The grim seagulls shriek as they squabble over discarded scraps of fish batter and cold, greasy chips, lightly salted by the sand from the blasting wind on the bleak promenade. An old man, haggard and redundant, hypnotically stares out to sea from his bedsit window, one of the only ones still intact among those that are either boarded up or burnt out. A young pregnant woman struggles to push her pram against the wind. Her children trail behind, their shouts and cries harmonise with the clamour of the gulls and the whistle and rattle of the disused ‘Space Tower’. One of the children asks her mother, ‘Do you love me, mummy?’ The scouse-lilted reply, ‘Shurrup before I clock yer and gerr’ere now!’ instantly quietens the child. Her fag-ash drops onto the baby’s forehead who then begins to wail, which only seems to augment the mother’s stress (her girocheque failed to arrive this morning and little Sheryl-Anne is playing up again).
In the doorway of a closed-down arcade, ironically titled ‘Paradise Mile’, an ageing gothic punk shakes with anxiety and the rush of cheap smack, dry-mouthed and confused, envying a pack of skinheads and scallies in shell suits, fighting on the beach, all mates together, in contrast to his isolation. He was once somebody’s best mate. He is now long-forgotten, street trash, as are most of the societal victims of this now-ignored part of the country. There is no commercial attraction, no interest for enterprise, except the dealing in hard drugs, porn or stolen goods and the like, hence the unemployment and degredation. Drugs and large amounts of strong alcohol are the best means to animate this dreary existence.
‘Isn’t life so wonderful, isn’t life a blast?
The concrete looks so colourful
But the acid doesn’t last.’
(From ‘Of the First Water’ on the Nour D’Oui album)
This is the only positive thing to come out of North Wales for a long while. the lyrical statement is one of the most perceptive, impressive and memorable (especially because of its bitter irony) of the contemporary underground scene. Most people have heard of the Sons of Selina by now either through underground magazines or alternative radio shows, and most people have tried to label and pigeonhole their music which seems to be humorously problematic. It is expected that I should follow the trend and attempt to describe it. I think I’m closer to the mark than most: Chrome-plated cyberpunk twice immersed in bad acid.
I thought that it would be great fun to interrupt Neil from his ecstatic lifestyle and disrupt his easy social routine, as you can discern from the first answer, he was only too happy to help me in every way possible…
When and where did Selina give birth?
Why didn’t you ask us “who’s in the band and give us a brief history” like all the other fanzines do? Ah! but you’ve been at this game too long to fall into that trap, you’ve just worded it differently you sad Yorkshire pudding faced bastard with a drink problem. (Suck on your scouse-edged smack-cutting Stanley knife, you repressed shit-shaft shafter) Why not try;- “From where did your appellation emanate and please furnish our knowledgeable psyches with a compencious recapitulation of the coterie?” – it means the same thing and you’d get the same crap answers like: “Oh, me and my mate were on the dole and decided to start a band, we thought of a name and then looked for a drummer…” Which is not how we began by the way. Who gives a toss anyway? (No-one does that’s why you end up in shitty mags like this)
Why are you reluctant to reveal your band’s musical influences?
Because it gives me great pleasure seeing you lot trying to work out where the noise comes from, I thought it was obvious that Soft Cell figured strongly in our work!!!
How did you get so much English radio airplay, especially before the release of the first album?
That’s down to doing the pressing ourselves. Our first three 7″ releases were on our own label (Life Is But was on Delerium but it was a joint project), so we had all the copies. I sent a copy of the singles to every DJ, magazine and fanzine that I knew about in the UK and abroad, in all I sent around 500 copies of each out and it certainly reaped dividends. I really believe that what we are doing deserves more than just a few copies being sold to friends at a local gig and in a local record shop which is why I went out and sent that sack load of promos out.
With the LP and the latest single Terminus I’ve had 20 copies of each to send out as promos which is why I’ve only read one fanzine review of the single so far and not heard it on the radio – this is because the record company deals with the promotion; albeit not to my liking.
What is the underground scene in North Wales like nowadays?
Since they closed the Point of Ayr Colliery down there’s been no underground seam (ho ho ho). Since the drug culture took over the underground scene has all but died a death, it was extremely healthy back in the heady days of Crud, 4Q, Anhrefn, PSST et al but that’s all gone now, we’ve all grown up and to get caught writing on police station walls at my age just doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore. I have been tempted to kickstart an underground movement in the area once more but that would only dilute my already diluted attentions towards The Sons Of Selina.
Have you filmed a promotional video of a single or appeared on the internationally renowned S4C?
Yes and no, we’ve not appeared on S4C because we don’t sing in Welsh, although I can speak Welsh I don’t see it as a medium for the Sons Of Selina, if we were to do so I could guarantee we’d be on some Welsh language TV programme by the end of the week, which is why any Twm, Dic a Hari can form a band on Tuesday, be absolutely shite but definitely get that prime time S4C slot by the weekend.
We have shot a video for the song ‘Of The First Water’ which is included on more compilation CDs than I care to remember and it’s been shown on that European MTV show that’s on the satellite TV (can’t remember the name of it).
Are you in contact with Anhrefn an Gorki’s Zygotic Mynci?
I do believe Anhrefn have called it a day although Rhys and Sion are still actively involved in music and long may that continue, I used to arrange dodgy gigs for Anhrefn in exotic places like Hurricane Higgins’ club in Oldham where we’d have to disappear without paying for the room hire.
I’ve never been in touch with Gorki’s although I wouldn’t mind doing a couple of gigs with them as we’re sort of compatible on the music side as far as the audience would be concerned.
The album seems to be one of the most popular of the Delerium releases although no-one has a clue what the title is about. ‘Nour D’oui’ do what?, ‘Turn on, Tune in and stand in line’ like most of the faceless masses who call themselves ‘alternative’ but they’re weekenders and fluffies who buy a nice little drugs CD to scare their friends?
I’ve just read that question back 3 times and have to ask the question; “What the fuck are you going on about!?” The answer to the reason behind the title is at the very start of the album which can be heard if you turn it up loud enough – the title is a reply to a statement. If every alternative weekender bought our release as a nice little drugs CD to scare their friends then I’d be a very rich man and far too rich to answer these questions!
Were you satisfied with the overall production of Nour D’Oui?
From that question I guess that you draw the same conclusions as I do. I fucking hate the production on the CD and if my name was Bono I would’ve insisted that it was all done again. There again I’m very finicky. We produced the album ourselves, jumping straight in at the deep end without realising what we were letting ourselves in for. Instead of going to a studio, we hired all the gear and brought it to our own studio. Don’t get me wrong, there’s not a lot wrong with the album it’s just that I wanted more. Recording it was the worst month of my career in the band, I fought, argued and sulked to get my own way and it didn’t always turn out how I wanted it, like the manic ending on ‘On A Promise’ should’ve had the vocals more prominent. Having said that, the song is probably my favourite SOS one after ‘Fire In The Hole’.
The vocals on the new ‘Terminus’ EP seem to be less prominent tham they are on the 1st album. Is this deliberate?
Yes, but not by me, like in the last answer, we still hadn’t learnt from our mistakes and I let ‘the expert’ in the band do the mixing. I’ve decided that I’m going to be ‘the expert’ on the next album! The song isn’t spoilt by it, it’s just a different style to what you’re used to – I still think that Fire In The Hole should’ve been the leading track on the EP.
You’ve appeared on more compilations than you have appeared live, are you scared of the audience or do you get stage fright? What’s the score?
The score is this, would you ‘phone up 5 lads to get them together knowing that they’re all hard to contact then organise collecting all the equipment and we’re not talking just about a guitar, bass and drums here, we’re talking about banks of keyboards, stacks of amplifiers, TVs etc as well and then travel 150 miles to play in a pub in an obscure village to 3 men and half a dog for £50? No, didn’t think you would. We like to stick to big gigs and festivals, and if that means turning out only in the summer or once every 6 months then so be it.
Which band have you most enjoyed/hated gigging with?
Enjoyed must be the old punk band Blitzkrieg, we did a tour with them a few years back and had such a laugh, they were so disorganised, they turned up without a drummer one night so ours had to improvise, then they’d get lost and turn up halfway through our set or they’d get so stoned that they couldn’t play. I remember their drummer was so pissed one night that he did a full tom-roll during a song and didn’t stop on the floor tom, he carried on and fell off the drum rostrum! Excellent chaps and and an excellent laugh.
The worst has got to be Porcupine Tree, I fell out with their roadie because he wouldn’t move their keyboards so we could have at least a bit of room on the stage. ‘No, these synths cost thousands and if I move them Richie will have to reset them all again.’ So I explained in my usual calm manner(!) that if he didn’t move them I would move them either now or during our set… He moved them. They too are excellent chaps, just buggers to support, I suppose we’ll have to perform some Welsh buggery on them next time!
What do you think of the festival scene at the moment?
Pretty shit, because winter’s on our doorstep.
Are you satisfied with Delerium? Do you think you made the right choice as you had previously a few offers from other labels and you are not overtly psychedelic (although Delerium aim to ‘dissolve the boundaries’)?
I suppose Delerium suit in the respect that we’re lazy bastards, and had we signed to Food Records or one of the others courting us at the time then we would’ve had to have got our fingers out and done some hard work – it may have been successful for us, but success in the Jesus Jones sense of the word was never our ambition. Delerium could do with a swift boot up the arse from time to time.
When are we to expect the new album ‘Fire In The Hole’?
As soon as Delerium come up with the dosh to record it, which is any year now.
Will it be in the same style as the first, if not, how will it differ? Will the cover be painted by the same artist and will it feature the same ‘before and after’ theme?
The first album never had a style, it did have that ‘Selina’ stamp running through its diversity so it should be likewise. We held back a few songs from the original session so at least they’ll be on it. I certainly hope it’ll be done by the same artist. We gave him the idea for the front sleeve and the back sleeve is up to him. He’s an artist for 2000AD comics so there’s plenty of ideas left inside him.
Are your previous releases, the singles and demos, still obtainable?
I’ve got copies of Anxiety and the Secrets of Sound compilation 7″ available at £2.50 (inc. p+p). The first LP and Terminus are available through your record shop (via Pinnacle), and the tapes can be bought from Music and Elsewhere, 6, Farm Court, Farm Road, Frimley, Surrey GU16 5TJ
Did the landlord of the pub you recorded the first half of ‘It’s A Boy’ in lose his rag with all the ‘Carry The Stone In The Sack’ mallarkey?
He refused to serve all 26 of us after we did that unless we promised to credit the pub on the album. We promised, he served and we didn’t credit him.
Is the song a personal experience, a transition from the euphoric and carefree youth to the brutally austere social reality that surfaces all too suddenly with ‘responsibility’?
The lyrics are there for you to listen to or read, if you can relate to them then it means I’m not the only frustrated angry 20-something with a hang-up about everything and its’ dog.
How the fuck did you get a welsh choir to sing Greek lamentations or ‘hallelujahs’ for your band, or was it robbed from classic Cymru FM?
The recording of that song was the funniest part of doing the whole LP (even the pub scene), the choir, with their angelic voices certainly knew their lines; only they didn’t understand the language. We told them it was a story about a journey to a far off land, I had to hide while they recorded it because the tears were streaming down my face through laughter as they didn’t have a clue what they were singing about. I’m not going to tell you either!
You portray yourself (whether consciously or not) as the psychotic, dare you try to counsel me, steroid freak when you actually do perform live. Do you think you’re hard? Is it the alter ego that inhales white powder and exhales hot lave, eats lightning and craps thunder?
Not hard, just angry on stage, plus it stops people pestering me after the gig as if so psyched up I’m not very good company after growling for an hour.
Is the photographic stance of all the band a pictorial representation of who will come out of the scrap the cleanest? (Is that Mr. Pants 2nd to the end and if so what does he contribute?).
Do you mean, do we all look like Vinny Jones looking for a rumble? Yes it is Mr. Pants and he plays the drums (in Welsh of course)
There seems to be a few in the band. Who plays what?
Hey hey! 24 questions in to the interview and you just had to ask the mandatory ‘who’s in the band’ question. Well tough shit, I gave you the drummer and you know what I do, that’s enough to be getting on with for now.
Is it purposely a ‘boys only’ band?
I simply looked for the most competent musicians I knew. If they were all girls and me as singer I suppose we’d be in the media spotlight by now.
Finally, are there any messages to the reader who drools over this interview in sheer ecstasy at seeing their fave band give lip in rock star fashion in the first and probably last issue of Astro Zombie?
Yes, Never eat yellow snow.