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Literally Issue 12 Liberation Ride
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March 27th, 1994. The Pet Shop Boys are
In the offices of their record company, Parlophone, in central London. Today they are to do some interviews about, and be filmed inside, a virtual reality ride which has been made to accompany the video to 'liberation", Right now, the capsule, and various members of the press, are waiting in a London alleyway next to a building site. To take the ride, you step inside a futuristically-shaped capsule and take a seat.

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The door closes and you are in total darkness until the video begins in front of you. As the music and video starts, you feet as though you are moving with the camera, swooping downwards and upwards and round and about. It is all very impressive. There is only one problem.

"The embarrassing thing," explains Neil, "is that t can't go in it." They tried it a few days ago. "As soon as I went down the tunnel..." - an early, particularly stomach-churning scene - "...It was the most awful feeling. I felt completely terrified." He sighs. "It's my theory that the reason I get claustrophobia is the memory of being born, because this is quite like being born." Whatever the reason, he couldn't stand it. He pressed the panic button. He has no intention of ever experiencing the complete ride. As he is supposed to spend today telling people how marvelous the whole thing is, he faces something of a quandary. "I've got to do press on this thing I can't go in," he laughs uneasily. "I'd better work out an angle on that..."

Chris is more interested in other matters. "How was Elton's party?" he asks Neil. A couple of night's earlier, Neil was one of the revelers celebrating Elton John's birthday. (For photographic evidence see page 9.) He tells us about it. Bobby Davro was there, but they didn't speak. He chatted with Stephen Fry. He waltzed with Elton John.

"You behaved outrageously?" asks Chris gleefully.

"It's the new me," nods Neil, and shares some thoroughly scurrilous gossip.

"The new you is much better than the old you," comments Chris, "sitting round at home watching opera on video."

"Which," Neil patiently points out, "I've never done in my life."

"I'm sorry," says Dainton. "Elton John's party! We did put the John into Elton."

"As it were," says Neil.

"You didn't make it into any tabloids," observes Chris.

"Not famous enough," says Neil.

"You might as well not have been there," Chris deadpans. He says he's hungry.

"Do you want a vegetable samosa from Selfridges?" asks Neil. He's already eaten lunch, but he bought more than he could eat.

"You don't want it?"

'I had two."

Chris takes a bite. He looks pleasantly surprised. "It's quite nice really."

For today's activities the two of them are supposed to get themselves into their Brit. Awards Miner's Outfits. Their costume person is outside, waiting.

"Chris, shall we not wear costumes?" suggests Nail, as though he has just thought of something rather naughty.

"Yeah, let's not," says Chris with indecent haste and enthusiasm. And that's that. Lynne Easton suggests that they have some make-up done anyway.

Neil agrees, but Chris refuses. "I'm not wearing make-up," he says. "Not if we're in the street with all those builders." And that, too, is that. Instead, Chris gets on the telephone. He's trying to get tickets for Arsenal's Cup Winners Cup semifinal in Paris. Ian Wright hasn't been able to help, so be is instructing someone to try their French record company. "It's OK," he mutters. "Just tell them we're never going to France again."

They talk about their Blur remix. Malcolm Hill, who arranges their TV promotion, offers them a CD promo version of their mixes. "CD promos!" exclaims Chris. "That'll be worth a bit. Get me a few."

They play it, then Neil puts on the unplugged version of "Decadence". "When I listen to this," says Neil, "I always picture driving down the Grand Corniche in the south of France in a Rolls Royce convertible."

"Have we not been asked to do MTV Unplugged?" grumbles Chris. "I bet they think we couldn't do it,"

"That's bloody typical" agrees Neil. "I bet they do."

"Do you want to do it?" asks Lynne. Interested.

"No!" snaps Chris, as though he has never heard a more preposterous suggestion. He picks up one of those scrambled computer images which you are supposed to stare at for ages until they make sense. "I can never see what you're meant to see," he says. "I get really angry about it. It makes you feel like a moron.

"We should go," says Malcolm Hill.

"I still feel peckish." Complains Chris.

Neil sympathies. "It wasn't exactly a huge Samoa.

Outside, they pile into a rather smart small van.

"We're not driving, are we?" laughs Chris. "The shame of it. We've got a winnebago to go 200 yards."

They step outside, 200 yards later, to be met by Andi Peters, who is interviewing them for 0-Zone. "Have the miner's outfits been axed?" he asks, clearly disappointed.

"They've been axed because we're in Selfridges car park," Neil explains.

They step into the ride, sitting in front of the screen on which the video is projected. Also crammed into the tiny capsule are five members of the 0-Zone crew and myself. "There's something reminiscent of The Muppet Show about this," says Neil. He is aright until the crew say they need to partly close the door. He refuses. "I'm having a real problem with this, even now.

They reach a compromise - putting some black card over the exit which shuts out the light but doesn't make Neil feel quite so trapped. As the camera is set up, they talk to Andi Peters about meeting Take That at a German TV show. "I think we shamed ourselves in their dressing room," says Neil. "It was absolutely like a scene from Absolutely Fabulous, with two middle-aged drunks.

Gary Barlow was talking tome understanding, like you do to a complete wreck." And Peters offers some Take That gossip in return. "You've told the right people," Chris reassures him. "Our lips are sealed."

The interview starts.

"What was the idea for the video?" asks Andi Peters.

"The idea was not to be in it," says Chris. "The ultimate..." He splutters to a halt. "Sorry. Start again." They start again. He turns to Neil. "What was the idea?"

"What 'was the bloody idea?" repeats Neil.

"The first video was us in a computerized landscape," Chris finally explains (meaning the "Can You Forgive Her?" video, the first from Very, "and we've been getting more and more computerized."

Andi Peters asks about the song. "It's a love song," says Neil. "There's not been many straightforward Pet Shop Boys love songs. And in the video the idea of liberation is taken as flying. Of all the videos we've made this is one of the two or three which has really carried the feeling of the song."

For the last question, he asks them how they eat Cadbury's Creme Eggs. Apparently 0~Zone are asking this of everyone they interview.

"I don't eat creme eggs very much," says Chris. "When I do, I think I tend to bite the top off and shove my tongue in it, and get as much creme out of it as I can, and do a lot of that and then nibble away at the chocolate."

"It somehow managed to sound obscene, that," smiles Neil. He tells them he doesn't eat creme eggs. "I don't like the sticky stuff in the middle."

They suggest to Andi Peters that he films them talking about the way "Go West" has been adopted as a football chant. Chris insists that Neil does it. "Everyone just thinks I'm football," he Complains And so Neil tells the story, uninterrupted, until he uses the expression "football audience".

"Audience!" hoots Chris derisively. "You can tell Neil doesn't go to the football."

They retire to their bus. After a while Chris goes back out, and is filmed by 0-Zone inside the ride when it is actually in Moline. Afterwards even he looked a little overcome by the experience. "The queasy feeling." He confides, "lasts a while."

Neil has agreed to do a brief interview with a journalist from Melody Maker, about the ride. After a few minutes they have to start again. The journalist's tape recorder wasn't working. They talk about animation, and Chris can't resist joining in.

"It's a pity you can't do it like that film The Running Man," he says, "to keep yourself alive in a computer when you're dead. Then we'd never have to make another video."

"Is that an ambition?" the interviewer asks.

"It's definitely mine," says Chris.

"We don't really want to be real," explains Neil.

The van radio is playing. The current number one, the Charleston-techno record called "Doop", comes on. They hate it, and have a debate about who could possibly be buying it.

"It's the public," sighs Chris.

"'It's The Public'!" exclaims Neil. "That's a good title for a song."

Chris is rude about Prince's single "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World" ("dirgy") and nice about Bruce Springsteen's "Streets Of Philadelphia" ("the first decent thing he's ever done"). Then Dream come on.

"I like Dream," says Neil. "They're the Shamen of this year.

"I only play their album," nods Chris. Re talks about the film Shadowlands, which he went to see a few days ago. "I didn't think I'd like it but it's quite good."

Andi Peters pops his head in. One more thing. They need to film the Pet Shop Boys talking to the camera as a trailer to promote

Pet Shop Boys outside their Liberation ride.

Their appearance on next week's Top Of The Pops

"Are you happy with the script?" he asks.

"Yeah," says Neil. "Sort of. We're obviously going to change it."

He reads it out. It mentions that he will be singing live. "I'd rather mime, actually, viewers," he says. "Why can't you mime? I sound much better. Hopefully I'll have flu on the day and we'll pull and they'll have to show the video." Re pauses. "Not that we do things like that."

They record the trail standing outside the virtual reality vehicle. Dainton stands in the alleyway, halting traffic whenever they are recording. Some of the building site workers ask for Neil's autograph. Meanwhile the ride is ready to be run through again, so I sneak in to see what it is like. I've never been in anything like this, but it's rather impressive, especially the terrifying lurches downwards near the beginning. The second half is rather more gentle, and when you are swooping around computer-space with the golden-winged birds the song has never seemed more beautiful. Never mind that afterwards - Chris is right- I feel queasy for absolutely ages.

Copyright Areagraphy Ltd 1994: All Articles have been
Taken From Literally 1994 Issue 12

 

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