by Dave Robbins
Scheer are 4AD's newest and brightest signing from Belfast,
Ireland. During a recent stop in New York City during the "Shaving
the Pavement" tour, Audrey Gallagher, Neal Caulderwood, and Peter
Fleming spoke with RAD at the great and spacious Time Warner
building. When asked about the meaning behind "Shaving the
Pavement" they all shrug in unison. "Ask Ivo" is the best they
could come up with. I guess you might as well ask what does
"facing the wrong way" or "think I'm getting the hang of it mean."
Neal says Ivo just comes up with ideas and titles and that's what
they're called. Hmmm.
Scheer came together in various stages. Audrey, Neal, and Paddy
were friends together at college before they joined the band, all
at different times, all from different bands. They started
rehearsing together in 1991 and recorded their first single (which
is also a single from the new album), "Wish You Were Dead" in 1993.
In one year they played more than 100 gigs, just in Ireland.
Scheer were signed to 4AD in 1995, so they had ample time to hone
their craft and develop their own sound. The first time they
played for Ivo Watts-Russell, 4AD founder and CEO, was at Brownies
in NYC's East Village. They played their electric set (which
probably shook the block), then went around the corner to Sin-E
where Ivo heard their acoustic stuff, stripped down and soft. Ivo
immediately approached them about making an album.
"Scheer" is the Dutch word for Shaved, but they didn't know that
until they'd taken the name. They found this out from a Dutch band
they toured with who also informed them that it is a slang term for
the Dutch equivalent of "fuck off." Heh heh--Cool. It's hard to
pin down where the Scheer sound comes from, although it seems every
one can think of a band they remind them of. I've heard them
compared to Cranberries, Nirvana, even Guns n' Roses. Neal is very
up front about his musical influences "...Black Sabbath, Thin
Lizzy, AC/DC, Stones, Stone Temple Pilots, Helmet, and
Soundgarden." I think a lot of people thought that 4AD would fade
into obscurity having never been associated in any way with any of
these bands. Surprise!
There is a lot of resentment out there from long time 4AD purists
who feel that scheer have nothing to do with what the label has
been about. When I saw them in New York in May some guy from the
audience yelled "get off the stage" after just one song. The band
doesn't let it bother them though. Neal had never heard of the
label until Ivo wanted to sign them. He says "don't feel like I'm
on this label that has such a mystique about it. It's just a label
to me, but I realize how much it means to other people." They feel
it's great to be on it, with their attitude, and they take their
time with things. They want you to take things gradually, not to
just make a quick hit and then get lost.
"With other labels, A&R people have to come see you, and then bring
their boss back. With 4AD, Ivo just comes himself and says 'let's
make a record.' It's a great attitude, it's what we wanted." As
far as people resenting Ivo for signing them, Neal has this to say:
"Ivo says he's got to stay true to himself. He says, 'I like all
kinds of music; I like some head-banging albums. I like that kind
of music and I want to sign it.' The whole idea of 4AD was to stay
true to the music he likes. If other people don't like it they can
go elsewhere. 4AD is not like a family, it's just a record
company. You don't like all the bands on Sony, why should you like
all the bands on 4AD?" Audrey says "we aren't any more extreme or
different than the Pixies were when they were signed. Throwing
Muses are a rock band as well. We don't have any responsibility to
make people like us." I got the impression that they've been
fielding questions like these for quite some time now.
The cover of the "Infliction" album is a rather gruesome newly
stitched surgical opening (in a dog I found out) with a dog's
nipple on the back. Apparently the band chose the pictures from a
series that Vaughn Oliver (of v23) showed them. The pictures match
the feel of the album very well, but once again, they're very
unusual considering most other v23 album covers.
I asked the band what they would change about the music world of
1996. Neal and Audrey decided to "get rid of Simply Red and M
People." Neal would "bring back early 80's heavy metal, like
Twisted Sister." "Even ZZ Top," I ask? "Oh yeah" he says.
(Sheesh.) When asked what they thought of the all encompassing
"alternative" moniker in light of such non-innovative alternatives
as Alannis and Hootie, and found that they're fine with it; they
consider themselves a rock band. "Alternative (in the states) just
means you're a rock band. In the UK it means Peel Sessions--more
At the end of the current tour, Scheer has a gig on Irish late
night television, "The Late Late Show." Everyone in the audience is
retired. It's where you play to show your parents that you've
really hit it big. "It's great 'cause your Mum can watch." Scheer
as yet have no plans to make another album. They love the live
thing and will busy themselves with that for a bit. Catch them if
you get a chance. You won't be disappointed.
Copyright © 1996, Rational Alternative Digital