British Sea Power: ‘Girls Are A Lot Prettier In The U.S. – And So Are The Boys’

British Sea Power are blazing once again – the eccentric indie-rockers’ new Zeus E.P. came out digitally yesterday and sees a vinyl release next week (both via Rough Trade). In honor of the lads, here’s a quick interview I conducted with them in 2003. It’s finally seeing an online publish.

British Sea Power are the Boy Scouts of the Brighton music scene. Their habit of decorating club stages with foliage won them a spot on a unique forest tour with Pulp – but then got them busted in less eco-friendly New York. It also set them up for an opening slot on tour with the Flaming Lips, which in turn broued some good ol’ ha-ha for their nuttily named debut, The Decline of British Sea Power. Rockpile shared a few intercontinental words with guitarist/pianist Noble (Martin Noble) and singer/guitarist Yan (Scott Wilkinson).

So what happened in New York?

Noble: Well, we didn’t know it was a private garden. We were just doing a little pruning, and then a guy came up and took our shears.

Did you get thrown in the pen?

Noble: No, but we had to make a donation to the park. The owner of the Bowery [Ballroom], where we played that night, was, like, “I know a lot of bands with drug problems, but never with tree problems!”

Where did your fascination with foliage come from?

Noble: A lot of small venues are really smelly, and the floors are sticky … when we started putting loads of branches everywhere, it made them smell nice. Also, we’re fans of the countryside. The other guys in the band are from the Lake District, which is probably the most beautiful part of England – quite mountainous. We like walking, too, I guess.

Would you be perfectly content if U.S. audiences weren’t receptive to your music?

Noble: I think people will be interested. Anyone with half a brain would be interested. There’s a lot of dumbing-down in music these days, being cool for cool’s sake. But look at a band like the Flaming Lips – they’re a phenomenal band. They said we were brilliant, and they’ve got 10 years on us.

How do U.S. and U.K. crowds differ, in your estimation?

Yan: The girls are a lot prettier in the U.S. – and so are the boys, actually.

Originally published in Rockpile, late 2003.

• British Sea Power Zeus E.P. free download: “Zeus” (e-mail address required)

More Bad Penny interviews:

Iggy Pop: ‘I Didn’t Want To Sell Out’ The Stooges
David Bowie Faces Reality
Cave In: ‘The Longer We’re Around, The More People Don’t Like Us’
• Stephen Malkmus On Pavement Breakup, Reunion – And MC Hammer
• Guided By Voices’ Robert Pollard: ‘There Are Some Songs I Don’t Even Remember Doing’

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