|Fresh from a seven month stint in the studio, Heaven 17 are in fine fettle.
They're all well chuffed with their new LP, "How Men Are" (out in September).
For six months they "organised" -none of them actually play on the records
anymore. They prefer to leave that to highly polished session musicians.
As Ian explains, "our role is like that of a film director. As time goes
on we literally do nothing".
Not today they don't. The three of them are deep in preparation for the
forthcoming photo session. The cut of suits is being checked in mirrors.
Voices are raised. Glenn and Martyn stumble their way through a series of
Scott Walker classics (they've brought one of his tapes along - a GBP2.99
Ian stands slightly aloof in the midst of all this activity, giving the odd,
wry smile. But even he's ruff led when one of the not-very-warmly dressed
models slinks in from next door.
It seems all the band do, when making the LP, is preparatory work like sampling
sounds for the Fairlight Synthesizer. "That took two weeks," calculates Martyn.
"We used a lot of acoustic things, a lot of weird percussion along with human
sounds like Michael Jackson
impersonations, screams, pops and clicks, and then treated them through the
synthesizer. That way everything ends up far more controlled."
The LP apparently "holds the usual political implications, attacking all
the things we hate." As Glenn points out, "we still haven't used the word
'love' in any of our songs". The LP was to be called "Heaven 17 Live". "A
pretty ballsy idea considering we've never played live and never intend to.
But we bottled out at the last minute," sighs Glenn. Other suggested titles
include the equally ballsy "Bare Women" and the plain daft "Bursts Of Beaden
(A Donkey)". That was to include a cover shot of Martyn lassooing a calf
and Ian posing as a hairdresser.
All things considered, "How Men Are" seema a wise choice. Not too sure about
the cover though. Like the one for 'Luxury Gap' it's a painting by Ray Davies
-the man who's also directing the video for their latest single "Sunset Now".
The picture features a slightly strange scene with thousands of people applauding
Glenn and Martyn, who don't seem to be wearing very many clothes. Ian, meanwhile,
is standing by himself, picking his nails.
Oh, and there's also a couple of fish lying around, just in case you were
worried. All makes sense, doesn't it?
|"I get the impression people see me as the most responsible member of
the group - that's probably because I am."
Like the others he has a snappy sense of humour but suggestions that Heaven
17 are basically 'a bunch of lads' are swiftly denied.
"If we wanted that image we'd have record covers with us supping pints of
Whitbread." That said, his ambition in life is to "drink 400 pints in a Sunday
Definitely the most hi-tech of the three, Martyn's flat is stacked with
technology, the BBC computer being his piece de resistance. At the moment
he's teaching himself Italian on it. Other interests include photography,
examples of which will be found in the group's upcoming 'liography'. "It's
like a biography, but full of lies."
And if that wasn't enough, along with the others he's started WestWay Vision
Television - WWVTV for short. "We've got a whole day's worth of programmes.
We're trying to sell it to a cable station." Based in Martyn's living room,
they use "Heaven 17 cameras with lights and everything." Programmes include
Poffed Jesus "the birth to death of Christ in 15 minutes", Pro-Celebrity
Ryvita Eating with ex-members of Altered Images attempting to eat 52 Ryvitas
in five minutes, and Puppet Shows with the whole group and their wives using
fish, robots, voodoo dolls and rubber dogs' heads as the puppets. Give Channel
4 a run for its money any day.
In between making the LP and TV programmes, Martyn's managed to take a holiday
with his wife Karen. They hopped on the Orient Express to Venice. "It was
stunning. If I'm ever wealthy enough I'd love to live there. " Like the others,
he's a card-carrying Communist. "We're not hyper-intelligent beings-just
reasonably intelligent, reasonable people with a sense of humour."
"I'm really horrible," scowls Glenn Gregory. "I hate myself in many ways.
Then again my heart's in the right place ... just about here."
As you might have guessed, he's one of those people who doesn't take things
too seriously. Martyn says "he's becoming more and more eccentric by the
day. Especially since he passed his driving test and bought a jeep (Suzuki,
E4000). To Glenn, drinking and driving is no longer an offence."
Glenn lives with his wife Sarah in a first floor London flat. "It's very
traditional. A sofa, three armchairs, a TV... and only one remote control!"
For the past six months his wife's been painting a nude of Karen, Martyn's
wife. "The flat's literally covered in oil paints and canvasses. I haven't
been able to sit on the sofa for God knows how long."
Like the others he's very keen on WWVTV (see Martyn's bit). "I appear in
a lot of our programmes. In one of our Marlowe spy films, Voodoo Dolly, I
play an Orson Cart - I mean an Orson Welles - type narrator. In another show,
called What's Happening Now, I go out with a live film crew into the heart
of London's club scene. I just tell them what's going on and to come on down
and join in the fun. It's really great."
Other gems in the WWVTV programming include Your Money Or Your Life in which
you bet your wages against your life, Clever And Stupid, which brings together
a university professor and a skinhead in a deeply profound conversation on
the burning issues of the day - "All you have to do is spot the clever one."
And of course we mustn't forget the classic film Reason With Death. "Karen
lays dead in the freezer while my wife, almost naked, lays dead in the bath.
I'm dead on the balcony, as is Martyn who has take blood and chilli sauce
on his face which gave him a rash for a whole week. And yes, Ian's hanging
from the balcony."
Not surprisingly Glenn's ambition is to become a doctor. "And I would like
to work with children and, er, open a boutique."
|Ian Craig Marsh is most certainly not the extrovert in the group. As
Martyn explains, "he's got a very very low profile, verging on flat". Ian
reckons the group have got a "like mind in most things (Martyn sees this
as being "intuitively linked mentally"), but we're not without the friction
that causes creativity".
He lives in a small maisonette in South London with his girlfriend Jane.
She's an aromatherapist. "One of the things she does is treat maladies with
extracts from plants." In their maisonette, which, he says, is like something
out of Brookside, he hoards things "gaudy old junk and general rubbish."
He doesn't watch much TV, except when he's using his computer to do "business
things with. I was the group's accountant up'til nine months ago".
He reckons he'd love to do film soundtracks, thinking it to be "an interesting
discipline". "We did play around on that 'Electronic Dreams' LP, but doing
pure sound effects would be great fun."
His favourite films recently include those by famous contemporary American
director Francis Ford Coppola. "I'd also quite like to see Indiana Jones.
My little brother Neil's down at the moment so I might go with him."
His favourite group is Blancmange and (like the others) he rates Frankie.
"They look really good." What doesn't go down so well is the Human League
LP, "Hysteria". "I just thought they were preparing a masterwork. I was a
little disappointed. It looks like they were working too hard and got lost
along the way."
He loves walking and hopes one day to run in a marathon. "I can't comprehend
20 miles at present but it'd certainly be quite entertaining."
Ever the realist, he can't "see this lasting more than five years - ten at
And what then?
"The marathon I suppose."