Marking their band’s birthday – and all that time since they appeared unsigned on Top Of The Pops – Indie trio Bis released collection 20 Years Of Antiseptic Poetry this week (10 November) and are reissuing albums The New Transistor Heroes, Social Dancing and Return To Central. In a guest column the band’s Manda Rin and Sci-Fi Steven exchange “the realities of juggling parenting, running businesses and the stubborn struggle of being in Bis”.
Manda: Our fans have always been central to bis’ identity, and as such they’re extremely proud to advertise their love of the band through our quirky merchandise; Bis egg cups were a personal favourite. Our most popular item has always been the mighty button badge. So popular in fact, I bought my very own badge-making machine in 1999. Our friends Mogwai asked if I could make them some for going on tour, and shortly after that Sigur Ros ordered a whopping 5000 badges, turning WeeBadgers.com into a proper business, one that now, along with looking after my son, takes up most of my time. The flexibility of running my own business is perfect as it allows me to play gigs, DJ and do interviews without having to ask a boss for time off.
Steven: I’d never have thought I’d end-up running a bar, making music wasn’t paying the bills and, like the vast majority of lower-league band members, the “service” industry was something I fell into. Working for other people has never been natural for me but I learned the trade and now do it for myself. A different kind of DIY than I grew up with. To confirm the rumours, yes I own a bar called The Sparkle Horse. No, I’m not really a fan of the band, I just thought it was a great name for a pub and yes, we’re doing quite nicely, thank-you.
Manda: There is however a very different challenge these days – our collective children. There are now seven Bis-lings, meaning that when we tour we have to employ a network of parents, in-laws and babysitters. Not the sort of co-ordination your average tour manager can deal with. With my husband playing in our live band, I’d never have thought that saying yes to doing a gig, or even a rehearsal, would be up to my parents!
Steven: Finding little pockets of time to make music is the on-going challenge, although it does focus the creative parts of the brain. I could read the paper and have a cup of tea during nap times, but nothing beats a quickly fired out nugget of new-wave disco pop. It’s a mixture of passion and belligerence that keeps us going, I think. The songs we have in the pipeline are the best we’ve ever written, but I reckon when you stop thinking that, it’s time to give up the ghost. A constant sense of injustice keeps the creative juices flowing but the burden of the re-formed band is the challenge of making a record that earns its place in the catalogue and isn’t a one listen wonder. We could probably go on a reasonably scaled tour and break even, but the sheer practicalities of our day-to-day lives mean that a quick three date jaunt per annum is the most likely the fans will get. Without children and geographical separation, we could maybe manage a few more. Fingers crossed for those European festivals and their love of the forgotten bands.
For more snatches from the band head to Bisnation.com.