Ulterior have carved out a name for themselves as the new heroes of noisy disortion-fed alternative rock in the UK. Owing their sound to elements of electronic music, indie and goth, the four-piece’s sound is extremely difficult to place, but undeniably intense in its delivery and impact. We speak to vocalist Paul McGregor about the band’s inspirations and ideas.
“We can do the small stages but are stadium ready”
S] What fuels your passion for merging electronic music with rock now in 2010?
P] We just put everything we love through the Ulterior machine and it comes out sounding like us. Rip off everything, Sound like nothing else. Electronic-sea shanti-metal. It’s all the same. We spit it out in a leather jacket fu**** up and bleeding.
S] In an interview in 2008, you described your sound as “music for make-up sex” – do you still feel the same in 2010?
P] I don’t know what this means. This was Motorcycle Boy [synths] on full tilt. I don’t know what goes on in this boy’s mind and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
S] What has been your attitude to the press coverage that you have been getting in recent years from mainstream publications?
P] Well, all we want the mainstream press to do is to have any reaction, good or bad. I would love, for a journalist to talk about Ulterior without relying on referencing countless bands from the past, to actually just absorb what we do and express how they feel. That would be refreshing. Sometimes I think we should just re-name ourselves ‘The PRIMALMANICSTREETSUICIDESISTERSOFMARYSUEDECHAIN’. Our attitude is pretty indifferent generally because it’s rare you get an honest review or whatever. Like I say, we just get our influences (that we would never hide) shouted back at us. I throw down the gauntlet! Slag us off or praise us with intellect and heart and you will get nothing but respect from us.
S] You are playing a number of Yorkshire dates soon in places like York and Whitby – do you notice a contrast in the way that you are received up north in comparison to London?
P] Well we have a strong following in London so the shows are normally ace. We’ve had some great shows up north but we generally find ourselves having to prove ourselves all over again. We do better across Europe than the north of England. The majority of the north of England is missing it’s Y-Chrome-muscle-beat-black-pop gene. Despite the great bands that have come out of the likes of Leeds, a lot of the clubnights there now feel too indie, too faddy, too twee, too scared. We are working with new promoters for these shows so hopefully it’ll be different.
S] You have played a number of high profile dates with the like of Atari Teenage Riot recently, have there been any standout moments?
P] Every time we’ve played with the Sisters Of Mercy.
S] Similarly, what keeps you passionate about performing in smaller venues and clubs despite your continued success?
P] Because we’re good at it. It’s where we cut our teeth. We are one of the few bands that can actually look an audience in it’s eyes and they see honesty in a gang of fu***rs that mean every note and every word. We can do the small stage but we’re stadium ready, anyone who has seen us live over the past year, love us or loathe us knows that. It’s all about the songs baby!
S] What experiences and ideas inspired the track for ‘Sex War Sex Cars Sex’?
P] The new single means to you whatever it means to you. I don’t really like defining lyrics but to me it’s sexual tension without the sex, the threat of war without war, a cold war basically and slamming your foot on the accelerator not knowing where the speed will take you. I wrote it but I could be wrong.
S] On a similar note, what kind of ideas are present on your forthcoming début?
P] If I am completely honest with you, lyrically, I just tried to be as naked as Kenneth Patchen’s ‘The Journal Of Albion Moonlight’. I tried to vomit my life at the page without thought, form it into a lyric and give it to my brother to turn into a pop song. As a band and as people we went through all the worst s**t you can go through during the making of this album, you hear that but it glitters, and that was always the point. There are no ‘ideas’, just a mirror of what it has been like being one of the four of us over the last two years.
S] How has your attitude to the UK’s alternative music scene and your place within it changed and developed over the last few years?
P] Well we started the band to be the biggest ‘f*** o**’ we could be, like a lot of our favourite bands did. You just learn over time that if you are good enough you can do that with a pop song that reaches 10 million people rather than be the ‘cool’ band in east London for half-an-hour and sell 200 records. I know we smashed doors down and meant a lot to a number of London bands that have come through, (the ‘new dark whatever’) and that’s really cool, but we have always had our sights set on bigger prizes. Bottom line is, our place is defined by money. If someone invests money into the band then we’ll be massive, if not we’ll be influential. Boring but true.
S] Is there a track that you think defines the state of the band right now?
P] Suede’s ‘Asphalt World’.
S] How have the aims of the band changed and developed over the course of your history?
P] They haven’t. The aim has always been ‘to be the best rock n’ roll band we can be, no more, no less’.
For more information visit the official MySpace.