On a cold January night, early in the year of 1992. Andre caught up with one of Goth’s originators Julian Regan and lead guitarist Marty Wilson-Piper and a packed Northumbria University at the mid-way point of the ‘Ultraviolet’ tour and album.
Time to sketch what brings us to Northumbria University on this cold night to interview former journalist and bass player with Gene Loves Gezebel, Julianne Regan. We are here to talk all things All About Eve. It has been an event-filled successful career to date.
After a number of worth while independent singles furthered their appeal, it was Julianne’s backing vocals for ‘God’s Own Medicine’ album by The Mission. Amid increased music media attention, they released their debut self-titled album. The album would make the top Ten (no.7) and featured the song ‘Martha’s Harbour’. Some called it folk-rock, some goth-rock, I think the best way to describe their sound back then was to say it had elements of both
In 1989, with hardly a day off, All About Eve released their second album, ‘Scarlet And Other Stories’ and with the band touring around the UK. It was another Top 10 hit.
One year later, in 1990, Tim Bricheno left the group (later to join The Sisters Of Mercy and subsequent band XC-NN. Losing your lead guitarist is a bit of a blow, but Marty Wilson-Piper was brought in from Aussie Rock band The Church and the Eve’s marched on.
Julianne and company supporting The Cure, along with James and Lush, at the The Garden Party, Crystal Palace Bowl in August 1990. That was the first outing of All About Eve’s new line up. The band were on great form, opening with ‘Drowning’ (a classic). The Eves also aired two new songs, ‘The Dreamer’, complete with a mysterious third verse and the unreleased ‘A Different Sky’ To top the day off, Wayne Hussey (The Mission) comes on-stage and plays rhythm guitar and backs Julianne much to the Eve’s and crowds satisfaction.
The band was still riding a high, despite a year drifting by with no releases. All Abut Eve broke the spell and after two great singles, went on to release ‘Touched By Jesus’. The album notably featuring one Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd featuring on two tracks, the bands third album also made the Top 20.
In the last year the band have changed labels and sitting with both of us, are one of MCA’s new signings. After leaving Phonogram just a few months ago. Their former label, Phonogram, then made matters worse, released a hurriedly put together ‘Best Of’ compilation, much to the bands disgust. Things seem to be better between band and label these times. Their new relationship seems a lot healthier; the label seems content leaving the band to get on with it.
All About Eve’s new album has gone down well, although it has split Eve’s fans, some say it represents a progression while others see it as a break from their gothic past, they treasure. Both myself and Andre have heard the album, ‘Ultraviolet’ two dozen times and have arrived at the same conclusion. All About Eve’s sound has changed, a little; so have the times and looking around tonight’s venue, as the crowd swell in front of the stage, the audience for an Eve’s gig has changed as well.
So, new label, new album, new tour and All About Eve’s Julianne Regan and guitarist Marty Wilson-Piper, Our main interviewer tonight is simply known as Andre,. Let us begin…
How long has ‘Ultraviolet’ gone without the press?
Julianne: “When the press bother. They’re usually quite negative, but I think they’re much more negative about the fact that we’ve got a history than about the album. So it’s quite useless to even read the reviews cos our history is reviewed not our record. So it’s quite irrelevant so far.”
Marty: “Actually the NME gave us a much better review that we thought they would. We were quite surprised that we weren’t nailed to the cross. We were pleasantly surprised that we were only minutely insulted.”
Julianne: “If you are "All About Eve" and you get five out of ten you throw a party! We had the supreme zero out of ten in NME once.”
Do you see this album as a progression or are you disassociating with past albums?
Julianne: “Well it seems we are disassociating but it’s not for the sake of it. It’s not one of these career moves where you think ok that was crap, this is brilliant, it’s just that some of that stuff is from 1987 or some of it. Occasionally you can put it on for nostalgia factor and it’s great; but I don’t wear the same shoes that I wore in 1987 so I don’t listen to the same records. It just feels old, you can feel fond of it but you don’t really want to go out five years later and play those same songs, although a lot of people want you to. You have to be slightly selfish; in fact you have to be really selfish because it’s the only thing you love. So, not disassociating ourselves particularly, just being much more into what we are doing now.”
The record company seems well behind you; how is it going now?
Julianne: “Well, so far so good. They are all to be treated with caution; innocent until proven guilty more than anything else. But it’s obviously less destructive being on a new label because again we haven’t got a history. People are keener because at "Phonogram" they were obviously not keen because we haven’t been as big as they wanted us to be, as quickly as they wanted us to be. It’s less of a hassle being on MCA but it’s still not a magic wand. You can’t actually afford to sit back and think that your problems are over.”
What do you think of the recent Phonogram complications?
Julianne: “Well I hate the whole idea of it.”
Marty: They put it out the same day as our new album. They didn’t promote it, they didn’t do anything with it; all they did was ruin everything for everybody. It was just a stupid thing to do.”
Julianne: “They didn’t bother to consult us and they got the credits wrong, they credited one song as being produced by Wayne and Simon Bushman when it was produced by Paul Stamwell Smith, and I hope he’s got a good solicitor. And they didn’t ask us about the sleeve, which I think is like an Anthena version of "All About Eve"; it’s quite tasteless. And those old pictures of us with Tim and some tracks it’s not Tim. It’s obviously cash in.”
Marty: “They put a couple of tracks which they own, which we did as demos. A couple of the ones they own are really interesting songs. Much more interesting than the tracks which they chose to put on. What they put on are the least interesting tracks. They are going out behind it, saying this is the record you ought to have. They’ve just thrown it out in this crap packaging and not doing anything about it. All they have done is interfered with our own sales of our record. Why didn’t they wait a year?, why didn’t they sell it next Christmas?”
Julianne: “That’s why it’s so great to be off such a bad record company. They want to make money, there’s an opportunity, but they can’t even get it together to consult, get a decent sleeve, wait for a good time to release it and get some brilliant tracks on it that people would want to have. Instead of "got that, got that, got that". So that’s how completely clueless they are.”
It seems brave to release an album and tour against the Christmas sales.
Julianne: “Well they warn you against that. They say it’s getting close to Christmas, it’s harder the later you bring it out. But you have to weigh up whether it’s worth getting a higher chart position. If it was released in January it would have got a much higher chart position. Or you want it to go out while it’s still fresh. You want people to hear what you’ve been listening to for months, you can’t wait for another 3 months, just to try and get a good chart position. The way things are with our situation, when there is time you just grab it and do something. It’s not often the optimum time, but we don’t really consider that. We just have to be spontaneous.”
I think Phase was a good first release off the album.
Julianne: “Well the problem with "Phased" was it was released off the album not to get in the charts, although it did skim in then out again. The point of releasing that was to show people what we were doing; because it was a little bit of a departure, we put it out to say this is what we are doing, do you still like it? Do you still want to come and see us? Do you still want to buy the album? But if we’d have wanted to chart we’d have put out "Some Finer Day" or "Yesterday Goodbye" or something.”
Were you happy with "Touched by Jesus"?
Marty: “At the time we were happy with it because it was the first album with me in the group. The album worked on one level, but it didn’t work on a ‘down to roots, bands trying to make great songs’ kind of level.”
I think ‘Drawn To Earth’ and ‘Strangeway’ were good songs.
Julianne: “We loosened up on the B sides, we stopped trying to please, and we were doing things which were really spontaneous. But having said that, there were a couple of really great things on the album. With hindsight and with more time we might have written four more songs a bit more like "Wishing the Hours Away" and it would have been a better album.”
Marty: Yeah I loved ‘Wishing The Hours Away’ and ‘High Child’.”
Julianne: “If we had not buckled under some pressure to write a single, it would have been a more interesting album. You see there are songs in that vein, in the Phonogram cupboard that didn’t make it on to the album, because of their selection process. The raw material, some of it was there. "Outshine the Sun" is a rejected thing by Phonogram that we have been waiting till now to get out. We had a plot at that time but the record company weren’t buying it.”
I like your vocal style. The problem is you can’t hear all the lyrics on your new album on a couple of tracks.
Julianne: “Well that’s cool, I like the way you phrase that, cos you like the style of the lyrics, but you can’t hear the lyrics, but that’s ok. Some people are like: "oh no what have you done? you can’t hear the lyrics, it’s so washy blah, blah, blah!". I mean you can’t hear some of the lyrics and a few people have said that. We were talking to someone about maybe putting the lyrics out cheaply, through this information service for people who want them. But I’m glad you like the style of singing because so many people don’t.”
It’s not MTV, It makes you listen more.
Marty: “We’re not a philosophy that’s been invented; we’re not a sensation, not a commercial thing. We’re just four people who like hanging out together writing songs and performing them. That’s what my favourite groups are like. When I think about the groups that I can’t stand, it’s The Pet Shop Boys, The Shamen. Those kind of things where they are so aimed and so cynical I think. So either now or designed, instead of just being this natural thing, this is a heartfelt thing.”
What are your influences?
Marty: “Depends on who you ask I suppose. I’ve got 10, 000 albums so I’m influenced by everything and everybody. And everyone that does not want their vinyl please post it to Marty, c/o All About Eve.”
Have your influences changed as the years have gone on?
Julianne: “Now this is interesting, what do you think? And I won’t hate you for whatever you say.”
Andre: On the EP ‘Phased’ (currently at No. 38 in the singles chart), there is a little bit of something different, especially with the title track, ‘Phased’. But the rest of the songs, there is no real difference, none really at all.
Julianne: “That’s all it is, isn’t it.”
The press like to categorize. Do you think you suffer from not being easily categorized?
Marty: “I think that’s a great disease I.”
Julianne: “Well I think that the same reason that people really like us is the same reason that people hate us. It’s like being the kid in the class that’s bullied just because you’re a bit different from everybody else. You’re not better or worse, but I think it’s why press have a problem with us, because we just keep dodging categories. Rather than then seeing that as being healthy because we move on and try to innovate within what we do; they think that you’re just being a dilettante, you’re flitting from place to place, picking up the influences and copying people. That’s because they’re cynical, it’s not contrived like that.”
Got to comment on these two Videos. All About Eve, tonight at Newcastle, were much more muscular, immediate and casting more indie and goth riffs than most. What I have to say is that All About Eve are a lot less pop influenced than ‘videos of Some Finer Day’ or Phased represent.