Title: Gunn law!
Author: Mark Jenkins
Source: Melody Maker
Publish date: March 29, 1986
Severed from the ZTT artery, THE ART OF NOISE have teamed up with the twang man himself, MR DUANE EDDY, to drag rock ‘n’ roll into the future. Is history repeating itself? Is there nothing new in this world? Quizmaster: Mark Jenkins
WE’RE waiting for Duane Eddy. Duane invented the twangy guitar back in the Fifties and refers to the “Hank Marvin guitar sound” with restrained amusement: “When I first met Hank, he was about 16. I’d been having hits for a couple of years by then.”
Duane Eddy is working together with The Art Of Noise on a tune. It’s not a pop song - it’s by Henry Mancini. The Art Of Noise, preparing for “The Tube”, have never played live before (“last time on ‘The Tube’ we were just grooving around a bit, I didn’t like it too much,” says J. J. Jeczalik.) And one of them won’t even be there (Gary Langan is producing Spandau Ballet). Seven other people have temporarily taken his place.
Anne Dudley is a classically-trained pianist and orchestral arranger. She, like Jeczalik, is refreshingly down-to-earth (complete with a touch of a Pam Ayres accent) and they both have interesting things to say about ZTT: “To some extent, when we were playing behind masks, ZTT could say anything they liked about the band, even that it consisted of Paul Morley and Trevor Horn. We weren’t too happy about that.”
They’re working on performing two tracks, “Opus 4” and “Paranoimea” from the forthcoming album, plus the single “Peter Gunn”. Why choose such a golden oldie for revival?
“It’s a very memorable tune. Somewhere in my record collection I’ve got a copy, and you can’t put a good tune down. There are facets which are timeless, it’s a good tune to contemporise. Getting Duane Eddy in seemed the obvious thing to do - people didn’t expect us to have the real Duane on it. We couldn’t have done it any other way. That’s the way the man plays and, although The Art Of Noise have been irreverent at times, we are always aware of the historical perspectives on what we do.”
But surely AON haven’t been afraid of pinching things in the post? “The creative process in all art forms has generally been directly related to pinching. Without what was, nothing is - you can’t deny the post, so what we try to do is put it in a more palatable form in a novel and musical way. We’re all rock musicians and we’re basically working in an old format.
“We’re now talking about doing an album of ‘The Art Of Noise Greatest Hits’, such as they are, using a chamber orchestra, because that’s my personal interest and I think it’ll sound great”.
What’s the difference between The Art Of Noise (ZTT) and The Art Of Noise (China)?
“We’ve cut the crap”.
What crap was that, exactly?
“Interpret it any way you like.”
Enter Duane Eddy. He does not wear buckskins. He drawls, and has a sense of humour. How did he feel about working with The Art Of Noise?
“Well I’d heard their music, and I thought they were the most distinctive, unique, weird, strange, wonderful new instrumental sounds I’d heard - the first original instrumentalists since myself, if I may say so”.
Eddy sucks on a Cool (“to get mah heart started”) and reflects that he initially had no idea what AON were going to do with his tune. Jeczalik confirms they had no idea either. “I think we’ve treated Duane, Henry Mancini and ourselves with a lot of respect on the single. At some points I wanted to make it much more left-field, but on the album as a whole (“In Visible Silence” is out on China Records next month) there’s less quirky material and more melodic stuff”.
It’s hard to believe that AON have resisted the temptation to muck around with something as well -defined as Eddy’s guitar sound. “It sounds more or less the same to me”, remarks the guitar man. “We recorded it the same way as I did it in 1959 - it’s a raucous record. It could have been a lot more far out, and you know there’s nothing new about my using the latest technology. Back then we were talking about three-track and stereo - I made the first stereo rock ‘n’ roll album”.
How long can AON go on as an instrumental group without writing any songs?
“We do write songs, if you break them down, they are songs, it’s just that they don’t have ‘Ooh love me baby yeah’. But it’s very hard to get airplay as an instrumental group, so we do have something of an axe to grind there”.
Eddy hasn’t found it a problem: “I had about two dozen hits, about six or eight of them were Top Tens. And I never cut demos for any of them - you can never recreate the original feel”.
So are there any mistakes on the AON album? “Yes”. Where?
“All over. We spot interesting mistakes and develop them. On the B-side of the 7-inch we were just kicking ideas around and we heard the Space Shuttle had blown up and it became a very sad, laconic piece. That was chance, the intervention of fate, it wasn’t meant to be like that, but we were very happy with it in the and because it summed up what we felt at the time.”
Anne adds: “There’s a track on the album called ‘Instruments Of Darkness’ which borrows from South African news broadcasts. I know what people will say about it, but it should be taken more as an impressionist picture of how we perceive events in South Africa rather than us saying how things really are. Anything we have to say on the subject is probably extraordinarily ill-informed”.
JJ adds: “It’s got machine guns on it, and people don’t like that. It’s a strong, uncompromising track about society and change, something we felt very strongly about. And we’ve always been like that - on ‘Who’s Afraid Of The Art Of Noise’ we took bits from a speech by Castro at the time the Americans invaded Grenada. I had this little scenario in my head about a guy in a foxhole who didn’t know what the hell was going an, who was being manipulated by outside events. So it’s a pictorial representation of an emotional statement, haw we feel about it, how we don’t feel about it. That’s the way we perceive it and we try to put it on tape. People may like it or hate it, but we’re happy as long as they say ‘what’s going on, why…?’
“So, we’re not overtly political, but there are some things that get to us. We all have opinions”.
What are your opinions on your chart opposition?
“I don’t see that there is any. We’re all individuals, so obviously we’re not doing the same thing as anyone else.
“I personally want to get back more into pianos and orchestras because, in contemporary music, they’re much under-used. I’m also interested in video, and the band may get larger because I think we may have a future as a live act. Watching people play and sweat on stage is what rock ‘n’ roll is all about, watching people press one button and walk offstage is nowhere”.
As for Duane Eddy, he hasn’t recorded much of late, but says: “I’m always trying to improve on my sound, to make it bigger and better. I try to fit in with what I’m playing with and change it from one hit to another”.
The new AON album, “In Visible Silence”, is “a collection of feelings, a collection of moods, it’s not The Art Of Noise go crazy trying to get another black hip-hop dance hit record”.
Anne says the new album is a little bit mellower, branching out a little. “Music must always be aware of its past. You can borrow anything you like, and that’s the strength of pop, because it doesn’t have these artificial boundaries. And the thing that distinguishes it from avant-garde music is that it has THE BEAT. I mean, Stockhausen would be quite nice with a beat, but without it he’s pretty hard going”.
Are you avoiding all the usual nonsense associated with being a pop star?
“You mean like doing interviews with Melody Maker and playing on ‘The Tube’? There comes a point in this game where you have to play by the rules, and we’re aware that we’re treading a very thin line. We don’t have THE SINGER and we don’t have THE SONG, so we’ve been forced into exploring other areas of presentation. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with speaking to people and appearing live, because it helps you reach a wider audience. Last time on ‘The Tube’ we were thrown in the deep end - we were told we were doing it with two days to go. And at the ZTT Ambassador’s Theatre shows we decided it wouldn’t be right for us, there wasn’t enough time for preparation, and that partly led to the split with ZTT. Morley announced we’d been shot - we noticed that.”