The dictaphone is set down on the table in the restaurant; both Andy (guitar) and Mark (vocals, keyboard) are sat just on the other side. Andy is eyeing the recorder nervously whilst Mark has cupped his hands and is shouting “Which bit do we speak into?”. The guitarist is still looking at it as though it’s about to make a dive for his throat. Rm13 offers to hide it behind a small card that’s currently standing in the ashtray. He laughs and assures me that it’ll be fine.

“Wixy, (bass) apologises for his absence ‘cause he’s not feeling very well, and our drummer (Rich) is teaching drums to someone else” Mark quickly explains before answering the first question. “We met at Birmingham; we were all at Uni there. Andy and I were studying drama (Andy had changed from physics) so that’s how we got together, and we were introduced to Wixy by a mutual friend, and we auditioned for a drummer”. They’ve been together for the best part of 8 years and did have a second guitarist who fell by the wayside a while ago, and a few name changes later 50Hz the four piece was formed.

Both Mark and Andy share a flat in Highgate, above a cleaning supply shop.

Rm13: “Do you ever find that you ever get on top of each other and need some space?”

Mark: “Yeah we regularly get on top of each other…that’s how intimate it gets!”

Andy: “I can hear Mark shagging if he’s…”

Mark: “SHUT UP”, Andy is stopped before he can go any further. “My room fits in my futon, my keyboard and my hi-fi, and that’s it. There is no floor space. Andy lives on the other side of a partitioned wall in a similar sized room. Tempers fray, fists fly, (he waves his hands maniacally)”.

Andy: “No we get on really well”

As diverse as their degree subjects, the musical influences stretch far and wide from Pink Floyd to Guns N’ Roses. Wixy’s style has a particularly American influence. “You won’t see him play with a pick very often” boasts Mark. Andy, who has quietly been hiding behind the large shrub next to our table, bursts in “Very often?! You mean never!”. “Well we made him use a pick on one recording but that’s the only time he’s ever managed it. Wixy’s really American. He wants to call his kids Brad and Satchel”. Does he want his kids to get beaten up at school?

Andy: “Brad’s alright but Satchel Wrix…”

Mark: “I think that may have been a joke….I really hope so…”.

Rich provides a Britpop slant and, they say, is the most likely to know what’s going on, whereas the two sitting on the other side of the table love The Cure.

Mark: “They appeared in the days when there was a mainstream and a cult underground, and anyone remotely cool liked The Cure. They headlined a tour in America, supported by Oasis and Travis and the NME reviewed the tour, and conveniently forgot that The Cure were playing. How the fuck does that work?”

Andy: “Very weird”.

It’s not only the NME that Mark isn’t impressed with; he can’t stand some of the frustration that has to be suffered with the music industry. “One of the bad things about the music industry is that it can be so frustrating and many people have given up and quit. Many good bands have broken up on account of money”. He hastens to point out that for this band it’s more than money. “It’s more personal because it’s about acceptance. We are still not a very well known band; we haven’t got a record deal. We might be about to sign one but we won’t be able to give up our day jobs to do music. It’s a real struggle some times”.

Rm13: “If you weren’t playing music what would you do?”

Andy: “I can’t answer that”. He has tried to answer that question before, but as yet has been unable to. As far as Andy is concerned it has never been an option for him. Mark on the other hand has an answer…he wants his own radio station where he could be as radical as he likes and wouldn’t have to play any “fuckin’ playlisted music. So Xfm’s out then”. He has to listen to it all day at work “and you wouldn’t believe how many times they play Jet”.

Rm13 points out that that’ll happen wherever you go. We seem to have touched a nerve here. “Why?! Why though?!” he cries in an exasperated tone. “Why is it necessary to play any song six times a day? Answer that!”

Rm13: “It’s to keep the different listeners interested”

Mark: “Jet fans do not want to hear…(he launches into song at this point) “1,2,3 take my hand and come with me…” six times a day for 3 or 4 months, which is what they’ve been doing. No Jet fan wants that”

Rm13: “Not everyone will listen to it (Xfm) the whole day; they’ll pick it up at different times”

Mark: “I’m not buying this. There’s so much amazing music out there that no one’s fuckin’ heard of, and all those Jet fans should be awakened to the joys of Nick Drake, Josh Brown…anything!” he anguishes. Andy agrees that although there is so much music out there, “We get force fed a tiny slice”.

Mark bursts in again and continues his rant which moves onto Robson and Jerome, sponsors, bands called “The [insert name here] ils”, and what he would do with his radio station. Nearly 15 mins later and the subject has changed once more, this time it’s about the possibility of setting up 50Hz’s own record label. Although it seems a good idea, it’s the time and finances that rule this one out. Releasing a single off of their own back isn’t gonna break the bank- they tried it last year and were played on Steve Lamaque’s Radio 1 show. “You get to the point when you realise that you can’t really do it unless you are well connected,” says Mark. Their US tour manager believed that a good tour would sort it all out- they could build up a following so large, that they could no longer be ignored. But there’s having the time to do it, and producing something to sell at the gigs, as well as loading up their own gear. “It’s all very difficult. Record companies think about “what’s their image like, how old are they and can we market them?”. That’s one of the key things; and it’s one of the problems we face. We’re not an image band, we haven’t got music that fits in with anything, however we have the potential to stick around unlike some of the image heavy bands that are falling in the wake of The Strokes and The White Stripes”.

Andy: “I often wonder why we do it. It’s very hard work but I do really like it”

Mark: “And you don’t know what else you could do. Maybe we’ll write for” [Applications on a postcard – The Understaffed Ed]