Originally appeared on the 4AD website, but is no longer there. Chris talks about his breakup with Miki.
After a two year hiatus, Lush return on March 5 with the release of their third proper full-length entitled, Lovelife. Originally known for architecting dark and delicate sonic-scapes swirling alongside bands like My Bloody Valentine and Curve, Lush achieved critical distinction in the UK with their first LP, Spooky -- a release which translated into US success over the course of their Lollapalooza tour in 1989. A number of uncontrollable factors led to their next release, Split, being perceived as a moderate follow-up. Unfazed, Lush return to marry their unique pop sensibilities to cleaner and more natural production. With their first single, "Single Girl", entering the UK charts at 21, and "Ladykillers" currently charting at 22, Lush find themselves again poised on the capricious cusp of popular success. The following conversation with Lush's soft-spoken rhythm section, drummer Chris Acland and bass player Phil King, offers a survey on their progression from Split to Lovelife and glimpses their own take on love lives and matters of the heart.
4AD: So you've recently released "Single Girl" in the UK. Sounds as though everything has gone very well.
Chris: The response has been great. It went into the charts at 21, and we got lots of tele. We're not really used to it.
Phil: TV has really opened up to "brit-pop". There's a lot of radio on this single too. We love to share.
Chris: The last record, Split didn't happen that way at all. We brought out two singles on the same day and neither got in the charts. Everything seems to be fitting into place on this one.
4AD: On the subject of Split, I know you had difficulties with that release. What do you think happened?
Chris: That record had so many complications. We'd finished the demos but we didn't have a producer. We spent three months looking for one and then he couldn't do it for another two months. Then after the recording was over, and it did go well, we went to France to mix. But those mixes weren't up to scratch, so we had to mix it again. We spent a lot of time and money, and it just ended up being a really unnatural process.
Phil: Yeah and then it was released to all around disinterest. It wasn't such an "up" album. But then when you hear some of those songs live, you think they could just as easily be on this record.
4AD: Right, which is "up". The overlap begs the question as to whether you did or didn't make any conscious decisions to change your sound.
Phil: Well that was something that has haunted us as far back as Spooky. You know, people coming up to us after a show say, 'wow, you sound totally different live than you do on the record". We got a step closer to achieving a more live sound on the last record, moving away from the more synthetic sound on Spooky. I think this record moves us even more in that more natural direction.
4AD: That seems to suggest that it's the production rather than the songwriting that's changed.
Chris: I think that's right. People really seem to be saying that Miki and Emma's song writing is changed. But it hasn't really. I mean of course it has over the course of seven years, of course it will change. But it is more a question of production. It really is more straightforward. And as we said it was easier to get this sound because Pete Bartlett knew what we were looking for.
Phil: Yeah on Split, we recorded everything live, for the most part. And then Alan Moulder remixed it and tended to use a lot of samples and effects. He did do a really good job, but he did make it sound more synthetic than we might have wanted it to.
4AD: Are you in the habit of giving up the production process like that?
Chris: Emma's always in the studio. Miki and Emma went off to Boston for remixing on this record. They know what they do and don't want and have pretty strong input. But everyone has a say as far as the recording process.
Phil: Also, in this case we worked with Pete who we've known for a long time and trust a lot. This is very different when you're working with someone you don't know. Pete had a strong influence on this record.
Chris: Even when we recorded with Robin Guthrie we could still tell him what we did and didn't want.
4AD: Are you two specifically involved in the overall production of the records, in the "sound"?
Chris: : Well not so much for the final mixing. As I say, they went over to Boston. We weren't there for the final mixing.
Phil: Besides the final sound on this record didn't change that much. from the recording. They just punched it up a bit.
4AD: Do you contribute specific songs?
Chris: I think we'll just stick to writing B-sides. I mean its great in England because we do 2 eps and have 8 songs, which leaves 6 left over, two 7"s and then this time around we've got the 4AD 10" we have to come up with 3 tracks for that and for the compilation. So it's a lot of songs. Miki and Emma pretty much get the album and we just help them whenever they ask us on these side projects.
4AD: As far as the writing process happens in general, is it collaborative or do they come to you with finished songs?
Chris: Miki and Emma will come in with essentially finished songs. Yeah, things might change a little bit, but not much.
4AD: Do you stay in the habit of playing together, when you're not preparing to tour or record?
Chris: No, not really. We do the record, we go on tour, and then things stop for two or three months and we begin rehearsing and demoing and recording again. Unless we're playing or recording, we don't "jam".
4AD: I wouldn't think so after 7 years.
4AD: What about Jarvis Cocker from Pulp singing on the record? Is the bio true when it states that you (Chris) wanted to sing a duet and then backed out?
Chris: I half heartedly, jokingly said I wanted to. You know that Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra duet where they're having a go at each other and picking faults. I liked that, and then I said, yeah right, why don't you write a duet. Then after a couple of days she comes in as says, "I've done it". I was really surprised. I never intended...well, I can't sing. She sent over a cassette and I thought no, I couldn't even do it in the kitchen much less the studio or on the album.
4AD: Who came up with Jarvis?
Phil: Russell from the band Moose suggested it.
Chris: Jarvis is quite is a good choice. Pulp are really big in England, and we thought he might not be bothered. But he said, "yeah". He just came in and did it and it came out very well.
4AD: I know you've been touring in the UK. How has that been going?
Chris: Yeah, we've just done 10 dates. And we've done about half of the songs off Lovelife.
4AD: Does that present any problems?
Phil: There's some songs that are impossible to do. Olympia's impossible. Because it's orchestral and there's a break with intricate sound effects. We're terrible at doing the low-key songs live. We tried "When I Die" on the last tour and we did die.
Chris: Some songs in the studio and come out great and then you try to reproduce them and don't work
Phil: They don't have the same dynamics and they sound flat.
Chris: And then we can do something like, "Desire Lines" and "Last Night" and they sound good.
4AD: And how's the live response to the new songs been?
Phil: Yeah, we're doing "Runaway," "Heavenly Bodies" and "500," and they've gone over really well. There are such immediate songs.
4AD: What do you think about the press response? What effect do you think the press has had on you so far?
Phil: Well it's very simplistic, suddenly Lush are a pop band. And we're immediately transformed over night by the press.
Chris: Yeah, it's so cut and dry.
Phil: Yeah now we're "back from the dead"
Chris: We thought the songs were alright last time. And they just concentrate on this being a 'comeback' and all that. We haven't been gone that long. But that's how it is with the press, they've got to have an angle -- and the angle is that we've been gone for so long and now they've turned into a pop band and "it's about time".
Phil: But then people who have come to see us, reviewers I mean, who probably haven't seen Lush for 4 or 5 years and think wow, they're really not bad
4AD: It's good that despite their position and effect, they're predictable. Taking a change in direction and at the risk of degenerating into teen-mag titilllation, I think the ladies simply want to know if...
Chris: Yeah, I've got quite a steady girlfriend. And it's nothing I can't handle.
Phil: I'm just looking for a single girl...
Chris: Oh god, Phil was saying the only people who fancied him were men.
4AD: Phil, really? It's the hair and your sinewy frame. The word is that you're something of a literary man. What's the last romantic poet you read?
Phil: The last romantic poet, mmmm, Rimbaud or...
Chris: No he's not romantic. Maybe Byron, Coleridge....
4AD: Chris, is that you rattling off the poets?
Phil: Yeah, Chris is the real romantic here...
Chris: These are the things I read all the time (laughs).
Phil: Yeah, sitting about sniffing the love in his scented hanky.
4AD: Have either of you been dumped?
Chris: (Hesitates) Well Miki..
Phil: Yeah who chucked who?
Chris: Alright, the closest thing I've been to getting dumped was, well I used to go out with Miki. We went out for two years and I realized it wasn't working, then I left first and decided I wanted to come back. But she wasn't having any of it. In a round about way, I've been rejected but only after I dumped her first.
4AD: It's important to write history in your favor...
Phil: Yeah I got dumped about 10 years ago. And now I get mine back.
4AD: Really, how's that?
Phil: I do the dumping.
4AD: Very good. Did either of you deserve it?
4AD: What's the toughest lesson the ladies taught you?
Chris: They lie to you and cheat you and break your heart. And you have to do it first. That's the lesson you learn.
Phil: Yeah, you gotta leave your heart in the freezer.
4AD: And the moral of the story?
Chris: Go in with a rational mind.
Phil: Just stay friends.
4AD: Would were it so....