4,000,000 TELEPHONES – 80s Post-Punk Misfits Reload Their Guns – INTERVIEW

8 October 2021

British post-punk misfits 4,000,000 TELEPHONES are back in town after nearly
40 years. They cleaned and reloaded their guns and will prove that their sonic exploits have no expiration date. Next year an album of never before heard tracks comes our way. What to expect? A mix of punked-up Talking Heads jangle, pumped-up Gang of Four funk, and shacked-up Certain Ratio grooves, all served with a Devo attitude. Sound bonkers, right? You betcha.

Ahead of the upcoming release, we had a little chat with drummer/poet and
screenwriter Carl Antony Plover. But as usual, we start a Q & A with music.

Here’s Goats, one of the previously unheard tracks…

Hello Carl,
welcome…

4, 000, 000 TELEPHONES’ wasn’t really a world-conquering
band name. What’s the story behind it?

“The longest car in the world back in the eighties used to have
4 telephones and a safe in. We were going to call ourselves that,
until 4 million Telephones sprang into our minds, random.
No big meaning.”

How/when and why did all those telephones
got together and formed a band?

“Way, way back, 1983/4. some of us were in a show type
band and wanted to do something original, experimental.”


Back in time

What ambition was on the table: having fun or world domination?

“Create good art first. Push ourselves in new directions. If it was too obvious,
we wouldn’t do it, but as some national publicity came our way, along so did
ambition, which in turn destroyed the music. Wanting to reach a large audience,
put pressure on the band.”

Which song would you pick to introduce yourselves
to the people who never heard of the band?

“There’s a song recorded on the first album called Big House. That is
a great example of the sound we created. Anchored down by the bass
and rhythm.”

What thoughts pop up immediately when you look back at those years?

“How the music still stands up. And what a shame it is that more people didn’t hear it.
To be fearless when creating your art, and not bow to anyone.”

Nearly 40 years on and the band is, busy examining the archives. How
did that happen and what’s the group’s feel now being back in 2021?

“Our sax player Rick Woolgar sadly died earlier this year. That brought the rest of the original line-up back in contact again. We then unearthed an unreleased album’s worth
of music, which we plan to release.”

The recent previously unheard track you shared is ‘HARD MAN’. A terrifically catchy tune, with a loud and clear political message, right? What’s the song about?

“Well, there was another track called Goats we released earlier in the year. Hard Man, macho politics of the eighties. Macho men, shoulder pads, muscles, and fake tans.”

I’m sure you also have a lot to say about BREXIT?

“Well, I’ve lived in Ireland for nearly twenty years now
so I consider myself European.”

Do you still have contact with kindred bands/spirits from the early days?

“Not really to be honest. We have only just made contact with each other.
It’s been decades since we all met.”

On the black/white promo photo you all look more or less like Charles Dickens’ charlatan FAGIN. Was that the idea or what did you had in mind?

“We always saw the photos as another creative process and loved the sessions we did.
At the time we were still in the post-punk bubble, so to counter that we all wore suits
and greased back our hair.”

Which movie would fit 4,0000,0000 TELEPHONES
to express who/what they are?

“I think Tarantino has used obscure tracks to great effect in his movies.
That would be nice wouldn’t it?” (TUTV: Absolutely, I’m a Tarantino freak)

Legendary British music weekly MELODY MAKER wrote back then
they burn with rare intensity and come close to carving out a perverse
identity of their own”
? What the hell were they talking about?

“I guess we were doing something against the grain of what you would normally
hear on the radio. Live it was a very intense and powerful experience.”

What was a 4,000,000 TELEPHONES gig like?

“We never quite captured the live show on record, we got close. We played a lot of shows over just a few years, so it was a tight, intense experience. You never knew what to expect. We used a very early drum machine, plus live drums. Plus tapes and treatments, before sampling existed. Six vocalists. A driving bass line. Shouted vocals.”


“Not many bands toured with two tape decks and a xylophone”

What/how much music from the archives’
search can we expect and when?

“We are planning an album’s worth of unreleased
material, either the end of this year or early next.”

Thank you very much for this chat, Carl.
May the road rise with 4,0000,000 Telephones.

While waiting for the upcoming – previously unreleased
material – album, I dare you to dance, without falling over
your feet to the band’s 1985 debut LP, re-released in 2011…


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