The Committee ended their 80s tenure having released just the one 12″ single on Fire Records and with a track on the original double LP vinyl issue of Communicate – Live at Thames Poly (The Committee played there twice in 1985, supporting Rubella Ballet and Poison Girls, respectively). When Overground released a CD version of Communicate, The Committee track, called Nothing, was omitted. Overground has since made up for this by using the track Ring The Bell on Vol 4 of their anarcho punk series: Anti-Capitalism.
Their name is virtually unfindable on the Intranet, but the band has been name-checked by Everett True (The Legend) in John Robb’s Death To Trad Rock book: The Legend expresses his fondness for The Committee; he later poached their bass player for his own band! There is also a post on the Nowhere Guide (to Harrow) which looks like it could be a veiled reference to the band, as well as a mention on Kill Your Pet Puppy. What follows is what we wrote in No Class 5. At the time they were still a ‘local band’ but clearly one that was thinking about the sort of bands they wanted to get out gigging with.
The Committee are the latest Harrow addition to the Moonlight / Clarendon circuit of rock’n’roll dives; in between a cup of coffee and eventually a cup of tea we asked its four members if they’re just trying to entertain.
“We’ve got quite political points that we want to put over, or social comment, but all the time we say we want to entertain people; we don’t think the music should be just a soapbox. It’s two halves, it should be equal really. We’re not really just into ‘let’s have fun’.”
So what social comments do you want to make?
“In a nutshell: love, peace and anarchy (laughter). You see us two (brothers) are anarchists, and these two are on the way. We don’t write songs (like) ‘let’s be anarchists’ but we try to look at things from an anarchist point of view.”
Further on the band’s direction, we wondered if they want the average person in the street to hear their music.
“I think there’d be little point in just playing it to ourselves. If we want to get anywhere with it, it’s not like…because we haven’t got a single out now I don’t really think ‘Oh blimey, we’re not getting anywhere with this’, I think we’ve achieved something by just being something locally. The more people you get across to, then obviously you’re fulfilling your aim. I don’t see this as a mission to convert.”
Talking of fulfilling your aim, what is your aim?
“It’s just to entertain people and to try to get a message over, not to brainwash them but to give them something to think about, things that are important to us, maybe they’ll come round to our way of thinking. And also, if it’s not too naughty to say, to enjoy ourselves as well.”
We were told that “it’s pissing in the wind if you’re writing deep and meaningful songs with no-one getting to hear them” so we then asked them to say more about their songs, especially the lyrics.
“They’re meaningful in as much as we really do regard them as a very important part. I would say we put a lot of thought into the lyrics. The things that I’ve written about in songs I’d feel strongly about anyway, even if I wasn’t in a band. One song, Ring The Bell, is about manipulation of women in ads. Ok, it’s a very trendy thing to do now, but that ‘s something I personally feel strongly about, it’s not just a token anti-sexist song.”
When talking of writing the lyrics, “they’re all individually done, but the music’s more of a team effort.” Music, that is, that as a result of the varied styles they use has been described as an amalgamation of Depeche Mode and the Sex Pistols; it’s no surprise to find basic major guitar chords amongst their bouncy synthesizer. The Committee “work very much as a unit” based upon the “original punk ideas” – a feature which manifests itself further when they describe themselves musically as “Jack of all trades, master of none”, each member plays varying instruments, depending on the song, and the instruments include synths, bass guitar, drums, drum machine, guitar, triangle, and they sing too. This leads to songs turning out differently from previous renditions when played on stage – something their flexible numbers cater for.
At one of their early concerts at the Harrow Arts Centre the band used slides for the purpose of “enhancement”.
“It goes back to the idea of putting a message across, it visually backs it up. We haven’t decided that slides are a permanent fixture. We’re quite into the idea but it isn’t always practical. “It could be better just to have a much more minimal slide show, say just one, a backdrop for a song.
“We’re not really into flashy light shows and lasers and dry ice, but we think it is quite nice to have something visually happening apart from ourselves, so the idea is to have a few slides to illustrate the songs.”
Speaking further about Harrow Arts Centre they told us that “cultural snobbery exists and they feel…all these bands.. .rough kids are gonna smash it up.”
Was there much trouble in getting to play there?
“It wasn’t trouble really, it was a pains-taking business. Initially we phoned them up: ‘Can we do a gig?’ A rock band? Usually they seem to put on productions like The Mikado, and Noel Coward plays and that’s about it. They didn’t seem very interested but we kept plugging away, then as it happened they had this series of three concerts on consecutive Saturdays and someone pulled out and they said ‘we’ll put you on’. I don’t know what it’d be like again.”
“It’s supposed to be an arts centre, but really there’s so many bands and things like that, that young people are involved in…Arts Council money, it’s for everybody yet it’s a very few who actually get to see the money. I’d really like to see places like that opened out. “I don’t think that they were very confident that we was gonna get a lot of people cos they came up to us afterwards and said they thought it was quite a success. No fights!”
On stage The Committee create music which is much more solid and heavy than that found on their early 13 track tape, Agenda, which is now a source of some embarrassment to them, and on their 4 track demo tape called Resolution, but they have nothing definite in mind about any future recordings:
“We’re not into major labels – some fat git having a monopoly of your music. Our basic idea is to put out whatever product we put out as cheaply and reasonable as possible in the way that we want it, with no restrictions on packaging, and whatever way we want to record it. “Perhaps we could just about raise the money to put out a single, but at the moment it would be pissing in the wind, to be honest. We’d be just another band with a single out. If we were to get a single out on Crass or Rough Trade it’s something that people take notice of, but if you’re on Fried Egg Records…”