Fronted by indiepop blonde bombshell Tracy Tracy, The Primitives emerged from the independent scene of the mid-80s that spawned The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, The Wedding Present and Primal Scream. Their sound distilled the shimmering guitar jangle of the Byrds, the buzzsaw style of The Ramones and 60’s girl group melodies into two and a half minute pop gems. Regular session guests on John Peel’s radio show, with many an appearance in his Festive Fifty, their career was boosted/hindered when Morrissey named them as one of his favourite bands.
A widely acclaimed first album, Lovely, made them the UK’s indie darlings, while the huge success of the single ‘Crash’ saw them cross over to a mass audience. Further chart success followed, along with two more studio albums, Pure and Galore, plus extensive tours of Europe and the US, before the band called it a day in 1992. Guitarist Paul Court and drummer Tig Williams continued to work together on various musical projects throughout most of 1990s, while Tracy contributed vocals to Band of Holy Joy amongst others, and also recorded with several outfits working in the dance music field. In 2008, Mojo Magazine voted the Primitives’ second single ‘Really Stupid’ one of the Top 40 UK indie singles of all time.
The band were reunited in 2009 by the untimely passing of their original bass player Steve Dullaghan, (RIP) reforming to play a show in his memory later that year in their home town of Coventry; their first show together for 17 years. Bolstered by its success they went on to tour the UK in April 2010, receiving a rapturous response, followed by a headline slot at the Indietracks festival and shows in the US and Europe.
In 2011 the Primitives released the Never Kill A Secret EP through Fortuna Pop! The record featured two brand new songs and two covers of semi obscure female fronted songs. The two covers were a precursor to their latest album Echoes and Rhymes, released on Elefant records in 2012. They found time to speak to eyeplug.net recently…
01. You’ve had few line-up changes in your history. What would you say kept you together so well?
Probably the fact that no one is interested in any music we’ve done separately, so if we’re going to be involved with making music then it seems it can only be The Primitives. plus we’ve never fallen out much.
02. You’re currently touring with a re-release of ‘Lovely’ to promote. How is the tour going? Are the audience basically your ‘old faithfuls’ or are there many new faces in there?
The Lovely tour starts September 21st, but yes we have a mixed range audience. Some very dedicated fans from the first time round and some new ones too.
03. What is your opinion of the current pop scene? What aspect of it are you excited by? What aspect do you dislike?
There’s always something to like, because there is so much out there and so much more is accessible. There’s a lot of that clueless Topman ‘indie’ stuff about too. I don’t know their names, because I’m not interested in them.
04. What are your thoughts on the reissue of ‘Lovely’, particularly the bonus tracks? Are you pleased to see them out again? Do you think any are closer to the sound you started with?
We were never totally happy with the album, because as I’ve said before, it was kind of thrown together with stuff we’d recorded mainly throughout 1987, so it felt more like a compilation album. Hearing it in 2013 I can appreciate it for what it is. I still have niggles about bits of it and I’m not sure if some of the versions of the songs are the best, but there’s plenty to like. I don’t think it’s ever boring, which would be the worst thing.
The bonus tracks are fine. They’re mainly B sides and it’s nice that ‘Things Get In Your Way’ has been made available again, coz it’s a good little song and we only ever did that live in the studio version, which was buried away on a ‘Crash’ b side. You also get ‘Way Behind Me’ which is in a similar style to ‘Crash’ but possibly better. It was originally on our 2nd album Pure, but ended up on the US release of Lovely as it was released later the same year as Lovely. Beat version of ‘All The Way Down’ is also a big favourite.
05. Did you have mixed feelings about any of them? Which ones and why?
The live tracks maybe. They were recorded with a couple of mics out in the audience and don’t sound so good, but then again I guess they capture the atmosphere like a better recorded version of an old bootleg cassette
06. Are you writing any new material? If so, are you at the demo stage or studio recording?
Yes we’ve been in the studio recording new stuff… possibly for an album, for release early next year.
07. How has the appearance of new technology affected you? Do you like to keep up with the latest kit, or do you prefer your old, tested equipment? What are your reasons?
We use modern recording techniques with vintage gear, because that’s what is available to us and we were happy with the overall sound of our covers album ‘Echoes & Rhymes’ which we recorded in 2011 in this way.
08. How did you arrive at your sound? How much were you affected by your peers and how much by those you admired?
We originally sounded like The Birthday Party, The Gun Club and The Cramps. When Tracy joined we realised she probably wasn’t going to be into shrieking into the monitors with her top off, so a few pop songs were quickly written, almost in a mocking way at first i.e we’ve got a pretty little girl fronting the band, let’s sing about flowers and stuff. But we kept our original racket and I guess we were looking towards that Marychain nice songs with noise thing.
09. Which musicians/bands/singers did you admire when you were first playing? Why? How far do you feel they influenced you?
Bo Diddley, Rowland S Howard, Velvets, The Cramps, The Fall… it’s really just about the approach and attitude. When I was 15 and trying to learn to play guitar I wasn’t interested in being able to play ‘Purple Haze’, I wanted to just put D and G together and play ‘Waiting For The Man’ or play that Bo Diddley rhythm.
10. How do you feel The Primitives fit into the current pop scene? Do you feel you have younger kindred spirits? Who are they?
I don’t think we fit in at all. I’m sure there are some modern bands with affinities to the Prims… l’ll check Last FM and get back to you.
11. What’s your world like? Books? Films? TV shows? Pastimes? Why are they so vital or important to you?
Nuts In May
Planet Of The Apes
Night Of The Hunter
Comet In Moominland
Dog Day Afternoon
Memoirs Of A Sword Swallower
The Wicker Man
Dead Man’s Shoes
The Fan Man
Just some stuff I like that helps displace stuff I don’t.
12. Who would you say has inspired you the most, and why?
I think I would have to say The Velvet Underground. I started listening to them when I was 14 and I thought I was the only person in the world that knew about them. They felt like a secret friend for a couple of years, until I met other people who listened to them too. They’re more or less a household name these days, but they still represent a sort of benchmark for the other stuff…the hidden away stuff.
13. Who do you wish had never been born, and what do you wish had never been invented?
I’ll go for everyone’s favourite mass murdering christian hypocrite Tony Blair, for the obvious reasons and for setting the precedent that anyone trying to become PM these days has to have the demeanor of a particularly cheesy after dinner speaker at a gorgonzola convention. I wish the bidet to be uninvented – they’re supposed to be posh, but really they’re just little monuments to a certain human bum function problem, right there staring you in the face in the bathroom. Why not just have a hydraulic sink?
14. How do you see The Primitives developing over the next year or so? Will you embrace change? Will you stick to the template? A middle course?
We will go backwards, while looking sideways at the future.
21 Bath Moles
22 Glasgow King Tut’s
23 Edinburgh Electric Circus
24 Manchester Sound Control
25 Leeds Brudenell
26 Wolverhampton Slade Rooms
27 Southend Chinnerys
28 London 100 Club