Lush

By Bob Gourley | Originally published in 1994

In describing the music of Britains’ Lush, the terms “ethereal” and “dream pop” have often been used, though like most bands, Lush don’t really like having their sound labelled like that. But no matter what you call it, Lush’s music doesn’t at all seem like something to provoke a the kind of audience reaction that it did at their last visit to The Paradise in the spring. The slam dancing and and stage diving made the show seem almost like a hard core matinee, and got so out of control that the group had to cut their set short. Sitting in their tour bus just after performing at the first day of this years Lollapalooza festival at Great Woods, the group explains that the Paradise audience was a bit more wild than what they’re accustomed to.

“We’ve had stage divers, but that was the only time we had to go off,” reminisces drummer Christopher Ackland. It’s not that the band has anything against stage divers, but it does become a problem when, as singer Miki Berenyi puts it, “they sort of run around and knock all the leads out.”

“Or they just loiter on the stage,” says Ackland as the foursome break out into laughter. “Do you remember that bloke on the side who was just sort of shuffling?,” he asks, refering to a man who repeatedly got up on stage onto only to be thrown off again by Paradise security.

Lush had their beginnings in 1987 when Emma Anderson and Berenyi met up with Ackland, Steve Rippon, at Meriel Barham at North London Polytechnic. Although Ackland was the only one with any actual musical experience, the group started writing songs and were soon playing out in the London area. Before the band had their first release, vocalist Barham left to join the Pale Saints and Berenyi took over lead vocals.

The group quickly became the darlings of the British music press, which has always been known for latching onto certain new bands and giving them an onslaught of coverage. “It happens to a lot of bands in England,” explains Berenyi. “The difference is that most bands are at a level where at least they’re musically competent. where as we weren’t. Looking at it that way, we started playing gigs to early. Live, we were like rubbish.”

A lack of experience early on did little to hinder Lush’s rise. They attracted the interest of 4AD in 1989 and released two eps on that label under individual contracts before actually signing with them in late 1990. Signing a licensing deal with Reprise records, Lush combined the two eps with additional tracks to come up with the Gala lp. This was followed by a successfully club tour of the states, and then the release of “Spooky” in January of this year.

“Spooky” was produced by Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins, who had also worked with the band for the 1989 “Mad Love Ep.” During that ep’s recording, Guthrie helped guide Anderson and Berenyi in the use of a variety of guitar effects ,a style that had become an integral part of the Lush sound. But the group doesn’t see anymore collaborations with Guthrie in the near future. “It would be a bit too predictable,” explains Anderson.

Getting back to their music being labelled, Lush are slightly irritated by some of the terminology. “A lot of time it annoys me because I just think it’s lazy,” explains Berenyi. “Some one obviously heard the term ‘ethereal music’ and then instead of listening to the actual music just listened to and then termed ‘dream pop’. You know, I don’t listen to My Bloody Valentine and think ‘dream pop'”

The current Lush line-up features Philip King on bass, replacing Rippon, who didn’t like spending so much time touring and wanted to do other things. “He wanted to leave eventually anyway and I think he just thought that was the right time, before we got involved in this relentless touring,” says Berenyi.

Lush are spending most of 1992 touring non-stop, with dates in Australia and Japan following the Lollapalooza shows. As a result, the group hasn’t even stated thinking about recording new material. “I think next year is just going to be really quiet,” says Ackland. “Because It’s going to be the year we get our new album together.”

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