by Sally Crewe
'Prolapse began to take themselves seriously in 1992 after John Peel described them as a "class act"... '
The press release that arrived with Prolapse's debut (the Crate EP) tells me this, although I would be happier describing Prolapse as a class accident. Shaking and stirring the senses, this Camden-Leicester-Newcastle based six-piece cover all bases at once, both musically and geographically. In Pavementesque style they live so far apart as to warrant few practises, telling me they prefer it like that anyway, and who am I to disagree? The proof's in the performance. Testing out new material on stage maintains the freshness and genuine excitement for the music that most bands lose through endless, trudging days of rehearsal. Prolapse are giving a much needed slap around the face of indie music with a big, scary (but lovable) punk-pop hand branded 'Spontaneity Rules...'
In a small room littered with coffee mugs and a generous amount of comfy sofas and armchairs, deep below the Almeda Theatre in Islington (we've just finished watching a play which Linda directed), I manage at last to gather the majority of Prolapse in the same place at once for a brief interview. Mick, Tim, Linda, Pat and 'Geordie' Mick (five out of six ain't bad), now filling the room with silence, break it to ask me what I want them to talk about. I want to see if what I've understood their band to be about is the same as how they see it. I tell them to tell me about Prolapse.
'We're not very deep, in fact we're dead shallow,' grins Scottish Mick.
'I only got asked to do it because I'm a girl,' quips Linda.
'We do it because we want to - no other reason,' says Tim, providing the first sensible thing I've heard all day. 'Everybody does just what they want to do. We don't plan anything, we've never had any big, big...'
'...overall scheme,' continues Pat. 'We just do it because we want to hear the music.'
Prolapse's live world consists of a near-constant screaming debate between Linda and Mick, their visual rows only interrupted at the chance to play with some props - sometimes smashing televisions, although often it's just Linda crouched on the floor perusing through a red bread bin full of old copies of Melody Maker. I ask them what that's all about?
'Just to make it look er...!' Mick thought he could explain.
'It's the only way we could get them to shut up, you see. As long as you give them something to hit when they're not singing,' explains Tim like he's reporting the progress of nursery kids.
'All the old songs used to be me singing non-stop, so it's just to make it more interesting to watch,' says Mick, 'because you find yourself staring into space. There's so much going on, you can watch people with different instruments and then you can forget about them for a bit and watch something else.'
'You go to a hundred and one indie gigs and they're all the same, it's just that the music's different. We just wanted to try and make it look different too, so people can remember us,' says Tim. 'Maybe they're going to hate it but they're not going to forget it.'
'It's like having a wee video on stage as well, it kinda enhances the music,' adds Mick.
'Sometimes we've had a television on at a gig, just a small black and white telly showing clips of stuff. Every gig should be different,' Pat tells me.
'In the beginning all the lyrics were made up as we went along. It's not as much now because when you keep singing it more and more you remember it and you sing the same lyrics, but at the start it was just all made up,' says Mick.
'We can't tell which song's which,' says Linda. 'We didn't know any names for them.'
'It's just so that you don't have to see the same gig,' explains Mick. 'If you went to see us a couple of times it'd be different.'
'What make sit more exciting, I think, is that me and Mick have different names for the songs to the rest of the band...' begins Linda.
'They just have: "That one that goes"...' says Pat.
'Yeah. "Which one's this then?" she continues. "That one when I go"... and then we know what it is from that. Sometimes we get it wrong - sometimes I get it wrong.'
Have you considered expanding?
'What, getting even more people in?' asks Pat.
'Aye!' laughs Mick. 'We were going to have a cello player and a keyboard player.'
'I think maybe in the future we wouldn't mind trying one-offs and stuff,' suggests Tim.
'I think it's be quite good to have about 42 people in,' states Pat.
'As long as we can get paid in multiples of 42 quid.'
'That's the problem with there being six of us,' begins Mick. 'We end up getting paid 20 quid and Tim comes up and goes "Two fifty!" and I'm like: 'Oh brilliant." Sometimes he comes up with a tenner and you're going "What - is that between us?"
Financial crises aside, it seems that Prolapse are about fun, noise and simply doing exactly what you want, when you want. That was the feeling I got from watching them live and I'm thankful to know that they hadn't planned it, it's just how they are.
Last week Scottish Mick sent me a present. Inside the brown prepaid DSS envelope that arrived were the following items: a yellow tissue, a small set of lottery-style tickets with Greek writing on the back of each), an official programme for Shawfield Stadium greyhound racing club (with dogs such as Toronto James and Barefoot Ben circled), a City of Leicester housing benefit payment reference form (dated 25 Oct 93), a reply letter to a fan from Julian Cope and a cheque for 25p. There was also a postcard from Glasgow, saying: 'Sally, yr fanzine is the word 'good' added up 3 times + multiplied by 4: I make that a round dozen. XXX - Mick Scot. Prolapse (bad name).'
Only two days before I had received a copy of Prolapse's newest EP - Pull Thru Barker - and been amused at the self-written insert stating that "The picture is our first official photo taken in the early days when we were all Scandinavian children. Our names then were too hard to spell but are now (from the top of the ladder) Tim Pattison - drums, Mick Harrison - bass, Dave Jeffries - guitar, Linda Steelyard - vocals, Mick Derrick (balaclava in pocket) - vocals and chanter and, in the blood-stained apron, Pat Marsden - guitar.'
I thought that was funny till he sent me this. (I posted him a plastic Thunderbirds figure of Lady Penelope in return: I hope he likes it.)
So, they're great. It's quite possible that a couple of them are kind of mad, but on the whole, they're all you could want from a group of shouty-witty-punk-pop type band and for now no one could really disagree with Tim:
'I think at the moment the chemistry is just right,' he says. 'To change it would be stupid.'