Thousand Yard Stare Interviews Page
With massive thanks to Keg.
Melody Maker June 15 1991
THOUSAND YARD STARE
Determined to maintain indie standards on a major label,
THOUSAND YARD STARE tell ZANE how the future will be theirs.
Pic: PIERS ALLARDYCE (This is in the gallery)
"A fanzine accused me of being National Front! Just because I like English
values and I hate the way things are becoming so Americanised. They totally
Stephen Barnes, side-burned singer for the dishy Thousand Yard Stare, has a point to make. His band have been receiving rave reviews for the past few months, but far too often for him they've concentrated on his sleepy home town of Slough and the attitudes that lurk within it. But when pushed, he can't help defending the values that creak from every Victorian pub there.
"A patriot is just someone who loves their country whereas a nationalist is someone who hates everyone else. There's a difference between the two. The only things I read about are English heritage and history, it fascinates me.
Castles, maidens and dragons, I love all that. It sounds a bit weird, but I'm not xenophobic. England has made its impression on the rest of the
world, whether it be through The British Empire (!), music and clothes fashions, or broadcasting. Everything that's been new, England's always been in the middle of it. Tradition is a good thing, and this generation should take note of it. There's so little to be interested in now because the
television age has created a country of non-communicating zombies. England has become so boring."
PHEW! One listen to their new "Keepsake EP" and you'll hear this defiant
Englishness set to music. So much so, that anyone from further afield than
Dover would be confused by the sentiments. For the EP's main track, "Buttermouth", Stephen confronts the Eighties go-getter attitude in a way
that Morrissey would be proud of. And musically, it's got that flecked guitar sound of The Smiths, as well as the brash beat of this year's hippest
"It's about someone I know who works really hard at a job because he thinks it gets him all he wants. But he can hardly ever go out as he's so tired, so he spends all his money on a car that he never uses. That social pressure to succeed in the Eighties has created a lot of people like him. When you work all the time, the only pleasure you get is going out and getting blasted.
You think things are going well in your life, but it's all so dependant on someone else, be it a girlfriend or an employer."
Is it your aim then to get a message across to these people and tell them where they're going wrong?
"Not really, it's just my point of view. I don't even want this EP to go Top 40, a good indie placing will suit us. I've noticed that a lot of bands take
off too quickly. We're not looking at things short term, we want it to be like a ladder effect, taking short steps at a time. We wouldn't want a
Blur-type problem where you wonder if they've got anything to back it up.
The reason we're so dogmatic is that if things don't work out, we want it to be our fault, not anyone else's. At least then you know for sure."
Well, as of this month, it will be someone else's fault because the band
have just signed a deal with Polydor. Their debut EP, "Weatherwatching", was
so well received they were included on the "Happy Daze Compilation" LP with
the likes of Carter, Lush and The Cure. And the majors took note. When
quizzed about this new deal, Stephen fidgets.
"Er, nothing's changed. Well, you could say none of us have day jobs any more. The money side's sorted. But we still do everything ourselves. We still have our own free information service and we still promote everything.
Polydor will have nothing to do with this single or the next one, all we're using them for is financial backing and advice. Even when we release stuff
on Polydor it will be under our own Stifled Aardvark label which we have all the rights to. If we can channel enough of a buzz there's no reason to change anything."
But isn't there the temptation to let Polydor handle the business side and just concentrate on the music?
"No, we like hanging out and meeting new people. Getting new converts is fun. Anyway, we're all big music fans, we go to loads of gigs and
<italics>absorb</italics>. One of the ways we get a reaction to what we do is by being DJs at the Psychik Dance Hall in Windsor. It does depress us that people will only dance to what's new. It's a sign that the indie scene is becoming a little too formularised at the moment and we want to break away from that. It's still a better and more inventive scene than any other, but we are starting to get some manufactured fodder."
"I was just about to say that. It really pisses me off, because I thought, 'F*** me, here's a new band with a couple of ideas to rub together'. But
when I saw them on the 'Chart Show', it was so obviously a record company
project it made [me] sick. It's designer indie for London clubs like the
Milk Bar, and I hate all those places where people have got slip-on
personas. Too much is fabricated these days; I'm after a bit of realism."
The "Buttermouth EP" is out now on Stifled Aardvark.