Sibling revelry

Brothers in rock tend to be a rum bunch - rummer than a bucket of rum punch drunk on the island of Rhum, which, A-Z maniacs, is just off the west coast of Scotland. There's the Davies brothers - they formed the Kinks, had a couple of scraps, and invented modern rock with All Day and All of the Night; Liam and Noel, who then condensed modern rock into three fist fights and Wonderwall, and their older brother, Paul Gallagher, who's spent the past three years just sort of hanging around, wearing that Man City T-shirt with "Brother" emblazoned on the front, just in case you couldn't guess his status.

And now, adding to that illustrious list, there's the Yorke brothers. Thom you already know - the lead singer of Radiohead; and possessed of a bizarre "h" that seems to have been stolen from Jonny Greenwood, Radiohead's guitarist.

Andy Yorke, however needs a little more introducing. Andy is the lead singer of Unbelievable Truth (all 25); a band already so drop-dead amazing that the gap between Thom's genius rating (98 per cent) and Andy's (75 per cent) is narrowing every day in an exciting rock sibling rivalry contest. The Unbelievable Truth have been tipped for 1998 in Melody Maker, NME, The Times and the Evening Standard; and their second single, the frantic and wrought Higher Than Reason should prove why.

Of course, it is buttock-crunchingly embarrassing asking someone about their famous relative. The last time I attempted this was with Frances Bean Cobain, Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain's daughter, and managed to weasel from her that her mother had "a nice smell". The mortification of transcribing an interview with a baby about her mother has remained with me.

"So erm, I'm really sorry I've got to ask this question, but ah, urgh! Oh God! I feel all shameful! Does Thom like your stuff? Urgh! No! That's a rubbish question. Er! Has he seen you live? Sorry!" I squirm.

"Yes he does and yes he has," Andy says quite calmly, with a shiny grin at this discomfort. He doesn't really look like his brother, the only resemblance is in the fidgety mixture of shyness and intellectual earnestness. "I don't mind talking about him, I really don't. It's just a thing, you know?"

The Truth's hyperactively jovial drummer, Nigel Powell, gallops to the rescue.

"We all know Radiohead quite well. I used to do lights for them up until they toured The Bends; and we're all from Abingdon anyway, and it's quite a small town."

"Quite a horrible one," Andy grimaces. "You know how small towns break down into two categories: the ones that have a local paper with the headline 'Cat Not Lost', and the ones that have 'Man Stabbed Outside Kwik Save'. Abingdon's the latter, except the 'Cat Not Lost' story would be really big on pages two to six. Abingdon swims around in this sea of cultural emptiness."

It was at school in this sea of cultural emptiness that Andy and Nigel met. When they first started writing together, Nigel got his bassist friend Jason Moulster to do fat-stringed things; but their half-written album was abandoned when Andy ran away to Moscow to work as a translator for Greenpeace. When they met up again in early 1996, the album was finished effortlessly.

Out in March, Almost Here is a country-blues tinged epic: the basic components of which are spiritual unease, dusky melancholy and unpredictable melodies augmented with a dramatic swoop of strings here, a white-out, nuclear-blast of harmonies there, and, in the case of Settle Down, Perfect Little Space and Stone, choruses with such life-affirming, major-chords-in-the-area glory that you will want to steal an open-topped car and drive around the ring-road for three hours punching the air.

Fans of such unlauded heroes as American Music Club and latter Talk Talk will feel right at home in the Truth's evocatively-lit rock chapel; and may even be moved to offer up prayers of thankfulness for such melodic bounty. They may wish to revoke their prayers, however, on discovering Nigel's all-time drum hero is Phil Collins. "I'm sorry," he beams, not looking sorry in the slightest, "but I got nuff respect."

The rest of the Truth stuff their fists in their mouths and giggle. However, they cease when I decide that it is time for one of my favourite interview ploys - reading palms.

"I've got secrets on my hands," Andy moans, stuffing them under a cushion.

Nigel proffers his paws. "What do they say, then?"

Nigel will be quite frequently in despair until, at about 35, a top bird comes into his life and makes everything sugar and spice. Jason is revealed to be psychic. As for Andy, his hand is creased with worry and travel, his Fate is rooted in his swollen Mount of Imagination, his Head Line grows so strong it disappears off the end of his palm; but his Love Line becomes erratic and fades, only to blossom again around the ripe old age of 60. "Bloody great," Andy says, "a cold, lonely and sad life for me then. I think I'll bugger off to Moscow again."

"But think of all the inspiration you'll get for songs," Nigel comforts. "That sounds like at least six albums."

Higher Than Reason is out on February 2 on Virgin Records.




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