Shine interview

Hear my words, all you kings of men,and boys of a thousand years. My words for all to follow –
a Path of obscurity, to obscurity…through obscurity.
heed my words
Kiss my Lips…

And through obscurity comes the ever fresh face of INTO A CIRCLE…Staring at your disgrace boy…BEE tells all…

So why the decision to strip the band down to just the two of you with backing tapes?
Well the reason was because until the last few gigs we did we thought that we could never capture the real Into A Circle sound live. Like the guitarists we were using were either too heavy, too rocky or they just weren't right and the only way we could do that was to do the songs the way we actually write them with using tapes. And also we didn't want to form a proper band because when you have a proper band there's so many restrictions like conflicting ideas and things. Like Getting The Fear couldn't get anything out because basically we just didn't agree on anything. Then Into A Circle just couldn't afford to pay good session musicians and we couldn't find many people that were right to play the songs that me and Barry had written. We decided to try it with tapes to see how it worked and we feel it works much better, it's also so much easier.

How have your audience taken to the new line–up?
Better than I thought, yeah, I mean when we did it before the first gig we did sort of speak about it and think well maybe the people that do come to all the gigs may not like it at all but we were prepared to put up with that because this is more the true representation of Into A Circle, and if people don't like it then that's…you know…

What type of audience are you trying to reach?
Well, really I don't mind. I mean I prefer, when I think about it I prefer an audience to maybe understand more about the songs instead of just getting drunk and things…and like jumping about. That's good but I'd prefer it if people maybe listened to the music and the lyrics and take it in. I mean at the early Into A Circle gigs we used to get drunk so I mean there's no excuse for it, but now we don't.

Do you find the distance between you in London and Barry in Manchester a big problem as far as rehearsals and writing new material is concerned?
At times it's difficult. There's a lot of travelling involved but it's good because we do most of the writing in Manchester. I go up there with all the lyrics that I've got together and there's no distractions up there. Down here it's quite sort of hectic but in Manchester there's nothing else to do.

What made you decide to bring ‘Swell’ into the set?
It was always one of our favourite songs that we'd ever done in any band and so we didn't want it to be just written off. I mean it wasn't released on record or anything and so it wasn't available anywhere and were sort of quite attached to it and like it was a Getting The Fear song but Barry and I wrote just about all of it. So we thought why not just do it and include it in the live set.

Who wrote most of the Getting The Fear material? Was it mainly you and Barry?
I'm sure Buzz and Aky would disagree if I said yeah—as much as I'd like to say yes. Songs like ‘We Struggle’ maybe me and Barry wrote more of, and maybe ‘Swell’. So yeah…I'm sure they'd disagree though.

Have you been happy with the way the records sound?
Only this last one, the others I'm not really.

What did you think about the reviews ‘Forever’ received (NME referred to you as a “Goth” band)?
Err…I hated the guy that said we were Goths. In the earlier stages maybe we could have been accused of being a bit goth but only cause of the heaviness of the guitar, but I can't understand how someone can call a sort of Bronski Beat production "gothic", you know what I mean. I just don't think that's right at all. I'm used to bad reviews and I don't mind them. That one I did sort of get pissed off about though because I just couldn't see how it was. I mean if he'd said it was crap then that's fine. I also think it's because it's difficult to categorise the band as we're not sort of psychedelic or gothic they just didn't know which box to put the band in so they just stuck it into any box and like that day it was the goth box. As Into A Circle we don't consciously think that we want to sound like this or like that. We just write together and it's the way it comes out really. We don't try and copy styles or other things. I don't think we could try to write in a particular way. We can only write the way we do.

What are the lyrics of ‘Beneath Mikhail’ about?
‘Beneath Mikhail’? Ah, they're about a statue that I bought a few years ago, a really old sort of statue, and it's about a dream I had after I bought it and the song's just about the dream really, describing things that happened. Most of the song lyrics are about dreams I've had. As far as ‘Stitches’ is concerned; it's a medical sexual song quite different to the others. It's a sort of loose Burroughs, William Burroughs sort of thing.

What, or who, inspires you when writing?
Usually dreams or people that I meet or things that I get into at a particular time. A lot of the newer songs like ‘Beirut’ are influenced by Islamic religion. None of the songs are political or like anti–establishment or anti–Thatcher. They're more escapism really. I prefer to incorporate that sort of thing into the songs because I think people need a release from situations that they're in. I know I do. I mean I couldn't bear to be up on stage singing about (things) that are wrong in Britain and that. I don't feel strongly about them so I don't incorporate it. I'm very much more into escapism type things.

Having experienced both, do you prefer being on a major or independent label?
Neither. Well right, a major label is bad because you don't have any artistic control. I mean with Getting The Fear we had written in the contract complete artistic control and it meant nothing. Before the first single was out we had about a four hour argument about the sleeve and in the end we only got our way because we said we wouldn't put it out. It was like one or two years of just arguing constantly with the record company. Now we're on an independent label they give us complete artistic control but they haven't got the resources to do the things we want to do. Like we were limited on the quality of studios we go in, the sleeves and everything. It's got really heavy limitations. I suppose the ideal situation would be to go through an independent that goes through a major. If we signed to a major now we would be a lot better off because when Getting The Fear were with the major we didn't quite know what we wanted ourself and couldn't agree. So we had to present something to the record company that we were unsure about and it gave them the chance to add their creative little bit. Into A Circle know exactly how we want a sleeve to be so we just present it to them and they agree with what we want. So maybe we could work with majors now, like that.

Do you want commercial success?
Yeah, we want to sell lots of records and make lots of money but I know it's an old cliché but I don't want to sacrifice the musical content for the success.

So could you see yourselves going on Top Of The Pops doing the same sort of thing?
Right, yeah. We wouldn't refuse to do Top Of The Pops or programmes like that, not at all but we wouldn't write really naff material to get on. I don't think we could write poppy songs. I mean, once, just as a joke we tried to write something we wouldn't have recorded or played live but we thought we'd try and write a poppy type thing and we couldn't do it. It was just crap.

You've worked in the past with Death In June and Current 93 are these just one–off projects?
Well, the way they came about was like Death In June, we knew Doug Pearce through Current 93 and when we were recording the b–side to the second singe ‘Inside Out’ Doug was in the same studio recording his album and he just asked me if I'd do the vocals on one of the tracks. I'd like to work with Death In June again because I think Doug is really brilliant. His stuff is great, so yeah, I'd like to do more with him.

So then, is Death In June just Douglas P.?
Yeah, it's just Doug basically and other friends. Rose does a lot of work with him as well.

What's with the current fascination with Thailand?
(laughs) Yeah…it's wonderful. There's so many things about it that's just so inspiring but I've always preferred the eastern cultures to western things. Having said that I couldn't live in a wooden hut but I do like western luxuries. Thailand seems to have both, like you can live comfortably but still have a lot of eastern culture surrounding you. The attitude of the people out there is great. It's so sort of removed from things in Britain. It's a real escape. It's so much better than going to Europe, like Thailand, well it's like another world really.

In the days of Getting The Fear Charles Manson came up a lot in interviews. Do you now try to avoid that type of thing?
I think it's just basically before. At the time of Getting The Fear that was like a Manson phase and that spilled over because the lyrics and the artwork we used was so close to what we were as people. At the time I was finding out things about Manson and the States in the seventies so it overspilled into the music and artwork. Now there's not a Manson type influence anymore but there is like Islamic images creeping in. We're starting to use Islamic things because we're both very interested in them.

Are you getting into Islamic religion then?
Erm…I wouldn't even think about becoming…no, not at all. I would be slaughtered. I'm interested in the things surrounding it and the conflicts out there. It's just so heavy…and alien. It's so intriguing and so beautiful as well. Things like the Koran are so beautifully written and I just like picking up subjects and finding out things about them and using them in the music and artwork and things.

Do you do all your own artwork?
Yeah, we always do it ourselves. I mean, I think it's quite important, possibly as important as the music. The first impression of the record is actually the sleeve so I think it's very important that the artwork is as we want it and conveys what we are.

Recent gigs you played at the Clarendon and Camden Palace you didn't play encores. Is this a new thing along with the tapes and everything?
Oh no, that's not the policy at all. No it was just those gigs we were just contracted to play like thirty and forty minutes.

Although it seems Into A Circle will always leave us wanting more.

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