On Their Past, Present & Future
Questionnaire: Steve Bateman
First rising to prominence in the early 90s and making an indentation on the music scene with a succession of spectacular singles, Saint Etienne Pete Wiggs, Bob Stanley and Sarah Cracknell are now rightly regarded as indie aristocracy, electro-pop legends and as indie-dance vanguards who create cool and credible pop!
Having recently released London Conversations: The Best Of Saint Etienne, and also steadily re-releasing their back catalogue in the form of expanded, luxury and remastered Deluxe Editions. Which serve to highlight the trios restless quest for musical reinvention throughout their career, whereby perfect pop melodies collide with sonic experimentation topped off with Sarahs warm caramel and heart-melting vocals. When asked by Virgin.com, How does it feel looking back over your catalogue? Bob replied: It's quite weird, like digging out your own old diary. There are bits which are quite embarrassing, but it's mostly lots of good, strong memories. It's twenty years' worth that's half my life. And we're still doing it! We're reissuing all of our old albums with bonus discs of outtakes and unreleased stuff.
And then, in answer to Pitchforks question, You guys have always been generous with releasing this kind of material, between fan club records and b-sides and whatnot? Bob said: Yeah, it's pretty amazing there is anything that's not been dragged out before. I grew up buying records from Prince or Felt, people who put out an album or two a year and weren't afraid to look a bit foolish, because then they'd come back and do something different. I think that's the attitude we had when we were releasing things. We weren't afraid to put out the fan club album things that we didn't think made the grade for the main album. Somebody might like it, and we obviously liked it or we wouldn't have recorded it.
However, Saint Etienne are by no means a nostalgia act and are keen to keep their collective finger on the pulse / push things forward. And with new material expected in 2010, they have already collaborated with the cutting-edge producer / pop genius that is Richard X, on the sashaying double a-side single, Method Of Modern Love / This Is Tomorrow. As well as confessing their love for new electro artists such as Ladyhawke (also one of my personal favourites), Little Boots, Lykke Li, MGMT and Heartbreak all of whom they have most likely had an influence on anyway. The band have also diversified through the years by moving into solo projects and interests outside of Saint Etienne, including films, documentaries, soundtracks and journalism.
Long associated with London and its thriving music scene, The Times once wrote, "Saint Etienne deftly fuse the grooviness of Swinging Sixties London, with a post-acid house backbeat," and although the city is still very important to the group, it is now considered to be much more of a spiritual home. Having been hooked on their songs for sometime plus given their own fanzine background I contacted Saint Etiennes Manager, Martin, to see if the band would be interested in answering a Q&A for R*E*P*E*A*T, with Pete very kindly returning the completed Questionnaire to us soon afterwards.
As one writer so eloquently put it, In Saint Etienne's music, you'll hear the brightest pop and the most tragic soul, melancholy and pure joy they'll make you believe in British pop again.
Foxbase Alpha Innocence
So Tough Freedom
Tiger Bay Decadence
Good Humor Purity
Sound Of Water Bierpinsel
Tales From Turnpike House Suburban
A very special thanks to Pete, and to Martin @ Heavenly Management, for all of their time and help.