clock and she was up and down all night thinking she had to go to work. Bit embarrassing that was!!
Do you get people phoning up and shouting abuse down the phone?
Harley: No we don't get any of that, thank God!
Andrea: Not really abuse anyway.
Are you going to release 'Spin' on a proper record? It's a really good song.
Andrea: I don't know, we've not really thought about it.
Are you going to do another record?
Andrea: Yeah definitely!
Harley: Too right!! We're going to get something out after January.
Will release that yourselves?
Harley: It might come to that, we've got record companies interested in us, they've shown interest and that's it. They're sort of saying 'Well don't release anything at the moment', but we can't hang on and wait for people, so if nothing actually happens we'll release something for January which means we're going to have to go into the studio fairly quickly to do it.
Is it you (Harley) who works in the studios?
Harley: Yeah, tea boy.
Harley: I make the tea. I hoover up, I...
It didn't say that in 'So Naive', it said 'Harley works in Loco Studios', it didn't say you were the Tea boy!
Chris: He cleans the toilets!!
Harley: I have a go on the desks when I can, but we've had Gaye Bykers there and Julian Cope and they daren't let me loose on anything!!
Are you on an agency or anything to get gigs?
Harley: No, we do everything ourselves, manage the band, look after everything.
Andrea: It get's a bit heavy.
Harley: yeah, at the moment, we get so many people coming up and saying 'Sign this, I'll be your manager' and there are people saying about publishing deals and stuff and then other people saying...
Andrea: DON'T SIGN ANYTHING!!
Harley: 'Don't sign publishing deals, don't get management, what do you want management for?'! At the moment I think it's just best for us to carry on doing it ourselves, there'll come a time when we'll have to get people involved. We played at a college in Surrey last week and the sound was terrible because we didn't have our own PA people.
Andrea: Everyone said it was okay, but the onstage monitoring was really bad, I was thinking 'Oh shit, just sing!' you know, I couldn't hear anything else that was going on.
Harley: I couldn't hear the guitar at all.
Andrea: We always have a problem with the guitar, always.
Harley: We played with The Butthole Surfers in Newport and took an engineer from the studio I work in Tim Lewis, he engineered the sound.
Andrea: It was the best gig we've done.
Why do you do 'Love Me tender', is there a closet Elvis Presley fan in the band or something?
Andrea: I like Elvis, I used to love his films when I was little.
Harley: Bloss is trying to look like him but he's having problems!!
How many gigs have you done? When you did the 'So Naive' interview you'd done three!
Harley: And that was exaggerating! This is our fourteenth or fifteenth.
What's the furthest afield you've played?
Harley: Er, that's a long way away isn't it?!
Is there anywhere you really want to play? (Scotland. 'Helpful' suggestion from Nik!)
Andrea: yeah, I'd like to go to Scotland, we're going to be laying in Newcastle, Scunthorpe and Middlesborough, that'll be okay, we'll get up there. Problem is, we could never afford to go to Scotland and do one gig.
Harley: It's easy to organise gigs since the sessions, before it was hard to get gigs, they'd say 'Eh?. Never heard of you lot' you know. Especially when you say you're from Wales!
So you find it hard, coming from Wales?
Harley: It's always brought up, not so much now. There are good bands everywhere, the problem with Wales is that people don't come down to Wales to see them and don't take any interest in Welsh bands.
They have a lot of good bands playing in Newport.
Harley: Simon from 'Rockaway Records', he organises all the 'Cheap Sweaty Fun' gigs and they have all sorts of bands playing there, World Domination, Big Black, Butthole Surfers, Bad Brains.
Did you get your name, 'The Darling Buds' from a poem or something?
Andrea: A book by HE Bates, The Darling Buds Of May.
Harley: It's also in Shakespeare as well.
Andrea: 'Rough winds do shake...The Darling Buds'! And there's the rough wind himself (points accusing finger at Harley), he's got a big problem.
Harley: I keep farting, that's why. Bloss has got a problem today. I'm all right.
Andrea: When we started last year there were only two places you could play in Newport, The Newport Centre where all the big bands play, or there's this club which is really dingy and someone was stabbed there about a year ago, there's nothing really bad with it, but everyone thinks sort of 'Oh don't let your daughter go there'! we played there a few times, there was nowhere else to get gigs really.
Harley: That's where we did our first gig. Chris was in another band at the time and he was also organising gigs in the Newport area for 'Scum City Surfers'.
Andrea: Another thing that delayed us bringing out the single and gigging last year was that I was living in London, those two (Harley & Bloss) were living in Wolverhampton and our bassist then, Simon, had just bought a house in Newport so he couldn't move anywhere you know. When the single was released there wasn't really a band, there was us two (Andrea & Harley) and a drum machine.
Harley: It was recorded almost a year before it was released, because it was recorded in a studio in a couple of evenings and then I went abroad for two months. When I came back Chris was still doing his gigs and he said 'get The Darling Buds back in', we reformed, played again and then went 'Well this is all right, might as well do it for real'.
You had one session, did Peel contact you again to do another? He's always raving about you!
Harley: He raves about us, but what does everyone else think?
My Bloody Valentine were chuffed that you had a song called 'My Valentine'!
Harley: Yeah, it was dedicated to them!!
Who writes the songs?
Andrea: Us two (Points to Harley).
Harley: Andrea and I started writing the stuff a long time ago and we got most of the songs done then. Chris joined us in June and he and Bloss have been helping us with recent stuff.
Bloss: That's why it's getting even better!
Harley: The ideas come from one person usually. Andrea will come up with an idea and I'll work on it. We live quite close together you see, so she'll run around and say 'I've got an idea', and we'll try and work on it.
Andrea: The thing is...
Harley: ...we just need the time at the moment.
Andrea: I'm just about to say that (strop...strop!). Another thing is...
Harley: ANOTHER THING IS...!!
Andrea: Shhhh! We've got a lot of songs that we've started to practise, if one doesn't work we'd rather scrap it than have a weak one just for the sake of a new one.
Do you do any other covers other than 'Love Me Tender' and 'Just May Be The One'?
Andrea: Oh yeah, first of all we did 'Femme Fatale', we did a Cramps songs as well, 'Human Fly', erm 'Teenage Kicks'.
Harley: That was just to fill up time when we first started out because people wanted us to play for half an hour and with the songs we'd written we just couldn't do it.
Have you been in bands before?
Harley: I was in local bands, I thinks everyone's been in local bands, nobody you'd ever heard of though.
Andrea: I was in a band, just four girls when I was about fifteen, we all did a bit of singing, had acoustic guitars. I used to live in a village then and we used to play there, this mayor came over from Germany and took us to this German music festival, we played in that and it wetted my taste buds.
Harley: And that's where I first met Andrea (aaaah, how sweet!), I spotted her on the stage and thought...
Andrea: No it wasn't!!
Are you going to play abroad, or has anyone written to you from abroad?
Andrea: We've had fan mail from abroad.
Harley: How do you get over there? We're struggling to get to London!!
Andrea: We do London gigs as long as they pay our expenses, but we can't exactly say that to someone in New York.
Harley: We'd like to do it, bit it's difficult to organise.
Chris: You've got to get in contact with the right people.
What bands do you listen to?
Harley: I listen to all sorts of stuff. Birthday Party, Smiths, the last album I bought was The Wedding Present.
Live review at El Siecos, Newport, Gwent - Record Mirror August 1, 1987 by Charlie Dick
The Darling Buds are a youthful, high energy pop group who do something akin to what The Shop Assistants did, but with tunes and noises that the aforementioned punk-pap pioneers couldn't shake a stick at. Deep in the bowels of Gwent city, a cluster of youths witness the ritual thrashings of three men and a woman possessed.
Their songs are like poisoned sweets. Andrea sings like a choir, but poses like Iggy while the band lace the pleasure points with relentless two minute bursts of droning savagery worthy of Johnny and Dee Dee. Watch out for 'Shame On You' and 'Dance More'; stirring stuff.
Groovy Pop Interview: The Darling Buds - So Naive Fanzine Issue No 2 1987
How many copies did you press of 'Just To Be Seen/If I Said' and how is it selling?
We could only afford to have 200 copies pressed, we don't know how well its selling but we haven't broken even yet. Could you lend us a fiver?
Why did you release it yourselves and not sign to a 'major' indie label such as Subway or Creation?
We didn't approach any labels and they didn't approach us. Harley decided due to past experience with other bands that it was quicker and more direct to release a record yourself than trying to gain interest with a demo tape.
Will there be more releases on your label?
We don't have enough money at the moment to finance another single but if we make enough money from the first single we will definitely release another by ourselves.
What do you think of the fact that when Peelie mentions your record he says "there are quite a lot of bands who make similar noise these days, but The Darling Buds I prefer to most of them"?
Brilliant, well pleased. We all agree that there are bands making a similar noise but we are all chuffed that Peelie prefers us to most of them. What does everyone else think?
God knows! Do you like Gerbils?
We don't agree on everything, 2 no's, 1 yes, and 1 what's a gerbil?
I wonder who said yes? Do you think the start of "If I Said" sounds like the start of "Switzerland" by the Shoppies?
No we don't think it does. (sorry)
How well do you know the Rosehips? Did they try to persuade you to sign to Subway?
Funny you should mention that, Ant Rosehip has just phoned and it looks like we could be gigging together in the future, but a deal with Subway wasn't discussed.
Bloss - Mighty Mighty, The Avons
Andrea - Mighty Lemon Drops, J&MC, Weather Prophets, Cocteau Twins
Simon - Stump, Butthole Surfers
Harley - The Darling Buds
Influences on the sound of you music?
Possibly our lack of equipment and whoever else's equipment we're borrowing at the time.
Why do you use a drum machine?
We don't use a drum machine anymore. On the single and our first gig we did because we couldn't find a drummer, but now we have Bloss who sounds like a drum machine but uses less batteries.
Played many gigs yet?
What do you do outside The Darling Buds?
Harley works at Loco recording studios, Bloss flies kites, Simon goes to the office to chase queries and Andrea can't keep still.
Bloss 24, Andrea 20, Simon 21, Harley 21.
Who writes the songs? Do you play any cover versions?
Harley and Andrea. Yes, as the mood takes us.
What bands do you expect to be compared with?
We expect to be compared with all the bands in this vein, but we feel we are all different.
How do you play 5 aside footy with only 3 of you?
There's 4 of us now & we'd rather go knobbing instead, but Bloss has got new boots and would rather play football, well he knows how to play back and hand so he can play with himself!
Can you speak Welsh? Do you eat leaks and sing rugby songs in a male voice choir?
Wrth farchogaeth beic modur I un rhaid I c hiric unrhyw bottom piliwn nad. No we don't.
Have you got an inflatable sheep?
Yes, and inflatable wellies as well.
10 favourite songs?
Pass. We can't all agree on this one, we like lots of songs. (this question nearly split the band.)
What do you think of "Ron Johnson bands" like Stump, Shrubs, Twang, Big Flame, A Witness etc? (this question was only asked as I was listening to the Shrubs LP at the time!)
We all like Stump. The others have eluded us so far.
Going on holiday this year?
No we can't afford it, are there any good beaches in Norwich?
No, nothing is good in Norwich. Did you eat lots of Easter Eggs?
Yes and we feel sick.
Click to subscribe to YinPop, the cult female musician discussion list, including The Darling Buds
Click to subscribe to YinPop, the cult female musician discussion list, including The Darling Buds
Copyright © 2014 YinPop/S.White