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Here's Five: The Pop Group

Here's Five: The Pop Group

Wednesday 25th February, 2015 3:13PM

Originally formed in 1977 by a bunch of teenagers, Bristol outfit The Pop Group were pioneers of the post-punk movement. For a few years during the late 70s, a time when Margaret "Iron Lady" Thatcher became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the group five-strong group carved out a name for themselves by creating socially conscious songs steeped in reggae rhythms, before disbanding due to internal squabbles 1980 with two albums under their collective belts. Fast-forward 30 years to 2010 and The Pop Group announce their reunion, with three of the original five members returning to the fold. Following some successful touring around the globe for a few years the group announced their third studio album Citizen Zombie, released this month. With the band heading to New Zealand next week for a one-off show UnderTheRadar asked guitarist Gareth Sagar for his five favourite Pop Group tracks and he shared some memories surrounding new and old songs alike..


1. Colour Blind (1980)
This song was a break through moment for us, where we first got the intensity and timbre of how we wanted to sound, with the dynamic change from verse to chorus.... the quiet-loud thing that would be taken up by so many bands in the future...


2. Savage Sea (1979)
Mark and I sorted this out in the hall of my folks place on the piano there... no doubt with my tiny Welsh mum kept asking the 6-foot-8 Mark if he wanted some tea and cake. Mark has very good manners he always says "thank you".


3. We Are All Prostitutes (1979)
Our original bass player Simon left (I don't know the official reason but I can make a shrewd guess why). With renewed energy and a new bass player, Dan, this track was recorded with us all playing live at the same time (you can hear my bottleneck fall off at 1min35 - but I carry on regardless,what a trooper)...We overdubbed my favourite musician in the world at the time Tristan Honsinger on cello and that took the track through the roof...It really catches how crazed, paranoid and desperate we were at the time.


4. Citizen Zombie (2015)
I came up with this riff at out first reform rehearsal in Bologna Italy, and I felt everyones ears prick up. I went away and worked on it Mark demoed the vocals, and Bruce worked a drum track. But before we went in the studio to make the LP Citizen Zombie Paul Epworth (who produced it) said he wanted me to have a battle of the saxes on a track on the LP (we chose this one to go to war on). He got his mate Pete Wareham who is a top UK jazz sax improvisor. Me I come from the punk rock school of saxing (i.e. I still can't play a scale), anyway we blew hard into this track. Bruce was very encouraging (he has a hidden jazz heart !!).


5. Nations (2015)
At the studio where we were demoing for the latest Pop Group LP they had this amazing keyboard called a Tiger that I had used before on an LP I had made with the Erudite pub poet Jock Scot. I knew i could get a lot more out of this Tiger... It started screaming a great rhythm (then I added a few overdubs). Mark had a long challenging monologue that he put on the track... and a classic was born!!!






The Pop Group are playing next Wednesday the 4th March at Kings Arms Tavern in Auckland. See below for more details and to buy tickets.




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