Thursday, 23 July 2009
Planet of Sound - fanzine interview
Planet of Sound #7, interview by Duncan Illing
Two characters are sat across a table from me in the corner of a pub somewhere in North London. A bloke, a woman. I'm listening to their conversation.
'Prolapse is a medical term,' the bloke says. 'When in pregnancy you get prolapse placentas, the placenta comes away at the wrong time and causes complications.'
'Not really,' replies the woman. 'It's when your intestines fall out of your bottom. In fact I had a kitten who had one, he had little pink lumps sticking out of his... and it went back in again.'
Meet Prolapse. In fact, meet Prolapse the London contingent, Dave and Linda, because it is something of a feat to get all of Prolapse in the same place at the same time. Based in Leicester, Newcastle and London, rehearsals have been known to be only a monthly affair.
As Dave explains 'You gotta get six people from different parts of the country together. It's a bit of a crap hobby really.'
'If we'd practiced every week, by the time we get to play it live we'd be sick to death of it and we wouldn't want to do it,' remarks Linda.
This is a band who started out in Leicester playing live sets that featured a single strobe light and a vocalist who wore a snorkel parka.
'It was awful,' comments Dave. So much so that he joined on guitar, followed closely by co-vocalist Linda to complement Mick.
Prolapse are a live spectacle. Mick started dismantling the stage with a screwdriver at a recent gig. In the past they have brought props on stage and beat the shit out of them. Gigs were not only musical performance but theatre too. Eccentric theatre at that.
'Mick used to smash up tellies and throw things at the audience,' Linda explains. 'Then the press started saying those Prolapse smash up tellies. It's just that we don't like standing still on stage and we have a lot of energy. The smashing has stopped (well, it's under control).'
Watching Prolapse's Linda and Mick on stage, you will notice the way they are so intensely within their own bizarre little worlds. Unconscious of their surroundings until they are bumped into, back to reality. Dazed and confused with a bubbly energy originating from their own unique madness it would seem. Linda rubbing both eyes with her hands clenched in fists while in verse, Mick taking screws out of the stage. Not a typical vocalist's stance.
'Sometimes I totally, totally forget that Mick's there,' remarks Linda. 'He'll do the same with me. He doesn't have his voice in the monitors, so I can't hear what he's saying, so that makes it easier to forget he's there. We'll bump into each other and maybe if the mood's right we'll have a scrap of a hug or whatever. It's difficult to explain cos it happens so subconsciously, it's not like Oh I know I'll go over there and put Mick's jumper on.'
Linda is prone to reading the odd book over the fizziness of Prolapse's performance. Mid-song, out comes a book. Most recently High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.
'It changes, cos if I'm reading a book at the time it'll probably be that,' says Linda. 'But I usually take a small selection of books. One is a mini encyclopedia and another called Sex Manners for the Single Girl and it's from the late sixties and is about what you should or shouldn't do. Once, we were supporting Pulp at Essex University and of course the audience was there for Pulp and I think we were even more disjointed than we are now! This was about two years ago and I got this big text book and was ripping stuff out of it and throwing it at the audience and people were (eyes bulge), put off by it. I think from then, my pile of books shrunk.'
Prolapse are also prone to the impulsiveness of live experimentation ie. avoiding the expected and not playing what the audience has come to hear.
'When the band first started, every song was made up during the set,' says Linda. 'Of course, the years go by and you record stuff, but we try and stick to this thing about making things up. So we take advantage of sessions.'
Prolapse made up last year's twin A side, Unroadkill, live on a radio station in Portland, USA.
'It's different every time, the vocals are different. We make things up at gigs,' enthuses Linda.
Do you take into account what the audience wants to hear? This make up stuff on the spot approach may lead to inconsistencies - a 15-minute art wank experiment may not satisfy the majority of an audience.
'I think there is a certain amount of pressure for us to be a band now,' responds Dave. 'If it was an audience that had seen us a few times, we'd make stuff up. But if it's playing to a new audience in a new city, then we'd stick to stuff that's written,' Linda comments.
Prolapse have had some truly mad live experiences. As Dave comments, the emphasis is directed at the audience. 'The thing about a Prolapse gig is to get a load of energy going. Once you get that you just want to keep playing. I think it's also important for us to keep a level of tension. If everything's buzzing, you just want to keep that going. One night I always refer to is a gig in Paris that ended in carnage, a huge mound of bodies on stage. We'd never been to Paris before and we thought everybody would be sat around writing philosophy.'
'They were diving on stage and lying on it and Dave jumped on,' says Linda.
'Yeah, I was about halfway down the pile. I didn't think they would carry on.'
'It's like, your music has made people do that... that's what's good about it.'
'I've been to a lot of gigs where I've though, I love this band, but it's boring and my legs are hurting,' explains Dave. 'That's one thing I'd like people to remember us by, that you didn't feel like you were standing there and your legs are hurting and you'd want to sit down.'
So Prolapse have an ambition in that sense.
'I'm only motivated to be in a band by really negative things. I really hate so much music that's around at the moment, that's what makes we want to make music.'
'I can't write about anything positive,' adds Linda. 'I don't know why.' (Dave chuckles.) 'I can't! I just feel too tedious on stage singing about positive nice things. Anything that is negative, about death, or about relationships ending, anything like that or about people going mad. Anything along those lines.'
Dave talks of Joy Division, the Velvet Underground, Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, and the fact that Marion are definitely not the new Joy Division.
So what about life for Prolapse beyond the cliquey indie underground? 'I'm not afraid of pissing off that sort of scene cos I don't actually feel part of it,' swipes Dave. Prolapse want to head in the opposite direction to everyone's expectation, away from both the cliqueness of the underground and the potential of the mainstream. Oddballs in the middle. '
'We've got to be interested in it, that's how we are,' says Dave. 'Maybe at one point we'll get swept up by the music biz and do all these things we don't want to do. I don't think we're capable of that actually. If we all get fed up we won't want to do it.'
So where does that leave you?
'We want to be accepted to an extent, but as an interesting entity,' replies Dave. 'A creative event instead of being great musicians, as to writing great pop songs. I'm not slagging off great pop songs, it's quite hard work really.'
'Maybe we should write some pop songs and get some money,' responds Linda.
'We have,' mentions Dave, 'we've written pop songs, but by accident,'
Corking bubbly power pop, like the live fave they don't play very often, TCR.
'We don't like our pop songs though,' says Linda.
So what of the scenario of Prolapse having a hit pop song on their hands? They recently appeared on the Chart Show. 'The thought of having an accidental hit,' says Linda, 'the pressure is on - not from out point of view - but from lots of other people's point of view, for us to write a song that was at least as big a hit as the previous one. You lose a lot of respect if you have just one hit. If it's an accident you've shot it really cos you're not writing hits. Maybe we do under perform, cos we know we could be number one in the charts.'
'The fluke hit single is a possibility, but the follow on is just not possible.' Dave states.
'A flukey one hit wonder band, that's a horrible phrase,' snorts Linda.
Prolapse have a spanking new album in their sights. In their hands they have the extremes of both potential hit pop tunes up against experimental workouts that will take their own little adventures. Whatever way they go from here, that is left to fate.
'You can get really bogged down thinking about it all,' remarks Linda, who would rather remain flippant. While Dave would rather forget stardom and settle down to his PhD and bring up his two kids.
Prolapse have experienced a long hard slog to this stage of recognition. So perhaps I should mention their polar opposite, Kula bloody Shaker. Perhaps now after the slog, Prolapse really wouldn't mind a quick splash into that pond called fame.
'I have no respect for situations like that,' spits Linda at my mention of that band. 'It really irritates me! We slogged our way around the shitest clubs, when there has been no one there. We have dragged ourselves up by our bootstraps.No one has given us money to help us. We got where we are today - not very far - by playing hard, going out and playing gigs and kipping on people's floors. The thought that someone can come along from nowhere with a famous mum and get a number one really irritates me so much. It realy does,'
'It's what the people want,' remarks Dave. 'What my gripe is, these bands don't sound very good. They're not trying very hard. There are lots of bands which do and who are never going to be very big. Most of the bands we respect could only dream of being on Top of the Pops.'
That's life. But Prolapse plod on up that path to fame. Perhaps those pop songs they make mention of will carry them at greater pace. Or perhaps they'll take their eccentric experimental jamboree into history, to be discovered after they've split up. Who knows?
'That's what it probably is really. Prolapse is a crap hobby,' remarks Dave.
'We've got to enjoy it to do it,' points our Linda. Crap hobbies indeed, enjoyment is the key and Prolapse still do it.