Great Ultrasound

    Imagine the intersection among The Who, Pink Floyd and Suede; they´re just one of the great bands of the 90´s. Ultrasound (Andy 'Tiny' Woods, Richard Green, Vanessa Best, Matt Jones, Andy Peace) have recently released their first album "Everything Picture", and they were going to play on Benicásim´s Festival this year, but they could not in the end, as they cancelled their tour to concentrate on their next album.

    The story begins at early 80s, when the great Tiny set up his first band; in 1991, Tiny and Richard joined a band called 'Sleepy People', that would leave two years after to concentrate on his own songs. The record companies passed them by until a band from Oxford (Badge), took hem for their guests in a concert. This way they turned to be the most desired band by the record companies. Their first album, 'Same Band', was released on Fierce Panda. NME gave them the definitive push, and so they signed with Nude. We talked to Tiny in the Sony offices in London.

-EPA: During the three days of Reading Festival we met several times looking at the concerts in the different stages. Ultrasound´s gig was really sublime, what do you think of your gigs?

   Tiny: They´re not our best point, because we can´t experiment as on the albums. In our beginnings we couldn´t afford a studio and do whatever we wanted. We could only afford live concerts, and we were not good at them. We have never seen ourselves live, so I don´t know exactly how we are, if we are as good as any other band or not. I try to have a good opinion of confusion... From confusion there comes up something despaired.

-EPA: Do you think you have become what you wanted after two decades obsessed in successing with your band, spending all the time on it?

    Tiny: I don´t know if I´m obsessed with success. Success, what it means, I think that we have become. By now we were obsessed by what it was supposed to do. We have lazy plans of making 3 or 4 albums, and after it... who knows. If we get satisfaction with those albums, we will have got it, and I´ll be an adult in the end. By now we are happy. There are very few concessions in what we do. We don´t like to give in.

-EPA: The story of the recording of your first demos was a bit peculiar...

    Tiny: We have lived in two places in London where you can live if you are poor: East End  and some parts of West End. There, in Acton, a kid of our street wanted to turn a shop into a studio, and we helped them knocking down the walls and doing some things. He had set an advertisement in the shop window asking for helpers and paying them in hours of studio recording. He was nice, and gave us all we wanted.

-EPA: "Everything Picture", a 21-minute song which titles your first album, is it about the history of r'n'r?

    Tiny: It´s more about The Beatles´ generation. I was born when they were becoming well-known. The pop music has always been a part of my life. Pop music of all styles.

-EPA: It´s been said that your album is nearly a rock opera. It lasts 88 minutes, it has incidental music. It´s a double debut album. How would you describe it?

    Tiny: Like I try to do with "Everything Picture". I´ve tried to take everything into an album. It´s what we wanted to do. I don´t know if we have failed. But the failure is to see that what we want to get is just what we wanted to communicate. It could be the longest failure in ages.

-EPA: You have ever said that Ultrasound is not only a band, but a musical community.

    Tiny: A band is formed and it´s never something apart from the rest of your life. All the people you meet, you meet them because you´re in that band, because they like it or because they´re involved anyway. I think that you must persuade them until you get opportunities to play, to make songs, people that releases your songs, people from other areas of pop music. With them, you can create something bigger.

-EPA: What about your desire to experimenting with everything?

    Tiny: The first time we arrived the studio to record the album, the question was draining the songs we had in demo format. We wanted to start again to see what we would do in the studio with those songs, what we would use... there´s the essence of experimenting. We didn´t know anything, even we could´t play our instruments. So we experimented to get the right sound, the suitable note, the feeling for every song... We experimented in all senses.

-EPA: "New glam explosion", " Prog-rock", neo-psicodelia... Have you heard about it?

    Tiny: It´s wrong, strange enough. The media use "prog-rock" to talk about how we sound or we don´t sound. They have invented "new psychedelia", but no-one can label. In a certain way, it might be useful, but a label is always poor, because it doesn´t include all the history. Have you heard about "new grave"? It´s inventing a category to take bands into... I really don´t know if it´s good or bad. I try not to do it, and I´d like people not to do it.

-EPA: What makes Ultrasound special?

    Tiny: I think that it´s the way that each member communicates with the band. I know a lot of bands where a boy or a girl dreamed, had the vision of a band, wrote songs. Then he finds people that shares his likes and then there´s only one vision. With us, I have visions, Richard has visions, Matt... and nobody makes concessions with the visions of the rest. We fight, push, pull, fight for something with a flash of life. We don´t always agree with the rest. Where the differences start, the song begins.

-EPA: You have a single ("Kurt Russell") that makes us guess any relationship between your music and cinema.

    Tiny: ¡Oh, yes!. "Underwater love story" is based on a scene from the film "The Abbys"; we also have "Suckle", based on "Oh Lucky Man". There are a lot of film references. We don´t reject Hollywood´s music as a principle. All kinds of art, the world around us, can influence us.

-EPA: Is "Stay Young" a hymn, a statement of principles?

    Tiny: It wasn´t like that when we wrote it. It seems that it has turned to any kind of affirmation, yes, but... how would I describe it? It´s how you feel when you are 16, 17 years old... I began looking at people around me trying to be adults, because they were at university. When you are at school, you are treated like a child. It was not funny. I wanted to be a child to enjoy. At university I never pretended to be a sensible adult. What sense was not to attend classes? We were there because we wanted. Why would I pretend to be a rebel if I just wanted to stay there? Because just that thing: to rebel, to break the rules. There´s one key: getting into a place where there are rules so that you can break them.

-EPA: You have also recorded Beatles´ "Getting Better", but your version seems like it sounded the contrary of what the title expresses.

    Tiny: In that song we seem to grovel by the Beatles´s one. On one side, there´s the way that Paul McCartney plays it, optimistic until stupidity, and on the other side, John Lennon behind saying "it´s not so cool". It can´t be as positive as it is. Besides he has always been a bit negative. I think that we stand out that part, that kind of despair. It´s 'twentieth century blues': saying that everything´s alright when it´s just collapsing. We make it easier. You know, we´re in the 90s, not in the 60s. The positive side of the 60s has died.

-EPA: "Floodlit world" had just been released during your stage at Fierce Panda. It has been the advance of the album and the video-clip shows you naked and covered in silver painting...

    Tiny: We couldn´t spend too much money. The best thing we could do was to stay in a room playing the song. As we had to do that, we thought some minutes before to do it less boring. In the videoclips someone always tries to make the pop star role. The saddest thing is that all look like All Saints. All wear the same clothes that All Saints. The best idea was that we should wear no clothes, not having an image, an besides the video-clip would be cheaper.

-EPA: What can we expect from Ultrasound?

  Tiny: Anyway, we´ll be in the story of r'n'r, surely.

-EPA: Do you know Spain?

   Tiny: Yes. I´ve been once, when I was 4 years, and I can´t remember.

© Entrevista realizada por Ángel H. Sopena.