Interview by EDF
On a pleasant Monday evening in July at the Water Rats venue at King’s Cross, Linoleum are preparing for their final gig from their mini-tour which started in Oxford. Caroline Finch – lead vocalist and guitar, and Gavin Pearce – guitar, took time out to answer a few questions.
How long have Linoleum been together?
CAROLINE: We started in ’95. So five years.
Have you been in any previous bands?
CAROLINE: All of us are from bits and pieces. Bedrooms and things. Not any band of note.
Gavin, you played on a couple of tracks on the album before Paul Jones, the previous guitarist went to join Elastica?
CAROLINE: Paul had actually gone at that point. He’d pretty much joined up with them.
Where did that leave you as Paul co-wrote half the tracks on the album?
CAROLINE: That’s true. It was difficult while things were uncertain because that went on for quite a long time. By the time it had actually happened we were pretty sorted.
How did Elastica come about? Did they just ask him?
CAROLINE: He started playing on a couple of tracks and then more tracks. It happened gradually, over a year. We had a long time to get used to it and find Gavin.
Did you have a showdown with him and ask “are you playing for Elastica or not”?
CAROLINE: No we didn’t actually, you may have noticed he limps these days. No, we didn’t have a showdown with him. It was fine. We knew it was coming for a long time.
Can you see yourself writing songs with Gavin?
CAROLINE: We’ve been writing a lot already. We’re just getting on with it.
Are these songs similar to how you wrote with Paul or is there a slight twist?
CAROLINE: We always continue to write in a similar vein. We are looking to use different instrumentation, bringing in a sampler and other stuff like that. I think it will develop naturally. So we are getting more toys.
Your first album was through Geffen. How did that come about?
CAROLINE: Funnily enough we were playing in the Water Rats and a representative from Geffen, I think his name was Jim, came up to us after the gig and said (in a thick American accent) “Hi, I’m from Geffen Records”. I nearly fell over. They sent someone over to see us and we signed for them. It was 1997. It was quite strange being on an American label. The downside is you don’t really have a good personal relationship with them – it was just too far away. It was great, we went to Boston to record the album and then we toured America. We had a great tour, did some press. It was mayhem, we couldn’t stand up by the end of it. It was a month long.
Tonight is the last night of your mini-tour and then you will appear at Leeds and Reading towards the end of August. Have you performed at festivals before?
CAROLINE: We’ve done Reading and also the Phoenix festival a couple of times.
Do you change your set to suit the venue?
CAROLINE: What we’re playing tonight is basically what we would play at festivals. We would throw in a couple of slow tunes depending what time we’re playing and if people are starting to wake up.
The first few singles you released came in lino sleeves didn’t they?
CAROLINE: We would get the lino delivered to Dave’s house. We would cut it out and a friend would set it up. It took ages, it was good but we had quality control.
Would that make them more individual?
CAROLINE: We did it with our last single and we did the last album in lino as well.
That would mean that when your product is out there, you’re happy with the end result, as it isn’t some mass produced product like everyone else’s – is that right?
CAROLINE: – It’s hard to remember that when you’re Number 800.
How do you reckon you would cope if you got loads of publicity, always being in the papers? Do you reckon that would be a good thing?
CAROLINE: You are talking about blanket coverage, aren’t you? For us as we’ve been going for five years and we’re still going to carry on and make another album, we wouldn’t mind being on the front of some covers.
Do you feel that you have to do something gimmicky to get noticed?
CAROLINE: No. We always do stuff like lino sleeves because these ideas come into our head and we have to do them. It’s kind of as simple as that.
I suppose the music really comes first, then?
GAVIN: The music is kind of queer enough without trying to tart it up.
Listening to your sound check earlier, I actually thought that you sounded even better live than on the album……
CAROLINE: I really like our first record. The production is fantastic.
Have you purposely done different sounds live compared to the album?
CAROLINE: I think we sound different because Gavin is with us. That could be quite a lot of it as well.
What influences your song writing?
CAROLINE: Observations which are quite intimate and realism, stuff like that.
When I heard the first couple of tracks it sounded similar to The Jesus And Mary Chain, have they influenced you?
CAROLINE: We all grew up around that time. I suppose it’s inevitable.
GAVIN – When some people are writing a new album, they try not to listen to anything so that they don’t get influenced. (To Caroline) Do you do that?
CAROLINE: You would probably get influenced and not know it. We don’t take very direct influences. It’s a bit difficult listening to Philip Glass and be influenced but it’s probably in there somewhere.
Was Horsepower supporting you throughout your tour?
CAROLINE: It’s just tonight. Have you seen them before?
No, I haven’t.
CAROLINE: A great band, go and see them.
Early on you did a lot of tours with some fairly big names like Morcheba. Do you think that helped develop the structure of the band?
CAROLINE: We don’t take that much notice of that stuff.
After the Leeds and Reading gigs, what’s next?
CAROLINE: In September we are going to do the colleges. We are also pretty keen to do some recording over the summer and having an E.P. out in the New Year and then get on to the next album.
Have you done any tours in Europe yet?
CAROLINE: We’ve toured quite a lot in France, played in Switzerland, Greece, Holland, the Lowlands, so yeah we have.
You know a bit of French. Do you do interviews in French?
CAROLINE: I did used to. If I stay there for a week it gets better. We do a song in French, it’s the last song on the album. There’s a bloke in France called Bernard Lenoir, they call him the French John Peel and we’ve done a lot of sessions with him. They’ve had this funny rule in France that 40% or 60% of music on the radio had to be French. Don’t know if it’s still the rule.
Is there any music program you would like to get on?
CAROLINE: We’ve been to Japan and there’s a funny Japanese one that we would like to be on.
Moving on, have you toured Germany?
CAROLINE: We would like to.
GAVIN: I’ve been to Germany a number of times and the bands always seem to be jolly. It seems to be well organized.
How were your previous gigs received?
CAROLINE: It was good. What was good was there were people there who had seen us before way back. We didn’t necessary expect it because it was so long since we had put a record out close to three years.
You recorded your first album, ‘Dissent’, in Boston. What was it like comparing it to the recording of your second album?
CAROLINE: In terms of intimacy Boston was great because it was Fort Apache Studios where they produced The Pixies and Dinosaur Jr. It started in a warehouse.and the secretary would go to work and kick her shoes off. They’ve kept that kind of atmosphere. When we recorded here it was at Fortress 2 and we had always rehearsed at Fortress, which has now closed down. We knew everyone there and it was quite relaxed. I couldn’t really say it’s not like that now.
When I read that you had signed for Geffen and you recorded in Boston, I had a picture in my mind of these executives sitting in behind the mixing desk, was that the case?
CAROLINE: No, there was absolutely none of that. When it was finished one bloke came down. We’ve been pretty lucky that way.
Gavin, when you took over from Paul Jones, did you feel the need to copy his guitar lines note for note?
GAVIN: It’s a bit weird playing somebody’s stuff that’s already recorded. I like his guitar sound but it is a million miles away from what I’m into anyway. I’ve taken the best out of the rehearsals to get it as close as possible. When I listen to it I try to put my own angle into it. I started from that point but now they’re like my songs with a slight twist. It will be nice to write new songs and it will be totally fresh.
It must have been easier for the band that you were in the background while Paul was recording with Elastica. as it saved Linoleum time from auditioning for a new guitarist, pushing schedules back? Isn’t Elastica playing Reading?
GAVIN: Yeah, but not on the same day.
After the interview, it was over to the Water Rats to first check out Horsepower. All I will say is that if this band is gigging near you go and see them. Their sound is best described as moody lo-fi with hints of the Beta Band and the Doors. Well worth the price of admission.
As for Linoleum, they started the set with their French song Fin which might not have been the best track to start off a gig with but the rest of the gig was more up-tempo enough to get a very strong reaction from the audience. Although there might be comparisons made to Elastica, judging from the gig, Linoleum sounds like they are one step ahead of Elastica. If you are unsure by what I mean, check them out if you’re heading to the Leeds or Reading Festivals or listen to the album.