Interview With Ewen Vernal The Scene April 1993
Plymouth Pavilions Tuesday 13th April
Deacon Blue, like Glaswegian contemporaries Wet Wet Wet, are on the face of it one of those bands that people just love to hate - why this should be is open to debate, but when The Scene spoke to bassist Ewan Vernal we endeavoured to find out. To begin with, they're appearing at Plymouth Pavilions (13th April), a venue which, while depended upon by us desperate locals, is not the sort of place you'd expect to find Deacon Blue at this stage of their career. According to Ewan, however:
We like to play smaller more intimate theatre.type venues. I actually prefer the Idea of an audience being able to sit down If they want to.'
(Okay everyone, put your cheeks together for this next one, cos it's really gonna glue you to your seat'.) Anyone who plays music to sit down by (James excepted) is asking for abuse. The new album, 'Whatever You Say, Say Nothing', has met with varying degrees of grudging praise, although for Ewen it was the Melody Maker's review ('You're a bastard Ross') which stuck in the mind: '
We were pretty pissed off with that. But it's usually the ones with vitriol In them, the bad ones, which are the most memorable, unfortunately'.
Much of the album's success has been attributed to the role of producers Steve Osborne and Paul Okenfold (better known as the Perfecto team, with the Happy Mondays, Neneh Cherry, Massive Attack and Arrested Development among their credits), did Ewen feel this was justified?
'Yes, I guess It would be. Basically we've been doing this now for six or seven years, and It's got to the point where any new project we want to get Into we try and approach with some kind of challenge In mind. So we approached Paul and Steve, whose background is different to anything we've ever done. In a lot of ways It was a difficult record to make, because we were going into territory which we'd never been In before'.
The choice of production team, Ewen admitted, was based on the recommendation of one of the Record Comapny's A&R people, and as Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh revealed in their recent Observer interview, Paul and Steve took their carte blanche control of song selection to extreme tyrannical proportions (Lorraine was driven to tears on more than one occasion).
Critics will no doubt seize upon this as evidence of artistic control prostituting itself to commercial imperatives. Maybe, but what's new? Isn't a little compromise worthwhile to achieve a top ten place in the album charts 'whatever You Say..' went to No. 4)? There is, of course, nothing like chart success to provoke the contempt of the purist, and Deacon Blue score highly in this respect.
Their debut album, 'Raintown', was in the charts for 74 weeks, while 'When The World Knows Your Name' got to No. 1 and 'Fellow Hoodlums' No. 2. Not bad going by anybody's standards,'yet Ewen seemed remarkably unaffected by this success, and a very likeable and open fellow into the bargain. All of which probably makes them even more hateful in the eyes of their detractors. Nevertheless, in the wildly divergent music scene that we have in 1993, it is reassuring to find that the pop stars of Deacon Blue's ilk do retain a down to earth attitude, coupled with more than a passing interest in left-field politics north of the border. And maybe that is preferable to the self-indulgence of their contemporaries in the pop market; who can say?
Chas And Luigi