Lush survives that first blush
By KIERAN GRANT May 4, 1996
Lushlife: Consider Lush one of the first '90s bands to make a comeback in the same decade.
After following up their popular 1992 debut long-player Spooky with 1994's disappointing Split, Lush are back on track with their new album Lovelife , which has already yielded two hit singles back home in Britain.
The band headlines the Opera House tonight on a bill that includes 4AD labelmates Mojave 3 and Scheer.
Lush guitarist-singer Emma Anderson sounds a bit apologetic when she says her band's renewed success came as soon as the single Ladykiller topped the charts, pulling them from the limbo of Britain's overlooked underground.
"There is an underground scene in England," says Anderson. "But things have changed in the last few years. A lot of independent labels have been bought up by majors, or majors have invented their own independent labels, which, of course, are not really independent.
"It's all a bit corrupt," she adds with a laugh.
Lush emerged in Britain in 1989 as an "ethereal" pop band in the same vein as their 4AD labelmates the Cocteau Twins. They happily rode the grunge wave, joining the 1992 installment of Lollapalooza and jamming with Ministry. Lovelife finds them at their most stripped down and aggressive.
Anderson says being noncommital about what genre Lush belongs to has paid off for the group.
"Maybe it helped that we never were extremely successful in the first place," says Anderson. "It avoided any major disillusionment when Split didn't sell bucketloads.
"But I think if you make music that is slightly outside of what the fashion is it helps. When that fashion dies, you're still okay."
SCHEER DELIGHT: Tonight's Opera House openers Scheer aren't subscribing to fashion either. In fact, their rejection of hip Britpop sensibilities in favor of heavy rock has set them apart from their U.K. contemporaries.
(The New Musical Express has already compared Scheer to "Bjork fronting Fugazi" -- just a sample of the accolades they've has received from the excitable British press. The band prefer their own description: "Pantera in bedroom slippers.")
Scheer banded together four years ago in County Derry, Northern Ireland, and according to soft-spoken singer Audrey Gallagher spent most of their early days toiling around Ireland playing "anywhere and everywhere we could."
It was a tough haul that didn't start to pay off until the band crossed the Irish Sea and caught the eye of England's 4AD label.
"Ireland hasn't much of a music industry at all," says Gallagher. "No one pays attention to you presswise and you're left to your own devices to get on with whatever you want. It was good for us for a while but we had to take it outside if we wanted to go any further."
Which made Scheer ambassadors for a often overlooked musical port.
"Bands in Northern Ireland have always tended to be rock bands, and the English press doesn't really like that right now," says Gallagher. "Britpop is exactly what it says it is. It's very British, or more specifically, very English. Being on an island that's completely separate, we don't have any connection to that scene at all."
JEFF KEIBEL TORONTO, ONTARIO CANADA