Gwen and Jade are in a band called the Gladeyes. They often practice and record at the home of Gwen’s parent’s, Trish and Geoff. Since these two people have possibly heard them play their songs more than anyone else on the planet, they could be considered experts on the subject of the Gladeyes. The Gladeyes thought, then, who better to interview them than Geoff, General Practitioner by day and Rolling Stone music critic by evening.
The interview started casually in Geoff and Trish’s living room, Geoff in his chair and Jade and Gwen cross-legged on the floor. As if waiting for this opportunity for his whole life, Geoff’s interview used up all four sides of two sixty-minute cassette tapes. Below is a small excerpt from the conversation.
nb. This was also recently published in the journal "Hue and Cry 'Stakeout.'"
Dad (Gwen’s Dad Geoff): So, am I going to be a fictitious interviewer?
Jade: No, you don't need to be fictitious, do you want to be fictitious?
D: Can I be from the Rolling Stone? Actually, who was it I was reading an interview with? Oh yeah that's right, I was reading a little bit about um… Now, you are known as the Gladeyes?
Gwen: Ha-ha, yes.
D: And how would you describe yourselves as a band?
G: Ah, you mean musically, what genre and stuff, or..?
D: Well, I wouldn't really use words like genre, just really, how would you describe yourselves as a band?…Which of you is the better musician?
D: Which of you has got the greater..? I mean in some bands some people do more of the sort of musical side, and the others do the lyrical side. Is it sort of very mixed and shared, or does one of you have a greater interest in various aspects of it, like one of you is more interested in the lyrical side, or do you share that?
J: I think it's pretty even.
D: When you make up the words does one of you write it? Or you both kind of add in and change it, and...?
G: We have collaborated on words before but we don't so often as the music, even though it relates, the lyrics are generally written by one person.
J: Mmm, but when we started they were a bit more collaborative, it would be good to be more collaborative...
D: So does it tend to be that if you write a song, the lyrics are by one of you and another song might be lyrics by another person?
G: Yeah. But we have collaborated and we do, and even if we don't collaborate maybe on the actual writing, we might collaborate on the ideas of what the song would be about. And then the person who writes the lyrics is just the person who is more excited about it at the time.
J: Nothing's planned, like we don't say "Oh, you write three songs today," and nothing happens like that.
D: No, no, I know...No, no, I wasn't suggesting that but I was thinking, well...
G: But we would sit down and have times where we try and write lyrics together and stuff.
D: Like you have a piece of music that you've done, but you haven't got the lyrics?
G: …the chords or the structure, maybe one of us would bring that, and someone else would write more of a melody, and someone else might add the lyrics, and someone else might write little bits of lyrics. But it's really quite collaborative, but some songs are more or less collaborative.
G: …but as an overall kind of project and set of ideas I think it's really collaborative, because they all sit within that framework. And so those songs exist because of the other songs, even, you know... well, that structure’s there for them, or something.
D: Anyway, just getting on to a lighter topic, with your names - interesting names aren’t they? Gwendoline, quite a traditional female name, I’ve never heard of a guy called Gwendoline…
D: …and Jade is what I might call an intersexual name, because it can be a boy or a girl. So, Gwen represents the femininity and tradition of the female in your band and Jade, because there’s no males in the band, she can sort of flip over to the male side, is this right?
G: Yep. Definitely right.
J: Yeah, you’re spot on. On the money.
D: Because, I’m just going on from your music, you’ve got some really light and fun tracks, one of my favourites being Geek Boy, which, I don’t get to hear very often in fact, but, in terms of lightness and fun, and then you have…
J: It’s my Dad’s favourite song as well!
D: Oh is it? Okay.
G: Oh really? Maybe we have to do a tribute to the Dad’s?
D: Yeah. And then you have the more serious and kind-of deeper songs, and I understand that as part of your greater artistic concept you’ve developed these characters of Damien and Monika. Can you tell me about Damien and Monika?
G: Well, I don’t think they’re…
D: Do they represent anything, or are they characters?
J: Yeah, they represent…something. They’re like vessels, of people.
D: Vessels for different people?
G: They’re almost like…
J: Archetypes? Or…
G: Yeah like tropes.
D: What’s a trope?
G: It’s sort of like an archetype, but it’s actually more specific
J: Like cinema or something? Is it related to cinema?
G: It’s any kind of representation, just like something that’s reoccurring, like the idea of an innocent child that’s really perceptive. Like in Les Miserables, there’s a character called Mignon and she’s a trope, she represents a recurring archetype, within literature or…
D: So are you kind-of intending, as you produce more songs, developing a sort of narrative of these people? Like they become, um, cartoon characters is not the right word, but they become like real people that keep popping up in your songs, and become familiar to people and they become, kind of like real people?
J: Yeah, we’ll always probably write songs about people. Yeah, I think those names probably won’t keep going, I don’t know actually, but, it’s nice to bring in new characters.
D: Are there any other characters beside Damien and Monika?
D: Claudia, of course Claudia
D: Andy of course.
J: Geek boy, but that’s not really a name.
G: But that’s definitely like a specific character.
J: There’s gotta be more than that…
D: Where did Andy come from?
G: I think Andy was just a name.
D: Yeah, but what influenced that song? What influences do you have, do you recognise any influences in your music? Your early music is possibly a little bit influenced by the Velvet Underground.
J: Yeah, we were listening to quite specific music when we started.
D: Karen Carpenter?
D: I noticed in that book Veronica by Mary Gaitskill, that she slayed Karen Carpenter, there was a paragragh or short paragraph…
G: Where she brings her down sort of thing?
D: Well yeah sort of, she has a very good way of bringing big things down into little things and dismissing them almost. Like, a generation of women worshipping Karen Carpenter, and just saying, well, you know, she was a bit of a messed-up woman that ate, didn’t eat herself to death. The reverse. I thought it was a bit cruel, she has a cruelty…anyway, I’m digressing, and it’s not really to do with the interview. Not too much, but it’s possibly, if that’s a book that you read it might indicate something about the ways that you think.
G: I think it’s good to always have those counters anyway, you know…
D: Yeah, so do you think that your music is always a mixture of light to serious? You like to bring in all the different moods of how you feel, I mean, Andy’s quite a sad song? And Geek boy’s a kind of tongue-in-cheek happy song, isn’t it? I mean you obviously don’t think of geek boys as really being geek boys because again it’s like a stereotype, and people who get called geek boys often aren’t. You seldom are what people slot you into.
D: It’s got a catchy tune, that’s what I like about it. Um, where you’ve got much more narrative types, like Bad Town Blues is more kind of narrative, isn’t it?
D: So you’re quite eclectic in your style of songs, and even in your lyrics as well. Now, I’m interviewing you as an older person, and one of the things I’m noticing now is that it kind of almost bores me how novels and songs are all about the same thing, which is love. Which is obviously so pertinent to you, you know, like relationships, boy-girl relationships, and love and all the angst and intricacies of that. But as you get older, because that’s not so important to you, because you’ve kind of gone through all that, it kind of seems a bit boring in a way. I mean, recently I’ve been listening to a radio station that plays a lot of oldies stuff, and just about everything is a love tale. So, do you aim to write songs that aren’t about that, and still try to catch young people’s attention? I mean, obviously you relate to your own generation, you’re not kind of making music for different generations. Do you think you can kind of make music and lyrics that address other issues? But fun issues, and issues that are really close to people’s hearts?
G: I don’t know, I hope that we already do that to a certain extent, even within those kinds of narratives that might address things like love and relationships and stuff, you know?
D: Well you could write a song that’s about the boy-girl love thing, or about the mum-child love thing, or about the mum-dad, or the child-dad, or the child-grandad, or the child-grandmother, or what-have-you, those sorts of love things. Do you think people relate to that much?
J: Yeah I think there are a lot of songs with that kind of thing. There’s heaps!
D: One of the things I wanted to ask is the idea of doing interviews anyway. Why bother doing interviews? Why not, I mean, listen to the music?
G: I think they just inform what you do in a different kind of a way. And probably be more-or-less successful each time.
J: I like reading interviews with people.
G: Yeah, me too.
D: Interviews can be edited, especially if they’re TV and so on, so you have to be a bit guarded when you’re interviewing.
G: Yeah, it’s a real skill I guess.
D: I realise that you two, before you were interviewed by me, have had to discuss what you’re going to kind of say and not say, and I see you sort of tapping each other when you feel that one of you is revealing too much about…
J&G: (nervous laughter)
D: Have you ever thought of going brunette?
G: Jade’s the boy. So I think she should.
J: Why does the boy have to go brunette?
G: I don’t know, the girl gets to call the shots?
D: Okay, I think I have explored you quite well haven’t I? I think I’ve made you think a bit, haven’t I?
J: Yeah, there were some good questions.
G: Yeah, definitely.
J: The best interview we’ve had so far.
D: It was good for me too, I’m very proud of you I have to say. Very proud of you. I think you’ve done really, really great, kind of hard to hold it together because it’s kind of like a marriage really, it’s hard in this world to kind of maintain…
The full interview is to be published as the book, So the Attainment of Perfection is Forever? Stay tuned.