[Mid 1970’s; BBC television studio B, Wood Road, London; orange velvet curtain backdrop; two chairs on a dais, a table between. A Martini and an ashtray with 2 smoking cheroots are on the table. Onan’s Boulder/Me, Sugar, the new live session EP by Cleft is sitting on the left of the screen; BOSH!, their previous full-length, on the right.]
Onan’s Boulder/Me, Sugar (speaking) – So you felt that there was a sense of humour in you?
BOSH! – Yes, absolutely. I felt that structurally as well as tonally. It’s in the assembly, almost, of the whole thing, and each song individually. There are games being played with cultural and musical tropes and references, that are very specific, and games being played with the sense of expectation and anticipation you can bring about with that. It’s fun. Funny.
OB/MS – That’s interesting. That’s interesting because I felt that about my B-side. Or at least, parts of it.
B! – Yes and, it’s very specific to the scene to do this thing where, through being free about timing, through not requiring that everything is divisible by 4, though playing these games, you get to fulfil that sense of expectation with something unexpected…
OB/MS – Through re-imagining it? In light of this notion of freer time?
B! – Yes, through re-imagining and re-ordering riffs and parts, and timings, and as a consequence of that, the structure is revealed, is laid barer than in some other musics…
OB/MS – [interrupts…] ….where the structure is barely noticed. Yes, because the structure of the song is treated in the same way, with this notion of free-time, as the content of the song (in other words the riffs, parts etc_. So the larger, macro structure is re-ordered, played with. The macro reflects the micro.
B! – Exactly. But it’s not as well thought out as that. The reordering, and these cultural and musical references we’ve mentioned… they can make me feel a bit knee-jerk, sort of, a bit disparate. Like re-tuning a radio. I mean, nowhere near as bad as that… I definitely rock or chill out in the groove quite a lot. I just felt that the humour is an irreverent one. Whereas I felt that you are more mature, at lease in part.
OB/MS – Well, yes. I agree, I mean certainly my A-side. There’s certainly a sense of maturity in that.
B! – You felt smoother.
OB/MS – …and a touch more emotional, I might add. Yes the first thing I noticed was a more developed sense of harmony, offset with a simpler arrangement. My riffs are more often repeated, and therefore feel more easily understood, but the harmonic content – the scales, the keys – the notes – feel like they actually mean something, somehow; denser, deeper. There is a sweetness in me too. I mean, the humour is still there…
B! – …but this structural thing, there’s less of that? This structural re-ordering we mentioned?
OB/MS – Well yes, I feel more together. I feel smoother, as you say. The macro of my A-side feels as though it has a trajectory; it almost has that element of being a Song, where it doesn’t matter that you can guess what’s coming next because you’ve stopped thinking about it. Because its the format of a Song: it’s normalised, you know it…
B! – …so you can forget about it. Do you like Phish by the way?
OB/MS – Not really. You?
B! – Same. I mean, how much improvisation do we use do you think?
OB/MS – For you, I think many of your songs could’ve been improvised in the practice space. Where a riff and beat is jammed out from thin air, and then reordered, reshuffled and played out into a song, or song section. But for me, I don’t feel that particularly my A-side could have happened in the same way. I feel purposeful. I feel slightly less safe, actually. Now I’m there hanging out for all to see. I still feel full of these cultural and musical references – I feel as though I could absorb any style, any style of music. I mean, I’m still definitely coming from a similar place as you…
B! – …I was going to say…
OB/MS – …in those terms, but I feel that I’m blending more than you perhaps. Blending between these influences. Blending as opposed to chopping. And this is what we mean by smoother, possibly. I mean, are the guitars even double tracked on me? It’s so controlled that it’s hard to tell…
B! – I dunno, I mean, you’ve got some full Botch-y bits in there. Some full syncopated-but-straight headbangers. Excellent examples of taking something expected, shuffling it, and fulfilling that expectation in an unexpected way. I do feel that you are capable of some seriously rhythmic, heavy trickery; some truly avant-garde, scene-pushing stuff.
OB/MS – Well thanks. I agree except that I’m not quite accomplishing it… but I’m on the path. A little further down that path than yourself. I’m capable of it, perhaps, but I’m not accomplishing it …
B! – …but I don’t think you’ve moved away, too far, from where I am. In terms of content.
OB/MS – No, it’s just that a sense of consciousness of the whole has developed… the thing is that I don’t mean to say that this is any better, at all, this smoothness. Just different. Is it still funny, though? Fun, as you say?
B! – Yes, how important is the sense of irreverence, of humour? And is it lacking in you, that is, if it is lacking, what sort of effect does that have? Is it a negative development? Is there something lacking, or is it a growth, something added?
OB/MS – Well I feel that there is a dichotomy, a double edged sword, with this sort of maturity that we’ve mentioned. I mean, on the surface, if anything, my title is more playful than yours. I mean, Me, Sugar? [Gestures]
B! – But is that making up for the content?
OB/MS – Well this double edged sword is that with maturity comes responsibility. One begets the other. Maturity is responsibility. So a mature creator is responsible for his creations: the implication is that the creation is more considered, as opposed to whim based; I have a courage of conviction in my creation, instead of that punk ‘whatever happens’ sentiment. if decisions are being made, as opposed to the knee-jerk approach that you mentioned before…
B! – Yes, that sense of flicking the dial…
OB/MS – Yes, it could be said that flicking the dial is a responsive, whimsical process, with little responsibility attached. Irreverence is to do with treating things without respect, without caution. But I suppose what I’m asking is: is the irreverence a biological part of the scene? Will I alienate our fans through my conviction?
B! – Is irreverence such a part of our music that consideration, and responsibility, in opposition to irreverence, will change what we cause, the feelings we cause, in our listeners?
(They both pause, thinking).
OB/MS – I feel that the logical progression within my A-side will replace the sense of fun. I feel that the chopping and changing, the surprise, and this structural playfulness is still present in me… its just a more logical, step by step progression. Instead of leaping from part to part, one is led down a path. The flicking of the dial becomes a slower, steady turning of the dial. And this conceals the structural manipulations, making me, as we’ve said, smoother: blended. And don’t forget that my B-side has all the hallmarks of you, all the dial flicks and irreverence.
B! – So maybe your aside is a test…
OB/MS – …yes, perhaps. A tentative step, taken to gauge the result.
B! – …and also I feel that you have branched out a bit…
OB/MS – Yes.
B! – Some of your musical references move outside of rock, metal, blues into dance even, D and B particularly, speaking of your A-side. Breaks. Don’t take that the wrong way, by the way…!
OB/MS – Oh no not at all… but it’s still through that unique math filter, viewing ‘breaks’ (if you like) through that math-rock lens. And I mean, this has always happened. Across the scene, and in fact, music as a whole. I don’t feel that that is a cause for complaint.
B! – So what do you think, are you a new direction? Has anything changed? Is it content, or approach or what? Has there been any real change between you and me?
OB/MS – Some. I would say some. I think we’ve covered what, how and why. But to be sure – I mean, to know if there really has been some considered, permanent change in direction – we’ll have to ask HIM. But of course, he’s not here yet.
[both look toward the left of the screen; camera pans out to reveal empty third chair.]