Monday, February 19, 2007

Dead Flowers Interviews Pete from Adorable


Pete (Piotr) Fijalkowski was the lead singer of the Creation Records band Adorable in the early 90's. Their first single, "Sunshine Smile", was NME's single of the week in May 1992. They went on to record the phenomenal debut record "Against Perfection", which unfortunately failed to live up to the success of their debut single. Another record, "Fake", followed in 1994, but testy relationships with Alan McGee and the all-powerful British press meant that it would go largely ignored.

With the help of Stewart at http://creation-records.com and Nat at Sonic Cathedral, I was able to interview Pete. Enjoy...

Dead Flowers: How has your Polish/Catholic background affected your music/worldview?

Pete Fijalkowski: Growing up I always felt a bit of an outsider. My families traditions and upbringing were different to those of my friends, and I've never really felt completely English (nor Polish for that matter - I don't speak Polish much to my eternal shame). Although my parents aren't Catholics, it was quite a catholic (with a small 'c') moral upbringing.

DF: Was there ever a point in Adorable where you felt like an insider? When 'Sunshine Smile' got NME single of the week perhaps?

PF: Not really. We lived in Coventry, and the music scene at the time felt very London-centric. We didn't really want to part of any scene. We were excited when we got single of the week, but it didn't make me feel an insider.

DF: In early interviews, you were painted as being incredibly arrogant. Was it an accurate depiction?

PF: It's hard for me to say. There's very few people who would admit to being arrogant. I was certainly very confident of what we were doing, and though I feel we were somewhat mis-labelled, the general perception is probably not without some merit. I remember when we came to the USA we were excited, because we felt it was a time when we could start anew. It had all gone wrong press-wise in the UK , and this was our chance to come somewhere with a fresh slate or so we thought- when we arrived we discovered to our horror that the label had decided to run a campaign dubbing us as "the band you love to hate". Cue heavy sighs as we spent half an hour each show tearing down posters with this slogan that had been painstakingly put up at each venue by SBK employees. Overall I'm quite glad from a personal point of view that Adorable imploded as it did, because I think I'm a far better person for it.

DF: You were dealing with some pretty heavy themes in your music (the father/son relationship and growing old in "A to Fade In" and revenge in "Vendetta") a fact that I think was obscured by the tone of the articles in the press. Was that frustrating?

PF: I think the image of the band overtook any discussion of the music, but hey - that's pop music.

DF: How much have The Smiths influenced you and what do you think of Morrissey's recent success?

DF: At the time I liked rather loved The Smiths, but now I'm coming round to them, as is my style, about 20 years after the train has left the station. I was given a ticket to see Morrissey last year for my birthday, and went expecting to be mildly dissappointed, but he was great. I'm really hoping that he'll stand for the Eurovision Song Contest, as has been rumoured. It's a great kitsch-fest that I absolutley love. I've written some songs for the competition, but haven't found anyone to sing them yet.

DF: Naturally, one notices the vocals first in your music. But there are some amazing guitar bits as well, such as the beginning of "Glorious". Was that a priority when it came to writing songs?

PF: We tended to write the music first. Most, though not all, songs stemmed from guitar lines that I'd write (including Glorious), or occassionally a bass line from Wil (Homeboy), and from these sketchy beginnings we'd jam out a song.

DF: I would say that's unusual...or at least unusual that the songs turned out so well. With most bands, it's obvious which songs come from jams and which ones are the product of focused writing.

PF: There was usually a vague vocal melody, but nothing very concrete. Often we'd have a couple of bits that we had worked out seperately and we'd glue them together in the rehearsal room. These days I write songs totally differently - they appear pretty much fully formed in my head, and I jam them out up there, whilst walking down the street. I get strange looks from passers by.

DF: Which Adorable song are you most proud of? Is there one song where you think you really 'got it right'?

PF: Homeboy ,Sistine Chapel Ceiling, & Breathless are three of my favourites. I just played A to Fade in on my guitar today for the first time in 10 years and I really liked that as well.

DF: A friend pointed out a recent song by Pete Yorn called "Ice Age" rips off "A to Fade In" [Link]

PF: It isn't the most complicated of melody lines, so it's not surprising it's resurfaced, and "Ice Age" is a really nice song, so that's ok. Hadn't heard it before.

It was pointed out to me a while ago that 'You Stole The Sun From My Sky' or whatever it was called by The Manic Street Preachers sounds like the 'Sunburnt' riff (1st single b-side), but again, it's mainly because my guitar lines are quite simple that means it's inevitable that they will resurface somewhere else (and if they weren't accidently nicked from somewhere in the first place!)

DF: It seems like being on Creation was both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you have the exposure to and the attention of fans of similar bands like Ride. On the other hand, when a band like Oasis comes along, you're yesterday's news. I interviewed Jez from Swervedriver and they seemed to be in this boat.

PF: We struggled on Creation as we didn't really have a connection with anybody there. Overall though it probably did us more good than harm, so I can't complain. We came quite close to signing to Food (Blur & Jesus Jones' Uk label) and that would have been interesting as I'm sure our career would have gone down a different path, but until I find a time machine, I'll never know how that would have panned out.

DF: There's a thriving myspace page dedicated to Adorable. Are you surprised that people are still discovering the music?

PF: The interent has re-opened the possibility of discovering new music easily - without your link I wouldn't have heard Pete Yorn's track. It's nice that we still have a presence even after Adorable have long since gone to the big gig in the sky, and that the memory lingers on.

DF: After Adorable broke up, you started the band Polak. Were you satisfied with that project?

PF: I think that Rubbernecking is up there with Against Perfection, so musically I'm satisfied with what we achieved with Polak, but we couldn't get any reviews for it, so it all just fizzled out which felt very frustrating, as I felt we had really hit our stride. A to fade out.

DF: Now you're launching a proper solo career. What can we expect?

PF: Bad organisation. This is less launching a solo career, more just ambling along in that general direction. There is an album finished, and another being recorded, but I haven't sent it to anyone. It's my own private thing at the moment. Only 5 people have ever heard it. It's like a very exclusive club.

Many thanks to Pete for sitting down with Dead Flowers. Watch Dead Flowers for future updates on Pete's solo work and Adorable.

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    Dead Flowers: Anglophiles Anonymous

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