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The Peace & Freedom Magazine Face in the Crowd Interview

Face in the Crowd are a duo consisting of Rupert Loydell (ed of Stride magazine) and Russell Kirk (a classical guitarist amongst other things).

Having heard their first cassette release, "Phoenix", I can confirm that conventional it is not. If you thought PIL were different, you should hear these guys!

Anything goes, whether it's punk, orthodox rock, electronic, avant garde, psychedelia - it's all there.

Thus follows the interview. Rupert obliged.

How would you describe your sound - in layman's terms?

We've got two sides. Firstly we do songs. These vary from soft rock through to a rather distorted punk sound. we also improvise work, often with percussion, sometimes with more traditional instruments. Most of our work is a mixture of the two. Fir instance, the first side of "Phoenix is songs, the second side live percussion with acoustic guitars and recorders, whistles, etc.

There seems to be an abundance of underground groups who don't seem to be constrained by musical fashions - would you ever sacrifice your basic ideals if you thought your popularity would increase?

I think, if someone could sell our songs, then, yes, we'd concentrate on those. It can be great to make a living out of your "art". I can't see a situation arising where we couldn't release experimental work on cassettes anyway. It's only fashion that dictates popularity. I mean - say (joke!) we were on Top of the Pops singing a song. We'd probably sell hundreds of weird cassettes as well, and, most importantly, a lot of people would like it. I can't see any immediate problem of sacrificing anything, though. Perhaps a few arguments with a producer!

Are gigs important to you at this stage, or are you waiting for your development to reach a later stage before committing yourself in a further area?

Gigs aren't very important, not as rock gigs, anyway. We're playing a few this autumn, and are practicing with a drummer at the moment. This series of gigs will be song-based, with only a few poems/instrumentals included.

Normally, we work on a theme for a show. We did "Missing Persons" based on a booklet of poems that I've written - that was with slides, dancers, and live improved music and poetry reading. The musical themes and moods were worked out, but there was no definite music or anything.

We've done some work with Blisters Dance Company, too - where we are simply musicians - the audience are more aware of the movement. We also perform acoustic sets of guitar/bass/vocals - songs and poetry.

I like the "thrill" of rock gigs - loud music, audience, but it's less exciting than making a whole show work. I don't like the "heroes up on the stage" bit, either. We get round that by performing in the dark, with only slides showing, sometimes.

What do your lyrics convey?

Lyrics are a continuation of my poetry. They cover lots of ideas - animal rights, political ideals, faith (and doubt), love songs, the human condition. That sound profound! Everything. there's no set theme as a band.

Has FITC had a lot of media coverage - if so, where?

We've had radio play on local stations (Signal, Radio Stoke), and there's talk of sessions. The latter did an interview, too, before playing tracks. fanzines have been good to us recently (e.g. Open Sore, Purple Twilight, Pagan Relapse), and, of course, info goes out with a lot of compilation cassettes. We've also had radio play in Switzerland, Belgium and America.

Who impress you most, if any, of bands/musicians around in the eighties?

Russell is mainly into classical work, and mainly prefers '70's music. He borrows my stuff, though. As for me - Attrition, Cocteaus, Bruce Cocburn (we do a cover of his "Justice" track), Talking Drums - mostly small groups. Ordered Lives Celestial Orgy, Bushido, Panic Grass, Eveless in Gaza, Eno's work. A lot of jazz, too.

You've appeared on a number of compo cassettes. Have you been happy with your involvement with them?

I'm always pleased for tracks to appear on anything... within reason. It's good to be on things like experimental, punk, and rock compilations. I'm especially pleased to have been asked to go on the Purple Twilight compilation LP.

Have you found your musical niche, or are there still aspects you're not happy with?

Our main worries are in technical areas - we'd like to produce a better sound than some of our work has. As for musical areas, we shall carry on playing all sorts - music is only an arrangement of sound within a space.

Is dress important to your, or is the music paramount and your only concern?

Dress is totally irrelevant to anything we play. The only time it might be used is as part of a dance piece or show.

Have you had any connections with the Cartel or other indie distributors?

Not with the Cartel, no. But PS distribute some of our work, and Calypso Now in Switzerland, odd things in Belgium, and I am presently working with a friend to get cassettes out in America.

What are your laid plans for 1986?

A few rock gigs coming up. Also, a few poetry and music events. There'll be some sort of benefit event for the printing/painting studios that we're setting up.

We're working with V-Sor, X on some joint tracks. We'll be recording some longer tracks, with a view to a C60 with four tracks on. Tentative titles are "Capturing the Whirlwind", "Only the River Runs Easy" and "The Chilling Year". The latter is a soundtrack to a performance we did in the spring, which was an anti-war event.

Then there's a couple of independent labels interested in us. We shall carry on making music that we enjoy, and like to listen to.

Last Modified: 16 July 2013