Beaten To The Punch!
I wish I could print a colour photo of them as we sit around on the grass in a small Leeds park, just below the Town Hall, on a warm April day, avoiding the lawnmower, watching paper bags floating in the air, and talking about the future of a band with a lot of buzz surrounding them at the moment. The colour scheme begins with the simple contrast of Titch’s black trousers and white trousers, through the bright bluey green leather jacket of Terry, and the red trousers of Jez as he prepares to pose for Jackie, to Jo resplendent in light purple trousers, matching lipstick and nail polish set off with half hidden hair band. The taste you’d expect from Someone who worked in a fashion shop.
We’ve already exchanged offerings in a pub, they a press kit, me a set of photos from photographer Mick, before we came in search, not so much of paradise as a quieter spot. Playing back the tape later, the only interruptions are a bird loudly singing and the ever-threatening lawnmower.
It seems to me that Jo might become the sole focal point of the group, in the manner of Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. Does this worry her:
“Yea it is a worry, but it’s not an overriding worry, but obviously it comes into it. Like photographers tend to just take pictures of me, pisses me off a bit.
But I mean I don’t think it can be helped. When we have photographs of ourselves, we just do it so I’m not in the front, or there’s no shots of me or anything. ‘ ‘
Evolving from the Butterflies, the first single ‘Getting Nowhere Fast’, represented the best of the remains under a new name. Jo: “Cos we didn’t like what we were doing. I think quite a lot of people seemed to like us live, but its just that we didn’t think it was any good really, except some of the songs were alright and that’s why we put two of them on the record.” But Jo, Jez and Terry were now Girls At Our Best! In search of a permanent drummer, which more than any mystic, is the reason why it was well past the release of their second single ‘Politics/It’s Fashion’, before they performed live. Having recruited Titch, late of the Expelaires, they are now playing what are best termed as selected dates, gaining what could be described as a favourable reaction.
And how do the lads feel about this? “I don’ think we’ll be forgotten”
“We’re too good looking, us three. “
Jo: “They’re more vain than I am so they can’t possibly be forgotten.” Jez expresses ambitions to appear in Oh Boy, looking quite the part as he lies on his side in the grass grinning away.
It’s the TOTP road to success for these purveyors of snappy pop. Record Mirror in colour rather than NME in black and white, which is hardly surprising when Jez cites the Top 20 as his major influence. Not that the boppy rhythms are all important. The lyrics do have their place according to Jo, jesting with Jez as the two creative halfs of the band. ‘Getting Nowhere Fast’ is just that; ‘Politics’ was inspired by the US elections and the new single ‘Going For Gold’: Moscow? No, rather the rat race.
There’s no pretentiousness about GAOB. In an honest assessment of what they want they have signed with Happy Birthday, a new label with the approach “of a minor CBS”, which will promote them. They have however taken the step of managing themselves, “cos there’s only four of us”, with consequences that have yet to be seen. Their first two singles, whilst given the nom de plume of Record Records, were to all intents and purposes Rough Trade. There is an album in the pipeline, but they reckon to only have four songs toward it to date: “We’ll be recording them in about two weeks, so we’re going to do it in bits rather than in one big thing.”
-“So when we’ve recorded the ones we’ve got from that set we play we’ll write the other ones and record them, so when it comes out it’ll have all been, like, loads of bits as opposed to just going in for three weeks and recording all of it in one thing.”
They’re a Leeds band, though definitely not of the Leeds ‘stable’. Unlike so many York bands, they don’t see any priority in leaving their hometown.
Unless circumstances require, they won’t be off to London. A sentiment reinforced by their more recent financially painful experience in the big city. If it works out it’s the fulfilment of a dream; an alternative to getting married for Jez. But for the time being, the Yorkshire accents aren’t blunted, and if you ring them and the band aren’t in you might well get told: “This is Girls At Our Best’s mum.”
Their highly successful debut gig at York University fulfilled the promise of the first two singles. Playing confidently and tightly they produced their own distinctive brand of pop. (Yes, you’ve heard that before, but it’s true!) Jo’s voice is distinctive and very strong, with great range. But this certainly isn’t potential success built around one person. The jangling guitar and precise rhythm of the drums and bass add up to a band which you should get to see and will see a lot more of.
Why the name then?
Jez: “I was waiting for that one. It sounds good. That’s it totally. No reasons behind it or anything.”
As we get up to leave the lawnmower closes in on our patch of grass.
Geoff & Glennis
Beaten to the Punch was a York fanzine edited by Geoff Holden. This article was written by Geoff and Glennis Whyte. The photos are by Mick Tew.