Dreams Never End – Fanzine Interview
Dreams Never End: How did the band form & why?(Was it ever intended to be a serious force in popular music or just a giggly diversion on life’s highway?)
Judy: When the first single ”Getting Nowhere Fast° became NME single of the week, the group ‘Girls At Our Best!” didn’t exist as such. Jez (James Allen) & I were determined to get our 2 songs on vinyl with a view to seeing what if anything happened next. Well something did happen & another record was clamoured for which meant we had to write 2 more songs & find someone to help us record them.
This was the time when Gerard Swift & Carl Harper joined us; but there was no serious intention of playing live until much later. The music & the lyrics we wrote, the strategy we used, the image we tried to create was definitely intended to be a serious force in popular music, but we disguised it so as not to appear pretentious, intellectual or musically serious.
Dreams Never End: I have copies of the LP, Go For Gold, Politics, Nowhere Fast & the Seeds compilation. What was on the B—side of Fast Boyfriends & did you release any other gems?
Judy: The flipside of Fast Boyfriends is This Train, a cover version of an old gospel song. No other gems were released, although I did sing on Thomas Dolby’s 1st LP. We also did 2 Peel Sessions & 2 for Richard Skinner.
Dreams Never End: What sort of response did GAOB get-did you sell many records?
Judy: I never really cared or thought about what response we got & I’ve no idea how many records we sold. I liked it if people clapped, but it never bothered me if they didn’t which is probably just as well!
Dreams Never End: What other activities did you get involved in—live performances, world tours, TV specials etc?
Judy: This is incredibly difficult for me to remember – was it 2 world tours or 3? We never appeared on TV, we toured England & Scotland, played in Holland & did a short tour of the East coast of America (NY, Washington & Philadelphia).
Dreams Never End: The sleeve notes of the Seeds LP read “During the course of 1980/81 Girls At Our Best made a handful of singles & an album, all wonderful & then disappeared” Why did the band vanish in this fashion?
Judy: I suppose that with most bands that break up, the reasons are both incredibly simple & boringly complicated. There was a series of events which I think inevitably led to the band splitting up. We went to America, as just mentioned, which screwed everybody up a little bit. Our record contract came to an end just after our return & we were all getting on each other’s nerves.
Just at this vital point in the career of GAOB, when there should have been consolidation, vision & energy, there was a big void & we all just drifted apart. The record contract was left to rot & GAOB didn’t exist anymore.
Dreams Never End: The comic cynicism in GAOB songs seems similar in some respects to that of Altered Images (also active & receiving John Peel airplay at the time). Did you feel you had anything in common with Clare & Co or any other bands of the period?
Judy: I was obviously aware of Altered Images. In fact when we were in the North touring, we were following them around, playing the same venues. We were much better than them live; louder, meaner, more exciting but perhaps not as accessible for TV, not as simple a concept as they were.
I actually don’t know their songs that well from what I can remember there were quite a Jot of similar bands with girl members at that time – very interesting! But for me personally the most successful culmination of the thinqs I saw GAOB standing for & the group I saw as politically nearest was Bow Wow Wow.
Dreams Never End: How do you eat your cream eggs? Do you ever listen to your old recordings & wish that you’d pursued a musical career or does it feel a bit silly In retrospect?
Judy: I eat cream eggs rarely, but with huge delight. I never listen to old recordings & I know I did the right thing by not pursuing a musical career (after all I can’t play an instrument or read music) but it definitely doesn’t seem silly in retrospect: it was a brilliant thing to do and I’d recommend it to anyone (it beats working any day.
Dreams Never End: What are you and the other hand members up to today? Are any of you musically active in any way?
Judy: To be honest, I haven’t been in touch with Tich (Carl) or Terry (Gerard) for years, so I don’t know what they are doing. Jez lives London & works with Artistique et Sentimental Artists & Design.
I work at the ICA as the Exhibitions Administrator & I’m not musically active (only in the bath). I still love music & dancing. I prefer to let other people get on with the making of it.
Dreams Never End: John Peel recently said of GAOB “What a fine band they were” Does it surprise you that people are still interested & enthusiastic about the group?
Judy: Yes I‘m surprised & flattered of course, but hopefully something will come along to wipe out all memories of the last 10 years, it might not even be rnusical but a sub-culture that will rebel against a boring past is long overdue.
Dreams Never End: At a Wedding Present concert on 15 May 1987, Mr David Gedqe confessed to having had a major crush on a certain ‘Judy Evans’. To what extent do you think people were attracted to the band by the beautiful looks referred to in ‘China Blue’?
Judy: This question has forced me to look up the lyrics of ‘China Blue’ on the inside of a very dusty GAOB LP. From what I can gather from the rather ambiguous lyrics this song is about prostitution & pornography. It’s heavily ironic about a certain kind of accepted beauty which creates & encourages a certain kind of desire.
Your question illustrates what can be a difficult problem. While wanting to be ‘ideologically sound’, one must realise that beauty, sex and desire all play and enormous role in the portrayal & success of bands and denying that is just naive & dishonest!
I think the most successful bands challenge accepted ideas of desirability and ‘beauty’ & sex, to manipulate & subvert them for their own ends. What I suppose I’m saying is that all good bands by their very nature are sexy & attractive in some way. (As a matter of interest we all agreed that I should never appear on record covers, posters etc.)
Dreams Never End: What do you think of the cover version of ‘Getting Nowhere Fast’ & of the Wedding Present in general?
Judy: l really enjoyed listening to the cover version, although apart from the difference between my vocal chords & Dave’s it is remarkably similar to the original. I was very pleased that they decided to record it.
Dreams Never End: SpeSpeaking of covers of Nowhere Fast, who designed the sleeve for the original?
Judy: I designed & drew the covers for Nowhere Fast & Politics. Jez & I designed the covers for Go for Gold & Fast Boyfriends.
Well there you go. Everything you ever wanted to know about Girls At Our Best! Most of their recordings are available in second hand shops but ‘Fast Boyfriends’ can be found on Cherry Red’s ‘Seeds 1; Pop’ LP and a Peel session is available on Strange Fruit. The photo is from a sound check at the London School of Economics.