By Drew Ailes
By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
By Jena Ardell
By Mary Willson
By Bree Davies
By Tom Murphy
By Tom Murphy
I saw an interview you did with Ian Svenonius on the Soft Focus program where you mentioned that your sound was more dry and up front, like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., as opposed to the Cocteau Twins.
Absolutely. Part of the thing that really attracted me to a lot of the American groups was a real sense of it being bands playing and capturing it purely on tape. There was rawness to it and up-frontness to it. British groups, in general, have a tendency to use more effects, be more studio-bound. Of course, ironically, me imitating the American sound, it was assumed that my music was studio-bound, when, in fact, I was consciously avoiding doing all of that. I like the Cocteau Twins, though. Fundamentally, the huge irony with the bands called "shoegazing" was that a lot of those bands really were into the Cocteau Twins. And they all used choruses, flangers and other effects pedals to create a certain kind of sound. Three pedals I refused to use in that era were chorus, flanger and delay. Everything we did was everything but that.
Pretty much, the only thing I used was reverse reverb. The reason I loved it was because it allowed you to be expressive. If I play softer or harder, it's super-affected by how you play. Things like chorus and flanger and things like that are put on top of what you're playing; it's hard to interact with it. At the time, I hated it, and when all the bands that came out then were compared to us, I thought it was kind of a joke. Pretty much most of the things liked about us was what I hated. People would go, "Oh, that's the band that plays with effects," and "They're a studio band" and so on. I hated all of that, actually. But that's the way it goes.
Is there anything you do to feed or recharge your creativity and inspiration?
No. But probably I should. I don't think I'm creative enough, to be honest. Because being creative involves creating, and I don't create enough. I get a genuine pleasure out of songwriting, but I only do it when I feel like it. I can go through quite long periods where I won't do anything — this pattern where I won't do anything for several months, and then for a month or two every night, it's all I'll do. Just play guitar and sing. Make tunes.
So your creativity and inspiration is very cyclical?
Very much so.
For more of our conversation with Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, visit blogs.westword.com/backbeat.