Bivouac did everything a 3-piece alternative rock band from Derby could dream of doing in the nineties. They released a string of records on cool indie label Elemental, recorded sessions for John Peel, played with Fugazi and Jesus Lizard, danced onstage with Nirvana, signed to a major label and split up. They’d began in 1992 and were over by 1996.
25 Years after the release of the band’s debut album, we caught up with vocalist/guitarist Paul Yeadon to talk about the release of the re-mastered version of ‘Tuber,’ the album with which it all began.
PRT: 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of “Tuber”. What does the album mean to you personally.
Paul: It was a magic time for the band, seemingly for a little while we could do no wrong. The record itself was majorly inspired by a break up, a relationship failure, it was always meant to be cathartic. So that really - laughter and heartbreak, being young and daft...
PRT: When was the last time you listened to it in its entirety? And do you still feel the same way about it as when it came out?
Paul: I listened to it in 2016 for the first time in over 20 years, to relearn bits when we were asked to play the Gigantic Festival in Manchester. l have recently listened to it as l remastered it for this release. At the time l know we were immensely proud of it, it really was a huge surprise to me. ‘I'm in a band, we made a record and people want to listen to it’. Still blows my mind.
PRT: What was the first song you wrote for the album and how did it come about?
Paul: We didn't write for an lp that l can remember, these were the songs we had at the time, shoe horned together, l think Nick Evans at Elemental, our label at the time brought cohesion to us. I just can't remember, l think ‘dead end friend’ was one of the first decent songs l wrote. It has an ambiguous emotional weight (l hope). A feeling that can be contextualized by the listener...lt’s a song about trying to stay tight with an ex and the second verse is from a newspaper article about a dentist who was raping his patients whilst under anesthetic. Which in some ways - and not to make light of the dentist’s victims - is how l felt at the time.
PRT: Do you have a personal favorite on the album? And if so, why?
Paul: I have many for different reasons, they are pretty simple songs and mostly a joy to play. It may be some muscle memory as we toured this LP a lot.
‘Good day song’ mostly because of the instrumental part where we really lock in as a band but it's a big bright song.
‘Drank’ selfishly because l get to okay a long stupid solo.
‘Big question mark’ l remember writing this with Granville in Matt Bagulley’s (Cable) bedroom. We were dossing at his house, lthunk it was the first time Granville used bass chords, a revelation for a three piece.
Not to sound too fucking chirpy but l could go on, l love ‘em all…
PRT: Was “Tuber” in general an easy album to write?
Paul: Again it for was not really written as a piece. There was a lot of rehearsal time went into it, but in the whole except for sticking my head on a pole, it was a laugh.
PRT: “Tuber” is getting a fancy re-release in September and you remastered the whole thing yourself. Did you discover anything new about it during the process?
Paul: Just that we were a bit crap and it didn't matter, if something has heart and it's played with passion, it will eclipse anything that’s soulless no matter how technically brilliant. l am not sure l learned anything new but it certainly reaffirmed this..
PRT: What is both the best and worst thing anyone ever said to you about the album?
Paul: At the time Bob Mould and John Peel said some really great stuff about us. We also got some bad reviews. But Bob Mould and John Peel said some really great stuff about us.
PRT: You started playing shows again in 2016, what was it like to revisit those songs live?
Paul: The dynamic has changed so much, we are men in our late 40’s and early 50’s, personally l don't think they have sounded better, it’s a pleasure to be playing them with my musical brothers, I am amazed we are all still alive.
PRT: Have some of them taken on a different meaning for you personally 25 years down the line?
Paul: No, not really. Whilst l know the exact meaning of each song, hopefully they are pretty ambiguous, you are never too old to have your heart broken. The joy of playing them has transcended the meaning, they were always meant to be cathartic.
PRT: In spite of having been a band for only a short period, you did a whole bunch of stuff that a lot of other bands can only dream of. You signed with a cool indie label and then a major label later on, played with the likes of Fugazi and The Jesus Lizard, did not one but three John Peel sessions,… Looking back, is there one thing that really stands out?
Paul: We also played with Sugar at the behest of Captn Bob and opened for the Foo Fighter on their first UK show. Is that what you wanna hear?! Ha ha. I think the Peel sessions stand out for me, it’s an honour to play a bit part in the Peel legacy.
PRT: And is there something you wish you had done differently?
Paul: We probably should not have signed to Geffen, l blame me.
PRT: The first time around you were a band for barely four years. We are coming up on three years since you started playing shows again… will Bivouac be around longer this time around?
Paul: Wow! Well done, l had not thought of it like that. Yes, we will be around for longer and we fully intend to do a lot less this time.
Catch the band live at the following dates where they will be playing ‘Tuber’ in full.
Sep 21 Worcester - The Firefly
Sep 24 Manchester - Night People
Sep 25 Nottingham - The Bodega
Sep 26 Edinburgh - The Mash House
Sep 28 London - The Camden Assembly
Sep 30 Bristol - The Louisiana