The SUNDAYS by Geffen Records, INC.
The Sundays' musical career kicked off like a latter-day fairytale back in the
summer of 1988. Songwriters David Gavurin and Harriet Wheeler had recently moved
from Bristol to London, where they'd written some material for a four-piece band
and teamed up with bassist Paul Brindley and drummer Patrick Hannan. The plan
at this stage was simply to gain some live experience before even thinking about
trying to attract record company interest.
But at the band's first-ever gig -- a support slot at the Camden Falcon -- music
journalists there to review the headliners ended up focusing on the opening act.
After rave reviews in the New Musical Express, Melody Maker and the now-defunct
Sounds, the Sundays' career was launched.
"We knew next to nothing about the music business," recalls Wheeler,
" and felt we had to act as our own managers to educate ourselves, if only
so we could tell a decent manager from a duff one further down the line."
Facing them were the seemingly bizarre tasks of refereeing an avalanche of record
company offers and trying to slow the wave of publicity engulfing them. "We
definitely weren't complaining about the press or the music business interest
in us, "says Gavurin, "but we'd barely played a gig -- let alone recorded
a note -- and wee didn't want the hype to turn people off."
The Sundays signed to he independent Rough Trade abd recorded their debut single,
"Can't Be Sure, " in 1989. The track became an independent charts #1
and was listed in influential DJ john Peel's Festive Fifty of that year. An American
deal with DGC Records came next, and in early 1990 the band released their first
album, Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. The rest of the year was spent touring
worldwide. Meanwhile, the album went gold on both sides of the Atlantic.
Following the financial difficulties and eventual collapse of Rough Trade, the
Sundays moved to the U.K.'s Parlophone Records, which released their second LP,
Blind, in late 1992 (the band remained on DGC in the U.S). The albumprompted a
second world tour and another gold record in America.
Gavurine and Wheeler then took some much-needed time off. They redicovered their
social like, had a baby, painted the bathroom red and put together their own studio,
where they wrote and recorded the bulk of Staic & Silence, their self-produced
third album (released Sept. 23, 1997). "Having our own recording setup was
something we'd been thinking about for a long time," Wheeler explains. "We'd
never particularly enjoyed preforming in a studio. Live gigs re one thing, with
adrenalin flowing and an audience in front of you. But 11:00 in the morning in
front of a row of faces on the control room is another thing altogether."
Adds Gavurin, "there's something satisfying about understanding the process
you're involved in, not just being shunted off into the live room and told to
start playing." The major downside of taking this route was time consumption;
the band had to investigate what gear to buy, have it installed and learn how
to use it -- all with a one-year-old running around trying to drink tape head
cleaning fluid. "To be honest," Gavurin concedes, "promptness has
never been our strong suit, and once we decided recording ourselves would allow
us to experiment and preform more freely, we just went for it."
The resulting album does not represent a radical shift in musical style for the
Sundays -- no jazz or jungle here -- but more a difference in mood and sound.
"it's an atmosphere record," says Wheeler. "It's less grounded
in ambient music than Blind, and while Static & Silence, like Reading, Writing,
and Arithmetic, is a very song-based, it's not as youthfully 'pop' as the first
album." Assesses Gavurin: "It's a slower, more emotional record than
our other albums. We didn't set out with this in mind -- it just turned out that
And though they didn't have a particular musical agenda for the new album, the
Sundays did know they wanted a more direct, less effects-based sounds. "We
regard the songs as quite simple and intimate," Gavurin continues. "We
wanted the treatment they received to reflect that. Even where we've used orchestral
instruments, it was never as an afterthought, a 'production idea' intended to
add a touch of grandeur to a basic song." Wheeler picks up the thread: "It
was more a case of having a musical idea in our heads already and being open-minded
about its instrumental form."
Despite the largely introspective, sometimes melancholic nature of Static &
Silence, the Sundays insist the making of this album has been the most enjoyable
experience they've had in terms of writing and recording. "Right from the
start, the songs seemed to come in a very natural way," says Wheeler. "In
the past, we'd usually write the melodies after the music. We generally liked
the results, but the process sometimes felt a bit clinical. This time -- either
when we'd work things out with me singing along, or when Dave had already and
so, in turn, could shape the way the music developed. The whole process felt really
fluid and organic."
The writing of lyrics, a duty Gavurin and Wheeler share, took a similar path.
"We didn't really search for a specific style," Wheeler recalls. "The
mood and sound of the music suggested one for us -- one we hadn't really explored
before." Whereas Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic featured a fairly light,
frequently ironic tone and Blind favored largely abstract, impressionistic lyrics,
those of Static & Silence are more straightforward and expressive. "This
doesn't mean they can't be poetic or evocative," Gavurin hastens to point
out. "But they're quite simple; we've never been into the willfully obscure
The Sunday current stylistic methods thus uncovered, Gavurin notes: "We don't
feel part of the current trends in British music, be they Britpop, New Grave,
bug Beat or whatever. We're just plowing our own furrow somewhere to the side
of what's going on."
"We like to think we've got our own style, our own character," Wheeler
comments. "But nobody writes in a vacuum and music continually seeps into
our consciousness, whether it's an old Sly and the Family Stone track or the latest
Oasis single. Still, there's no particular artist or style we're trying to emulate.
If anything, we're influenced by the mood of certain records more than the style
of the music itself. With the new album, we didn't set out with the idea of writing
more emotional, personal songs, but we'd been listening to a lot of Van Morrison
toward the end of the Blind tour and had really gotten into songs like 'Sweet
Thing,' 'And It Stoned Me' and "Having I Told You Lately' -- music that really
Ever Candid, the couple concluded their discussion of Static & Silence with
some explication of it's title: "Firstly," Gavurin illuminates, "we
were really pleased with the imagery of that line in the song 'Monochrome,' remembering
when we were children watching the moon landing, how those moments of nothingness
-- when the screen went fuzzy and the sound died -- seemed only landing only to
heighten the excitement and sense of anticipation." Says Wheeler: "It
also works as a description of a more general, shifting state of mind -- one minute
all is confusion, the next minute there's peace. Oh, and course, we liked the
sound of it."