Under en av våra sällsynta helmaskulina helger på Tjörn plockade min vän Maurits helt oförhappandes fram Sisters of Mercy i spellistan. Tonårsminnen från London och Helsingborg vällde fram med oväntad styrka men ännu mer oförväntat var att musiken fortfarande fungerade, sentimental och väldig.
Kanske avståndet i tid gjort den ibland snubblande gymnasiala lyriken mer acceptabel? Jag minns den tiden då vi var ett gäng som kunde hela booklettexten från Some girls wander by mistake utantill. Faktum är att den är värd att citera i sin helhet:
”I had moved to Leeds to learn Chinese, and I was living above the chemist (as the Mekons put it) with Claire and Spiggy The Cat. One day I dared to set up the drum kit which someone had stored in the cellar. I still can’t play the drums, but at least I was the only drummer in town who could be relied upon to avoid anything complicated.
Gary Marx and I knew each other from the F Club. He was a big fan of The Fall. I was a big fan of Père Ubu, and we both loved The Stooges. Everybody loved The Stooges. Gary had no money and no equipment, but he wanted to hear himself on the radio. So we made a record with no money and no equipment, and we heard it on the radio. Pressed a thousand copies (thanks to Red Rhino in York, whose credit we used at the plant), sold a few. Even at the time, it was hard to get and even harder to listen to. That should have been the end of it, but…
We hooked up with Craig Adams, probably because he lived above the chemist too. He was a big fan of Hawkwind and Motorhead, and he had this bass sound which suddenly defined The Sisters – along with the drum machine, which we bought because we all loved Suicide. Everybody loved Suicide. The drum machine became Dr. Avalanche. Gary became a guitar player, and I became the singer, almost by default.
I think we spent the next few years in the back of a van. When it wasn’t parked above the chemist we were making the loudest noise possible in some of England’s most disgusting clubs. We still had no money and no equipment: almost everything went towards making the next gig louder than the last. Thanks are due at this point to Pete Turner, who still mixes the live sound. He managed to turn a throbbing howl into a shimmering, pulsating machine of sorts. Some nights you could even hear songs.
I like to think it was the songs that made this band. I know it wasn’t. We used a lot of smoke, very few lights, stepped right back and just made a space where you could lose yourself (but more probably find yourself) in a tide of colour and noise. It sounds simple, but no-one that really wanted to be a rock’n’roll star could have done it. Apart from anything else, it took a long time and burned more than a few people out.
The records were never supposed to reflect that experience – it’s a different medium, and one we’re still learning. Maybe some of it comes through. Anyway, in those first four years, when we had the money (and often, when we didn’t), we would drop in on Kenny Giles in Bridlington. He had an eight-track and he was the only person who would help us make records the way we wanted. Thanks Ken. They may not sound like anybody else’s, they may not even sound like records, but we loved them. For what it’s worth.”
Åh – de gamla hårda dagarna! De hårda nätterna! ”Some nights you could even hear songs.”