Don't quaestion everything…


Lime Lizard – Jul 1993


TV or not TV? Julian Carerra dissects the art of the interview with Levitation and gets taught the infinity-chord trick to boot.

“Oh shut up! If you’d gone on and slagged it off we wouldn’t have been on it. You’re always saying we’re nothing. What do you want us to be?”

Grumpy bass player Laurence has riled placid keyboardist Bob. Guitarist Bic lights another cigarette and crosses his legs, and singer Terry looks ahead, something on his mind. We’re downstairs in a pub where they film TXT, a real abortion of a music programme. Terry and drummer Dave were the band’s representatives (“I wasn’t allowed to “be there”,” says Laurence), and by all accounts, such a theoretically exciting event was a nightmare.

“I want us to be fucking…” he pauses for a moment, considering the scope of the scenario.

“Actually, I want us to be fucking on TV.”

The regular TV format, seriously, couldn’t accommodate the full Levitation experience, ever. Maybe when the interactive whatnots get up and running, there’ll be enough space, but you’ll still have the legacy of 30 years of dull people being involved; from presenters up to the toffs.

“The problem about TV is that you get people who are created by TV, with this “created” dialogue that revolves around the trivia that people want to hear about, or are told they want to hear about,” says

Bic, “and they homogenise this into something so popcorn.”

“It washes over me,” sighs Laurence. “It’s just complete soma.”

“Today was just a blip, “reckons Bob. “It was like “Tell us who you are, tell us about the record, now fuck off and here’s the video.”

Bic: “That’s not what TV should be about.”

Terry adds: “It’s all an attempt to condense everything, because as with America, everything is moving towards the 15 second attention span.”

“It’s not moving there,” shouts Bic, “It’s arrived!”

“It was a shame I wasn’t allowed to be on it, says Laurence, (“Boiiing”– said Zebedee –Ed),

“because if I was I wouldn’t have been as polite as everyone else…” this much is true, “…given the fact that it’s appallingly done, appallingly edited and incredibly amateur. But they’re all charming people, all jobsworthy and you go and be British and just get on with it.”

“I mean, why suffer arseholes? Which is what we do a lot of the time. We’re far too polite. You get in a lift on the Underground and everyone’s totally silent, looking in corners, trying not to fart…”

“I farted the last time I was in a lift,” Bic says.

“Good for you,” comments Laurence, “I’ll wait until I’m fucking flatulent before I go in one. And share it. Share your hot air, which, incidentally, is what I’m doing now.”

Dave sits down and Levitation are complete. He seems to sum the band up more than any other member. A weird, mischievous muddle of dreads and pseuds’ glasses, tweed and ripped denim, he sits down with his drink and says;

“OK, what do you want to talk about?”

There’s a lot to Levitation. And there’s a lot more to come. Two albums this year (“Summer” and “Autumn” versions of “Meanwhile Gardens”) a single now, touring and incidentally they headline the Saturday night in the Lime Lizard tent; plenty of opportunities to get your own personal part of Levitation.

Why two albums? David answers;

“We started the album last year but unfortunately couldn’t finance the recording. But in the time we were looking around for the money we wrote a lot more material, which we have since recorded rather quickly.”

A happy problem, and hence the two longplayers. “Meanwhile Gardens” won’t burn a hole in the pocket, because, and rather timely it is considering the current Cd pricing row that’s hitting the broadsheet front pages, it will retail on digital at basically midprice.

“It means that not only do we have to take a cut but our record company has to take a cut. We’re coming at the market place and saying there’s a gross profit indecency going on.”

“Wouldn’t you like a bit of gross profit indecency once in a while?” muses Bic, and in his best dirty old man voice, Laurence mutters;

“I could do with some gross indecency…”

And the title “Meanwhile Gardens” pertains to…?

Terry; “We found a beautiful place, a beautiful environment where we didn’t feel there was someone ready to jump on our cases as there usually is in most walks of life, where someone’s ready to tell you to do it another way. We were learning as we went along how many different ways there are to communicate. I know a lot of musical projects I’ve been involved with in the past there’s been verbal communication about how it should be done instead of actually playing it and getting as close to actual soul music as you can.”

And even more implausibly (but weirdly believable), Dave describes how they constructed the music for the albums.

“If you take the first twelve letters of the alphabet then the thirteenth becomes the note “A” again, and then basically, you’re working within two sets of octaves. We worked it out by writing down conversations and words. Terry might say the word “very” and that would correspond to a certain meter and a certain pitch.”


Laurence: “”The”, for instance.”

Bic: “”The” is a very good chord. It’s got an “E” in it.”

Dave: ””Any” is a better chord.”

Bic: “It’s when you get into weirder words that you get the best chords. That’s when we started confounding ourselves.”

Terry: “”Antidisestablishmentarianism” is a tricky one to get.”

Laurence: “”Meanwhile Gardens” has got every chord in it.”

I’m slightly confused but I don’t argue.

“Even When Your Eyes Are Open” is the band’s first single for Chrysalis, and it’s a further chapter in the band’s magical mystery story. It’s their most “rock” moment yet. Over on the other side is a floaty wordless track called “Mantra”. It’s stunning, and it wouldn’t be out of place in an Orb or a Mix Master Morris (Irresistible Force) set. Terry used to be neighbours with Morris, I find out a week later. Morris got him into dance music. Bickers fans will know that was a major factor in the House Of Love split. Chadwick wouldn’t let the band listen to anything but the Velvets, The Stones and The Beatles.

“I think for me personally when I was in The House Of Love I was very often directed into playing something I wouldn’t have played myself. I think, a lot of the time in those days I was acting a role, and I came ‘round to the view that the reason why I was doing that was because I really didn’t have enough self-belief and self-worth to stand up for myself, and that’s why it came to such a dramatic split.

“Now I feel that with everyone in the band we’ve actually been able to voice our opinions without fear of being cut at the quick or directed in or out of one kind of music. That’s why it’s so varied; because everyone does say and play what they want to. And that confuses people. But we’re trying to keep honest with ourselves, and because of that there’s this bizarre push-pull.”

“Sometimes it can be like five people talking all at once, which is a bit strange.”

(Simultaneously) Bic/Bob: “No it can’t/not at all.”

Laurence: “Five people disagreeing at once, which is quite interesting.”

(Simultaneously) Bic/Bob: “Yeah I agree/No, absolutely not.”

Laurence (exasperated): “That’s the essence of it.”

Bob: “No it’s not.”

It really is a sum of the parts…

Bic: “Is it?”

Bob: “It has to be.”

Bic: “if it is, I don’t think we’re in a position to judge that. If it is, then great; we’ll have succeeded in one way.”

And it’s this that makes Levitation live shows so edgy, so tremendous, conventional yet so exciting. They prey on atmosphere and electricity. This awesome combination of power and ambience. It’s either glorious - and occasionally terrifyingly so - or it falls flat on its face. But it’s not through not trying.

“Some nights you really can be so rewarded by it and some night it really is treading the boards,” reckons Laurence, “We try desperately to create a forum for danger; that feeling that everything could fall apart at any moment.”

Bob continues: “Same way if you sat down at 9 o’clock every evening to paint a picture. You’d get some really crap ones, but you’d also get some really good ones.”

“Bob’s killer analogy!” grins Laurence

“Sometimes you can be an interpreter for what’s going on,” explains Terry. “Apparently, a few nights ago there was someone going around laying into people, and you can feel that atmosphere, although from onstage you might not be able to see much of what is going on. That affects us so much, because we go out onstage open-hearted.”

In agreement, everyone considers this, for a moment. Laurence looks up and breaks the silence.

“Sorry Bob, I broke you lighter.”


“I just broke your lighter. Sorry to break this to you, but you can definitely send that back to Pittsburgh.”

“Sorry to break this for you…”

“I hate things like this,” the bass player groans, “I broke my sister’s Jack In The Box when I was younger and I got so much grief over it…”

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