Swimming Against The Stream Interview

For the third time the British melancholics have appeared with an album - SWIMMING AGAINST THE STREAM - dominated by Steve Skaith's mournful singing, which always reminds one of John Watts from Fischer Z. Steve initially found it hard to repeat this comparison: "I'd never actually heard John Watts. I'm not that up to date with modern music. When I first heard the comparison I went out and first bought Fischer Z's 'Red Skies Over Paradise'. I liked the record. I did recognise a few similarities between myself and John Watts. When one taxes Steve and lyricist Mike Jones with the melancholy of the music, they point out the connection between the music and lyrics. A connection which, in Steve's opinion, is too often overlooked: "Many people say 'the music should be faster, more angry. Have you never heard of New Wave?' But I tell them: "Just listen to 'Nomzamo', it fits together, it makes sense. The lyrics are after all contemplative! They're not a battle cry, they describe a situation."

And these contemplations often spread pessimism. No wonder, because Steve and Mike come from the English Left, which doesn't feel at all happy under the Conservative Government of Maggie Thatcher, which Mike summarises with "It's a like living in a nightmare". Nevertheless the two don't see their band as a political one. They point out some of their songs on SWIMMING AGAINST THE STREAM, which aren't political at all. So WOUNDED IN ACTION is about a failed love affair of Mike's, while other songs have lyrics about the relationship with his father or the film business.

Latin Quarter packages these themes in mid-tempo grooves with a light reggae touch. But Steve points out: "We're not a reggae band. Even if the bass lines and rhythm occasionally sound like it. We certainly make melancholy music, slow material, a bit like Bob Marley and the Wailers. That's after all what we're best at.

We would give people quite a shock if we went on stage and played 15 three-minute songs à la Sex Pistols, with Fuck Off and all that. I'm just too old for that!

Published in Fachblatt music magazine - June 1989