Interview with Pete from Adorable

Here’s the story of Adorable as written for the website by Pete Fijalkowski, the ex-lead singer of the band.

Within two pints of Adorable meeting Alan McGee for the first time in a pub in the Centre of Coventry in January 1992, the conversation got quite heated when we asked him about the dropping of My Bloody Valentine from the label. McGee likened his relationship with MBV as that of a girlfriend and boyfriend, but said that he couldn’t tell Kevin Shields face to face that his services were no longer required at Creation. I made McGee promise that if and when he came to drop Adorable from Creation he would have the guts to do so to my face.

So was born an uneasy relationship between Adorable and Creation records that was never really to thaw over the next two and a half years. Things started promisingly enough, our first single ‘Sunshine Smile’ got NME single of the week, lots of evening session play on Radio One, number one in the indie charts and three weeks in the national top 100 charts, but had we had the advantage of a crystal ball we would have seen that this was to be our UK high point, and that it would be downhill all the way from thereon. Perhaps it’s just as well you can’t see into the future. “I’m going to come back soon in another life” (Vendetta)

Inspired by The Smiths, and by our own insatiable appetite for buying 7″s on a Saturday morning, we were eager to release lots of singles, and we set about releasing tracks as quickly as we could. ‘I’ll be your saint’ was perhaps a mistake as a second single, and helped to seal our fate in the eyes of the music press as ‘arrogant bastards’ (coupled with our own cak-handed attempts in interviews at distancing ourselves from the anti-image shoegazing movement), but McGee, who saw us as a punky Echo & the Bunnymen loved the idea of it (“It’s rock n’ roll Pete, it’s rock n’ roll – pure Iggy”). Whilst we could never understand why our third release ‘Homeboy’ (probably my favourite Adorable song) was overlooked, ‘Sistine Chapel Ceiling’ got us on the road back with another NME single of the week and a high Indie chart placing, in turn helping our debut LP ‘Against Perfection’ to a Top 75 spot in April 1993.

A 5 week US tour promised lots and won us many friends and fans, but we found ourselves caught in the middle of an argument between Creation and our US label SBK that had nothing to do with us, and any hopes of American success were dashed on the chess board of label politics, with us playing the role of pawn extremely convincingly.

“What we had to do was produce an album that would grab everyone by the proverbials, drag them into a darkened alleyway and either give them a kicking that would last a lifetime, or a damn good shag. Instead we recorded ‘Fake’.”

We had other great times in Australia, Japan and across Europe, but on returning from promoting ‘Against Perfection’ we were a bit down, feeling that we had made as good an album as we could that we were really proud of, but that seemingly wasn’t enough; the English press were at best indifferent (we hadn’t been able to get an interview in the NME or Melody Maker since our debut single, though everyone seemed to think we were in every week!), and our relationship with Creation (at best described as ‘lukewarm’) took a turn for the worst with the Sony takeover and McGee’s subsequent breakdown, which left us without an ally at the label. What we had to do was produce an album that would grab everyone by the proverbials, drag them into a darkened alleyway and either give them a kicking that would last a lifetime, or a damn good shag. Instead we recorded ‘Fake’.

Whereas ‘Against Perfection’ (originally titled ‘Against Creation’, though dropped 24 hours before we had to submit the artwork as we were worried about pushing our relationship with the label) was the sound of 21 year olds who felt that life was there ahead of them, ready to be inhaled and enjoyed (‘Glorious’, ‘Breathless’), ‘Fake’ is a frail, insular, insecure album, made by four guys who felt like the world was against them (‘Kangaroo Court’, ‘Go Easy on Her’, ‘Vendetta’). The song ‘Radiodays’ (though not especially a favourite of mine) pretty much sums up how i felt about the whole thing, with a poetic appearance of McGee in it to boot. (“A father figure put a gun i my hand and said, ‘aim high, but don’t aim for the sun son’. Blinded by my own beauty of course i did, but then that’s my prerogative… If it’s all the same to you I want to crash my car my way.”). I only listen to my records when I’m feeling particularly drunk and particularly nostalgic (funny how the two seem to go hand in hand), but through alcohol influenced ears, it isn’t a bad album, it’s just it isn’t a great one either.

Creation needed the figures to add up, and Adorable’s didn’t. Quite simply we didn’t sell enough records for them, and the fact that there wasn’t exactly a warm glow inside them when they thought about us as people made the decision easier. The ‘dear John’ phone call came through to us in the glamorous setting of Colchester as we loaded in for a gig in late 1994. As poetic luck would have it our support band that day were The 60 Foot Dolls who had just that afternoon signed a lucrative publishing deal, and came into the venue clutching bottles of champagne, as we moped around in the suitably mournful setting of the converted church that is Colchester Arts Centre. Needless to say the call to say we were dropped didn’t come from Alan McGee, or anyone from the label, but our long-suffering manager Eddie (an ex-Meat Whiplash for all you Creation trivia fans). So i never even got a phone call from Alan, let alone the face to face as promised. Kevin Shields got one more phone call than we ever got. Lucky Kevin Shields.

Feeling as if we had taken a battering in the boxing ring, we called it a day after completing our European dates in late 1994 culminating in a glorious drunken night out in Brussels.

Creation weren’t a bad label, they just probably weren’t the label for us – we sat slightly uncomfortably on their roster, and a lot of the people who worked there weren’t really into what we were doing – whilst the sprawling bunker-like entrails of the labels offices were full of photos of bands from the label, cut out of magazines like some love-struck music-mad teenager’s bedroom, we noted that there wasn’t one single picture of Adorable. Creation’s track record is impressive but for every Ride, Oasis and Primal Scream, there’s an Adorable, a Telescopes and a Something Pretty Beautiful, lying by the wayside. To their credit, the label pretty much left us to do what we wanted, and in the early days when there was a disagreement over which track to release as a single, we could often win over McGee. Perhaps Adorable just existed at the wrong time; about 2-3 years before, and we would have been in with the likes of The House of Love and the whole shoegazing malarkey. 3 years later and maybe we would have been on the coat-tails of Britpop. Perhaps all this sounds like I’m bitter, but believe me I’m not. Wil, Kevin, Robert and myself all had the experience of a lifetime, that has shaped who we are as people, and I think we are all better for it. Better to have loved and lost they say, than to have never loved at all.

We never did get to set the world alight, but we got as far as striking the match.

Article written by Pete Fijalkowski January 2001