Friday, July 06, 2007

The Enemy: Coventry Telegraph Interview

TOM CLARKE was cramming in his umpteenth interview of the day on the eve of flying out to Ukraine for a video shoot - as you do when you're the vocalist, guitarist and spokesman of one of the hottest young bands in the country.

That status was confirmed last Sunday when Had Enough, The Enemy's second fully-fledged single, entered the charts at No 4. And a similar impact is confidently anticipated next week when they release debut album We'll Live and Die in These Towns.

It's been a runaway success story by any standards but asked if the trio's progress had exceeded his wildest dreams, Clarke is typically non-show-biz.

"It's a nice little cherry on the cake," he says, "and I'm absolutely made up that so many people are into it, that they understand songs that are about quite personal things."

"We owe them a massive thanks because they're the ones who went out and bought it, who made it happen, so they should be as proud as we are."

"But my wildest dreams never included chart positions - I really don't care where it goes into the charts because it's just a number."

Fair enough, but could he, hand on heart, deny that he's just a tad disappointed that the era of Top of the Pops, and that iconic Thursday-night slot for the highest new entry, is a thing of the past?

"That was the one, wasn't it," he admits, "the one when people used to say you'd made it. But perhaps the modern equivalent is that you've made it when you've been on EastEnders and apparently we have - the song's been on there a few times."

These days, of course, bands are always working at least one single ahead, hence the flight to Kiev to film the video for You're Not Alone.

"After the collapse of the Soviet Union there were lots of industrial sites that were just abandoned and left," explains Tom, "and that's reminiscent of the scenes of Peugeot leaving Coventry."

"We couldn't gain access there, but in Ukraine they've got the skeletons, the fossils of forgotten industry that we're going out to try to capture."

"It's not exactly what I expected to be doing this time last year, but it's great."

Some commentators reckon that the album is a fast-fading concept, that a few years from now bands will put out downloadable tracks as and when they become available instead of saving them up for a specially-packaged collection.

"With rubbish music I totally understand what they're saying," says Tom. "For a long time now, most of the music that's been around has been disposable, music that people don't want to keep, that they haven't got any connection with."

"You've got songs about umbrellas, that last about two seconds, which people will download from a website and listen to for five minutes until the next cool thing comes out. What's that about?"

"But real music, music that lasts, is something that makes a statement, that documents a time, and I think it's really important that you hold those sort of albums in your hand."

"When my copy of Northern Soul or Urban Hymns got scratched I went and replaced them with a CD."

"A lot of people will remember Oasis for Morning Glory or, for the hardcore fans, Definitely Maybe. It's the cover, the songs that are on that particular album, that's how they will remember the band."

"We were trying to make a great collection of songs, which work well in that order. It annoys me when you hear an album such as Hard-Fi's Stars of CVTV which just starts from track one to 10 with a token slow track on 11."

"To me that's taking the micky, because that's not an album, that's a means to make money after you've sold your singles."

One of the bands who clearly don't fall into that category are Manic Street Preachers and Tom's admiration grew immeasurably when The Enemy supported the Welsh trio on tour.
"I love 'em ," he says, "and that was one of the easiest tours we've ever done. They're the Manic Street Preachers, they haven't got to prove anything to anybody, but there was no ego there and it was really nice to go out with a band at that level."

"James is a lovely bloke, the most straight-up man I've ever met, and Nicky has got a mouth on him that I love. He doesn't mind slagging people off; he loves to provoke a reaction, not so much to offend as to make people think, to wake them up."

Having established his own credentials as an angry/articulate young man, and enjoyed instant success in the process, Tom is well aware that an Enemy backlash is all-but inevitable in some critical quarters. But he insists that he will take that in his stride.

"The minute you do anything remotely good, people are going to start slagging you off," he says, "because jealousy always leads to resentment."

"But I haven't got any time for those sort of people; I'd rather focus on people who are into the band, who understand us, because they are far more grown up than the idiots who will just sit there bitching."

*Interview from the Coventry Telegraph

The single "Had Enough" is out now and the album "We'll Live And Die In These Towns" is out Monday 9th July 2007.

The Enemy will be at HMV in London on Monday (9th) and Coventry (13th) as well as performing at the free Godiva Festival in Coventry on Saturday 14th July.


  1. Nice to know you support them at all.. no doubt you're a #1 fan rob!

  2. Awwww - I wish!

    I'm just proud of the lads from my city doing well. It's not very often bands from Coventry make it big and I'm just doing what I can to support local music.


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