" Chris Sharrock. Drums. Liverpool. 23. "
" John. 21. Liverpool. Bass. "
" Lee. 22. Play for Liverpool, born in a guitar. "
" Barry. Aged 22 and that's it. "
We're kitted out in a pub called The Crack, having spent the afternoon-so-far tramping the streets of The La's myth-soaked town in search of the right alleyway to be photographed in.
" I'll tell you the truth - we all will, "
John assures me, so I kick off with what seems like a perfect starting
point - Liverpool itself.What's good and bad about the place? " They've
got good cheese and chutney, " says John, tucking into his roll. He's curly-haired
and the loudest. Lee gets serious: " I'll tell you what's bad about it
- when you're here. What's good about it is when you're away - then you
miss it. " John: " Badly. I just think Liverpool's boss. It's an island
on its todd. "
I have just pulled my finger out of a dam, haven't I? The La's love talking, about the city, about themselves, and everything they say packs real conviction without sounding scripted
Lee: " There's a bond here, la. "
By now, I've crossed off my most banal question - ' What does your name mean? ' - as it's already been answered. La is a sound; a punctuation mark; a thread in the very fabric of conversation - it means all and nothing and, overlooking the fact that no band since Yes have been able to plug themselves this effectively in chat, it is the right name. Simple; coloquial; unforced; unpretentious; peculiar; correct.
So do you get on with London?
John: " London is good to visit, and you can have a good buzz there, man. "
Lee: " But people only wanna know you if you're doing well - so it says a lot about them doesn't it? " John: " That's hit the nail on the f---ing head, like - but don't put the F-word in - me ma'll hit me! "
What are you influenced by?
Lee: " Life itself. Everything, la. " John: " People and places. "
I push for names.
John: " There's something that's in a few bands that we feel we've got in us, and I don't mean guitar riffs or harmonies - I'm talking about SOUL. "
For my sins, Lee obliges by listing every band with this SOUL, in strict chronological order, each name accompanied by a fist on the table - from Bo Diddley to Chuck Berry, Elvis, Bob Dylan, The Beatles (The old Beatles), The Stones, The Who, early Kinks - the " main branch " of Rock's family tree as he sees it.
" I seem as though I'm speaking out of turn now, la, but in a few years you'll understand what I meant . We've got one big soul, one helluva big soul, la, and you'll see it in the years to come. "
This band, not one of them older than me, are SERIOUS. They're building a nest for themselves at the top of the tree, and their inspiration does not come in half-measures.
Lee: " What's the thing that keeps the whole boat up? It's will. " John: " Where there's a will there is a way. This thing's bigger than any of us. " Lee: " It's not us anyway - we're just pulled in on it. It's a current, like. "
John: " It's an inner feeling that'll push me to the end of my days." Lee: " Pull and push. Ebb and flow. "
Do you want to be famous?
John: " I want the whole world to sing our songs - they're their songs anyway! "
Lee: " I want the world to sing a song, whoever's it is. There's no one else doing any f---ing songs is there, la? So someone's gotta do it.
John: " I haven't seen one anyway. If you f---ing bring one to me, I'll say, ' How's it going, la? ' "
So, The La's are on a mission from God.
Lee: " It all comes back to God for me, whatever it is - not this fella in the sky - Nature, Change, Whatever. "
John: " There is something - a guiding force, like. Call it what you like, but there's a feeling. "
Lee: " You know what? I'll tell you what - it's the first time I've done this for f---ing ages - lie in bed and contemplate life. I just couldn't help it, it was four o'clock and all that. I was scared, la. The greatest thing in life is to give birth, but it's the most horrible in another sense. You're pulling someone in, from out there, who's enjoying themselves - you're pulling them into this f---ing mess."
New guitarist Barry pipes up here: " If you arm people with the right things they'll be alright. "
Lee: " I don't get that. "
John: " I do, la -look- if you bring someone into this earth and you give them , tell them the right things, they're gonna be alright. "
Lee: " Maybe they don't wanna come in, la. "
John: " They don't have to. It's a continuation of you. You carry on. You can see people in their parents - I look at his folks, I can see Lee. "
Lee: " You came through your ma's oven, like a bun. She baked you, la. "
No one could accuse The La's of being half-baked, or half anything for that matter. So called dedicated bands come and go, but I hope to God that The La's conviction survives this translation from heart to newsprint, because it is, as they say, bigger than the four of them. I know - I was there (and maybe you have to be.) Listen to the 12" - one side is magic pop thrill, and the flip is honeydew melancholy. You'll love it, but don't go thinking that The La's do! here is a band who are unintrested in their current product.
" Modern Studios, " says Lee. " We just don't mix. (No pun intended - Lee is not joking). They put noise-reduction on it - it takes away hiss and that - it also taps some other frequency where all the ambiance and the harmonics and the vibe is, and you're left with bare bones. "
Shit. And there I was, this very morning, thinking ' There She Goes ' was sliced bread and more. Cuh! they're not satisfied, so how can I be now? Don't worry, be happy, as John says - this is just the beginning.
" I might be here in 10 years time getting interviewed by ya, I know what we've got - and I know where it's gonna go in the long run. These songs are gonna go to the people and the people are gonna go Wow! "
I'm going Wow already - whether I shall be able to stand up when the imminent La's LP socks one to me, is questionable. Sounds like it's going to be captured on a " four-track in Liverpool ", and in one take, I'll be bound!
Lee: " The only way it's coming out is if we get what we want in the sound - and when it actually does hit the air... "
Hit the fan, more like.
" Yeah, that's it, la - it'll start flying, and people'll get it. It will go down as one of the best debut albums, if not the best. "
There is a fine line between self-confidence and arrogance, and I do hope you're pencilling it in carefully, readers. I think we're going to have a huge Liverpool phenomenon on our hands within six months, never mind the band's possibly naive patience. Brace yourself for La-mania, pop kids, and be ready for another media Scouse-cliche frenzy! If The La's are Liverpool (and they ought to be) then all the shit about Scousers being funny, friendly and full of themselves is true, but you'll have to look further than your telly for the real SOUL, though, la.
Lee: " Brookside's just one aspect, and Bread's another. But there's more than two aspects. "
Barry: " Jung had a dream about it being the
pool of life. "
All this talk of Godliness and soulfulness brings me onto another band of four from outside of London who took on the world - U2. How do we feel about the reverend Bono?
John: " Every time he sang a song he really did sing it from the heart. " (Slightly worrying past tense there from U2's followers.)
Lee: " What did he sing though? what did he
sing from the heart? Anything you can remember?
John concedes: " Christ is bigger than U2! "
So who would The La's be sponsored by on the
world stadium tour?
Since it seems that I haven't heard ' There She Goes ' in its pure form I ask The La's if they'll play it for me. The idea grabs them, so we cab it up to the other side of Jung's pool to their rehearsal room/office. It is inside this humble home that the New Beatles, they deserve it, play an accoustic version of their set for me - and the whole world stands still for twenty minutes.
A perfect end to a perfect day, and why not? It dawns on me very quickly why Chris the drummer joined The La's after quitting The Icicle Works with no plans to even remain in the music biz. He says, " The hairs on the back of my neck were up, I just went ' F---ing hell! ' You would go to hell and back to find a band like this! "
I record this impromptu session on the end of my interview tape, and I know that I've got myself a real treasure here. Come round to my house and hear it if you like - you're welcome - or else buy the imperfect pop single as a consolation prize to tide your senses over 'till the next ' Please Please Me ' comes out.
I'm still scared. John was right: The La's told me the truth - and I haven't stopped buzzing yet, la. Sound.