Music in the veins

THERE'S something about Artery singer Mark Gouldthorpe's scenario that smacks of the film History Of Violence.

In that Viggo Mortensen's mild-mannered cafe owner hides a secret past that is waiting to explode. And so the frontman of the revived vintage Sheffield band had moved on from a pursuit of stardom to run his own hair salon... but was seemingly biding his time.

"I lost it with music for a bit and went into dark corners," says the singer ahead of a landmark show in the new era tomorrow.

"Music took a backseat. It's your world when you are at that age; John Peel is playing your music, pretty much everything you release has got good reviews but then the business lets you down.

"I guess we were naive and believed if you did good material you would grow and be successful."

That was 20 years ago and it took an invitation from fellow Sheffielder Jarvis Cocker to the band he said influenced Pulp to bring Artery out of hiatus for his Meltdown weekend in London.

"There was a lot of denial, but it never went away throughout that period away. It was in the past but the opportunity to revisit it...if Jarvis hadn't asked us to play we would not have done.

"Then, as they say, all good things come to those who wait, bit it was almost like it was meant to happen rather than us contriving to get back together."

The initial plan was to see how it went, but nearly two years later Artery are, by Mark's admission, "a band with a serious mission".

Having played a string of gigs since Meltdown, they've written an entirely new set of songs, four of which appear on their Standing Still EP on Monday. They launch it with Saturday's show at the newly re-branded 02 Academy – playing just three of the songs from their '80s heyday.

Mark says he still feels like he is in his 20s such is his enthusiasm for the new songs.

Recorded at Sheffield studio Axis and released by city label Phantom Power (owner Denzil's band RepoMen support tomorrow), the songs don't have an overtly modern feel although the sometimes stark nature and insistent playing sits well with new heroes such as White Lies or Editors.

"I had overdosed on music and was into the likes of Leonard Cohen and didn't get into a lot of new stuff after the first time," Mark offers by way of explanation. "It was as if everything was put into a cupboard and it was going on still in there."

Guitarist Murray Fenton did the artwork for the EP and the video for EP track Who's Afraid Of David Lynch.

"We filmed it upstairs at the salon on a Sunday morning. Murray stayed up all night editing and it was on YouTube the next day with NME picking it up."

As for how the likes of Standing Still and The Seeds Of Youth hold up against Artery classics such as Into The Garden, Mark reckons the new songs are better. "I have surprised myself with the writing. I cannot sit down with a pen scratching my head, though; it sometimes happens in the middle of the night or halfway through dinner I am looking for a pen.

There's no great design or plan, they just pop out.

"There's a lot of political observation in the new stuff."

Artery have sent a white label copy to Jarvis, currently in Chicago recording his second solo album.

Their new album will be recorded this spring for late summer release.

Unlike the name of the EP it seems Artery are doing anything but standing still.

"It's a new start, in a sense," confirms Mark and adds, perhaps sensing commercial vindication: "We simply did not get the exposure we should have got before."

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