The Bodines
Record Mirror, 7th March 1987.
The Bodines were probably the most exciting of last year's fresh indie crop. They released three great slabs of melodic pop on Creation Records, put meaning back into the fringe haircut, starred on an rm EP... and now prepare to release their first major label single. Will they score heavily in the pop charts, or are they condemned to cultdom?
Story: Andy Strickland. Photography: Steve Double
When it comes to graduation day for the class of '86, someone, somewhere, among the semi-acoustics and leathers, the fringes and pimples, had to fancy themselves for a crack at the big boys. There'd been too many compilation LPs and cassettes, too many Radio 1 sessions, too much bravado and too many good records released to simply roll over and leave the charts to pretty, white boy soulless pop/pap, where the angle of your beret is more important than your songs and true style.
How shameful, then, that one quarter of the way through 1987 style in pop seems to demand an intimate knowledge of Soho's vacuous club scene, or to rely on the cult of your boxer shorts. True pop style is about your ability to grin stupidly or sheepishly while playing a cracking guitar melody; to wince when your greasy fringe stabs an eyeball; to have given up worrying about being a surrogate Bunnyperson ('cos who remembers them, anyway?); and to wear ice hockey shirts and know only journalists will copy you.
In short, it's about the Bodines, potentially the greatest young pop group in Britain today. Not calculated, not hyped, just great songwriters naïvely dipping a toe into the majors' pool and hoping they don't catch cold.
The Bodines have already released three singles on Creation Records, each progressively more wonderful and each a better reason to move on to pastures new. While the ambitious Creation boss, Alan McGhee, stepped up his plans to license Creation acts to a major record company, the Bodines seemed to figure less and less in his plans, despite being his best band.
After leaving Creation and signing to Magnet Records, the Bodines promptly shot off to Canada with old pals New Order to play in huge stadia and ice hockey venues. It was an experience the band enjoyed, and plan to repeat as soon as possible. The fact that one of their better songs, 'William Shatner', referred to Toronto's most famous son did not go unnoticed among Canada's pop fraternity.
"You can get our records in Toronto when you can't even get them in Glossop, our home town, so it was quite unreal," says guitarist Paul. "We were playing these huge places and we didn't even have spare guitars or anything, and in Toronto we kept snapping strings and having to go off for five minutes to put on new ones. The crowd didn't seem to mind though."
The guitar shortage has since been remedied. Well, what else do you do when you're stuck in a grotty London hotel for a week? You trot off and buy yourself a new guitar, don't you? Michael's new Gretsch sits proudly in the corner of his room.
Things are looking good for the Bodines, but they're not above making a few mistakes despite their recent security and new home on a major. Their first release is a remix of 'Therese', their second Creation single. Not only that, but the B-side, 'Heard It All', has also been out before; it was their third, and perhaps greatest, indie single. It all seems like a bit of a false start to those of us eager to hear a new, improved Bodines. Surely Bodines fans will find a remixed 'Therese' a bit of a disappointment, Michael?
"I don't think anyone will be disappointed," he answers. "It's just like an embellished version of what it was before; a clearer production. It doesn't sound as trashy and it's a bit more powerful."
But most people I know who are familiar with the original think the new mix a bit of a let down.
"Oh, everyone will though, won't they?" protests the voice from beneath the fringe. "Just 'cos they've already got it - 'Oh I prefer the original' - but people hearing it for the first time would prefer this one. We thought it was quite a good song and that if people got to hear it, if it got a push, then it would do quite well. When we took it to the radio stations last time they all said it was too hard."
"We're not compromising to get it on the radio," adds drummer John. "It just sounds now, how we wanted it to sound originally. We're finishing it off properly 'cos we didn't have the time before. It now sounds the way we wanted it to in the first place."
So all these remixed, re-released versions have nothing to do with the fact that you're not prolific song writers?
"Well, that's true in some ways," concedes Paul. "But that's because we throw most of our new songs out. For every one we keep we get rid of maybe three songs."
"Actually, the ones we don't like we sell to the Mighty Lemon Drops," adds Michael. "Their first single was once titled 'Like A Receding Hairline'."
In the interest of inter band relations, it should be pointed out that the Bodines actually like the Mighty Lemon Drops. Enough, in fact, to have blagged their way into the Limelight's exclusive VIP lounge by pretending to be the Wolverhampton wonders, and then causing havoc by complaining about the price of beer and the lack of draught Scruttocks Old Dirigible - with or without the twigs in it.
It's anyone's guess how 'Therese' will fare in the charts now the band are deprived of their indie status. A few plays on the radio and a few more articles like this will have the Bodines' sound and faces reaching many more record buyers than their earlier offerings. You should be able to buy a copy of 'Therese' without having to order it three weeks in advance, which would be nice.
It's about time everyone gave a band like the Bodines a chance. Wouldn't you rather watch Paul swinging to and fro in his denims than Eric Clapton's creaking bones? Doesn't Michael's fringe look cooler than Corrine's from Swing Out Sister?
And will 'Therese' be a hit, Michael?
"Oh, you can't tell, can you?" he says matter-of-factly. "OK, young bands like us haven't done too well when it comes to having hit records, but do you not think there's a gap there to be filled? It'll take a bit of time!"
This last point is particularly true. Remember when bands like the Bunnymen, the Teardops et al, got hit records and brightened up 'Top Of The Pops' for a while? It took those bands a good few years, in a far more favourable climate than today's stagnant, quick return market, to crack the top 50. These days young bands are starved of backing or become disillusioned with the 'biz' if they've failed in the first 18 months. The music business would be a lot better off for a bit of patience.
Why spend half a million pounds releasing two singles and an album for a band who aren't ready for such a financial risk, only to drop them rather than pay for them to even make one more single? Sadly, this has happened to more than one young band in recent years. It won't happen to the Bodines. They seem to be relishing their new busy schedule, and the fact that they seem to have been brought closer together by their recent Canadian trip and the realisation that they can actually get on quite well. Hell, they're even sleeping three to a room in their hotel.
The Bodines have been accused (by myself, among others) of lacking a degree of drive and professionalism in the past. On numerous occasions I've felt like tearing into their dressing room after a gig to point them in the right direction after yet another lacklustre performance. This grew to such an extent that their recent London University show was their last chance as far as I was concerned. It was also the best Bodines gig I've ever seen - the bastards!
"It's very difficult to bounce off an audience if they just stand there," says Paul.
"That London gig we did at Christmas, the audience were just being a bunch of cool bastards. You've got to be yourself or you may as well not bother, and I've got nothing to say to people like that!" adds Michael
"Once you get yourself some big stage persona, you have to go on and be Ziggy Stardust or something. People don't come along to hear me gobshiteing, do they?"
"We have got ambition," says John. "Just 'cos we don't go around saying 'oh, we're going to be number one' doesn't mean we've no ambition. We want top 10 records and all that."
"I'm not really bothered about all that," Michael tells him. "As long as we can carry on making decent records. Anyway, you get so much flak if you're in the top 10, don't you?"
Despite their gawky good looks, the Bodines remain refreshingly unimpressed by the occasional 'teen idols of the future' tag that crops up. Their record company have made no attempt to mould the band along these lines, Paul assures me.
"No, there's been nothing like that at all, really. We've done all these photos where they've tried to make us look pretty. Well, that's a job and a half in itself."
"There were a lot of teenyboppers in Canada," adds Michael, seconds before a young lady christened 'Miss Canada' by the band walks into the room and is ushered into the neighbouring suite. Much adolescent giggling and blushing ensues.
The next 12 months will be a testing time for the Bodines. Starved of the instant coverage dished out to indie stars, they'll have to cut it with the big boys or risk coming under pressure from all angles - including internally. They've certainly got time and talent on their side, and with Ian Broudie producing their soon-to-be-released LP, they're more likely to achieve success than practically any of their contemporaries.
What do you think the Bodines will be doing in 12 months, Michael?
"Probably re-releasing a remixed version of 'Therese'," he laughs.
Or busily spending your fortune?
"You're joking," spits John. "I still owe my auntie £80!"
Record Mirror, 7th March 1987.
Record Mirror 1987 Record Mirror Mar 7 1987 Record Mirror 1987
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