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Trembling Blue Stars - Interview Part 2

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 22 / 10 / 2006

Trembling Blue Stars - Interview Part 2


In the second part of his four part interview with Trembling Blue Stars' Bobby Wratten and Beth Arzy, Anthony Strutt chats to them about Arzy's induction into the group and the bands's increasingly diverse sound

PB : It’s ironic though that Trembling Blue Stars were on the same label for a while as Sub Pop, isn’t it ? BW : They had the Postal Service and the Shins on their roster at the same time, but it is funny because, after we had left Sub Pop, we were still friendly with them and they said to us “We aren’t doing pussy pop anymore” (Laughs) and I was like “Thanks” and the next thing I know they are doing is Iron and Wine, which is hardly strident stuff. It is good, really good, that stuff like Iron and Wine and the Shins have really crossed over. PB : (To Beth). You were in Aberdeen. I understand that you appeared on ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’. I worship Buffy.Do you know which episode or season you were on ? BA : I think it was called ‘The Killer in Me’ and it was in the seventh season. It is the one where Kennedy and Willow first go on a date to the Bronx and they are at the bar. The band in the background there was Aberdeen. PB : You’re originally from California. How did you end up in Croydon, Surrey and London, England ? BW :I ask her that every day....... (Laughs). BA : I have been coming over for a long time. Aberdeen never played the UK. I actually had a long distance relationship with someone for four years in London and we got married and it didn’t work out, but I ended up staying. BW : She got into Trembling Blue Stars because Aberdeen did some stuff on Sarah towards Sarah’s end. BA : No one cared about Sarah anymore by that stage. BW :. We had both been on Sarah and Matt from Shinkansen knew I wanted someone to sing with us, and mentioned Beth. BA : Matt asked me three times, but I always said no. He knew I was coming over, from LA to live in London, so he said “Why don’t you audition to be in Trembling Blue Stars ?” because he knew Ann Mari Davis (Trembling Blue Stars’ previous singer) didn’t want to play live anymore because she gets very upset on stage and I kept saying no way as I was a big Field Mice fan. I had the Trembling Blue Stars and Northern Picture Library records as well and I thought “I am not singing in front of Bobby Fucking Wratton” and Matt was like “I’ll take you to his house and you can meet him, and see how you feel about everything then.” And the next thing I knew I was at Bobby’s house and Matt was saying “You can go in now” (Laughs). BW : It wasn’t really an audition. BA : We sat on his floor. (To Bobby) You played to me and sang a song, and then you said to me “ Do you want to be in the band ? “ and I was like “Are you telling me that I have passed the audition ? ” (Laughs). BW : I had heard Beth's voice before, so it was more of a case of whether we got on really. I didn’t think she would go off on one wailing like Janis Joplin or something, and so she ended up joining. PB :. How would you describe your songs ? I used to call the guy that introduced me to your songs Tweeboy, as he used to stay in his room and listen to the Smiths and the Field Mice, but, if you listen to your music, it is quite electronic and good to dance to, even some of the Field Mice stuff. BA :. Wait until you hear the new album ! There is a song on the new album that Bobby was going to throw away. It is very dancey. I’m not going to say it is like New Order but there is a New Order feel to it when you listen to it and now it is one of my favourites off the new album. He was like “Maybe I will use it as a B side.” It is amazing. I can see people dancing to that. BW : All the songs are written in the same way, whether they eventually use drum machines or sequencers or whatever, or real drums and a band. Once the song is written I will think “What is the best way to do it ?” and then I will go to Ian Catt (Trembling Blue Stars’ regular producer), and describe what I want. BA : It is like this is the Cure one, and this is the Wilco one.... BW : There’s an element of that. There’s definitely a Cure influence, for example, on say, on ‘The Return of Things’ on ‘Seven Autumn Flowers’. It would be stupid of me to say “No, no, never heard of them.” They are a group that when I was really young hit me hard. You never get beyond being 13 or 14 in some ways. They meant everything to me then. I just love the space of those records, the guitar sounds and everything. The variety comes from that thought, ‘How best do we do that song ?” We don’t always do the same thing. It is not like one of us is always going to play the bass and another one of us is going to play the drums. It can be anything. PB : Do you demo everything at home then before getting the band involved ? BW : I usually demo on acoustic guitar. On the last EP ‘Bathed in Blue’ we did more clever demos because I knew what I wanted with some songs. It is generally on acoustic though. BA : (Laughs) They all start out sounding like Jackson Browne. PB (To Bobby): You originally formed the band as a solo project after Northern Picture Library fell apart. BW : Yes. PB. I understand the name, Trembling Blue Stars, comes from the book and film ‘The Story of O’. BW : Yes, I don’t think it is in the film but it is in the book. BW : I started the first Trembling Blue Stars album, ‘Her Handwriting’, before there was a name or anything. By that stage Sarah had stopped, and Matt was starting Shinkansen and asked me to be on it and to do its first album. There were a few false starts, as I didn’t have much confidence then, but eventually we did it and we would suggest names to each other very shyly and that one kind of stuck. Matt said “I can see that” and then ‘You’re stuck with it” (Laughs). The third part of this interview will follow in December.

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Trembling Blue Stars - Interview Part 2

Trembling Blue Stars - Interview Part 2

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Interview Part 4 (2007)
Trembling Blue Stars - Interview Part 4
In the fourth and last part of his extensive interview with Bobby Wratten and Beth Arzy from Trembling Blue Stars, Anthony Strutt talks to them about the reissue of their entire back catalogue and why they have decided to abandon live work
Interview Part 3 (2006)
Part 1 (2006)
Interview with Bobby Wratten (2002)


A Certain Blue Light (2003)
Trembling Blue Stars - A Certain Blue Light
The Trembling Blue Stars are about to consolidate their position "as The Great Nineties Pop Band That Never Happened’ with a Best Of or Greatest Near-Hits. David McNamee looks back over their career and finds an odd resemblance in it to Kylie Minogue's

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