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NME 30June79

The Pop Group: Idealists in Distress

They are young. They are talented. They are committed. They are now without a record company. 'So what seems to be the problem, boys?' asks Max Bell

The Pop Group are a mess of insoluble contradictions.

They're trying to change their world? The Pop Group are five ordinary boys living in an ordinary English town, Bristol.

How can they reflect a world of pain and atrocity?

The Pop Group are white and feel guilty. They have made a single and an album, released on the Radar label, a subsidiary of Warner Elektra Asylum, owned by the Kinney Corporation, a multilateral conglomeration, a media monopoly, an agent of Western propaganda.

So what else is new?

HEY YOU, YES you, come over here, sit down. I'll tell you a cautionary tale. Maybe you've heard it before--it's that old story about the band and the record company; it's about young men and their confusions, their hopes and fears, their awkward self-consciousness. Sue me if it takes too long but I think you'll find a twist in the tail. When you do, perhaps you'll cry bitterly. The telling of it doesn't take too long.

The Pop Group, their putative manager Dick O'Dell, photographer Chris Horler and me are sitting in the ground floor flat of Mr. Simon Underwood, former employee of Rolls Royce in Bristol, currently engaged as the bass player. We're chewing the old interview rag.

The atmosphere in the room alternates between strain and frankness. The conversation is garbled and fragmentary, like the Pop Group themselves.

This meeting is one of a handful of introductions for a new music collective, like many an introduction it gets off to a shakey start. The Pop Group are a band who have captured the attention of the thinking rock press with their mixture of jazzbo avant garde funk rock and their radical idealism. In The Pop Group's unofficial master plan there is no self-advancement and any attempt by the media to categorize their style is rebuffed with mistrust.

Given this uncompromising stubbornness would you be surprised to hear that the band have been buried in critical praise ranging from the considered and illuminating to the wary and ambivalent?

In the two years since their inception (and last July some of them were still at school) this lot have attracted the right pundits at the right time. After a sparse selection of dates the record companies came banging on their door.

They toured with Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, Pere Ubu and The Stranglers. Hugh Cornwell produced some demos, Radar provided an outlet.

The time that The Pop Group came into full view coincided with Radar's putsch on accepted record company tactics, a new approach that fell in line with the independent style of promotion.

Within the limitations imposed by big business, Radar were trying to be different. They offered an acceptable face. Even so, The Pop Group did not sign a contract. This was unusual. Eventually Radar's lawyers would present the band with some kind of ultimatum--the pen on the dotted line. But would the band sign?

Legally they were already bound by a contract of trust because they'd spent a considerable amount of Radar's money (40,000 might be conservative estimate). And although Radar had done alright by Elvis Costello, had a world megastar on the rosta, their other golden hopes weren't doing so well. The Soft Boys were a financial disaster, Red Crayola and Radar's intelligent re-issue series also seemed destined to fall on stony ground.

So by June of this year the band and their label were due for a showdown, particularly as The Pop Group were floundering on the open market. Their album and the 'She is Beyond Good and Evil' single were hardly public hits though the former has shifted a 'respectable' 10,000 plus.

Their last tour was curtailed by promoters Straight Music due apathy at the box office. Pop Group prestige dates in London were similarly fraught. At the Empire Ballroom a scheduled Matumbi pulled out, at the London College of Printing The Slits stayed home. This latter concert, a benefit for the Scrap Sus campaign, raised 900 on the door but 200 of damage was done to the hall.

In their home stronghold of Bristol, Pop Group concerts assumed farcical proportions. An initial mishap occurred when posting was late and The Jam were in town the same night. They cancelled.

When the date was re-arranged local television announced the wrong night and posters were inaccurate, with the result that several hundred people missed the performance but turned up for a non-existent one.

The Pop Group were in the midst of these growing pains when we first met. But they didn't seem too bothered; in fact they were as stubborn as ever.

They weren't going to talk about their music, or their technical prowess, or their relationship with Dennis 'Blackbeard' Bovelle. They were going to talk about those subjects which they deem to be important, the everyday events that shape their attitudes; politics, repression, the liberation of the spirit, awareness of surroundings.

Whether the outcome was fruitful or plain nave is beyond me now. I remember being impressed and repelled by some of their reasoning but totally convinced by their sincerity. A deal of their talk can be glibly excused as youthful idealism, or accepted at face value. The band are at pains to insist that they are not spokesmen, have no answers and can only question everything. They would like you to do the same.

Simon Underwood's flat is on the corner of a formerly smart late 18th Century terrace. The rooms are quiet, light and airy. If walls, like clothes tell you something about an individual's personality then you might guess that Underwood is of a radical persuasion--a Baader Meinhof poster here, a sardonic leaflet on the arms trade and the British Army there.

The room is dotted with prints and photographs of the band in fuzzy close-up, of some black jazz figures, on one wall the poster from their album, imparting bleak information, confronting the modern world.

Underwood is quiet and friendly, the oldest member of the group though not always the most articulate. He prefers actions to words. When the army held one of its travelling side shows in Bristol, to let kids see how our boys keep the home fires burning, keep their big guns primed ('hop in the tank Johnny and we'll go for a spin round the park') type of thing, Simon and some friends went along to speak to the people, not to take a stance:

"We wanted to show them how disgusting it was that they can glamorise arms but not show pictures of soldiers with their heads blown off. It was all rock climbing, the outdoor life. These people just didn't seem to realise it was a family show. At first they were ambivalent, against what we said but not too hostile. While we were talking a military band came by playing this stirring, patriotic music and suddenly they went mad, called us reds, pinko scum y'know. And we aren't Communists, we were just talking."

Underwood was beaten up on the way home.

Pop Group drummer Bruce Smith is an exiled Californian whose residual knowledge of America makes him less susceptible than the others to the surprise of violence. His frequent use of comparisons to the homeland makes this clear.

Bruce has a penchant for dressing gowns and girds his loins with ragged pieces of cloth. Bruce and Simon are the much vaunted rhythmic axis of the band, the pulse, the necessary formality. Like their partners they are self-taught.

Singer Mark Stewart and guitarist John Waddington arrive last of all, leaving the boys in the backroom and Gareth Sager (guitars and horns) to bear the brunt of our initial conversation.

Sager is the hardest member to fathom or like. At times he is forthright and deadly earnest, then suddenly he'll lapse into a fit of giggling silliness, looking for attention. His stage performances are equally unpredictable; he plays to extremes, some of them inspired, many of them distracting or under achieved. His antics often seem rooted in ego, yet Gareth will insist that the band seek to remove all the barriers between them and the audience, to create a happening, an open space.

Sager: "I don't see the point in entertaining just now it's pure escapism. People have this ridiculous conception that rock and roll (laughs) is teen rebellion. It's pathetic, you might as well watch Les Dawson.

"Rock and roll is taking your mind off reality, it's thinking that Elton John playing in Russia is important. I'm more interested in art and its social function than art for art's sake. It's good that Linton Kwesi Johnson used his music to promote his work, rather than vice versa. That's much better than someone like John Cage (the electronic peer of Karl Stockhausen) who sits outside the changes and doesn't reflect what's going on."

This is a moot point of course. I argue that if people want entertainment then they have a perfect right to seek it where they will.

Sager reverses the logic: "How can you challenge that right? It's the way we're brought up. And then a band comes along, and we're a real danger to your peace of mind. We're attacking institutions that might seem like common sense until you dig down and discover their motive... money. It's a game, entertainment, and we don't want to use this space to promote it."

One subject close to the collective heart is the Sus campaign (the Sus laws are those outmoded pieces of legislation dating from the early 19th Century and designed to prevent the spread of the Napoleonic code and its revolutionary alternatives which allow a police officer to hold a member of the public under suspicion of committing a crime, before any such crime has taken place).

The Pop Group LCP concert was a benefit to finance the campaign for repeal of the law, and they frequently distribute the campaign's literature:

"A lot of people don't know about a lot of things. They're deliberately kept in the dark. The benefit is to attract free publicity, because most of their time is taken up with defence costs. They encourage people to lobby MPs but black organisations tend to get involved on their own - they don't trust white middle class liberals. Obviously, the law is being used to repress certain minorities, blacks.

"You can guess what's going to happen when you're in court with a magistrate and its your world (sic) against the policeman's. The media just won't listen to a campaign which defends blacks against whites; they turn it into a black power scare."

The Pop Group don't advocate violent reprisals. The problem, as they see it, is one of re- education, re-assessment of cultural standards. Sager's perspective is didactic:

"Culture is work and duty in the west, and anything natural is a crime. Western civilisations are based on cities which, being outside nature, ignore the rest of the cycle. But in countless African tribes, where there is no urban repression, there is also no concept of crime and punishment; they have sexual liberation; sexual intercourse is practised from puberty.

"All we did was colonialise, make them put clothes on. We should be educating ourselves; abolish schooling. All the money that's wasted in schools should be spent helping people get rid of ambition and indoctrination."

A note of self-doubt stops Sager in his tracks:

"But who are we to say they're all wrong? My utopia is the end of authority, license and privilege. The alternative is increasing totalitarianism, freedom without responsibility, letting one body decide your life; the idea is that the family and the state are inseparable and sacred units. But we don't want to use all these long words, 'cos it's really important to talk direct to the kids on street level. All we can advocate is, drop out kids! But be responsible."

And wasn't this utopianism attempted in the '60s and its leaders found wanting?

"That's because people did drop out and then hung around smoking dope. They should have been looking forward. The Pop Group isn't what's happening, it's a step to what comes next."

Bruce Smith has been listening intently to Gareth's reasoning and attempts to encapsulate it: "We're saying that you never forget the past: like the line on 'Boys From Brazil' that goes, 'If we forget the past we're doomed to repeat it.' You have to doubt everything, to check everything. That's why the album is called 'Y'; it's no good burying you[r] head in the sand and saying you have no political motives. Everything you do affects others."

Sager interrupts, a dance of ideas flitting through his brain, all of them tempered by an equality complex:

"The important thing is, we don't want to come over like little philosophers. It's obvious we're the same as everyone else. In fact, we're a lot younger. The older generation is frightened by youthful spirit, it's against their inhibitions and cynicism. I advocate giving the inexperienced more power because experience makes you less likely to take risks."

Gareth stops and laughs at himself: "It's so frustrating; all these things are inside me and sometimes I can't find the words to express them."

He doesn't seem to be having much trouble today: "Society is too anal, but then so is music. Playing music all this comes out. I feel like I'm shitting on people instead of them shitting for themselves."

At this moment a whole bunch of people wander in. Simon's front door is not locked. As talk of shitting subsides Simon goes off to feed his cat and make some toast. I pop the 64,000 dollar question, the obvious one about justifying the release of product on Warners; it's the central problem for a group of young men who in every other department seem hell bent on ridding their audience of the consumer mentality.

After all, a record is promoted, it makes someone a profit, it contributes to the escalation and disease of Western capitalism. Nobody needs a record, not even a Pop Group record.

Mass head shaking: "That's the big problem," they sigh. "We know Kinney sell and make arms, promote imperialism in countries like Puerto Rico where they have no business to be. We know we're a part of the system, whereas maybe a worker at Rolls Royce doesn't know the component he makes every day is part of a guided missile.

"What we say is that we're just using Radar for their money, to propagate the records and their ideas. But it isn't satisfactory. It took ages to get that poster bootlegged and accepted. Radar aren't happy with that at all."

When I tell the band I find the poster depressing they are shocked:

"That's what the history books should be like; the media should take responsibility for the atrocities they could show, instead of glamorising them every night at nine o'clock. We've had loads of letters asking about the poster, positive letters. Those kids aren't depressed, they're hopeful. They ask us what we're involved in, they don't talk to us as a group. We never want people to look up to us."

The poster is the work of Pop Group accomplice Rich Beale and the cuttings Mark has collected over recent years both for their striking visual effect and because they illustrate the lyrics.

Mark writes the lyrics.

"I look at them and they sum up what I feel about certain things. Sometimes the pictures are stronger than a lyric sheet. People can get what they like out of the songs. There's no one message. What they mean to an individual is fine."

By now concentration is fraying and so are tempers. Mark, say the rest, is being too reticent. One time John Waddington interrupts him in mid-sentence and Mark sinks into a sulk. Bruce attempts a reconciliation with disastrous results.

"What's the matter, Mark? For God's sake, you're not saying anything. If there's a problem why don't you tell us instead of sitting there and brooding?"

Mark: "Nothing's the bloody matter!"

Simon: "C'mon Mark, there shouldn't be any hang-ups or secrets. Why don't you say what you were going to say?"

John: "I just thought I knew what you were going to say, that's all."

Mark: "Why don't you say it then?"

Oh, dear. It seems reasonable to call a halt for awhile. Some of us go round the corner and have a cheeseburger. The band stay behind to sort out their internal dispute. The mood is destructive. Chris Horler wants to take pictures but this is out of the question today. The Pop Group are not into self-promotion and Mark has boils on his mouth.

When we return the air has cleared somewhat, but Gareth tells me: "We've decided to censor ourselves on that last hour of tape. It was too bland. We didn't express ourselves properly."

I'm annoyed at this arrogance but not surprised. Their attitude towards me has veered from friendliness to hostility to contempt. It may be the result of pass press encounters wherein they claim to have been substantially misrepresented.

According to Waddington: "We haven't been allowed to say what we wanted. People always talk about the music. Or just when you're getting to know them the tape finishes and they don't have another or the writer has to go home. So all you end up with is chit-chat."

Five on one. I feel like a leper. Perhaps we can talk about Dennis Bovelle then? I am genuinely interested to know how the band approached working with a reggae producer. How do they rate the sound of 'Y'? Is it what they wanted?

Bruce takes the question at face value and tells me about the textures and the rhythms they picked up from the man:

"It's the way he mixes sound. He has a way of obtaining sound through feelings, making them work in a studio...."

Gareth intervenes imperiously: "I don't know how much of this interview we can use talking about music or production. We want to talk about external things. They make more sense to people. The producer was only there to help us get our attitude across."

Oh! So you didn't learn anything from Bovelle? Of course, they say, they did. Learnt from his expertise, his experience and his spirit. In 1975 Bovelle was the victim of a totally spurious rap for which he served six months in Her Majesty's Pleasure before being granted a Queen's Pardon.

Gareth is animated again, with reason:

"How do you give a guy back six months of his life? Dennis in a prison with no instruments is a crime. Music is his life, he's a walking rhythm machine...." Pauses: "I still think we should talk about things that won't go over the NME readers heads though. But if we talk about the Conservative Government or something you'll only start getting petty."

Silence bounces across the room like a drunken wallaby. I might start being petty after all, but then there is no way of knowing what people who read the NME are like, is there? Besides, music is the medium you use.

"Insofar as you can say anything with it and get it across to anyone. We also want to tell the kids about big multilaterals like Kinney, companies that are bigger than entire countries, wealthier than continents. You buy their products every day of your life.

"People say 'it doesn't affect me' or 'what can I do about it?' Well, you can stop buying certain imports, you can campaign against certain exports."

A voice: "We can't talk about that!"

Voices: "Yes, we can!"

This is starting to feel like a therapy session in a psychiatrist's surgery? Me? I'm just the stenographer. Still, I agree with their contention that music papers have a duty to reflect things other than plain old rock and roll. It isn't just an endless round of records, stars, icons, drum solos. That's a debate which figures in Gasbag, I say.

Bruce replies in kind: "Music is a celebration of awareness, channelling your ideas through what you play and the way you play it. These are subjects we want kids to be aware of and yet it isn't just what we're about. We want to open them up to new experiences, not just rock or reggae or jazz. Movements and styles are only starting points; after that they get categorized."

Gareth: "And now the new wave thing is finished, it's ridiculous. It's back to that old playing crap. Encouraging virtuosity is absurd; it's all about technique and how well you play again."

I disagree. There is nothing wrong with encouraging virtuosity, it's a fundamental part of any art form. Showing off though virtuosity could be bad, but showing off without virtuosity is worse, eh? Haven't you gotten any better over the last two years?

The Pop Group's self-composed biography spells this out, exploiting the standard of excellence achieved by the rhythm section, referring to the levels of experimentation from the soloists. It mentions 'Perhaps Britain's toughest rhythm section.'

On stage the band attempt to combine these elements with total audience involvement, and dislike the idea of a 'stage' anyway. Bruce defines it as a chemical reaction, an escape from contrived responses where the band comes on and plays at, not with, its audience; the audience in turn applauds, is passive, separate.

"We're not expecting anything specific. Sometimes people do come up on stage with us. It's great if that's how they feel. But the London date we played at St Paul's Church was awful. We were preaching to the converted. It was sick. Everyone was so into us that it was easy."

Of course those people might have been The Pop Group's rightful audience. Having your audience participating could also be disastrous, posing a problem of insurance, danger, loss of concentration. Worse, the people who want to enjoy themselves elsewhere are generally distracted by the appearance of exuberant invaders. The flow is lost, not heightened.

It has been suggested that The Pop Group will always play for a coterie, that they are indulged and are indulgent, or pretentious. They tell stories against themselves of people streaming out of the hall as soon as they take the stage, leaving the hardcore to provide its usual, expected response.

My own impression of the band live is of five people attempting far too much. Their ambition destroys their subtlety. The better passages of 'Y', the quiet, reflective pieces often occur when Sager is playing piano, an instrument they ignore live. On stage they tend to hide behind their tapes, their volume, electricity.

Though The Pop Group laugh when they are called a rock band and laugh at the idea of a 'rock gig', their music is not the bohemian jazz funk they imagine it to be. Not yet. Though it's possible for a group of self taught experimental musicians to achieve a level of performance where they can excite, move and involve the listener, it takes time to develop emotional sophistication.

Pardon the expression but The Pop Group are trying to run before they can walk. Their musical tastes and influence are eclectic, invariably black, James Brown, Funkadelic, Parliament, Sun Ra, Last Poets, Ornette Coleman, Charles Hayden, Miles Davis. There's no point pretending that this music is not demanding to play, often requiring a different set of responses and values from a person weaned on white rock.

The band seem to be heading at times for the territory Miles Davis explored on his 'Bitches Brew' to 'Agharta' period and because of who and what they are the results are interesting. They're not reproducing or copying either; they don't have the technique (gulp) for that.

Listen to a Davis composition like 'Miles Burns the Voodoo Down' or 'Spanish Key' and yes, you'll find echoes of their intent; but whereas Miles' music embraces a spectrum of moods, shudders, flits, pulls taut like a membrane, prowls like a cat, the rhythm section is at one with the solo instruments. Pop Group music bursts out at random, like a crazed bull [that] doesn't know where it's going.

At present there's more chaos than order. The band are adept with rhythmic hooks and underlying structures but weak on the top layers. Only on their most impressionistic song, 'Savage Sea,' do they resolve all their ambitions, achieving a peace which isn't introspective, a music which steps out over the edge of chance and finds new ground to sustain its momentum.

Still, to adopt a Sagerism, who am I to tell them what to d, to curb their enthusiasm? Better that they learn for themselves. They are all inspired by their music; they enjoy it. Mark Stewart puts the feeling well:

"It's an unselfish sensation, a clear mind. You forget the diversions of the day and get to be practical. There's no point in being a cosmic asshole, there is a point in music where humans can relate freely, without embarrassment or violence. The tribalism we've been associated with got blown out of proportion but we meant it to signify a number of people coming together and getting higher. That's why it feels good.

The trouble is most people aren't able to let themselves go, to accept new feelings. Everyone is so clogged up with education. The younger you start the better. Buckminster Fuller said, "There's no such thing as genius, it's just that some children are less damaged than others.'

"We never felt different to our audience but we know we could reach a lot of people. It's worth it when they are genuinely involved... a girl in Swansea crying with happiness, people coming up like the drummer in the Gang of Four - and saying it's the best thing they've seen.

"See, for days on end you feel so futile and then you play a concert and it's forgotten."

The Pop Group's influence on their contemporaries is impressive. They are part of a burgeoning community in Bristol, there are bands from Manchester to London taking their freedom fusion as an example. People write to them from America, Japan, Poland, Czechoslovakia. You can't argue with that.

The Pop Group do hate the idea of being copied though - of being idolized: "We'd hate to see lots of mini-Pop Groups, people must have their own attitude."

Mark cites the newish song 'Blind Faith' in that context, its subject is the need to avoid leaders, politicians, parents, teachers, rock stars. By extension Stewart reckons that people must rebel against the work ethic altogether and enjoy the idea of leisure time.

"Kids are going straight from school to the factory, doing what they've been taught. Work is sacred, people don't know how to appreciate freedom. In Paris when they closed the steel yards down and then turned them over to automation there were riots..."

Simon: "But someone has to work in the factories."

Mark: "Yeah, let computers do it."

Simon: "So where does the money come from?"

Mark: "People don't need money. They're conditioned to buy consumer items they can't actually need... status symbols, even records, records especially. People have to get back to making their own music."

The boys in the band describe themselves, albeit tongue in cheek, as humanist radicals, or beatniks, young men in a world they see heading for destruction unless....

They have hope: "We are positive. Our songs try to make kids aware. 'Thief of Fire' is about thought crimes, book burning, fascist propaganda. Once you realize these things have happened you can fight them.

"'Blood Money' is about financial degradation. We're all responsible for the 10,000 people who die every day of starvation. People know it but do they do anything about it?"

And do The Pop Group do anything about it, other than worry?

Mark: "There's very little you can do which is of any use. We're not preaching, though it might seem that way to someone who can't relate to our music. Basically, we're a bunch of 18-year-old kids, like any others; these are things we believe in, we talk about them at any time, and we talk about other things. There must be 1000s of kids like us who are beatniks at heart. At school I used to look at everyone and wonder if they thought the way I did. Why was everyone else so weird?"

Sundry voices: "And then he realized it was him who was weird."

Mark: "So I joined a band."

Chorus: "He joined a rock and roll band and went straight."

(Helpless laughter).

Straight to the screaming target?

A week after this interview I went to Radar to confront Andrew Lauder with certain Pop Group allegations that the company wasn't actually committed to their development, actively discouraged their attitudes and would be quite happy to mould them into the token left corner where they could rant occasionally while cleaning up their act sufficiently to score with the odd hit single.

Allegations of WEA corrupt coffers aside, Lauder, an honest and respected figure in the music business, a man who has applied lessons learnt in the '60s to the new mood of this decade, seemed to think that any resentment was par for the course twixt artist and employer.

And the little matter of a contract?

He pointed out that as The Pop Group has already spent a sizeable amount of Radar money they were legally under contract. He certainly didn't seem like someone who wanted to say goodbye to the band. He said he liked them, with their faults, enjoyed their idealism, and fully expected them to accept Radar for what it was worth.

"They can use us - that's no big deal. All artists use their record company. That's what we're here for."

The week after that The Pop Group met Radar's lawyers. They did not sign a formal contract, their relationship was terminated, kaput, I doubt if there was much love lost.

Mark Stewart and Simon Underwood came up to London the day before this summit meeting and we tied up some loose ends. I don't think I've ever seen or heard a more confused bunch of young musicians in my life.

The band were on the verge of splitting for good. While Simon and Bruce see the benefits of infiltrating a major company to present their message, Gareth, Mark and John say they couldn't get to sleep nights worrying about the contradiction between ideal and practise. The majority held.

Now, The Pop Group are at a turning point. While manager Dick O'Dell called their leaving Radar "The best scam since The Pistols and EMI" Mark was in the mood for less mercenary soul bearing. He referred to the utter frustration the band felt when they made 'Y': "We were so fucked up when we made it, you have to be in a weird, tense frame of mind to listen to it. We were making the record and having people bring us our meals, do the washing up. Cigars and brandy afterwards, living like millionaires, it was revolting.

"I'm really worried now about being true to ourselves. When we started we used to begin by jamming. It was free expression. We tore songs apart like Hendrix ripped up 'Star Spangled Banner'. Now we just want to be understood; if it's free it doesn't have to be esoteric."

The Pop Group desperately want a hit single and George Clinton of Parl/Funk fame, to produce it. They think that he likes the band enough to eschew the usual high fee; that's another facet to their huge ambition and a fine example of their naivety.

The past months have hit the band very hard indeed.

Stewart told me that "nothing is sacred, not even The Pop Group, we might break up or we might go off and get work, we've been so sheltered by our thirty quid a week. I'm beginning to think that it's more important to fight for what you believe in than to be in a group anyway.

"When I was younger I got totally fucked over people like Roxy Music and David Bowie. They gave so many kids false aspirations by encouraging images and lifestyles that they couldn't afford. Now look at Bowie - all he can do is sing about his playboy adventures. It's so divorced from reality.

"I used to trust people like Patti Smith until we toured with her. She was like a dictator to her band, she told them exactly what to do. And we can't play gigs now with bouncers and high ticket prices.

"We're setting up an alternative index of venues, promoters, record shops, journalists, to avoid the business altogether. We're seeing The Gang of Four, Public Image and The Good Missionaries; trying to set up an alternative tour before the ideals disappear, before the media waters punk down like they did with rock and roll, with the 60s.

"The kids feel rebellious but they're [sic] energies are being manipulated through commercial channels. So many bands have fallen apart... what's the use of singing about spiritualism before materialism and then continuing the process?

"I think we are a pop group, not a jazz group. I want us to be understood by anyone from nine to 90. It's time to set an example."

As for the future? It could be Rough Trade, the band's ideal, or it could be EMI where The Gang of Four are supposedly experiencing similar heartbreak and misgivings. Whatever your feelings about The Pop Group they aren't about to sell their dreams.

Or yours.



Pop Group