Fully Loaded- Levelload Interview


“I’ve Been Thinking” By Levelload


“Cos he said they’d live in New York /and the stars would be their own/she was Debbie Harry / he was Joey Ramone” …so sang Helen Love , and that lyric could possibly sum up Mari Doi and Tony Wade hopes and dreams when they first met Wink They collided one night under Tokyo’s neon sky, bonding over a reciprocal love of Blondie, Gang of Four, Link Wray, and erm yellow, the colour that is, not that rarity, a Coldplay song that isn’t in all actuality, unbearably smug.  Pretty soon they realised they had much in common and decided to form a musical partnership and reach for the stars . Having decided on the name Levelload they set to work to write punchy, edgy pop and their first collaborative effort “Palookaville” was quickly picked up by the discerning ears of John Peel and played on Radio 1 – not bad for a first effort.  Thus inspired, they quickly released a follow up single the acerbic “HND In RNR” which immediately created a stir and possibly put a few noses out of joint within various London fashionistas.  A string of European dates ensued plus a tour of Germany “toured there twice-once in winter freezing our asses off. Blocked roads, bridges, driving across snow fields to make it for sound-check and all round not much sleep touring fun  “

The pro-active duo then flew to Japan, to undertake a D.I.Y. tour which ultimately resulted in Tokyo based Flightpath Records duly snapping them up and releasing their debut album “Yellow Fever” to critical and commercial acclaim. More gigging followed which further enhanced their growing live reputation and with their star in the ascendancy in Japan, they appeared live on Fuji TV’s “Factory” – the Japanese equivalent of “Later with Jools Holland,” (minus the pressure of being strong-armed into performing “an impromptu boogie-woogie duet” with gurning host”) and also became regulars on national radio.

After spending the past 6 months treating Japan to their unique brand of  scuzzy new wave electro the pair have finally return to this green and occasionally  pleasant land, and  are set release a new  single ‘I’ve Been Thinking’,( 25th May 2009  Flightpath Records). The song features their trademark crazy electro meltdown keyboard action, melded with scything, visceral, demented guitar riffs and topped off with  vocals that have the urgency of Bis on a sugar rush and the pop melody of Debbie Harry fused with the attitude of Karen O. It’s a pop punk extravaganza and it’ll have you bouncing off the walls like Timothy Leary suffering from ADHD whilst astride a huge space hopper.  But that’s enough from me lets turn the spotlight on Levelload and give ’em a grilling Wink

VP:   You first met when Tony was visiting Tokyo and hit it off straight away, how did the idea to form musical partnership evolve?

LEVELLOAD: We found we had very similar ideas about music, and wanted to get away from the sort of bands we had been in before. Wanted to do it our way basically.

VPTell us the significance of

( a) The Band name

LEVELLOAD: Levelload,  as in evenly loaded, or weighted. We completely share the work, writing lyrics, programming drums, guitar riffs and vocal melodies and so on.

VP: And

( b) the colour yellow ?

LEVELLOAD: I’m yellow (Mari), and we have matching yellow guitars, then it just started spreading.

VP A while back you seemed fed up with the London saying it was saturated with “third rate Indie bands who would dress up being shit as art” .  Do you still have the same antipathy towards the “scene” or have things moved on ?

LEVELLOAD: Actually it’s got worse, the latest thing being those who have looked up the musical definition of “dark” and come up with Siouxsie and the Banshees, or Joy Division. Brilliant! Wish I’d thought of that. Unfortunately the emperors’ new clothes thing comes up all too often.

VPWould it be right to say that you’re second single “HND in RNR” a bit of an attack on that scene?

LEVELLOAD: Yes, I hope so. The song’s about the idea that rock and roll has to have a qualification, or a scene, something other than music, like a stamp of approval. We hope we’ve managed to reach people’s hearts with something a little less contrived.

VP: You’ve spent the last six months or so touring Japan , what’s the musical landscape  like there at the moment ?

LEVELLOAD: I love the Kansai Zero generation scene. They are the children of Boredoms. They rock with a style that could only come from there.

VPApparently Duran Duran are big fans of you both and invited you to play at one of their after show parties? What was that experience like?

LEVELLOAD: Oh, just another show with famous people having too much to drink, Simon Le Bon moshing down the front, Dom Pérignon on our rider. Nothing special, hahaha!

VP: You’re set to release you latest single “I’ve Been Thinking’ (25th May 2009, Flightpath Records). Can you explain what the songs about?


LEVELLOAD: It’s about obsessive love and starting to imagine things.

VP:  You’ve described your self as a pop act not a band, why the distinction? Is it because you’re a duo, or more so that Indie bands are a bit passé?

LEVELLOAD: We don’t want to be just another Indie band!! It’s not a fashion thing; bands can be so predictable and boring. We want to have a twist to things generally. When people get together and make something that’s more than just a band, then you have something.

VP:  Who would you say has influenced your sound?

LEVELLOAD: Devo, Blondie, Link Wray, Talking Heads, Man or Astroman?, YMO.

VP: What’s the strangest experience you’ve had since dipping your toes into the turbid waters of the music bizz?


LEVELLOAD: We had a few days off in Japan last year, and decided to go to an event organized by a friend of a friend featuring all Osaka bands. It was all reasonably weird as it was, involving, amongst other things, beat poetry read by a man wearing nothing but S&M pants with lights and Kaos pads, which he was using to control samples over Led Zeppelin songs. Then before going onstage the singer of the headline band, who had a huge scar in an “X” across his chest, and was pretty out of it by that time, pissed in front of the stage. After a scuffle with the staff they started, but before long he stuck his fingers down his throat and puked all over himself. Did the rest of the show covered in sick/piss. Nice. An unusual evening.

VP:  Which five albums would you say “shaped you”  ?


“Boys Don’t Cry” The Cure.

“Freedom of Choice” Devo

“Rumble” Link Wray. Yes I know it’s not an album, but I’m not sure he made any, other than collections + it’s such a good record!

“77”  Talking Heads

“Fair Warning” Van Halen


On Myspace



“I Know You Know” By Levelload

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=SkxPSc81ukA">http://youtube.com/watch?v=SkxPSc81ukA</a>

“HND In RnR” By Levelload

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=zATyNQnQjYo&amp;feature">http://youtube.com/watch?v=zATyNQnQjYo&amp;feature</a>

“Yellow Fever” By Levelload

<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=BI_XjJ-09vY">http://youtube.com/watch?v=BI_XjJ-09vY</a>

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Andy Von Pip

ANDY VON PIP - Founder, editor, writer, reviewer, photographer and all-round good guy at the VPME.com. House photographer for The Academy Music Group, Zuma Press, Event Magazine and Rex Features worldwide. You can check out his photography at Andy Von Pip Photography Has been new music tipster on BBC6 Music, Amazing Radio, and DJ on Strangeways Radio (USA.) Can currently be heard on IWFM Radio. His radio work has been described as sounding like Ian McCulloch on ketamine fused with Ringo Starr. New music tipster on Amazing Radio, moderator for BBC 6 Music DJ Tom Robinson's Fresh on the Net, former member of "BBC's Sound Of" panel. Written and photographic work has appeared in The Quietus, Music Week, Record Of The Day, The Guardian, GIITV, The Sabotage Times, Bido Lito, The Skinny, Louder Than War. Media partner and curator for Liverpool Sound City.

Discussion4 Comments

  1. The YouTube videos seems to be working OK.

    Good stuff, AVP.

    Another in the same genre of one-boy-one-girl rock bands. Raveonettes, White Stripes, Blood Red Shoes, SheKeepsBees, The Kills – yeah. Me like.

  2. Pingback: Liverpool Sound City Music Festival 2009 « The VPME

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