METAL FORCES ISSUE 37 MARCH 1989
Out of all the female fronted rock bands populating this Earth, and there’s ahealthy plethora of ‘em, Britain hasn’t really managed to make much of a mark. Following the aggressive and totally unjustified vilification of once proud acts such as GIRLSCHOOL and ROCK GODDESS (and don’t forget both of these bands reached their peak by headlining Hammersmith Odeon) Britain has been totally unable to respond to a market thoroughly ignored. Seems to be that if your band just so happens to be led by a member of the fairer sex then kiss goodbye to success, the obvious preoccupation press-wise for the singer becoming doubly exaggerated and thus doubly lethal for the band in question. The rock press has never truly taken female fronted acts seriously.
NO EXCUSE are a London based band with a female singer – one Sue Hunt. The remainder comprising of drummer Andy Lloyd, bassist Alex Poray and lead guitarist Richard Scott.
NO EXCUSE came my way via an impressively packaged demo, far superior to the run of the mill shoddy efforts I generally receive from British acts. No sellotape encrusted second hand brown envelope, no photocopy or Polaroid out of focus snap either. Truth be told, it made a pleasant change to obtain something that had had a bit of thought and care put into it.
For a band with only a handful of club dates to their credit NO EXCUSE have achieved a great deal. They feature on two New Renaissance compilation albums, namely “Guitar Mania” and “Ladykillers 2”.
The band’s sound is difficult to define, there are marked VAN HALEN leanings which I pointed out in the demo review, but this doesn’t distract in any way from the remarkable power and maturity of their material. Guitarist Richard Scott is an extremely accomplished and adept player who utilizes Jazz chops and even a dash of Hendrix, anything to make that NO EXCUSE sound ‘different’.
It wasn’t too long ago that NO EXCUSE nearly lost their guitarist when SABBAT ‘borrowed’ Richard for their UK tour, and were subsequently so impressed they tried to half-inch the man. I asked Sue how that situation developed.
“SABBAT’s producer Roy Roland had worked with Richard for quite some time,” she told me. “And when SABBAT decided they needed another guitarist for live work to reproduce the album properly onstage, Roy immediately suggested Richard to them. NO EXCUSE weren’t really doing much at that particular time, so we had a band meeting and decided It would be OK. Richard had a great time on tour and SABBAT made it obvious they were very impressed with his playing. In fact, they were so impressed that at the end of the tour they asked him to join on a full time basis.”
Were the band worried about losing Richard at that juncture? “Not really,” Sue admits with confidence. “Richard felt he had to decline the offer immediately opting to stick with NO EXCUSE. Joining SABBAT would obviously have been a big boost to Richard’s career in the short term, but we’re all convinced NO EXCUSE will make it, so in the long run it’s better to stick with this band. We’re all totally committed to NO EXCUSE. Everyone has put so much hard work into this band it would be just silly to waste it. Also, when the SABBAT offer came, NO EXCUSE were starting to generate some interest Obviously it was very flattering for Richard, but he said ‘No thanks’ straight away.”
The band’s biography claims Sue only recently discovered she could sing. Listening to the tape makes that rather hard to believe, as Sue is in possession of a rich and magnificently powerful voice which belies the biogs assertion that it is only a newly found talent. Is it true? “Well, I have had a few vocal training lessons,” Sue admits a bit sheepishly before adding that, “they were only because people had pointed out that I wasn’t using my voice properly. I thought about it and realised it would be stupid to ruin my voice even before I’d started sol got a few lessons in which were invaluable. I’d advise elf budding vocalists to sort some lessons or some kind of training out, you’ll save yourself a lot of pain later on! It’s really basic stuff like breathing control and posture, but it’s so important”
When did Sue find out she could sing? “When I lived up North I would go along to see a local band rehearse and they asked me to have a go at singing for them. I’d never really sang before, but after one song I really got into it. ft didn’t take too long for me to decide that I’d like to make a profession out of it.”
How would Sue describe NO EXCUSE’s music? “Well, we didn’t have thoughts about how it would turn out, although it was obvious that with Richard’s style of playing it wouldn’t be regular rock music, I can see what you mean about the VAN HALEN comparison. It’s more in that mould of experimental rock. We just try to write good songs with a good catchy chorus. Having said that though we’ve no intentions of sounding American in anyway. I’m glad that we’ve got a musical identity, everyone who’s heard us says that we’re not a regular rock band.”
What about the age old maxim that a female fronted rock band just isn’t
going to make it big time? “Well, this is a band first and foremost” Sue states resolutely. “NO EXCUSE is not ‘The Sue Hunt Band’. I think there have been a few bands recently who have used a girl singer to get them some press, but it always backfired. Having said that there have been some good bands like NIKKI BROOKS and WILD! That’s one of the reasons I asked you to use a band shot as opposed to a single shot of me for this interview. NO EXCUSE is a band with equal members.”
How’s it going on the gig scene? “We’re getting our hands on as many gigs as we can in London and we hope to branch out further into the country as soon as we can. The London club scene is pretty tight to get into unfortunately. We’ve been booked alongside pop hands and all sorts, but as long as we get the opportunity to play in front of people it doesn’t matter. We’re starting to pick up interest from record companies and we’ve had a few people down to our gigs – including KeIv Hellrazer!”