• BBC Radio East Anglia (BBC Bedfordshire, BBC Northampton, BBC Norfolk, BBC Cambridgeshire)
  • 1989-09-03
  • An incomplete show where radio DJ John Peel (JP) interviewed Graham Gargiulo (GG) and Simon Scott (SS) of the Charlottes on his BBC East Anglian-networked Sunday night Rock Show.
  • The source of the full transcript appears in three sections here


  • None


  • The Charlottes - Are You Happy Now

    The Charlottes - Are You Happy Now

    Charlottes: Love Happy (album - Lovehappy) Subway Organization
(JP: 'Those are The Charlottes and that was the title track from their LP "Lovehappy", and we have Graham who does the guitaring with the band, and Simon who is the drummer, in the studio with me, and they are as nervous as I am about this interview, so we're going to have a look at...oh, fascinating!...that's terribly...oh, I've suddenly gone very, very echoey. Why's that happening do you suppose? Shall we just try opening one microphone and see what happens? (sounds better) Perhaps I'm not quite so echoey when that happens. What d'you say? (laughs) We've run into a technical problem. Ian (the producer) is looking very puzzled. It does sound as if I'm phoning the programme in from home. I think we'll fade that out again (sounds good) and play another record while we're trying to sort out (laughing) why exactly that is going on. This is Daniel Owino Misiani and the Shirati band - and the title I'll work out while it's playing.')
(John reads out an amusing anecdote from the album sleeve, ending:)
(JP: 'A warning to young people who play the guitar", it continues, "it does not pay when you have to fight with other people's husbands, but Misiani is proud of travelling all over East Africa. That is the only positive thing." Some sound advice there for members of The Charlottes. We're going to have another go at speaking to them. Now what it is, is to only open one microphone. About the only thing that's left for us to do is to spontaneously combust. We'll try not to do that. Right, there's one microphone. That's Graham's microphone open now. Sounds reasonable. Most people will know the band's from Huntingdon - you are from Huntingdon, aren't you?')
(GG: (faintly, as if from far away) 'Yes')'
(JP: 'And I'm going to have to turn you up now. This is most peculiar, or is it the wrong mike? There we go. That's it. Oh boy, oh boy. But we'll get the hang of this eventually, don't you worry. I hope no one is recording this because (sarcastically) it'll be one of the classic interviews of all time. The band. Tell us the history of The Charlottes up until now')
(GG: We've been going for about a year and a bit. Before that we were in a band called the Giant Polar Bears. That sort of split up and we got Petra singing. We recorded the single about four weeks after forming which is why it sounds a bit different to what we do nowadays')
(JP: 'You're not proud of the single, you were implying earlier on. "Are You Happy Now?", isn't it?')
(GG: 'Well not necessarily "not proud of" it. It did what it was supposed to do. When we did it we didn't expect it to sell that well')
(JP: 'How well did it sell, do you know?')
(GG: 'It sold well, yes. It sold abroad. We got letters from Australia and Poland and Germany, and even Japan')
(JP: 'Molesworth Records')
(GG: 'Yeah, Andy Clifton's baby')
(JP: 'Are there many other releases on Molesworth Records?')
(GG: 'Yes, there's another band from Huntingdon, called The Flowershop, has had a release on it, and The Pleasureheads')
(JP: 'Oh, right!')
(GG: 'From Peterborough, they've had a single on it as well')
(JP: 'Okay, so the Subway Organization. They're based in Bristol, so how did they get to hear of you? Did you get in touch with them, or did they get in touch with you?')
(GG: 'When we recorded the single we had two more copies on tape, so we thought we'd send it to two different record companies to see what they thought of it. One of them thought it was a load of rubbish, and Martin Whitehead of Subway quite liked it. He rang us up and said, "Have you got any more material?", which we didn't have, so we released it on our own. He got in touch again and said he wanted to do a mini-album')
(JP: 'Whenever I've read reviews either of your gigs or of this LP, people have made comparisons, with - I think just because they make comparisons of any band that's got a woman singer')
(GG: 'Yes, there's lots of lazy journalists who see a band with a girl singer and consequently, the first thing that comes into their mind they compare you to. The Flatmates and The Primitives, we've been compared to, who I don't think we sound anything like')
(JP: 'I don't think you sound anything like them at all. That's true. Well, are there any other bands in Huntingdon that you'd like to draw our attention to? Have you heard any other good bands in the area? Because one of the things I wanted to do when I took over this programme was to try to encourage good local bands, because it seemed to me to have reached a point at which bands were routinely and regularly being featured on the programme because they'd been playing in the same pub in Cambridge for, say, something like eight years, whereas that seemed to me to be an indication that actually they weren't much good')
(GG: 'Yes, it's sort of a funny local scene really. Because of the type of music that we're playing, we haven't had as much support as a lot of the institutional Cambridge bands who've been around for years. But there are some good bands. Of course there's The Pleasureheads from Peterborough, and The Flowershop, who've changed their name to Turtle Noise, I think')
(JP: '(audibly salivating at the prospect of discovering a new hardcore band) To what? Total Noise?')
(GG: 'Turtle Noise. They're pretty good. And of course there's Nutmeg. There's quite a few bands around, but we don't really have that much in common with them')
(JP: 'You'd seem to me - from reading the music weeklies and so forth - to be in the critical stage of a fledgling career. You've got a lot of really quite good reviews. I mean, the reviews I've read have been really good')
(GG: 'Yeah, it came totally out of the blue for us. One of the local columnists in Cambridge wrote this bitter little article about us saying how we'd been hyped. I was speaking to Subway about it on the phone and they were laughing their heads off because they haven't spent any money at all promoting it. It was just a couple of journalists picking up on it')
(JP: 'This seems to happen fairly frequently to bands. Once they start to move out of their immediate area and to attract attention outside, people in that area are somehow resentful of it')
(GG: 'Yes, we've had a lot of that actually. It's not as if we're bigheaded or anything. It's like the first rung on a different ladder. You realise when you get out of the local scene that it's a hell of a lot harder on the national scene')
(JP: 'What sort of gigs are you doing at the moment?')
(GG: 'Not much coming right up, but we've got The Camden Falcon on the 16th with Blow Up - that should be quite a good one - and Hull the night before with Thrilled Skinny, Luton faves. We're putting together gigs in Manchester and Leeds')
(JP: 'Putting together? How does that happen? Does the record company help you?')
(GG: 'Not really, no. It's a question of me overcoming my laziness and expanding my phone bill and actually ringing them up. But we've got a chap in London who's arranging a few gigs for us there. He really liked us when we played here with the James Dean Driving Experience. So it's quite a hard thing to get gigs if you're an unknown band, but fortunately we've had a few good reviews so it should be a little easier now')
(JP: 'That makes a considerable difference really, doesn't it?')
(GG: 'Yes it does. People aren't interested in you unless you've had some kind of review, but you don't tend to get a review unless you play London, so that's a bit of a vicious circle')
(JP: 'So where would you like to be a year from now?')'
(GG: 'I suppose I'd like to be at the stage of say a band like My Bloody Valentine, still on an independent label but reasonably successful')
(JP: 'Yes, because... Did you go to the Reading Festival?')
(GG: 'No, I didn't, but Simon did')
(JP: 'Did you go? Right, we'll try opening the other mike')
(JP: 'This is Simon, on drums, who went to the Reading Festival. What did you think of it then?')
(SS: 'I thought it was really good. It was very well organised. I'd heard stories from people who had been previously who said it was rough and smelly and not very well organised, but it was very well organised and no trouble and I thought it was a really good atmosphere, it was great, with a good lineup of bands this year as well')
(JP: 'Yeah, who did you think - well, because I missed the Sunday, because I had to come back here obviously. Well, I didn't have to because it was a joy for me to return to (in mock daytime presenter mode) BBC Essex and BBC Radios Norfolk, Northampton, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire, dear listeners, but who did you enjoy then? Who did you think was good?')
(SS: 'I was surprised by a lot of bands that I thought I wouldn't like, like The Sugarcubes: I don't like their records but live they blew me away')
(JP: 'Oh did they? Because I dislike them intensely')
(SS: 'Really?')
(JP: 'Yes, I really didn't like it. I thought it was a bit of late-60s arts lab kind of stuff. I didn't care for it at all')
(SS: 'The Wonderstuff were good. I didn't expect that. Loop I went to see, and I thought they were impressive as well')
(JP: 'Butthole Surfers, what did you think of them?')
(SS: 'Yeah, I don't like their records. I've listened to - "Locust Abortion Technician" is it? -and "Hairway To Steven". I don't like the records but live they were good fun to watch. They were interesting')
(JP: 'They're certainly that. No question about it. And My Bloody Valentine, did you see them? I thought they were really good')
(SS: 'I've liked them for a long time. I've watched the transformation and I think they've really got their act together completely now')
(JP: 'Obviously, because I was doing compering from the side of the stage, it was impossible for me to assess what the sound was like, but several letters I've had from people who went to the Reading Festival said the sound wasn't as good as they thought it would be')
(SS: 'Yeah, on Friday it was so muggy it was really dull. Like Spacemen 3, My Bloody Valentine, they got an awful mix. You know, it didn't bring out the best of them')
(JP: 'Did it pick up later in the weekend?')
(SS: 'Mmm, by Sunday they had almost got it right (John laughs) and by The Wonderstuff and The Mission they'd got it spot on but, yes, (laughing) it took a long time')
(JP: 'A pity they had to get it right for someone like The Mission, not great favourites of mine, but I'm sure there are millions of listeners who think they are (slightly disbelievingly) utterly terrific. Right, I'd better play you another tune from the LP. Which one am I playing now?')
(SS: 'This one's "Everything To Me"')
(JP: 'These short tracks are going to be the death of me. That's another track from The Charlottes' LP called "Lovehappy" from the Subway Organization and that one was "Everything To Me". The phone's going. I wonder whether it's someone who wants to speak to the band or whether it's just somebody (laughs) who wanted to tell us to...Do you want to go and find out, Ian? I'm sorry to sound so bossy. (With mock importance) I mean I'd go myself, but I've got to carry on talking into this microphone. Right, let me see. Let's try opening this mike again and getting Graham back. Mmm. (Distracted by faders) Sorry. The immediate future? What have you got? Next gig? What's happening?')
(GG: 'Well the next gig is the Hull one I mentioned and the next day is the one in London. But we're trying to sort out a lot more stuff so that up to Christmas we should have a lot more concerts. And we're hopefully going to be getting a twelve inch out before Christmas')
(JP: 'Yes, I was going to ask you - more recording coming up?')
(GG: 'Yeah, Subway are interested in doing something else with us, so it will probably be a twelve inch, even though (chuckles) they're supposed to be anathema in the indie world at the moment')
(JP: 'Oh, are they? I thought you had to have them, to sell in Europe or something, because they won't have anything to do with seven inch singles?')
(GG: 'Yes, it's all to do with distribution, isn't it? A lot of it's kind of mysterious, but we've had a lot of these indie purist kids who write to us saying things like, "Oh no, you can't do a twelve inch." For some reason it's kind of not allowed')
(JP: 'It is strange, isn't it? Because, I mean, I get a lot of the magazines and they tend to be the same bands that crop up in them')
(GG: 'Yeah, The Driscolls, bands like that')
(JP: 'Yeah, that's right. It seems to be - and I'm perfectly satisfied that it should be the case if the bands like that - but it seems to me to be a bit of a dead end in a way')
(GG: 'Yes, the same little circle, isn't it, all the time')
(JP: 'That's right, as though they're pursuing some kind of purity which actually nobody is particularly interested in except for a very small circle of folk. Right, well that's very kind of you to have come in, and driven the (laughs) immense distance from Huntingdon, and I wish you well. (Having an afterthought) If someone... if you were to admit to any influences - I mean if people said, "Which bands have influenced your band?" - because it's very unusual, let's face it, for a band to appear completely out of the blue not sounding a bit like somebody else. I mean the only band that I can think of in the last ten years that's done that has been The Smiths, who did arrive and didn't sound like anything else you had ever heard before, as I say, so who would you admit you were "sort of" influenced by?')
(GG: 'Oh, I'd say probably My Bloody Valentine in approach, and in terms of actual music we all like different styles. I like a lot of Neil Young and Simon's into Soundgarden and American sort of grungy rock stuff')
(JP: 'Oh, is he? Good for him!')
(GG: 'I think it's a lot of different influences all coming together, not necessarily harmonious because more often than not it's all thrashed out at rehearsals, isn't it?')
(JP: 'So you think the twelve inch you're about haven't started work on it?')
(GG: 'No, we've got the songs written. It's just a question of getting them demoed and then recorded')
(JP: 'Will it be different to the LP? (Amused) I mean, obviously it's not going to be the same tunes, but what I mean is will it be possible to discern a development from the album?')
(GG: 'Oh, definitely, yeah. We're not completely 100% happy with the album now. I mean, some of the tracks on there are quite old - like "Are You Happy Now?", and there's a song called "Stubborn" - which are poppier, shorter songs which we're not so keen on nowadays')
(JP: 'Yes, it does seem to me, that when I was listening to it for the first time - and obviously it's in the nature of putting these programmes together that I have to do, as it were, really a kind of "factory listening", for example, as William (John's son) over here in the corner can confirm, I've spent the entire day, when most dads are out "having fun" and')
(GG: 'Down the pub?')
(JP: (chuckling) 'Relating to the kids and stuff like this, I've spent the entire day locked in my room and listening and working my way through a mountain of by-and-large rather dull records. But it seemed to me, when I was listening to yours a few months ago, that actually, from the first track "Are You Happy Now?" to the last track "Love Happy", the title track, a considerable distance had been covered. It sounded almost like a different band, as though you were actually evolving as the record was playing. Were you aware of that when you were programming it?')
(GG: 'Well, yeah, some of the tracks on there were quite old; we didn't have that much material. That's another problem that we've got. I don't know whether it's in inspiration or writing the songs. We had to do some older tracks, and the newer stuff is the more intense, noisier, heavier stuff, and the older songs the sort of poppier versions')
(JP: 'Well I played In My Hair, which is the one that's got the long pauses in it...')
(GG: 'The DJ's nightmare!')
713ZcROAv+L. SX522
(JP: 'It is, yes. I played it on the BBC World Service, and it went out all over the world, and actually we had to edit the silent bits to make it a bit shorter. Otherwise transmitters would have switched off automatically and alarm bells would have rung all around the world! (Laughing) You could have caused a great number of problems. Okay, thanks very much. I look forward to hearing the new twelve inch as soon as you get it done, because I think this LP is really impressive. By the way, who's this on the front?')
(GG: 'That's a friend of Petra the singer's, actually')
(JP: 'Oh is it? Because it has the look to it, if you don't look too closely at the things in the background, of a sort of a nineteen-twentiesy kind of a photograph')
(GG: 'Yes, it's this girl who's the photographer (Martine Coker) who also took the photo on the back. If you look on the front cover, on the left hand side on the wall, is the little insert that came with the original single')
(JP: 'Oh, yes')
(GG: 'For fanatics')
(JP: (Laughing) 'That's right. Yes, it's one of those things, you see, that if you carry on and become immensely successful, people in seven or eight years' time will be basing religions on. (Laughs) That's what happens to you, I'm afraid. Okay, thanks very much. I'm going to have to fade you out again now so I sound a little less peculiar. This is a band called Senator Flux...


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