The Needles

All You Needles Love

One of the most electrifyingly brilliant records of the 21st century is out later on this month, courtesy of Aberdeen’s superb band The Needles (not to be confused with the Japanese three piece of the same name), and lead singer Dave Dixon was only too happy to talk to me about The Wombles, Mike Reid and Showaddywaddy. Um….

AD: Hi Dave, how are you doing?

DD: I’m doing fine. Aah, that’s nice.

AD: Er…I’m sorry?

DD: Oh it’s ok. I’m just sitting in the park at the moment, getting myself comfortable, and it’s a lovely sunny day here in Glasgow.

AD: I see. Well, let me make your day even better by telling you that I think your “Under the City” e.p. is the best thing I’ve heard in aeons, and has attained a “ten out of ten” status on our website…

DD: Oh that’s marvellous. Good man, I’ll have to check the website out.

AD: Thank you. So now I’ve told you how great your single is, can you tell me what you think it is that makes your music so fresh and exciting?

DD: Ooh that’s a difficult one to pinpoint. Well for one thing, there seem to be an awful lot of so called rock ‘n’ roll bands at the moment who have got the right reference points, but little else. There’s no real belief in what they’re doing. Whereas we’ve always believed totally in what we do so we played as many gigs as we could – we just gigged consistently. I think you’ve got to earn your stripes that way, you’ve just GOT to do it, and you’ve also got to put everything into each and every performance.
Another thing I’d say about us is that although we are admittedly very rocky, we still try to write songs that your granny could sing…not that I’m saying that OAPs should come to our gigs or anything. I mean, I don’t want to be responsible for any premature deaths!

AD: Ha ha, it’d get you publicity at least! Anyway, one of the things that delights me the most is that you put a lot of thought into your lyrics, something that is sadly lacking in many of today’s artists. So tell me, am I right in my assumption that “Under the City” is about not being a sheep in our society?

DD: Well, basically that IS the idea, and the fact that when you walk down the High Street these days, wherever you are, everything seems to have bought up by Wetherspoons and McDonalds. Plus it’s about the way society reflects and dictates what is acceptable and what isn’t. I guess that’s something that a lot of guitar music has always been about – non conformism.
But yeah I’ve always been a big lyrics fan. Sure the music’s important, but the lyrics need to complement that and convey an idea. If you write about things that really hit you in life and get you thinking, you can’t go far wrong.
We always try to approach these situations in a positive way though, rather than howling morosely at the moon about how bad things are, like certain other artists I could mention. Of course we have other songs that are nowhere near as deep, like “Teenage Bomb”, which is just about that typical teenage girl thing we all go through, and I’m sure that kind of thing will always be around.

AD: I was playing “Under the City” to a friend of mine earlier, and he said it sounded like something from a “Rocky” film…

DD: Yeah, I can see that happening! You’d see him training with his punchbag during the verses and working out, but he’d definitely be jogging in the chorus. I think that’s important…

AD: So if you WERE writing the score for a film, what kind of picture would it have to be?

DD: Well I love the Coen Brothers, so it would probably be something by them. Yes I can see it now, it would be “Rocky” meets “Rollerball” as directed by the Coen Brothers. Oh hang on a minute, there’d need to be a bit of John Hughes in there too, and it would need to have some kind of zombies…yes, it would have a zombie ending.

AD: That sounds like one fucked up movie! Anything else?

DD: Yes. It would be a musical! Hmm…I wonder how I’d pitch this idea to a Hollywood fat cat…

AD: Well I’d go and see it anyway! Funny enough, I was discussing which musicals they should make, with the missus the other day. I thought “Columbo – the Musical” would be a good one…

DD: (astonished laughter) That would have to be a pretty low key thing wouldn’t it? In a smoky old theatre – it sounds great! You could get Mike Reid from Eastenders in it.

AD: Eh?

DD: No, honestly. I have a fantastic old CD in the garage somewhere called “Mike Read Sings”. It’d work, honestly…

AD: I had a single by him – it was “The Ugly Duckling”! I’m proud of that fact, just as I am proud of the fact that the first band I ever saw live was The Wombles…

DD: Ah, but was it the ORIGINAL Wombles line up? Because you know, they’ve changed a few times and it’s not so impressive if….hold on! I’ve got it! How about a musical of “Columbo Meets the Wombles”?

AD: You’re starting to scare me now, but I like your style! And I already have one song – it’s called “And Just One More Thing…”

DD: You’ll have to let me know how it goes with this musical. You’ve really got me thinking now!

AD: I think I’d better move onto some more sensible questions now though. I can’t believe I’ve been talking about The Wombles to you for the past 5 minutes! So, anyway, I’m reliably informed that various members of the band have been hospitalised whilst gigging at some time or another. Would you care to elaborate?

DD: Oh, just limbs and heads and arses and stuff.

AD: No, I meant how does that happen?

DD: Oh I see. Well you’ve obviously never seen us live then! We jump around a lot, smash things and do whatever has to be done, and you know, things get broken. It doesn’t help that our bass player’s very tall, and swings around a lot!
How are Showaddywaddy by the way?

AD: Er…

DD: You’re from Leicester aren’t you? I thought you’d know…

AD: Well I THINK they’re still going…

DD: I only asked because they played a gig up here in Glasgow a while back, and they had all their jackets stolen. It made us laugh, because knowing what the fashion is up here, it’s not exactly going to be hard to spot the culprits wearing twelve lime green jackets is it?!!

AD: (laughs) Well, trying to get back on to the sensible stuff again, the Needles have been together for about a decade now. That’s longer than most bands these days! What is it that drives you?

DD: Well, we formed the band with a notion of playing exciting contemporary rock ‘n’ roll. It’s something that we felt needed to be done, and we’ve never lost sight of that idea. Although we’ve evolved over that time, I think it’s important essentially to hold on to that whole thing that started us off in the first place. I love bands like The Ramones because they stuck to their guns and never tried to be anything that they’re not.

AD: You never had any “in house bust ups” then?

DD: Well the odd one, you know, but you overcome it. We all went through the same thing – we were skint all the time for a while but at the end of the day we were all coming from the same place creatively, and I think that’s really important.

AD: I have a very daft question now – if you bought a dog, and when you returned home you found that it had taught itself lead guitar to the most incredible standard you’d ever heard, would you let it join the band?

DD: Well I’d have no objection. It would be just a case of convincing the other guys. It would be something for the papers anyway. Of course, you could look upon the “shitting on stage” as being a major downfall, but I think we’d just see it as more stuff for us to slide upon. I’m not convinced our bass player is fully toilet trained anyway…

AD: Er…

DD: (laughs)

AD: That was supposed to leave YOU speechless, but it backfired, and I really don’t know what else I can say to that, so I’ll move on…so which artist do you despise the most at present, and how would you punish them for it if you had full reign?

DD: I’ve actually thought about this before! First of all I’d get two big machines – one being a time machine and one a massive soup making contraption. Then I’d go and invite the popular New York quintet The Strokes to a party. Then I’d take them off to a date in the future in my time machine, and once we were there I’d get them all to step into my soup making machine. Make a nice Strokes Soup. Then I’d go back in time, and feed this soup to The Strokes so that they were eating themselves, so effectively they would just disappear…

AD: That’s a controversial choice. I’d have expected you to pick Westlife or someone…

DD: Well it would be an idea, I admit. But then when you think about it, they make crap music because they just don’t know any better. I’d feel guilty explaining it to them because I don’t think their brains would be big enough to comprehend it. It would be like torturing innocent animals, and I just couldn’t do it.

AD: Ok, so if you could be invisible for a day, what’s the first thing you’d do?

DD: Oh come on. I think it’s obvious what ALL blokes would do…

AD: What? Hang around womens’ changing rooms?

DD: That’s a good idea….a damn good idea in fact, but I’d just like to point out that that was YOUR idea and not mine! No, I think mine would involve The Strokes again – I’d just like to hang around their factory and see how everything was done…and whether you had another fake band like Milli Vanilli…oh ok, I’m being a little unfair, I DO think The Strokes did some pretty good stuff on their first album. There’s just something about them that I don’t like, and I’m not sure what.

AD: Ok, last question in an interview that I have to confess, has been a lot more bizarre than I expected! What does 2004 hold for The Needles?

DD: Well after “Under the City”, there will hopefully be another e.p. in May, then an album shortly after that. Then once we’ve arranged it we’ll be doing a full UK tour. Are you going to come along this time?

AD: Definitely. I’ll bring the draft for “Columbo Meets The Wombles” along too!

And, after chatting for far too long with Dave about complete gibberish, that was that. Thankfully, the new single (released 22nd March) is anything BUT gibberish, and will be one of the finest records out this year. Be sure to catch their frantic live dates as well. As long as Orinoco isn’t doing a solo set down the road of course…

Interview; Tone E


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