Interview with Pete Fijalkowski of Adorable

I’ve been a fan of the U.K. band Adorable and frontman Pete Fijalkowski since the early 1990’s. Adorable released two magnificent albums, Against Perfection and Fake, and numerous singles on Creation Records. The Cherry Red label recently released a “best of” compilation titled Footnotes – 92-94 and Pete has finished a solo acoustic album that will hopefully see the light of day in the near future.

Delusions Of Adequacy: Hello Pete! In January of this year, U.K. record label Cherry Red released a compilation album of Adorable songs titled Footnotes – 92 – 94. How did that come about? Were you and your band mates involved with this, and why, oh, why didn’t the sweepingly bittersweet “Obsessively Yours” make the cut?!

Pete: Cherry Red contacted us asking if we wanted to become involved with the release, and allowed us full control on track-listing & liner notes. There were constraints on how many tracks could be on the CD, as you can only fit 74 minutes onto one CD, so there was always going to be a track or two that would be left off that fans would be disappointed by. “Road Movie” was another that fell at the final hurdle.

DOA: Going a bit into the background of Adorable, can you please list who were in the band and what instruments each person played?
How did everything fall into place in creating Adorable? Were you the sole song-writer in the band?

Pete: I played Guitar & Vocals, Wil was on Bass, Robert Dillam on Guitar, Kevin Gritton on drums.

I went to university in 1987 and it was whilst I was there I decided I wanted to form a band, so started learning guitar. I played bass in a band with Wil – he was the singer/guitarist in Bubblegum Flesh (later The Fuzzyfelts), but I wanted to write my own material which didn’t suit Wil’s band, so I left to start my own band The Candy Thieves in 1988, with a fellow film-student called Wayne Peters. We couldn’t find a singer, so by default I ended up being the lead singer. Through various band line-ups we gradually improved and Wil joined on bass. We started getting a bit of industry notice, but then Wayne got fed up by our continued poverty & frustrations of not getting anywhere, at this point we had already written tracks like “Homeboy” & “I’ll Be Your Saint”. Robert joined on guitar & we decided to go for a name change, principally so we could approach the same labels who had already rejected us again, without them realising they had already listened to us. I was the principle song-writer, though most songs were a collaboration. They tended to spring out of guitar or bass lines (“Sunshine Smile”) I’d written or bass lines that Wil brought to the table (“Homeboy”).

DOA: What was the vibe like in the U.K. at the time of the band’s rise in the early 1990’s? What are your best and/or strangest memories from being in Adorable?

Pete: There was a weird pop-guitar vacuum, as there were a lot of shoegazing bands, who focused more on sound over melody, and who came over as very polite and attitude-free in interviews. We felt distanced from this movement, and wanted to stand outside the Shoegazer movement. I’ve noticed that as time has gone on, we seem to have been realigned with this genre.

Many best and many worst moments – one that comes to mind is when we played an NME showcase gig in London, early 92 before we were signed on the same bill as Suede (also unsigned) & PJ Harvey. We knew this was our chance, and we went on to try our best, and played a blinding set, and we knew when we came off we couldn’t have done any more. When we were good our gigs were very charged & edgy, lots of scraping of guitars against mic stands & near misses as instruments came close to each others heads.

DOA: After Adorable broke up in 1994, you continued in the music field, forming the band Polak with your brother, Krzyzstof, who was also in the Bardots, and releasing an EP compilation album and two other albums, Swansongs and Rubbernecking, on One Little Indian. How would you compare the bands Polak and Adorable, or is that like comparing apples to oranges? I’m just wondering about the differences in music style, creation of songs, and being on different record labels.

Pete: I think there’s a natural link, in that I was the principle song writer in both, but the different things that the various members brought to the band obviously helps differentiate. With Polak we were a little more expansive – using keyboards & samples. Polak is also the sound of an older group of people, so everything seems to be a bit slower! The song writing process was very different – I pretty much had the songs mapped out in my head before bringing them to the band. Whereas Adorable used to experiment and jam stuff out in rehearsal, in Polak we did this process in the recording studio. Creation & One Little Indian were very different – OLI were a far more laid-back operation. Both labels gave us pretty much the freedom we wanted to do as we pleased.

DOA: Did Polak disband after the release of 2002’s Rubbernecking album, or is the band on hiatus?

Pete: Polak have now split. My brother had to leave the band due to work commitments and although me, Bob & Chris demoed some new tracks which sounded really good, and were offered a 3rd album with OLI we decided to call it a day, as we felt the band weren’t able to commit to really promoting ourselves due to financial commitments, i.e., we had to pay the rent doing day jobs, which meant we couldn’t go on tour.

DOA: What is the status of the solo album you’re working on? You describe it as being “acoustic”. Can you go into what you mean by that – if the songs are all comprised of acoustic guitars and your vocals, or if you used varied instrumentation?

Pete: It’s pretty much just me an acoustic guitar & occasional bad piano playing. I’ve had this album finished for some time now, but have only played it to a handful of people. It’s kind of like my own private secret. The album is still very much a private affair, that might go out in its current form, or I might work on it to flesh it out a bit more. I’m not actively looking for labels at the moment, but will in theory be at some stage.

DOA: I’ve often wondered about the balance between being a singer and a guitarist, especially on stage (as

opposed to just being a singer, or just a guitarist). It seems like a difficult task to play guitar and sing at the same time. Maybe I’m totally off-base and this is easy to do, but I’m wondering what your experiences have been like.

Pete: I’m not the greatest guitarist at the best of times, and can only do the simplest of guitar tasks when singing. This is why you’ll notice in a lot of Adorable tracks the main guitar hook comes in just after I’ve finished singing.

DOA: Do you maintain contact with the other members of your previous bands?

Pete: The Adorable re-release has sleeve-notes from all the band members which meant getting back in contact with all four members and swapping memories. I see Wil once a year when I pop back up to Coventry, and am on Kevin’s Christmas card list. I keep in contact with all of the old Polak’s.

DOA: What music are you currently infatuated with? Is there anything else rockin’ your world?

Pete: I like the Kills, Vincent Delerm (Kensington Square), Fujiya & Miyagi, just got into 1970’s Sparks. I run a weekly Pop Quiz in Brighton which takes up lots of my time & means I often get sidelined in pop trivia.

DOA: Okay, I’m clueless – what is Pop Quiz, and are you now based in the Brighton area? What do you think of this milieu, from a musical, or other, standpoint?

Pete: I Predict A Pop Quiz is an off-kilter quiz run once a week in a pub in Brighton. It involves getting people to guess pop songs played on live bagpipes, or work out which pop celebrity has been stalking me that particular week, or they have to guess the dance that me & a partner perform, usually to a wildly inappropriate backing track. I get paid for it, but it’s not my main source of income – which is from running a second hand book business.

I live in Worthing (9 miles west of Brighton). I lived in Brighton for 8-9 years, and have been in Worthing for 5. Brighton is a very vibrant city, Worthing is its sleepy smaller relation. Nine miles apart, but a whole different sleepy seaside world apart. There’s a lot of good stuff coming out of Brighton – Fujiya & Miyagi are a great example.

DOA: What is the address of your official website where everyone can go to find out more about what you’re currently working on?

Pete: is in process of being stitched back together, but people can contact me through that.