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interviews - july 2004
- Trademark

Hey there you! Put that keyboard down and get yourself down to Boots for some eyeliner! Oxford’s Trademark have just released their debut album, ‘Want More’ on Truck Records, and it’s liable to bring out the Kraftwerk fan in all of us. Tasty spoke to Oli, Paul, Stu and, err….Mandy about liver transplants at gigs, amongst other things.

Oxford, then. Is it a hive of early 80s synth-inspired techies, or are you totally different?
Oli: No, we're totally different. Oxford has a few great bands, but none ofthem have enough synths.
Paul: Er, I think we're the only ones. When we did our very first gig in 2000 at the Truck festival, we were considered as a bit of a novelty act. No one was really using synthesizers in a big way in the Oxford music scene. Now it's become more fashionable in the indie scene to use crazy synth sounds, so we're not total outcasts any more. That said, I still think that we're the only ones in Oxford doing what we do (which is sort of nice).
Stu: Iıd have thought thereıd be more science in the Oxford music scene with the university and everything, but it really is just us at the moment.

Are you happy with the album?
Oli: Yes, it's great!
Stu: I think itıs perfect, itıs been 2 years in the making really, so if itıs not right now it never will be and it is right!
Paul: I'm one of those really annoying people who could go on endlessly improving things, so this is a tough question. I think I am happy with the album though. I love the red bowl and gaunt hand on the front cover. I think it is a good representation of what we want to sound like at the moment.

Name your top five 80s synth anthems.

Stu: That’s a tough one! Especially if they have to be from the 80s, because most of my favourites come from the 70s or the 90s!
I say:
True Faith ­ New Order,
Left to my own Devices ­ Pet Shop Boys,
Donıt you want me ­ Human League,
Sex Dwarf ­ Soft Cell
Computer Love ­ Kraftwerk

Blue Monday ­ New Order
Seconds ­ Human League
Underpass ­ John Foxx
Suburbia ­ Pet Shop Boys
Never-ending story ­ Limahl

Depeche Mode ­ Black Celebration
Pet Shop Boys - Always On My Mind
Erasure ­ You Surround me
Yazoo - Don't Go
Human League ­ Things that dreams are made of

Your stage show looks quite impressive. Where does the inspiration come from?
Oli: When you play the synth, the audience don't have as much to look at as when someone waves their arms about behind a drum kit. So we strive to replace the flailing arms of a drummer with various other distractions. Plus your average band is usually quite boring to watch, and we want to change that.
Stu: I like to think itıs more of a performance than a gig, it also keeps peopleıs interest, even if they donıt like us!
Paul: We think of stupid ideas and then try and actually carry them out. They usually involve science and synthesizers. We want to be the first band to have an operation live on stage; a heart and lung transplant with us providing soothing triangle wave melodies to accompany the surgeons.
Stu: Of course what Paul just said is completely true, weıre just waiting on a licence and a donor.

Do you ever get the urge to write a great big fuck-off guitar pop song?
Oli: All our songs are great big fuck-off guitar pop songs. Just not played on guitars.
Paul: We do not have anything against guitars, we all love bands that use guitars, but, that's not what Trademark is about. Anyway, it's really fun and interesting trying to make a song sound big without using guitars
Stu: Weıd be quite willing to use guitars if we were producing someone else, but I donıt think you need guitars to make something big, classical music did ok without guitars for 400 years or so.

Indeed, do you think you write pop music?
Stu: Yes I think we do, I think anyone who performs song based music with a strong melodic content does pop music whether they like it or not. I mean I think Oasis are pop music & The Darkness definitely are. Itıs just pop is a dirty word in some peopleıs vocabulary; it certainly isnıt in mine though.
Oli: I can't stand anything that doesn't have a tune.
Paul: Pop is a massive genre and I think it would be fair to say that what we do is pop. It's weird because I wouldn't say that we could be described as electro, electronica, electro-clash or industrial, but I think we could be described as pop.

Are you wary of getting sucked into the whole London-based fashionista electro synth pop make-up scene. Or do you embrace it?
Oli: Don't really mind who likes us, surely it's best to appeal to as many people as possible? While still doing what you want to do, obviously.
Stu: I donıt care who likes us, as long as theyıre fit of course.
Paul: Oh we definitely embrace it, but I'm not convinced that we're part of it. Our songs are lyrically very different to other bands in the scene and we look quite different.

In fact, do you ever wear make-up on stage...or off it?
Oli: Can't say I have.
Paul: Someone put mascara and eye shadow on me at a New Year's party. I got a bit of a shock when I woke up in the morning and saw it in the bathroom mirror. It looked quite good actually! But that's as far as it's going to go....for the moment!
Stu: It’s a bit dated doing that really isn’t it. Anyway I only wear makeup at weekends when I’m Mandy.

How much more do you want? And where do you want it? And when?
Stu: I want it all, I want it all, I want it all and I want it now!
Oli: I'd like a lot more, on Top Of The Pops, and right now.
Paul: We want to be able to afford to keep making music for the foreseeable future and we want everyone to have the opportunity to hear our music. Where do we want it??? Wembley Arena - that would be nice, and when....well I guess as soon as possible and definitely before I go over my overdraft limit.

Sam Metcalf