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Formerly of THE SLITS, Viv Albertine has returned with solo album 'The Vermilion Border'. Joe Whyte finds out more...
So, Viv, with new album 'The Vermilion Border' out now, where have you been the last few years? “Well, after The Slits, I went to film school, I was really in a wilderness for a few years, studying, and then I directed for about fifteen years. But after the recession, and there’s no real film industry in this country now, I was just jobbing, and that’s not me. I’m too individual, too awkward, too difficult to be an employee. There was no way to express yourself; it was such an expensive medium. And then I got very ill, and moved to the seaside, basically. That absolutely rejuvenated me after going to ground, like a wounded animal. None of my friends even knew. I just disappeared. I lick my wounds. I’m gone. I needed to mend myself. I think when you get physically well, your creativity comes back too.” Tell us a little about the making of the album. “Well, it’s taken bloody years to make.Which is very stupid, because, it’s just not cost-effective at all, is it? But, I had to do it right and because I’m so new to music again it took me a while to get it anywhere near right. I had to keep going in, saving some more money, and then go back again.When I play live, I play solo as I can’t afford a band!” You helped fund the album through Pledgemusic? “Oh, yeah, the crowd funding thing, yes. It’s fantastic; it’s so liberating actually to not have a record company or anyone breathing down my neck. It gave me a lot of confidence that people out there would fund me before hearing it. In another way, that makes you feel very beholden to them, to make something decent. After The Slits, I felt so damaged, so burned that I couldn’t even listen to music for years. I lived beside the sea, shut myself away and avoided music.” The last days of The Slits were quite traumatic… “That’s the thing; we had no support, no one behind us, no-one funding anything. It was like 'You’ve had your moment' and we were still very committed to the music but when you’re getting no feedback and people just… You know what it’s like in England, you’re flavour of the month and then you’re gone. We were dropped by the record company, dropped by fans really… It took about thirty years for it to bed in what we’d done. We’d fought so hard, for so long, to be ourselves, not be manipulated, we were absolutely exhausted. For twenty years we were just ignored. It’s just in the last seven years have taken notice and seen what contribution we made. A lot of young people have sought us out, actually. It’s different now. Then, audiences were much more tribal, they’d all turn out for scenes, whereas now it’s much more dissipated.” Mick Jones plays on the album too... “Yeah, we’re still close. He gave me a big boost, because the first time I played solo, he happened to be there and told me he wanted to record with me. A huge boost for my confidence.” I guess, since Mick Jones has been mentioned, I need to ask you about 'Train In Vain'? “Mmm. I’m not too sure if that was written about me.You’d need to ask Mick. But it was. (Laughs).” You did a couple of shows with the reformed Slits? “They asked me before, can’t remember when, my daughter was about five years old and there was no way I was gonna leave her to play in a band. Plus, I just thought it was old hat, old news, I didn’t want to do it. And then, when I started playing again, I thought, 'When am I ever gonna be asked to play in a punk rock band again?' So I decided I was going to say 'yes' to everything for a year, January to January. No matter how terrifying they are, it virtually transformed my life. When I did The Slits again, I was writing my own songs and it didn’t make sense to be playing these old songs again.” 'The Vermilion Border' is out now on Cadiz Music



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