Harriet Wheeler and David Gavurin, the core members of the hot English rock group the Sundays, had mixed feelings about the amenities offered by the luxury Hollywood hotel they were staying in recently--such as free car service within a 10-mile radius.
"To be taken out in the car from the hotel just to go to a restaurant was hilarious," said Wheeler, admitting they had availed themselves of the service, even if they did find it a bit silly.
"At least we didn't start out thinking, 'This is where we belong.' " Gavurin said as the casually dressed pair sat in the West Hollywood offices of Geffen Records, disappointed that a Roxy engagement had been postponed due an illness in bassist Paul Brindley's family. "We're going, 'This is incredible.' Instead of looking at the next rung on the ladder, we're looking back at the one where we've been."
But the rungs are going by very quickly for the young couple (both 27), and staving off the rewards of acclaim is becoming an occupation. It started with the band's first-ever show, at a London club in 1988. Wheeler and Gavurin had been writing songs together since they met in college at Bristol, but the band (which also includes drummer Patrick Hannan) had only been together for about eight weeks at the time.
"We'd done no gigs, contacted no one, sent out no tapes, and suddenly we had record companies courting us and four firm offers," Gavurin said.
Added Wheeler, "It was very exciting as well as quite stupid--a few weeks of not sleeping a lot because there was so much to think about."
Intent on keeping perspective, the Sundays signed with the independent company Rough Trade rather than a major label (the debut album "Reading, Writing and Arithmetic" was picked up by Geffen's DGC label for U.S. release). But the escalation of expectations continued with the band's first single a year ago, and then the January release of the album.
The hyperbole-prone British pop press has already topped even itself with praise for the Sundays: New Musical Express chose Wheeler and Gavurin for the cover of its first issue of the new decade, declaring 1990 "The Year of the Sundays."
Melody Maker followed suit two weeks later, fawning over the band it claimed to have "discovered" a year before. On this side of the Atlantic, "Reading, Writing and Arithmetic"--with its airy, swirling style centered on Wheeler's brittle, doll-like voice--has shot up the college/alternative charts.
Through it all, the two are trying to keep their heads, especially given the propensity of the British press to later knock down what it had before propped up.
"I'm sure that will happen," Gavurin said matter-of-factly. "Obviously it's not a pleasurable thing, but I don't think it will affect us. We're pleased we've made a record and it's done well. We're pleased we've had our 15 minutes, though we hope for more. A life of doing music would be nice."
"The only worry is that people would be so sick of hearing about us that they wouldn't even be interested in listening to the music," said Wheeler. "I was saying that I'd probably hate us."
Interjected Gavurin, tongue in cheek, "We do hate us."