Sunday, January 11, 2015

reading, writing and arithmetic

The Sundays went following the feel of fire to create the half twisted janglepop swoon of this impressionistic ethereal souvenir.   The heart of the band formed when Harriet Wheeler and David Gavurin met at Bristol University.  Gavurin reveals:   "We bought a drum machine, a bass guitar, and a four-track recorder and began writing songs for a band, even though there were only two of us ... The way we write is, I'll put down a lyric and Harriet will write the next line...I admit it's kind of weird, since I don't know how many other writers work that way. But it works for us.  We like that a person can be writing a song one way and the other person can take it on a completely different tangent. Actually, it's the only way we know how to write ... The mood of the music determines the diction of the lyrics.  We don't tell structured stories or have specific matter that can be unlocked with a magic key. Our lyrics are more a jumble of personal impressions. In the confusion, important feelings get mixed up with completely meaningless garbage."

They enlisted their friend Paul Brindley and Patrick Hannan, the brother of another friend, to be their rhythm section and relocated to London.  At their first show, they drew the attention of several record companies.  Gavurin:  "We'd done no gigs, contacted no one, sent out no tapes, and suddenly we had record companies courting us and four firm offers," 

Wheeler:   "It was very exciting as well as quite stupid--a few weeks of not sleeping a lot because there was so much to think about."

They settled on Rough Trade because, as Gavurin quips, "It was near our flat."  

'Reading, Writing and Arithmatic' features Harriet Wheeler on vocals,  David Gavurin on guitar,  Paul Brindley on bass,  Patrick Hannan on drums,  and  Lindsay Jamieson on tambourine.   The band co-produced the sessions with Gentle Giant's Ray Shulman; but the album took over a year to finish.  Gavurin says:   "A lot of bands who get signed, who have been playing the circuit for years, have 30 songs for the first album; but we didn't have enough for our first album, let alone our second. We can't write to deadline. You can't force a whole load of songs out quickly...The main pressure we felt was with the single, and even then, we thought, well, they're either going to like it or they're not, and there's not much we can do to influence that."

'Reading, Writing and Arithmatic' resonated with listeners around the world, charting at forty in Australia, thirty-nine in the US, and number four in the UK.  

Gavurin and Wheeler look back:    “Our first taste of anything fame-related was when we started getting recognized in London, and given that things had kicked off for us in such an overnight fashion, this felt a little freaky initially. So we decided to clear off to Barcelona for a few days to get our heads ’round this new change in our lives, only to find the same thing occurring there. For a brief paranoid period, you can think the whole world is following your every move. Things move on pretty quickly in the music industry though, and there’s always some up-and-coming act to take the spotlight, and what with gradually adapting to our newfound minor-celebrity status, life overall didn’t alter significantly. The main upside of any success was that we were able to live from making music, traveling the world in the process — something we felt hugely grateful for...As writers, the odd thing is that you’re as likely to think back to the place where the songs were actually composed as to any location or situation that inspired their creation. So in the case of “Can’t Be Sure” and “Here’s Where the Story Ends” in particular, these songs transport us to the minuscule boiler room attached to the equally cramped rented flat we were living in before our careers took off. At the time, despite the industrial noise of the hot-water system and the frequent burglaries, this felt like the perfect writing environment, and virtually all of what ended up on our first album originated there. Not very poetic, but there you have it!"

"Here's Where the Story Ends" became a number one smash hit on the US alternative singles chart; but it was never released as a single in the UK because Rough Trade Records went bankrupt.

People I know places I go
Make me feel tongue tied
I can see how people look down
They're on the inside

Here's where the story ends

People I see, weary of me
Showing my good side
I can see how people look down
I'm on the outside

Here's where the story ends
Ooh here's where the story ends

It's that little souvenir of a terrible year
Which makes my eyes feel sore
Oh I never should have said 
The books that you read
Were all I loved you for
It's that little souvenir of a terrible year
Which makes me wonder why
And it's the memories of the shed 
That make me turn red
Surprise surprise surprise

Crazy I know, places I go
Make me feel so tired
I can see how people look down
I'm on the outside

Oh here's where the story ends
Ooh here's where the story ends

It's that little souvenir of a terrible year
Which makes my eyes feel sore
And who ever would've thought 
The books that you brought
Were all I loved you for
Oh the devil in me said 
Go down to the shed
I know where I belong
But the only thing I ever really wanted to say
Was wrong, was wrong, was wrong

It's that little souvenir of a colorful year
Which makes me smile inside
So I cynically, cynically say the world is that way
Surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise

Here's where the story ends
Ooh here's where the story ends


"Can't Be Sure"

UK version

"You're Not the Only One I Know"

"I Kicked A Boy"

'Reading, Writing and Arithmatic'
full album:,+Writing+and+Arithmetic

All songs written by David Gavurin and Harriet Wheeler.

"Skin & Bones" – 4:16
"Here's Where the Story Ends" – 3:54
"Can't Be Sure" – 3:22
"I Won" – 4:23
"Hideous Towns" – 3:46
"You're Not the Only One I Know" – 3:50
"A Certain Someone" – 4:25
"I Kicked a Boy" – 2:16
"My Finest Hour" – 3:59
"Joy" – 4:10

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