After four years of intensive touring and recording, the band were devastated by the loss of drummer, Chris Acland, who committed suicide in September 1996. The remaining members, Emma Anderson and Miki Berenyi (both vocals and guitar) and bassist Phil King went their separate ways, leaving behind a dedicated fan base, bereft at their sudden departure from the music scene.
Twenty years on, Lush are back and bringing their influential songwriting into the 21st Century. Emma and Miki, the bands creative driving force and bassist Phil King are joined by Justin Welch, (formerly of Elastica) on drums.
Sarah Corrie talks to songwriter, guitarist and vocalist, Emma Anderson.
Sarah Corrie: When did you move to Hastings and what made you want to live here?
Emma Anderson: “I moved to Hastings in July 2013 after spending time dancing between London and Brighton and not really feeling at home in either. When my relationship with my daughter’s father ended, I was free to go where the wind blew me. I was tired of London and its overloaded transport system and work-obsessed population, I knew a few couples locally and Heidi Berry our label mate on 4AD lives here.
Hastings is quirky and different to anywhere I've been before. I wasn’t creative in Brighton at all, I didn't feel inspired, but I’ve been really creative since I moved to Hastings. I've made friends with a lot of people who are into visual arts and although I'm not artistic, my daughter, Iris is.”
SC: Why did Lush decide to get back together now?
EA: “The idea of reforming Lush has been in the pipeline for a couple of years. When I first proposed the idea to the others, they were cynical about what kind of reception we would receive, but our manager was persuasive, if Slowdive and Ride could do it, maybe it could work for us too. There seems to be an appetite for it now and Lush are seen as influential which is a nice shift, it feels like the stars are in alignment and Miki said it would be stupid not to and that we should seize the day, so we did. Justin was the natural choice for drummer, he's someone we’ve known for a long time, he was friends with Chris, he’s hard working and a really nice guy.”
SC: The pressure to break America played a big part in why Lush ended in the 90s, how are you doing things differently this time around?
EA: “Playing Lollapalooza in 1992 was what helped Lush sell 120,000 albums in the US, but it became very stressful, there was a big emphasis on breaking America and we didn't have the wherewithal to resist the pressure. We were licensed to Warners there and the money from that deal went straight to 4AD, so they were indebted to them.
I felt very alone, things had changed so much since we started and I wanted to leave. We weren't really talking to each other at the end, our management was manipulating us, now we'll discuss things and make collective decisions, does it suit us? If it doesn't, we're not doing it. I’ve been thinking, do we really want to go back to this? But we have more autonomy now, there's not the same pressure and I wouldn't do it if there was.
We’ve been adjusting to doing music in the age of the Internet. The music scene’s totally changed, you make your money out of playing live now, selling out The Roundhouse in six hours wasn't something that would have happened in the 90s!”
SC: After Lush you formed Sing-Sing with singer Lisa O’Neill, this seems like it was a brave thing to do
EA: "I wanted to write new songs and not have a four piece band, but it's a difficult shift to make when you've been in a band that was quite successful and you're a woman. It was a time when the record labels reigned supreme and they weren't interested in us, they wanted young, fresh talent, not someone in their 30s, so we went it alone, which was hard work with not much financial reward. We did everything ourselves and there was more autonomy and less bullshit, but when you're organising meetings and doing the paperwork it doesn't leave much time for creativity.”
SC: How does the songwriting partnership between you and Miki work, which songs are you most proud of and what makes them extra special?
EA: “Back in the day Miki and I used to write songs quite independently, but we’ve collaborated on the new material we’ve recorded. I've written the music and Miki's written the lyrics. I usually start with a melody in my head and then take it to the guitar. I find lyric writing harder now that I'm older, it's more difficult to find subjects to write about than when I was young.
I’d say that De-Luxe, Lovelife and Desire Lines are the songs I’m most proud of. I find the best songs are the ones that happen quickly, you get the feeling in the moment that you've got something good. I wrote the melody for Scarlet in about ten minutes and then Miki wrote the lyrics.”
SC: With a four track EP, ‘Blind Spot’, coming out in April, two sold-out gigs at The Roundhouse in Camden, a string of European festival dates and an American tour, what happens next for Lush?
EA: “We’re not making any longterm plans at the moment. There’s so much happening this year that we’re just seeing where it takes us. I hope there will be a new album at some point in the future, I guess it’s a case of watch this space…”
Although the lead track of ‘Blind Spot’ is entitled ‘Out of Control’ it seems that Lush are very much back in the driving seat.
Editor: 'Blind Spot' was released on 15th April and has been receiving some very good reviews. Having listened to it myself, I can fully understand why. If you were a fan of Lush, you won't be disappointed by the four tracks on this brand new offering. 'Blind Spot' is released on Edamame Records.
Lush are also featured on 'Still In A Dream - A Story Of Shoegaze 1988-1995'. This is a 5 CD boxset recently released by Cherry Red Records which faithfully showcases the music of the 'Shoegaze' movement, including tracks by acts such as Ride, Cocteau Twins, Spiritualized, Pale Saints and of course Lush themselves.
Find Lush at: Lush Official