The Other Two

By Bob Gourley | Originally published in 1994

With New Order’s Bernard Sumner in Electronic and Peter Hook in Revenge, it was only natural for Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris to also do a side project. Released under the name The Other Two, their “The Other Two and You” album is probably the strongest of all the New Order side projects. Unfortunately, the collapse of Factory Records, the loss of the cover art and other unforeseen delays made it come out two years late.

Now, the album has finally been released by Warner Bros., and the group feels relieved to finally get it out.

“It was like, ‘for god’s sake, let’s get this thing out so that we can get on to some new stuff,'” says Morris. “In the intervening two years, we’d gotten nearly enough stuff to do another album. It was really a matter of ‘please, when can we get it out.'”

With Hook and Sumner off on their other projects, Gilbert and Morris had spent their time creating soundtrack music for television. Most of it was for British programs, though they did re-work some music for “America’s Most Wanted” as a favor to a director they knew. The soundtrack work led them to start up The Other Two.

“We were quite happy doing that [soundtrack work], but like anything, really, you get a bit fed up with it and it’s not really an ends in itself because nobody buys the record, we’re on TV for like 30 seconds for something,” says Morris. “So we thought we’ve got all this stuff we’d written for television, let’s turn it into an album. But we didn’t sit down and say ‘let’s write an album.”

The first Other Two single, “Tasty Fish,” came out in Europe in 1991 and was the band’s only release until the album came out in Britain just before Christmas. The album had been previously scheduled for release twice, most recently in early 1993.

Within the band, Morris handles the computers and programming, as he says that “Gillian has the innate ability to make any computer running a sequence program crash, it’s uncanny.” Gilbert comes up with ideas on a four-track set up and then the two get together to fit the pieces together.

The Other Two have been recording in their home studio with Morris doing most of the engineering, though in the future they hope to work in outside studios with others behind the board. Gilbert says that this will give them more time to work together and focus in on the music itself. But keeping things simple has come as a relief to the band after spending so much time working within New Order.

“In New Order, there’s four people so everything’s got to be a compromise,” says Morris.”Bernard writes his own vocal lines and quite a lot of the music, so really you’re waiting for him most of time. What is kind of a fun thing about the Other Two is that it’s just us two. With New Order you go on tour and there’s hundreds of people involved with it and little simple things seem to get unnecessarily complicated.”

When they started working on the Other Two material, they had intended to bring in someone else for vocals. The duo couldn’t figure out what type of singer they wanted and found themselves with a bunch of completed tracks in need of vocals, so Gilbert decided to fill take on the task herself.

“I never wanted to be a singer, it was just purely by accident, really,” she says. “Stephen Hague had encouraged me to take singing lessons, but I don’t think I’ve ever sung in front of any more than two people! It’s going to be a bit strange. When we did the New Order tour, I thought ‘god, I could never do what Bernard was doing.’ So I don’t know what gigging will be like.”

Gillian and Morris have been writing material all along and would ideally like to have another album out within the year. The group is at the stage now to start adding lyrics to the new material, but the delay in the release of “The Other Two And You” has been holding them back.

“It’s hard writing anything new, because we just wanted to see how well this one would do and how people like it,” says Gilbert. “It keeps you going to have feedback from other people, so we can’t really get it out of the way until it’s been out. When it’s been out and we’ve got some singles off of it we can get back into the other lot.”

Gilbert and Morris have yet to play out as The Other Two but they hope to do so this year. While Gilbert is nervous about singing live, the group is eager to perform some of the new material. Nothing is firm yet, but the group has started thinking about how they will present themselves live.

“It’s really a bit difficult deciding how to do it, whether you should have a band or just be two people,” says Morris. “I’d like to do it a bit different, with oil lamps and computer projection, something visually interesting.”

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