Emma Murphy 17/05/2010
Seventeen years ago a band from Hounslow emerged, they were called The Bluetones, seventeen years on, and on their sixth studio album, and with achievements including knocking Oasis's 'What's the Story Morning Glory' off the number one spot in 1996's album chart, and becoming one of the few Britpop survivors of their day. I had the upmost pleasure of catching up with Mark Morriss before the band where set to play a host of new songs off their latest album A New Athens at Cardiff's Clwb Ifor Bach. I resisted the urge to tell Mark that when I was thirteen I used to religiously kiss a poster of him every night before I went to bed. Wasting my English lessons gazing at all the pictures I had of him all covering my English books... god did I just admit that!!!
Your latest album 'A New Athens' is due for release in May what can fans expect from your sixth studio album?
I think it contains the quite typical essential elements of The Bluetones but this record sounds more immediate, in the way in which it was recorded. The album is a bit more warts and all, in the past we have tried to iron out any mistakes with albums but this one it felt right to leave it as it was. There's a sense and sound of a band playing together in a room on this album. I think the way the album opens up and the way that it ends it's a proper album as in it has a beginning, a middle and an ending.
What makes you guys one of Britpop's longest survivors?
The four right people got together in the first place; we all get a real kick out of working together. We are all very similar personalities and get a real buzz when we are together and we just get on in a working and a social environment.
If you weren't in The Bluetones, what other career do you think you would have followed?
I really don't know, I always wanted to be a musician and as a young man I put all my efforts and energy into achieving that end and never ever had a plan b and all these years later I certainly don't have a plan b. I really couldn't imagine doing anything else, I'm quite lucky that I'm doing what I love to do.
The title of your first album 'Expecting to Fly' was taken from a Buffalo Springfield song, is Neil Young a big inspiration for you?
I am a huge Neil Young fan, seen him live a couple of times. I wouldn't say that he is necessarily a stylistic influence on us. But more to do with the quality of his work and the enduring quality of his work, there is something timeless about his song writing which I love. Neil Young's music still affects people all these years later and that's decades on, he is still having an impact.
You went solo for a while, what was that like in comparison to being in a band with The Bluetones?
It was an interesting adventure playing with a different band, one I enjoyed, it was quite daunting at first as there was a sense of everything resting on my shoulders, when I first started out solo. But there's a lot of freedom that comes with going solo and working with new people, getting new chemistry benefitted me thereafter.
It always seemed to me that your songs never had a direct meaning you could never easily say 'this is a love song, or this a song to listen to after a break-up' would you say you write songs that can be left up to the interpretation of the listener?
It was quite frustrating as with the first album a lot of people assumed that a lot of songs on there were about relationships and that sort of thing, they are of course about relationships just not necessarily a boy, girl relationship but a person to person relationship, betrayal among friends and falling out with people and so on.
What was the song 'Time and Again' on 'Expecting to Fly' about?
Weirdly enough that is a song about not being able to write a song, about losing your inspiration and mojo.
What out of all the albums you have done are you most proudly of?
The new one I'd say, in a couple of years I'll have a little more perspective on it. But at the moment it's still very much new and fresh and I'm really proud of it because there's a really toughness to the sound.
The Bluetones are more than worthy to be Britpop survivors what bands to do you look at that have come out lately that you could say will be around in seventeen years time like yourselves?
You can see bands like Kings of Leon sticking together; I think the Artic Monkeys could quite easily stick around for a good few years as they seem to have something about them that bounds them together.
The new album from The Bluetones 'A New Athens' is out now.
The Bluetones - The Bluetones 'A New Athens' FlyTV In The Courtyard on muzu.tv