L-Louder. Be More Beautiful. Be Unreasonable.
(in a hurry at last) I meet the new messiahs, thunderbolts are thin on
the ground. We watch afternoon television. We're in Leeds.
we go to church. This should be something. It is. lt's cold. I shiver
and read a book called Jesus Goes Pop! while Age Of Chance shiver even
more and pose for photographs. Their new (second) single bears the title
'Bible Of The Beats'. It's a row. Their first, 'Motor City', would've
been SOTW if 'You Trip Me Up' hadn't come out the same week. Despite this
it made John Peel's festive 50 and remains a rampant diamond.
Age Of Chance are Steven E (mob orator), Geoff T (bass frequencies), Jan
P (m-metronome), and Neil H (duelling cathedrals). They believe they are
"the most thrilling, primitive incarnation of raw-POP gut beauty
in the world", you see. I play their records almost as often as I
pee. Extracts from the Riot Bible. One learns to pray.
go to the shopping precinct.
What makes you think you're too real to be reaI?
Jan: "We just are."
Geoff: "We're just vivid."
Neil: "We're beyond reality. We're romantic idealists."
Geoff: "In a militant fashion."
Steven: "And...er...aggressively ambient"
Steven is the singer and was a child prodigy. He is propaganda for silence,
nearly. He is eventually drawn. He says, "The religion of ignorance"
when I ask him what 'Bible Of The Beats' is about.
"It's wanting to be something you can't be. People who glamourise
things that are sordid, and make imaginary little worlds rather than inhabit
the real big one. It's a very cliched thing to read a Kerouac book then
think - God, I wish I'd been around in the '50s listening to all that
cool jazz and driving those crazy cars."
But Age Of Chance are lickably self-consciously hip...
"Don't dwell on the beat poets," says Geoff, generously telling
me how to do my job. "It's a vague analogy, but it'd be underselling
"It works on about three levels," says Neil.
"But whenever you try and explain one line or whatever it sounds
ridiculous," concludes the vocaliser.
So what it's like to be six feet of sex.
Jan does the beats, as in bash bash bash, and Age Of Chance's delightful
collection of half-truths informs me she once played Jason King's love-child
in an episode of Department S.
"I hate the indie mentality where if you look like a bag of washing
tied round the middle that's really OK."
Geoff: "As if there's some kind of inherent honesty in that."
Is it significant in terms of the group that you're female, Jan?
Not at all?
Not even "No".
Neil, multiple guitar screeches and ski-slopes, drives the car, wants
to die in a car crash. Likes abstract art. Talks the most. Believes in
this group Iike there's yes tomorrow.
"AII we can offer is our unique view of life, our interpretation
of how life in 1986 sounds. The riots of last summer were the most exciting
thing that's happened in England for a long time. A lot of music seems
to have ignored it for some reason. There's a massive feeling of unrest.
Whether or not we're aware of it, we're caught up in it, and I genuinely
think we reflect that turmoil."
Geoff: "Underneath there's an urge to unsettle, or agitate."
Neil: "There'll never be a pop group who have all the solutions,
no matter how many statues they kick over. But we're... colourful."
Geoff says, "Style? It's a gift" and is a good organiser. Once
I rang him up and he said, "Oh hi, man, I was just watching Rik Mayall
on Jackanory." He has a (very useful) habit of nudging the conversation
of the others into more vibrant channels.
"We're in a position now where practice meets theory. Top names will
be threatened by what we're doing."
This is the Chance stance, taking themselves seriously and not; too sexy
for television; calling their music "pure sonic metal disco"
when it's nothing of the sort; drinking coffee; experimenting; not smoking;
slowly improving at the
interview game. Their music/noise always scores ones or sixes, and this
is why it is Truly Great For The Time Being.
ARE the names of the four tunes they presented for their last Peel session
- 'The Going Going Gone Man', 'The Morning After The Sixties', 'I Don't
Know And I Don't Care', and 'Mob! Hut!!'. Recently they played a gig in
a clothes shop, and one in a youth club. They supported The June Brides
in Manchester the night after this chat.
What Age Of Chance think 'Bible Of The Beats' is really about:-
a) Riot police tactics in urban Britain and their Zulu roots.
b) The rhythms of the football terraces and early Blues records.
c) World domination - a career?
"A bit of thought, wit, intelligence, humour occasionally, and a
Iot of noise," says Neil.
"Yeah, but good noise," adds Geoff.
"Not any old thing. lt's no use without some kind of construction."
"There's plenty of bands making meandering trash," considers
Jan. "We started basically because we hated everything else."
Do you respect pop's heritage?
"We don't respect anything, actually."
In Leeds, they tell me, if you're not Goths you're automatically assumed
to be a twee pop group or R&B revivalists. It doesn't worry them that
my mum and dad wouldn't like their records. Again, they say they are trying
to capture that moment, and again this interests me, so I say "What
Geoff: "We're talking about euphoria, I think."
Neil: "Yeah...just a brief second when you feel really good, like
when you're dancing, or out walking and you see somebody you like - it's
that kind of intangible:excitement that people experience say once or
twice a year. We're trying to translate it into three minutes."
When did you last experience this feeling?
Time for this pilgrim to make lateraI progress. Do you ever feel tragic
and grandiose and melancholy, or do you go through life with a glib effective
Do you ever get suicidally depressed?
Steven: "My wife died last week, and my mother got run over, but
we just keep on smiling through, don't we?"
Geoff: "We're going to sound like four Dick Van Dykes or something
Neil: "I like nerve gas, riots, and civil unrest."
Steven: "And...er...Joy Division albums."
Geoff: "Actually...l do get suicidally depressed, I don't want to
go along with these..."
Neil: "I'd like to be...what were the words?...Grandiose without
being tragic, and sentimental without being grandiose."
Neil: "Well, he's lumping them together as if it's like one inherent
feeling that sweeps over..."
Steven: "I think l'd like to write songs that were those things but
I wouldn't like to be them."
Neil: "'Bible Of The Beats' is grandiose. In fact it's monumental."
What's the most stupid thing you've done in the last week?
Steven: "We don't approve of eating,"
Neil: "We've got a positive brain policy. We discriminate."
Geoff: "You must have one to be in this band. We really do stipulate
Do you believe in youth?
Jan: "Yes, but all the virtues of youth don't necessarily inhabit
a youthful body. There are some real ancient hippy toerags who are 16.
It's the values, not so much years as attitude."
Neil: "Especially now, when the mid-teen record-buyers are so passive
Steven: "Pop music should be young, should be intrinsically exciting.
Very few of the records in the charts are pop music."
Neil: "We're trying to use our varied backgrounds with a single-minded
attitude. Consequently there's a kind of controlled power. We're dynamic
- big bashing beats and blocks of sound. It's pop as in getting cheap
clothes on a Saturday afternoon. Like when you can smell people yearning
to spend, to deposit cash."
Do you wish this was the '60s?
Steven: "That's exactly what we're not about. We're about now."
Is now the Age Of Chance?
NeiI: "Everything's just right."
Are you sexually conventional?
Jan: "Only sometimes."
Steven: "One of us is."
Neil: "I don't think I've ever been."
Geoff: "I can vouch for that. He lives next door to me."
Is Gulliver's Travels a major influence on the "four Godless Yahoos
running wild in Hipster Heaven"?
Geoff: "It certainly isn't, no. Someone just called us yahoos once.
We've also been called bastards and anarchists."
Jan: "And vulgar, merciless, and inhumane. That's fine by us."
lf you're too cool to try, how do you justify your doing anything?
Jan: "What we really mean is, we don't have to contrive."
Neil: "But nothing we do is an accident. There should be an element
of intrigue. It's the things you don't know about us that might make you
want to know more."
Onstage, do you incite?
Steven: "I might wiggle a bit."
Sorry, was that "wiggle" or "wriggle"?
Neil: "We bring out the worst and the best in people. We tend to
have a polarising effect."
How did you come together?
Neil: "We were the four people plucked out of the fight at the party."
Was it a good party?
"It was until we came."
THE (newsflash - this is absolutely fascinating actually: I left this
overnight and the cat has typed a number three so it reads "perhaps
the 3"...but anyway)....perhaps the crowning glory of Age Of Chance
is their awareness of the material necessity of a certain aesthetic will
o' the wisp.
They believe / know it is crucial to convince others of your own handsomeness
/ prettiness / elegance / strength / beauty / sexual charisma, even if
there is none there. This is the oldest of pop tricks and strangely, marvellously,
the least ridiculed.
Geoff: "No band in the history of pop music has ever gone anywhere
or done anything without looking good. Not one."
I immediately think of The Jam, The Cult, and many, many more but then
remember we're talking about bands who've gone somewhere or done something.
Neil: "There's a lot of use you can put clothing to. We can look
like we do and still frighten people. There's a juxtaposition...if a guy
who looks neat and spruce comes out with music that rapes your daughter
and takes the enamel off your teeth, then it's... something to be looking
Steven: "Er... not that we sit around eating toast discussing what
Would you really kill or die for anything?
Neil: "My beliefs."
Geoff: "A good haircut."
Why is it very important to be unreasonable?
Jan: "Oh, it's essential."
Neil: "The world's full of reasonable people who don't get anything
So if someone was unreasonable to you, you'd think "Wow, that's great"?
Neil: "We'd be unreasonable back and see who won. I think we would.
We're gaining tenacity. We won't rest till we get what's duly ours."
How do you account for 'I Don't Know And I Don't Care'?
Steven: "Oh, that's another smashing romantic mythology type thing."
Neil: "Don't go into it too deeply."
Shortly after this we stop for a bit and Neil says, "Do you think
you've got enough of the spirit of Age Of Chance?"
Stroppy on principle, naively tough and determined, intellectually brash
and bravado-fuelled, yes. But I'm puzzled by this "don't go into
it too deeply" lark, which I thought went out with the ark.
It's just not enough when there's words like "Metaphysical!"
on the manifestos...
Geoff: "You're taking it too seriously again."
Steven: "There's very obvious humour in the conceit."
Neil: "Some people just need ordering about. We can do it without
Neil: "Our general aura of confidence overflows into dogma. There's
a lot of room in pop music for that. The words are used as an index of
possibilities. To provoke people into loving or hating, not sitting languidly
by. To make people dissatisfied and want to do something with themselves."
Steven: "All explanations and specifics and justifications are uninteresting."
Geoff: "It's just there. That's just us. The basic premise."
Neil: "We don't need to apologise for anything we do. People can
use us just as we use people. There is something there to grasp. Or to
kick! We have a valuable currency to offer."
function is to observe you. That's my function. You like my function?
You like it? Your 'function'...is, learn the rocket, inch by inch. I have...to
send in a daily log of your progress. And that's all I know." - Thomas
Pymchon: Gravity's Rainbow.
of Chance, learning the rocket inch by inch, are uncommercial to the point
of consumption, which is a similar word to combustion. There is a precious
and bountiful jackboot coruscation to their roaring jargon. They are huge
and refreshing and take great care over their record covers: what they
will be, they will be.
Geoff: "Intense, I think."
Steven: "Bye. Spelt b-u-y."
Four minutes till the train leaves. We all run run run like Batman and
Robin through leeds city centre. Somebody we nearly knock over says, "Gosh".
This makes me very happy for about seven seconds because "Gosh"
is an endangered expletive. Age Of Chance ask me if I could finish the
piece with "Age Of Chance did everything and are shocked by nothing".
I feign acquiescence. But the age of consent is history. The age of chance
is upon us as if it's six pm on a Friday.
Age Of Chance will make you say "Gosh". The church is older
and wiser than any of us. Poor church.