Martian Dance interview
Once the troops from No Class had arrived in London's Waterloo, the flat of Martian Dance's Jerry Lamont and their manager, Tracy, was found and an interview was held, which went like this:
NC: Would you say that you play dance music?
JL: Yes. That's one of the things that we want to get over live, that we believe that when people go out to a gig they ought to be there strictly to enjoy themselves. You go to gigs and it's like everyone's bored beforehand, and the support group are on and everyone seems to think it's a bit of a drudge and don't pay any attention to 'em at all, and then they see the main group and the main group go off, and that's it : they go home. What we tried to do - we hired a disco out , the Whisky A Go Go which is in Wardour Street. It was like a club in the sense that it was open at 8pm, and there was good sounds being played all night by the DJ, then the group came on. There wasn't a support group. Then after that it was open til 2am. But we found that - we played there two nights running - a lot of people came but afterwards they didn't seem to want to stay or dance, or listen to the DJ who was playing their kind of music. We went on quite early, considering the time the place was open til, so that people could get home. We went on about 10pm so we were off by 11pm. We found about 90 per cent of the audience went home: whether it was because they had to get home or go to work in the morning, I don't know.
NC: Do you think your music will evolve as the band gain experience and success.
JL: Yeah, it has done in the time we've been together. You're finding your feet and you're playing more the stuff you want to play. As you gain experience - the band are all very young - you find the material improves from month to month. The most recent song is always thought to be better than the one before that. The songs that were in the set six months ago are no longer there.
NC: Have you thought of adding a horn section, or anything like that?
JL: No, we haven't actually thought of adding a horn section, in fact we've added another guitarist.
NC: Are you prepared to commercialise your music to gain popularity?
JL: People often ask that question, but the essence is Roses To Reno (the new single) is a commercial record. And that's not a question of compromise, that's what we want to play. We want to be a commercial group, we don't want to be an underground band at all. I don't think there's any medals to be gained by saying we want to be a cult status band. Most of the bands that say that haven't got the material to come out of cult status into the big time.
NC: If you're a cult band you're gonna be in the same place for a long time, but if you're a commercial band you might just have your fifteen minutes.
JL: Yeah, I understand that totally, but cult bands play the material they want to play, not cos they want to be cult bands. If the material that they play is going to appeal to a small section of the public then they are going to be there for a certain amount of time. I'm not knocking any groups who are doing that at all.
NC: Are the record company trying to say 'This is what we want your music to sound like'?
JL: They have done, but they haven't succeeded at all. As you know, on EMI, the label we're on, they've got Duran Duran who are enjoying a great deal of success at the moment, but Duran Duran are not really our cup of tea. Our sound is our sound and Duran Duran have got their sound. They haven't said 'Let's sound like Duran Duran' but in certain ways when a band have got a hit single out at the moment then that's how they see the label going. To some extent they do want you to compromise to their way of thinking, but really they don't know how they want the group to sound; all they know is that they want hit records.
NC: You sound as though you don't think much of EMI, or is that the wrong impression?
JL: That's the right impression really. I don't really think a lot of EMI due to the experience we've had. It's a very big company and we're just a cog in the works. We're just a very small part of it.
NC: Do you regret signing to them?
JL: Well, we wanted to sign to a major, there's no doubt about that. We had a lot of offers from independent companies. We want to be successful and the way to be successful is to be on a big company with a lot of money behind the band who can do all the things that a small company can't. We've got control right across the board but when you're talking about a major company you're talking about a lot of money spent on promotion and all things like that. You do come up against problems, but maybe what we've come up against at EMI you'd come up against with any major company, so I can't really say we've regretted signing to it.
NC: Do you have any message in your music?
JL: People often ask this question, asking if we are putting any political message across, and the answer is no. We want people to dance and listen to our records. The lyrics are not throwaway, they're all personal things. Obviously I have got a political point of view - I haven't actually said this before in any interviews - but it's not being put across in the lyrics.
NC: Do the lyrics reflect your feelings?
JL: To an extent, yeah. I'm just a human being and everybody's in different moods at different times. Some of the lyrics are very tongue-in-cheek, other lyrics are maybe just the way I'm feeling about a certain thing at a certain time. There's no set mould to any of the content of the lyrics.
NC: What's the song Temporary Forever about?
JL: People are talking about building nuclear shelters, well, if there was actually a nuclear war, as it were, and you were in a shelter and the majority of the population wasn't and you came out of the shelter afterwards and you were the only one left. That was something I was thinking about: what I could imagine it would be like, being the only one left. That was what the song was about.
NC: Is the song Ouija Board based on true experience?
JL: I've had experiences with a Ouija board and that sort of thing. You don't actually know. I believe things have happened. A lot of it is self conscious, maybe, whereby you feel the glass moving. It is self conscious and you don't know you're moving it. I've had experiences where I've got very good reason to believe it was absolutely nobody moving the glass,
NC: Are you interested in mysticism or anything like that? Black magic, astrology, the occult, that sort of thing?
JL: Yeah, I think it's interesting, the more you read about it. Things people have actually experienced. It's the mind: you can push yourself to the limit. If you wanna believe something, the mind can actually control the body, literally. The Ouija board is about as far as I wanna go. I don't wanna go into voodoo dolls, or that sort of thing.
NC: What do you think of people bootlegging your gigs?
JL: I don't mind, personally, people bootlegging our gigs. What I think is bad is that I know that people go and bootleg our gigs, and they're absolutely terrible recordings, terrible reflections of the band, but fans of the group want to hear these things, a different side of the band. I think it's bad when people go out and they're making a lot of money, they're just exploiting. Fans of the band exploiting other fans of the band, like selling them for £3, which they have been doing.
NC: So how about doing a live album?
JL: There's so much you can do in the studio, you can do anything. There's so much you can learn, the possibilities to what you can do are endless. Unless you want 'This is a live gig' there's no point as far as I'm concerned. That's not personally what I want to do. Doing it in the studio you get much better quality music and sounds to listen to. When you're talking about dance records you've gotta do them in the studio.
NC: What about the name?
JL: There was a T Rex track from ages ago called Ballrooms of Mars. I told one of our guitarists, Kevin Addison, and from that he said 'How about Martian Dance?' cos we wanted to be a band that people could dance to.
NC: What's your opinion of an ideal gig?
JL: When the band played note perfect throughout the set, nobody made a single minor error anywhere, the whole crowd were dancing from start to finish, totally involved in the whole show, and there wasn't any trouble. We want people to be standing; we don't want to play anywhere that people have got to sit down; it's not for us.
NC: Would you do any benefit gigs?
JL: Yeah, but when you start doing things like Rock Against Racism, for example, there's so many overtones like Socialist Workers Party and all that. Whether you're for it or against it, it doesn't matter, but what it means is that politics is being brought into music. I often think when we're playing 'Who are all these people we're playing to and buy our records?' If they're National Front or British Movement supporters, I don't want anything to do with it. I'd rather they didn't buy our records. I've got absolutely no respect for them at all.
NC: When you do an album are you gonna put the lyrics in with it?
JL: Yeah, we might do. At the moment we're thinking about the single's bag. We're getting the design for that together. When we break it's gonna be in the same way that Spandau Ballet broke. Our record's gonna go in the charts and it's gonna go from there. It's not gonna be any 10 year thing.
NC: Will you do Top of the Pops?
JL: Oh yeah, definitely, we'll be on Top of the Pops, mate.
NC: Do you think Roses To Reno will do it ?
JL: When it's finished, yeah. It will have taken us 5 days. That's on the A side. The B side took us about an hour.
NC: Will EMI promote it?
JL: Yeah. They look at things as 'Is this a chart record?' With The Situation, the first single, they didn't think it was a chart record. Looking back on it I still think it was a chart record in the sense it could have been a minor hit. Top 30, 40, that sort of area.
NC: What number did it reach?
JL: It went straight in at 100 and straight out. They didn't promote it. At the same time they were hyping another band, who shall remain nameless, and they forgot about Martian Dance, but it's been deleted now. They push something that they feel is good enough to get into the Top 20, and the record is then good enough to sell it's own amount of records. With this single, when it's finished, that's how it will be. If this single's a hit, then the next thing's the album. We'll probably put Roses To Reno on the album. We wouldn't put The Situation on any album. I don't think a band should take loads of singles off albums. I'm sure we won't put any of our B sides on any album. We've done Twist and Shout at the end of our set. It's just a song we've thrown in. It's a bit of fun, people dance to it. We see the A sides as hit singles, and the B sides as throwaways. That's it really.