Released: December 1982
Recorded: The Playground
Producer: Mike Hedges. Remix by John Brand.
Label: Situation Two
- The Girl
* UK 7" picture sleeve
* UK advert
Ian Astbury: You know what? I probably had about two or three chords I knew at the time. [Laughs.] E-minor was one of them. I could play E-minor over and over again. I just loved the sound of that chord, especially on acoustic guitar. I don’t know where I got the rhythm. I’ve no idea. That’s a Southern Death Cult song we developed as a band. I remember Barry Jepson adding a chord to it, and Buzz [David Burrows] working on the arrangement, so it was a collaboration. We all worked on that song. Lyrically, it was wonderfully earnest and naïve and beautiful, coming from a very young spirit. But the sense in that song was definitely about dystopia, growing up in mostly industrial areas, whether it was Merseyside in England or Glasgow or Hamilton, Ontario, in Canada, it was certainly coming out of true punk rock. George Orwell’s 1984 wasn’t that far away from reality in the early ’80s in the UK, in Thatcher’s Britain. The references to Wounded Knee, that was my fascination with native cultures and indigenous cultures, which I’ve had since I was about 11 years old. That comes from living in Canada and being exposed to indigenous culture, then reading into it. So it was something I was very passionate about, and I guess in this song… It’s a montage of different emotions.
The A.V. Club: How did you find your way into Southern Death Cult in the first place?
IA: Well, through a series of events, I ended up homeless. I was following a band called Crass on tour, essentially sleeping out on the road for a few weeks, and the tour went through a city called Bradford in West Yorkshire, in the north of England. I met these kids, and they said, “We’ve got a room in our house. If you ever need anywhere to stay, come and stay here. We’ve always got a room.” And the idea of moving to Bradford… It was like growing up in New York and ending up in Oklahoma. [Laughs.] It was the furthest thing from my mind. But after continuing down the road for a few months and living in squalor, sleeping in bus stations, train stations, and abandoned houses, I was desperate for someplace to live. I didn’t really have a job. I was living on Social Security, getting maybe 15 pounds a week to live on, which was nothing, and I’d just be going from Social Security office to Social Security office. It was just soul-destroying. So I remembered these kids with the room in Bradford, and since they were my tribe—they were punk rockers—I decided, “Okay, I guess I’m going to end up in Bradford.”
So I took a bus from Liverpool; of course, to do that, I had to scrounge for money at the station just to get the fare. And this lady gave me £5 and said, “Get yourself something to eat, and get to wherever you want to go.” When I got to Bradford, I immediately went to this bar where I knew the people hung out, I found the house, they gave me the room, and there was a band practicing in the basement. The house was made up of musicians and artists and poets. It was a really cool house. [Laughs.] This band was rehearsing in the basement, and they asked me join as a singer ’cause they liked the way I looked. That was the beginning of Southern Death Cult. I was 18 years old.
(from The AV Club interview w/ Ian Astbury - jun 7, 2012)