Saturday, September 16, 2006

"Not so fast, just as loud"



"THE FREEZE are a band who,quite simply,deserve your attention.They are David Clancy (guitar),Keith Grant (bass),Graeme Radin (drums),Gordon Sharp (vocals) and,added recently,Tony Wallis (guitar,saxophone and clarinet).
Coming from Linlithgow near Edinburgh,they've worked very hard for the last two years,gigging constantly around Scotland.During this time they've supported a wide range of acts,from Sham 69 to Echo and the Bunnymen,and have progressed from being fairly ordinary to perhaps the most impostant band in Scotland today.They currently possess a set packed with numbers which grab your attention and don't let go.The main indication of their strength is the fact that their best songs are so diverse,making them extremely difficult to categorise and impossible to associate with any of the current muisc-paper invented fads.Unfortunately,this had repercussions,namely very little coverage in the music press.
They've released two singles,the "In Colour" EP of last year and the recent "Celebration" both on their own A1 label.
Although these singles are both excellent,most of their best songs are as yet unrecorded-the new "Perfect Call" with its speedy,hypnotic riff (it would make a great single),the disciplined power of "Lullaby in Black",the rampaging "Closed Circuit" and a great version of Eno's "Baby's on Fire".

The first topic discussed when I spoke to Gordon and Graeme recently was "Celebration".
Gordon:"It's about a silent film star called Louise Brooks who had her peak period from 1927-1929.She was supposed to be an excellent actress,she probably surpassed Dietrich and Garbo,she got some good parts in films but the trouble was that she wouldn't toe the line with the directors and producers and therefore her talent was spoiled by the fact that eventually they'd begin to lose interest in her because she wouldn't do what they told her.She wanted to do her own thing,that's really the basis of her story.
An unusual subject for a song as I am sure you'll agree.The other side of the single is "Crossover",a quiet,delicate piece which seems to be more of an atmosphere than anything else.Gordon agrees.
"It is meant to be very atmospheric,"Crossover" is very much about mood music,it's not really meant to be a definite song,it's a piece of music with vocals on it,in fact at one point,I would have preferred there had been no vocals on it".
This is not to say that the lyrics are meaningless.Apparently they are based around the idea of reincarnation.We talk about how sound is better on "Celebration" than it was on "In Colour",the band seem to view work in the studio as a process of trial and error.How happy are they with "Celebration" compared to the first single?
Gordon:"Much happier than the first one,not 100% obviously,when you get to the stage of being 100% what have you got to work for?I'll never be happy with our sound".
Next up is the question of success,something that The Freeze haven't found easy to locate,although as Gordon says they have been succesful in their own way in that they've pleased a lot of people and sold 3 or 4,000 copies of "In Colour".
I wonder to what extent they desire commercial success?
Gordon:"I'm not really sure if I want to get the same success as The Police,to name a band.I'm not sure if I really want that because every single they release sounds exactly the same.They started off as a good band and they're still a good band but they don't do much..."
Unfortunately,there is one major hurdle to be overcome before The Freeze can ever be commercially succesful.The fact is that most people have never heard their music.Their singles have not exactly exploded onto the Radio 1 playlist and they've had little or no advertising.This leaves the alternative of live gigs which is virtually impossible outside Scotland.
Gordon:"We'd love to go to London to do gigs,to try to break through there but it's very difficult getting in there,it's a vicious circle.The promoters say "we like your records,come down and we'll see you" and we can't get down till they book us and they won't book us until they've seen us,so we're stuck.You've got to know somebody,it's who you know that counts".
One controversial aspect of The Freeze is Gordon's image.It has always been very direct and has led many people to mistake his confidence on stage for arrogance and big headeness and subsequently to dislike the band.Gordon sees his image as being quite natural.
"My image is really feminine at the moment.When I say "at the moment" I don't mean that's just a phase I'm going through but I'm doing that just now.I've been doing that for a long time,I even did that two years ago although it wasn't as outward as it is now.The image is just an extension of what I am as a person.It's not even an image.It's just me.It's not contrived,just what I feel like".
In the future,The Freeze just want to continue making music that they themselves like and that makes people think.They are not a "political" band,their songs do not contain banal slogans.On the other hand,they are not a disposable pop band.If there is an overall message it is don't sell yourself and remain an individual.They are not against compromise,they will listen to suggestions but will not follow orders from anyone.
I suggest that you listen to The Freeze soon.It would be a tragedy if a band this good was ignored.

Zig Zag magazine,September 1980
Article by Andy Crabb,pic by Hilary Kerr

23 comments:

spaewaif said...

Uploaded to the player a bunch of rare early freeze demo tracks kindly
sent to me by Ken in Scotland .Gratitude.
(Andy,enjoy!)
Also,I am assuming that this Andy Crabb is the same mentioned in "Secrets and Falling" 12":
"In memory of Andrew Crabb"...

Plastic Orcadian said...

Oh my god. Orkney PC just closed it's doors for today - these songs need my full attention. I haven't heard these for over 25 years.

Thankyou just doesn't cover it.

image not an image said...

squeak......

beam me up scottie.

plonkita said...

i just shouldn't have been allowed near a journalist,even one that became my best friend.it's not about me i know but i'm blinded by the ineptitude of my interview technique or rather,lack of... *ouch*

twonk said...

i've also noticed how i meekly used to mention established bands in interviews,as though i wanted to mention bands people would recognise.i refer to the police here and somewhere else i use frankie goes to hollywood.i had no interest in either of those bands.never liked them.just another example of how nervous and uncomfortable i must have been.can i just say at this point and to paraphrase another artist i have no interest in... hang the archivist!!!

erse said...

only kidding...

;-)

spaewaif said...

*gulp*
well,you know,after all... this was "only" 26 years ago!!!!!!!!!!!!!

spaewaif said...

Me curious about "the new "Perfect Call" with its speedy,hypnotic riff "...

fluxus said...

yes i remember it as being a good track but i haven't heard it for years.
it'll be on a tape somewhere in a box in storage blah blah zzzzzzzzzzz.

don't look down said...

we should throw a party here on "ghosts..." on the 3rd november,that'll mark the day of the first ever livewire (vortex/freeze) practice session,30 years ago.shit,vetigo,i want to throw myself off......

Plastic Orcadian said...

I'm lucky. Unlike everyone I know, I can look back on my previous times and previous times of others without any embarrassment or regrets. I easily become the person I was when I first heard 'Love Story' for example and just teleport back into it.

Whilst the subject of this blog has reference points through 25 years of recording, I have only one permanent mark in time, "The Moon Via Scotch Corner" a published poem (I paid to get it published it should be admitted). As ridiculous as it now reads the trick is to read it as a drunk 19 year old in 1980, for that is it's time and place.

For relevance to the blog I should say that The Freeze were a very good band, great live and in the studio.

BG 123 said...

i beg to differ.The Freeze were a terrible band in the studio.we lacked experience,obviously and none of the band at the time of recording were particularly good at making the studio work for them.our manager Alastair Allison took on production duties and was awful in that capacity,as was his brother Willie.maybe if David and i had been forced to do co-production as we did in cindytalk we'd have gotten better but we didn't get that chance.the Allison brothers played their part and i'm respectful of that but they were not producers.

however The Freeze did grow into a great live band but it took a few years to reach that point.

Plastic Orcadian said...

I've just figured it out. I played Jim Collins, The Church Of Gary Numan, to Billy the keyboardist last week and he said, "the voice is really flat". I really like that album. I really like The Freeze studio demos and the singles too. I used to pay top dollar for Bowie Bootlegs that sounded like they were recorded in front of the shaving mirror - and I loved them. My conclusion is that I do not have an ear for quality, in fact I am as likely to enjoy a beautifully produced album as I am to enjoy a an awful recording. I just like what I like and I don't get too technical about things. Less discerning, more likely to take pleasure from a wider range of recordings, no bad thing maybe.

I was never 'inside' The Freeze so I could never comment on the merits of individuals and their competence for roles, given or taken. From the outside it just looked like everyone worked hard and gave their best. All involved have my appreciation and I think all should be proud of what they did.

Even from the outside it was apparent that 2 or possibly 3 people were developing very quickly while others were unable to keep pace, everyone finds their own level over time.

spaewaif said...

What is truly amazing is the amount of work produced!
And the range of it,so varied!
It's not difficult to see why they were hard to pin down both by critics and audience.
And whatever cinder says about interviews,quite a few things still hold true:

"I'll never be happy with our sound"

"The image is just an extension of what I am as a person.It's not even an image.It's just me.It's not contrived,just what I feel like".

Also interesting is the fact that at the time of the "Celebration" single,so much explanation was needed about Louise Brooks since she was mostly unknown by the general public.

Plastic Orcadian said...

For all my life I thought Crossover was about sexuality (mental rather than physical).

I'll get into trouble for claiming I know things but I can agree without fear of contradiction that the image was not an image but the real person. You had to be both committed and brave to be Gordon Sharp at Linlithgow Academy, it was the rest of us that had an image, images then were for defining the GROUP you belonged to, being unique was not a comfortable existence.

cindy said...

mostly,i loved being in the freeze.everybody pulled their weight and we all complimented each other.i preferred the
classic line-up of course (clancy,grant,radin,sharp) but neil braidwood and mike moran were excellent too.personally i'd have been happier if we'd collectively been a bit more into the edgier punk and post punk music of the time,ultimately that was what forced me to rip it up and start again with cindytalk BUT i loved the freeze and have no real regrets with it all.including walking away from duran duran,well, especially that...

of course crossover was about gender but at that time
i was masking it and playing with the ambiguity,mainly
because i was still trying to figure it all out myself.

yes,louise brooks was merely a footnote in cinema history at that time.i did fairly extensive research on her and found very little.i first came across her in an article in the observer magazine in 1979 by kenneth tynan,though i think the article had been printed previously in the new yorker magazine.

grdn said...

i still think of andy crabb a lot.he was a very special person,despite being a rangers supporter!!!i went to ibrox with him one time to see an old firm game,in the rangers end we were..the score was rangers 4-celtic 4.1986 i think, the game was played in torrential rain,absolutely brilliant but of course i had to stop myself from cheering the 4 celtic goals,otherwise i'd have been torn apart by the braying orcs.absolute torture but hilarious too.when rangers play in europe i support them in honour of him and scotland,of course.you're still with me andy,i take you everywhere i go...

spaewaif said...

Regarding Brooks,this is what Cinder said a few years ago:

"I even sent her a copy to her home in Rochester,New York.She would have
received it "shortly" before she died.At that time, she was only a footnote
in the history of cinema culture.I came across her in an article in The Observer
[newspaper UK] magazine in 1979.
I was first transfixed by the striking images but then awed by her story.
The intellect and the mischief.Stunning.I then tried to research more into her life
but found it almost impossible to find any really substantial information.
The French loved her but nobody else seemed to at that time [Jean Luc Godard had tipped
his hat to her in the character of Nana in his wondrous film "Vivre sa vie].
This was a couple of years or so before her book "Lulu in Hollywood" was published.
After The Freeze single came out,with a mesmerising picture of her on the cover,
I was inundated by people asking who she was,so many that I had to write a pamphlet
on her to hand out to those that were interested.By that time,she was beginning to get
the recognition she deserved,both as an actress and as a genuinely original woman
of intellect and substance.
I had to fight with the people who had the rights to the picture I wanted to use.
At first they refused me permission to use the one I had requested and sent me a bunch
of other possibilities but I was determined to use one image in particular...
I kept at them and eventually they agreed.It was worth the fight as that particular image is stunning.
Also,anybody that has "Camouflage Heart"... if you listen really closely at the beginning of
Under Glass, I whisper the words "walk in,walk into my menagerie"...
the opening lines to Frank Wedekind's Lulu play,from which Pandora's Box originally comes from".

Plastic Orcadian said...

I have always been fascinated by related references from early days to present. Perfect (illusion)... touched... caress... quietly burning...

Is the following related?

Victims
"A prostitute lies dead in bed her stockings round her throat ..."

Under Glass
"Tonight the prostitute takes all the chances..."

I suspect the former was written by AA and is therefore not related to anything, enlighten please.

meditating on the past said...

Some time ago,I told cinder about how this poem by Cabaret Voltaire (the original Dada artists group)
member Emmy Hennings reminded me SO MUCH of the atmosphere found in Camouflage Heart's cover:

AFTER THE CABARET

I go home in the morning light.
The clock strikes five,the sky grows pale,
A light still burns in the hotel;
The cabaret shuts for the night.
In a corner children hide,
To the market farmers ride,
Silently churchward go the old.
Bells ring in the silent air,
And a whore with tousled hair
Still wanders,sleepless and cold.

Of course,if you take a look at the link from the old Cindytalk site,
you will see Hennings had been there for quite a while . . .

blood of a poet said...

absolutely no connection between the prostitute that appeared in "victims" and the one that appeared in "under glass".one was exploited,one was not.however,the whore that wanders in "after the cabaret" and the prostitute that braves "under glass",is one and the same... transported through time with a love and a longing.the "desire" photograph from camouflage heart was partly inspired by both the mood of that poem and the mood of various early patti smith photographs.at the time of camouflage heart i had tried to get the rights to print the hennings poem on the sleeve but was quoted a price that we felt we couldn't afford,so we didn't.however,we did use it on the touched re-issue in 1995
(without permission.shhhhh...)

spaewaif said...

I don't find that particular Patti Smith image very poetic but then again I was never a fan either...
The CH cover manages to recreate a certain atmosphere very well.

dysfunctional said...

i did say "various early patti smith photographs",i also said" the mood of"... i didn't say those photos were particularly poetic although some were.she was undeniably a poet and so for that matter was robert maplethorpe who took most of her early photos.i'm not a great maplethorpe fan but he was obviously good at his trade.i chose that link (quickly) because it gave an indication of what i was referring to and also because it had on the same page the cover of radio ethiopia and i recall having that in mind whilst i was thinking about the cover of camouflage heart.