Sounds From The Seashore
World of Twist are currently creating a pretty big buzz with the release of their debut single "The Storm", backed with The Rolling Stones' cover "She's a Rainbow". Miles apart from the baggy, lad's bands of Manchester (and the rest of the world!), this Stockport-based band have a certain mystique about them which is giving the press a bit of a headache in terms of pigeon-holing and understanding World of Twist.
In a Stockport pub we tried to peel back some of the twisted layers in the band's world and figure out the validity of Bernard Sumner's (New Order) "We are weird" proclamation (on Juke Box Jury). Vocalist Tony Ogden and synth man Andy Hobson were the pint-buyers.
World of Twist's line-up seems to be a fairly fluctuating affair with the current line up of Tony on vocals, guitarist Gordon King, effects man Adge, Andy on synths and Julie M Seashells on keyboards. Tony told of the strange circumstances of the band's first meeting with Julie:
"We were on a beach in Blackpool and we heard all these weird noises coming from a cave and we went in and she was playing a synth, so we asked her to join."
Andy explained further, she makes "sea noises, noises from the sea, she doesn't speak very much!"
So will the line-up change regularly then from release to release?
Tony: "Probably yeah. Just depends on who we meet. In fact, yeah, I suppose it will. I'm gonna sack myself tomorrow!"
Apart from the Julie-connection, Blackpool seems to figure prominently in World of Twist's history. With a song called "Blackpool Tower" and an admittance to a past filled with regular visits to the coastal town, did the place have a grip on Tony's affections? Ambiguously Tony replied "Love it and hate it!" and as ever it proved impossible to pin Tony down on this question. Indeed, the mystery surrounding World of Twist is a factor that makes them so intriguing. Talking to Tony and seeing World of Twist live, you get the feeling that here is a man who is ready to continue a great tradition of captivating front men.
Perhaps not quite so eccentric as many would like to make out but a strong enough personality to win a place alongside the likes of Ian Curtis, Johnny Rotten and Julian Cope. At a recent gig he was even back-dropped by a rotating rock and roll sign!
However, the music press apparently find it difficult to place them squarely within a traditional format. Bands like The Human League, Soft Cell, The Teardrop Explodes have been brought in as comparisons and Holly Johnson (ex Frankie Goes To Hollywood) described them as "The Velvet Underground on acid". Do World of Twist think it's a good thing they're not gonna be linked to the Manchester scene; independent of it but probably able to reap the rewards of it?
Tony: "The reapers! I'm jumping up and down with my scythe already, ready to do some reaping!"
So what about the NME's description of World of Twist as a modern day Teardrop Explodes then? They couldn't see the similarity but commented on Julian Cope's self-comparison to a turtle:
Tony: "Maybe he had some strange sort of head movements at the time (demonstrates)!"
World of Twist describe their sound as "sonic" and how they like to take a song and put loads of noise all over it. So how did Tony think "The Storm" would fare? Would it chart?
"We already have in our heads. I think we're gonna get on some chart. I'm not bothered which one it is."
And what about TOTP then Tony?
"I think I'd want to be pretty friendly to the people watching at home!"
Some of the press reaction is concerned with the band being pretentious and arty farty, but this didn't seem to bother Tony or Andy.
"We've been waiting for it. We want to be on the arts page rather than the music page!"
What reaction did World of Twist want and for that matter what reaction had they received so far? Do they consider themselves a dance-band?
"It gets us dancing... I just want the audience's attention. I don't care what they do...we had some applause once" quipped Tony.
"We wanted to look like something we'd like to go and see" continues Andy.
Does it cost a lot of money then?
"No it's all cornflakes packets. And a few washing up liquid bottles in there as well."
Is there much gear you've got to move around then when you're doing gigs?
"Yeah, we've all got bad backs!"
So will it be the same show every night then?
"No, no way! They're all gonna be different...we're just gonna accommodate the show to the place. It's got to be different...They'll be some flashing lights and electronic gadgets...we're gonna use electricity! We're gonna get our own electric company. Static electricity - I'm gonna rub my head against nylon" explained Tony.
Much of the money needed for this live extravaganza comes from World of Twist's record label, Circa.
"They had the nicest trousers and the squarest heads."
Circa seem to leave World of Twist alone to enjoy their 'artistic freedom'.
"We don't want it; we just wanna be pushed around" Tony commented.
Apart from their stage set, both the World of Twist record covers and T-shirts also stand out from the contemporaries. The record sleeve features three kettles ("because it's better than two") and the t shirts bear various Embassy cigarette packet logos, apparently as a protest against plans to change Embassy's design!
Inevitably talk turned to The Rolling Stones. Why was a Rolling Stones cover chosen? Tony: "It was their idea, they rang us up. They wanted us to do the dirty work for them, get them back in the charts." joked Tony.
Is The Rolling Stones' Satanic Majesty LP a favourite with World of Twist seeing as you've chosen "She's A Rainbow" from it?
"I like it, I like the cover especially the 3D one."
Especially Bill Wyman looking such a idiot on it eh Tony?
"Yeah that's what I like about him!"
Just now with a Manchester backlash brewing, World of Twist are what's needed together with other 'new generation' bands such as Intastella and the New FADS , proof that the North West still has something magical in the water. It seems logical in a way that World of Twist are based at Strawberry Studios where Joy Division recorded their albums, continuing a tradition that goes before and beyond the baggyness of The Roses, Inspirals, Mondays, The Charlatans, etc. Think about catching a train to Sheffield on the 8th or Liverpool on the 9th December if you're not in Manchester on 23rd December when a real treat is in store as World of Twist play The Ritz with Intastella. Certainly what's needed for Christmas!
By Jo Northway and Richard Davis