London — This is Elvis Costello. He is 22 years old and is committed to become one of the more famous rock singers in England.
But so far, he works as a computer technician and has not a band of his own.
A few weeks ago, Elvis's first single came out. It got a lots of reviews in the newspapers and is often played on the radio.
With that start, both Elvis and his record company are pleased.
Although Elvis Costello is only 22, he is no beginner in the industry. For many years, he has been singing at clubs and pubs in London and the surrounding area. He writes his songs himself and musically there are great similarities between Elvis Costello and Graham Parker.
As one of the great English music magazines, this week, wrote when Elvis's first single, "Less Than Zero" was released:
"Elvis Costello is a nice acquaintance that sounds like a blend between Graham Parker and Bruce Springsteen plus little calypso tunes."
"Just do not write that I'm a Graham Parker copy, We've been playing in about the same places for several years and now he has become famous. That our voices recall each other do not make me a copy of him."
When we met Elvis down in the small record company, Stiff's cellar in London's outskirts, we had barely heard him singing. So Elvis went and fetched his guitar and played "Less Than Zero" for us.
Without a doubt, Elvis Costello is a high-class musician. He is a skilled guitarist and a very good singer. But what's more unusual is that he wants something with his music as well.
Politically, Elvis is at home on Labor's left side. He votes on the party and is seriously concerned about the fancies of National Fronts successes in England recently,
The song "Less Than Zero" is about these things. The main character of the song is a Mr. Oswald. In reality he is called Oswald Mosley and was a Nazi leader in England before World War II.
When the war broke out and times got tougher for Nazis in England, Oswald Mosley left and landed to end up in South America.
But now he has come back and is waiting for morning air. He is interviewed on television and allowed his views on events in England to be severely affected by economic crisis and unemployment.
Elvis: "Unfortunately, I could not print his last name in the song, too, for then it would have been boycotted by the BBC. Therefore, I also had to make the text a bit more complex than what I really wanted."
"Being boycotted by the BBC means that almost no one can hear the record and consequently reaches nobody."
"This is part of the English hypocrisy. If some untimely kids wear zwastikas to shock, it will be a terrible life. But when old Nazis come back and continue to preach Judaism and fascism, no one reacts."
When Elvis writes a song, he always begins with the text. It is the one he works with, sits and files in order and further develop it. Then the music comes automatically.
He does not make a lot of noise and media, Elvis. He does not hang out with other industry people, in the evenings he is most at home and watching TV:
"It's from TV I get a lot of my inspiration. TV shows its viewers what they think, so to be able to counter it, I have to check out the TV shows."
It took a long time before Elvis came into contact with any record company that wanted to sign him:
"I think I've been to most of these in London. But they all require an expensive and perfectly recorded demonstration tape before they even talk to anyone. And fixing such things are terribly expensive."
"Therefore, you get into a vicious circle. Without money, nobody wants to sign you."
When he got a contract with Stiff, it was no coincidence. Stiff's motto is: "We are the industry's funeral contractors, you dig up them and we record them."
"When I saw it, I thought that I should also have a chance," says Elvis.
Elvis's musical goal is to streamline simplicity without making bad music. On his LP, for example, he uses only bass, guitar, drums and an old Vox organ. The disc will be released in a week.
"I'm not pretending I can only play three chords. But still I want to make the music simple. One thing I hate for example is long guitar solos. There is no one who can play a solo good for longer than 30 seconds."
"But my real goal is to break the usual apathy of ordinary people and maybe give them some inspiration to do something with their lives."