Melody Maker - June 21, 1986

Crime & The City Solution - Breaking and Entering

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder scream The Stud Brothers.
Crime & the City Solution go along with that.

Since Nietsche wrote 'Beyond Good and Evil', since we stopped going to church, nothing is definite. Crime & the City Solution are not the least bit captivated by the World Cup and, though they have never met him, find George Michael a singularly uninteresting person. Their favourite colour might be Prussian blue or jaundice yellow - we don't know, we never had the balls to ask - and the sexiest women in the world are Clara Bow and Louise Brooks.

They hate goths but love Leonard Cohen and Johnny Thunders, The Stooges and Sonic Youth. They despise narrow-mindedness and a lack of humour. They want people to buy their records and wish they could be seen as the new Monkees. They used to be The Birthday Party and they're not what we expected.

Let's face it, if you make a curious crush of blood and blues, swampy grinding guitar and finger-clicking drums; if your single sounds nasty, claustrophobic and ugly and the singer seems to be giggling at your goosebumps; if you juxtapose that with the clarity and melody of a classical piano, it's all a bit too hideous to be the Monkees, all a bit ... intense.

'Anything of intensity has as much ugliness as it does beauty and, a lot of the time, the two things are very confused.' Rowland is twisting his elegant white fingers around a Marlboro, his huge shadow eyes flicking across the room with hasty suspicion. Earlier we watched him and his brother stretch themselves across a stranger's car for a photo session in bloated Georgian Kensington. Ugliness and beauty?

Maybe it's first impressions. The residents of Kensington are hardly likely to know that the two skinny hoodlums buckling the bonnet of a neighbour's car are in fact sensitive and genuine human beings. All they see is two six-and-a-half foot Australians sloping around their square and using someone's Gold GTI as a chaise longue. They are not to know this is the Howard brothers, bassist and guitarist with Crime & the City Solution. Rowland hates being judged on first appearances but admits his absolute guilt in doing so to others.

'If you see a man in the street who's 45 and really fat with egg stains all down his tie, you don't think. Hm, what a charming man. I bet he's really gritty and interesting.'

Strange isn't it how the whole world hates a dosser? Maybe it's for their lack of style, after all it's difficult to visualise one wearing a low-slung guitar, stepping in and out of a cold white light, looking wired and sweet 16. Or maybe it's because they're weak, because they're pissed and need to be pissed, because they want money from you, money for nothing. And maybe it's because in their shattered eyes you recognise an element of yourself, you recognise the junkie. Rowland leans forward and looks down, his body taut with quiet concentrated ferocity. He particularly has something to say about people's attitude to junkies, to those who are forced to live on the edge of society, outside the law where the law-abiding citizen treats them with, at best, loud, superior disapproval.

'There's a total misinformation about what's going on and all you're basically made to feel is that you're a bad person and don't do it again. If somebody has the sense to treat you like an adult and tell you what's happening exactly and what stages you'll go through and so forth, you can recognise what's happening to yourself and can think, thank God, this happens to everybody, I'm not just a particularly weak person or anything, which is how a lot of people feel when it comes to drugs. Things like this propaganda campaign make a lot of people think it's ridiculous to even try giving up heroin because it's 'impossible'. And that's just really stupid.'

Jesus, it's getting really hot and ugly in here, someone ought to change the subject, so we try to rile them with the horrible self perpetuating worthiness of the independent group. Unfortunately, and in spite of the fact that we were unreliably informed they would be difficult, we all agree there is nothing more patently ridiculous than the false modesty of bands like the Housemartins declaring themselves the fourth best band in Hull.

'How charmingly humble of them,' sneers Harry. Rowland is equally repulsed by people hiding their own inadequacy behind a transparent film of integrity. 'It's all so cosy, all patting each other on the back for how indie, how incredibly indie they are, and wondering who's the most indie of everyone.'

Rowland feels arrogance can be an exciting virtue if accompanied by a certain degree of style. He leans back in his seat and declares, 'If I were to approach this interview from the point of view that what we're doing is no good, if I did then I'd be pathetic to even be in a group.

Crime & the City Solution want fame because fame is the result of a wider audience; they want money because, without it, it's difficult to eat and keep warm. They want what they deserve and see no reason why they shouldn't be huge.

'Our biggest fans, the ones that follow us everywhere, love Sigue Sigue Sputnik and Billy Idol.'

That's true but we never expected it. It makes sense though because what all three groups have in common is energy. But whereas Sigue Sigue might be pretending and Billy's velocity is lurid, narcissistic, and a bit of a want in a bucket, Crime are energised violence prolonged by tension and tempered with intelligence and subtlety.

'Any kind of real emotion is violent to an extent. It's a very unfortunate fact that there are very few love songs that have anything to do with what love is like, and very few songs about anything that show you what it's really like. It would be false of us to play music that was saccharin. We play as honestly as we can.'

Some might see such forthright honesty as ugly, indeed it's a peculiarly British reflex to turn away, irritated and embarrassed, every time someone speaks their mind. Some of us are blinkered to honesty's beauty but Crime & the City Solution are not blinkered, British or embarrassed. They are pagan colonials with a lust for life that they are thankfully able to communicate. they hate worthiness for its own sake and despise pot-bellied rock stars in red satin jump-suits; they like their new single ('Kentucky Click/Adventure') and enthuse about the new approach to bloodiness and suspense in 'Blood Simple.' They hate trickery and fakery and you'll hear none o fit on their new album; none of them dress in black or have anorexia.

They would like to be seen as the new Monkees and why not? They do get the funniest looks from everyone they meet and they have got something to say. Epic's been very quiet, what does he want from it all? 'Just a feeling of something extraordinary going on.'

- The Stud Brothers
(transcribed by Cat)