Interviewed by Auntie Jude   Leave a comment

WAN Mum Jude 1 asked a few local bands some difficult questions for Line Of Best Fit.

That’s the link to the full text but the Um bit is:

Who’s in your band?
Just Pete Um and the various machines.

Describe your music.
Still can’t do this question. Kinda structureless miniatures of gnostic electronic rock married with metaphysical protest poems. Dada haiku fortune cookie wisdom/Christmas cracker jokes. The pursuit of the ineffable since 1996. Or, to paraphrase Steve Adams’ summarisation: it’s just singing over tapes (of songs that sound like they’ve broken on the way to the speakers).

Which of the other bands on this list do you a) know b) rate c) share members with?
I don’t know The Last Dinosaur, Puncture Repair Kit, The Tupolev Ghost, or Victoria and Jacob, but I know the rest to a greater or lesser extent. Obviously I think all the bands are fabulous and all that but if I was about to be shot and I was allowed to pick one band to play a set in my cell I know I would still smile when Jamie and Andrew (The Vichy Government) shuffled in.

What band/artist should have been on this list, that isn’t?
All my mates that are in bands that you haven’t listed, which I have to say for reasons of diplomacy.

How is your music (if at all) informed by your Cambridgeness?
By osmotic transference. Cambridge appears in my songs now and then, and vice versa.

What has been the best thing your band has achieved, to date?
Puh. Uh… well apart from just getting up and doing it and keeping doing it I suppose I’m proud to have played a lot of gigs over a long time. It’s been nice to play in Europe and have it go well, and it’s great to have done some music that I still feel good about several years down the line. And I’m proud to have produced such a large body or work, even if, as someone once said, they are short songs.

What are your musical aspirations for the future?
I don’t really do aspirational. I would just like to make small runs of records and have similar numbers of people buy them.

Who are your musical influences?
It would be a very long list. Sometimes I think the best musicians sound like themselves though.

What’s good, bad and indifferent about the Cambridge music scene?
It’s a tricky one. I sort of like the localness of being in a band in Cambridge, because there isn’t really a scene in the negative sense of the word. I used to describe myself as a Community Popstar as a jokey comment on Cambridge’s possible insularity and/or my woeful failure to break out of it. There isn’t too much ego or bullshit to being in a band in Cambridge, and audiences are pretty accepting and supporting. The bad thing is that a lot of potential gig-goers are a transient population of students etc, and they may never even make it to The Portland in the first place! Also, you rarely get a sense of energy at Cambridge gigs, or the ones I go to anyway.

Why should we care about you?
You said I should imagine Janet Street-Porter was asking me these questions. To this one I would reply “Shut your teeth, Janet.” Who says I care if you care, even if I do?

Give us the background or an introduction to your track
I like this track because, like some of the best songs, it sort of seemed to almost make itself. I did the music in about 45 minutes and wrote some words about this woman who’d approached me after a gig I’d played the night before to tell me my songs were too short. I have a motto which is “It’s all grist” which means that I would like to think I can co-opt anything for Um purposes. In this case I cheekily provide my attractive critic with her own song, and even though I spent only five minutes in her company I have been told by those who know her well that I captured something about her. Even though there is a sense that the joke is ultimately on the sad musician in the song there is a note of rueful defiance struck by the song’s 1:18 track length.

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