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The lyrical themes on your solo records seem a lot more awkward than they were with Pulp. Is this the Gallic influence rubbing off on you or just part of the inevitable slide towards old age?
Giles, London
A few people have said this. I thought that I’d made quite a light-hearted record, and then everyone said it was my midlife crisis album. I suppose you do get more twisted as you get older. You realise that things are more cryptic and convoluted and labyrinthine, so Further Complications seemed an apt title. Thing is, I’ve never really written happy songs. If you look at a typical Pulp “smash” such as “Disco 2000”, musically it’s quite happy, but lyrically it’s very dark. It’s about somebody who fancies somebody and never got it on with her and then she gets married and has a child, but he’s still clinging to this sad fantasy that someday they’re going to be together. It’s pretty pathetic, really. I’ve never really liked happy songs. “Walking On Sunshine” makes me want to physically kill somebody.

What is it about Sheffield and the kind of music we produce?
Biff Byford, Saxon
It’s certainly got its own personality, as distinct from Manchester or Liverpool. With the Human League or ABC, and I suppose Pulp to a certain extent, we made pop music, but did something slyly radical with its content. There might also be a fascination with technology, with Sheffield being an industrial city. I used to poo-poo that, but when you go to the Kelham Island Industrial Museum – which I’d recommend – you’ll see a thing called a Bessemer Converter. It’s like a big black egg that spins around. Obviously working in steel factories was very arduous and unpleasant work, but it must have been very impressive to be surrounded by such amazing hardware. And Sheffield is home to some very extreme sounds. I remember living near a steel forge where you’d hear this drophammer every hour and it would make the whole building shake. Perhaps this accounts for the whole tradition of music from Sheffield that is pretty extreme, with very low bass, and also listened to at extreme volumes.

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