IT'S midday in summer 2007 and Mark Gouldthorpe's in a garden centre. His phone rings – it's Jarvis Cocker asking if Artery would reform and play as part of his Meltdown Festival.
It's been 27 years since Artery burst onto the post-punk music scene with their dark, drudging punk and yet within minutes the group has reformed. Fast-forward a few weeks, a quick pre-festival gig and the band is playing to 1,800 people at the Meltdown Festival in the Royal Albert Hall.
Singer Gouldthorpe says: "It was such a good accolade – we played to loads of people at this party thing afterwards. Jarvis told the crowd to stick around to watch the band that was a big influence to him – and that was us."
A year on, the band is preparing for the next gig this Friday at the Red Room.
"If it wasn't for Jarvis phoning I wouldn't have thought about getting back together with the band," said Gouldthorpe.
Artery has changed its line-up slightly, with David Hinkley replacing his Stateside brother and former keyboardist Simon Hinkley. Gouldthorpe, one of the two original Artery members, maintains the band's distinct, elusive sound.
This sound propelled the Artery into semi-stardom in the early 80s with their hit Into the Garden. The song's deep lyrical themes, such as being trapped in a dead-end job, monogamy and morals, resonate well with its brooding aesthetic. Quiet synths merge with quick-paced drumming and effect-laden guitar. The song was ranked fourth in the John Peel Festive 50.
"Into the Garden questions all the elements of human nature," says Gouldthorpe, who writes Artery's lyrics. "Most of the lyrics are sociological or driven by observation. The lyrics and music work really well together and as a band we instinctively understand the way each of us works.
"We had a nice naivety when we were making the early stuff but there's more cohesion to later material and the band as it is today."
"There's an unspoken intelligence – our keyboardist David Hinkley is so instinctive about music, it's like having Brian Emo in the band – it's as much about what he leaves out than what he includes. He doesn't like clutter."
Spaces allow serious, more profound lyrics to breathe and register on the listener's mind – a quality that perhaps explains the band being compared to Joy Division.
Gouldthorpe says: "We never listened to Joy Division – they were never an influence," although he adds: "There were a lot of dark-sounding bands at that time – they all came out of an explosion of post-punk. It reflected the climate – there was a darkish backlash to glam rock and a resistance to Marc Bolan and David Bowie. The deeper, more meaningful aspect of post-punk grew from that."
In their heyday, Artery had double-page spreads in Melody Maker and Sound. "It was good, very exciting. I remember reaching number one in the single charts in Italy – they have a different system over there. We went on tour there and we were looked after immensely, it was like we were the Rolling Stones."
Footage of early gigs shows Mark Gouldthorpe entering into a possessed, hypnotic state.
His body moves with random twitches, angular jolts and an intense gaze.
On Eve Wood's Made in Sheffield documentary Jarvis Cocker describes Artery as being "really intense, I thought they were great. I've never seen a group like that before. It was really intense – it didn't seem so much to do with the music, it was like it created an atmosphere where they almost got a mild hysteria going on."
But Artery were to an extent an underrated band: "What let us down at that time was the fact that we weren't based in London or Manchester – that's where the interest was. We played a few big gigs but we didn't have the clout of a big company behind us.
"At that time we naively thought if you wrote great songs that was enough."
The band has a new album, Dark Water, to be recorded in October.
"The lyrical content of Dark Water is completely different to the older material – it's looking at ways the world is in decline, not just in terms of climate, but with America and the West's universal upholding."
There's no looking back, Gouldthorpe says: "It is really interesting – it's going so well and I feel like I'm 19 again.".
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