Mark Stewart of The Pop Group is more than an inspiration for me. When I first spoke to his frequent collaborator Adrian Sherwood, he called him intimidating. I had no idea what to expect, but I had a special conversation with the artist, even though we have a 30 year generation gap between us. And I found out that 1979 saw the poetic and political Stewart at the tender age of 18 and debuting on record, with his band The Pop Group. Their music was being very far from what one might call pop in any decade, be it the seventies, eighties, nineties or our present day.
Many might consider the sound of Bristol something other than dub-influenced, funk-driven post-punk, but The Pop Group and their debut album Y demonstrates how you can make an LP that doesn’t feel dated at all some 40 years later. When talking with Mark I feel like I am talking to a future friend, more than with a seasoned veteran.
In our conversation combined with his poetry, we touched upon topics like the 1979 UK political climate, the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, Patti Smith, experimenting in the studio with dubmaster Dennis Bovell, Frankenstein (why not?), collages and Bristolian NGO’s. All right there in the last year of the seventies.
“We were 18 years then, Thru the darkest night, As the new reality dawned. ”