People think they're perfect men! 
But look up to these two, OK ? 
Your life will go wrong!
by BETTY PAGE 
JUST LIKE the naked truth of the new Associates single sleeve, Billy MacKenzie feels that he's currently over exposed. Although it was obviously quite an achievement to have pinned him down? Billy admitted that he'd rather leave the gift of the gab to his fellow Associates on this occasion. "It's not fair that the others don't get the chance to talk as much as I do," he whispered later in my shell-like, "just 'cos I'm the singer, I get the limelight. As if it were that simple... Not that a mere Noise-style grilling would chip away at the man's enigma, but Mr McK contented himself with a friendly greeting and a pixie-like grin before resuming his studio work and opening another mound of fan mail.

The flexible interview Roster was thus taken up mainly by newest and prettiest Associate Martha Ladly (ex of The Muffins) and strong, dark and hitherto silent type Alan Rankine. Quite a refreshing, as it transpired, as Ms Ladly isn't afraid to speak her mind. The opportunity arose, therefore, to discover exactly how Martha was transported into the rank(ines) of such a 'zany' (her word) Scots bunch....

How did it all happen ?
Martha : "I did a solo single, 'Finlandia', last year, then recorded another single which ended up not coming out because Dindisc were on the rails. Then at the beginning of September, Billy called me and it was just hi, I'm Billy MacKenzie and would you like to come and sing on our next single! I'd never actually met Bill or Alan, but I'd been a fan from when 'The Affectionate Punch' came out, and I'd asked Alan to play guitar on my single. He was too busy, so I went along to the studio one day, met them and went in immediately and started singing backing vocals! I think they'd seen me with the Muffins when we supported Roxy, quite liked my voice, thought I looked quite good and might be a fun sort of person, and we got along really well straight away. SO I've been working with them ever since. I always thought they were great and I was quite sure they'd be some sort of success whatever they did, but actually finding out 'Party fears two' was going Top 10 did really surprise me, it seemed quite an unlikely sort of single, it was so different from anything else in the charts at the time. But then all their stuff is. I'm really happy we're going to do so well now.

Have you actually been writing songs with them ?
Martha : "I've been writing songs on my own mostly, plus arrangements and some keyboard stuff, and writing some music on my own with them in mind for Bill to write some lyrics to. But we haven't actually got together yet because Bill and Alan have got so many songs on bits of tape, stuff going back ages. '18 Carat Love Affair' is six years old! They've got so much stuff that until they've gone through some so that they don't even need anybody to help them write, although they're really interested in what I'm going to do with them. I think Billy will end up writing the word. I like writing words, but the kind I write are very different from what Billy writes. It could be quite interesting!

I suppose the way Billy writes words is very much an integral part of the Associates' appeal...?
Martha : "It's his whole 'free association' way of thinking. The stuff I write is always a bit more specific.
At this point, Alan Rankine enters, inquiring as to about Martha has been saying about him. With more than a hint of motherly instinct, she said: Martha : "it's the first time I've seen him with a shave in about two months! Alan had just got himself "a wee facial!
Martha : Well you're looking fine, sweetheart! It's the boys that can go and have the facials, the manicures and pedicures! I hope we're still going to have this massage artist on tour.
Alan : Yeah, he's getting paid about twice as much as anybody else. He's a big bodyguard-6 feet 4, black, very strong, can break your back, and he's also a masseur. You're not getting him though, you're not allowed any thrills!.
Martha : I've never had a massage in my life! I've always thought if I go having massages all the time the way the Associates do, then I'd need them all the time.

Has this been a time-honoured Associates tradition ?
Martha : They just have to take extra-special good care of themselves 'cos they abuse themselves totally.
Alan : We get debauched, then we pampers ourselves.
Martha : It's kinda like exercising so that you can eat more!

Rather like the Ancient Romans who stuffed themselves stupid then made themselves vomit!
Alan : Bill spews at will anyway.
Martha : Does he ? I wish I knew how to do that, it must be quite a gift!
Alan : Tis when you're supporting the Banshees and there's a few hundred skinheads gobbling on you. You just puke on them when you've been drinking Pernod and black currant. Soon get them out of the way.

Back to the nitty gritty-what do you think about the prospect of Martha writing songs with you ?
Alan : We've already dabbled a bit and I'm sure we'll dabble a bit more. I'm not sure when you'll hear the results, 'cos we've got the next album already written. We'll have a pool of songs-about 20 more- so I s'pose we've got the next two albums written.
Martha : It's a bit difficult to complete!
Alan : Bill and I like bouncing off people...

It must be quite unusual to have so many song writing talents in one band.
Martha : It's good because if you're doing different things, you're always excited when you come back together, there's no hanging around, getting bored or working in the same format".
It can get a bit Roxyish...

Talking of Roxy, I spotted Martha on TOTP-the mask didn't fool me!
Martha : That was Bryan's idea-'you've got to wear a mask, dear, we don't want everybody thinking you were the girl that was in The Associates!' It was fun-but quite different from working with these guys...

When The Associates appear on TOTP it's always worth watching-it's fun
Martha : Whenever we're on TOTP I must say it's like a breath of fresh air-that sounds like a real pat on our backs, but...
Alan : Wait till you see the next one!
Martha : People always do the same thing, and there's so much music now that's the same that whenever we're on it's like something completely out of the blue.
Alan : The next one's going to be really good!
Martha : They haven't told me what I have to do yet... I think there's some sort of a plan, but we're not telling. I'm not sure I want to know!

What sort of framework is the live show taking-anything dramatic ?
Alan : Well, I think we intend to have...
Martha : Lots of girls!
Alan : No, we're having one more girl, and two more boys, you'll be glad to hear.
Martha : No, I like girls, I think it's important to have girls onstage"
Alan : You can't say things like that!
Martha : I don't like being the only girl in a band at all.
Alan : Well, there's going to be one more-Angela Jaeger from New York-she sang on the Drowning Craze single. And two more boy backup singers who'll also be able to dance a little as well, so instead of having pretty girls dancing we'll have pretty boys dancing!
Martha : Oooh, wonderful. Something for me to watch.
And I'm getting a Jet Pak. When I do a guitar solo I'm just Jet Paking right over the audience.
Martha : Can I have a trapeze, please ?
Alan : Only if you can hang on by your teeth.

You're playing relatively unusual venues... ?
Alan : We didn't want to go straight to Appolos, not that we couldn't fill them, but because we haven't played for so long. Confident we might be, but there's no way I'll go over the top and play to three or 4.000 people. But we're going on a spending spree next week! We're going to buy keyboards and basses and clothes, and we'll fly to Milan to get suits...

Tell us about the new single
Martha : It was the first thing I did with them.
Alan : That was going to be a 39 Lyon St one at first, with Martha doing lead. As it happened it was better when Martha did backings and harmonises the chorus up a bit. It's so, so poppy. I think some people are going to really hate us for it.
Martha : It's very different from everything else.
Alan : It's sort of Motowny, poppy, and it's actually got a story line in the lyric. It's really concise and to the point. It has got a few double meanings, though.
Martha : It's not going to be one of those Associates angst song.
Alan : Just a wee love song.

It sounds like you're doing things the wrong way round-the most accessible songs last. At least it means you don't have to compromise
Martha : I don't think there's a question of that, is there Alan ?
Alan : Compromise ? We like pretending to compromise but I don't think we ever do.
Martha : You don't know the meaning of the word, speaking from a slightly outsider's point of view. I don't think either of you would know how... I could teach you!
Alan : We're not bolshy. We're just leading the record company a merry dance. 'Cos it keeps them on their toes, otherwise they get lazy and complacent and you can be damn sure if you got lazy they'd be on at you saying where's the next hit single, so you just do exactly the same back to them.
Martha : That's quite an education for me. Being in The Associates, it's like we're writing the rules, it's great.

to be continued...