Interview: March 1993
It shows such a marked change—”Evolution,” not Fun?, should be the name of the second album by DGC’s The Candy Skins. Fun? shows a band shedding the safety net of its first album for some skin of its own.
Produced by Pat Collier, who most notably produced the first two Wonder Stuff albums, the album is a collection of melodic, tightly written and executed pop songs. No heavy-handed production tricks means guitars come through sounding like guitars, note effects. And the drum sound is a work of art. It’s all there.
Since receiving the tape, The Candy Skins have found their way into the boombox during my morning shower more than once. Even disbelievers of The Candy Skins first album have been won over by Fun?.
Initially, I was drawn to the second side, especially “Grass” and the all acoustic, Wonder Stuff like “All Over Now.” But gradually, the whole album grew on me. “House At The Top Of The Hill” has an angst-ridden edge worthy of any obsessive love. The bluesy, deep guitar on “Everybody Loves You” hits a spot you don’t want to leave. I could go on about every song on the album; there’s hardly a song I don’t like, and I hate that! But maybe it’s time pop songs made a comeback.
Recently, I had a chance to interview some members of The Candy Skins by phone—drummer John Halliday, singer Nick Cope and Karl Shale, the bass player. Listening to the tape of our conversation, I realized I couldn’t tell one from the next. Sorry. But, hereafter, all band responses will be under a collective Skins umbrella, and me—just one SLUG …
SLUG: What’s the biggest difference between this album and your debut?
SKINS: As a band, I think the songs are much stronger than the first one.
SLUG: Any favorites?
SKINS: “Wembly,” “Everybody Loves You,” “Fun” and “Land of Love.” Most everyone in the band likes “Wembly.”
SLUG: You guys haven’t really been darlings of your own British press. Is it better to come up having your music respected more than rabid attention given to your image?
SKINS: I think if you’re still around and haven’t been seen to fail, I think it’s okay. But obviously you have to be in the eyes of the press to make a living out of it. As long as you’re not being slagged off everywhere. You can’t be overexposed and then have the music disappoint people.
SLUG: Did you change the way you approach songwriting for this album?
SKINS: Maybe there’s a bit more of an edge or more of a dynamic, hopefully. Basically, we wrote the songs the same way we had before, messing about with acoustic guitars around each other’s houses, coming up with bits and pieces. We’re doing the same thing now for the next album.
SLUG: Where does the Wonder Stuff influence come from? Are you big fans?
SKINS: They were a big influence on the first album and that’s why we chose Collier (who produced the first two Wonder Stuff albums) to produce Fun?.
SLUG: Was that a good experience?
SKINS: Yeah, it was good for us; not as good for him because he was away from his family. He got this stress-related disorder that comes out as gout, but he managed to limp down to the studio. We recorded on a farm in the middle of nowhere, away from London, and he got homesick. He’s not used to the country air, he’s a city man.
SLUG: So the clean air actually hurt him.
SKINS: Yeah, he got a bit distressed. It took him about half-an-hour to get down to the studio.
SLUG: Are you happy with the result? Did the songs come out the way you envisioned them?
SKINS: A lot more so than the first one.
SLUG: Do you try for radical changes from work to work?
SKINS: We definitely like to change; I think you have to. We just like to keep the songwriting growing and write some really good songs.
SLUG: Who are some of your favorite songwriters?
SKINS: The obvious ones like John Lennon, Bob Dylan. Some early Clash, punk stuff.
SLUG: Well, you don’t sound too punk to me.
SLUG: How would you describe your sound? I don’t want to say pop with the baggage that comes with that term.
SKINS: But it is pop, but it’s with a harder edge. Someone once asked us if we liked being called a “power pop” band. We said no one’s called us that before. Well you are, they said. So, okay, fair enough.
SLUG: Who are you listening to these days?
SKINS: l like sugar, Sonic Youth, Nirvana, bands like that.
SLUG: What do you think about the grunge trend?
SKINS: I think it was good, but now every band is going grunge. So it’s run its course, I think. But there’s still some great bands there. Like every fad, you know. The originators are really good and then you get about a thousand bands that jump on that wagon straight away.
SLUG: How long has the band been together and have your expectations changed from when you first began?
SKINS: Five years we’ve been together. I think when you start, you think you’re going to make it big straight away and you’ve got all these ideals. But the reality is you’ve just got to work hard and if there are breaks that come, they come.
SLUG: Did you get into music thinking you’d become rich and famous? Or was it music first, last and always?
SKINS: l can remember being 13 and reading about The Clash thinking I just want to do that I want to be on tour. And when it happens, it’s brilliant. Now you want to do something else like make an album.
SLUG: What does the future hold for the band? More albums or do you all have things you’d like to do past music?
SKINS: This year, we just want to gig a lot and play America, Europe, wherever. We want to work together as a band, to do at least another three, four or five albums, really.
SLUG: Now, the American question. How do you like playing for American audiences?
SKINS: I prefer it because it’s just so different from England. I think we’re spoiled for choice because it is so small and there are so many bands. The audiences just stand there and say, “come on impress us.” So you’ve really got to work hard. But here we have found everybody is more into it, even if they don’t know us.
SLUG: Do you prefer playing live to recording?
SKINS: I think playing live is so immediate. You come off stage and you’re buzzing, but the studio is equally rewarding. You watch the songs grow as everybody adds their parts. It’s a totally different experience from playing live.
Check out more from the SLUG Archives:
Stoneface: February 1993
Local Band: River Bed Jed
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