7 December 2021
British post-prog-punk romantics ULTRASOUND fronted by charismatic maverick
Andrew Tiny Wood showed up in 1997, thrilled and impressed many and made a tour
de force album with EVERY PICTURE (now reissued with a deluxe edition, see below)
in 1999. But just as I discovered and fell in love with the ultra-passionate London
combo they were already gone as they split shortly after the LP release.
In 2010, after the break-up wounds were healed, Ultrasound returned triumphantly
and produced two more notable longplayers (so far), Play For Today (2012) and
Real Brittania (2016). In this end-of-the-year interview, Andrew Tiny Wood
reveals that they are here to stay and have busy 2022 plans.
As usual, to get us all in the right mood, we start a Q & A with music. If you never heard of the band this live version of my favorite Ultrasound track Stay Young will open your ears and eyes. Epic, just epic…
You started your musical journey with a band called POSSESSION that produced
one album. How did this first adventure started and ended, Andrew ?
“I didn’t actually start my musical journey there. In terms of being in bands, we started
a short lived band at school which was mostly rock and Zepp inspired before I joined
forces with a post-punk band called Step TLV, which gradually became more inspired
by industrial music like Throbbing Gristle and we morphed into Possession.
I guess it ended when one of the members moved to London
and joined Coil, and I went to college.”
You used the pseudonym of ANNA VIRGINIA WAR.
A fictional name, I suppose? Why that choice?
“I always identified quite strongly as
a woman and wanted to make a statement.”
Just before the birth of Ultrasound came POP-A-CAT-A-PETAL.
One of the weirdest band names I ever heard. Is there a story
“It is derived from a volcano in Mexico called Popocatepetl,
which was regarded in legend as a famous warrior.”
What track would you play to introduce ULTRASOUND
to music fans who never heard of the band?
“Depends who they were and what kind of music they like. We like to think
that all styles are served here, and there is something for everyone.
For party animals I’d point in the direction of “Same Band“, goths to “Best Wishes“,
punks to “Fame Thing“, “Over There” or “Football Meat“, prog heads to “Blue Remembered
Hills“, New Romantics to “I’ll Show You Mine”, and indies to “Floodlit World”.
After several singles, debut album EVERYTHING PICTURE came out in 1999.
Did you write all the songs or was it a team effort?
“Most of the music was written by Richard with lyric contributions coming from me. Obviously, the songs then came together via the band’s contributions so a certain
amount of team effort came into play there.”
Who developed the album’s artwork and what is it supposed to reflect?
“The cover is an ‘everything picture’ painted by the band, the idea being to create a piece of artwork using everything at your disposal. There is collage and paint, some destructive art and even some 3D elements (Richard stuck some valves into the canvas somewhere).”
What did you want to express with the LPs title EVERYTHING PICTURE?
“The title comes from a song on the album written by Richard, which advises
that even when the odds are all against you and you have failed at every turn,
pick yourself up and paint your everything picture – ‘the only strategy is action’.”
You said that the album was made with future generations in mind?
In what way and for what kind of people, Andrew?
“I was so used to discovering things from the past, and still do, and was very conscious
that people don’t always get into something until much later, an example being Nick Drake
or John Kennedy Toole, so potentially we were speaking not to the present audience, but to someone who was discovering this music at some point in the future.”
Did the band select all bonus tracks on the Deluxe Reissue edition?
And where do they all come from?
“Everything was chosen by me from our own archives.”
The group already split up in 1999? What happened?
“I don’t know. What does Wikipedia say?! I’d put it down to a breakdown of communication, and total childish idiocy. If only RuPaul could have been there
to tell us not to fuck it up!”
The reunion in 2010 started with a benefit concert.
What motivated you to restart?
“Tim Smith out of them Cardiacs, who got himself into a bit of trouble, needed
help to which we responded, which started that whole ball rolling again.
Suppose you were asked to rewrite and put new music to the British Royal Anthem ‘God Save The Queen’. No restrictions whatsoever. What would be the outcome, in sound and vision?
“Well it would no doubt be anthemic and epic and be far too long and too slow(!)
and it would also no doubt contain hopeful messages for a revolution in which
the entire royal family are dragged through the streets in a wicker handcart
and pelted with rotten tomatoes in a gleeful attempt to return Britain to the
good old days.”
How’s life for a professional musician in Brexit England?
“Well I keep hearing nightmare stories from other musicians saying don’t even bother trying to tour in Europe, and many people are having to stop accepting Bandcamp orders because the postage is ridiculous, and we are covering a lot of those kinds of expenses, which most of us can barely afford.
It’s not just Brexit England either, it’s Tory England, where venues are being shut down
by tory councils due to noise complaints from landlords, and there is no funding so it’s becoming more and more difficult for people in this country to do what it does best. However, despite the hardships, we will always find a way. We have faced these things before and we will continue to fight.”
A lot of artists started covering other artists when the COVID-19 whirlwind
turned our lives upside down. Which song would you pick to cover?
“I did do a couple of numbers at the start of lockdown on my piano at home (“It’s Alright”
by Black Sabbath and the Flaming Lips “Waiting For A Superman“, which I felt was rather appropriate for the times) and we did perform a couple at Richard‘s wedding too (Procul Harum’s “Whiter Shade Of Pale” and The Hollies’ “Air That I Breathe”).
I’d also love to do “Bump ‘n’ Grind” by Jackson Heights and
Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song“…I think we’d do that one justice.”
The best track and album you heard in 2021?
“Album is probably “The Mother Stone” by Caleb Landry Jones. I bought it on the strength of the cover alone which I found intriguing, and it didn’t disappoint. A sprawling, strange, psychedelic double album, which is both playful and dense. A disturbing and difficult to fathom a world that warrants many visits to discover its complexities. His follow up “Gadzooks Vol. 1” is also great.
Track is probably “It Is The Face Wish How” by Scaramanga Six from their forthcoming album “Worthless Music“, which in my opinion is their best album. This song is both huge in scope and bewilderingly strange. Scott Walker meets This Heat.”
Are you a fan of traditional Xmas carols, Andrew?
If so, which one is your favorite?
“I always liked “In The Bleak Midwinter“, which is downbeat and almost depressing.
The old classics have the best tunes but it’s a shame about all the god stuff in the lyrics,
which ruin them a bit. “O Come All Ye Faithfull” has some cracking harmonies.”
Which song will be on your stereo on 31st December at midnight?
“I guess if I was at home on my own I would want to get stoned and get involved with something long and strange, which leads me towards “A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers” by Van Der Graaf Generator, but if I was feeling a bit more mellow it would probably be “Sea Song” by Robert Wyatt because it’s the closest thing to perfection, and inspires me to try to be as good as that.”
Three things you really love to happen in 2022 for the band and/or personally?
1. Re-issue “Play For Today” on vinyl to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
2. Tour in support of the 10th anniversary of said album.
3. Write and record a new album.
Thank you very much, Andrew for this interview.
May the road rise with Ultrasound in 2022.
You can purchase the Every Picture Deluxe Reissue
below via Bandcamp…
More info here