The Michigan Daily
Friday, April 10, 1992
Band sels out (sortoJ) to MTV
Or they might
be really short
by Nima Hodaei
by Nima Hodaei
Public Image Limited on the MTV
120 Minutes Tour?! It was enough
to make any old fan of the group
cringe in disgust. Had Johnny Ly-
don finally sold out? The former
Sex Pistol had lost his sense of re-
bellion. Yes, punk was truly dead.
But, wait a minute. Take a listen
to PiL's latest album, That What is
Not. Grungier, louder, and harsher
than any previous release, it
seemed ironic that in the year of
the "Great Sell-Out," Lydon and
company had released an album
that sounded closest to their roots.
"We started writing the album
in 1990 and it was recorded last
summer," explains PiL guitarist,
John McGeoch, from his hotel
room in Vancouver. "I think defi-
nitely on my part, it's perhaps a lit-
tle bit of a reaction to the previous
album (9), which is very much
more coffee-table production. It
was a bit softer than I would have
liked it to be. (That What is Not) is
really sort of organic."
When speaking of PiL, it is im-
possible to avoid the topic of the
timperamental Lydon (aka Rotten).
McGeoch, along, with Allan Dias,
who plays bass for the band, have
learned to deal with their notorious
frontman. McGeoch describes his
relationship with Lydon in very fa-
"He asked me to join in 1985,
and I agreed," says McGeoch. "It
Was something I had always se-
cretly had an ambition to do. I
think the reason why I've stayed
with John longer than any of the
other front people I've worked
with, is simply because it's such an
easy relationship between the two
of us. He's not at all dictatorial. We
share everything evenly. The
whole thing works for me, and for
Perhaps quite unfairly, Lydon
has been the center of attention for
a long time in this band. Through
my conversation with McGeoch, it
becomes increasingly obvious that
in actuality, he and Dias contribute
heavily to the productions. And al-
though longtime fans may have
problems accepting the recent ac-
tivities of the band, one gets the
sense that there has not been a
change in collective attitude from
Obviously, questions about the
group's affiliation with this tour,
and their thoughts on MTV 'itself,
come up. McGeoch is forthright
and honest about his perceptions of
"I think the kind of cyclic as-
pect of it is quite interesting," he
replies. "For a while there, when
MTV came out, everybody was
very video-happy and making these
way out and completely unreal
videos, coupled with the technol-
ogy that's available now to the mu-
sician - samplers, sequencers, and
"I think as a result of all that
madness in the Eighties, the audi-
Burger King, Bogart's would be a
As private detective Sam Spade
in The Maltese Falcon, Bogart cre-
ates one of the sedately macho per-
sonas he's known for. Though the
plot is extremely confusing, some-
times slow and needs a stronger fe-
male lead (here played by Mary
Astor), Bogart's subtle strength of
character and the story's violent and
dangerous world give the film a ro-
It's a long way from the Pistols for John Lydon and his suit (far left). He
must have dressed up for that big meeting with the MTV execs.
ences and musicians alike, are kind
of chilling out on all that. You hear
an awful lot of acoustic songs. The
whole guitar oriented movement, I
think, is a direct reaction to the
kind of music that was being made
in the Eighties. At the same time, I
like the access to MTV. If we felt
that strong about it, we wouldn't
go on this tour."
There is no denying, however,
that PiL has gone on this tour. Mc-
Geoch describes it as a very busy
time for the band, with not enough
days off to compensate for the gru-
"These last two days, that have
been two days off, have been most
enjoyable," sighs McGeoch. "Nor-
mally on a tour, it's like, 'God, I
hate days off,' if you have too
many of them. But this time, I've
just been in bed the whole time."
The price of selling out? You
"I'm always surprised," states John Flansburgh, the guitarist and glasses
wearing half of They Might Be Giants. "We go out in normal length hair
and we wear street clothes, and yet, people think of us.as being this lunatic
Lunacy is only one of the many terms used to describe the sound of this
interesting duo. Comprised of Flansburgh, and John Linnell, TMBG has in-
deed been named quite a few things since releasing their self-titled debut al-
bum back in 1987. Quirky, upbeat, perplexing pop seems like one fitting
description. Flansburgh elaborates on this.
"I think one of the reasons that we may seem so strange is that the style
of the band was really created in a vacuum," he says. "We didn't play out
for a couple of years, and we didn't make records for a couple of years after
that. We kind of created what we were doing without too much second
guessing. It's not streamlined for a mainstream audience, so it really has all
the ugly parts that record companies usually want to erase. But, we were
fortunate in that we found our own audience before anyone smoothed us
over. Now we can't back down."
The latest, and possibly best, recording from the band is Apollo 18. The
new album once more captures the great songwriting abilities of the duo,
particularly on tracks such as "I Palindrome I," and the first single off the
record, "The Statue Got Me High." While it sounds richer than previous
TMBG offerings, Apollo 18 is in no way a lessening of the band's unique
sound, as some publications have insinuated.
"We didn't go into it with any real sonic manifesto," says Flansburgh,
about the album. "These are the songs that we came up with. In a lot of
ways, I sort of feel this is a culmination of a lot of things that we've wanted
to do for a long time."
As on previous releases, Apollo 18 features many tracks, making it diffi-
cult to describe the album in merely one or two sentences. The punk influ-
' ence of records past comes through again, as do some early '5s sounds.
Seem like a incompatible arrangement? Maybe that's what makes TMBG.
"The thing about our records is that they're really collections of a wide'
variety of songs," Flansburgh explains. "It's really hard to sum them up. l
mean, in a way, it is an experience from beginning to end. And I really like.
people to be able to hear our entire records. A lot of times, people only
know us from songs they've heard on MTV, and I feel we have a lot more to
See GIANTS, Page 12:
Thoughts of a 'feminist'
PIL will perform along with BIG
AUDIO DYNAMITE II, LIVE, and
BLIND MELON on the MTV 120
Minutes Tour this Sunday at the
State Theater. Tickets are $22 in
advance at Ticketmaster. Showtime
is 7 p.m. This is an all-ages show.
Call 645-6666 for more info. Look
for features on Live and Blind
Melon and a review of the show
next week in the Daily.
The Maltese Falcon
dir. John Huston
You thought Bruce Willis and
IHarrison Ford were cool. But you
haven't seen the original cool, the
definition of cool, until you've seen
Humphrey Bogart. To use a meta-
phor: if cool were a move on a bas-
ketball court, Bogart's cool would be
a slam dunk. If cool were an order at
The University of Michigan
SCHOOL OF MUSIC
Sat. Apr. 11
Wed. Apr. 15
Thu. Apr. 16
Margo Halsted, University Carilloneur
Gerken: Prelude and Fugue
van Appledorn: Suite for Carillon
Barnes: Serenade for Carillon
Van den Gheyn: Postlude No. 4
Burton Memorial Tower, 7:15
Immediately preceding the Glee Club Concert
School of Music Recital Hall, 8 p.m.
Cindy Egolf-Sham Rao, conductor
Richard Averbach, assistant conductor
Jennifer Engar, soloist, Eugene Bossart
Bizet: L'Arldsienne Suite
Kennan: Night Soliloquy
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4
Hill Auditorium, 8 p.m.
Jeff Grogen, Myron Moss, conductors
Music of Dello Joio, Gershwin and
Hill Auditorium, 8 p.m.
Thursday Night Jazz
with special guest Billy Hart
and Ed Sarath and the Western
Michigan Jazz Quartet
North Campus Commons, 8 p.m.
Pal Joey (Rodgers and Hart)
Tickets: $12, $9, $6 (students)
Power Center for the Performing Arts
Thu. - Sat. 8 p.m.; Sun. 2 p.m.
Symphony and Concert Bands
H. Robert Reynolds, Gary Lewis and Dennis
Music of Grainger, Colgrass, Techeli,
Persichetti and Corigliano
Hill Auditorium, 8 p.m.
mantic, escapist charm not often
found in movies today.
John Huston's 1941 classic re-
turns us to the days of taste and fi-
nesse in Hollywood. Those were the
days when people used words like
"hooey" and "shove off," and when
sex scenes were just suggested rather
than graphically portrayed.
It's depraved to imagine Bogart
with his pants around his ankles go-
ing at it with his leading lady in the
manner of Michael Douglas. Those
were the days when directors and
movie stars said, "Hey, go get your
The discretion with which Falcon
and contemporaneous films were
~I Ann Arbor Civic Theatre
Second Stage Productions
:r for the Arts
by Susan Cooper
S& Hume Cronyn
music by Joathan Holtzman
lyrics by Susan Cooper & Hume Cronyn
directed by Susan Morris
Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 p.m.
March 26-April 11, 1992
Tickets $7.00-Thursdays 2-for-1
Ann Arbor Civic Theatre call 662.7282
1035 South Main St. for tickets
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written and directed - the respect
for the heroes' and heroines' privacy
- allows a feeling of integrity and
order in the good guy's world. Bo-
gart presents a well-developed, be-
lievable human being with the
slightly fictional elements of abso-
lute poise, self-assurance and uner-
Between the believable good guy
who can always restore order and
the world of rules which allows for
the good hero's defense of order,
this cinematic era is the ultimate in
wish-fulfillment. It's not so real as to
disappoint, but not so unreal that
we're aware of any improbability in
the victory of the good guy.
If you're not interested in conflict
between good and evil, romantic
balance of realism and fiction, or
cool Humphrey Bogart, Falcon is
worth seeing for Peter Lorre, who
moves his hair around while he
talks. - Austin Ratner
by Darcy Lockman
Feminist. Are you one?
"No," was the quick answer that
author Paula Kamen got when inter-
viewing women and men across the
country. Why would they say oth-
erwise when the mainstream defini-
tion of a feminist conjures up the
images of hairy-legged, militant,
The stigma placed on the feminist
movement is one of many issues that
Kamen addresses in her recently
published book, Feminist Fatale.
"We depend on stereotypes to ana-
lyze the history of the women's
movement because it is a history that
we did not learn about in school. We
have no other way to evaluate it,"
So what is an accurate definition
of 'feminist'? According to Kamen,
the term has as many meanings as
there are stars in the universe. "I see
feminism not just in terms of being
equal to men, but going beyond
equality to try and find new norms
according to the values and needs of
both sexes. It's about humanism."
Kamen began writing about wo-
men's issues as a student at the Uni-
versity of Illinois in a column for the
Daily Illini. Although she wrote on
other topics as well, she found her-
self 'branded' as a feminist, a labet
she remembers wanting to avoid. '
"In my book, I am trying to make
feminism accessible to women who
are put off by the stigma, like I was,"
Kamen says. "I tried to use as little'-.
dogma as possible, because the aca-
demic language is what's turning.
people off. I'm trying to bring femi-
nism back down to earth, where it'
Is the women's movement suffo-
cating under the blanket of the femi
nist stigma? "It's actually probably
the opposite," Kamen says. "It's be
ing revived now with the threat tg
certain rights, for example the Roe
vs. Wade conflict."
Kamen sees the need for diversity
in the future of the women's move--
ment. "Men need to be shown their".
stake in (feminism) as part of a:
wider civil rights movement. It is not
only that their mothers, sisters, and
girlfriends are affected by these is-
sues; males are directly affected as
well. In broadening women's rights-.
See KAMEN, Page 12°
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Fri. Apr. 17