E-mail interview by Sheraz Qureshi

Some Say the World will end in Performance…

Formed in Manchester in 2003, Performance feature a line up of Joe Strech; vocals, Joe Cross; keyboards, and sisters Laura Marsden; guitar and Billie Marsden; keyboards. Inspired by boredom and a mutual love of New Order, Depeche Mode, The Velvet Underground and Abba. Performance played their first gig at Manchester's Big hands and quickly built up local admiration, including Peter Hook who likens them to early New Order... interested to see just what all the fuss was about - Sheraz Qureshi, decided to hunt them down...



Why are you called Performance?
When we started the band we were interested in the ways in which the idea of a band could be deconstructed and reduced to its essential components. Back then we were more preoccupied with the synthetic and the inhumane and we were interested in the theory of performing, performance as logic and a process through which ideas, identities, politics and sexuality are expressed…

How does that translate in terms of your lyrics and stage presence?
…the process of actually being in a band can erode the theories that first underpinned the band. Increasingly, the band is more about juxtaposing the synthetic with the humane. Musically, we try to contrast the mathematics of pop with rough guitars slung round shoulders and lyrics performed as if death depended on them. So our stage presence is a little too human nowadays, I'm less taken with the idea of being explicitly jealous. I'd rather be accountable than simply austere.

In terms of the point about performance being the process by which identities are expressed, this is more of a lyrical issue. Many of the songs concern the activities that, when performed, generate identity. For example, 'Dotted line' does this in relation to the activity of language, rhetoric and acquiescence. 'I Want Out' does it in relation to work/service. ' Surrender' is Romance, 'Live a Little' death etc

How long have you been together?
Two and half years. Although Laura and Billie are sisters and Joe and I went to school together.

Any embarrassing pre performance incarnations we should know of?

Lots. But none you should know of. Two words - hip hop. I've said too much. Mark my words. The past will make fools of us all.

What are your main influences?
I've never been massively musical. I enjoy the novels of John Banville. The poetry of Blaise Cendrars. I do like Leonard Cohen and Simon and Garfunkel. The others are the truly musical ones. They're into Depeche Mode, Bowie, The Slits, Prince, The Velvet Underground, Kraftwerk, Roxette among many other groups.

Would you consider yourselves to be a bit pessimist?
No. I barely believe in emotion. Not my own anyway, only the emotions of others…

How can our readers get hold of your music, and why should they bother?
Well, you ought to register on our website. We're trying to make it into an interesting forum for different forms of creativity. Films, poetry, short stories, artwork. It would be great if your readers could contribute to these things.

Performance write death pop for you to dance and die hysterically to. We believe in the politics of your misery and would be happy to discuss it with you. We believe in brilliant life. In creating things in the face of this horse shit universe.

Tell us about your fanzine 'To much information'
Too Much Information is meant to be a visual representation of ideas Laura has. As a band, we're fascinated by the idea that society is somehow groaning under the weight of its own informations. There is too much evidence of everything. Sex, love, government, God, happiness. Therefore none of these things exist.

Is artwork important to the band?
Yes. We feel that if you submit to the creepy structures of our dear leisure capitalism then you should be prepared to marshal your troops. Don't be a fucking coward and draw a line around the concept of ‘a band’. Make sure you control everything from artwork to merchandise. If you don't, then a twat will. I think artwork has the power to enhance your understanding of music.

What do you see yourself doing in 20 years time?
I want to be a writer. I want my youth to produce evidence that I was once alive. If you can write short stories, please go to our website and write one. We believe in creativity, detailed thoughts and fucking fun.

Richey or Nicky? *Sorry this is a manics inspired fanzine !
Not sure. I'm not a massive fan. Not lately anyway. I'm very interested in their earlier incarnation. A very interesting band about whom I don't know enough. I tend to quite enjoy the company of Manics fans.

Have you got any heroes?
Yes, my hero is Arthur Rimbaud. For today, at least. Rimbaud was a poet who stopped writing when he was about twenty one. He was a communard in Paris 1870… I'd like to go back in time. I think I'd shine.

What books are you reading at the moment and what records are you listening to?
I'm reading a book called Athena by John Banville. Banville writes books in which little happens but each half-moment is somehow charged with mysterious activity. If I were you I'd read 'Humbolt's Gift' by Saul Bellow. He's American. And Dead. He won the Nobel Prize.
I've become a fan of a band called 'The Passage'. They were contemporaries of Joy Division, but felt that joining the 'Factory' set-up would compromise their musical and intellectual foundations. This may have been a little foolish. I'm not sure.

There's a link to their website on the new 'Performance links' section. For me, their music represents a combination of pop structure and political/sexual/social criticism that we aspire to. They did a few Peel sessions but never really received the support they deserved.

I like the Anthony and the Johnsons record. (I can hear you yawning my tardy relationship with pop) My lady story is one of breast amputation, too. I like a band called the Maccabees. They're from Brighton. Where the sun often shines.

What can we expect from the album?
A dozen or so attempts to salvage the infectious for the caring, meaning for the right and love and sex for the loveless and sexless. I have a taste for rhetoric this morning. No. We try and write pop songs that might put an end to shit pop and explode meanings that might be important to people. Mostly about the relationship between the human subject and late capitalism. How our hearts have become amazingly cultured. Economic, in essence.

How does it feel knowing that Peter Hook is a fan of the band? And are you fans of New Order?
Yes, yes, we like New Order and Joy Division, too. I've never really thought about it. It feels alright. New Order are responsible for some very good and innovative pop songs. Lovely.

Name some of the bands you've played with.
The Maccabees, The KBC, Brian Ferry, Pink Grease, The Bravery, The Others, Komakino. About a million others, too...

Tell us about your new single.

Our new single is called 'Surrender' and concerns the inherent humiliation of sex and love in a world of massive problem and monumental levels of desperate dying. It has a chorus you can dance to.

What makes you cry?
Television. It moves me terribly. I recently wept at X-factor as a family gathered round to console their loser daughter.

Can you remember what music you liked when you were a kid?

Yes, I liked Rachmaninov and Ace of Base.

"Politics and music" - discuss.
The meanings generated by pop music can be placed within a triangle of themes, Sex, Power and Death
In light of this, politics can and probably should play a role in music. I enjoy writing about the politics of flesh, underwear, ditzy deaths. Talking about small politics… The politics inherent in the minutiae of each day..

Pete Doherty - Hero or Villain?
Certainly neither. I think he's an ok celebrity. But I like comedy. and he's not very funny. My favourite frontmen had more interesting flaws.

Anything you wish I'd asked but haven't?
No, no. I'm tired now. I wish we could have discussed things in more depth.
And finally.. Chips or Cream buns?
Chips - no contest.

Massive thanks to Rhys at somefriendly for sorting all this out, and Joe Stretch of Performance for taking the time to talk to us.

Performances' new single 'Surrender' is out on the 28th of November
Now look at

Surrender to this interview off on our message board here