Monday, June 29

Interview: ARTERY

Sheffield's Artery are a band who could have been huge, but, despite their innovative and thrilling records and visceral live performances, their place in the post-punk movement was all but ignored throughout their seven-year career. They split in 1985, but regrouped in 2007 at the behest of Jarvis Cocker, a fan since their early days, to play the Meltdown festival which he was curating, and last month played London's Dice Club to an ecstatic reception. We spoke to guitarist Murray Fenton, in advance of their next London performance on Friday at Jamboree (Cable Street Studios), about the band's past, the present, and the future.

You reformed in 2007, at the suggestion of Jarvis Cocker, to play the Meltdown festival. What turned that from a one-off reunion into a full-blown comeback for Artery?

Well, we finished the week of the Meltdown gig with a BBC6 radio session and drove back to Sheffield, and planned to meet on the Sunday to watch the Meltdown footage. We all knew we'd knocked the lid off the box really, and decided we'd do another show in Sheffield, and it just snowballed from there. One gig became two and then the offer of another London show that year kind of cemented us back together and we decided to start writing new material rather than resting on the laurels of the back catalogue.

The Artery lineup currently features members from throughout the band’s history – how does this reflect the several different stages the band went through between forming in 1978 and the split in 1985?

The lineup features the two members who have been a constant, Mark Gouldthorpe on vocals and Garry Wilson on drums, and also John Clayton, the original bassist in the band - which not a lot of people know! David Hinkler, brother of Simon (the original keyboard player), was in the band which toured the One Afternoon In A Hot Air Balloon album in 1982/83, and I myself was the guitarist from 83-85. As far as the set went for Meltdown, it featured material from the 1979-81 and 1983-84 periods. We literally had five weeks to reform and get up to a standard worthy of performing such a prestigious gig, having not performed any of the material in over 20 years either individually or as a band!

What do you see as your musical legacy? Do you feel a little sidelined compared to some of your Sheffield contemporaries, or was there always a distinction between yourselves and the likes of Cabaret Voltaire or Heaven 17?

Well, at the time Manchester had its thing going on and so did Liverpool, and both had labels which defined their scene and got it out to a wider market, whereas Sheffield never really achieved that kind of unity. Plus a few of the Sheffield bands already had deals with the top indie labels at the time as punk was still dying out - The Human League and 2.3 on Fast Product, Cabaret Voltaire on Rough Trade, et cetera - and I think Sheffield as a 'scene' to the outside world became thought of as all these bands with synths, which couldn't have been further from the reality. I don't think we were sidelined so much by others as by ourselves, really, but the band always thrived on its own diverse and eclectic attitude to music, as the four totally different albums and a host of weird little singles bear witness. We knew it was music which was never going to buy us swimming pools and trout farms, and to be immortalised by John Peel in the Made In Sheffield documentary is as great a legacy as any band could wish for.

What is your view on the music scene of today, especially in London, after your successful Dice Club show last month? How does it compare to the atmosphere of the post-punk era, which is clearly a huge influence on many current bands?

I was a big fan of The Libertines when they first appeared on the scene and saw a lot of the bands surrounding them at the time - it was a good laugh... Then I saw Selfish Cunt and was absolutely mind-blown. Soon after that I saw Neils Children and I couldnt get my head around how they had come out sounding like that - these three very young kids sounded so much like they had been in a coma for twenty-odd years! In the last year or so quite a few bands have come to my attention and I feel fortunate in that I'm getting to see some of them on the bills of the shows we're playing, at Dice and at Jamboree next week. I'd never heard Stavin' Chains until they played Dice with us, and again I was blown away by them, as I was by Dice Club on the whole. From my jaunts down to gigs and club nights of late, there is a real feel of the old days about the scene down in London, some great music being made, and another thing I've noticed is the really creative use of visuals which make the nights stand out. There's some really good nights out to be had that really stand out from being just another 'club = band-disco-band-disco-band-disco'.

After your recent Standing Still EP, are there plans for any full-length releases from the reformed Artery?

We are toying with the possibility of a second EP at the moment, but we have plenty of new material to put an album out - it's a question of making sure we do it right. The Standing Still EP was something of a toe in the water really and the response to that and the live shows has been very promising, so there will definitely be more new material released - it's just a question of what format we go for next!

Artery play Static Hearts at Jamboree, Cable Street Studios, on July 3rd; support comes from Project:Komakino and Relics. The Standing Still EP is available from

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