Sounds, May 19 1984
IN THOSE formative moments, names and reputations are built at the drop of a plectrum.
Choosing a name is not easy, so how can you sum up hours of ideas, days of invention in a few simple tongue-tingling syllables?
UV PØP, now that’s a good one. Ultra Violent Pop. A contradiction
in terms, maybe, a bright hopeful collective, perhaps. Whatever it sounds like, it’s got to be a blow in the right position, a carefully aimed assault on the senses. It could have been
such a con - often what looks convincing on paper falls uncomfortably flat when put into practice. But in this case, it’s not. Far from it.
The man at the centre of this slim-line combo
is John K White. Another Sheffield boy, lean in stature, garbed in black suit with a wry smile on his face. He speaks in a warm Northern brogue and admits all immediately. He is UV PØP, accept no substitutes, there is no other.
“It’s been going for about two and a bit years now. I was in a trio called the I Scream Brothers where I did the music and the other two sang, but it never really got off the ground”.
Seems the main problem for the cutely named combo was the (other) two thirds’ reluctance to do anything other than the absolute minimum.
“They were quite keen to get their names in the paper and do gigs
but they wouldn’t do anything else. We hardly ever rehearsed, so I ended up playing along to the backing tapes and singing just to get in some practice. I sang along too and with a bit of encouragement,
here and there, decided to start UV PØP as an offshoot.”
The absent Brothers, after a brief period of enthusiasm, disappeared, leaving Mr. White holding the guitar, a handful of
tunes and a headful of ideas. An offer to do a track for an upcoming compilation spurred the Popster into Cabaret Voltaire’s Western Works. So impressed with the end results were Pax Records
that they decided to go the whole hog and put it out as a single.
Resplendent in a hand screened cover, the double a-sided platter slipped unceremoniously into the world and - like all great beasts
- immediately went to sleep. Sporadic mentions, gigs here and there and you’d have thought the violence (pop-wise) had stopped, but not so.
With screwdriver in hand, our John had been busy building up a
small scale Abbey Road in his front room. Walls of wires, electronics, equalisers . . . But that doesn’t tell the whole story. His new LP, however, dubbed ‘No Songs Tomorrow’ certainly does.
Just released on Flowmotion, after quite some time in the making, ‘Songs’ is real classy. It would have been too easy for UV PØP to have stuck systematically to the rigidity of electronic techno-pop,
which that first single suggested. Instead the human angle - represented by acoustic guitars, sax and soulful vocals - creates a brittle balance that makes the album so much more effective.
“People would come down and say ‘Oh, you’re getting away from the electronic stuff, putting too many layers of acoustic guitars on’. Someone even said I was beginning to sound like Kevin Hewick . . .
That’s no bad thing, mind you. I think it put some friends off a bit.”
The end result couldn’t have been better though. The subtle blend of styles works extremely well, the difference of approach on the
two sides of the record, although similar in construction, show a stark contrast.
“When I put the two sides together they fell into two very definite parts. A couple of songs get close to joining the acoustic and
electronic areas but to get a distinct, direct style is very difficult.”
Even though one side is based around a more apolcalyptic approach and the other is essentially electronic, the composition of each
song still retains a very individual UV PØP sound. A kind of underground angle on popular music which the name perfectly fits.
“There’s no way that the two sides could have ended up totally
different, anyway, as the instruments used throughout are exactly the same. Even some of the tracks that could be loosely termed experimental are still very structured. The majority of the
material still works on the verse/chorus basis.”
John White is going a long way. He’s developed a comfortable little niche for himself that has a vast amount of potential, a veritable spectrum of possibilities.
About now he’ll be going in the studio to work on a new 12 inch and already he’s got another album’s worth of material ready to record. Live appearances have increased recently too and developments on
that front are being helped vy an upgrading of equipment.
John White will never get too technical, he’ll never be over produced or predictable. The secret of UV PØP lies in the subtlety
that still exists in what is an aggressive, chunky attack. There’s a lot of possibilities there an ‘No Songs Tomorrow’ - contrary to its title - is only the beginning.