First of all let me say that I’m a BIG FAN of They Go Boom!! And it was such a pleasure and honour to be able to have this little questionnaire with Mike Innes. Thanks a thousand to Mike for being up for me bombarding him will all kind of questions. It’s time to get your They Go Boom!! 7″s and put them on your turntable! Celebrate one of the best bands of the 90s!
++ Hi Mike! How is 2010 so far? Any resolutions for this new year? Or any great project you have in the works for it?
Hi Roque. I’m not really a New Year’s resolutions kind of guy. Maybe that’s where I’ve been going wrong all this time..?
++ Let’s talk about the band, alright? First of all, I’ve always wondered where does the name They Go Boom!! comes from? It’s a fantastic band name by the way!
Thank you. We wanted the name to be something that reflected both of our interests and enthusiasms and we were both pretty keen on Laurel & Hardy, so we made a list of their movie titles that might work for a band name and They Go Boom was the best-sounding one. Bohemian Girl was another of their movies, incidentally, so that was why later on we used The Bohemian Girls as the name for our glam backing vocalists.
++ Okay, so you notice you are being interviewed by a big fan of yours… tell me why you stopped making music? It’s not really fair. You’ve never felt like reviving TGB? I bet you’d be called to some sort of festival like Indietracks if you’d do it!
Oh, the reason we stopped was nothing to do with music. I moved away from the town where we were living and by coincidence Daryl also moved to another part of the country at around a similar time. We didn’t fall out or anything. In fact, I thought we might do Indietracks and we did speak about it briefly, but in the end I couldn’t get it together, partly for technical reasons and partly because life ended up getting taken over by a house move – still, my fault entirely. Sorry!
++ So Mike, how did you and Daryl knew each other?
I was working at the same place as Daryl’s wife and it turned out that we’d both dabbled in music with keyboards, so then we started getting together and doing bits and pieces of writing and recording.
++ I know you were a big fan of jangly guitars, you did the Phew Wow fanzine, but how come you decided to do electronic indiepop instead of guitar pop?
Well, we both liked a lot of different types of stuff, not just guitar pop. It was me who was more into indiepop and the whole Sarah thing, but I did also like 80s synth stuff and I listened to both those sorts of things equally. Daryl was a big Smiths fan but also was into probably a bit more experimental electronics than I was, like Fad Gadget. In retrospect, I wish we’d pursued that side of things more than we did. As for why we ended up using electronic instrumentation, well, we both had bits and pieces of keyboards and drum machines and neither of us could play a guitar… so, kind of an obvious choice. Actually, to be fair, Daryl did play some bass and we ended up using it on the outro to He Didn’t Deserve You on the Atlantic album. We were never interested in the idea of properly involving anyone else in the band, so until much later on it was just whatever we could do between the pair of us.
++ Talking about zines, your first proper release was the flexi that came with the This Almighty Pop! zine! Have you ever met Stephen? He seems really ace, I look forward to meet him! How come did you both got in touch?
Yes, we did meet once or twice. If I remember correctly TGB thought that sending out demo cassettes to some of the fanzines which we liked would be a good way of getting some kind of attention, and Stephen liked what we’d done and kindly offered to release a flexi with TAP.
++ Care to tell me a bit of those early tape releases, “Myopia” and “We Touch the Lives of Ordinary Folk”? What songs were included?
Oh God! I’m not even sure I can remember. I don’t have copies of them. It was twenty years ago! But basically they were all four-track recordings that we did over a period of time in Daryl’s spare bedroom. We were just learning how to use the equipment and how to work round its limitations. The She’s Like A Dream flexi track was probably about the best of the recordings we did then – for some reason it all just fell into place and it sounded great very quickly.
++ I also know there was a tape on Elefant Records, what about that one?
Luis got in touch and asked if he could make a compilation of the two cassette demos. I don’t know if it did the label or the band much good, but in retrospect it’s nice to have an Elefant release to our name.
++ Two questions about the name of your releases. What was The Ruby Lounge? and what about Woody Allen, what’s your favourite movie by him?
The Ruby Lounge was the name of a pub on the seafront in the coastal town where we were living. I was an incomer to the town and it was one of those things that I saw and thought was striking, while Daryl as a long-term resident hadn’t really noticed it. A lot of those early songs were about life there. The cover of the Myopia cassette is a power station that is close by, too. As for Woody Allen, I don’t have a favourite movie – it just seemed like an appropriate title for that particular song.
++ What about gigging? You did quite a few ace ones! But you only started playing live in 1994! Why was that? What took you so long?
Haha. Well, I think in total we did a grand total of five gigs and probably one of them I would actively describe as having been ace. The thing is that playing live was never really what we were interested in. The band was something comfortably social, like going round to a friend’s house and having a coffee and, oh yeah, how about this melody line or this for a drum pattern? Playing live would have been far too much like hard work and we never liked the idea of trawling round the crappier indie venues of England. Plus, because we were 100% electronic the equipment that was cheaply available at that time really wasn’t up to it. In the end a few people kept asking us and kept asking us, so we did play a handful of shows. As I say, one of them was pretty good.
++ From your gigs, I wonder especially about that one that you played along La Buena Vida, one of my favourite bands! How was that? Any anecdotes to tell from that night?
That was the good one! We and I think also Moving Pictures supported them at a place in Madrid. This was a time when La Buena Vida were becoming a pretty popular band across Spain, so they sold out a venue with a capacity of maybe 500 or so. The audience seemed to like our stuff, we heard that some people had travelled a long distance to see us and then I remember standing on stage and being able to see people in the audience actually singing along with songs of ours that they knew.
That was astonishing for us. In our world, in practical terms we were the only people who had any familiarity with our songs at all. Our experience of being a band involved meeting up at Daryl’s place once a week to work on songs, while occasionally receiving a letter from a label saying that they’d sold x copies of a particular release; our experience of being a band definitely did NOT involve going to other countries and seeing face to face that some people really really liked what we were doing. But that’s what happened on that one occasion with La Buena Vida.
++ Also you played at the Stockholm International Pop Underground 3, how was that experience?
Mmm, I think you know more about the band than I do… we invited Denis Pasero from Caramel to play some guitar for that show, which he also did on the album that we were recording at around the same time. There were some technical sound problems at the gig which made it a little bit frustrating, but it was OK. Having Denis involved on stage was a good thing.
++ It’s a bit complicated for me to talk about the 3rd album, the unreleased one. As you know I wanted so badly to release it, but it’s a bit difficult. But I would love to hear your insights from it. Listening to it, it hasn’t aged at all, and sounds great as back in 1999 I bet. Most people haven’t listened to it, so I’m wondering if you could talk a bit about it.
With hindsight, oddly it feels as if we kind of subconsciously knew that things were coming to an end, so we just wanted to record as much as possible in order to get it “out there”. That’s why there’s quite a lot of variety to it, some long songs and some little sketches as well, a couple of instrumental tracks… It was pretty ambitious in terms of the recording and although inevitably it doesn’t all work, I do think there’s some really good stuff on that record – The King Of Excuses is one I like a lot, because it was a song that neither of us could have done alone. That’s an especially satisfying aspect of working with someone else, when the whole becomes better than the sum of its parts. Also I’m very proud of I’ve Dreamed Of This For Years, quite an emotional song for me personally and a brilliant vocal by Daryl.
++ Before that you released 2 albums, Atlantic and Grand Vitesse. Thinking of it, you were quite prolific! What is your favourite release of yours?
Yes, we were reasonably prolific – we kept at it for quite a long time, never trying to do too much but always getting on with making new material. I definitely like the Atlantic album a lot, I think it hangs together very well as a whole release. The songs are pretty consistently good and by that time we had a clear idea of what we were doing in the studio. Just a shame that people never got the chance to see it with its proper cover art. God knows what happened there. As it is, the only version of the real cover is hanging on my wall.
++ Now I want to ask you about some songs I love! In a sentence tell me what they are about, alright?
– Door Marked Summer
Honestly, I can barely remember that song. It was one of those ones that was written and recorded quite quickly, so it kind of came and went without sticking in my long-term memory. There was a mistake with the recording, too, which didn’t encourage me to want to remember it and that’s why it never got played live, either.
– Twentieth Century
That’s one of Daryl’s. Lots of people seem to have liked this one, which I don’t think we really realised at the time. Nice sequencer lines.
– I Wish You Were Somebody Else
That’s one of Daryl’s, too. Kind of a jokey song lyrically and an opportunity to namecheck some of his favourite film stars, but overall one of our best. I wish we’d done more in this kind of style, really.
– Take Me to the End of the World
I think a lot of songs ended up being about escape and that was one of them.
– Island Nation
Politics! Check the front-and-back cover art.
++ And why write a song about Galaxy Craze?!
Ha. Well, I thought that Galaxy Craze was the name of a character in a Hal Hartley film, but a quick internet search suggests that that is completely wrong and to my surprise I see that apparently she’s an actress. Hmmm. That’s a mystery. All I can say is that I was watching a lot of Hartley’s movies at that time and some of the lyrics on this album are kind of taken from stories or characters in those movies. I wanted Why I Love Galaxy Craze to be a single, it’s catchy and the arrangement is pretty good although in fact there’s a mistake with the tempo and it’s actually supposed to be slower. The title, by the way, is a steal of Lloyd Cole’s Why I Love Country Music.
++ Alright, now difficult question, what does indiepop mean to you? How do you feel about the community?
Oh, that’s a good question. I think that in the period between when the band started up and now, the internet has changed everything and that includes the nature of community. On the one hand you have the music itself and on the other a subcultural group of interested people. Like other genres – particularly ones that aren’t 100% electronic – the economics of indiepop is something that hasn’t been resolved, in that if people are investing sums in recording studio time, ultimately they need to make that money back. My impression is that CD sales / paid-for downloads are far smaller than used to be the case, say, at the end of the 80s.
Nobody really knows how to address that problem, although conversely it is now very easy to find out about bands and releases and the community aspect of involving people and enabling them to find out about releases and events is made massively more straightforward. To be honest I’m not all that active as a consumer, but I do follow a little of what’s going on. I like Burning Hearts a lot and it’s interesting to see people like Sally Shapiro take some of the aesthetics of indiepop and apply them to a different style. It doesn’t surprise me that a scene still exists that to a great extent takes its cues from Sarah, etc., because that has its roots in a homemade aesthetic that is rendered very easy by the internet. But at the same time it’s very exciting to see younger people finding that those older records still have some resonance or meaning today
++ What do you think was the biggest highlight of They Go Boom!!?
Artistically, I’m most pleased with the Atlantic album and the Woody Allen EP. The experience of playing that show in Madrid is obviously something that has stayed with me, so I guess that’s a highlight too. Other than that, I think we just handled the experience of being a band well, for a long period of time. That’s a really good memory for me.
++ How was Margate back then, was there some sort of scene? Do you still live there? If I was to visit, to which places should I go?
Oh God, no, there was no scene. It’s a very small town, 40,000 people. There are lots of places like it on the English coast – towns that up until the 1950s were holiday resorts, but which never found anything to replace that source of income when people started to go to Spain instead. Neither of us live there now.
++ Is it me, or is there some sort of connection between Mike Innes and Japan?
Well, I guess so – my wife is from there and I’m massively interested in J-League football.
++ Thanks again Mike! Hope this is a great year for you! Will you come to London Popfest?
As I’ve never heard of it before now, probably not!
++ Alright, let’s wrap it here. Anything else you’d like to add?
Just to say thank you for taking an interest in the activities of the band.