Lyrical Errors

Baize Of Glory

Every time we do an interview these days, it seems to be Manchester, blah, blah, blah. "To me, it's like you're interviewing an apple and you say, Right, Mr Apple, what's this about bananas? It's nothing to do with us, what's going on in Manchester." Holding court in the ritzy bar of Leeds Polytechnic, Cud guitar swinger Mike Dunphy is in a myth-exploding mood.

But be warned: even vitriol-spitting moments contain humorous silver linings with this band, as bassist William Potter demonstrates.
"Hey, there's a punchline to that isn't there?"
"Oh, yeah," retorts Mike, "at last you're getting to the core of the issue."
Groan. Still, dodgy jokes aside. an evening with Cud is far from predictable.
Earlier on, the band had proved their worth on the college snooker table - much to the dismay of the Students' Union security staff, who obviously feared for the state of the green baize - and drummer Steve Goodwin showed a ruthless streak on the pinball machine. Cud play to win at all times and no mistake.

THEN AGAIN, the good natured Leeds mob have every reason to feel both happy and competitive. Their second LP, 'Leggy Mambo' (on Imaginary), is everything that dedicated Cudets could have wished for - and than some more.
Roping in XTC guitar technocrat Dave Gregory to tweak the dials, 'Leggy Mambo' (shortened from its original handle, 'Leggy Mambo Gold Top Copy') is an engaging, colourful pop offering that sounds shockingly mature in places.
"I don't know about maturing so much," jests William. "I think we look more haggard now, if that's what you mean."
"It sounds like a cop out to say the songs are better because more money's been spent on it." continues Mike. "It's just that we've learnt to pay more attention to what we're doing and use our budget wisely."
Specky crooner par excellence Carl Puttnam joins in the discussion.
"I write most of the lyrics, but it's strange the way some of them come out." he says. "There's one track that sounds like it was written by someone much older than me, someone with experience who's married with three kids."
The number in question ('Carl's 115th Coach Trip Nightmare') is actually written about a dream but is a good example of Cud's new found musical awareness. It's a mysterious, diablo-enhanced thang and fits snugly into an album that takes in pre-pop escapades like 'Hey Boots' and 'Eau Water' and then flits to the lilting balladry of 'Love In A Hollow Tree' which is capable of passing for Julian Cope on a clear day. Not bad for a group constantly condemned as a novelty.
"Y'know, we could go out and make a record full of metal songs or of Hammond organ covers and we'd probably be taken more seriously," spits Dunphy.
"Yeah, for a while we really tried to be serious." admits Puttnam. "Like the last photo session we did, which was really uncomfortable. But everyone still thought we were being stupid and wacky, so we've given over. We can't be bothered being anything but ourselves." CUD ARE inclined to assign their 'terminally wacky' tag to their irreverent cover version of Hot Chocolate's 'You Sexy Thing', but Mike Dunphy is certain they'll win through in the end. "Anyone who can be bothered to see us will go away having watched a proper band. They'll know we're not the Barron Knights or something.
"And it can work for us, too." reckons Carl. "Because our boundaries are less restrictive, we get away with more.
"Like, we know The Wedding Present and Dave Gedge has told me before that he's jealous of us cos we can go off on tangents and do our own thing without losing an audience."

Perhaps not surprisingly. Cud feel their increasing popularity is due to the prevailing attitude o1 punters who desire a good night out rather than a drubbing from a band preaching a university thesis.
"There's definitely some truth in that," says William, temporarily casting levity aside. "But we've never changed our attitudes towards our audience, so it's all down to their approach to us. Next year, when recession time hits, people might have forgotten us."
Can you see that happening to you so quickly?
"I doubt it," muses Carl, "but I admit we've been lucky and we've had a lot of coverage. Plenty of other good bands around the country have tried to grab at the coat-tails of the Manchester scene and failed as a result. Fortunately we didn't do that."

BUT EVEN allowing for their rise in public stature. Leeds' artful loons are wary of any form of bandwagon jumping. For one thing, 'Leggy Mambo' contains no spaced out dance tactics whatsoever.
Carl: "No, we've deliberately shied away from doing remixes with Boys Own and so forth, because you're really asking for a backlash for starters and also so many dance mixes sound really soft, like PWL productions. That doesn't suit us at all.
"The dance mix of 'Robinson Crusoe' (last Cud single) was done by some local people, Nightmares On Wax, but they work really cheap and no one knows them. But while that was a good experiment, I don't think it worked anyway."
Also conspicuous is the almost total lack of wah-wah infested grooves. Instead. Geordie string pillager Mike Dunphy has remained faithful to his distinctive scratchy rivums and, in turn, has kicked the Cud extravaganza squarely in the udders.
"It's a question of time and place, though," argues Dunphy. "I hear so many songs doused in wah-wah pedals and think... Jesus, that could be a great song. I'd love to hear it straight." "I mean, a wah-wah pedal's alright in context, but it can only be used to make a good song better. A gimmick like that could only be a small part of Cud now."
And finally, as 'Leggy Mambo"s opening song ('Now') suggests, Cud appear to be poised on the brink of far wider recognition. Typically, the incorrigible William gets in the last word. "We wrote that song two years ago, because we know we were going to do something within two years and now it's happening. Someone even stopped Carl in the street the other day and congratulated him on how good the album is. so it looks like the world's finally catching up with us."

Not before time, either, as Cud - once unseeded losers around the Indie table - have steamed their way into the ranks. The road to Sheffield's Crucible starts here.

Ian T Tilton