After 74 years in
existence the Melody Maker has closed: for so long it stood as the respected
champion of independent guitar music. Select magazine has also been
shut down. Once relevant and vital during the Britpop years but since
then its readership has dwindled and gone elsewhere. Is this a sign
that British guitar music is dying? Leaving us yearning for a not so
distant past when people like Shaun Ryder, Ian Brown and Jarvis Cocker
wrote songs and lyrics that moved a whole generation. Personally I love
a lot of the house music, rap and R&B which - aside from manufactured
pop aimed primarily at kids - now makes up a large proportion of the
charts. But decent British guitar music seems to have dried up, becoming
about as fashionable as going to church on Sunday. In which case, is
there any room for another singer-songwriter solo artist? Does anyone
care about people who can play instruments and write their own songs
anymore? Being 747 thinks they do.
747 is the project of ex-Landspeed Lounger Dave Cooke. Landspeed
who? You might be forgiven for asking. But listeners to Steve Lamacqs
Evening Session, NME readers and regular gig goers; especially those
in the Leeds area, will recognise the name. A gig reviewer for the
NME once said that the Loungers might just be the band weve
all been waiting for. Just last week their song Paul
was requested on Radio One, accompanied by a query as to the whereabouts
of the band. Well theyre still going, but without their frontman
Dave, who decided to call it a day.
left because I wanted to try something else, and have a new challenge.
When youre in a band, and making a serious go of it, the breaks
come and go. One minute you can be thinking - This is it! Were
really going somewhere, and then a month later the interest has disappeared
and everything becomes hard work again. We had five years of that, and
I thought right, its time to try something else. I had
done a couple of acoustic gigs that year and really enjoyed them so
I thought Id set up an Internet site and put music on it. And
then when I need to do a gig Ill do it; just me and an acoustic
guitar. Far more mature than jumping up and down on stage singing Sweet
like coriander! Ive been trying out lots of different things,
recording onto a digital portastudio (Roland VS 840), with a drum machine
(Alesis SR16). I wanted to record a real mix of different styles, with
lo-fi dancey stuff and pure acoustic Neil Young, Nick Drake sort of
stuff. I want to do some collaborations now and involve more people.
I dont really enjoy programming drum machines, but Ive learnt
a lot over the past year about the recording process.
Check out the Being 747 website and you can listen to some of his songs.
Youll notice that his lyrics are important, part of what makes
the songs interesting. They stand out because a majority of pop music
at the moment doesnt set out with the intention to impress us
with clever lyrical content. The abundance of banal lyrics only
means that writers like me have the edge and will eventually conquer.
The public are crying out for good lyrics, and when a song comes along
with good lyrics it usually does well on the radio, with plenty of requests.
There were some pretty good rap lyrics last year.
Eminem you mean? But should we applaud a man who resorts to homophobia
and misogyny to sell records?
He still writes interesting lyrics, hes just got some pretty
un-pc views, but theyre probably not his own. He might well be
writing from the point of view of some unsavory character that hes
met or invented, or just looking for notoriety. If pop music was always
pc the thered be less to write about!
Eminem and his various alter egos have certainly caused a bit of a stir.
The Marshall Mathers LP, however brilliant it may be, is not a comfortable
record to listen to. He seems to take a great delight in his ability
to shock. You feel that you shouldnt really approve of what hes
doing, but its so refreshing to hear music that provokes a response.
Negative or positive, everyone has an opinion when it comes to Eminem.
Are there other artists out there that interest Being 747? Theyre
mostly American, like Elliot Smith, Grandaddy, Beastie Boys. One of
my favourite bands is The Scaramanga Six, who are a local band still
to break though to collective consciousness despite a cracking debut
album The liar the bitch and her wardrobe. Their problem
is that they dont fit the current Radiohead/Verve mould that the
majority of A&R are looking for. Ive seen them perform a blinding
gig to a room full of music industry people and you could see them enjoying
it but thinking I like it, but I wouldnt know how to sell
it! None of them have got the money or job security to put their
faith in what they like, and so they end up signing stuff that sounds
like bands who are currently successful. Im beginning to ramble
now, but you know the worst thing is that bands then try to become that
thing that the record companies are looking for, and you get into a
spiral of mediocrity. Having said all that, I thought that the Badly
Drawn Boy album was fantastic, and there has been some interesting rap
and moogy dance stuff recently. Coldplays all very nice, but what
does it mean?
If lyrics are so important to you, how do you go about composing your
own songs? I used to work on the tune first and then write the
lyrics. I now do them both simultaneously, and have what I want to say
in my head and strum the guitar until Ive got something that Im
happy with. It helps if you can get everything written when the inspiration
hits you, because to go back and write from exactly where you were coming
from is difficult. Sometimes I end up with holes in songs that can take
me years to fill. I came back to Born to Travel a year and
a half after writing the first verse, and then being sidetracked.
Was that song based on anyone in particular? Yeah Steve! [Daves
brother] No not really, only joking! I wrote the first half of it before
Steve went away, shortly after listening to one of Steves friends
chat up girls by presenting himself as the well travelled one. He had
such stories of high drama that it became difficult to compete. I thought
right, all these ex-students who bugger off to India and Thailand
and act like Hemingway, are all going into a sarky song,
thatll show em, but really Im just jealous.
Former Factory boss Tony Wilson has a much-quoted theory about pop music.
He maintains that there is a regular cycle that throws up a new exciting
movement every 13 years. This is based on the idea that kids grow up
listening to happy poppy tunes then when they reach a certain age they
will want something different. The last cycle delivered in 1989, when
the Mondays and Roses changed our lives and dance music started to take
a hold of the nation. So on this basis, 2002 should unleash the next
wave. Could we be seeing a return to guitar based rock? Is it starting
to happen already? Look at Limp Bizkits rise to fame. And then
there is imminent return of Radiohead and Oasis to look forward to.
Guitar bands just havent been cool or sexy, and what sells
is sex and style. Dave points out. But maybe thats about
to change and if it does the record companies will be following close
behind any such developments. In which case, Being 747 could well be
clear for take-off.
For MP3 downloads and general information about Being 747 go to
Being 747 plans to release in the near future an EP of his best material
so far. Hell also be doing some gigs to promote the CD, check
the website for details.