Gold Blade busted-out from the underground rehearsal bunker where Beat Fuhrer John Robb had been plotting a rampant hard-core Rock'n'Roll experience in mid-1996 with the "Soul Power" 7", a magnificent incitement to have good times and a kick in the rump for anyone merely going through the motions. The unsuspecting public, when confronted by the chorus "Hellzapoppin! Hot Chocolate City!", were at once shocked and invigorated, scared and thrilled, pushed back by the power and thrusting forward, chomping at the bit for more...and if you think that's a little hyperbolic you should read the sleeve notes from debut LP "Home Turf", in which the five brothers -- Wayne, Jay, Keef, Rob and John -- kick out the jams with their sharp suits and even sharper riffs, delivering a deft sonic prick to the balloon of complacency. This is inspirational stuff: a punked-up, straight-edged, soul-powered sermon to the masses, racing along with barely a wasted breath and no little energy. It's easy to see how the album turned out this way after you've seen the band live or listened to John take just about any subject and produce a hyperactive verbal thesis on it, inevitably concluding that Gold Blade are the band that inspire, that distractions should be ignored and that everyone should get out and do something positive..but never being entirely serious. Take something as seemingly innocuous as crisps: "I don't like crisps, they're there to destroy your will-power and weaken your resolve. Every time you play a gig, they always give you six packets of crisps on the rider, y'know, and then they expect you to play an intense show..but they slow you down, but that's like all the trash that hangs around Rock'n'Roll."
Brother Jay ventured to suggest that he didn't mind those little triangular Nachos, with a dip, but was given short shrift: ".. they're still crisps though, being Mexican doesn't make them any less of a crisp. Rob likes crisps..he's only 18 and look at him! They're drum fuel!". Drummer Rob, who is a little older than 18 manages to slip a quick word in: "Gold Blade, drums powered by cheesy-flavoured Whotsits" before John is off again: " It's different thing though drums, different rule book. It's OK for Rob though, he gets six packets of crisps at every gig..unless there's some Nachos, then he only gets five."
On the subject of the band's name: "It's the sharp and angular, it's the cross between Flash and Violence that just sums up what the band's about, 'cos we like agressive things--not in a macho way--but the power and the thrill of aggression, but it's not a violence where you could smash someone's face in, it's the violence of sounds and sounds clashing together. Like the flash thing as well, we don't like tawdry kinda dressed-down things, we like things that look flash, so when you walk down the street, everyone has to shout "Fuck Off!" at you or, like, bow down to you. The middle line is a boring line, innit?" As he pauses for breath, a pounding drum sound-check becomes audible.
Jay: "that's the sound of Rob headbutting the soundman in a Shaolin temple honing-ritual, ready for Rob to do his drums.." That's not violence of course, that's beauty. John: "That's the violence we like, the purity of violence in a martial arts kinda way. We are built as human beings, not to just lounge around and watch TV--which is what most people do--we're opposed to that, we like things to be moving, we like to get things done. A night sitting around doing nothing is a night wasted, innit? A night of death, innit? You've gotta be out there doing something, changing the shape of the world or something instead of just taking stuff in. Like going to gigs, standing at the back and having three pints and thinking the band's OK. You may as well just fuck off home, there's no point you being there is there? You should either get down the front and dance and sweat and give something, or shout things. Or just make something move or happen."
But if you go and drink three pints and the band are OK, that's the band's fault isn't it? "Well yeah, but even to a band as brilliant as ours people do that as well, some people are really, really hard to move. Obviously, not everyone's going to like us, most people'll think we're a pile of shit, y'know? But why don't they react? Why don't they shout "you are a pile of shit" or something? Or do something positive, go and form a different kind of band, like Pendragon or something..but if you're not moved by a band that's got the Funk, got the Sex and got the Rock'n'Roll like us, then I feel very sorry for you..."
Jay manages another couple of words "..we want to break down that stiff British social code thing.." before business as usual: "..whenever I go to see bands and I like 'em, I'll go and stand right at the front, ten yards from 'em and I'll tell you what happens, people always say "can you get out of the way, I'm trying to watch the band". I hate people who can watch bands and stand at the front, there's always some bored fucker standing at the front looking like that [mimes gormless upward stare] and everyone else is dancing and they'll turn round and go "stop dancing". You think, "well why don't you fucking move? If you're bored, what're you doing there?" People at the front dance, don't they? Maybe on Mars everyone in the band dances at the side or the back or out on the carpark, but on Earth, people dance at the front, that's the social custom of Rock'n'Roll, innit?"
Jay: "It's the best place for energy transfer between the crowd and the band..", John: "..it's the worst sound though, but people down the front probably aren't bothered, they just wanna let go and go crazy, and we want people to let go and go crazy as well, that feeling you get when you've given it up, it's a great feeling innit? It's that post-coital feeling as you're walking home, it can make a dull town seem magical, and that's what you've got to try and do in a band, and it's quite a task innit? Because no matter how many gigs there's been in this country since Rock'n'Roll exploded onto the scene, how can you make it that little bit special again? y'know, make it that little bit different...that's the challenge. The gauntlet is thrown down every night by the audience, they say to us: "go on, make it a little bit special" and we try as hard as we can to do it, y'know."
And self-belief is the way to accomplish this task: "That's the whole indie scene, innit? People have no self-belief..they're all great people, great minds, and they're standing there thinking that they have to be really lo-fi. They need to be electrified a bit..I'm talking about the little underground bands that should be in the mainstream, challenging for it, y'know. I went to see Cable last night--a great band--but when they play on stage, the way they stand, it's really apologetic, which is wrong 'cos they're kicking out some great sounds. The more a band like that hunches back in the corner, the more cake a band like Cast get. And fuck that, I mean they've eaten enough cake haven't they?" Doesn't luck play a role in a band's success? John: "you don't need luck do you? It's just sheer talent."
By which he means that you make your own luck, something Gold Blade excell at by being prepared to take the message to the masses and sugar it with a layer of tight-as-you-like streamlined Rock'n'Roll. His vision can never come to be, of course, but for 45 minutes down the front at a sweaty club, it sure as Hell feels like it can. The audience is swept away by five wildly-leaping revolutionary madmen and their hot chocolate ditties. But what is a "Hot Chocolate City? Keef: "Manchester is Hot Chocolate City." Jay: "Every city we've been to over the last 75 dates of the tour has been Hot Chocolate City." Rob: "Hot Chocolate City is not where you're from, it's where you're at." Which sums them up nicely, striding confidently along their own path with an eye on the past and their tongues firmly in their cheeks.
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