Record Mirror Interview June ’81
By Mark Cooper
GIRLS AT OUR BEST look as if they are in danger. When they talk, it’s clear that they’re in control. Four. fresh faces with a beguiling mixture of dead pan Leeds humour, flighty commitment and, yes, innocence. You’d be afraid that the London pop business was about to breathe fire on them, if it weren’t soon clear that GAOB are a practical bunch of people who are not to be hurried.
Live/GAOB come as a surprise in the guise of a punk band. They’ve just played their first ever dates round the London Club circuit. This is simply explained. “Gerald and me really like ‘Oi!’ stuff – we want to be in the Exploited! Our best songs have good pop tunes and we play the melodies in a punk style.” So says James Alan who plays guitar and who just might be the most interesting pop writer since John O’Neill.
Early Undertones are a fair comparison to the melodic strength and young enthusiasm of on stage GAOB. But then there’s the presence of Judy Evans as lead vocalist whose high folksy voice resembles Young Marble Giants Alison having a bash at operatic Phil Spector material. Judy doesn’t boast about her voice. “I can’t really sing,” she says right after we meet. But it’s the odd balance between Judy’s high pure voice and the band’s punk thrash that gives GAOB their distinction. She looks as cool and clean as her voice. Could this be the return of the Singing Nun?
Just when you think the voice is so pure that it’s annoyingly cute, there’s a witty break that slyly undercuts what’s gone before, makes use of it. Take the second single, ‘Politics’. There’s Judy singing blithely away how she loves to watch politicians waving and kissing little girls and suddenly there a military break. “Left, right, now I’ve got you in my sights.” It’s dead subversive.
GAOB have emerged slowly despite the enthusiastic reception of their two Rough Trade singles: “Three of us had been in all kinds of bands, not Judy. We made a single with Judy but without a drummer and took it round a few companies. If it hadn’t done anything we’d definitely have split up for good.” It was only when the single started doing well that we got together and started trying to find a direction as group, We found it in ‘Politics’. Then we had 4 songs and still no drummer.
The band didn’t exactly blossom overnight. There they were with with two successful singles and they had four songs t their credit and no live gigs. GAOB have done everything back to front. “The idea of this isn’t to be group. Gigs and tours and that whole rock business is outdated. We’re more into songs and records than being a rock band.”
GAOB began in the studio and see no need to become an endlessly gigging rock band. “We’ll try a tour maybe but if we don’t like it, we won’t do it. There’s no obligation to sound the same on stage as we do in the studio. We like to treat each song according to it’s individual needs.” GAOB like Top Twenty bands and talk of hit singles.
With this in mind, they’ve signed with Happy Birthday, released yet another excellent single (‘Go For Gold’); are due to make an album this summer and, in general, are getting serious about all of this. Within reason: “We had to get money to do this full time. From August to Xmas we couldn’t do anything because two of us were on nights and two of us on days. Now we have a middle-sized record company to help us and oblige us to function; We’re very lazy and Happy Birthday will tell us to make an album. The trouble With Rough Trade is that if you’re irresponsible. you won’t get anything done because they won’t make you!”
Happy Birthday should help GAOB fulfil their ambition to write witty beautiful songs that appeal “universally, so that they sound good to everybody, anywhere.”
They’ve even made their own stage costumes to forward their progress. Getting nowhere fast? Not any more!