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Sarandon know the importance of the two minute pop song. So much so, that they’re making something of a career out of it with their series of 7 song 7″ mini albums packed with hooks, witty lyrics and spiky guitars. With titles referencing their favourite bands and retro primary coloured sleeves Sarandon put together perfect little packages of perfect little songs. Marceline Smith sent over some questions and let them get on with it.

Journalistic integrity alert – both Crayola and Joe have written for diskant but neither currently do so.

Members, and what you do in the band:
Crayola – voice, guitar
Joe – bass
Simon – drums

Crayola lives in darkest Leicestershire while Joe & Simon live in shiny London

September 2003. Initially with James of HOST playing drums. He’s on the first 2 records and will always be an honorary Sarandon member.

What do you think you sound like, and how different is that from what other people have said or written about you?

Crayola: Personally I think we sound like a pop band. We make songs with hooks and choruses that people can hum. People have often written we sound like bIG fLAME, Bogshed, A Witness etc. which, frankly is very lazy journalism. We (more acurately I) love those bands and yes they influence what we do but not how we sound. I mean, I guess we were asking for it by titling the second record The Big Flame. Doesn’t mean the record sounds anything like them but immediately reviewers say we do. It’s all going to happen again of course with The June Bride – especially as we have Phil Wilson doing a spot of singing on the record. I just wanted to call these records these names in tribute to the people who, when I was 15, made me want to be in a band. I guess that means there may well be more records titled in this way.

What do you do in your day-to-day lives, other than being Sarandon?

Crayola: Apart from despotic leader of Sarandon I’m a house husband looking after my young son, occasionally listening to records. I’ve more or less given up doing the bit of reviewing I was doing as I don’t like anything anymore and feel bad about only ever sending editors nasty pieces of bile about why music today is rubbish.

Simon: I am a university lecturer by day and occasionally play a variety of odd instruments in The Ambassadors of Sorrow.

Joe: Day to day I tend to eat stuff, pass stuff, listen to stuff, read stuff. When I’m not doing that I’m a copy editor and web thing. Plus I run a label called Run Out Records and play in another band called The Reverse.

Crayola: Well if you’re going to plug that nonsense of yours, Simon and I run the kabukikore label.

What’s the idea behind your series of mini-album 7″s?

Crayola: To begin with it was simply that we had written seven songs and they would fit onto a 7″ and I thought that was neat. Then it became obvious to my anal, record collecting, database keeping, mental anorak wearing mind that we should really do a series of them. I was pleasently surprised that record labels and reviewers and everyone else also seemed to think it was a good idea.

Give us five reasons why short songs are better than long songs.

Crayola: I can’t write long songs, I get bored….um….5 reasons….

Simon: Well long songs can be very good. A lot of prog and kraut stuff is excellent. Medium sized songs because people are lazy are just a bit annoying. Get in there, say what you have to say and leave.

Crayola: I agree. I love some long songs. Like I love Faust. And Marillion. But I also love the buzz you get from a really fantastic pop record. Like listening to the Shangri-la’s – two minutes of pure joy. Actually most of my favourite records are 2 minutes or under for that exact reason. That rush of energy. To be fair, 2 minutes isn’t that short. Is it?

Joe: Songs are songs. Long ones get into your brain by seeping through your pores osmosis style. Short ones are bullets into your conciousness. Man.

Crayola: That’s not five reasons is it? Dear reader, that question should read “some reasons”.

Which is your favourite of your own tracks and why?

Crayola: That’s tricky. I like them all for different reasons. I love Angela off the new record. That’s very personal to me though as it’s the song Phil Wilson sings. I found it so overwhelming to have this man, whose band was one of the major factors in me starting to make music in the mid eighties, want to sing one of our songs that I spent the next two days bursting into tears. This included half way up the M40 on my way home causing me almost to have to pull over as I couldn’t s ee. But overall my favourite track is Prove It because it does everything a Sarandon song should do. It has 1 chord, a great tune, a memorable chorus and is over in a minute and a half.

Simon: Kitten and Happy I think and ooh whats that other one, the one we did in session that sounds like The Contortions….. Oh and I love to play Manky live. It just has so much energy.

Crayola: You’re thinking of Make Fun being the Contortionsy one.

Joe: Yeah I agree with Simon that Make Fun is a definite winner, both versions – it just sounds kind of dirty and truculent. Virginity with Alan Brown on it also gets me right there every time. And Happy. And Pin Up. And Meet Warren. And and and…

Crayola: I’m not keen on Make Fun – I think the words are rubbish. Nice bassline though.

What have you been listening to/reading lately that you’d recommend?

Crayola: I’ve started listening to Krautrock again after taking a 5 or 6 year break from it. “UFO” by Guru Guru is as fantastic as I remember. Funnily this has coincided with me getting my copy of Krautrocksampler back after having leant it to a friend about 5 or 6 years ago. It’s a wonderful book for making you want to listen to records. It makes me feel the same way as Lester Bangs’ article on the Count Five made me feel.

Simon: Ha ha I can see this is going to be interesting. I’ve been listening to lots of stoner rock lately and MC5, Blue Cheer and The Stooges. I always end up going back to the MC5…always.

Joe: Having just come back from ATP, I’ve been listening to a bit of silence – hugely underrated. But my big hits of the weekend were TV on the Radio, Ex Models, celebration and vetiver. Devendra Banhart was rubbish. And I’m enjoying Bonfire of the Vanities for the first time.

How are things musically in your local area?

Crayola: I’m not in a position to say. I generally don’t go out in my local area. Actually I generally don’t go out at all.

Simon: Emo by numbers largely.

Joe: London’s shit for bands.

The best things in life are free – what is your favourite thing that costs nothing?

Crayola: Hugging friends – sappy but true. Nothing beats it.
Simon: Looking at my wife.
Joe: Yeah a good hug is worth ten grand.
Crayola: In that case bring your cheque book to our next rehearsal.

What are your upcoming band plans?

Crayola: to carry on doing about 1 gig a month. to rehearse occasionally and to carry on releasing records that, if hadn’t made, we would buy.

Simon: Maybe a little side project. I’ve been listening to Led Zeppelin live a lot lately and fancy doing something that lets me play’ with my playing.

Crayola: But we have that already ñ it’s called Future Sperm Brasil. We really should get on and do some more of that. I’m sure Joe would be in.

Joe: wait, are you suggesting that I begin a side project to my side project?

Crayola: Yes. Yes I am.

What’s your favourite useless fact?

Crayola: The peanut is not in fact a nut. It is a legume.

Simon: I only like/know useful facts I’m afraid.

Joe: Monkeys don’t actually like monkey nuts, or bananas. But give them a Fry’s Peppermint Cream and they’ll love you forever.

More information:

Records we can buy:
The Miniest Album 7 track 7″ (Run Out Records, 2004)
The Big Flame 7 track 7″ (Banazan Records, 2005)
The Feminist Third 7 track 7″ (Wrath records, 2005)
The June Bride 7 track 7″ (Wrath records, 2006)
The Completist’s Library 28 track CD/LP compiling the 4 mini albums (Wrath Records, 2006)