Loop reform! Return of the drone rock innovators
Loop have reformed.
the groundbreaking drone rock band from the late eighties have retruned to the frey and to clebrate with reprint a 24 year old interview with them…
LOOP interview for SOUNDS, 28 January 1989.
Nice is an insult ”when you’re in LOOP that is. Mr Spencer discovers that triviality is the enemy as he probes the band who pour scorn on claims that they’ve sold out.
There’s nothing lovable about Loop. This causes problems., because people meet them expecting a bunch of spaced-out goofballs with whirling eyes.
Instead, they get Neil, who sits and stares silently out of the window; John, who speaks only occasionally; and Robert, who talks a lot ”but only if you ask him about recording techniques and the characteristics of various brands of wah-wah pedals.
Loop may indeed play ear-mincing, kaleidoscopic rock ”Ën’ roll, but as individuals they bear no resemblance to the vivid, almost cartoon-like personalities that make up the likes of Crazyhead, The Wonder Stuff, or even Dinosaur Jr.
Loop take their craft seriously. It’s The Music That Matters is their motto, and fiddly little background details are a waste of time.
Nothing, they say, should be allowed to divert attention from their rolling, humming, deafening, electric guitar noise symphonies.
“When we started people kept on asking us all the time, How many acid tabs do you drop? And it wears you down after a while, you just get so f***ing bored with the same questions all the time.
“In the end you find yourself not even bothering. It’s a bit bad really, but it’s getting better now. People are managing to get to grips with us at last.”Â
Robert gives me a meaningful look, John does something complicated with his fingers (hard to see with all the hair in the way) and Neil, continuing to gaze out of the window, merely nods. The urge to check this man’s pulse for traces of life is strong.
They’re an odd bunch and yet, somehow, they’ve hit upon a winning formula, packing in the crowds and enjoying the kind of feverish loyalty only bestowed upon a highly select minority of rock acts.
Loop’s new album, ”ËFade Out’, will soon be floating effortlessly to the top of the indie charts.
Just watch it go.
“A few people, whose names I won’t mention, are actually moaning about us playing to 1,500 people now at the Astoria. We’ve not sold out, we’ve got very tough ideals and we’ve kept to them. We’ve never ever done anything that we didn’t want to do.”Â
Robert is exasperated. How could people say such things? The ”Ësell-out’ jibes may be totally dumb, but they’re getting to him, and they shouldn’t.
“I think ”Ëselling-out’ is when… I mean people want us to still be playing down some f***ing small little pub, so everyone can be really underground, you know? The fact is we’re booked into the Astoria because that many people want to see us, so surely that’s fair enough.
“We do sound as big in a large place as we do in a smaller place. I still think the music can drag you into whatever people like getting into. I don’t see that there’s any difference, really.
“Every gig we do is almost a one-off for us, because we try to put 100 per cent commitment into everything we do. Laziness comes into it with some bands after a while, because they start believing their own press, and they don’t really care any more about what they’re doing.”Â
Have you always been attracted to high volume?
“Oooh, yeah. That came from all the groups I used to be into when I was younger, the Velvets and the Stooges and that. But we don’t use high volume for high volume’s sake. It’s our fifth instrument, you can create an atmosphere with it. We use volume.
“We’ve had people telling us we’re too loud, but that’s not their business. We’re doing the business and we’re trying to create the best possible atmosphere to listen to our music.”Â
Loop are very much into sound (“I make no bones about that,”Â says Robert, currently nursing a perforated ear-drum to prove it) and the effect that a well-aimed chunk of psychedelic grunge can have on the human mind.
Although they confess to a wholehearted approval of compact discs, among Loop’s primary concerns is the restoration of stereo to its former twin-pronged glory.
Robert talks affectionately of the medium’s early days, albums by The Hollies where you’d get all the bass and drums on one side “…and the guitar and vocals all on the other. It never swims around or anything, it’s just there.
“From the moment the record starts, to the moment it finishes, you can guarantee you’ll hear exactly the same things out of each speaker.”Â
Coincidentally, good stereo separation was a trademark of both Hawkwind and Black Sabbath ”â the two bands with whom Loop are most frequently compared.
And it really is a coincidence. For, spurred on by all the comparisons, Robert’s curiosity recently drove him into buying his first Sabs and Hawklords LPs. Neither group impressed him.
“I never really owned records by people with long hair. I’ve always been into music. I inherited my father’s collection of stuff like The Byrds, Neil Young and Buffalo Springfield, things like that.
“Everyone went through that punk thing where they all sneered at the old farts, but I didn’t chuck my records out, because I still admired those bands. That’s what I grew up with, and a lot of Tamla Motown as well.”Â
Triviality is Loop’s biggest enemy. It’s what they’re kicking against most of all, so getting them to own up to little personal details is like drawing blood from a stone.
We’ll have to make do with the knowledge that they’re fans of the downmarket end of late ”Ë60s psychedelia, and also the German techno bands of the early ”Ë70s, like Can, Faust and Neu.
Additionally, Robert used to be a bit of a tearaway at school and, still more intriguing, Loop have jobs. These range from working in garages to toiling in sandwich bars.
“Really crap jobs, you know?”Â
Robert sighs. He wishes he’d kept his mouth shut.
“I dunno, other people probably would like to know what we do, I guess, but really we don’t class it as important. We’re basically here to talk about our music, and the way we act, the way we survive, it’s all there, it’s in the music.”Â
Apart from It’s The Music That Matters, another of Loop’s mottos is Nothing We Do Is Nice. They often use “nice”Â as a grave insult ”â as in Neil briefly emerging from beyond the valley of death to announce that he “hates Womack & Womack’s ”ËTeardrops’, because it’s nice.”Â
When I confess to having difficulty in imagining them going out and having a good time, they pour scorn on the notion. Ridiculous idea, laughs Robert.
“But that isn’t to say that when we’re not doing Loop we’re totally fun-loving people who just go out and set the world alight.
“I mean, there are times when you have to think about the band, you have to think about writing the songs and stuff.”Â
How far ahead do you look with Loop?
“Until the end of next week, probably.”Â
What about on a personal level?
Not even a year?
“No, not really, there’s no point. I might be dead before then.”Â
But your music, Robert. That would live on.