HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE LOVED?

Interview with Fred Thomas of Saturday Looks Good To Me
By Michael Hann


How, in short, would you define indiepop?

“Well, pop music to me has always been uplifting and joyful music. Indiepop is the present day chapter of a long history of upbeat and happy sounds, with modern perspectives and the influence of the modern age. The perfect sound that you can't believe is happening.”
Perhaps because it was never actually in fashion in the US, it never seemed to go out of fashion - does that make it easier for you to play without the audience having preconceptions?
“Yeah. In the States especially, indiepop has a pretty broad scope of interpretation, so it's difficult to pin down exactly what you're listening to. A band like Animal Collective has some pop elements and could fall under the indiepop moniker while sounding nothing at all like Boyracer or Superchunk. The lack of definition assists a lack of expectation, so the audience has to make its own decisions about what they're hearing. A lot of people come up to me after shows confused, not having expected fuzz guitar solos and jumping around.”
How did you arrive at the Saturday Looks Good To me sound: it sounds like Richman replacing Diana Ross in front of the Supremes to me, but was it as simple as that?
“When Saturday Looks Good To me materialized, I was deep into the hardcore scene, playing in punk bands and only doing shows in basements and at DIY show spaces. At the same time I was listening to mostly punk records, I was listening to just as much Motown. In the hardcore scene I was seeing a very common phenomenon where someone would be so into it for three or four years, then get tired of the music, tired of the politics and tired of this very insular, convoluted group of ideas and feelings. I worked at a used record store, and about once a month kids who were officially out of hardcore and now djs would come in and trade their Hot Water Music records for DJ Shadow. The directions the band went in from there all started from a serious love of Motown and then a hunger to understand and hopefully expand pure pop music. The Beach Boys, Left Banke, Belle & Sebastian, Jonathan Richman. I eventually got these records and loved the songs so much, but then I was like "What if there was a dub mix of Pet Sounds?" or "What if The Modern Lovers record would have had strings and brass arrangements?" That would be insane and possibly beautiful. Our band's music is very much a walking question like those questions, bouncing along and sometimes finding answers.”
Were you aware of the whole mid-80s indiepop scene in England - the so-called C86 scene?
“Well, I had a roommate who turned me on to Orange Juice and the Wedding Present, and who loved a lot of that sort of scene, but I never researched it or became aware of a larger picture, I just had a 12" of "Rip It Up" that I played over and over.”
What current groups would you consider to be your musical contemporaries?
“The Aisler's Set and The Decemberists are both working in a similar vein as Saturday Looks Good To me. Architecture in Helsinki from Australia are a really awesome pop band and I hear some of the same influences. I don't want to say the two bands are much alike, but The Arcade Fire rips off the same Supremes bass-line on their album as we do on ours.”
Can you understand why indiepop’s had such a hard time in the UK, where fashion is all to the music press?
“I think a lot of great pop music carries a certain amount of anonymity, and in some ways shuns celebrity and fashion. We didn't have photos of ourselves on our first couple of records, and didn't even list personnel or who played what. It was just this raw, non-presented sound, and we took cues on that from other bands we respected. We wanted to just be sound, not a baseball card or something to check off a shopping list, and that mentality could clash with a band more interested in their video than their songs. Really good music is just a feeling in the air."

Saturday Looks Good To Me play HDIF Presents at The Windmill in Brixton on Monday August 8. Tickets are £5 and available from http://www.wegottickets.com/event/6046

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