Q. When did OUS form, tell us about the beginning…
NICK: The band was originally begun in 2000 by myself, Dean Knight (Silent Front/Ternary) and Khyam Allami (solo artist / Knifeworld / Art of Burning Water). It was named Windomn Chikarah back then and after a few splits, fallouts and new arrivals, One Unique Signal was born somewhere around 2002.
MESSENGER: Well for me the band started around three years ago, but I like to think I've had my hand in this pie for quite some time. Back in the day I used to be in a band called Furr, with Nick’s Sister Louise and other half Anji. At the time we practiced at a legendary rehearsal studio called Riot Club. (Run by another Myth Lee 'if I die on my bike I'll take plenty of people with me' Farrow) The dogs body for when Lee was off on an adventure, was Lee 'little lee' Barber, the first Drummer/Singer for OUS. In a band with Nick, they had the bones but they needed the heart for this attack on the senses that would be One Unique Signal. I knew just the man, a man of courage, a man of whit, a man of style that put even me to shame. He couldn't do it so I told them about my good friend James Beal (Bass), and they got on like a house on fire. OUS was born.
DAN: I joined in the 2006 evolution of sound.
JIM: OUS has lost good men over time; 1 to metal obsession; 1 to Manchester; 1 to a social whirl and 1 to the fields. The current line up is Hygge (as they say in Denmark)
Q. What are the band’s influences?
NICK: Main influences for me are the noisier indie bands of the late 80s early 90s but it’s far far more extensive than just that particular genre. I think we wear our music taste very much on our sleeve but there are other more subtle things if you listen out for them. On the Dismemberment EP we focused most on the Drums and spent a significant amount of time (far more than on any of the other instruments) getting a huge sound more akin to a Post Hardcore band than you would normally apply to a shoegaze or indie outfit. Everything from Converge to the gentle minimalism of Mark Hollis / Talk Talk.
BYRON: Mysticism, perpetual motion, the 60 cycle hum of modern society, the desire and willingness to create art, the act of listening to music everyday, knowledge of perception, a vague threat of mental illness, a desire to manifest the physical as sound, the need to make sound a physicality, ten foot fucking speakers, mortality.
JIM: From a non-musical point of view it seems that (in no particular order); Rip this Joint nights, Olives, Red Wine, Vinyl, Eric Fromm, Brentford FC, Electronic bastardization, Cranberry juice, Free food, Discussing, Maps, Real Cider, analog photography, flapjacks, taking guitars apart, disagreeing for the sake of it. Musically I think the one thing we seem to all do is never decide what set we’re going to play until we’re on stage.
MESSENGER: Nick and Bryon.
DAN: Large mix, makes it unique.
Q. How you describe OUS sounds?
NICK: Our basic starting blocks are repetition and volume. During gigs, dependant on the environment and individual states of mood and/or intoxication, this can either result in an all encompassing hypnotic vibration that people can emerse themselves in or it descends into utter cacaphony and can lead to people turning on their heels with fingers in their ears.
BYRON: All noise is equal, but some sounds are more equal than others.
MESSENGER: I don't know I never take my ear plugs out, so I've never really heard it!
DAN: Loud, repetition and ting.
JIM: Too hard. Next question.
NICK: We hired out the rehearsal room we were using at the time for 2 weekends and got our friends to record us. It was a nice set up because instead of paying them in cash, we bought equipment for them. The system they employed meant that each band they recorded did the same thing with the result being that over time they were able to amass a good amount of studio gear. Subsequent recordings achieved better results because of the higher quality equipment. We still work with them today in fact, Dan DNA (Guardians of the Ancient Wisdom) / Wayne Pennell (Ursa/Ternary). They have gone on to set up a studio on a small industrial estate. My memory of recording that album is having a great laugh with friends coming and going throughout the days we were there. I also remember recording my parts too quickly. In retrospect I could have taken a bit longer working out how to be a tad more creative. The mixing was a nightmare! We got halfway through and lost all our work in a hard drive crash. In total we spent a year and 3 months from recording to street release, by which time 2 of the band had walked.
DAN: I heard they used two digital eight tracks together.
NICK: It was two Tascam 16 tracks. I think they’ve died now.
JIM: 4 days in a dark industrial unit with friends. Chocolate croissants and earl grey. Wrongen’ drawings. Early starts without achieving anything until late. Hurt fingers. Learning how to play for recording. Scarce daylight. Iraqi shaker. A big little G. Hanging Lee to the sounds of an autoharp!
Q. To me, the latest EP Villains to a Man is the best OUS release do you agree?
BYRON: For now. We continue to learn and the next one will be better.
NICK: We’re very mindful to be as happy as we can be with the recordings before releasing them as this means everyone is confident in the music we are putting our name to. It also means that as we look back over our releases we know that each is a perfect snapshot of where we were at, at any given time. VtaM sounds to me like we are beginnging to settle in with our sound. We had calmed down from the previous EP. The tracks on Dismemberment have a real energy about them and you can hear the band eager to start afresh and get something released with the new line up. You can hear everyone itching to smack people around the ears! VtaM seems to summarise the sound of OUS since it’s beginnings. Plasticism is similar to the self indulgence shown on Soldiers Prayerbook from ‘Tribe, Castle & Nation’, Jaded sounds like it could have been on the debut single Lowry and Villains is us taking the ideas we had with Hackeyed and just running off in all directions.
DAN: Yes, and the last one (Dismemberment). I am biased though.
JIM: You should never favour one of your children!
Q, Tell us about playing live.
BYRON: This is a strange question - Writing about live music suddenly seems to make as much sense as singing about books...
MESSENGER: It's all about the audience, you can make plenty of mistakes but if everyone is ripping their hair out and biting each other, then you'll always come away thinking it was a good gig. Often you can never really hear well onstage; if you can, and it sounds good then it's fun. If you can't and people still enjoy it that’s great. If they both come together, well, I've seen grown men cry.
DAN: Keep rigid as possible. I’ts the best bit!
NICK: We rehearse so often that we have built up the necessary telepathy needed to attack our live shows with a healthy balance of calm confidence and mindless arrogance.
I love playing shows. I don’t really dig all the other stuff involved like travelling and setting/packing up but who does? Frequently we allow ourselves to stray outside of the boundaries of the recorded songs with lots of our set based around nods of the head. The setlist is nearly always discussed/argued over whilst we’re on stage. Like I mentioned before, we aim for an above average volume and decided to buy a big industrial sized box of earpluggs that we sit next to the entrance for people who come to the shows. If we all use them we can’t expect other people not to want them too. I’m not sure if it was a good or bad thing but on the Telescopes tour there were a few occasions where Stephen actually had to give in and wear some! Actually, thinking about it, that can only be a good thing! Means we are pumelling the audience!!!
Q. How was the experience of playing with Stephen Lawrie? To me here´s a myth...how do feel about that?
MESSENGER: You have to watch that man, he stands on your pedals! But really he was just a nice bloke. He fit in really well, just like a sixth member, no hassle. Which is what you want really, it's often hard to find bands who do the same music, and even harder to find people you get on with, so the fact that these two come together was, destiny? Synchronicity?
JIM: It was fun. He’s a good guy. We’ll do more stuff I think.
NICK: I Loved it and we all had a great time. There was obviously a big concern about ensuring we delivered the set correctly to a paying audience. I’ve been listening to those songs for around two decades and wanted to make sure if I was in the crowd I’d have walked away pleased. I think the shows worked well. OUS make a big noise live and Stephen likes those songs to be attacked with aggresion and a degree of abandon so he kind of picked the right band in us! We all got on really well and there was good banter. He’s on the OUS Christmas card list now.
Q. Which songs by other bands would you like to do cover versions of?
BYRON: If we could ever achieve the intensity of 'Strung Out Deeper Than The Night' by 'Les Rallizes Denudes' I would be a very happy man indeed!
MESSENGER: Well it's not strictly a band, but it’s my answer so like it or lump it. Spiegel Im Spiegel by Arvo Pärt. (Solo for double wah)
DAN: Iron Man. Something by Magazine maybe.
JIM: think it’s best to never cover songs you like, if you like a song there’s a reason you like it and try as you may you’ll never get it better (as the certain something that makes you like the song is usually quite unexplainable). At best you’ll do it verbatim which is a hollow and unrewarding enterprise. Taking a shitty pop song and turning it into something better seems like a much more useful way to expend your energy a la Sonic Youth’s version of Madonna’s ‘Into the Groove’. Having said that we’ve covered a song I like already so it doesn’t mean much!
NICK: Double Dare by Bauhaus. I’m a big fan of those early Cure albums too. Having said that, in truth, we’re not very likely to bother anytime soon. I kind of agree with Jim, unless it’s a song you don’t really care for, you’re unlikely to better it.
Q. Which new bands you recommended?
BYRON: Hey Colossus, Einstellung, Gnod, Flower-Corsano duo.
NICK: Gnod, Gin Panic, The Second Floor, Narrows, Ternary, Anji Cheung, Art of Burning Water.
MESSENGER: 'Cherry but no Cake' have a new Album coming out soon, keep your ears peeled! Also if you like things a bit heavy, a little dash of 'Art of Burning Water' always spices up any occasion.
DAN: I'm afraid, none
JIM: Art of Burning Water, Ivy’s Itch, Silent Front, Conmungos, Ternary, Guardians of the Ancient Wisdom, Gin Panic
Q. What are the plans for the future?
BYRON: Write some more songs and record them, then see if anyone likes them enough to press them to vinyl. After that hopefully we can play some gigs in Europe.
MESSENGER: My plans? Well my plans are being part of a van-guard movement for revolutionary change, (Erich Fromm Action Committee) ending industrial capitalism and wage slavery, much inspired by the brave work you've started over in the Americas. Fuck the oil companies pillaging the all our oil off the Falklands, keep it in the ground! Prison for the criminal Tony Blair! Down with the Imperial ruling class of all our countries, three cheers for the workers of the World!
*** It should be expressed that these views are my wishes alone. One Unique Signal as a band is A political and only about making horrible music. *****
If ‘your’ meant the bands plans, we'd love to play in Brazil!
DAN: Write more!
NICK: We’ve been pretty slack in writing new material and our live shows have probably begun to become a bit boring for regular attendees, so writing is a major priority. We have a good number of ideas at demo stage; it’s just a matter of knuckling down and getting them to take shape. Possibly we’ll put together another mini tour towards the end of the year and look into some mainland Europe dates as well, see how the mood takes us.
Q. Any important news to tell us…
MESSENGER: We want to play in Brazil!
DAN: Gentleman do not exercise!
JIM: We’re writing……….
NICK: Genepool Records still have stock of the Villains to a Man 180grm 12”. Go and pick one up, they’re tasty! http://www.genepoolrecords.com/