"We belong to the scruffs movement!" Jules, scuff- shoed singer of Birmingham’s rapidly rising Onionhead, laughs off fears that the bands megabuck viability could be hampered by sartorial inelegance.
"Music is just so massively more important than the clothes you wear isn’t it?
"There's this really high priority on the way things look, all that attention given to appearance."
"Basically," chips in bassist Sammy, "We live or die by the songs."
Judging by the band’s debut EP ‘For Niceness’, the prognosis is healthy.
‘Ruminating’ is the choicest of four powerful cuts, a melancholic fit of tenderised country guitars and Jules’ firm, dark vocals.
If Glen Campbell had been a young bloke in pre-millennial Birmingham, this is what he would have sounded like-and therein lies the crux of the new, improved Onionhead.
Where once they were paralytic Yankaholics content to imitate The Byrds, REM and even Leonard Cohen, these days they seek to emulate their heroes.
"I do tend to listen almost exclusively to American stuff," concedes Jules. "But it’s quite hard to get an overtly English feeling in rock music, unless you go for a really music hall sound like The Kinks"
"There is an indie sound, but it’s just so lightweight –‘Indiepop’ has become one of those vile lumping-in definitions like ‘alternative comedy’.
"We’re much bigger than that in our ideas and in what we play. I mean, we can actually play and we’re quite proud of that"
The proof of the pudding is in the listening, and there’s no denying Onionhead’s rapidly maturing competence or individuality.
‘Pipeline’ is typical of the new approach, upbeat West Coast rifferama hopping the eco bandwagon with a sly paean to sun, sand – and sewage.
Did this indicate a new political dimension to a band already highly regarded in their hometown for a willingness to play benefits?
"If we all think the cause is fine, we’re going to do it," says Jules, "But that doesn’t mean we want to shove a manifesto down anybody’s throat. Basically we do benefits for people who can do the campaigning work better than we can."
Likewise, Onionhead leave the dressing-up to mannequins.
"The best image we can give off," says Sammy, "is that we like what we’re doing. If we can communicate that, then our audience should enjoy it to.
"Otherwise, what’s the point?"
Adrian Goldberg Sounds Feb 90
NME interview May 89 Melody Maker interview March 90
Sounds live review Dec 90 Sounds interview Jan 91
Melody Maker interview Feb 91 Melody Maker live review Aug 91
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