Lloyd Cole and the Commotions appear at SSEC Glasgow, 16 Dec. Lloyd Cole tells Graham Caldwell of the group’s intentions to build on their rapid

Lloyd Cole‘s frequently criticised arrogance is not much in evidence as he demonstrates the Russ Abbott type dance he performs in the video for the group‘s new single. Lost Weekend. ‘It‘s brilliant. The best one we‘ve done yet. It’s like an Ealing comedy really funny. I l'ugh at it myself.‘

It is a bitterly cold Sunday afternoon in Glasgow and Lloyd was taking time out from buying things for his new London flat to talk to me prior to the short tour he and the rest of the Commotions are undertaking to promote their new album Easy Pieces. About this reputation for arrogance Lloyd. ‘What people may constitute as arrogance.‘ he says thoughtfully. ‘is that I am fairly self-confident as a songwriter.‘ Does this mean he considers himself particularly good at what he does? He looks aghast: ‘Ofcourse, yes.‘ Later he says: ‘If I were a bad lyricist there‘s a vague possibility we might be more successful. If the songs were more easily dismissed certain people in the music press might feel a bit more at ease with us.‘ But when you say that you don‘t consider yourself as a member of the public, are you not perpetuating this myth of self-importance? ‘It‘s quite nice to establish yourself as a figure by doing something. I‘m sure that most people do not see themselves as just members of the public. It‘s a feeling that you want to be recognised for what you‘re doing. Ifyou‘re quite happy working in a production plant and you have a wife and two kids, then you are a different kind of person to the one that I am.‘

Since leaving University to concentrate full-time on his music, Lloyd has had a remarkably swift rise to fame. The Commotions‘ first album Rattlesnakes received wide acclaim. but Lloyd feels that his honeymoon with the media is now at an end. ‘The group‘s day went a long time ago as far as the music press is concerned. We had very poor reviews for the last two singles. The reviews of the new album vary from slanderous to indifferent to excellent. but the good ones have managed to outweigh the bad.‘ Lloyd and the Commotions have been somewhat stereotyped as a

2 The List 29 Nov -- 12 Dee

SUCCESS . student band; in the Sunday Times they were described as producing ‘serious, intellectual hall-of-residence rock‘. a quote easily explained by Lloyd‘s allusive style of writing and fascination with

iobscure woman writers. ‘I think we

get a slightly wider audience than that would suggest. We see people verging on middle-age at our concerts and a not insubstantial teenybop audience as well. and a few Mohicans.‘

The Commotions, and his own public image is not one that Lloyd is enamoured with. He is inevitably portrayed as being ‘mean and broody‘. The reason for this. he reveals, is not because that is the image he wants to portray. but is simply because he has an aversion to being photographed while smiling. ‘There haven‘t been many good photographs ofme smiling.‘ he explains ruefully. ‘ifpeople tell me to say cheese. I look like a piece of cheese.‘ he gives me an example of his best grin. which produces a chubby-checked cheerfulness rarely seen. I sympathised. ‘There is one good one of me smiling in Record Mirror,‘ he says, brightening. ‘I must get some copies of it for my mum and dad.‘

It has often been said that Lloyd does not go out of his way to establish a rapport with his audience; going so far as to change the lyrics of his songs so that the audience cannot sing along. ‘I like to play jokes on them. I certainly don‘t like the communal chanting of most songs. Given the choice. I’d rather they didn‘t do it or else just sang along quietly.‘ It has also been said that Commotions shows are rather less than rivetting visually. This annoys him considerably. ‘People are being silly if they expect anything else. I can only do so much. I‘m tied to the mike stand for 80% of the time. I can tap my feet and move my knees and

that‘s all. But we‘re much better on the stage now than we used to be. I can look people in the eye now. We had a very kind of negative attitude to live concerts when we first formed. There were things I didn‘t want us to be, but there was nothing specific I did want us to be.‘ Lloyd is a writer who takes his

work seriously. Does he think then that a singer can be looked upon in the same way as an artist or writer? ‘The way we‘re approached depends on the critic. not on what we‘re doing. And also whether or not you see what I do as credible. I put a lot oftime into what I do. Basically, we‘re doing the same as Wham we‘re doing it in a different way. but we should be treated the same.‘ I think about this for a bit and then ask him if he takes the whole music industry seriously. ‘I take what goes down on vinyl as seriously as you could possibly take anything. I have to live with it. but as to the business.‘ He takes a deep breath: ‘I pay a lot of attention to it. It‘s the kind of business where people have no qualms about doing things deliberately to deceive you and then tell you a year later that it was for your own good.‘

Although Lloyd is willing to go along with the record companies to a certain extent. it is clear that he has no love for the industry as a whole. ‘I dislike the ethic behind the way it goes about its business every man for himself. There‘s no question that any kind of morality can be applied to it. We do not want our records on sale ifthey are not worth buying. The record company wants quite the opposite they want as much on sale as possible.‘ Paul Morley of ZTT once said that people who work for record companies are basically stupid and that is something that Lloyd would go along with. ‘Most of them are very stupid,‘ he agrees. ‘In our record company, everyone‘s giving himself a big pat on the back for having helped Lloyd Cole and the Commotions and various people see themselves as the ones that broke the group. Very strange.‘

As well as his distinctive voice and no mean ability as a wordsmith. Lloyd has one other undoubted attribute his name. ‘It‘s quite lucky. One of the reasons we chose the name ofthe group was that Lloyd Cole is an interesting name. The consequences of that have been a bit wearing. like when the music press refuse to put pictures of the group on the front cover. They just wanted me. But it‘s getting better now. In retrospect maybe we should have

called ourselves the Commotions. but I think Lloyd Cole and the Commotions just sounds better.‘ From relative obscurity. Lloyd has come to public prominence in a fairly short space of time. he says that he has been recognised more in the past month than in the whole ofthe previous year. ‘lt‘s gotten a bit extreme at the moment. I liked it to start with. because it makes you feel important. It‘s probably not vanity, but insecurity.‘

With Lloyd constantly in the limelight. surely it is inevitable that the rest of the Commotions feel a bit miffed? ‘As Lawrence (the bass player) says. why should they worry when they‘ve got the seventh best songwriter in the world.‘ At this point, Lloyd makes self-deprecating noises to show that he does not really agree with this assessment. though I suspect that he is more than a little flattered by it.

All through the interview. Lloyd is at pains to point out that he is only part ofthe group. at one time saying that he is ‘inconsequential‘ and that if the group were to start again tomorrow. they would emphasise this more. ‘When we formed I‘m sure that we didn‘t realise how good a band we were going to be.‘ Given that he has a real faith in the ability of the group, how far does he think they will go? ‘We look like a number 17 band at the moment. I don‘t know. The bigger the better as far as I am concerned. Ifwe get to that stage. there is no way that we will lose our integrity. We don‘t apply commercial considerations to making records. We do afterwards. but the product is fairly sacred.‘

Admirable sentiments. but how much control do the band have over how they are marketed? Lloyd admits that they sometimes do things