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Underground, Issue 10 - January 1988, "Tongue Twisters! Biting Tongues Spit Out The Vinyl"

I used to hate Biting Tongues. It wasn't a wild, casual kind of hate either, but a vicious irrational hate. The kind I'd normally reserve for the likes of ELO or Leslie Crowther.

  • They were so irritatingly pretentious. I'd see them literally invent an entire live set prior to walking on stage. The result would be half an hour which sounded like Dennis The Menace constructing a garden shed and yet passed, amazingly, for spirited white boy funk.
  • But thankfully, Biting Tongues have softened over the years. While normally this would be considered as a gradual relinquishing of ethics, to be followed by a hasty scramble for the readies, with Biting Tongues it is to be wholly encouraged. They are now eminently listenable and yet manage to sound quite unlike anything else on this planet.
  • "We used to enjoy confusing people," states the Biting Tongue called Howard, rather confusingly, before adding, "We would deliberately produce an unlistenable noise just to upset the audience. I think we found it satisfying."
  • "I found it immensely satisfying," claims another Biting Tongue, this time called Graham. He seems to relish the band's esoteric past. But Biting Tongues are out of the closet. Their new flagship is a brilliantly evocative single, Compressor, which sits proudly in the centre of their Ikon video compilation, Wall Of Surf.
  • Howard: "I think it's fair to say that Wall Of Surf is a genuine extension of the music. It isn't flashy. It isn't trying to sell anything. It's taken us 18 months to compile and I think that is represented by quality, although it's very much quality on a shoestring. The point is, if you are not sympathetic towards what we are doing then you could quite easily label it as pretentious or self-indulgent and justify those criticisms. It does need to be viewed with an open mind although it is far more accessible than anything we would have done a few years ago."
  • Biting Tongues have become filmakers. This new title suits them. Maybe their wilderness years were spent helplessly splashing about because they had yet to stumble across their true medium. The Compressor segment of Wall Of Surf is the finest piece of creative video I've witnessed this year, in fact it's the ONLY creative video I've seen this year. Granted, with a relative shoestring budget, Biting Tongues have managed to step aside from the promo video norm, independent or other-wise.
  • I don't hate them anymore. Their self-indulgence, which still fuels their every movement, has become interesting, invigorating even. The only problem they face now, is how to choose the correct road from the network of possibilities they now face. After spending 18 months with their eyes glued to the viewfinder, Biting Tongues will now have to regress to the position of playing live gigs in order to promote Wall Of Surf. Ironic really but, then again, with gigs in America beckoning, the prospect of playing live has become an oddly desirable option once more.

Mick Middles

Underground, Issue 10 - January 1988, "Tongue Twisters! Biting Tongues Spit Out The Vinyl"