“Go on”, says Jez beforehand “Ask me if I used to be a hairdresser, most of the other interviews just want a potted history of the band.”
Jez is James Alan, guitarist and exterior designer (he paints the shirts) for Leeds Combo Girls At Our Best!
“You mean”, I ventured, “Ask you what your fave colour is and if you really want to be on the cover of ‘Oh Boy?”
Maybe I’d better give you (sorry) a potted history of the band.
GAOB: (Jez: Jo Evans, voice; Terry Swift, bass; Titch Harper, drums) have released three ingenious, out-to-lunch singles to date ; “Getting Nowhere Fast”/ “Warm Girls”, “Politics”/ “It’s Fashion”, and their current indie-hit “Go For Gold”/ “I’m Beautiful Now”. All have done outlandishly well in the indie charts (well enough for them to quit day jobs and live on 40 quid a week) when you consider that the first two singles sold in spite of the band never having performed live to promote them.
GAOB! did their first live gig in March this year (rather obscure York gig this) and like the audacious young upstarts that they are – all being 22 except for Titch who’s a dry witted 17, stuck firmly to a ‘headline gigs only’ policy.
Jez: “We nicked the idea from Magazine.” Jo: “Also, there weren’t any bands we thought ‘Ooh, we’d love to support them!”
It certainly hasn’t done them any harm, even if it meant playing to only 50 people at their third gig, 15 of whom were H.M. locals turned up to see a hilariously inappropriate support group and one rather balding middle-aged gent who looked on whimsically. It is really to John Peel that GAOB! owe their breakthough. He persistently played the singles, made inane comments about them and featured a GAOB! session which lead to another for Richard Skinner not bad for a band that hadn’t yet graced a stage.
Live, the band sound thrashier and even more exhilaratingly juvenile than on vinyl. They possess a certain awkward charm. This may be due to the fact that an ever-so bashful Terry plays the lowest slung bass since Paul Simonon, that Jez, hair on end and festooned with Dollar signs looks like a mean, moody miniature Clint Eastwood, that Titch just turns redder and redder as he murders his drumkit and that Jo, when she’s not dancing like a vigorous cocktail shaker, has the most wide-eyed pertness (minus the nauseating cute) since Shirley Temple.
The songs are oddly reminiscent of nursery rhymes and weird and wonderful phrases leap out; “Why Am I so beautiful?”, “And I love little children”, “They came from Mars/They play guitars”. Jo, though insists that the songs are “about sex”. (Droll Yorkshire accent) “It’s about life really innit?”.
Jo owns what has been described as a “pure high choirboy voice” although this alternates with a huskier confident also as on “This Train”, the old Woody Guthrie tune. Her pitching is a bit dodgy at times but onstage she is so irrepressibly bouncy and apparently unconcerned that it doesn’t matter. In fact, guessing if she’ll hit the high notes (which she does with 99% accuracy) is part of the fun.
On plastic, GAOBI sound almost disorientatingly perfect (“Lots of overdubbing”). The songs have the exaggerated wealth of detail and eccentricity of a naïve painting. They’re also madly uneconomical. So many hooks, so many germs of other songs are packed into one three minute opus that it’s no wonder that Jez and Jo, who do most of the writing are resting before writing some new songs for the forth-coming album due in September. The album is being produced by Laurence Diana who did “Go For Gold” and is quite hot stuff having recently completed both Scars and Wah! debut product. The GAOB! thing should feature live gems like “Pleasure”, “A Little Bit Mad” and “China Blue”.
The next single out mid-August is “Fast Boyfriends” which follows directly fron the last riff of “Warm Girls”. Listen to that single and you get a sneak preview.
With ‘ ‘Go For Gold”, the band have made a break from their own D.I.Y. Record Records to a bustling new outfit, Happy Birthday.
Jo: “They offered us quite a lot of money for a short time which is an unusual deal. Besides, Rough Trade couldn’t do that much for us.”
Tell me about your awful past?
Terry: “Me and Jez were in a band called SOS.”
Jez: “We were the first punk rockers in the universe. We recorded a single but never signed the contract, then the tape got lost. I used to cut bald bits in my hair and she (Jo) thought that I came from an orphanage. I had shoes with ‘No Future’ written on ’em”.
Meanwhile, Titch was busy failing some sort of audition for Junior Showtime by playing Bowie numbers with his brother while all the other contestants were dressed like “Fairies and pixies reciting poetry”. Titch went on to drum for the X-pelaires but quit to join the army but joined GAOB! instead. Jo, Jez and Terry had just been together in The Butterflies variously described as the worst and the best band to come from Leeds..ever. After the Butterflies they were going to call themselves Pleasure Faction but decided on Girls At Our Best! because it was worse.
Do you sincerely want to be rich and famous?
You don’t mind signing autographs?
When did you start playing the guitar Jez?
Do you take anything seriously?
Jo: “I don’t. Least of all being in a band. Every time I look at Titch on stage, I practically die laughing.”
And finally, did you really used to be a hairdresser Jez?
Jez: “Er, well no actually, but my mates used to come round with the money their mum’s gave them and I used to cut their hair, then we’d split the money and get pissed or somat.”
Never trust a band that wears Dollar signs.