Paperlung

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After seven years away, former Boo Radleys singer Sice has come in from the wilderness and formed a new band, Paperlung. He spoke to Time Out about the new venture and why the end of The Boo Radleys was a relief… [For Time Out magazine. April 2006]

Why were you away so long? What were you doing?
I was intending to stay away for good. When The Boo Radleys split, I figured ‘okay, well, that’s it. I’ve had my go. No need to carry on.’ I cut my ties with the music business and did normal things for a few years. Lived a life. Wrote novels. How much is music like The Mafia, in that you can never really leave? It’s just like The Mafia – music owns you. You think that it’s your choice to stay or leave, but when it comes calling, you don’t have any choice at all.

So tell me about the other guys in Paperlung. Do you write all the songs together or is it just you?
The other guys in Paperlung are Simon Gardiner (Bass), Ben Datlen (guitar), Guillaume Jambel (Drums). They are all insanely talented and I am continually shocked at how easy they have made this whole thing. We met last August, we’re gigging within weeks and have our first single out a few months later. The set-up is pretty much the same as it was in the Boos – the songwriter (me in this case, Martin Carr in the Boos) writes a big bunch of songs and hands them out to the others. Then we all get together in a big room and try and make sense of them.

The sound of Paperlung is less chaotic. Are you mellowing?
I was always far more inclined towards the mellower side of things. That chaotic thing was definitely from Martin’s psyche. I just enjoyed the ride. It was wonderful being involved with music like that – because it took me places that I would never naturally go and so I experienced a lot more musically than if I had only been doing my own stuff.

The Paperlung lyrics still have the melancholy and frustration of the Boo Radleys. Are you still the angry socialist?
‘Melancholy frustration’ just about sums me up. I’d say that was a fairly accurate summation of my general demeanour. I fight against it constantly, because it’s not a state of being I’m entirely happy with. We were pretty angry socialists back at the end of the Boos days, because everyone was getting involved with New Labour and we felt like we were the only dissenting voices. I guess the cynic in me was never going to allow myself to believe it was a new socialist dawn. Ten years on – it’s pretty obvious what New Labour were and always will be. I’m not angry about it anymore, I’m far more interested in other things. The sociology of relationships is what I thrive on lyrically.

What music has really impressed you over the last few years?
If you’re looking for band names, you ain’t going to get them from me. I’ve finally realised that I don’t really like bands. What I love is songs. Ten good songs off the top of me head then: Akira The Don – Clones; I Was A Teenage Death Squad – Bravecaptain; Hard Fi – Cash Machine; El Presidente – Without You; Kate Rusby – The Goodman; Robert Post – Got None; The Streets – Turn The Page; Supergrass – St Petersburg; Tomita – Arabesque Number 1 (After Debussy); Will Young – Leave Right Now.

Do you ever regret splitting up the Boo Radleys after having just released Kingsize? Martin was quoted as saying he didn’t have the heart to tour the album – how did you feel about it all?
It was such a relief when Martin phoned me and said he didn’t want to make any more records. We’d wanted it to stop for quite a long time, but I couldn’t do it – I didn’t want to leave. I wanted the band to end and only Martin could have done that. There was always the fear if I left, that they would just get another singer in and I didn’t want that. Never mind not having the heart to tour – I barely had the heart to go down to the studio while we were making Kingsize.

And to mark the passing of Smash Hits magazine, let’s end on a Smash Hits style question. Complete this sentence: Paperlung are the next
…cover stars of the newly revived Smash Hits. Actually, it’s funny you should mention that. When I read that it was ceasing publication, the ten year old that still lives inside my head said to himself, ‘poo, now Paperlung will never be on the cover.’ Just shows, doesn’t it? You never lose it.

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