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PORTISHEAD - AVON BAWLiNG (1997)


PORTISHEAD - It Could Be Sweet

『NME』1997年10月11日号に掲載されたPORTISHEADロング・インタヴュー。興味深いのは、“第4のメンバー”DAVE McDONALDの発言を多く掲載、プレPORTISHEADの様子を知ることができること。現在までに繋がる重要人物の名前も沢山登場します。ここでは、その部分のみを抜粋して紹介。
AVON BAWLiNG extracs from NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS 11/OCT/1997
 This is the poorer end of town, in the heart of Easton and just a short hop from St Paul's.
Although barely two miles from leafy Clifton, this largely black and Asian area is all compact terraces and council blocks. It's not as rough as the estates that surround Bristol - Places like Hartcliffe and Knowle West, where Tricky grew up - but it's hardly a glamorous pop star haunt either.
 State Of Art is Dave McDonald's baby. Dave is Portishead's fourth member and permanent sound engineer, both live and studio. He started out building props for a local theatre company and dabbling with their in-house four-track studio. One of the company's musicians was Rob Smith, later of Bristol legends Smith & Mighty, who invited Dave to do live sound for his reggae band of the time, Restriction.
 Years of work with countless local luminaries followed, culminating in Dave helping to construct State Of Art. Then songwriting friends told him about "this amazing guy doing really heavy, out-there music". Out of curiosity, Dave offered the youngster, Geoff Barrow, free run of his studio. Geoff turned up "with about 30 of his mates" and a musical bond was forged.
 Soon afterwards, Geoff invited Dave to join as-yet-nameless project that would become Portishead. A tape op at Massive Attack's studio, Geoff was writing songs for Neneh Cherry, whose other half, Cameron McVey, also managed Massive. Offered the use of Cherry and McVey's London studio, Cherry Bear, Dave put his Bristol life on hold.
 "I was working with Geoff and Beth - and we had another singer at the time, Helen, and another guy rapping called Marc. This went on for about a year and it all kind of fell apart. So we came back to Bristol and we lost Helen and Marc. Geoff went to work at Coach House studios and he met this guy Adrian (Utley)..."
 The rest, of course, is history. But there is clearly plenty of pre-history of Portishead too. Those former vocalists, Marc Bessant and Helen White, for example...
 "Helen was more of a traditional English singer, someone you would find on a pop tune," recalls Dave. "She could hit a note spot on but there was no character within it, and she wasn't writing that much. Marc was a good writer but we started to slide out of the rap area. At that stage everybody just parted company anyway, it wasn't some bust-up or anything. It's just that side of it came to an end. Marc was a brilliant artist and he directed the last video with Geoff, and he's been working on some of the artwork along with my girlfriend. And Helen's been singing with loads of other Bristol acts. There's no bitterness, everyone just found the direction. We were all at that age where you're still finding where you're gonna go."
 How different did that early, London-based version of Portishead sound?
 "It was a lot more programmed," he remembers, "more glossy. If that material had come out it would have been a success at the time, but then it would have died. We used to go down to Dean Street and find soundtracks, that was the start of that whole soundtrack adventure."

註:
HELEN WHITEAPLHASTATIK SOUND SYSTEMのシンガーとしても知られる
MARC BESSANTについては→コチラ
※上に貼った「IT COULD BE SWEET」は、BETH GIBBONSが自ら書いた曲に「何か」してほしいとGEOFFに依頼したことがきっかけで生まれた、PORTISHEADの記念すべき最初の曲(出典:Oor nr.6, 8 April 1995


Dave McDonald
DAVE McDONALD(To Kill A Dead Manより)
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