Interview by Tim Hall.
The classic indie-pop band PO! played a big part in the world of fanzines, DIY record pressing and worldwide mail order before the internet was a thing. Ruth PO! started the band as well as being the founder of indie record label Rutland Records. Her songs are great pop tunes but often there’s a barbed edge in the lyrics. Songs such as ‘Sunday Never Comes Around’ and ‘Appleseed Alley’ are indie-pop gold, and the band will be entertaining Indietracks with some of the music that gained them a John Peel Session in 1994 and NME single of the week in 1997.
Hi Ruth! Your return to the scene this year has brought joy to the hearts of many pop fans. Why now?
I’ve recovered from a year of cancer treatment. Although I like ordinariness and working in a routine, I realised that I didn’t want to go through treatment just to go back to work for another 20 years. Faced with death, my desire to communicate came back.
Are you excited about Indietracks? Do you like trains?
I have lived near railways for much of my life so I love the sound of trains. I do have nostalgia for old trains; I think I went on a sleeper from London to Scotland when I was only about 3; it’s one of my earliest memories.
As well as releasing records through the now legendary Elefant and Sunday, the band had their own fab Rutland Records imprint. Do you miss running a label? Whatever happened to Larry Rutland the stuffed bear mascot?
I think I lacked the ruthless business attitude to make it work financially, but it was great fun to run a label and I was good at newsletters and sending packages out to Spain, the U.S., and Japan. I’m setting up a website now and want to make the old songs available via download. At first I didn’t think there’d be any interest but maybe there will! Larry Rutland is living a new life in retirement following a divorce.
Have you kept up with indiepop over the years? Do you have any current favourites?
I haven’t kept up with indiepop. I didn’t realise it was still so popular. I’m glad that there are new young bands. I’ve been impressed by The Orielles and Peaness for their girl spirit.
There’s been recent talk of Po! reissues which is very exciting! Can we expect any new music from you also?
I’ve written an album of new songs but I’m not sure about them yet. I wrote them whilst having chemotherapy. At Indietracks I’ll just be playing old songs; it’s been hard work relearning them!