Motörhead The Jesus And Mary Chain ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Waka Flocka Flame Crass Hercules And Love Affair Megadeth
DEC. 2010, NUMBER TWENTY-NINE FREE
If You Don’t Pick Up This Newspaper, We’ll Kill This Dog
The Stool Pigeon number twenty-nine
“There’s darkness in all of us, dude.” Dave Mustaine
Contents 08 09 11 26 27 28
leaders and letters miss prudence trog news business news court circular certificates
31 32 34 36 38 41
waka flocka flame megadeth hercules and love affair the jesus and mary chain crass comics
50 53 56 60 62 64
motörhead perfume genius ‘weird al’ yankovic tea break arts print
66 68 72 74 84
moving images albums demos classifieds sports
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The Stool Pigeon Generation Game With all of this technology, who needs to steal? When Ice-T rapped the following on 1988 track ‘High Rollers’ he was seeing the future: “Beepers connecting players to big-time deals / With all this technology, who needs to steal?” Jeremy Allen’s on the money when he says in his Court Circular piece (page 27) about Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) hounding a poor woman for filesharing that “the ramifications look huge”. They are. In that case, the RIAA are trying to set a precedent to dictate how much money any American citizen could be forced to pay for ‘stealing’ songs. Without it, in legal terms, music will become how it already is in practical terms: free. Of course those 4Chan ‘hacktivist’ nutters have been hammering away at the RIAA’s website throughout the trials to prove their point — that the inherent ideal of the internet as a medium for the free passage of information (copyrighted or not) is something important enough to go to war for. Who could possibly have imagined that 20 years ago — that the latest generation gap would not be dictated by a renegade genre of music or some savage new drug but by something as boring as intellectual property? Except it isn’t boring because, right now, it doesn’t matter what side of the generation gap you’re on — you’re still going to need to completely re-wire your head for a future that suggests you can’t claim any presentation of your thoughts into an artistic endeavour as your own. Fuck me! We’ve lost control of our minds and it’s irreversible! Next issue, a story about a music newspaper that costs absolutely nothing.
Gun Play Repeat: he has made it off the tube All this thinking about legal precedents and legislation has got me thinking about how rubbish most of them are, and how superbly some are ignored. Like the banning of drinking on public transport here in London. That just didn’t happen. But you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to get a gun these days. You just can’t pop into a toy shop, purchase a BB rifle and stick up a bank like you could a few years ago. Hell no. Nor does anywhere sell replica guns anymore, or lighters that look like Walther PPKs. The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 made sure of that and while the Act is, of course, a good thing, it doesn’t half make it hard to find a revolver to shoot Lemmy with. Even the demand on cap guns in London seems to be high, because we tried every fancy dress shop in town with no luck. You can find water pistols everywhere, but they were hardly going to look good on the cover of a newspaper. Plus, specifically, we wanted a Smith & Wesson revolver and unbelievably a theatre prop rental company in Middlesex had one. Me: “How much for 24-hours hire?” Them: “£45 and £225 for the armourer.” Me: “The what!? Dude, I don’t need a real gun.” Another rental shop in Acton eventually came up with the goods, some two hours before Richie Hopson was due to photograph Lemmy at Stringfellows nightclub. He sent over his assistant to pick it up. Cue much text messaging: “He’s got it! He’s got the gun!” And then later: “He’s made if off the tube. Repeat: he has made it off the tube.”
East Slide Not much point sweating some berk in Wayfarers Much hating on hipsters recently, what with these numerous leather-shoes-and-no socks murder blogs, painfully knowing songs posted on YouTube, stories in national newspapers that followed up on them, then yards of vitriolic comments underneath those stories. Calm down, people. No twat in a trilby hat ever bothered you, other than by getting more sex. Of course, there’s nothing more hipster than starting an anti-hipster blog and it cracks me up when people who live in east London pontificate online about The Stool Pigeon being some hipster’s paper that’s seemingly only distributed in Dalston. You can see how they manage that: the kind of lugubrious fops who amble the mile of Kingsland High Street never actually leave Dalston and the levels of irony here run even deeper, because it’s only these people who ever accuse us of being exactly like them. Such self-hatred! “Get up witcha kind,” suggests rapper Tommy Wright III and although it’s pointless to sweat some berk for wearing Wayfarers, Paloma Faith (who grew up in the area) had a point when she told us in 2008: “There’s a culture of numbness, and getting completely smashed, and not thinking about anything. And I think it’s massive in the middle classes… especially round here. They’ve never had to fight for anything and they’re so complacent. Everyone’s a photographer! And they’ve all got automatic cameras. Where’s the bloody art in that?” Nicely put. The real crime of east London is that it’s become obdurate and massively boring, and while we’re at it, if Zola Jesus is the new face of suburban neo-goth, who the hell is the old face? This pimping’s got too advanced!
Sir, the new-style paper looks great, even if its reduced size does make my hands seem freakishly large, and features some really top-notch content to boot. Good to see acts like Cube, Pharrel and Cee-Lo in there, rather than just cover-tocover white indie whiners and the odd worthless grime fart. Hats off to you. Bagging Nile Rodgers was plain off-the-fucking-chain; he’s a god among men. However, as a self-confessed pedant and former editor myself, there is one small faux-pas I must bring up from the page 65 sidebar paragraph titled ‘Re-Jigga Man’. What exactly is a ‘fine toothcomb’? Some kind of exquisite grooming device for dentures? I think the writer meant a fine-toothed comb. Further evidence of our freefalling standards of written communication and how people simply write down phrases they’ve heard without thinking about how they’ve come into use. Slags. Line that one up against the wall with such gems as: “I can’t come out, I’m brassic,” “she’s so coal-hearted” and “you could of done better”, and so on and so on, forever and ever. ‘Brassic’ should actually be ‘boracic’, by the way. It’s from the rhyming slang ‘boracic lint’, meaning ‘skint’. Our men, Spock of the North, The North Sir, I have now read most of the new issue. Do you know if a dubstep act has ever said anything interesting? Alexander Steward, Via email Sir, having “and you’ve probably never heard of him” at the start of the Nile Rodgers piece was about as smug and self-righteous as it’s possible to get. Are we supposed to bow to The Stool Pigeon’s superiorty for having interviewed one of the major names of pop music in the last 40 years? Honestly, who do you thinks read your publication? Andrew Miller, Via email Sir, The Stool Pigeon is my favourite music mag/rag but I’m bothered by some pointless and misplaced elitism on evidence in the editorial of the current issue. “This man has sold over half a billion records (and you’ve probably never heard of him)” Way to come off like a dick. Why bother making these kind of assumptions about your readers? Many people that read SP are at least as knowledgeable about music as the writers (the valuable difference being the skill of writing about music, not knowing). If you don’t get why this is an insult to those that have heard of Niles [sic] Rogers [sic] then imagine some dick you’ve just met at a party saying “my favourite artist/band is/are Can/Bonnie Prince Billy/Flying Lotus, but you’ve probably never heard of him/them”. You’d wanna punch the cunt. And for people that haven’t heard of Niles [sic] it’s some kind of elitist shit that I thought you were way above stooping to “Plus plenty of other interviews and stories to alienate fans of indie music” On the cover? What the fuck is that about? Are you retarded enough to think that something called an ‘indie fan’ exists? Who do you know that only likes/listens to one type of music? What the fuck is indie music these days? Is this 1990 or something? Get a grip. No one reads SP for one type of music only, it’s about all and you’ve made it obvious. If you’ve been reading it for a while you know that, if you haven’t, well, look at the fucking contents every issue. You’re not alienating anyone. SP isn’t some alternative music press. There is no fucking mainstream music-dedicated press. Imagine what that would be... papers about X Factor and Bieber? People that read music dedicated magazines and papers are by definition music nerds and love music as much as you do. Otherwise... you’re doing a fantastic job so quit making assumptions and talking down to people, it’s just annoying and makes you look stupid. These small things do make a difference. AZ, Via email Sir, I manage a drug team in Worcester and would like to have copies of The Stool Pigeon in our waiting area to amuse our service users, as I can’t think of any better substitute for drugs, or perhaps better still an enhancer! Class A all round. All the best, Jon, Worcester Community Drug Team Send letters to the address at the front or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Leaders & Letters 8
December 2010 The Stool Pigeon
IMHO, only a fatal illness can save Cheryl September 16 Having been brought up a good Catholic girl, I should probably be excited the pope is in town but I can’t bring myself to even look at the ratty little bastard. Pope John Paul Sigmarsson was a much friendlier, smilier pontiff, sort of like the fifth Teletubby in the way George Best was the fifth Beatle. I was eavesdropping on this speccy Groucho Marx dickhead who was all of 22 the other day, down The Royal Oak in Shoreditch. He was trying to impress this hot little chick with big saucer eyes by going on about how the last Pope had condemned 20 million Africans to death. “Cock,” I said, “they were condemned the minute they were born on the wrong fucking continent. Think of Bob Geldof’s words: ‘Tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.’” He soon shut his hipster cakehole. And Bob had a point. I mean, if 20 million people were dying of AIDS in Britain, I’d have to make sure every random I slept with was wearing a rubber. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
they have to meet other presidents in other countries who are hot like Obama. Schwiiiiing! Here’s a quick Prudence Mori poll. Tony Blair? Sexy. Gordon Brown? Fat mental dribbler. Obama? What a gorgeous, gorgeous man! Bush? Minger, but you might be tempted if you were tripping and there was no street lighting. Whereas I’d rather get fingered by that corpse that comes out of the bath in The Shining than go anywhere near Germany’s Angela Merkel. When she starred in Murder She Wrote, she pulled off a perfect American accent. She should have stuck to acting because she’s no stateswoman now. I should be a political commentator, you know — I’d spice things up a bit, that’s for sure. Can you imagine me sat on Andrew Marr’s sofa on a Sunday morning? I know I can, with a massive fucking hangover. “Andrew,” I’d say, “if David Miliband was the next leader of Britain, the country would be a better place to live in and I’m sure of it. And he can stick his banana up my vage any day of the week.”
September 25 So Ed Miliband is now the Labour leader having stabbed his brother in the back. It’s like Cain and Abel all over again. You can say what you like about Jeffery Archer, but he knows how to come up with a good story.
October 3 OMG Cheryl Cole is a fucking idiot! I’m never buying anything made by L’Oreal ever again.
September 26 Jesus, Ed Miliband! I believe it’s important that a leader be sexy, like his brother undoubtedly is, especially if
October 5 Cheryl’s gone from people’s princess to public enemy No.1 and it’s justified, if you ask me. Nothing can save her now, except maybe a fatal illness like Jade Goody had. They’d all be kissing her fucking arse again if her hair fell out.
October 6 The Apprentice has started, but I rise above that sort of lowbrow, lowestcommon denominator TV trash.
would have liked to have gone along just to see all the famous people there rubbing shoulders under one roof. And Jamie Hince. Ah ha ha!
October 11 North London dealers are heaving a huge sigh of relief right with news that George Michael is out of prison. There’ll be a weed drought in London this week, you mark my words, because all the fucking puff will be at George’s house! I bet he’s up at his residence now tear-arsing around the garden in his Mercedes like lottery lout Michael Carroll. He’ll open his car door and a big fuck-off mushroom cloud will go up over Highgate. Everyone will think there’s a nuclear war on! Demelza will be on the phone crying going, “Oh my Christ Prudence! it’s like Threads out there,” and I’ll say, “Relax Demelza, it’s just George Michael getting out of his car.”
October 20 Why does anyone care about Wayne Rooney when another soldier’s died?
October 13 I had tears in my eyes watching those miners coming out of their hole tonight. It’s the story of the year! I’ve decided I want to be a Mexican. I went down to the shop and stocked up on Chilean wine and Doritos. On Saturday I’m going to go into town and buy a poncho, and I might even pop into Thomas Cook and book a trip there as I got a little pay rise and some holiday owed to me from Negative Press. I’ll go to Mexico’s capital city, whatever that’s called. October 15 So Kate Moss got married, did she? I
October 30 What a great line-up on Jools Holland tonight! Sir Paul McCartney! Elvis Costello! Neil Diamond! Alice Cooper! The Black Keys! I didn’t see the ethnic act as I always make the tea when they come on. November 6 Louis Walsh said Paije Richardson on the X Factor looks like a “little Lenny Henry”. There’s been a massive outcry about it and I’m not surprised. He looks much more like Frank Bruno. November 10 So those selfish little student trustafarian shitheads have been rioting over their tuition fees, have they? In the olden days students would riot about any fucking thing, not just for themselves. They should riot every time Katie gets through on X Factor! And they should burn down the tower when they hear there’s actually a girl group called Belle Amie. Have you ever heard such a terrible name in your life? David Bellamy isn’t French! And we’re not French either, so we shouldn’t riot. We should wait until things get really bad and start a war. That’s just how we do it in Britain.
Miss Prudence Trog The Stool Pigeon December 2010
Song b ird Motörh s ead Special
MARYLEBONE, London. A couple of years back, Lemmy asked a doorman at a BBC radio station in central London if he could leave an aluminium briefcase with him while he recorded a session in the studio upstairs. But he left without it, forcing the doorman to spend a month trying to contact Motörhead’s management to get the case returned. Eventually, an associate of the band suggested he open it to see if it contained anything important. And inside the case? One empty bottle of Jack Daniel’s and a pair of soiled pants. Nothing else.
WART THE Fuck LOS ANGELES, California. For Lemmy’s 50th birthday, a surprise party held at the House Of Blues in Los Angeles. Music for the night was provided by none other than Metallica, who not only played a full set of Motörhead covers to the birthday boy, but also dressed up as him. Very flattering, you’d think, but what was Lemmy’s response to the grand effort that the biggest heavy metal band in the world had gone to? “They all had the warts on the wrong side of their faces.”
MATEUS Rosé 1 LOS ANGELES, California. A British man who worked with Lemmy for years once popped round to his flat in LA. As was customary, he was greeted with a pint glass half-filled with bourbon and ice, and told to go to the kitchen for Coke. Opening the fridge door, he was astounded to see a dozen bottles of Mateus Rosé. Lem’s explanation for having a shelf-full of such a rancid wine? “I’ve just been diagnosed as being mildly diabetic. The doctor said I can’t drink for a few months, so I drink that during the day, and Jack Daniel’s at night.”
All the hard work is giving sensual London songstress Anna Calvi a twitch Words Alex Denney Photograph
Calvi’s bringing sexy back, Anna but not the twinkle-toed, Disney-kid hustla variety espoused by Justin Timberlake. Calvi’s is the kind of sexy that sneaks up to you in the dead of night, turns your dreams a scary shade of scarlet and leaves you thrashing ’neath sweat-soaked bedsheets till dawn. The London-based songwriter’s selftitled debut is the result of nearly three years’ obsessive labour; a darkly carousing tango brought explosively to life by Calvi’s full-blooded vocals and starkly expressive guitar work, drawing equal inspiration from the blues, Ennio Morricone soundscapes and early 20th century masters Ravel and Debussy. She spent two years in a basement studio working on the record, but you wouldn’t know it to look at her. Greeting us in a tailored jacket, she looks the picture of sharply conducted business; hair scraped back into a bun, bright red lipstick lending a dash of cruel sensuality to the matter-of-fact whole. “I was quite obsessive, it’s true,” she says. “Because there were no restrictions on me — I didn’t have a label saying I had to get it done. I just... sculpted it, you know? When I’m making my music I want to be completely committed to it. There’s no room for anything else.” Was it difficult readjusting after-
wards? “Yeah, but I think I’m doing quite well now.” She flutters an eyelid in mock-spasm. “Apart from this twitch.” The album whizzes from epic to near-unbearable intimacy in a tortured heartbeat — an impressive range which Calvi chalks up to her laterally minded approach to recording. “When I play guitar I try and imagine it as an orchestra,” she says. “Because a guitar has such a wide dynamic range, you can really push it so that it sounds full and explosive, and then you can make it come down and become a singular voice. It’s trying to get the most out of that.” Calvi’s touring band includes Mally Harpaz on harmonium and Daniel Maiden-Wood on drums, but it’s their leader’s electric guitar playing that steals the show, raising goosebumps and reanimating the long-discredited myth of guitarist as sexual shaman. “Everyone plays guitar now, don’t they?” she says. “Other than Jack White, there aren’t really any guitar heroes anymore. I thought it was great the way he made the blues cool again — not that it should be cool or uncool. Other than him, I don’t really know of anyone that makes the instrument seem sexy anymore.” Mastering the axe might have come easily for Calvi, but singing was another matter entirely: “I wanted to sing but it was difficult ’cos I’m shy,” she says. “But in the end I came to the decision that I had to get over it, so I practiced for six hours a
A C H I N G LY BEAUTIFUL “Baby Dee is a remarkable performer whose achingly beautiful and theatrical chamber music seems to draw from the cabaret of the Weimar Republic, David Thomas of Pere Ubu and Antony Hegarty.” Jim Fusilli, Wall Street Journal “There were spellbinding quietudes in the slow movement and that achingly beautiful passage in strings towards the close of the movement showed how phrasing and harmonic clarity as opposed to luxurious upholstering is at the heart of Brahms’ emotionalism.” Edward Seckerson, The Independent “Bluegrass group Blue Highway sang an achingly beautiful a cappella ballad that could be heard by fans en route to see Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Rice.” Barry Walters, Rolling Stone
day. I listened to singers like Nina Simone, Edith Piaf and Scott Walker — singers who don’t hold back. Edith Piaf just gave her all when she was singing. It’s really vulnerable to do that, and yet she sounds so powerful. I think that’s rare, especially now where most singers have a bit of cynicism, quirkiness or irony about them.” So, stick your flyboy falsetto and your Snoop Dogg guest-spots — Anna Calvi’s bringing sexy back for real, and it’s soon to take up residence as a small, shivery feeling in your gut.
MATEUS Rosé 2 HAMMERSMITH, London. Before a Stool Pigeon writer once interviewed Lemmy, he’d already been commanded to drink a four pack of Strongbow and a pint of wine with the other members of Motörhead, and had his pint glass refilled. When Lemmy saw this he said, “What filth have they got you drinking there? Get rid of it.” Our man went to tip it down the sink, only to be stopped by Lemmy shouting, “What the fuck are you doing?” He drank the second pint of wine, then Lemmy filled it to the brim for a third time, saying: “Mateus Rosé, now that’s what I call a wine.”
News The Stool Pigeon December 2010
Bjørn Torske striking the right note by doing the wrong thing Words Thomas A. Ward
Bjørn Torske took his fourth When album, Kokning, to Berlin to be mastered, he was asked what kind of sound he wanted. He replied: “Well, it’s dance music.” The engineer turned to him surprised and asked: “People dance to this in Norway?” “I’m not sure if the music I make now is ideal, if you want to use that word, for a club,” he says. “The places I play in are small, because there aren’t any big clubs in Norway, and people are still very much in touch with each other from the original scene. It’s a small, collective community of people doing the wrong thing.” That collective began doing the wrong thing in Torske’s birthplace of Tromsø during the early nineties. It’s now seen as ‘the techno capital’ of Norway, due in part to the international successes of homegrown talent like Röyksopp, Biosphere and Mental Overdrive. But little would have come of these acts had it not been for Torske’s work on a local student radio station called Brygga Radio, on which he hosted the hugely influential Beatservice show. “With regards to the number of people dancing to it, electro music in Tromsø wasn’t very big at the time,” he explains, “but there was a little group of people who started making music because there wasn’t anything else to do. We were inspired by each other and we shared equipment… Stuff just started to happen.” Kokning finds Torske breaking away from the Chicago and Detroit house that first got Tromsø moving and delving deeper into the roots of club music. It’s like he’s isolating the essential elements of acid house and techno — disco, dub and reggae — then stitching them back together to form what he calls skrangle-house, a term he coined with his late friend and collaborator, Tore Andreas ‘Erot’ Kroknes. “How do I translate it to English?” Torske muses. “It’s kind of a wobbly, unorganised, semi-electronic, semiacoustic vibe. It’s our way of using interesting angles and sounds to change something that can very easily get trapped in the four-to-the-floor beat. You have to free yourself from that… make it unique.” Kokning is certainly unique, and Torske’s most accomplished album to date. Both melodic and melancholic, its undulating Balearic beats and rootsy rhythms are the foundation for an avant-weirdness that’s wonderfully cut and pasted into place. But danceable? In the darkness of the tundra, maybe.
GASLAMP KILLER SHINING LIGHT ON ‘OVERLOOKED’ LOS ANGELES Words Cyrus Shahrad Photograph
who caught The Anyone Gaslamp Killer’s set at this summer’s Brainfeeder session, which took place at London’s Fabric, will have witnessed a performance as mesmerising for the eyes as for the ears. GLK moshed his trademark mushroom of crazed curls, screamed obscenities into the microphone, stalked the stage like a barroom psycho angling for a brawl and conducted incoming basslines with wildly gesticulating hand gestures. It was, for want of a better word, shamanic.
Found Sounds “Of course ‘found’ sounds are still constructed. They are found by an individual, and that individual chooses to record them.” Tom Lecky on Benoit Pioulard, Line Of Best Fit “The album’s spellbinding interface of piano, found sounds and digital processing suggests a kind of reunion between the human and alien, the organic and inorganic, the ancient and the future.” John Payne on Ryuichi Sakamoto, Los Angeles Times “Lucky Shiner can sound like an avalanche of found sounds, chaotically clipped and processed together, or it can open out into more open spaces.” Greg Salter on Gold Panda, Muso’s Guide
All of which becomes more impressive in light of the revelation that L.A. native Gas Lamp Killer — real name Willie Bensussen — was performing 10 days after his older brother Jake died of a suspected heart attack in Jerusalem, where he had lived for the past 16 years. Jake’s orthodox Jewish background demanded that his body be interred as soon as possible, something that meant Willie had little choice but to carry on touring and try to let his brother’s passing inspire rather than unstitch his performances. “I was in Australia when I heard the news from my parents. They said he would have wanted me to carry on, not to crumble, so I finished the tour of Oz, flew back to L.A. for one day and then went straight to London for the event at Fabric, which left me with this awful, overlapping double jet lag. And I still haven’t had time to properly process Jake’s passing, although I did visit his grave recently after a show in Tel Aviv.” Willie’s closeness to Jake was rooted partly in records. He describes a childhood musically defined by the acid rock seeping from under his brother’s bedroom door and the California rap creeping from beneath his sister’s, disparate strands that would later find common ground in Gas Lamp Killer’s demented marriage of hip hop beats and headfuck psychedelia. If there was a catalyst for this unexpected fusion, it was the discovery of Arabic and Asian spiritual music, which Willie recalls awakening something kaleidoscopic in his DNA even as he sat hunched over meals in the Middle Eastern restaurants of his youth. “My grandparents on my father’s side were Jews exiled from Turkey and Syria respectively. Although my father grew up in Mexico City, he was first and foremost a Middle Eastern Jew, and his uncle was a respected player of the Arabic darbuka drum. So when I did finally hear that music,
those rhythms and harmonies resonated with me in a way I could never have predicted and they definitely helped define my sound when I began producing records of my own.” That sound found a natural home on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint. The pair first met in 2005 at an MF Doom show where GLK was performing an opening DJ set and FlyLo was filming proceedings in his role as an intern for Stone’s Throw. Lotus later asked GLK to team up with him and scratch over some of his own early live sets and, before long, the pair were being booked together, helping shape a brave new horizon for the city. “The success of this movement
December 2010 The Stool Pigeon
Son of Dave In Italy, and elsewhere, a rat is never born a rabbit
owes a lot to the fact that L.A. and California in general has been hugely overlooked,” says Willie. “We’ve made nothing we can call our own except the psychedelic rock of the seventies and the gangsta rap of the early nineties, and we never had an electronic blueprint to steer us. That’s given us a lot of freedom to do whatever the fuck we want.” A perfect example is GLK’s new ‘Death Gate’ EP, with its bone crunching beats, sinister vocal samples and hushed contribution from elusive warrior poet Gonjasufi — whose debut LP Gaslamp co-produced — all of it soaked in reverb and crystalline walls of swirling Moog synths. It’s a testa-
ment to its creator’s reverence for the power of hallucinogenic drugs, and never more so than on the standout ‘Shattering Inner Journeys’, an auditory exploration of LSD-inspired delirium clocking in at six minutes — although six minutes in the psychedelic realm, notes GLK, could feel like years. “I’ve been there,” he says. “I’ve gone through shattering inner journeys where I tore my fucking ego apart and became dirt, and mud, and ripped up grass from the earth and sat there staring at it thinking: This is life. This is death. This is everything. And it was one of the most cleansing and beautiful experiences of my life.”
Touring in Italy. Gorgeous. Sensual. Completely corrupt. I like it because Italians make the best hats. Good felt is made from rabbit fur. After days and weeks studying what keeps that fantastic country limping along at halfspeed, my confusion led to dementia and I broke open a couple of horribly crowded bunny hutches, acting like a crazed animal rights activist on NO2. Be free little rodents! Forgive me my hat fetish. Borsalino, the hat makers, are not to be confused with Paolo Borsellino, the anti-Mafia magistrate who was blown to a mist in his car in 1992 by the P2 (and/or Mafia) to discourage his investigation. We drove past that crime site en route to Palermo, Sicily for the first show. We drove through the king’s garden of prostitutes (Favorita Park) and my handsome Italian tour manager explained to me that, despite the hype, the Mafia are not the cause of the country’s disease. The real criminals are in government at the very top. I was hungry to understand, although I’d hoped to see bodies being thrown off bridges and crime bosses playing cards in dark cafés. The gig in Palermo was at Candelai, an infamous whorehouseturned-music-venue. A great place. The dark-haired daughters of seventies hookers shrieked and wrapped themselves snake-like around the wallet in my trousers, like their mothers taught them, but I fought them off and escaped with my evening’s pay and relative innocence intact. Palermo is too saucy. The last stop on the tour was in Napoli where we had perfect coffee and Sfogliatella pastries in Scampia, home of the modern Neapolitan Mafia. Last year 27 people were killed in one month alone in a fight to control the drug trade in Naples. Still my well-oiled tour guide assured me the problems come from higher up. I believed him. Whatever happened to protest songs? Banished to folk clubs or grumpy thrash nights and told to shut up because politics doesn’t belong in music. Can’t imagine The Clash getting popular now. It seems Italy especially could use a loud voice from the everyday people, who wade through waist-high piles of garbage and lies. But all they get is Mariano Apicella, a peon of Berlusconi, hired to write popular songs that glorify the old douchebag. Corruption seems more visible in Italy and less cleverly disguised
than here in Queenland. How I’d love to find a banker swinging under Blackfriars Bridge with MI5 fingerprints all over him (see Roberto Calvi). There’d be a good shit-disturbing song then. Operation Gladio: the first thing to look up in your paranoia portal. The Italian right wing, with the cooperation of British secret services and the CIA, blew up scores of civilians at Piazza Fontana, Bologna in 1969, purposely to blame it on the socialists. This simple trick is called a False Flag Operation, a popular and proven Western method of manipulating us, used often since World War II. Blame the ‘enemy’ and seize more control at home. The Napoli gig was in a high-end blues club. A what? Elite people make a corrugated metal room in the richest part of town with bad B.B. King murals and faux poorman décor, then dine at linen-covered tables while the bluesman-digiorno shouts and jumps up and down for their amusement. I screamed at them and blew confetti into their fine wines, but they were too busy eating to care. Few applauded. They are completely in control. They own the blues like a Van Gogh. But at the end of the night I took the dirtymoney, wiped the sweat out of my dead bunny hat and slunk off ashamed. Pull over! I didn’t want to get on that budget airline without doing something weird in Italy. I saw it there, a rabbit factory where thousands of them are bred in bloody cages for their fur. Why was a giggling man in a battered fedora breaking in and setting five of them free? Hard to say. Why does he complain so much about corruption while suckling from the pigs that he moans about? Well, just because the enemy is completely integrated doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Home in London, I took a hardearned 500 euro note in to be exchanged for pounds. My local post office laughed and sent me away. The high street banks nervously refused to touch it. I had to take it to a bank on The Strand and sign a form admitting ownership, while the note was sent for tests and the serial numbers checked against a long list of known forgeries coming from Italy. It passed, unfortunately for this column. But the bank earned about £70 in the exchange. A Mafia man would approve of that racket.
News The Stool Pigeon December 2010
Self-conscious Californian trio designing music to sound like your darkest dirty Weekend Words Huw Nesbitt
high-pitched electronic stutter as phones in London and San Francisco connect. On the other end is bassist and vocalist Shaun Durkan from the archly noisy and gothic trio, Weekend. The weather outside his apartment is… gloomy. Over there it’s 12pm, over here it’s 8pm, and Shaun starts our conversation by talking about how his dad was from Hammersmith. “He passed away when I was 19,” he explains. “He left England and moved to California to start a post punk band called Half Church when he was only 18, in 1980. So yeah, I grew up with an English father. I idolised him and listened to all his records. One of the main reasons I started to become interested in music is because he gave me his old Joy Divisions records.” Wow, how was that? “I’m 25 now and I can appreciate them a lot better than I used to, because when you’re a 10-year-old kid you gravitate to ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and ‘Transmission’. These days I prefer the atonal stuff and I seem to be drawn generally towards music that you have to work at, like a relationship.” There isn’t a date Shaun can recall that Weekend specifically formed on, but he says that they played their first show in May 2009. Before that, he and Kevin Johnson (guitar) had been in different high school bands together and started jamming with drummer, Abe Pedroza, after meeting at the San Francisco Art Institute. Prior to Weekend, Shaun was also in We Followed Tigers and ATMNL. Apart from being a musician, Shaun is a qualified graphic designer, photographer, writer, poet and blogger. From 2007 to 2009 he ran a blogspot called Temporary Titles loaded with really obvious and painful lyrical references to Ian Curtis; stuff that he says he “tried to log on and delete last week”, just in case they got picked up on by savvy journalists. Editing in general is particularly important to Weekend’s aesthetic. The guitars are heavy, their backline angular, while Shaun’s vocals are cast somewhere on a distant horizon, as if isolated in misanthropic disgust. To a certain extent, the entirety of their stunning debut LP, Sports, is made
Financial Cuts by John Doran
SIX OF THE BEST ECONOMIC DOWNTURN?
The musical proof that we’ve been here before
Ye History of Rock with
N T LEMA N
REBEL YELL BABY HUEY ‘Hard Times’ (1970) Baby Huey does a Curtis Mayfield track that Curtis ended up recording for his 1975 LP There’s No Place Like America Today, but it’s Huey’s bracing, itchiness that ending up suiting Ghostface Killah, who sampled it on ‘50 Buck’. Even a cursory look at Huey’s very narrow back catalogue suggests that we lost someone special when he died, aged just 26. As has been pointed out before, he was denied even the large posthumous audience that he deserves simply by dint of dying just after Hendrix and just before Joplin.
THE HUMAN LEAGUE ‘Hard Times’ (1981) There’s nothing Dickensian about this Human League B-side. A rolling prototechno club classic it cropped up first on the flip to ‘Love Action’ and then again on the ‘Fascination’ EP. If Oakey was suffering any financial distress while recording this amazing track, he does a good job of hiding it behind the veneer of being a slightly dastardly hairdresser in a moon base discotheque.
RUN-D.M.C. ‘Hard Times’ (1983) Originally a Kurtis Blow track, this is the opening shot on Run-D.M.C.’s stark and dazzling first album. Still a cut above the ‘It’s Like That’, ‘Hard Times’ provides a very party/hearty solution to the problems of economic downturn.
ERIC CLAPTON ‘Hard Times’ (1989) In which a permed millionaire racist insults the intelligence of the rest of humanity by covering the plaintive Ray Charles number for his Journeyman album. Showing his typical modesty he claimed, “This album wasn’t what it was intended to be at all. It’s actually better than it was meant to be because, in a way, I just let it happen.” Hey, thanks man. File next to that other appalling blackface classic, Duran Duran’s cover of Public Enemy’s ‘911 Is A Joke’.
CRO MAGS ‘Hard Times’ (1986) One minute and forty brutish seconds of hardcore’n’thrash by Hare Krishna following radical peaceniks. This is not a cover of the Curtis Mayfield song.
LUDACRIS ‘Hard Times’ (2003) A moment of relative solemnity on Luda’s 2003 bid for the Nobel Peace Prize, Chicken-N-Beer. Ample proof here that charm will carry you a long way, especially after you’ve nailed your colours to the mast with ‘Pussy Poppin’, ‘Blow It Out Your Ass’ and ‘Fuck You’ (these being the non-pusillanimous titles which didn’t make the final cut).
from arrangements of parts stolen from Joy Division, Sonic Youth, No Age and My Bloody Valentine — not borrowed, copied, or even mimicked, but stolen. In fact, noting is left to chance — not even their name, or the strange aphorisms they write online. “For me, the word ‘weekend’ is a dark joke,” explains Shaun. “When you think of it, you’re leading people into something that has a certain expectation, but then reversing it. A lot of our music appears to be dark and heavy, but it’s actually about balance. The album is called Sports because it’s about the opposition of feelings and experiences and where they meet during the struggle. Really, that’s what our music is about, I guess.” What about such things as listing ‘Love + Death’ as your influences on your MySpace page. Are you trying to be Freudian? “I don’t I have an interest in Freud,” continues Shaun, “but we like to distill
art into its primary experiences. I mean, if you’re human, you fall in love or you experience love for something and then you die. Those are the most inspiring and extreme experiences, right?” And what exactly fills the void between them? “Ha! Everyday life!” And is this really how you feel about things, personally? “Well, yeah, I’m very much an internal person,” he concludes. “I’m confident about music, but with personal relationships and self-image issues, I can be terribly insecure... The other reference that’s on our MySpace — ‘Losing your faith in reason’— is a lyric from that song called ‘End Times’ about the apocalyptic way I used to live. It’s also a twist on words: you can lose faith in reason, but are you losing faith by believing in reason? Can you really have faith in reason at all?” Who knows, but can anyone afford not to?
ne of the crustiest myths I as I perambulate through today’s world is that modern music is not rebellious. The trusty denizens who trot out this dusty and illthought-out line are usually the same undisclosed age as me. They creak on about those glory days of punk rock when the skinny youth almost brought down the state with their merry banter and song, and all it took was three chords on a battered Telecaster to change the world. And while I’ll admit there were certainly some moments when radical thought and ideas were being propagated, what my contemporaries forget is that the majority of the music they were busily collecting on different coloured vinyl (with everchanging picture sleeves to make them buy more copies) was perhaps not quite as radical as they hoped. It’s a tad curious this thing called memory! The misty-eyed have this idea that the punk era was dominated by the oikish and flamboyant when, in fact, David Soul had the best selling single of 1977 and, apart from the Sex Pistols, only The Stranglers made the end-of-the-year top 50 best-selling records. The Clash were nowhere to be seen — most of their singles rarely troubled the tightly clenched buttocks of the Top 40, and it’s only in recent years that they have been canonised to such an extent that the Pistols seem to have been removed from the musical map altogether. Of course it was a fun time, if you were happy with TV ending at 11 o’clock and crouching round a crackly transistor radio listening to disc jockey John Peel. I remember being attacked in the streets for my garish outfits and debating whether or not Boomtown Rats were punk. And I remember, too, some long-lost band called Racey who were on Top Of The Pops each week, easily outselling the punks. Indeed, it seemed that most were blissfully unaware of the punk brawl. It is true that some were radicalised, and a fair few more arisen from slumber, but there is also an argument that, with its hippy-baiting and anti-freak attitude, punk actually paved the way culturally for Margaret Thatcher and the rise of the Tory Reich — a sort of English tea party, for our younger readers. Nostalgia does cruel things to a gentleman’s mind and must be avoided at all costs! For to bend the truth so far from shape doth rankle my stove pipe hat!
December 2010 The Stool Pigeon
ACTION NOT TALK AS MUSEUM OF BELLAS ARTES GET SERIOUS Words Joel Wright
musici a n s aren’t exactly famous for their self-promotional skills. In the decade or so that The Knife have existed, we’ve not learned much about them other than that they’re really into techno and David Lynch, and on the rare occasion Erik Berglund (of The Tough Alliance and CEO) does agree to be interviewed he speaks a bit like a child. So when Stockholm’s latest pop toys Museum of Bellas Artes agreed to
P iGeoN Eyed
talk, I wasn’t exactly expecting cold, hard specifics. Joanna Herskovits, one of two singers, joins the dots of their story. First, three bored Swedes get together to record a cover of The Sapphires’ ‘Who Do You Love?’ They post it online and everyone loves it, but for a while after nothing else appears. One of those ‘building anticipation and mystery through silence and restraint’ things, right? Not quite. “Two of us moved to Spain, I moved to London, and one of us was studying,” explains Joanna. “It became... difficult.” Just mere circumstance, then, and it is slightly crushing to learn Museum Of Bellas Artes weren’t drawn together by fate
on one of Air France’s “socialist rooftops”, or Korallreven’s sandy Samoan beaches. Instead, we seem to have a pretty straight ‘bored people make band’ story. Joanna, Leo and Alice Luther Näsholm have since returned to Stockholm, where they can concentrate on making music far more expressive than they are in conversation. Before, they wrote apart — ‘two girls singing, one guy doing the music’: Leo Öhman playing Chris Lowe to the girls’ Neil Tennant. Recently, though, drawing on a shared set of influences — “longing, ideas, good music and the ambition to make good music” — there’s been something of a shift in gear. “In the
beginning it was just for fun,” explains Joanna. “Now it’s serious.” How so? “Many people compare us to those Air France-type bands, and musically we are quite similar to their Swedish poppy thing,” says Joanna. “But I think our music is quite clubby in its own way — quite unique.” She’s right: a noticeably club-ready 4/4 beat is there as well as harmonies that lift them away and above the bands they’re so often compared to. There’s less mysticism and mystery to their approach, less bullshit, and in a city intent on supplying the world with enough pure pop to last 10 lifetimes, Joanna, Leo and Alice are among its purest practitioners. They can’t spin stories or sell themselves particularly well in conversation, but they’re doing what matters: making truly blissful music that says more than any number of words can.
Visually Visually minded minded Wirral Wirral artist artist Forest Forest Swords Swords proving proving that that he he can can see see the the wood wood for for the the trees trees Words Rory Gibb
If the so-called ‘hypnagogic pop’ set appear to mould time, stretching back to the ‘glory days’ of childhood, Matt Barnes stacks up thin slices of now like a magician’s deck of cards. His music as Forest Swords is the aural equivalent of a magic eye picture, immaculately constructed to achieve maximum depth from the fewest possible elements. Creating that illusion of space is a trick he’s borrowed from his day job as a graphic designer. “Everything I do is layer work, and I suppose I take that approach to music as well,” he says. “I look at it visually — the way that parts fall out then come back in and hold your attention. It’s all about negative space.” When his ‘Dagger Paths’ EP first emerged as a muted counterpart to the resonant haze of Olde English Spelling Bee labelmates Ducktails and James Ferraro, it was tempting to view Barnes as a homegrown equivalent. Certainly the spidery guitar figures and murky dub reso-
nance of tracks like ‘If Your Girl’ and ‘Hjurt’ are similar in that they’re concerned with more than mere sonics. But while his US contemporaries look to the past for inspiration, Forest Swords’ wind-whipped landscapes are all about the present. “I think it’s more music of space than of time,” he says, citing the peculiar way his home near the Mersey stacks up conflicting environments: buildings, fields, beaches. “I’m really not into the whole nostalgia angle. I’m just not comfortable with looking back at things and giving them the rose-tinted glasses treatment. We should always be striving to look forwards, make better stuff and improve ourselves — not just look back at 30 years ago and say, ‘Wasn’t that so much better?’” Back at this moment in time and space, there’s a sense today’s most exciting pop narratives concern processes of deconstruction and reanimation. Oneohtrix Point Never burrow wormholes through time by aligning old and new technologies that should never have come into contact. James Blake
inserts fingers into the very fabrics of R&B and dubstep and teases away each individual thread. Barnes’s music takes similar liberties: androgynous voices are torn and scattered like scraps, their origins ambiguous (“Some are samples from various places, some are my own; I kind of like the idea that people don’t really know what’s what”), while tense relationships form between urban and rural, evoking visions of ivy tendrils slowly reclaiming whole cities. He’s initially hesitant when I ask whether he feels an affinity with other artists using similar methods. “It’s really satisfying to take something and dismantle it, and then mould it into new forms,” he muses. “I suppose I can see the parallels with people like James Blake because I imagine it’s a similar thing, but just with electronic music. One of the biggest things that happened to me was reading [Simon Reynolds’ post-punk history] Rip It Up And Start Again. I was familiar with those bands, I’d listened to them, but I’d never real-
Images Groups News
ly understood that they shared this whole idea that you can be a magpie, take different elements from different things, dismantle and question everything, and create something out of that.” And even as Barnes distorts postpunk’s wiry frame almost beyond recognition, it’s still possible to detect some hope and positivity. It remains music of engagement rather than escapism, and a potent reminder of how little has actually changed in the last 30 years.
hering, a-zonal psyc making “glimme ” when sic mu ul so et delic pop/sherb are Lopatin’s words they were 11, Games, rt pa st mo e th r about right. Fo dess barrage of wi with their relentle ic lod me d teetering eyed climaxes an ren ild ch sic mu of rt so highs, make the re ly their brains we would make if on at noswh is s es gu I h big enough. Whic rn that desire to retu talgia is, really — e wisdom th th wi d pe uip to the past eq of lapsed time. at e the eighties th Games don’t lov nths. sy its e lov t jus ey much, though, th , c for the eighties “I’m not nostalgi g my rin du nd ou ar y god asked me to look after these just the technolog rd. Fo es gu ar ,” cats od childho e. r ties to the tim They have othe to feed them Jan in Brooklyn with Ford hangs out an th r Words Kev Kharas and love them he which, ot ber Bombey Hammer’s son, coning th Photograph Macom st pe so thats what i do hip e sounding like th access to the s me Ga ts ge o even if im feeding them tins of ceivable, als n, ble parts to e’ man’s synth de em Th t’s et here are invisi ck ro the last of the seas butiful fish debut album. at pop musi- ‘C ey’ll record their th human beings th e er wh e d lov ten I gotten to dweebs — cians have long for “We’re keyboard s and MIDI, and god aske me to paint these picas music is the ine e, ch am ma sh a um is dr , is to. Th coming synths rt pa ably the renais- tures ble gu isi ar s inv wa sound of the The the eighties . rld wo l stuff,” Lopatin ica at ys ph e period for th nc sa through into the rk ma g yacht its nts to leave t like we’re makin invisible part wa the adds. “It’s no at pices g los d kin an loo s e die l lov sse rock jams. I just here before its ve rt pa ble e isi inv so. The gear.” at invisible sid opportunity to do as a tures of old in their hear th rld ty silver wo ali e l qu th ica ys ies in ht ph h e eig As such, any rushing throug wishes to scar th hne tec yo e and er th ev th ok d wi ho an t m tande ything between char music arrives in reminder to ever link is still lining . e th ist ex gh ou rts th pa a, er ble nology of the in it that invisi s ambience. to sound like a fan,” counters he’s being a geniu “I’m a big GaGa xtricable. When Without wanting ine r, . ve bo Ne Be on int ing Po nk finitely had wa rix de ht cry eo ’ve old On “I aralone as lonely 11-ye int. ch of Lopatin. ar po se ole in wh go e th hs th her music s nt wi at’ sy me experiences patin’s drifting Though maybe th el Ford met Lo distorting it in so Jo d nd the comd an ce an ns ing rb tin tra tu pa to dis Lo Daniel ss in the past, sounds that seem cla e ce th en s, intensely sci me e so Ga ad e’s gr ith sh mercial world the process. W aged 11, in a sixth soon became alogue rigs, but an ey me Th sa ” e s. th in. ett d m us rse Massach lose come fro ated — imme the moment that they could more loyally recre No one charting at friendly enough at hs the past is th nt ry sy mo e th me of th stead, the wi ing In g than the warp es that for me. entire days playin basement rather lonely skull, do e solace at ’s th nd tin in pa fou pt s Lo ke ha d ide rt Lopatin’s da rity. invisible pa ars goes on ins ye cla re ter mo Af music of . em e ird th th ts we g e peripheries; in rd’s presence gif without it feelin and form here th ies, they were Fo ne, The on cit Lo t ssi s, en mi me fer of e Ga dif ns e in se lik spent living eohtrix people where There’s a On ly, th nt y and ce wi as re nt ist n ex Fa y kly l Field, Teengir that doesn’t reall reunited in Broo are less a dream, Games o is w as Games. wh N no le er OP op If eth r. pe tog ve — rk l they wo r Point Ne at takes Buria rt of Games is ou than they are outtion: albeit one th “Clearly a big pa es like pop stars d is a conversa er ke ph as os en atm aging wh , d fie tin Lopa Samaritans, rumm in the same rare friendship,” says turned to reach tual together is place sic iri ke mu sp p ma ’s ir po re pa en ltu e cu wh th p de why the music ried through po “We of the deca sto d. tep ke and es ac is sid e-p br to ur ’ de as ple ose ‘invisible parts and emotional so playful and from make music th ay to aw ce rs an ch ivo ss. a rv ce lifting su didn’t get ini- eighties ex that people don’t for a decade, so the I put it to them the rubble. together properly . re sno mo r y pe an su s at lies in could wa pop music like th When the world ke ma tial rush when we ’ it ve sh Lo the In t all e No turn. ulg re ‘I’m all ind s y sh cc’ s all 10 ng fin ruins, these so Pop music like talgic. We could where you can we were kids.” e’ ce riv sin ‘D t ’ ou rs ab d Ca ke e we’d tal t or Th they talked abou Though I doubt
Childhood Pals Had To Wait 10 Years Before Games Could Begin
impeccable impeccable even even in in madness madness to draw them in the world so thats what i do spooning on toxic chemicals cadmium and vermilion god asks that we be impeccable even in madness
News The Stool Pigeon December 2010
ONCE BITTEN TWICE SHY D O U B L E T H E H E A RTA C H E WITH TWIN SHADOW ...a man cast in the same mould as a John Hughes character Words by Ross Pounds Photograph by Richie Hopson SHADOW IS NOT, AS YOU MIGHT EXPECT, THE ALTER EGO OF TBUTWIN SOME MID-RANKING VILLAIN STALKING THE STREETS OF GOTHAM CITY, THE NOM DE GUERRE OF MUSICAL SAVANT GEORGE LEWIS JR. — A MAN PITCHED SOMEWHERE BETWEEN MORRISSEY WITH BETTER HAIR and Prince if he went around looking bashful in biker boots instead of high heels. George is something of a nomad at heart. He was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Florida. “Creatively, it’s zero,” he says of the Sunshine State, so he moved to Boston in his late teens. Of his time there, he spits: “I was freaked out. I was angry at a lot of things I maybe still don’t understand — I had a lot to figure out.” In search of answers, he went on a four-year sojourn to Europe, where the seeds of Twin Shadow were sewn. He spent time with his sister in Berlin — a place he adored not only for its musical ghosts (the spectres of Berlinera Bowie and Iggy Pop hang over much of Forget, his outstanding debut album), but also for its venues’ indiscriminate booking policies. “There’s no distinct music scene there,” he explains. “Most of the bands I saw were really horrible, but I went to a lot of clubs and heard a lot of electronic music which was really influential.” After spending some time in Copenhagen and various parts of Sweden (“People are so attractive out there, it’s fucked up!”), George relocated to Brooklyn, where he met Grizzly Bear member and Terrible Records boss, Chris Taylor — an influential figure and not just because he had a studio in which George could record. “The biggest thing I took from Chris was to put more emphasis on words,” says George. “Forget became more about the lyrics, less about the sonics.” As much about heartbreak as it is about breaking hearts, Forget feels simultaneously haunted and haunting,
and it’s no surprise to learn it was recorded in isolation. “I really had to cut myself off from my friends and relationships. I just knew I had to do it alone,” he explains. And was it worth it? “Of course, but I wouldn’t do it the same way again.” The album documents the travails of relationships past, which George addresses with startling frankness. “I took as honest an approach to what’s happened as possible and I think it’s more profound that way,” he explains. “The record doesn’t really have healing qualities, or a specific sadness, heaviness or regret. Believe it or not, I was actually at my happiest recording these songs.” There’s something universal about Twin Shadow’s writing — something capable of touching a nerve in all of us. It’s a trick the late, great film director John Hughes was fond of pulling, and George says he feels a strong affinity between himself and many characters in Hughes’s movies — often older actors playing younger protagonists inhabiting a past they don’t want to leave. World-wearily for a 27-year-old, he says: “It feels like my generation are in that moment now. Hughes’s characters were always a little bit lost, always trying to figure something out.” And, ultimately, one senses that George is, too.
The Stool Pigeon Paperback Books The collected writings of our longest-serving columnist, Son of Dave. 78 pages, £4.99
The best Stool Pigeon stories from the first five years. 166 pages, £7.99
Buy both volumes for £10 from thestoolpigeon.co.uk Also available from Amazon and selected independent record stores across the UK, including Rough Trade and Sister Ray (London), Rounder (Brighton), Jumbo (Leeds), Swordfish (Birmingham), Rise (Bristol) and Diverse (Newport).
Spooky kids Gatekeeper making music in a slasher and burn style Words David McNamara Photograph
duo Gatekeeper Electronic are living proof that life does not always imitate art. Their new EP, ‘Giza’, is a terror ride of menacing synthesizers, industrial techno blasts and eighties slasher movies samples. You imagine that the men behind the music are a pair of psychologically damaged oddities that roam industrial wastelands in the dead of night preying on vulnerable young women, and indeed it is a little disappointing to discover that Matthew Arkell and Aaron David Ross are just two former art students that like to geek out over horror film soundtracks. “The music we make is not very reflective of our personalities,” concedes Aaron through stifled laughter. “We are not brooding and emotional,” adds Matthew. “We create a character with our music that we like to be
removed from. We like the fantasy aspect of it.” The pair met in Chicago in 2005 and bonded over a shared interest in music and technology. “It’s about the emotions that can be expressed by music in film,” responds Matthew when asked about his love for movie soundtracks. “It’s not just horror. The Running Man soundtrack is one of our all time
favourites, Tango And Cash, The X Files... I usually watch Bladerunner about once a week.” Aaron and Matthew had loosely worked together on various projects before Gatekeeper and claim they only found the focus to make music they could truly call their own after they stumbled upon the soulless, atmospheric creations of English electronic composer Mark Shreeve. “He was a point of inspiration,” says Aaron. “We found his YouTube videos late at night and everything clicked.” Fortunately the now New Yorkbased producers do not share Shreeve’s taste for over-indulgent onstage antics that range from the uncomfortable to downright hilarious. “Shreeve’s live performances are pretty ridiculous,” admits Matthew. “All the flashing lights he used gave them an over-the-top intensity and he acts like the computer is a member of the band.” In order to avoid such pitfalls, the pair have taken some precautionary measures, including employing a special effects crew to assist them in all of their gigs. “We try to play the visual side up and the ‘dudes on stage playing instruments’ aspect down.” asserts Aaron. “We have a special effects show that is really low budget and simple, but dramatic.” Despite being signed to Fright, the latest imprint from German techno pioneer Michael Mayer, and Merok records here in the UK, the pair still hold down day jobs in order to support themselves financially. Do their work colleagues know that they make serial killer synth symphonies in their free time? “We are trying to keep it on the down low,” advises Aaron, and that’s probably for the best.
ALI BAA BAA(Moroccan Lamb) Prep:15mins. Cooking: 40 mins Serves 2 INGREDIENTS.— 2 lamb shoulder filets, cubed 1/2 large onion, finely chopped 1 tsp thyme 1 small bunch fresh mint, finely chopped 1 small bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped 2 tsp brown sugar Splash of red wine 1 tin chopped tomatoes, and half tin of water Salt and pepper, to taste 3 cloves of garlic, crushed 1 tsp cinnamon 2 tbsp olive oil 1 handful pitted prunes 2 tbsp tomato puree Saffron basmati rice (basmati rice, turmeric powder, and saffron) PREPARATION.— Brown lamb and onions in oil for 10 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes, herbs, garlic, and water, and reduce mixture. Add red wine and sugar, and cook for another 20 minutes. Add prunes and tomato puree, cover, and cook further for 10 minutes. Serve with real saffron rice (basmati, if possible) and watch them lick the plates clean. Taken from Hellbent For Cooking, Bazillion Points Publishing
Song birds BREAKING Banks
BRUSSELS, Belgium. Why is it that the richest people in rock are the stingiest? Everyone knows that Mick Jagger’s a tight-arse and it seems Bono is no better. U2 recently played two nights at a 65,000 capacity venue in Belgium, supported by Interpol. You’d think with that number of people coming to see you, there might be space for Interpol to have a spot on the guestlist. Apparently not. A request for a free ticket for Penny Banks, mother of lead singer Paul, was turned down. Sorry Mrs Banks, Bono says no.
LONE PARTY FOR ONE
For the now Manchester-based producer, the magic really does happen in the bedroom. Kev Kharas knocks and enters.
Company does strange things to bedrooms. You’ve seen them at house parties, maybe your own: the air you breathe in and out in your sleep and that your dreams evaporate into invaded by legion, fucked wideeyeds. Bedroom becomes bar, club, boxing ring, brothel, drug den. Scratch your head early afternoon the next day, peering at unclaimed powder on your desk and upturned cans wondering where it, they and the memory of it all went. Moved from his home in Nottingham to Manchester lately, the music Matt Cutler makes in his bedroom has taken on a new party savvy, the slunk, chilled cosmos-hop of Lone’s earlier days replaced by jacking stabs of glorious house colour, drum splat patterns like euphoria injections snuck in the spine. Manchester is still “freezing cold and raining, unfortunately” but Cutler talks, too, of a “wicked city,” one that’s “definitely an exciting place to be at the moment”. “Moving in with my mates and going to clubs has influenced me quite a bit, but I still make tunes in my room,” he says. “The track ‘Ruptured’ was the jump-off to write tracks that were more ‘club’. That was just over a year ago now, and I’ve mainly been doing house stuff ever since.” His stuff is wordless, but says more about life on the booze, pollen, powder and pills than any Rolling Stone lyric ever could: dance music as endlessly evocative as the title of his new EP ‘Emerald Fantasy Tracks’. “I just try to sum up how the track feels in words, articulate the images I get in my head when I listen to the song,” he explains. Hear them now for yourself: ‘Aquamarine’, ‘Ultramarine’, ‘Moon Beam Harp’, ‘Cloud 909’. ‘Joyreel’, ‘Sunset Teens’, ‘Cluster Dreams’ and ‘Pineapple Crush’. His debut EP, released in 2007 through vu-us, is named ‘Everything Is Changing Colour’.
Neck ecs’. Stare at streetlights. Have glee. “The music’s mainly about the present,” he explains of his tracks’ joyous bursts. “Trapping something on the spot before it disappears into the vaults of my little brain. The past and present don’t really come into it until afterwards.” How big a part does nostalgia play in your music? Not in the sense that, to me, what you’re making carries tinges of stuff like 808 State, Galaxy 2 Galaxy, acid house, but in terms of fleeting highs and the recollection thereof? “It’s always played a massive part in everything I do, not just music,” says Cutler. “I’m just a stupidly nostalgic person I think. When I’m working I completely lose track of time and get into this pretty weird state. I think that makes it easier for all my influences and inspirations to come through subconsciously — sometimes it’ll be a chord change or a certain drum sound that will trigger some memory of some daft thing I saw on the TV or heard on the radio when I was little.” Something else Cutler did as a kid, like everyone else young now, was play computer games. Computer games have changed recently and now people take them seriously, but before computer game kids grew into the adults who now ply the soundtracks with mundane pop fodder, they were accompanied by tailored electronic bleeps and surges you couldn’t hear on the radio every day, and that acted as surreality enhancers. “The sound and graphics are far too slick for me these days,” complains Cutler when I coax him into mourning. “Old Mega Drive and SNES games have some really fucked up music, totally weird stuff — much weirder and more beautiful than any ‘real’ song you might find on a game now.” It’s truth. The kids locked in their bedrooms and locked to their consoles are now playing your parties.
COLDCUT -Out TRAFALGAR SQUARE, London. Nearly everyone who met James Brown returns with a good story, but the best we’ve heard was told to Pigeon writer John Doran by Coldcut’s Jon More: “We got taken to a hotel near Trafalgar Square, where we were met downstairs by his hairdresser, Mr Teasy Weasy. After being given some lessons on how to talk to Mr Brown which amounted to, ‘Don’t call him James,’ we shook hands and he said something which might have been, ‘Take it to the bridge.’ Then we had our photo taken with him and to this day people see the photo and think we’re standing with a cardboard cut-out.”
STOKE NEWINGTON, London. Many odd things get sent in the post to Stool Pigeon HQ, not least some very troubling responses to personal ads. Most bizarre, though, is the fact that someone has started forwarding on mail addressed to Jon Eydmann, former manager of Suede. Eydmann sadly died in 2009 and yet we can report that he’s still on the mailing list to receive complimentary copies of The Fly magazine. So imagine that: you’ve passed away and you’re still being sent The Fly. Humiliating.
BANGKOK, Thailand. Sleazy by name, sleazy by nature. Despite the hoo-ha in camp Throbbing Gristle, that saw the departure of Genesis POrridge, founding member Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson has been managing to keep both a stiff upper lip and a stiff… Writing on his blog about a recent TG gig, he said: “And I though Black Sabbath were loud! ;-) fuck me!” He could not resist going on to write: “NB (please use equal emphasis on both these last two words, unless you are hot, male, & Thai in which case lay the stress where you like... LOL...)”
December 2010 The Stool Pigeon
DIGGING UP FRESH SAMPLES IS HELPING TEXAN PRODUCER BOTANY TURN OVER A NEW LEAF Words Alex Denney
he isn’t cat-napping after a hard day pounding the promotional beat, Spencer Stephenson maps out dream-like cartographies as electronic producer Botany. The Weatherford, Texas musician’s been snoozing after a show at New York’s CMJ showcase when he picks up the phone to talk to The Stool Pigeon, which is appropriate, since listening to Stephenson’s music feels a lot like a private sitting with his dreams. Botany’s recent debut EP ‘Feeling Today’ possesses a sharp-focus shimmer that simultaneously invites comparisons with — and runs rings around — the hazy sounds of 2010’s saucer-eyed glo-fi contingent. All jewelled string samples, glistening harps and whoops like the sound of laughter skimming over water, its clarity of expression calls more immediately to mind Caribou, or a more celestially minded Flying Lotus. “I love those [glo-fi] artists,” says a croaky-sounding Stephenson. “But I think at one point my music was an answer to that — it was almost done to spite that stuff and do what I thought could be done with it.” A cursory bit of research on Stephenson’s native Weatherford reveals the city to be the peach capital of Texas (“a bunch of people walking
around trying peaches”), but the town is also within spitting distance of Fort Worth, Dallas and Denton, the latter being the selfsame music hub that sprung Neon Indian on an unsuspecting world. “Out in Denton there tend to be a lot of folk rock acts and a lot of people ripping off Grizzly Bear,” says Stephenson. “It’s kinda boring, but there’s also some really crazy, interesting stuff that comes out of the place. “I think in some sense I always made the same kind of music that I make now. I’ve been trying to make an album in some form or another since I was very young, kind of like a little
novel but with sounds.” Botany tracks are typically built around samples pilfered from local record stores, with him adding bass, drums, flute and even zither to the mix after the fact. “I used to have an ethic where any record I really liked I wouldn’t touch because I thought it’s good how it is,” he says. “But as I get older I’ve started to think that’s a dumb rule. I think an example of someone who really breaks that rule of sampling classic stuff is Panda Bear. His Person Pitch album is literally taking passages of classic songs and just singing over them, almost like a hip hop producer. “There’s this one track I’m hoping
to include on the full-length. I’ve been a fan of this record called Parallelograms by Linda Perhacs for a long time. It’s a great album — just simple, California-style psychedelic folk music — but it always felt so complete. I introduced the record to a friend who sampled a brilliant little passage of music, and it was so good I asked him if I could have it.” With still-dreamier extracts to come in the shape of that debut LP, due early next year on Western Vinyl, Botany’s arrival proper promises a cosmic screening not to be missed. We’re putting you down plus one for the show, yeah? Thank you, and good night.
Still Rocking Mick Rock’s images of rock’s top table came to define an era, his pictures of Bowie, Syd Barrett and Peter Gabriel (pictured) searing themselves into the pop consciousness and cementing his tag as ‘the man who shot the seventies’. You can see some of the legendary snapper’s most iconic stills at Mick Rock: Rock Music, an exhibition of his work at the Idea Generation Gallery in east London that runs until January 16.
News The Stool Pigeon December 2010
The MINAH Bird. Einstürzende Neubauten’s BLIXA BARGELD on drills “We have never had a pneumatic drill. We had a kango hammer and it is electric. That drill was stolen by us, but then it was stolen from us by squatters of the Ungdomshuset in Copenhagen. After the concert they broke into our van, stabbed all the tyres and stole the kango hammer. And then they had the nerve to ask us if we would give one track from that show to support the Ungdomshuset. We did, but we renamed the track ‘Where Is Our Kango Hammer?’ They said they thought they might know where our kango hammer was, and we might get it back. But for 20 years that meant we didn’t have a kango hammer, so we didn’t have a drill onstage, despite what everybody thinks! We still have to fight the misconception about there being a drill as part of our live performance.” As told to Luke Truner
Words Luke Turner Photograph
doesn’t have much time. Anika The rest of her band is asleep backstage at the London Forum, but she’s thinking about soundcheck in 20 minutes. The halfEnglish, half-German singer and journalist arranges her diary, phone, book by Kate Adie and pen on the table in a Kentish Town café, and refuses a cup of tea. She’s recently returned from Berlin to Bristol in order to focus on her music, leaving behind a job in the German capital working as a political reporter specialising in science and education. “I’m conflicted because I want to do so many different things,” Anika explains. “One part of me wants to do music, and one part of me wants
No Rhosyn without a thorn as lost love inspires Oxford band Words Susana Pearl
unlikely that you’d ever hear It’s Mariella Frostrup advising you to abscond to a remote seaside to go and use my political knowledge. But that’s what’s good about the music — it reflects my political desire, in its nature it’s controversial and provocative. People either love it or hate it, and that’s okay. It’s better than being indifferent. I wouldn’t have put my political work on hold if the music wasn’t something that I really believed in.” Anika put the politics ‘on hold’ after hooking up with Geoff Barrow of Portishead and Beak>, with whom she wrote her album and who are her live backing band. “A friend of mine phoned up and said, ‘Oh a friend is looking for a singer, do you want to go?’” she explains. “I just rocked up, I didn’t know who Geoff was until I looked on the MySpace afterwards.” Her debut album, simply called Anika, features a three-way sonic palette of dub, post-punk and pop, all sung in the sort of rich, deep androgynous tones last heard from Nico. This first record, out on the Invada label, largely features covers - of Bob Dylan’s ‘Masters Of War’, Twinkle’s ‘Terry’ and Yoko Ono’s ‘Yang Yang’. Choosing the covers was done by “spending the night on YouTube trying to find the sweetest love songs that we could find, and making them sound like stalker songs, really evil. Using covers makes it that bit more provocative, because you’re messing with people’s favourite songs, and they’ll hate you. But it’s still a pop record, really.” Yet the track Anika herself wrote, ‘No One’s There’, sounds just as strange as the covers. “I wrote it about the recession, and moral panic, and how people thought there was some ghostly figure behind it,” she says. Anika has written songs since the age of 15 — “it’s a cliché to say this, but it’s a psychological unravelling” — but her musical experience was previously on the other side of the industry. Anika has worked in the music scene since she was a teenager with relatives who ran a festival in Germany, where she met Patti Smith backstage. She’s now a shareholder in the festival, but got her cut of the business not through a nepotistic gift, but by “buying a share on the black market. I found a way in, even though they hated me.” Back in the UK, Anika worked seven
days a week booking bands at three venues in Cardiff. “That’s why it was good to do this record, because it’s political in that I wanted to be able to shake up the industry a bit. I’ve had enough of the same line-ups at every single festival. It’s all become too Hawaiian shirts and maracas.” This experience means that Anika doesn’t care two hoots if you’re suspicious she’s fronting a band featuring Barrow & Beak>. “It was good to do this project because to do something different and get it noticed, you need backing. You have to play with fire to do it.” With politics on the backburner for now, Anika is busy writing her own material, and her own songs seem to be turning out as dark as her covers: “There’s a right weirdo who lived below me,” she says of one of the characters who has inspired a
new “pretty twisted” song. “He managed to get me to go into his flat. He dropped some stuff — I think it was a big set up — but anyway I helped him take it in. There was a wall of TV screens, and he’s got video cameras lined up in all the hallways. He had the news on all these screens, it was like going into a media mogul’s palace. I’m worried that the one screen that was off might be the camera in the shower.” Crazed neighbours notwithstanding, as Anika gets up to rouse Beak> for their soundcheck, it seems that the rest of us will be seeing a lot more of her in 2011 — if not, perhaps, the whole person: “I’m normally a behind-the-scenes type, which is why I changed my name by one letter. It’s part of me, not all of me. You’re indestructible if you split yourself into little bits.”
CELEBRITY B A R B E R No.16. D A RW I N D E E Z
“Oops, I think I nicked you there, Mr D”
town on a Welsh isle after some cove has left you nursing a jilted heart, but why the fuck would you listen to her? Oxford-based cellist Rose Dagul of Rhosyn certainly didn’t when she was “a little bit heartbroken, a little bit depressed and sad” last spring and took off for Rhoscolyn, the most southerly settlement of Holy Island. “My mum’s extended family has a beautiful cottage in Anglesey,” Rose says through cold-softened consonants in an Oxford boozer. “The first time I went there on my own, I started writing music. Back in March last year the songs were an outlet after I went a bit mental. The lyrics I was writing were all about me being very pissed off with a guy and very upset.” As heartbreak slunk further into the past, Rose’s therapy sessions — her, a cello and a copy of Garage Band in a telephonically disconnected cottage — turned into an actual band on her return to art school in Peckham. Not that it was entirely her idea. “I got back to university after Wales and put some songs on MySpace,” she says. “Then I got an email from my friend Duncan asking if I wanted to start a band.” After recruiting friends and string players, that band became the sometime ninepiece Wap Wap Wow, whose undulating cello loops stung with mock high drama and rather student-y conceptual lyrics. Soon, however, the logistics of convening such a large band in a tiny space became problematic. “I was writing and recording in the flat, very conscious that my flatmates were complaining about the noise,” Rose says. “I decided to go back to Rhoscolyn to write, where no-one would hear me for miles around. Instead of wallowing in heartbreak, I was exploring the countryside a lot more, going on a lot of walks, swimming in the sea a lot — totally alone, which felt amazing.” When she returned to London, only the four string players could make the first rehearsal. “We sat down and decided that we’d stick as a five piece — just strings and a drummer.” She changed the name to Rhosyn in honour of the project’s geographic inspiration, and ditched the conceptual awkwardness for a pastoral, timeless sound that brims with piercing longing — but for independence, not some emotional fucktard. Eat that, Mariella.
News The Stool Pigeon December 2010
Shopkeepers of the world unite 07:30. I’ve come to wish you an unhappy Christmas. It’s the darkest day of the year. The Yuletide selection gets funnelled through the public address system like a fat girl being squeezed screaming into a boob tube. Aural cancer will infest the supermarket as vacuous buffoons throw themselves into the most selfish time of the year. 10:30. ‘Deck The Halls’. ‘A Spaceman Came Travelling’ by Chris de Burgh. ‘Rudolph The RedNosed Reindeer’. Wizzard. Played over and over, forever and ever. There is some shite and it never goes off. Kill me now. 10.30. This charming man — Gavin is his name — is here to give a presentation on standard operating procedures for supermarkets, or SOPS. And speaking of sopping, Miranda from the bakery counter practically soaks her chair when he tells an anecdote about the time he had to skin an armadillo while scaling a peak of Cerro Torre, Patagonia, to save a party of starving handicaps. The murderous, benevolent show-off. And what does any of it have to do with SOPS? 12.30. I have to take Gavin out for lunch. He orders the meze platter. He’s a vegetarian. I hate him. 14:30. Turkeys. Turkeys. Turkeys. 271,245,000 barbarously butchered for the season of festive cheer in the US. And they wonder why in Estonia they say, hey you, you big fat pig. I survey those disembowelled barnyard fowls piled up in the freezer like some avian Auschwitz, and I storm out never to return. I get to the Texaco garage and resolve to leave tomorrow instead. 15:36. Gavin says his favourite band is the New York Dolls. Oh, let me get my hands on his lymph glands. 18:00. Gavin cracks a joke and everybody laughs. I can’t cope with this popular man anymore. “If you’re so clever, why are you on your own tonight?” I scream, prodding him in the chest. He looks astonished but my bellicosity bubbles to boiling-point. “If you’re so very good-looking, then why do you sleep alone tonight?” There’s a brief pause. “I have sleep apnoea,” he mutters. “I stop breathing multiple times during the night and my girlfriend just couldn’t take it anymore.” He breaks down sobbing. 19:25. Remarkably, I’ve cheered up no end. Good will to all men except the poor, lonely and the mentally ill. Now my heart is full...
San Franciscan trio Grass Widow talk up home turf, mow down girl group clichés
Words Hazel Sheffield Photography Jodi Burian
We are late to the venue and the interview has to be postponed until after Grass Widow have played — always a risk. Will the girls not be busy taking care of their rider? “Oh no,” the roadie assures us, “they’re more herbal tea kind of people.” Onstage, the San Franciscan trio look purposely dressed down: guitarist Raven Mahon in cut-offs, drummer Lillian Maring in ripped tights and bassist Hannah Lew teasing a white woolen hat from her dark curly hair just before they kick off. If they’re nervous, it’s hidden somewhere in the folds of their busy songs, which are steeped in girl-punk narrative, yes, but also Television, Wire and antiphonal archness that skips easily past gender comparisons. “There’s a whole girl band genre, and it’s totally limiting — to think of someone as woman first, before musician,” Hannah says later as we all cram into a doorway out of the wind. She’s trailing a bottle of Magner’s, so maybe the herbal tea tag was slightly misleading. Indeed, when they start talking about their driving forces, and self-actualisation, and relativity, it certainly seems so. “We find that even though we’re in a post-feminist place where’s it’s not PC to be riot grrrl, we’re still not in a time where
women can feel comfortable just being themselves.” Between them, a sense of respect for one another’s individuality fast becomes evident. “We all have our own logic,” Hannah says. “Our rationale of what the song is and how we memorise what we’re playing.” “Each of us could’ve started our own projects, but together we have a really strong thing. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about collaborating — it’s sort of like a dropping of the ego,” Lillian adds.
Grass Widow’s story started with a band called Shitstorm, which was the project of Hannah, Raven, a guitarist called Wu Li Leung and Frankie Rose (Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts, The Outs) on drums. Two years ago, when Frankie moved to New York and Wu Li took off on a bike trip to Mexico, Hannah and Raven got Lillian to move from Washington to San Francisco and Grass Widow started up full time. Last year an EP and LP hinted at promise, but new album Past Time, out now on Kill Rock Stars, surpasses both with sudden maturity. “I think this is the answer to a lot of lingering dissatisfactions I may have had,” says Hannah. “Not that the other bands weren’t good, but I feel like all of us have reached a point in our lives when we can express ourselves to the best of our ability.” It also comes at a time when San Francisco is busy with a renaissance of good bands. “I think touring has made me realise that we have the best scene around at the minute,” continues Hannah. “We have Landfills, Thee Oh Sees, Rank/Xerox... it just goes on and on.” “I don’t know what they’re calling it, but I heard someone say the San Francisco invasion,” says Raven. Norman Mailer once said that Los Angeles is a constellation of plastic, but San Francisco is a lady. Right now, it belongs to three.
December 2010 The Stool Pigeon
Dubstepper Becoming Real yet to make a false move Words Felix L. Petty
Ridler is sat on Brick Lane warming his cold throat with hot coffee. Outside the Rough Trade shop, groups of garish European tourists are mindlessly photographing themselves. As if to underline the incongruity of neon purple shell suits cut-
ting mulleted swathes through damp east London, we’re not discussing the ephemeral miradors and glitching beats that have made Ridler the media’s favourite post-whatever something-step producer du jour. Instead, our focus falls on the UK screamo scene of the mid-2000s. “I dunno if I should tell you this, but when I was 17 I played in a band called 19 Stab Wounds From Here To Ya-Ya,” says Ridler, who records alone now as Becoming Real. “Mum didn’t understand it, but I still feel uncontrollably nostalgic for that time.” It’s his attempts to control that nostalgia that mark Ridler out — alongside others like James Blake and Mount Kimbie — as one of a new group of romantic electronic pioneers prying apart the sentimental and spatial boundaries of dubstep. Becoming Real’s track ‘Tracy Chapman’ is as rooted in Wordsworth’s love of the sublime as it is in Wiley’s early grime; spectral echoes of Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’ half-heard as pulses that segue into a dark, sketchy world of virtual reality beeps. Is there anything in those connections, or am I talking shit? “I dunno, I’m not very up-to-date with what’s going on around me,” he replies. “I don’t even have the internet at the moment.” But do you think the music media’s lust for new blood might consume this delicate scene? “I don’t get too worked up about
things people say. I’m just a guy with a computer trying to move as fast as possible with what he’s doing.” Toby raves about the influence of Wiley’s Roll Deep crew, and his new EP features erstwhile E3 crew member Trim. “I wanted to keep his vocal flow intact,” he says, “but in the future I’d like chopped’n’screwed vocals. I make music like I used to sculpt — it’s all about carving something out.” On the bus home, I remember a story I’d heard about how Ridler was summoned to Trim’s place this summer. Ridler thought the pair would busy themselves making music, but instead Trim simply made the producer watch him get
his hair cut. When the cut was done, Ridler was told he could leave. Things like that make you think about grime’s dissipation into something that could only make its mark once major labels had worked out how to blunt its spite. Maybe grime collapsed simply because the people making it were dickheads and the people who loved it got too wide-eyed and enamoured with the idea that it was avant-garde. And yet with collaborations such as Toby’s and Trim’s, you sense there might be an opportunity for these two far flung poles to come together and add layers of emotional subtlety to fierce UK road sounds: to give heart to London bark.
TOP 10 BANDS/ARTISTS
THAT HELP BRITONS NOD OFF 1. Coldplay 2. Michael Buble 3. Snow Patrol 4. Alicia Keys 5. Jack Johnson 6. Taylor Swift 7. Mozart 8. Barry White 9. Leona Lewis 10. Radiohead
crumbs Brandy Management Ice-T has put his name to a new drink and surprisingly it’s not an iced tea. It’s a brandy made by Aiko Importers, which will be called Original Gangster XO Brandy. Shit will get doubly strange if Brandy puts her name to an iced tea. It’ll be like when the Glitter Band kept going without Gary, or the fact there are now two Cable & Wireless companies that do pretty much the same thing. Quick, put dolphin music on before my fucking brain explodes. DIAGEO
Madonna fit to make a killing with gym venture rock’n’roll was all about T raditionally, being louche and dangerous and meeting the Grim Reaper head-on. However, as the music industry changes, so do the aspirations of its leading luminaries. Quoting a lyric from Neil Young’s ‘Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)’, Kurt Cobain scrawled “it’s better to burn out than to fade away” in his suicide note before summarily blowing his own head off with a Colt 1911. Fastforward 16 years and it seems its better to burn calories and blade away, as popstars look to increase their longevity. The Californian-led charge for immortality has its patrons among burntout, hoary old rockers switching from mind-melting doobies to wheat grass smoothies, but aside from Olivia Newton-John in ‘Physical’ and that horrendous video for Eric Prydz’s ‘Call On Me’ that features floss-thin gussets riding up the cracks of aerobic pig-people, few have dared overstep the line and
overtly endorse… the gymnasium. Step forward Madonna. Not content with choking unsuspecting viewers eating their lunch while her own vagina attempted to munch the purple unitard she was wearing in the ‘Hung Up’ promo, Madge has gone one better by unveiling her own chain of fitness clubs. The first Hard Candy gym (named after her last album) will be unveiled in Mexico City on November 29, and the Material-Girl-turned-DuncanBannatyne-of-pop will be present at the opening, along with various executives from New Evolution Ventures, the private-equity company that is part-financing these temples of the body. “Our goal is to create an environment inspired by Madonna’s vision and high standards of what the ideal gym would be,” said Mark Mastov, chairman of NEV. That means the muscle Mecca will boast “lavish locker rooms built with the finest materials” and its own juice-bar. It also hopes to provide a “sanctuary for members who will be able to relax in sauna and steam rooms”. In other Madonna-related news, an art collective name IOCOSE recently screened their In The Long Run movie in Haringey, a film that imagines the media melee that might surround the death of Madonna. One can only imagine that’s a very long way off.
NATIONAL WEEKLY AUDIENCE REACH AND SHARE 15
ALL ILR 27.0m (reach percent 52%) RADIO 2 13.68m (27%)
Audience reach (m)
RADIO 1 11.65m (23%) RADIO 4 10.37m (20%)
BBC LOCAL 9.14m (18%) RADIO 5 LIVE 6.30m (12%) CLASSIC FM 5.68m (11%)
OTHERS 3.13m (6%) TALKSPORT 2.96m (6%)
RADIO 3 2.15m (4%) ABSOLUTE (TOTAL) 1.65m (3%)
Business News 26
6 month share price 6 Month
700 660 620 580 540
Stay-in Alive While the death of recorded music has been greatly exaggerated, so too is the belief that kids are attending gigs like never before. In the US and across mainland Europe the average Joe or Johan is now only attending a concert on average once a year instead of twice, eschewing sticky floors and overpriced Carling for Domino’s, Liechtenstein’s Got Talent, wanking over True Blood and sticking frankfurters up each other’s arseholes on cheap internet drugs. Presumably.
Chuck You! Last year, The Stool Pigeon reported that Public Enemy were asking fans for $250,000 to fund their forthcoming album, and Flava Flav’s next visit to H. Samuel. Lowering their expectations somewhat from the original fee, the legendary hip hop collective settled for $51,000 via the fan-funding website Sellaband. ‘Believers’, as they’re called, are asked to hand over £17 to get their hands on the record. Larger contributions will secure a t-shirt and some signed shit. ‘Believer’ is one word for it.
Landfill Indie According to a report commissioned by the Association of Independent Music and the BPI, and carried out by Julie’s Bicycle, indie promos sent to journalists and radio stations are churning out some 1,525 tonnes of CO2 annually, producing three times the carbon emissions of a large arena like, say, Wembley. They also often cause anger, bafflement and a swift flick of the right wrist towards the bin when beleaguered journalists realise they won’t fetch a fucking sausage on eBay.
JUDGE MAKES A SHOW OF HANDS, EMI’S FUTURE LOOKS UNCERTAIN far too early to predict what the repercussions might be for British recording institution EMI after Guy Hands lost his fraud case again Citibank in New York at the beginning of the month, but we’ll dig out a crystal ball, have a cup of Typhoo and make unsubstantiated claims about the future anyway. For anybody who missed it, Guy Hands had his digits burnt after his private equity firm Terra Firma took on Citibank and lost. At a three-week hearing held in the federal courthouse on Worth Street in Lower Manhattan, Hands claimed David Wormsley, his former pal and advisor, had deliberately fed him false information regarding the value of the group in 2007. He said Wormsley had told him there was a strong rival bid from Cerberus Capital, which wasn’t true. Somebody here was fibbing, and the court decided it was Hands. The big fibbing bear. The defendants’ team successfully portrayed Hands as a man who, driven by hubris, had looked for somebody else to blame after suffering from a bad case of buyer’s remorse. The fact Hands had invested £100,000 of his own money towards the whopping £4.2 billion acquisition at the height of the credit boom didn’t help matters. EMI chief executive Roger Faxon says it’s business as usual. That’s hardly a surprise, and with some justification, too, considering a recent modest resurgence with hot new artists like Tinie Tempah, but Citigroup will be looking for another £100 million loan repayment next summer, and let’s face it, they’re hardly likely to do anyone any favours after this debacle. The financier has stirred up the proverbial hornet’s nest, and he’ll need to launch a charm offensive like never before to convince Terra Firma shareholders to dig deep once again. In fact, he’ll need to dress up as Pudsey fucking Bear. Hand’s position has certainly been weakened and may yet become untenable, or he may decide after this saga to finally cut his losses and acquiesce to Citi. One financier who you’ll hope you never meet in a sociable situation and have to talk to said: “There will be no more gentlemanly capitalism between Hands and his advisers, that much is certain.” And for EMI? If it can’t make its loan payments then it could be sold or broken up, and the bank may then offload the record division to Warner Music. Could it get any worse? Yes, Coldplay could split up. Then there’d be tears.
by Jeremy Allen December 2010 The Stool Pigeon
CRETINOUS POP GROUP STANDS ACCUSED
owest-common denominator R&B shysters The Black Eyed Peas have been served up with two plagiarism lawsuits by songwriters who should jolly well be ashamed of themselves, should their cases prove successful.
irst up Bryan Pringle, a humble Texan tunesmith who penned a song called ‘Take A Dive’, which was copyrighted and came out as a single in 1998, and no doubt bought by his mother, his aunt and a partially sighted Bryan Adams fan who picked up the wrong record. Not giving up the ghost just yet, the tenacious Pringle sent material to Interscope Records, and heard nothing more aside from the sound of his own heart breaking into little bits. Until now.
ringle says the Peas’ ‘I Gotta Feeling’, which can be heard in gyms and ice-rinks in parochial towns across the Western world on any given day, is a cast-iron rip of his previously cruelly-ignored pop nugget.
he suit is being handled by the same legal eagles who are representing Phoenix Phenom, whose ‘Boom Dynamite’ is allegedly the basis for what can be loosely described as
the song ‘Boom Boom Pow’, the onomatopoeic anthem of all cretins.
oth claim Interscope Records — in cahoots with Will.I.am, Fergie et al — engaged in “a pattern and practice of intentional copyright infringement with respect to the unlawful copying of songs of unknown or lesserknown artists,” according to law firm Miller Canfield.
ast year British DJ Adam Freeland threatened to take legal action after claiming his track ‘Mancry’ was the inspiration for their ‘Party All The Time’.
he history of pop is littered with such cases, stretching as far back as 1971 when George Harrison was successfully prosecuted because his No.1 ‘My Sweet Lord’ was judged to bear a striking resemblance to The Chiffons’ ‘He’s so Fine’. But other cases can be more complicated. Killing Joke were all set to take Nirvana to the cleaners in 1993 for the obvious similarities between their track ‘Eighties’ and ‘Come As You Are’, but decided it would be bad form to go through with it after Kurt Cobain blew his own noggin off.
Draconian Digital Economy Act under fire, RIAA dumps on single mum “SO I say thank you for the music, for giving it to me,” sang ABBA back in 1977, clueless that future people would thieve their tunes without the remotest gratitude. In the old days there were tape-offs, of course, but there was no grand larceny on a global scale, which is why ABBA could sell 360 million albums. You can bet that’s never gonna happen again. Fast-forward three decades and no hardball legislation or moralistic bluster will stem the tsunami of stealing. Unenforceable laws and empty rhetoric may soon subside to make way for grudging acceptance as the industry is forced to innovate once again to survive. It’s a bit like shutting the door after the horse has bolted, joined a circus, sired umpteen bastard ponies before having
its hooves melted down for glue. Lord Carter’s Digital Economy Act, which was rushed through parliament by the Prince of Darkness (Mandy not Ozzy) while MPs were still sleeping off their hangovers following the General Election, was met with fierce opposition by BT and TalkTalk. The corporations argued that new measures on filesharers were draconian and would infringe the civil liberties of their customers. As a result the high court has just granted permission for a judicial review. More significant is a protracted case in the US which may yet change the face of music as we know it. The Recording Industry Association of America has vigorously pursued Jammie Thomas, a single mother from Minnesota, who downloaded twenty-
four songs illegally from Kazaa in 2007. In the first case Jammie was ordered to pay $9,250 per song making a grand total of $222,000. A second jury awarded the record industry $1.92 million, though a judge who quite rightly saw this as ludicrous brought the figure down to $54,000. The RIAA, beginning to look like a bully, offered Thomas the chance to pay $25,000 out of court, though she rejected the offer stating that she couldn’t afford even that sum. Having gone to appeal she now finds herself owing $1.5 million. Portraying a single mother as the chimera of all evil makes the RIAA look out of touch with a serious lack of perspective, and ironically casts the supposed felon as the martyr of the piece. The ramifications look huge.
Governor Crist to redeem the Lizard King?
onstage, thus causing one of the most outrageous incidents in the pantheon of rock. “You wanna see my cock, don’t you? That’s what you came here for isn’t it? Yeah.” And then he got it out. Or did he? Some say he only put his finger through the zipper of his leather pants. Who knows? Who cares aside from some addled Californian oxygen bandits who need to grow the fuck up? He gets more people visiting him in Père Lachaise Cemetery than Oscar Wilde, is that not enough for you lunatics? Call it a midlife crisis, call it Portillo syndrome, call it what you will: rock’s very own Pontius Pilate may be about to step forward. Crist - who has been dogged by gay rumours all his political life (which he’s always strenuously denied) — appears to be trying something new. That’s right, Govenor Crist wants to be cool. Florida, not renowned for its per-
missiveness unless you happen to be an eight-foot rubber mouse, came down hard on Jim’s flaccid phallus flash and Morrison was convicted of indecent exposure and profanity. He appealed, though the case never reached its conclusion, given the fact he dropped dead in his own bathtub in Paris. The Republican-turnedIndependent is believed to be considering a posthumous reprieve for the deceased as a final, symbolic two fingers to the reactionary Tea Party types he’s been increasingly distancing himself from before he leaves office in 2011. Crist told reporters: “Candidly, it’s something that I haven’t given a lot of thought to, but it’s something I’m willing to look into in the time I have left. Anything is possible.” He was talking about the Morrison pardon there, but he also could have been talking about willies.
THE Lizard King could finally be pardoned for getting his Lizard thing out at a gig in Florida in 1970. And the absolution will come from none other than Jesus Christ himself. No wait, the absolution may come from none other than Governor Charlie Crist himself. The ‘Miami incident’ took place during a show at the Dinner Key Theater, on March 1, 1969. Jim Morrison, unhappy that all they had on the rider to eat was keys – as well as the fact they’d spelt ‘theatre’ incorrectly - decided to expose himself
Up Before The Beak BEEN Silly
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Robert Levon Been has been fined $18,500 for causing damage to a 43year-old fan’s eye at a gig in Germany. Did he punch him for being rude to his girl? Did he smash him with a Fender Precision? Did he stage dive onto the man’s head for holding a banner saying ‘You’re a bunch of retro losers’? No. He tossed an empty water bottle over his shoulder aiming for a bin and accidentally caught a chap who’d undergone a retinal transplant. He said sorry.
We’ve all been to parties where we’ve had a coat nicked or somebody’s vomited in our shoes right? And what did we do? That’s right, we sued the host. Suge Knight, having been shot in the leg in 2005 at the Shore Club on Miami Beach, tried to sue Kanye West — the man whose party it was — for not looking after him properly. Awww. Holding the rapper liable for the injuries he sustained, the former Death Row supremo was after £1 million in damages. The judge probably laughed in his face.
Alright alright, calm down, etc. Dave McCabe, The Zutons’ principal scouser has been handed 150 hours community service for breaking a man’s nose outside a club in Liverpool. Peter Appleby was headbutted by the singer for laughing at another man’s comment. The unknown comedian said McCabe’s girlfriend’s fur-collared coat made her look like she had a beard. The judge told McCabe he would have got off if he was Steven Gerrard.
Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose has quite a reputation for doing things in his own time, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise when he returned a Bentley Flying Spur back to a hire firm a year late. The tardiness may have been a sticking point, but the shit really hit the fan when the reps saw the vehicle had been smashed up. To add insult to injury, Axl had put 42,000 miles on the clock. Bentley financial is looking for around $267,000 in damages.
Court Circular The Stool Pigeon December 2010
by Jeremy Allen
John Hansen, Slickee Boys guitarist
Announcements Please email your announcements to email@example.com
Forthcoming Engagements MR CALEB FOLLOWILL & MS LILY ALDRIDGE. The engagement is announced between Caleb, lead singer of Kings of Leon, and Lily, model. MR JASON BELL & MS NADINE COYLE. The engagement is announced between American football player, Jason, and Nadine, Girls Aloud singer.
Marriages HINCE—MOSS. On August 7, The Kills guitarist Jamie Hince married supermodel Kate Moss during a secret ceremony in Sicily. LLEWELLYN—ICHIMURA. On September 20, Rhys, drummer and Drumcunt, married Satoko, known as Ichi, homeopath and bunny, in Launceston, Cornwall. BRAND—PERRY. On October 23, comedian Russell Brand married female singer Katy Perry during a private ceremony in Aman-e-Khas, India.
Births DEAN—KEYS. On October 14, to Grammy Award winning singer Alicia Keys and producer Swizz Beatz, real name Kasseem Dean, a boy, Egypt Daoud Dean. ANGELIL—DION. On October 23, to Rene, manager, and Celine, singer, twin boys.
Divorces BRATMAN—AGUILERA. The divorce is announced between Christina, singer, and her husband of five years, Jordan. CYRUS. The divorce is announced between country singer Billy Ray and Tish, parents of Miley. TRAVIS. The divorce is announced between country singer Randy and Elizabeth.
Deaths DJ Trend, drum’n’bass DJ b. 1978 d. 17.9.2010
b. unknown d. 17.9.2010 Buddy Collette, jazz musician b. 6.8.1921 d. 19.9.2010 Earland Edwards, jazz radio DJ b. 9.1.1930 d. 19.9.2010 László Polgár, Hungarian opera singer b. 1.1.1947 d. 19.9.2010 Rural Yarbrough, bluegrass banjoist b. 13.1.1930 d. 21.9.2010 Geoffrey Burgon, TV/film composer b. 15.7.1941 d. 21.9.2010 Hank Cochran, country singer b. 2.8.1935 d. 23.9.2010 Eddie Fisher, 1950s pop star b. 10.8.1928 d. 22.9.1010 Sir Trevor Holdsworth, concert pianist b. 29.5.1927 d. 28.9.2010 Mark Sheehan, Out Cold singer b. 15.6.1969 d. 1.10.2010 Steve Lee, Gotthard singer b. 5.8.1963 d. 5.10.2010 T. Lavitz, jazz keyboardist b. 16.4.1956 d. 7.10.2010 Albertina Walker, ‘queen of gospel’ b. 29.8.1929 d. 8.10.2010 Reggie Leon Battise, Sha Na Na bassist b. unknown d. 8.10.2010 Solomon Burke, soul and gospel singer b. 21.3.1940 d. 10.10.2010 Marion Brown, jazz saxophonist b. 8.9.1931 d. 10.10.2010 Marzieh, Iranian classical singer b. 1924 d. 13.10.2010 Norman ‘General’ Johnson, soul singer b. 23.05.1943 d. 13.10.2010 Vera Rózsa, Hungarian opera singer b. 16.5.1917 d. 15.10.2010 Dame Joan Sutherland, soprano b. 7.11.1926 d. 12.10.2010 Johnny Edgecombe, jazz promoter b. 22.10.1932 d. 18.10.2010 Al Goodman, UK soul singer b. 30.3.1943 d. 20.10.2010 James Phelps, gospel singer b. 2.4.1932 d. 26.10.2010 Stella Salamone, radio DJ b. 20.9.1966 d. 27.10.2010 Bobby Porter, Pittsburgh punk legend b. 24.7.1951 d. 28.10.2010 James Freud, The Models singer b. 29.6.1959 d. 4.11.2010
ARI UP On October 20, Ari Up, real name Ariane Daniele Forster, died from cancer at the age of 48. Ari was born in Munich, the granddaughter of a wealthy newspaper proprietor. Her mother, Nora, was close friends with Jimi Hendrix and later married Sex Pistols lead singer John Lydon. It seemed Ari was destined for a career in music — she is the goddaughter of Jon Anderson, lead singer of English rock group Yes, and learned to play guitar with the help of The Clash’s Joe Strummer. Ari formed punk rock outfit The Slits with drummer Palmolive in 1976. The group supported The Clash during their White Riot tour the following year and released several albums, with varying degrees of success, before splitting in 1982. Debut album Cut is considered their greatest and was voted number 58 in the Observer’s ‘100
Greatest British albums’. Ari briefly performed with heavy dub act New Age Steppers before going solo, during which time she adopted several stage, including Baby Ari and Madussa, before releasing the underwhelming debut solo album More Dread Than Dead. The singer was known for her dreadlocks and odd accent that blended English, German and Jamaican. Oddly, the older Ari got the more she spoke with a Caribbean dialect, which may have been down to the singer relocating to Kingston, Jamaica in later life. Ari Up, Slits singer, b. 17.1.1962, d. 20.10.2010
EYEDEA On October 16, Eyedea — real name Michael Larsen — of indie rap group Eyedea and Abilities died in his sleep from an unknown cause. Larsen was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota and raised by his single mother, Kathy. Between 1997 and 2001 he became known as a gifted battle MC, winning several events including HBO’s Blaze Battle, Scribble Jam and Rock Steady Anniversary 2000. As a result of his numerous competition successes, he was invited to tour with indie rap icons Atmosphere as a second MC and support DJ. In 2001, Larsen signed to Rhymesayers, the indie rap label owned by Sean Daley (Slug), and released debut album First Born with friend and collaborator DJ Abilities. The group were initially known as Sixth Sense but later changed their name to Eyedea and Abilities. Despite finding relative success and underground acclaim with their debut, Larsen released a solo album under the moniker Oliver Hart entitled The Many Face of Oliver Heart. The duo joined forces once again in 2004 to release their sophomore album, E&A, which became their most successful record to date thanks to Eyedea’s engaging narrative style of rapping. After the release of E&A, Larsen released a second solo album, This is Where We Are, with live jazz group Face Candy and collaborated with Atmosphere, Sage Francis, Aesop Rock and Blueprint on several projects. He then formed alternative rock outfit Carbon Carousel. It seemed that Eyedea and Abilities had taken an indefinite hiatus until December 2007 when they embarked on an extensive tour with Crushkill label mate Kristoff Kane and appeared at hip hop festival Rock the Bells in 2009. The duo released third album By the Throat in 2009 and were praised for their use of grunge and moody, alternative influences to create a record that blurred the boundaries between rock and hip hop. The exact details of Larsen’s death remain a mystery but it is understood that his mother found him in his bed in their family home. Eyedea, rapper, b. 9.11.1981, d. 16.10.2010
LOVERS ROCKED BY DEATH OF ISAACS regory Isaacs, prolific reggae veteran, was among the last of Jamaica’s ‘old guard’ of vocalists and one of few who seriously challenged the status of its musical king, Bob Marley. Isaacs cut his 1968 rocksteady debut (actually a duet) while still in his teens, going solo in 1970 having tasted minimal success working with other artists. Driven from the get-go to be more than just a singer-songwriter, he minted his own label and learned production skills, but it’s as a vocalist — with a smooth, pleading delivery — that he is remembered. In 1973 he scored a pivotal hit, ‘My Only Lover’; one that would, retrospectively, be signalled as the birth of Lovers Rock, the romantic reggae subgenre to which Isaacs’ name would be inextricably linked, if obscuring somewhat his remarkable intellectual depth and prowess in more roots-oriented styles. Thankfully, socially conscious albums such as Soon Forward, though poorer sellers on release, are now critically regarded as his greatest works. With a heavy schedule of releases in the 1970s, recording for practically all of the island’s finest producers, the hits barely stopped rolling as he built up his standing. Following a signing to a major label, he earned enduring epithets such as Cool Ruler and Lonely Lover, and in 1978 even landed a film role, as Jah Tooth in Rockers, a hugely entertaining Jamaican Robin Hood-styled tale, endowing him with greater kudos still. The passing of Bob Marley in 1980 made Gregory arguably the West Indies’ biggest musical draw, a kind of bad-boy Barry White; the sharp-dressed crooner with a trailer-load of sensual hits, and as many arrests, under his belt. The turning point and defining moment of his career came in 1982 with the international success of his saucy ‘Night Nurse’ single. Though chart placings were only reasonable, radio and club play was immense and the song truly placed him on the world stage. It did, however, mark the outset of a destructive cocaine habit (both consumption and sale) which cost him not only a further period of his freedom, but also his teeth. His voice was affected by the latter but he struck back undaunted, recording and performing solidly until an untimely illness. It’s now estimated that there are over 500 Gregory Isaacs albums and compilations available. He died at just 59 years old in his London home, succumbing to lung cancer diagnosed only last year. Gregory Anthony Isaacs, Cool Ruler, 15.7.1951, d. 25.10.2010
December 2010 The Stool Pigeon
Words by KEV KHARAS
Photograph by MACOMBER BOMBEY
Open Fire The first time you listen to Waka Flocka Flame you think he’s angry. Listen again and you realise he’s not; he’s just someone who loves being aggressive. Obnoxious. Loud. Extrovert. I’m sure you could call Waka, born Juaquin James Malphurs in Queens, New York 24 years ago, any of those words and he wouldn’t mind so much. They each imply a projection out from a person, whereas when you call someone ‘angry’ you can’t help putting across the idea that they’re in some way subservient to the situation they find themselves in. Things ‘make’ people angry. There’s a pity implicit there that Waka Flocka Flame might deserve, but that he in no way seems to be looking for. People tell him that he’s making rap dumb, because his lyrics don’t really amount to anything more than punctuating battle cries and perfunctory grunts. Train your ears to pick out the rhymes on tracks like ‘Bustin’ At ’Em’ or last year’s breakout blast ‘O Let’s Do It’ and it’s like peering down at the lyric sheet and being confronted with an endless stream of exclamation marks, separated every
so often by the sound of pistols cocking like salacious ampersands. “Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow! Bitch, I’m bustin’ at ’em! Hur! Hur! Waaakaaaa! Waaakaaaa!” The words tend to come out the same each time, too — loping, heavyheaded — but he doesn’t care. Critics call him out on it. Raekwon, Method Man and Ghostface have called him out on it. He told them that “lyrical rappers are broke” and that “no one wants to hear that cot damn dictionary rap anyway”. Coming down the phone he’s more articulate, and his naturalised Southern drawl’s so thick and frothy that the pitch of his voice seems more eloquent than the words carried in it (Waka — pronounced ‘Wock-uh’ — was moved by his family to Riverdale, Georgia when he started running with gangs, aged 10). Was it hard to adjust to your new home, Waka? “Yeah, it was hard to adjust. But you know me, I adapt to my environment.” Did you make friends quickly? “Yeah, you could say I did. I did, I did, I did.”
What stuff did you do when you were a kid? “What I did, I’d play, like, taag, you know, youknowwhenyou’relittlekids and you play taaaaag around the neighbourhood? Ride bikes all around, ride bikes all day, like fahve hours. Wrestling, playing wrestling with your friends, you know?” I know. Simple pleasures. Do you miss that simple life, Waka? “[high pitched] Hooo! [lower] Yes I do. I miss that simple life.” Has your life changed much since that guy took a shot at you? “Which one?” At the carwash. “Oh, hell yeah. Shit, everything went up instead of down.” In a good way or a bad way? “In a good way.” Don’t things like that make you fear for your life? “Hell nah, they make me stronger.” Aren’t you scared of dying? “Nah, hell nah. I can’t be scared of something I ain’t never experienced.” Do you still think he was shooting to kill you?
“Hell yeah.” Why do you think he failed? “Scared. That’s what I think.” The shooting in question happened at Bubble Bath carwash in Atlanta on January 19 this year. Waka got off the phone to his mother, Debra Antney (who used to manage Gucci Mane and now handles Nicky Minaj’s burgeoning career) and a Glock 19 came through the car window pointed at his face. He began removing his jewellery, got out of the car, and, while dangling a Breitling watch from his fingertips, made a lunge for the weapon. The gunman fired and a bullet hit his right arm and went on into his torso. There have been other, deeper hardships to endure. His father died upon release from prison, and his brother was fatally injured when he was run over in 2000, aged just 10. He seems to have brushed the former off, or at least buried it (“we’re not too sure on that,” he told an interviewer who asked about his dad’s demise), but the latter is referenced on his recently released debut album, Flockaveli. “When my lil’ brother died I said, ‘Fuck School,’”
Atlanta’s latest crunk star WAKA FLOCKA FLAME is flaring out, guns blazing
Features The Stool Pigeon December 2010
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ndy Butler lies crumpled in a heap, limbs splayed like the losing contestant in a particularly vicious bout of Twister. The Hercules And Love Affair lynchpin has been taking lessons in voguing from new bandmate Sean Wright, but there’s clearly a ways to go just yet. In the short cab ride from soundcheck to the Southwark hotel where the outfit is holed up for the evening, Butler reveals how his sole encounter with a New York City drag ball, like those depicted in the infamous Paris Is Burning documentary, was cut short by an unexpected bout of fisticuffs. Apparently, one belle had been making eyes at Butler from across the room, only to end up swinging for him. The reason? Butler was “more interested in the security guards” at the show, which traditionally sees drag queens compete in striking, exaggeratedly feminine poses, a.k.a. voguing.
A new line-up and a nod towards the classic Chicago sound, but HERCULES AND LOVE AFFAIR haven’t turned a blind eye to how they first seduced you.
“That might sound a bit self-aggrandising, but I think that’s what happened,” says an amused Butler, before adding that his duck walk is coming along nicely and, no, the incident won’t put him off going to another ball. For tonight’s performance at new London Bridge venue Debut, however, he’ll be remaining firmly behind the decks. And that seems a sensible place to be, since Butler has not one but three frontpeople in the brand new line-up of his celebrated art-disco/house/pop project. There’s the ever-present Kim Ann Foxman (with Butler the nucleus around which the group’s shifting personnel orbits), the aforementioned Sean Wright (a Sylvester lookalike who volunteered himself as a singer with the band after attending one of their shows) and, finally, Berlin-based Aerea Negrot (an old acquaintance of Butler’s, intriguingly described online as the
Words by Alex Denney
“Eartha Kitt of the post-techno age”). For the follow-up to their self-titled debut — Blue Songs, out in January — that means there’ll be no Nomi, the transsexual siren that set hearts ablaze at Hercules shows a couple of years back. Moreover, it’ll also mean no Antony Hegarty. The Antony & The Johnsons frontman was a key player on the first album, of course, his voice helping to cement ‘Blind’’s status as a breakout hit. For the casual enthusiast his absence has the potential to be massive. Butler, however, was wary of asking him back on board. “Even with the first record he was like, ‘Oh, this is a nice song, you should sing it,’ and I would say, ‘Antony, you’re the singer’. Somehow it became something bigger, but I knew he wouldn’t tour with us because he had this crazy life. This time round I didn’t even dare approach it. He was turning out a lot of material and had been through a lot of collaborations at the time; he was everywhere.” But Hercules And Love Affair is bigger even than Hegarty’s surprising diva heroics. Foremost among the many virtues of their debut album was that its spacey, modernist reworking of the disco template was able to engage head and heart in the tradition of Arthur Russell’s best work, serving up bangers with emotive substance as well as the sound design-as-art aesthetic of Brian Eno or Aphex Twin. Blue Songs promises to perform the same trick for Chicago house and its chart-conquering descendent, acid house, while further establishing the songwriterly voice evidenced on its predecessor — a tall order, given the haphazard way that record fell into place. Was there more pressure to deliver this time around? “At moments it was very weird,” says Butler. “I don’t think any of us could have seen the end result last time around. Initially we were just gonna put out a single, ‘Blind’, which we took to DFA. But Antony was like, ‘I know you’ve been working on other stuff with Kim Ann, why don’t you put out an album?’ In that sense it did happen without much ambition in that direction, and so there is some expectation this time. Being a human being it’s hard to shake what people expect from you. It’s also hard when your work is being evaluated by everyone. It’s like having a boss constantly telling you you didn’t do too well today. My impulse if people expect me to do something is to kick back, hard. But, having said that, I think there’s a similar identity at work on the new record.” “There’s a voice that’s obviously the same voice from the first album,” says Foxman. “It’s not abandoning everything that album was about and trying something new — it’s a progression.” In person Butler is thoughtful and quietly gregarious, exchanging glances with Foxman if an answer is struggling to make itself heard. The bond between the pair is touchingly apparent, both in the way they prop up each other’s sentences and in the way they talk about their relationship. (Butler calls Foxton “a shining example of what a human being should be” and, amazingly, no one is sick.) It’s a bond you suspect has gone a long way towards easing what may have been a thorny creative process leading up to Blue Songs’ completion, a process not helped by their somewhat puzzling departure from DFA’s roster (Blue Songs will be released by Moshi Moshi in Europe). “It’s unfortunate,” says Butler, soft-spoken diplomacy fraying a little at the edges. “I didn’t have the situation explained to me for a long time. Tim (Goldsworthy, co-producer of the first record and now ex-DFA himself) was our primary contact at the label and he didn’t have too much to say. I just couldn’t understand why no one was giving us a straight answer. But we’ve looked on it as more of a boon — an opportunity to redefine ourselves a little. I tend to work with my friends, so I can make things as fun as possible.” So you can make believe it isn’t work at all? “Exactly. Kim Ann’s really good at making me laugh during the process. Sometimes there are conflicts of interest, where people have different ideas about how they want to sing on a track. I try to be as bendy as possible, but
Photograph by Erika Wall
it’s always better if you know the other person on a level where you can be like, ‘Look, I don’t like this,’ and they’ll get it; they understand your aesthetic. You’re not gonna have that whole thing of, ‘Fuck you, I’m not talking you for a day.’ It always gets resolved with us.” So, does Blue Songs deliver? For anyone whose curiosity about Hercules And Love Affair extends only as far as their ability to pen another crossover hit like ‘Blind’, the answer is possibly not. But let’s leave off ringing Antony just yet. For those of us enamoured with Butler’s remarkable ability to nail the spirit of an era without descending into kitsch, Blue Songs is a subtly immersive treat. ‘My House’ does whipsmart, elastic house with Technotronic-style vocal snippets, while the piano stabs of Kele Okereke-assisted ‘Step Up’ echo the warmer, Italo sounds that brought UK chart success for the likes of Black Box and Livin’ Joy. There’s disco, too, with ‘Leonora’, ‘Painted Eyes’ and ‘Answers Come In Dreams’ all serving up through-the-looking-glass takes on the patented Herculean sound. Meanwhile, the claustrophobic psych-folk of ‘Blue Boy’ and abstracted spirals of saxophone on ‘Blue Songs’ strike resounding notes for Butler the singer-songwriter. “I wanted to assert my voice more in terms of composition,” says Butler. “I like moments that are more about a really gritty bassline and great vocals, but I also love those very soft, pensive tracks on a record. We do this slow rendering of a classic house song, ‘It’s Alright’, take it from this place of exuberance and uplifting-ness and move it to somewhere moody. We just went into the studio in L.A., I sat at a piano and played at, like, 80bpms and Kim Ann sang this really beautiful, vulnerable rendition.” Butler and Foxman remember the track (written by Sterling Void and turned into a UK number five single by the Pet Shop Boys) as closing out numberless house nights from way back when, but think their haunting take coaxes out a melancholy latent in the original. Butler: “It left a sense of optimism and utopian idealism with everyone, but at the same time it was always bittersweet ’cause the party was over. And they were talking about some serious stuff.” Foxman: “It has this uplifting sound but it’s also emotional.” “It’s that same twist that all good dance music has,” says Butler, something of a didact in both his approach to dance music and his drive to have club-oriented sounds taken seriously. “I wanted to zap the emotion — isolate it and make it sound like a song in the traditional sense of the word — so that people would have to approach it differently. Sometimes I think the slow songs on the record are just really slow dance tracks.” What of the shift towards house on the new record? Does it reflect your changing appetites as a listener in general? “I’ve been really into Judee Sill and a lot of psychedelic folk as well as dance music,” says Butler. “I was listening to classic house more than disco and digging out a lot of industrial records. I never got the sense that goldenera house music broke in the US the way it might have in the UK. In the States no one knows who Todd Terry or Frankie Knuckles are. So it’s more about me being interested in that sound because I didn’t hear enough of it on the radio when I was younger. “At the same time there’s a plethora of dance music right now, but most of it has none of the depth that the stuff from the golden era did. There’s tonnes of either fluff or music that’s too smart, overproduced or overblown. I need a certain soul, I like eeriness, I like moving music.” And for all the nuance and sophistication of Hercules And Love Affair’s attack, they remain at bottom an outfit concerned with basic human connection. The new line-up is imperious under the railway arches at London Bridge tonight, and it’s Foxman who gets it best when summing up her experiences with the group to date: “For me the moment that was really rewarding — I mean this is major — was when ‘Blind’ was blowing up somebody sent me a YouTube video of some older women country linedancing to the song. You know you really did it if that kind of stuff is coming back.”
Brothers Beyond The riots, addictions, scandals and fraternal feuds were all worth it for THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN. If only to piss Spandau Ballet off.
The opening scenes of Julian Temple’s documentary on the Sex Pistols, The Filth And The Fury, are dedicated to portraying the failures of the Harold Wilson and James Callaghan Labour administrations. When set against a backdrop of threeday weeks, rubbish going uncollected across the UK, bodies piling up outside graveyards in Liverpool, power shortages and mass unemployment — all shot on austere, grainy film stock — it’s Scottish brothers Jim and William Reid; it’s just that, unlike Joy Division and The Fall, they chose to sit round on the dole, daydreaming about success rather than going for it. Jim Reid is talking to us today because of the release of Upside Down: The Best Of The Jesus And Mary Chain, an anthology that, although it doesn’t contain ‘Snakedriver’ or ‘Surfin’ USA’, captures the essence of their renegade rock’n’roll in a way the perhaps understandable that some people claim the Pistols “had” to happen. It’s harder to pin spurious societal causes onto East Kilbride’s Jesus And Mary Chain, even though they are the true inheritors to the Pistols’ crown in the 1980s. It would probably be fairer to say that it was the musical wasteland midway through that decade that necessitated their existence. The revolutions promised by post punk and synth pop had given way to a period of
that someone else will come along and do all the things that you’ve talked about.” Giving up on the nearest big city — Glasgow — after a few weeks of failing to get gigs, they moved down to London where an early chance encounter with Bobby Gillespie (who would later join as drummer, alongside Douglas Hart on bass) proved invaluable. “We gave one of our demo tapes to a guy to get a gig in a club and he
the Creation boss, saying that they already knew what they wanted to sound like (Velvet Underground, Hank Williams, Bo Diddley, Beach Boys, Dick Dale, Phil Spector) and what they wanted to look like (Bob Dylan, The Beatles in Hamburg, Johnny Cash). In fact, he says the first thing the band did with their pooled earnings from their debut gigs was to visit the leather trouser shop to get fitted up. But he admits that the ambitious McGee did
didn’t like it,” continues Jim. “There was a Syd Barrett compilation on the other side of the tape. This guy said to Bobby, ‘Here, you like Syd Barrett... here’s a tape for you.’ And as luck would have it, he listened to our demo and loved it. He rang and said he had a mate called Alan McGee who would give us a gig. When we phoned McGee up, he was a bit like, ‘Don’t bother me.’ I got the impression that Bobby was doing this kind of thing to
see himself as their Malcolm McLaren and played a part in hyping them up as the band that would cause riots wherever they went. It was a fairly cool myth-building exercise at first, until it became a self-fulfilling prophecy at Camden Electric Ballroom and North London Poly in 1985. Jim explains: “It seriously wouldn’t have surprised me if someone had have been killed at one of those gigs. We wouldn’t go on stage until we were ‘in the mood’. We’d be sitting in the dressing room getting tanked up and the promoter would come in like a nervous wreck going, ‘For fuck’s sake, you were supposed to be on half an hour ago.’ Then there would be this sound, like, thump, thump, thump. And we’d be like, ‘What the fuck is that!?’ After a while someone would come in and say, ‘You’d better lock the door, the audience are coming to get you.’
hastily cobbled-together 21 Singles failed to do in 2002. “Punk happened and that was when it seriously dawned on us that we could do it, too. But we really are quite lazy people,” he says, laughing. “It was comfortable just sitting around and listening to music. The years started to pass. You take stock after a while and think, ‘Where is this going?’ And you realise that if you don’t do it soon, it isn’t going to happen for you;
mainstream commercial blandness, the like of which hasn’t been seen since. It turns out it was the Sex Pistols themselves who were the primary influence on the group. Much has been made of the energising effect Lydon and the rest had on young musicians in Manchester in the late 1970s (“the force of a hand-grenade tossed into an arrangement of gladioli,” as Jon Savage described it). But two other teens switched on were the
him all the time! But he came to see us doing a soundcheck one day and it blew him away. We had a row right in front of him and then we did the soundcheck, which was so unmusical and angry that he came charging over, ranting and raving about five-album deals. That was weird because we thought we’d blown our chances. Looking back, he must have thought we were nutters.” Jim won’t give that much credit to
Words by John Doran
London Poly, it actually happened when we were on stage and everyone went nuts. They were trying to drag us into the crowd. The PA got pulled down and all of the rest of it. You just think, ‘This isn’t funny anymore.’” They distanced themselves from the violence and McGee not long afterwards. Their original sound, which had been anchored by Bobby Gillespie’s double-tom drumming and then a drum machine, was swapped for a more classicist direction that included live drums and a gradual stripping away of the feedback to reveal a pair of very capable songwriters in Jim and William. But just as the music they were making was gradually becoming more harmonious, their relationship was slowly heading in the other direction. It was an irony that Creation Records’ first hit act (albeit for one single only) suffered from exactly the same problem as their biggest act, Oasis: a pair of continually rowing brothers. When we put it to Jim that outsiders could be forgiven for not realising that they were actually related, given the gulf between them, he replies: “Well, that’s how it is now. It wasn’t always like that. Back at the start of the band, people used to think of us as spooky twins, almost. We finished each others sentences; we agreed on almost everything. We argued, but it was always constructive — we argued over music and the band. And I don’t know how it happened, but bit by bit it started to disintegrate. It seemed that we were pulling in different directions but we weren’t really — we still wanted the same things; it’s just that something had changed.” Asked if it’s too much for brothers to be in a successful rock group together, he says: “I think it’s hard to be in a band with anyone, but if you’re
was that that kept us going.” They would never be without trouble, though. Rioting and fraternal feuds were followed by radio and TV bans, tabloid scandals, alcoholism, drugs, addiction... It was perhaps a miracle that they still went on to become massive around the world. Their more traditionally rock’n’roll sound endeared them to the Americans, but they also had a massive fanbase in Europe and Japan.
Mary Chain. They kick-started alternative rock in late-eighties UK, paving the way for the likes of Loop, My Bloody Valentine, Spacemen 3 and Ride. Over the pond, their influence could be felt on the Pixies, Sugar, Ultra Vivid Scene and Dinosaur Jr. And for a short time at least — between the release of their debut Psychocandy and follow-up Darklands — they actually were famous in this country. Media-wise, everyone in the UK kept a nervous eye trained on them. Jim allows himself a rare chuckle when he remembers one of the more unusual things that befell the group during this period: “We made the cover of Smash Hits! We got it at the expense of Spandau Ballet. They pulled their feature and Spandau Ballet were outraged because the spotty, noisy Mary Chain got the cover. As far as I’m concerned that was the peak of our career.”
not brothers then you can just go your separate ways. You can try it out, scream at each other, say things that cannot be taken back and do things that mean that the situation can no longer exist, and then you’ll no longer see each other. But when it’s your brother, and you still say all of those things, and you still do all of those things, you come back. The Mary Chain would have probably broken up in 1985 if we hadn’t been brothers. It Most places bar Britain, to be honest. Jim sighs. “I’m not really sure why, but we really seemed to piss a lot of people off in this country. We were excluded from what became the indie scene because we were on a major label by then. Abroad it didn’t seem to matter — there was a lot more of a reverential attitude towards the Mary Chain.” But for those of us who were there at the time, there will never be another band as important as The Jesus And
order to interview Crass, you have to head to the middle of nowhere and meet the band’s most important member, Dial House. Dial House is a farmhouse in a remote part of Essex, near Epping. With its cosy, rustic rooms, sprawling vegetable garden and seemingly endless paths to tiny sheds where one can hide away from the modern world, it’s an unlikely home of punk rock. But then Crass were unlike any other punk band. Or any other band, for that matter. I’m sipping tea in this beautiful setting in preparation for talking to Penny Rimbaud, Steve Ignorant and Gee Vaucher, the drummer/producer/theorist, lead singer and in-house artist/filmmaker respectively of a collective that invented anarcho-punk, and introduced the D.I.Y. ethic and the 100 per cent underground counterculture to a planet of budding refuseniks who still operate on Crasspioneered principles 26 years after the band split up. The thriving Southern Studios global punk network of labels and collectives was set up by Crass and their business partner, the late John Loder. The politicised street art of Banksy and his graffiti peers was inspired by the bitterly ingenious montage and collage of Gee Vaucher’s record sleeves and onstage films. Hardcore, in all its punk and metal forms, derives from Crass’s prescient blend of three-minute guitar anger and the atonal noise and confrontational vocals of the avant-garde. Crass are the most influential band that will never end up on a Now That’s What I Call Your Dad’s Favourite Rebel Rock Classics It’s OK To Still Like While Selling Out. But even Crass are not entirely immune from the charms and temptations of the vintage rock industry. Although Steve Ignorant — originally Stephen Williams from Dagenham — is playing a series of shows performing Crass classics with friends and also has a memoir called The Rest Is Propaganda in all good bookshops, the main reason that some of Crass are doing press is The Crassical Collection, a series of digitally remastered and beautifully packaged CD reissues of their albums. The fact that only one — the 1978 debut The Feeding Of The 5000 — has seen the light of the day so far is inextricably linked with the presence of only three of the eight Crass members. But we’ll get back to that can of legal worms later. Meeting Crass is not like meeting any other band, old or new. Penny Rimbaud is a wiry, half-naked 67-yearold hippy Methuselah whose almost mystical discourse on political philosophy is so unusual and mesmerising you find yourself wishing you could bin the interview and just spend a few
Coarse of Action Whether by playing pranks or music, the message of punk rockers CRASS was always the same.
Words by Garry Mulholland Polaroid by Dan Wilton
hours listening to him talk. Steve Ignorant is a self-effacing FredPerried, crop-headed 50-year-old geezer who could be a dodgy Essex cabbie — if dodgy Essex cabbies made jokes about Bakunin and had spent nine years working as an anarchist Punch and Judy man. And Gee Vaucher is a sweet-yet-tough 65-yearold hippy earth mother who laughs loud and hard, hates being praised and has the matter-of-fact manner befitting someone who you suspect has spent much of her life pricking the pretensions of men. But, again, none of them are the most important member of Crass. Still home for Penny and Gee — and where Steve also lived for 14 years — Dial House began to put the band together way back when The Beatles defined the pop-counter culture interface. It was 1967, and art graduates Jeremy Ratter and Gee Vaucher were riding around the Essex countryside looking for somewhere to live. Rabidly alienated from the onset of the modern consumer society, they wanted somewhere remote from the world but still within easy reach of London. They got Dial House virtually rent-free and shared with a couple of other artists. But by 1970, Ratter had become disillusioned with life as an art teacher. He jumped to a radical conclusion that would have a profound effect on the future of a discredited political idea called anarchy. Why not open the door of your home and let anyone in? People could stay for as long as they liked. Live rent-free and spend their time working on whatever art project they wanted to. Ignore society, money, career, at least for as long as they could stand it. “I didn’t impose any rules or structure,” Penny/Jeremy recalls. “There were only two conditions: it was a vegetarian house and we didn’t have drugs. The drugs wasn’t a moral issue — it was simply that the police were very hot on drugs in those days and it wasn’t worth losing a facility like this because people wanted to smoke dope. And to some extent it’s still discouraged. Beyond that, people weren’t asked to do anything or pay anything. They were just asked to sort their own fucking thinking out and to understand the problems of running a house. A lot of them didn’t. But I just wanted to provide an umbrella for people and that’s pretty much how it still is. The main thrust is that it’s a creative space. So most of the people living here down the years have been artists, writers, filmmakers. “It’s not a community. It’s an open door. A community tends to have meetings and discuss policy. We don’t. Here, you’re on your own. And you feel on your own here probably more than anywhere else. We didn’t
have Buddhism or any other belief system to provide a grounding for people. There’s very little social comfort here. There’s very little chit-chat. So it was hard, and continues to be.” So Crass couldn’t have happened without Dial House? “No. It came out of the very philosophy that I’d implemented here, and the people wouldn’t and couldn’t have been here unless that philosophy had existed. Ironically, Crass started at a time when I was on my own here. Everyone else had left. And then in through the door walked Steve.” Penny had known the 17-year-old Steve Williams for four years or so. Steve’s older brother had been a Dial House resident, and the younger Williams, apart from being a bedroom Bowie obsessive, had proved himself a precocious working-class tween rebel, organising protests and art happenings of his own with the moral support of the Dial House collective. Steve had been living in Bristol when The Clash had hit town in 1977. The gig was his Eureka moment. He moved back to his hometown of Dagenham in Essex hoping to persuade some of his mates to form a punk band. Turned out his mates were more interested in early marriage, jobs and beer than art-thug three-minute assaults on the establishment. A hugely disappointed Steve made his way to see Penny at the relatively nearby Dial House, largely because he had nowhere else to go. Penny had a drum kit, a cautious interest in the early impact of the Sex Pistols, his new Arthur Rimbaud-inspired nom de plume and little else to occupy him other than his poetry. He was also an experienced performer, poet, drummer and artist on the free festival and avant-garde scenes, who was 18 years older than Steve. “The age and class difference between us was never an obstacle,” Penny insists. “I was fucking relieved when he turned up. One of the reasons people had left was because I’d spent the last two years writing a book about the death of Wally Hope, the guy who set up the Stonehenge Festival. In my view, he’d been murdered by the state. The cost of that was that I’d become increasingly dark and increasingly obsessed with finding the answers, and people got fed up with living with a grumpy bastard. Suddenly this delightful young kid comes into my life. He was sweet and lovely. He was 17 and pissed off, while I was 35 and just pissed. It was a good combination. We were saving each other’s skins.” After a mercifully short sojourn as a drum and vocal duo called Stormtrooper, the pair found themselves in a band through adopting the
Dial House open-door policy. Anyone who wanted in, was in. A line-up emerged that saw Steve and Penny augmented by Eve Libertine, Pete Wright, Andy Palmer, Joy De Vivre and Phil Free. Steve named them in tribute to a line from his beloved Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust: “The kids were just crass.” They were so confrontational — and drunk — that legendary punk venue The Roxy banned them. “We invented two-minute thrash,” reckons Penny, who isn’t averse to a hearty brag. “The Pistols and The Clash sounded like rock’n’roll to me. So I don’t actually think there was any precedent. We were fiercely more fast than them. We had no interest in proper chord structures. I wasn’t interested in tunes. I was interested in caging Steve in a wallof-sound. A noise that expressed whatever words we were using. There were times when I overstepped the mark with my avantgardism and Steve would get quite pissed off. But looking back, we both understand now exactly what the other was doing.” Meanwhile, Gee Vaucher had escaped Penny’s Dial House depression and become a hotshot freelance graphic designer in Manhattan. This put her in a position to organise a mini Crass tour of New York. She was so struck by her old friend’s new venture that she rejected Stateside success and returned to Dial House to become Crass’s visual artist. This involved making the stunning Crass sleeve designs and the shocking visuals that occupied five screens while the nowalcohol-free band performed live. “I made videos because they were relatively new at that time,” Gee explains. “I made collages of footage from TV — crossing images of bombs going off with an advert for Daz. I enjoyed it, but I’d have to steel myself. A lot of it was quite heavyduty footage of war victims or victims of crime. I wasn’t always capable of dealing with it. There was one image where people were just picking up dead children and throwing them on a heap. And I repeated that many, many times. You have to detach. And then you walk away and burst into tears the next day. I hope none of it came over as gratuitous.” Despite — because of? — the total lack of support from record companies, radio or music press, Crass were an immediate success. Each single and album topped the newly-established indie charts. Crass had set up their own label with John Loder and had complete control over their work and their cheaper-than-chips pricing policy. Every show — that’s every single show that Crass ever played — was a fundraiser for political activist groups or local charities. The songs screamed bluntly profane but intellectually
sophisticated polemic about animal rights, feminism, race, civil liberties, war, wage slavery and the sickness of organised religion. “We hit some sort of nerve that needed stimulating,” says Penny. “In fairness to the commercial punk of the Sex Pistols and The Clash — they made the nerve raw. They created the platform but then left people in a sort of frustration. The first wave of punk was just prickteasing. And it was obvious to people that we meant what we were saying. The records cost bugger all. Instead of saying, ‘We’re apart,’ they said, ‘This is the problem. How can we cope with it?’ We were accused of being preachy. But we weren’t. We were expressing our own personal anxieties and sharing them. And that was the raw nerve.” The raw nerve invented ‘Crasstafarians’, a black-clad, dirtyhaired army of hippy-punk hybrids who hated the material world and found refuge in the no-compromise stance of Crass and an increasing tribe of anarcho-punk bands such as Conflict (who Steve joined postCrass), Flux Of Pink Indians and Chumbawamba, who were some way off getting knocked down but getting up again for fun and profit. It may have all been a teenage phase for some, but many went on to be artists, D.I.Y. musicians, political activists, eco-warriors, radical care workers, and the prime movers behind P.E.T.A. and the anti-globalisation movement. An official discography will list the usual singles and albums. You can look up that anywhere. But it’s the Situationist scams that generate the best Crass stories. Because Crass really were a lifestyle rather than a band, and quickly found that they could have a bigger impact on the powers-that-be through taking the piss rather than making noisy records. Take the ‘Our Wedding’ triumph, for example. In 1981, Crass made their third album. It was called Penis Envy and was a concept album about feminism largely written and performed by the female members of the band. One result of the sessions was a teen love song parody called ‘Our Wedding’, which, as Rimbaud puts it, was “disgustingly convincing”. But wouldn’t this pastiche of pressures on girls to conform and submit to the lie of perfect romance have more of an effect if it wasn’t just preaching to the converted? So, Andy Palmer went along to the offices of a teen girl magazine called Loving togged out in designer suit and aviator shades and calling himself the frontman for Creative Recording And Sound Services… geddit? “He was very good at pulling that stuff,” says Penny. “And they fell
for it. It was the great free offer in their next ‘Bridal Issue’ — a white flexi-disc with this crap song on it. It was free to anyone who sent in a selfaddressed envelope.” Thousands of copies of ‘Our Wedding’ were distributed to the innocent teen girl readers of Loving. Which would have been funny, to a point… but this was a scam which needed to be rumbled in order for it to have any subversive qualities. Cue a journalist friend of the band who wrote for the tabloids and agreed to take the ‘story’ to the News Of The World… “They published an article called ‘Band Of Hate’s Loving Message,’ which we’d planted,” Penny says, grinning. “There was a serious point behind the jape, because those vile teen publications are just setting girls up in cages. But Fleet Street loves it when another paper falls on its face. So that became the story. We found that out during Thatchergate.” Ah… Thatchergate. This is where you start to suspect that the final three years of Crass’s existence might make a good movie — a cross between conspiracy thriller and Ealing Comedy, perhaps. Crass produced a series of responses to The Falklands War. In doing so, they discovered that Eve Libertine was an excellent Thatcher impersonator. It was obvious what they had to do. Penny takes up the tale: “We wanted to do something which would damage Thatcher in the 1983 election. We decided to do a conversation between Thatcher and Reagan and make it into a telephone call. So Pete Wright came up with the idea of editing Reagan’s own speeches from radio. He spent the next month with hours of tapes and a scalpel, editing words together to make a conversation. We’d got hold of some classified information about the sinking of The Belgrano and The Sheffield, which had come to us via a sailor. There had almost been a mutiny because the sailors knew exactly why The Sheffield had been hit. But this was dangerous stuff to muck about with. We couldn’t just say it, on a record or anywhere else.” So Pete made 10 copies of a fake Thatcher-Reagan phone call, splicing his cut-ups of Reagan explaining why Europe was now a nuclear ‘theatre of war’, into Eve imparting the Falklands info. In order to avoid discovery by MI5 and MI6, the 10 copies were taken to Europe and posted to 10 major European newspapers. “And… nothing happened,” Penny says, laughing. The 1983 election, with its Thatcher landslide, came and went. Then, suddenly, a few months later, a strange news story from America. “The Pentagon made a statement
— tapes discovered by Pentagon of KGB tactics to force a Third World War. That was actually one of the headlines. We’re sitting here in the Essex countryside with the sun shining, and we’re being told that we’ve just set up the Third World War! It became a big story in America, and eventually appeared in The Sunday Times. But none of these stories made any mention of the content of these mysterious tapes.” A week after the Sunday Times story a journalist from The Observer rang Dial House and asked Penny and co. what they knew about “the KGB Tapes”. “Of course we said, ‘What the fuck are you talking about?’ What was shocking was that we’d done everything in absolute secrecy. I don’t know to this day how he found out.” Crass did a deal with The Observer writer. If they admit they made the tapes, will he publish the information about The Falklands war in full? He agreed. “So we managed to get that classified information into the public domain. It was too late to have an effect on Thatcher, but from then on things just went mad. We were no longer a punk band. We were a covert cell of wild underground types, which we were, in many respects. But The State recognised that fully. We were under surveillance. It was not a nice place to be. And then the KGB got in touch.” Excuse me? “They got in touch as a Russian literary magazine that was interested in our work. We didn’t believe them. They set up a meeting off Cromwell Road in London. Me, Pete and Andy went along. They were trying to recruit us. But it was like being in a bad Bond movie. When we arrived, there was a bloke standing outside wearing a fawn-coloured mac with the collar turned up, with a fucking Trilby and a newspaper! It was that fucking stupid. The flat we went into wasn’t lived in. People we knew had said, ‘Don’t touch the vodka!’ But we did, because what else were we going to do except get pissed at eleven in the morning? So we got more and more pissed and he tried to get more and more information, and then there was a knock at the door. What we’d done was arrange for the American TV channel CBS, who wanted to do an interview with us, to meet us there to do the interview. So they march in and start setting up, and the KGB bloke doesn’t know what to do. He can’t tell ’em to fuck off. So we hyped up the temperature a bit by mentioning keywords like Belgrano and Thatcher, eventually gave each other a wink, and got up and walked out. Leaving the KGB to deal with CBS. And then we went down the pub.”
The band increasingly becoming a magnet for both extremist desperados and state surveillance was just one of the seeds of Crass’s destruction, as Penny explains. “Another time the remains of The Baader-Meinhoff Group got in touch to ask how they could be of service. Delightful couple. They’d cycled all the way from Germany. They did bank jobs to finance what was left of the group. I mean, we’d always promoted pacifism and this stuff created obvious contradictions. I’d got sick of just standing by and watching the police march people off at protests. I’d given a policeman a whack at a march in Hyde Park for the first time and it had been a pleasurable experience. But at what point you pull a trigger rather than punch a face, I don’t know. And, as we’d already said that 1984 was our stopping point, we were already creating our own demise. We couldn’t hold it together as a group of people anymore. There was a big split between those who wanted to push harder, and those who wanted to retreat.” Gee proffers a more prosaic theory for the band’s split. “Eventually it started to suffer because of what usually happens to rock bands; people putting us on a pedestal and waiting for The Oracle to speak.” We haven’t heard from Steve yet. So it’s about time we did. “I’d never said anything about splitting in 1984! But I was relieved when it was over. It came out of the blue. We were driving back home from a miner’s benefit in Aberdare and Andy said, ‘I wanna leave the band.’ A few miles further down the road and me and Eve Libertine were saying that we’d been thinking about it, too, but didn’t know how to say it. We all secretly felt it, I think. It was a good gig to end on.” Steve is funny and perfectly interesting when talking about the often ludicrous extremes of self-sacrifice and political correctness involved in being the frontman for the world’s most anti-rock rock band. But I haven’t quoted him about that because he’s even better on what he did next. After his stint in Conflict, Steve became a children’s entertainer. Sort of. “We’re known as Swatchelomis. I did that for about nine years. I read some books about the history of Punch and Judy and was going to write an album about it. So, in order to inspire myself, I made myself a Mr Punch figure. Then I made more puppets. Then I made a booth. And then I thought, ‘Might as well perform it.’ So I bought a swazzle [the reed and metal device one needs to do the Punch voice] and started getting gigs here and there. I got an agent and
started doing kids’ birthday parties, which I hated with a vengeance, so I went back to just setting up in the street. I’d do festivals every year. It seems weird, but it actually made sense. I started researching the history of Punch, and realised he was Britain’s first anarchist. He’s a hunchback who outwits a magistrate, knocks out a policeman and tricks a hangman into his own noose. In the original script, he defeats the devil at the end, and the last lines are: ‘Huzzah huzzah! The Devil’s dead! Now we can do what we want!’” Always a tricky bastard, that ‘doing what you want’, even for notorious anarchists. Half of Crass want to release these Crassical Collection CD remasters and reissue the vinyl in its original form. Half the band, led by Pete Wright, want Penny, Gee and Steve to cease and desist. It could all end up in the hands of lawyers. “I got told that Pete was gonna take us to the High Court,” Steve remembers. “I had to work in a pub that night. So there I am, up to me arms in a sink washing other people’s plates, doing this really menial task, thinking: ‘Fucking hell. Hardline anarchist punk band Crass can’t sort out a problem without running to the apron-strings of Mummy System.’ How ironic can that be?” So, despite the best-laid plans, not even Crass can avoid being just like a typical rock band in at least one familiar way — former members bickering at each other in the press and in the courts about absolutely fuck all. Still, no one said Crass were perfect. Least of all Crass. They were and continue to be utterly unique, though. And their legacy is hugely inspiring in ways far deeper and more profound than just music. “There is a different way you can do things,” Gee declares, summing up what Crass stood for in her usual direct way. “The way you live, the way you eat, the way you dress, the way you perform, the way you create… it doesn’t have a formula. The formula is: be true to your heart, and follow that. And if you’re out on a limb and no one agrees with you… so be it. We gave a lot of people the confidence to do that.” And while Steve Ignorant never got to be Bowie, he has a very sincere and emotional understanding of what his weird band of young punks and old hippies came to mean to people: “Sometimes it’s hard to take in. There was a bloke at my gig in Durham recently who’d left his father’s deathbed to come, because he wanted to say thank you to me. People desperate to let you know… thanks. And to have that, to this day, is just mind-blowing. I know I didn’t come out of it with thousands of pounds. But what I have got is that I
can go into any pub in England and someone will come up to me, thank me for what I did, and buy me a beer. Nine times out of 10 they’ll be doing something really worthwhile with their lives. Wherever I go in the world, chances are I’m going to bump into someone in a Crass tshirt. And if they ask me about it, the least I can give in return is 20 minutes of my time. David Bowie’s never given that to me.”
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LEMMY ENTERTAIN YOU Resolutely stuck in their ways and, of course, that’s the reason why Motörhead never fucking die. Words by JEREMY ALLEN Photograph by RICHIE HOPSON
hirty-five years and 20 studio albums in and the amphetaminefuelled juggernaut traverses on, titillating, terrifying and entertaining as ever. Like all truly great British institutions, Motörhead just seem to get more popular with age. Like Mark E. Smith, Coronation Street, Morrissey, Monty Python, Yorkshire pudding and James Bond, they somehow keep increasing their fanbase. There’s a new album coming soon, The World Is Yours, and a European tour taking place right now — more proof, if you need it, that Motörhead refuse to wither or capitulate, or even grow old. Speaking of 007, The World Is Yours sounds like a Bond film title, and there are comparisons to be drawn. Lemmy, who like James has been accused of being a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur” is a man of action, a shagger and a charmer. He is the Bond of leering, heavy rock’n’roll — an agent provocateur existing in a parallel dimension; a relic of a bygone age who nonetheless manages to exhilarate modern audiences. The formula doesn’t change much from outing to outing, but the band always remembers to pack in the thrills. The World Is Yours sounds undeniably familiar yet also remarkably fresh. And then there are the girls. We meet at Stringfellows strip club in central London. Peter Stringfellow isn’t here in person, but his presence hangs over the place like a ghost needing exorcism. He’s in the zebra-print chairs, and in the miles of mirrors on walls and ceilings; he’s in the drinks and the food-on-sticks and the drapes; he’s even peering out of a pile of displaced and incongruous in-flight magazines sat on one of the tables, his ogre-ish grin and orange face inanimate and captured in a moment, like an unwanted sofa on Gumtree. The bar is free and half-naked young women writhe around poles. The collected party of journalists doesn’t really know where to look. They turn their backs to the dancing and chat furtively among themselves. I keep looking, in the name of research, and notice one of the dancers laughing to herself as her nipple falls out of her mesh unitard for the umpteenth time. Some of Motörhead’s dancers are here, too, and one tells me she can’t understand how these girls can dance when the music is being played so quietly. I’m not sure how anyone can dance without two bottles of vodka in them. A short press conference ensues and then I’m whisked off to a fire escape to meet Lemmy. The
location is chosen so he can smoke and he generously dishes out the Marlboro reds like a favourite uncle you’re not really allowed to see. I park myself on a flight of concrete steps and he reclines in one of Stringy’s zebra-print thrones that’s been brought in from the club. Somehow he manages to look good in one of Stringy’s zebra-print thrones, Confederate hat and black Nazi boots set against the cold, bare backdrop of a fire escape; a creature in his own environment. Lemmy lives in L.A. these days, and I wonder if it’s more difficult to smoke there than here. He doesn’t think there’s much in it. “L.A. was the first place to ban smoking. It was the fucking waitresses in the fucking bars that did it. I wouldn’t have tipped them had I known.” When I was outside smoking earlier, I witnessed Lemmy arrive and it brought home just how famous he really is. Old women and men with rucksacks, students and tourists, and people who probably have no more than a passing interest in music, all stopped and gawped in awe. “Sometimes it’s just horror,” he remarks, wearily. Motörhead formed in 1975 after Lemmy had been thrown out of space rockers Hawkwind. He’d been busted for drugs on the Canadian border and his decision to form a group was borne out of the need to not get fired again. He’d taken Hawkwind to number three in 1972 with ‘Silver Machine’, which he happened to sing on by chance when lead singer Robert Calvert, who suffered from bipolar disorder, couldn’t make it to the studio. The success of the record further compounded resentment towards the bass player. Motörhead are named after the final song that Lemmy wrote for Hawkwind. Originally they were going to be called Bastard. Thirty-five years is a long time to hold down a job in this day and age, especially one as precarious as being in the world’s loudest rock band. That’s two years longer than Christ walked the earth. “And twice as long as the Third Reich,” says Lemmy. “No, three times as long as the Third Reich, next year.” And you just keep on going. “Because that’s what I do. I don’t know how to do anything else, and besides it’s a good gig. I recommend it. It beats the shit out of being a journalist, I can tell you that.” He has a point. Lyrically, the new album is more disaffected than ever, though Lemmy says, “I was disaffected a long time before this”. Yet the title of the album is uncharacteristically upbeat.
“It’s sarcasm. It’s very ironic. ‘The world is yours’ because it’s becoming less and less yours everyday.” Do you really believe the world is a worse place than when you started the band 35 years ago? “Yeah, I do. It’s like another planet. You wouldn’t believe what it was like then. If you could go back, you wouldn’t come back here.” But aren’t those ideas just perpetuated by media scaremongering? A much bigger, more invasive, more ubiquitous media... “The media told you you’re having a recession, right? Do you have one? Think about it. Have you noticed the effects of it?” Um… “So why should you go with it? It’s a load of crap. Like the church convinced people there was an invisible man in the sky that sees everything you do.” He grins or maybe grimaces. It’s a look of pleasure and pain. “That’s a good story, too.” In the dark ages, the multitudes couldn’t read and so therefore relied on trusted clergy to convey information they believed to be the truth, and Lemmy says the fact it was conveniently written in Latin added a further obstacle. But now we live in a more enlightened age, of course. “You think!?” he barks. “We’re still raping our own children, aren’t we?” Excuse me? Do you mean the Catholic church? “No, I mean everybody is. Fathers raping their own children, boy and girl. They put it on the internet and show all the other molesters, too. It’s fucking disgraceful. The greatest communication device known to man, ever, and they use it for child porn. Isn’t it great? You can trust the human race, man, they never fail.” But surely there have always been good people and there have always been evil, fuckedup people... “I think it’s too much information. Most people don’t deserve that much information. They can’t cope with it. I mean, half the world hasn’t got the internet because they’re up to their knees in rice paddy. But half the world is becoming more couch potato-like because they never get out of the fucking house anymore. All they do is sit in front of a computer and order their food from a fucking take-out delivery. That’s what it’s becoming. We’re all in our rooms. We’re easier to control if we stay at home.” So you think it’s all about control? He
glances conspiratorially, as if about to impart the unutterable. “The government, the church, I’m sure they’re in some form of fucking deep conspiracy, although I don’t believe in conspiracies.” He laughs ironically. “But a lot of those conspiracy theories are true, you know. They’re always looking to control you because that way you’ll be a good little citizen. You’ll go to work, you’ll not go on strike, not have long holidays, not start a revolution and they’ll be safe. The main thing is preserving the status quo, right? Because that’s how they make their money. If it changes, they don’t like it. “That’s why Obama has not been able to do much in America, because for the last year he’s been blocked by Congress and the Senate and it’s going to be even worse now the Republicans have got control of the House of Representatives again. But you have to give the guy more than two years.” ‘Brotherhood Of Man’ is one of the standout tracks on the record, as dark as it is menacing and in a similar vein to ‘Orgasmatron’. Lemmy concurs, claiming that he “couldn’t think of any other voice to do on it. The voice fits it perfectly.” Thankfully, it doesn’t sound anything like the 1976 Eurovision Song Contest winners of the same name. The lyrics paint a bleak picture of modern times and I wonder what Lemmy would suggest as a solution? “I don’t see that I have to have a solution, I see that I have to ask the question. I mean, I’m not a politician, so that’s why I can still ask the question. And I’m not a fucking genius, so that’s why I don’t have the answers.” If the world has changed beyond all recognition in the past 30-odd years, you can bet your ass Lemmy hasn’t. He’s one of the last torchbearers of rock’s ignoble tradition, touchingly devoted to his antediluvian ideals. For a man with his reputation, it’s also a miracle he’s in such good nick. “That’s just luck,” he claims. “Believe me, I’ve not been putting no Oil of Ulay on every night. This is luck.” For every Lemmy, or Keith Richards, there must be hundreds who’ve died and made headlines and thousands upon thousands who’ve expired with no fanfare. Lemmy says that moderation is the key and at first I think he’s joking. Lemmy has many stories attached to him and one I heard was that he used to make everyone in his entourage drink to “ensure they weren’t cunts” back in the eighties. “You have to learn how to be moderate,” he says. “You have to know what’s good for you and what isn’t. What isn’t is overdoing it, and you end up sweating profusely. That’s very bad news and that attracts the police as well. What you’ve gotta learn is how to do it in moderation. “If you overdo booze, it’ll kill you. If you overdo heroin... well, you don’t even need to overdo heroin, just do heroin and it’ll kill you. If you overdo speed or coke, it’ll send you nuts. But there is a way through it: you can do everything in moderation. You just have to be content with a bit of a buzz and not going to the moon all the time.” Lemmy’s idea of moderation is to drink all day every day, but without binge drinking. He’s surely lost people along the way. “No end of them, yeah,” he laments. “Most of my generation that I hung around with are gone.
And when I say gone, I don’t mean dead particularly, though I’m sure a lot of them wish they were. There’s a couple in mental hospitals and a couple endlessly going in and out of rehab. Heroin killed my generation and now it’s about to kill this one by the looks of it. How can death be fashionable? Aren’t there enough corpses piled up between 1916 and now?” “Rock’n’roll is the only true religion,” he opines on new track ‘Get Back In Line’. It’s also life and death stuff. “Every religion has its masters, my boy!” he says, chuckling demonically. “I believe in rock’n’roll. I’d much rather listen to Little Richard than some asshole preaching to me from a pulpit, because I think Little Richard summed it up a lot better when he said, ‘Tutti frutti, oh Rudy, a wopbop-a-loom-a-blop-bam-boom.’ I don’t think any priest I ever heard got it quite that right.” Famously, Lemmy’s father was a vicar, though he says he never really knew him, leaving baby Ian Kilmister as he did when he was just three months old. “Up until I was about six I thought everybody just had a mother,” he says. Did that experience shape his anti-religiosity? “No, not at all. But I did escape the fatherly presence. You know: ‘Let’s go hunting, son, and kill a small furry animal.’ I didn’t get that shit and I didn’t get the fighting between them. That destroys kids even more than if one of them leaves. Parents fighting all the time is fucking awful for a kid. “I met my father for the first time when I was 25. He offered to pay for me to have lessons as a travelling salesman. I nearly hit him with the pizza he’d just ordered. I said, ‘Fuck you, it’s your terms you’re looking for, not mine. You’re not interested in me, you’re interested in your guilt, so fuck you.’ And off I went.” Lemmy didn’t need to become a travelling salesman. Instead, he embarked on an incredible journey that runs pervasively through rock history like letters through a stick of rock. He even roadied for the greatest guitarist the world has ever seen, Jimi Hendrix. “That was a special moment,” he says. “I mean that guy... you listen to him now and it can sound kind of ordinary because a lot of people have learnt to do those solos now — to play like that — but back then he was the only one doing anything like it. And I still ain’t seen nobody even now who can master his control of feedback, because when he played feedback it sounded like an instrument.” As we’re winding up I ask him why he chose Stringfellows. What’s the point of strip clubs? You’re not really meant to masturbate in public if you’re a gentleman. “Yeah, but if you’re persuasive you can always get a woman to meet you afterwards,” he says, smiling, embodying the persona of that naughty avuncular elder once again. I’m about to say something, but Lemmy cuts in. “No, no, I used to do it before I was famous. You have more time before you’re famous because you ain’t got fuck all else to do. Before I was doing all this I was just hanging out in London selling a bit of speed and a bit of dope, and pulling all these birds.” The Stool Pigeon and Motörhead reconvene the following day at John Henry’s studios off the Caledonian Road. We’re here to chat to
drummer Mikkey Dee but we have to wait as Motörhead must practise. Watching most bands rehearse is a punishment on a par with waterboarding. This, however, feels like a rare privilege. Aside from outings in Japan, they’ve not played together in a while, although that’s certainly not apparent once they get going. Crew lounge around drinking cans of Strongbow while a George Carlin lookalike is discreetly chopping away at something in the corner with his bank card. Their sound guy is blessed with a tremendous porn ponytail and their formidable manager, with her Teutonic rasp, goldilocks and icy demeanour, is exactly how one imagines Nico was in her latter years. Phil Campbell, guitarist, is unassuming, sitting on a chair and doing what he needs to, saying very little. And then there’s Mikkey Dee, drummer par excellence, a likeable, extrovert character with a mighty yellow mane who has the look of a righteous wrestler crossed with an extremely hard panda. You think WWF. Whenever Motörhead play live, Lemmy always introduces Mikkey as the greatest drummer in the world. Lemmy isn’t given to lying, so how does that make him feel? “It doesn’t make me go nuts but, yes, it’s nice to hear him say that. He knows that I’ve played with a lot of competent, very technical musicians — guitar heroes and fantastic bass players — but I’ve never played in another band like this. I go on stage and these two just smoke away everything I’ve ever done. That’s what I think of these guys, and it’s very nice to hear that they appreciate that I’m busting my fucking Swedish meatballs out there!” Mikkey’s ongoing tenure in the band is approaching 20 years now, and I wonder if he ever gets tired of critics harping back to the Lemmy/Phil Taylor/‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke days, proclaiming it will always be the definitive line-up. “It doesn’t wind me up because Motörhead was a great band in those days,” he says. “They were the originals and I’m also dragging my old shit, King Diamond, behind me. I always get questions about that. But I’ll tell you the difference between today and 15 years back. At a press conference, if 20 questions were asked, 11 would have been about the old days. Today, only one. And people totally have the right — they wanna hear what Lem has to say about the past. It doesn’t piss me off at all. I’m just proud and glad that I could step in 20 years ago. I had two options and that was to either replace Phil Taylor or to put Mikkey Dee in the band. I chose the second.” So why has this Motörhead incarnation lasted so long when others have faltered? “Because we are very honest. We go out and give it our absolute everything, and kids today can see and feel that. They have so much access to music. You can’t fool them by faking it like you could in the early eighties or seventies. If Phil wakes up with stomach flu and Lemmy’s got a cold and I just broke a bone in my hand, it doesn’t matter — it’s going to be a good Motörhead show.” And with that they’re off to start another tour. The hardest working men in showbusiness — official — will always deliver. Like Mikkey says: “Motörhead never fucking dies.”
There’s an odour of sanctity with reformed addict PERFUME GENIUS, a singer-songwriter who’s been kicking up quite a stink all year long.
Words by Alex Denney Photograph by Inzajeano Latif
erhaps the most pleasing thing about the furiously disseminated backstory of Washington state resident Mike Hadreas, a.k.a. bare-bones balladeer Perfume Genius, is that it plays out like a Hollywood biopic. The human brain is trained to prefer certain narrative archetypes over others, and the 26year-old singer-songwriter’s is the kind creators of popular entertainment the world over regularly go bananas for.
In a nutshell, that story goes: moves to New York to pursue a relationship, gets fucked up on drink and drugs, flees back to Everett, WA to stay with his mum, spends couple of years getting straight, finds way to channel pain through music, moves to Seattle. It’s got the definite ring of redemption-in-the-movies, hasn’t it? Hadreas pauses a moment, as if weighing up the ingenuity of what he’s about to say. “To be honest, after I moved [from my mother’s] I went back to drugs for a year. And now I’ve been clean for about another year after that.” You did what? Hadreas gives one of his trademark jittery laughs. “It’s kind of a fragile thing for me — a daily thing. But it does help to talk about it. It’s really strange… I mean, I play in a lot of bars and that’s how I’ve learned to be social. But most of the friendships I’ve had, and the time we’ve shared, I’ve been drinking. “I’ve been to bars since quitting and ordered a Diet Coke, but it’s dif-
ficult. It’s like you’re learning how to be yourself for the first time, you know? I was a lot more gregarious when I was getting high, and eventually a lot of people that liked me originally ended up avoiding me. I think they feel it forces them to look at their own behaviour.” Did you seek help getting straight again? “I was really resistant [to the recovery programs],” he says. “I wanted to think I could do it on my own but it’s been helpful. When you see these people from different walks of life with the same problems, you feel more part of the world again. If you’re all strung-out on drugs and you see people going to work and you’re still awake from the previous night, it makes you feel separate from everyone else.” The Perfume Genius album Learning — released in June this year on Turnstile — was an astonishing collection of spare, emotive piano-and-synth-laden hymnals to a dark period in time, evoking Antony & The Johnsons and Daniel
Johnston, among others, and confirming Hadreas as a singular talent for the future. Now deep into the business of composing a follow-up, he’s taking time off from writing with a brief jaunt around Europe. Do you intend on taking a different tack this time around after the stark self-revelation of Learning? “Some of the new stuff is less directly documenting my experience,” he says. “I guess it’s more about the healing part that comes after all that stuff. And it’s hard to make songs like that ’cause it could so easily end up cheesy. The challenge is to be honest about that without it coming off a little saccharine, I guess.” A couple such tracks come to the fore during Perfume Genius’ show at Camden’s Cecil Sharp House, a peculiar community centre venue whose seated faithful spans a surprisingly wide age range. Maybe the oldies just want to mother him (“I do look like a toddler,” he gamely concedes). One track is
performed solo with an acoustic guitar, a format Hadreas says he’d like to explore further. “Yeah, that’s a new thing. I taught myself some chords. I mean, it’s even more simple than my piano playing. It’s nice, though — it forces you to think differently. I like that song a lot. I called it ‘Normal Song’, ’cause it’s with the guitar — just a straight-up singer-songwriter, acoustic-guitar-guy song. Ha ha.” Now that you’re back on the straight-and-narrow, is there any part of you that wants to fuck things up for the sake of having something to write about? “I want to sabotage things all the time,” he says. “But I think it’s because I know how to deal with that more than if things are going well. With some people it’s like an addiction — keeping themselves far below what they’re capable of. I definitely have some of that too, I don’t know why.” Let’s hope this good man doesn’t go keeping himself down any longer.
Like A Surgeon The Stool Pigeon interview with ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Interview by Daddy Bones Photograph by Tom Bingham More than 30 years of cutting satire have made ‘WEIRD AL’ YANKOVIC a comedy megastar in the US. Now he’s daring to be stupid in the UK for the first time.
From humble beginnings in 1976 as an amateur contributor to a novelty radio show in his native California, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic has sung, rapped, acted, aped and generally mocked his way to the very top of his game: comedy music. No, don’t laugh. In fact, yes, do laugh. But at least know that it’s no big joke. Since he first rendered The Knack’s 1979 new wave anthem ‘My Sharona’ into a screwball polka entitled ‘My Bologna’, he has been a regular exclamation mark in the saga of pop media, satirising music, film and cultural phenomena at will and with exquisite pungineering, all the while clocking up over 12 million album sales and winning three Grammys. The 1980s were his boom time. His 1983 debut album serendipitously caught the cresting wave of MTV as it broke into TV sets across the globe, reinventing music marketing. Thus many ‘Weird Al’ singles since have been promoted by an equally zany video and, throughout the eighties, it seemed like Al and the channel were made for each other. Parodies of Madonna (‘Like A Surgeon’), Michael Jackson (‘Eat It’ and ‘Fat’), James Brown (‘Living With A Hernia’) and Joan Jett (‘I Love Rocky Road’) were put on rotation by MTV and, within a year of his first appearance on the network, he was hosting his own Al TV show. By 1989 he had a feature film, UHF, released worldwide. The following decades witnessed ever-sharper satire (acts like Nirvana and Red Hot Chili Peppers claim they never knew they’d really made it big until Al had flipped their hits), but once MTV had fully fractured into several less tangible lifestyle channels, Yankovic’s megastardom waned in the UK, and he’s now practically unknown to the latest generations here, despite continued iconic status in the US. At the time of this interview, an online fan campaign to have Al’s fame embodied in a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame was about to hit a donations level of $25,000. He’s due a reintroduction to the UK, not least because he’s never yet been able to bring over his epic live show. However, thanks to Godspeed You! Black Emperor, headliners and curators of December’s All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, Alfred Matthew Yankovic and his long-serving backline — rightfully hailed as “the greatest cover band in the world” — will be giving some lucky Britons a spectacular pre-Christmas dose of weird at Butlin’s in Minehead, and then at a solo show in London. Corrective eye surgery and a modicum of good taste have done away with the once-famous spectacles and moustache, respectively, but the “poodle-perm wig” (actually his own natural, untreated hair) and ear for a wacky twist on the pop zeitgeist remain his stock-in-trade. As does his penchant for the accordion, god help us.
SP Can we start at the beginning? Few people in the UK will know of the Dr. Demento Show on US radio, on which you got your first exposure. WA It’s how I got started doing what I do. I never anticipated I’d be ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic for a living. I went to college to do a degree in architecture. I thought I’d be an adult by now and have a grown-up job, but when I was in my mid-teens I was a fan of the show. The good Doctor played all sorts of strange, odd, demented novelty tunes by the likes of Spike Jones, Stan Freberg, Frank Zappa; a world of music I wasn’t familiar with. It struck a responsive chord with me and I thought, ‘Y’know, maybe I could do that.’ I started writing funny songs and recording them with my accordion in my bedroom, on a tiny cassette recorder.
and it’s not like I was running off to Hollywood to try to be a star. I was graduating with a degree. I think they trusted that I wouldn’t do something entirely crazy. The nicest thing my dad ever told me was that the only real measure of success is doing what you wanna do in life for a living. So as long as I was happy, I was successful.
SP Your first album came out in 1983… WA Yeah, 1983, eponymously titled. The timing couldn’t have been better. I’ve just finished reading the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and it reminded me of my career, because my first album came out virtually with the start of MTV and they were just really in need of programming. Their people were like, ‘Okay, let’s have a 24-hour music video channel, but, oh, we need people to make music videos!’ My first couple of videos were extremely low budget and, quite frankly, they weren’t SP Why the accordion? WA Because that’s the only instrument that I had! that good. But MTV desperately needed something to When I was seven, my parents decided I should take put on the air. I was in the right place at the right time accordion lessons. I can’t imagine I was begging for and I got a lot of early exposure, just because they came lessons. I think that was a parental decision — to make about at the same time I did. me really popular in high school. SP With your parody songs is it a case of ‘hear a SP Were you not into ‘normal’ pop music at all as new song, pun the title and work backwards’? a kid? WA That’s one of the ways. I can either do that, or if WA Not when I was a kid. Later, I listened to the Top I have a very topical subject matter, I’ll reverse-engineer 40 and FM stations, and I got an appreciation for the and find a song that goes along with it. rock music of the time. I’d try to play along with my accordion and my friends would laugh at me, because SP Do you genuinely need to love a song to there’s something inherently funny about rock’n’roll parody it? Or are some songs just too ripe not to music played on the accordion. So I learned early on the parody, whether good or bad? It helps. It’s not essential that I love a song I connection between my chosen instrument and humour. WA want to parody, but in all honesty I’ll pick a song that I actually like because in the back of my mind I know that SP What was your big break, so to speak? WA I was a 19-year-old college student and I ran I’ll have to live with it for the rest of my life, singing it on into The Knack who were doing a show at my college, stage every night. I don’t really wanna be playing one and they had heard my recording of ‘My Bologna’ on the that’ll drive me crazy. Dr. Demento Show, which I’d recorded in the men’s bathroom across the hall from my college radio station. SP You always ask permission of the artists and It didn’t have much production value, but for the listen- their labels before you parody a song, is that correct? ership of the Dr. Demento Show it was a hit! Doug WA I always think it’s a grey area, legally. I could Fieger, the lead singer of The Knack, offhandedly men- probably get away with not asking permission, but I’ve tioned to Rupert Perry, head of A&R at Capitol Records, always wanted it to be above-board so that the artists who happened to be in the room: ‘Hey, you should put are in on the joke, and don’t feel like they’re getting their this out,’ and Rupert said: ‘Uh, okay!’ It was considered toes stepped on. More often than not, I don’t talk to a kind of one-off joke, but it got me thinking: ‘Boy, this them personally, but my peeps talk to their peeps and seems a lot more fun than being an architect! Maybe I work out a deal. should do this for real.’ SP Do you preapprove the idea or theme of the SP What did your parents think at the time? parody with the artists, too? WA I don’t think they were ever really worried about WA I at least take their temperature because I got me because I was always practical and adult-minded, burned once or twice very early on. I see if they will
approve a concept based on one of their songs, and when they’ve done that they’ve never had a problem with my finished work. One odd exception was Eminem. I did a parody a couple of years ago of ‘Lose Yourself’ called ‘Couch Potato’. He was fine with me recording the song but while we were in preproduction for shooting the video we heard back from him: ‘Oh, you can’t do a video for it.’ We were like, ‘What? No?’
WA Well, it’s not squeaky clean; it’s got a bit of a bite, but it’s certainly not X-rated.
WA Oh yeah, I’ve seen a few over the course of my career, mostly fans doing their versions of my songs.
SP It can’t help also that there’s a lot of material out there misattributed to you. WA That is a pet peeve of mine. The internet has been very good to me in a number of ways, but my biggest problem is that a lot of songs [mis]attributed to me that are somewhat vulgar, or just not that good. I’ve had a number of parents say, ‘I’m never letting my kid listen to ‘Weird Al’ again after this filthy song I found on the internet!’
SP Ah, yes — your songs. We should point out that only half of what you do is parody of existing material. WA Oh yeah. So there’s those and did you ever see SP ...and vegetarian, too. Makes me wonder why Mr. Show over there? It was on HBO in the States about Paul McCartney didn’t let you parody ‘Live And Let 10 years ago. They did a brief bit where they had a charDie’, as planned. acter call Daffy Mal Yinkle Yankle, a bit of a vicious WA Oh, now I hate to see Paul’s name dragged into parody of me. Every now and then somebody will take a this because he’s been a terrific sport. In fact, I got to shot. But it’s cool. direct Paul in a short 3-D movie I did last year. He’s a wonderful guy and a great friend. The only reason he SP I guess you’ve got to get as good as you give, had a problem with ‘Chicken Pot Pie’ is that he didn’t take the rough with the smooth and all that. want the song to condone the eating of animal flesh. I WA But of course. thought that was a valid reason and I had no problem with it. He said: ‘If you can think of a different subject SP It’s quite a badge of honour to be Yankofied. matter or take on the song, I’d be happy for you to do it.’ Several artists have said that they had no idea how But I couldn’t. big they were until Al Yankovic did their song. WA I suppose it’s like being on The Simpsons; it’s SP It’s not just artists you have to deal with over a rite of passage, it’s a sign that you’ve reached a certain permission, though, is it? I mean, if you’re going to do plateau in your career. Better than at the beginning of a song about eBay or Star Wars, as you have, you my career when it was, ‘‘Weird Al’? Who?’ need to approach these huge companies… Where does Yankovic come from? WA That’s true. Well, sometimes we get permission SP My grandparents were Yugoslavian. I’d say my and sometimes we don’t. Because it’s so difficult to deal WA with international corporations, we just do it and hope nationality is half-Yugoslavian, a quarter English and a they have a sense of humour. Like in the case of eBay [‘I quarter Italian. Bought It On eBay’ done to Backstreet Boys’ ‘I Want It For years I thought you were Jewish. Oops. That Way’], I don’t think we actually got their permis- SP Ha! I’m an honorary Jew. sion. But they were so happy when the song came out WA that they flew me to a big convention to perform it for And an only child. their shareholders! However, I did have to get permis- SP As is my kid. And my wife! We’re all familiar sion from Steven Spielberg for ‘Jurassic Park’, and per- WA mission for [Forrest] ‘Gump’. Thankfully a lot of people with the paradigm of the only child. My daughter, Nina, in the industry realise it’s all good fun, and good promo- is seven years old and has no aunts and uncles! But she’s got lots of friends and is very social. We’re just tion for them, really. enjoying every day with her. SP Taking a comedy route actually afforded you a You’re not going to push the accordion on her, life of unusual opportunities, maybe even more so SP are you? than a ‘normal’ rock star… Oh no. We gave her some piano lessons but she WA Every morning I wake up amazed that I still get WA to do what I do. Because of all the genres I’ve spanned never really took to them. She’s an excellent artist, and all the time I’ve been able to ‘hang around’ in the though. Great with animals, great with art. So I don’t business, I’ve managed to meet an amazing group of know what the future holds for her. people and been invited to all sorts of things which Painting animals? Sorry. Hey, you haven’t never, in my wildest dreams, did I think I’d be a part of. SP been remotely weird during this interview. Whoever It has been quite a ride. called you that in the first place? Ah, gosh. I don’t know. People are just cruel, SP You’ve played over 1000 live shows, and yet WA never performed in Europe before… y’know? WA That’s true. It’s always been something I wanted to and, until this year, we just haven’t been able to work SP Aren’t they, though? Well, you don’t seem it out where I could go and not lose a tonne of money. weird to me. Weird implies a smear of unpalatable When I do a show, it’s not just me on stage; it’s me, my darkness. You’ve been very affable. I try and save up my weird for special band, there are costume changes — it’s a whole multi- WA media show. It’s expensive to transport overseas, so occasions. we’d have to have a number of guaranteed gigs just to So you’re just a fairly normal, slightly zany break even. This time we’re doing five shows in Europe SP and it looks like we might even make a little bit of chap at home? WA Fairly normal, but slightly zany is just how I’d money. So there we go! put it. I’m certainly not bouncing off the walls 24 hours a SP One of which is All Tomorrow’s Parties. It’s a day. very hip festival. I guess you take certain things in life seriWA Well, now that I’m on there, of course it is! I’m SP extremely gratified to have been invited by Godspeed ously, of course, but you’re not seen as, say, a politiYou! Black Emperor. They’re the ones entirely respon- cised character at all. Well, I have political feelings and leanings, but sible for me coming to Europe. If they hadn’t extended WA the invitation, I wouldn’t have been able to line up the I’m not vocal about them. I have a fan base and I don’t want to alienate half of them with something I’ve said. other dates and I wouldn’t be coming to the UK at all.
SP Your stuff is known to be family-friendly. There’s nothing vulgar in anything you’ve done, really.
SP Have you yourself ever been… let me think of a verb for this… Yankofied? You Yankofy other artists, but has anyone done a mockery of Al Yankovic?
SP But that’s what you’re known for! WA Yeah! I don’t know what his reasoning was. Like, he was okay with the song but he was afraid that a ‘Weird Al’ video would detract from his street cred? I didn’t quite understand his logic. SP …not when there are plenty of rap stars you’ve poked fun at. And here’s a thing: you’ve gone from honking on an accordion and shouting in a bathroom to far more sophisticated send-ups like the Chamillionaire parody, ‘White And Nerdy’. It’s clearly not just mockery. Over the years, you’ve had to learn to sing certain styles and accents, learn to rap... It’s homage; you have to do this properly. WA I don’t consider myself to be an impressionist, but I give it my best shot. My band is comprised of extremely talented musicians and they are excellent at doing everything from polka to gangsta rap. We take pride in paying attention to detail and getting every specific right. SP Because if you don’t, it doesn’t really work. WA Sometimes people denigrate comedy music and what I do because they think, ‘Oh, they can’t be serious musicians,’ or, ‘What kind of talent does that take?’ But in actuality my band has some of the best players in the world, I think. Not only are they extremely versatile, every single genre that they take on, they nail perfectly. SP Are you finding it easier or harder to do what you do as time goes by? WA I’ve been doing it for a long time, so I’ve got more experience and confidence in what I do, but there are several things that make it more difficult. First, I’ve been doing this for so long, it’s difficult for me to be funny in different and fresh ways, and not just repeat myself over and over again. Second, it’s difficult for me to be unique or the first person to ever parody something because of portals like YouTube. I mean, everybody in the world, it seems, is doing their own song parodies now and because the internet is so immediate, people can get their parodies out before I’m able to get a record in the stores. A third one is, and it may be hard for me to articulate this… I don’t think there are as many superstars or even mainstream hits as there used to be. Our pop culture is now so segmented and compartmentalised, I don’t think there’s as much of a communal experience in terms of who is a superstar or what is a hit song. Everything is kind of broken down into their genres and sub-genres and it’s harder to pinpoint what a hit even is any more.
SP You’re a clean-living guy. You’re teetotal, you don’t smoke... WA Yep, pretty clean-cut!
SP It’s not a good idea to mix pop, comedy and politics, I guess. WA Especially because nobody cares what I think!
before he starts firin’ his civil war rifle collection. Froda, ma wife, still got buckshot from one of them darn muskets stuck in the head. But ah don’t mind, she a nicer person now. And that’s what counts. Anyways, so I’m there in dem woods, suddenly I see a light through the trees. I stopped the truck, get out real slow: “Who’s there? Who’s there? Show yourself, you coward!” Sergeant Clem, ma pet beaver starts sniffing the air and doing back flips like I never seen.. “Who’s there? Come on!” Now I’m really scared, and that’s when I see it. Little fella come out the light. It were an alien. I swear it an alien. I think I must have fainted, for the next moment I wake up to the sweetest kisses I ever have tasted but a pain — O Lord, what a pain — in my rectal area. I pushed Clem off ma mouth and turned over to look at ma butt. And damn them aliens to hell, I’d been PROBED! Not only that, the moonshine was gone! I knew the said probing had taken place for there was a hole in my overalls at the allotted crime scene... Now them little men are coming across the vastness of space and time — why? To visit India or the Great Pyramids in Las Vegas? NO.. To get dem three nasty fingers up the humans’ butts. Watch out people, there a war about to begin....
Your Stars With Mental Marvin
“I DON’T KNOW WHAT ORDER THEY COME IN, I JUST FEEL THIS SHIT”
LIBRA SEPTEMBER 24 - OCTOBER 23 The hags mill dance in the dust! ‘Cailleach an dudain’ was a ritualised Scottish dance describing the seasonal variations. A man held a stick or wand over a lady’s head then his own. She fell down dead (play acting, of course). She was mourned and danced around only to be reanimated with another touch of the young man’s wand. More drinking and dancing ensued in the firelight, frosty breath mingled with lust and magic. Play in this very night a cailleach an dudain dance with a loved one and welcome in the winter in old style!
CAPRICORN DECEMBER 23 - JANUARY 20 Here’s something for you to ruminate on: why do aliens come all the way across space and time using the most extraordinary science advanced beyond anything we could possibly imagine to… anally probe us? Almost all abductions end with a good ol’ three-fingered piledrive. Our butts must be very important to them.
“I was over at Pa Wilson’s place when Jedward said there a pile a’ tyres I maht be interested in dem woods near Rosscluffs’. Well, I took off down there in the pickup, I stopped off git me some moonshine, Rosscluff were already drunk and ravin’ like a madman, so I helped meself and got hell out of there
CANCER JUNE 22 - JULY 23 Discover a new radio station this month, settle down with a nice G&T, a pipe or a jazz stick, pop your feet up and peruse the lesser-known garage and grime clunk stations touting their illegal raves from various bootholes and towers of our inner cities. If it all gets too much, switch to Radio 3. You can learn a lot from exploring the sound waves.
LEO JULY 24 - AUGUST 23 Slag.
PISCES FEBRUARY 20 - MARCH 20
Find the green man in the Chapelle de Beauffremont, a mysterious quest awaits you, young prince or princess…
SCORPIO OCTOBER 24 - NOVEMBER 22
TAURUS APRIL 21 - MAY 21
Life is an adventure, make it so. Head down to Dartmoor, hire a pygmy pony (the toughest brutes for the harshest marshy terrain) to ride out into Arthur’s world.. Your forgotten world... Find your grail! Take your clothes off and ride the mini-brute bareback in the
In Darkwood when they awoke, the sword was thrust between Sir Lancelot and Guinevere too late for the Queen. For love may be bright and full to the brim, but look over yonder the light will grow dim. When all love’s consumed and Arthur’s alone, Merlin’s forgotten, no
SAGITTARIUS NOVEMBER 23 - DECEMBER 22 Modern information. Turn on TV’s X Factor. Go to Tesco’s. Can’t help noticing every mag’s got Cheryl Cole on. “New fight with Simon Cowell”. An awful pink fluorescent strand connects the TV to Tesco’s. Simon Cowell is Man of the Year in GQ. Why? Because he’s good at making money. A lurid yellow strand flies off the poster and connects with the pink one. M&S rocks Danni Minogue holding a handbag that fucking rocks, a hideous migraine-like blue line slithers out and connects with the other strands. You can’t help seeing more toxic info unless you cover your head with a bag, each strand connecting into a monstrous mess worthy of the Turner Prize. The sickening cobweb is impossible to escape. As you mentally wither and cease to fight the beastly web, a bulbous spider shifts its way down the strands, stepping over the trapped bodies as it gradually works its way down to you. It looks up with a blank, hideous stare. It’s your move, dear reader.
ARIES MARCH 21 - APRIL 20 Lord Swordcock thwacked his fully taut love muscle into the cheese resting precariously on the dining table, overhanging a slavering King Charles spaniel. “O blast it, give way you cursed block of love mould!” Wankston the butler coughed lightly to let the master know his service. “Wankston, what do you want?” Ah... thwack. “Sir, you tenderise the wrong block. That is the special reserve meant for the Queen’s tea tomorrow.” “Wanky, I’m coming!” “Me too, sir.”
CRYPTIC CROSSWORD ACROSS
VIRGO AUGUST 24 - SEPTEMBER 23
King for the throne. Watch your passions this month, they may get you into trouble!
Don’t waste another minute – our fine land is at its most mystically beguiling this year. Our cities may be dank and foreboding but our fields and forests are rife with spirits, mystery and cheap B&Bs. Get a friend or loved one out into Cernunus’ cradled arms and hear the wise words whispered on the wind through trees of the green man’s soliloquies. Sit on poop and rub it around, scream and shake your fist at the rain. Laugh, and run through the meadows with your trousers round your ankles. Make love… And shout for an audience with the badger king.
GEMINI MAY 22 - JUNE 21
AQUARIUS JANUARY 21 - FEBRUARY 19
thundering rain and lightning, find the sacred stones three miles from Ugborough and scream at the blackening sky your wildest yearnings, then head back to the Travelodge.
1 Order of dog or unfinished rat-men, like a bit of Mandy
1 Whither Elvis; what now, what next, next? (7)
Moore in front of her home. (4,2) 4 Dave, Russell, Shaun or Abi. Or Bill Harkleroad. (5) 7 Order of length concerning colourless, autumnal Louisianans. (6) 8 Like Surfer Blood I’m in south west Toronto, going somewhere. (4,2) 9 Rose Erin broke. (4) 10 Terrier with a real idea confused early French duo. (8) 12 Song-churner’s vehicle wounded club pioneer; not demanding a ‘sorry’? (11) 17 House Drawback; 60s duo and their boundless direction. (8) 19 Band of monkeys type holy book, but miss an article! (4) 20 Genre mown to disarray. (6) 21 Bringer of past meals, or a label for sludge. (6) 22 Discuss when I see shapes, or so urge a bizarre Woomble. (5) 23 Next to the second half of the album, which lacked ecstasy. (6)
2 Iron, what, in Zion? (7) 3 Bit of dEUS or A Perfect Circle? Needy German tears Ad-Mag apart first. (9) 4 see 18d 5 Instrument used by muse to paint my trash. (7) 6 The Killers are starting; no-one on stage except Sam! (6) 11 Bit of a bird numbering group within underground heretics? (5,4) 13 Monster Magenta? Error with RockCon badge! (4,3) 14 The key kill, oddly enough, involved a Swede. (5,2) 15 Drip in swear word, written in longhand? (7) 16 Dance, in a strange bar, to an gentle buzz. (6) 18, 4d Exclamation made on kerb-side; are we in woe, Zoe? (5,5).
Cryptic Crossword No.I compiled by Samuel Kirwan
December 2010 The Stool Pigeon
QUICK CROSSWORD #29
1 Tattersall, Rozycki and Helm's surf-imaged
2 Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg's Long Beach herd (3, 7) 3 Bob Marley's biblical emigration (6) 4 Ra __ ____ Syracuse band, released The
Across Moshi Moshi trio (4, 8) 5 J Mascis's green minded band (8, 2) 9 Damo, Can vocalist (6) 10 Child, Hendrix's posthumous UK number 1 (6) 15 White Rainbow's are new (6) 16 Night of the ______, Iggy Pop live album (6) 17 George Clinton's funky democracy (10) 18 Shaun Ryder and Bez's Madchester outfit (5, 7)
Orchard this year (2, 4)
6 The Mothers Temple's drug of choice (4) 7 Shankar, George Harrison's sitar guru (4) 8 Jools Holland's New Year's Eve music 11 12
XXVIII SOLUTION: ACROSS 1 RECKONING, 7 ROBERTSON, 8 EVIL, 9 CLINIC, 10 ISIS, 11 SUE, 12 RIDE, 17 COLOUR, 18 NUMB 19 TIGERMILK, 20 MARKOLSON DOWN 1 TRACY SCHMINKEL, 2 CURTIS, 3 NEO WAVE, 4 GRAVES, 5 STILLS, 6 CHANK 11 SEASICK, 12 RUN DMC, 13 DUMDUM, 14 BOARDS 15 NOTION, 16 BROKE
programme (10) Legendary Seattle label currently featuring 2 (3, 3) The Beatles returned from there for their White Album (1, 1, 1, 1) Veni Vidi ____ The Hives conquering album (4) Lazy album for 18 across (6)
Crossword No.XXIX compiled by Ed Mugford
Spot The Difference
C A N YO U F I N D A L L 1 0 D I F F E R E N C E S ?
1. slippers 2. tights 3. wheelchair 4. dildo 5. wrist support 6. cup of tea 7. glasses 8. teeth 9. Tesco bags 10. Hildaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 100th birthday party hat
E W Y
E C A
A M H
L M A A A
L M Y
H H V E
O T O E
N M K
H H M
A C E
H E H
B M P C E E
T M K M L
H H E O E
Y N A
M E H O B
L M M
V U H C C R
A A O E O U
G N A M N
P M H O E
U M A
E O E
THE GOOSE IS GETTING FAT SO TIME TO FIND THE CAPITAL LETTERS ONLY AMONG THESE CHRISTMAS NUMBER ONES.
A U O E
A Y A O M T
JOYEUX NOEL WORDSEARCH
Harry BELAFONTE Mary's Boy Child ELVIS Presley Return to Sender Benny Hill Ernie (The Fastest MILKMAN in the West) Slade MERRY XMAS Everybody Queen BOHEMIAN Rhapsody Johnny MATHIS When A Child Is Born Wings Mull of KINTYRE PINK Floyd Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2) The Human LEAGUE Don't You Want Me The Flying PICKETS Only You
Band Aid Do They Know It's CHRISTMAS? SHAKIN' Stevens Merry Christmas Everyone Cliff Richard MISTLETOE and Wine WHITNEY Houston I Will Always Love You Mr BLOBBY Mr Blobby EAST 17 Stay Another Day Michael JACKSON Earth Song SPICE Girls Goodbye Alexandra Burke HALLELUJAH Rage Against the MACHINE Killing in the Name
Tea Break The Stool Pigeon December 2010
Out of Print
Written by Sam Benton
The centrepiece of this year’s Comica Festival is an exhibition that wants the page turned on graphic art
runaway success of the Rude TheBritannia exhibition at Tate Britain earlier this year was proof enough that comic art is an intrinsic part of our cultural heritage, despite always being regarded as second best to socalled ‘fine’ art. But where that show was about the history of the medium and its importance as tool of satire and humour, this one at the London Studio concerns itself more with the potential of graphic art in a digital age. clue’s in the title — That’s Novel: TheLifting Comics Off The Page — but it’s actually slightly misleading. There are pieces here that you regard more as installations, and others that lend themselves to animation or canvas, but ultimately the mostly British artists exhibited seem to reinforce how perfect the medium is suited to being printed. And, yes, of course comic art is real art in its most traditional sense. worth seeing? Darryl Especially Cunningham’s empathetic but nonetheless harrowing contemplation of suicide; the bizarrely charming Metaphrog print that’s exclusive to the exhibition; and good old Savage Pencil, who started off his scribbling career in an inky music newspaper not unlike this.
THAT’S NOVEL: LIFTING COMICS OFF THE PAGE
London Print Studio 425 Harrow Road London W10 4RE
londonprintstudio.org.uk Until December 18
December 2010 The Stool Pigeon
The Stool Pigeon December 2010
BOSSA NOVA AND THE RISE OF BRAZILIAN MUSIC IN THE 1960S Gilles Peterson and Stuart Baker
Chega de Saudade
Soul Jazz Books
This book of classic bossa nova cover art swings so cool and sways so gentle
he size of a CD compared to a vinyl LP was the first nail in the coffin for cover art and downloading has nearas-damn-it killed off the idea of an image working in artistic unity with an album’s music. It’s more than reassuring to know, then, that some people still treasure the craft and with this book Radio 1 DJ Gilles Peterson and Stuart Baker of Soul Jazz — the label housed at Soho’s Sounds of The Universe record shop — have meticulously compiled a selection of some 300 of the finest album covers to emerge from the Brazilian music scene in the 1960s, including amazing images provided for Milton Banana Trio and Elis Regina. It’s the first book of its kind and it’s a visual feast of sharp, stylish design and progressive graphic work. Bossa Nova… is not just a tome of pretty pictures, though. While those images invariably provide a cultural snapshot of Brazil at the time, the book also tells the fascinating story of bossa nova — the guitar-driven samba that emerged on the beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon of
Rio De Janeiro and swept across Brazil during a decade when the country was thriving. Bossa nova became the soundtrack to national optimism, and records by João Gilberto and Antônio Carlos Jobim went on to become global smash hits, but there’s a cruel irony here: the peak of the music’s popularity in 1969 coincided with a military junta that sowed the seeds of oppression which crippled the country for the next 20 years. There are compelling biographies of the scene’s leaders including Nara Leão, Jorge Ben and Vinicius de Moraes. The latter is the lyricist behind ‘The Girl From Ipanema’, famously sung by Astrud Gilberto and widely considered to be the epitome of the cool bossa sound. It has since become one of the most recorded songs in musical history. This is one of two books that Peterson and Baker have scheduled for release in December, the other concerning revolutionary jazz cover art between 1965 and 1983 entitled Freedom, Rhythm and Sound. That book already has a tie-in CD collection. An accompanying album for Bossa Nova…, featuring tracks picked by Peterson, will be released in early 2011. David McNamara
December 2010 The Stool Pigeon
WOMEN OF THE UNDERGROUND Music: Cultural Innovators Speak for Themselves
Zora Von Burden Turnaround
THE REST IS PROPAGANDA Steve Ignorant with Steve Pottinger Southern
In the week when The Sunday Times declared that females everywhere will only be true women when they start admiring the French woman “in dry cleaned jeans… eating steak tartare… while her perfectly behaved children sit quietly reading”, there seems little left to do for our sex but attach that misguided rag to the nearest firework and give thanks for women like Lydia Lunch. When Zora Von Burden asked Lunch if she’d ever collaborated with someone off the back of a romantic encounter, the 52-year-old battleaxe answered, sniffily: “This question assumes I lead with my cunt and then formulate a project from it. In fact it is the exact opposite.” Lunch is one of the 20 women featured in Zora Von Burden’s new book: Women Of The Underground: Music. Von Burden’s entire project seems led by the cunt, given the repeated assertions from most of her subjects that questioning their achievements in a gender context is somewhat reductive. “I’ve been asked many times how does it feel to be a girl in a band,” says Teresa Taylor of Butthole Surfers, in between anecdotes about vomit and LSD and giving herself an aneurism. “It’s like how does it feel to be anything.” Moe Tucker of The Velvet Underground says overcoming masculine drummer stereotypes “was never an issue” and Cosey Fanni Tutti of Throbbing Gristle says that “discriminating on ground of gender [is] illogical”. These are exceptional women and their denial of the gender divide says more about them than it does their time. The stories collected here are electric and rude, flying out of drug dens and transvestite boudoirs and a beer vat in San Francisco where the Butthole Surfers lived for a while. Von Burden intervenes little, wisely keeping each introduction to a page-long biography before the Q&As begin. But the suggestion that these women are part of some ‘cult of the woman-outsider’ — rather than simply celebrated individuals — niggles, and the cover shot of a frightening-looking Kembra Pfahler of The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black on a black background hardly helps. Really these women are as diverse as a Dulux catalogue and sticking them all under one cover as ‘wacky females’ irks. Still, in an age where girls are more interested in budget boob jobs than burning bras, it’s a relief to hear from women who want more in life than a pair of clean jeans and some well behaved kids. Hazel Sheffield
Crass were an odd band, there’s no mistaking that at. Some of their biggest adherents or evangelical converts (they didn’t really have fans as such) will happily admit that their music is often terrible. Even among punk connoisseurs, there is the bracing admission that they are an acquired taste. Try listening to Never Mind The Bollocks straight after The Feeding Of The 5000; you might as well be listening to Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On. But stick with it long enough and the penny drops: you’re meant to be able to hear the joins. To be able to decipher with great ease exactly how it has been done is the whole point. Compared to the situationist japes of mainstream punk, Crass were AlQaeda. They provided a blueprint — not just for a new style of music, but an entire way of living — that was easy to follow, meaning that cells based on their model could be formed all over the world. Which is essentially what happened. The ultimate irony being that even though they weren’t that good musically, there is a solid argument to be made that Crass are still the most influential rock band of the late 20th century, and this influence can still be felt right across all forms of independent music in terms of touring, recording, releasing and promoting music outside of the major label system. The label arm of the group, Southern Recordings, have now published their first book, a genuinely enjoyable and engaging memoir by Crass mainstay Steve Ignorant. It’s clear from the start that the reader will not be subjected to the usual demented and badly written litany of score settling, myth making and wish fulfilment. Instead, it is split into thirds: BC (Before Crass); DC (During Crass); and AC (After Crass). The first section is part ghastly childhood autobiography of the kind Frank McCourt made his name penning and part hard-bitten working class prose in the style of Barry Hines and Alan Sillitoe, to whom the book is dedicated. Steve doesn’t pull any punches — especially toward himself — when describing his regret at a teenage decision to watch TV over spending time with his dying granddad and early dalliances with football violence. A spur of the moment decision to go and watch The Clash live coupled with a visit to his elder brother’s former commune, Dial House, drags him violently out of his soporific working-class rut and posits him as a wide-eyed ingénue in the middle of lateseventies counter culture. From the first Crass gig (played to a mix of hippies, children and people dressed as teddy bears) to the last and beyond, into his later bands, Conflict and Schwarzenegger, Steve tells his story with a fearsomely straight bat. Some readers may not like this ultra-boiled down, hard-as-nails prose that has little in the way of baroque literary flourish or metaphorical meandering, but that’s kind of their lookout... given that, as always, the bare-bones style is the entire point. John Doran
KILLER Prose It Books, an imprint of the Rupert Murdoch-owned HarperCollins, is shelling out a fortune to bring Jerry Lee Lewis’s memoirs to bookshelves in 2012. “I have spent my life listening to those who know so little say so much about me and my life,” the Killer himself says, looking to set the record straight. Presumably he wasn’t a child cousin-shagging, Bible-thumping, Teddy Boy-originating, hick son of a gun then, though he was and will always be one bad motherfucker. If his writing is anything like his piano playing, the asyet-titled tome will be one hell of a read.
PISTOL Whipped Johnny Rotten is bringing out a scrapbook just in time for Christmas, which is very sweet of him, and retailing at a pre-order price of £379 it should generate some filthy lucre while he’s at it. If your loved one is a big Pistols’ fan and you’re strapped, you could always buy them a tub of butter instead. Only 750 of these are being printed and they’ll contain rare photos, with a unique doodle in each and a picture disc 12” vinyl hand-built into the back. That features live PiL recordings and spoken-word outtakes from Mr Rotten’s Nursery Rhymes. Ever get the feeling you’re about to be cheated?
FACTORY Bore Former writing colossus-turned-talking-head irritant Paul Morley is doing what he does best — shutting his face and writing a feckin’ book. This one will be about the late Tony Wilson. The news was revealed at an event at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall recently where he spoke to former associates of the Factory Records boss. He claims it was very Wilsonian to hold a book launch before the book is written rather than the other way around. After the event, he reportedly gave all of his money to crackheads on the Southbank wanting to fly to Barbados to record a shit album.
COMIC Tie-in Usher recently had mainstream R&B rival Ne-Yo on the ropes when he duetted with pubescent pop sensation Justin Bieber, and bar recording a song with a foetus with a fringe it looked like Ne-Yo was fucked. Cunningly, he opted to tap the other end of the human spectrum on Libra Scale, by employing the talents of 87year-old comics legend Stan Lee, a man partly responsible for Marvel Comics’ Spiderman, The Hulk and other such creations grown-ups are allowed to like these days without being singled out for the infantile pederasts they all are.
News The Stool Pigeon December 2010
ABSTRUSE FLICKS & SINKING SHIPS Luke Turner floats an opinion on this year’s Branchage Festival, while David Moats hauls in a few recommendations. espite only being nine miles long and five miles wide, Jersey seems to have an infinite supply of unusual venues for the people behind the Branchage International Film Festival to convert into makeshift cinemas. Now in its third year, the festival sees
churches, a horse box, the wall of a dam and a tugboat press-ganged into use to screen documentaries, features, live soundtracks, performances and installations. This can be something of a headache for the organisers, who had to submit a ‘Bioaerosol and Faecal Risk Assessment’ before a horticultural polytunnel could be used to show a film, while Jersey Air Traffic control were warned before Superman could be projected on the dam, for
fear it would distract pilots landing at the airport. At the core of the programming is an awareness of the need to cater for a local audience as well as film buffs, which handily helps it avoid the trap of being a festival purely for knowing cinephiles. This year, live soundtracks are a particular draw for Jersey people and visitors alike. Few bands manage to include the island on their touring schedule, and the one annual music jamboree,
When You’re Strange
Videocracy dir. Erik Gandini
dir. Dylan Goch, Gruff Rhys
AS a Doors skeptic, I was dreading the
WE tend to think of Berlusconi’s
thought of crusty local bands playing Doors covers before this screening. But the motley crew of Jersey talent reminded me that the quality of the Doors’ songwriting transcends the unfortunate cult of personality surrounding their frontman. The film itself does little to debunk the Lizard King mythology — with Johnny Depp’s narration constantly speculating about Morrison’s inner emotional life like a giddy teenager. But, as with Dylan in Don’t Look Back, the footage itself shows both his undeniable charisma and childish megalomania. An interesting character study, even if you’re not a fan.
sham of a presidency as somewhat of a joke, but Videocracy shows the societal toll his media-political empire has on those subjected to it. For 30 years, Italians have been fed a mix of celebrity culture and reality TV so pervasive that, for most, being a talentless fragrancetouting cipher is the ultimate goal. This gives us a view from the ground — the experiences of living in this hyper-accelerated tabloid culture. Italy appears somewhere between a fascist state and a particularly surreal episode of The Prisoner.
GRUFF Rhys is a compulsive liar, but luckily he’s also an incredibly charming one. In the Q&A with Soft Focus’s Ian Svenonious, Gruff repeatedly winds up the confused audience with tall tales told through a knowing grin. Seperado! follows the Super Furry Animals singer as he searches for his longlost flamenco guitar-playing uncle in the Welsh diaspora of Patagonia. Along the way he plays some gigs with his trademark toy instruments to baffled locals and one even more baffled horse. It’s sometimes hard to tell the truth from the yarn but in the end, it hardly matters.
dir. Nick Whitfield SKELETONS’ quirky and very British brand of surrealism comes not from flashy special effects or elaborate set-pieces but from the absurd thoughts the skillful script conjures up in your mind. Comedy duo Ed Gaughan and Andrew Buckley play a pair of Pythonesque bureaucrats who exorcise people’s darkest secrets with some D.I.Y. black magic. Underneath all the stylish Spaced-like editing and deadpan silliness (mostly courtesy of Jason Isaacs) is an endearing fable led by a cast with real chemistry. Skeletons is a wry, dark comedy with some real heart.
dir. Tom DiCillo
Jersey Live, tends to focus on more mainstream fare. Cosmic London troupe The Oscillation play in a church, the roof of which comes alive with psychedelic projections created by lamps and coloured oil in water. They’re in support of Japanese rock outfit Bo Ningen soundtracking Cat Soup, an at times gruesome anime from Tatsuo Sato. By way of contrast, the next day Euros Childs and Richard James of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci perform an eerie live accompaniment to the work of Russian animator Yuri Norstein, while Robin ‘Scanner’ Rimbaud mixes up an electronic soundtrack to a Victorian magic lantern show. On the Saturday, former Make Up, Nation Of Ulysses and Weird War frontman Ian Svenonious takes a group of us to Seymour Tower, an 18th century fort a mile out to sea, for a performance and reading on his take on the dark origins of rock’n’roll. Branchage saves the best to last, though. On the Sunday night, motorik Frenchmen Zombie Zombie play a live soundtrack to The Battleship Potemkin on the stern of the Duke of Normandy tugboat, moored in St Helier harbour. As the audience stands on the dock wall, the band’s creaking beats and dank drones are the perfect bed for Eisenstein’s tale of revolutionary derring-do. During the course of the film, the digital display on the harbour wall tells us the tide — and therefore boat, band and screen — have sunk by five metres. It’s a fitting close to a wonderfully unusual weekend.
Moving Images 66
December 2010 The Stool Pigeon
DVDs DIETMAR POST & LUCÍA PALACIOS (DIR.) Monks: Transatlantic Feedback Play Loud! Productions Nobody got it, at the time. Amid Beatlemania, The Monks offered the world rhythm-driven and brutally minimalist rock that confined melody to backing vocals. Even less mainstream was their image: tonsures, black uniforms, nooses worn as ties. Decades would pass before this became palatable. Transatlantic Feedback illustrates the band’s belated reappraisal with footage from a gig they reformed to play in New York in 1999. It also tells the fascinating story of the band’s brief sixties career. Rock’n’roll clichés don’t get a look-in. Before The Monks came The 5 Torquays, formed in Germany by five American ex-servicemen. Like The Beatles, they played German dive bars every night of the week. But they lacked their own style — until a couple of shadowy advertising executives entered the picture. The Monks didn’t have a Malcolm McLaren: they had two. As co-managers, Walther Niemann and Karl Remy gave the band not just their image but a manifesto that repudiated their past: “Never be a Torquay,” it instructed. Accordingly, the band’s music became simple, repetitive and malevolent, with results captured by lone album ‘Black Monk Time’. When the management team broke up, The Monks relaxed, grew their hair, sunbathed, got happy. It was over. This film succeeds chiefly for including electrifying performance footage shot for German television in 1966. Alongside the band’s percussive might, singer Gary Burger’s facial expressions are striking. He winks, leers, sneers, stifles laughter and hams it up – dramatising the darkness and mischief for which The Monks found a place in pop music. Albeit clumsily assembled, Transatlantic Feedback seizes on instructive details: how army experiences shaped the band, their conflict over antiVietnam lyrics, the hostility they routinely encountered. It also, crucially, interviews all five members – two of whom have since passed away, after briefly living in a world that finally got it. Niall O’Keeffe
ALICE COOPER Theatre of Death Live at Hammersmith 2009 Universal Geriatric shock rocker Alice Cooper knows how to put on a show. The material may sound laughably dated, but his camp theatrics, including numerous costume changes and staged deaths, engage the viewer throughout classics ‘School’s Out’, ‘I’m Eighteen’ and ‘Poison’. Highlights include Alice impaling a gimp during ‘Wicked Young Man’, and waving his severed head at the crowd after going under the guillotine. At 62, Alice has one year on fellow coffin dodger Ozzy Osbourne, yet still stalks the stage with more menace than egotistical copycats Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie, whereas Ozzy limps around like a critically wounded dog only moments from death. Diehard fans of the eyeliner addict are going to cream their pants. David McNamara
FEIST Look At What the Light Did Now Universal Look At What the Light Did Now follows Canadian songstress Feist through recording and touring award-winning album The Reminder. The film is beautifully shot by director Anthony Seck using Super 8 film, but it doesn’t make the wealth of footage from recording sessions, live performances and video shoots any more engaging. Also, the interviews with numerous members of her band and collaborators are tiresome, as they all endeavour to portray the singer as a shy, unwitting frontwoman. However, the DVD possesses more special features than a paraplegic with Down’s syndrome and a cleft palate, ensuring Feist obsessives will go positively spastic with joy. DM
GARY WEIS (DIR.) 80 Blocks from Tiffany’s Five Day Weekend Inspired by a 1977 Esquire piece on The Savage Skulls, a notorious Bronx gang, music documentarian Gary Weis changed tack from Saturday Night Live and Beach Boys movies to brave no-go regions of uptown New York, camera in tow. A sought-after rarity now released for the first time, his exposé of lawless black and Hispanic gang members is cold and directionless as a piece of cinema, but worthy of classic status for the unique world-view it offers. Street legends talk with a casual, chilling frankness of conquests and lost innocence; one youth isn’t even sure if he killed someone or not. Daddy Bones
Winnebagos ILLER Queen The forthcoming biopic about Freddie Mercury featuring Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen will conclude triumphantly around the time of the band’s globe-conquering Live Aid turn, which was the catalyst for the rockers’ almighty resurgence six years before the flamboyant frontman’s untimely demise. With Brian May and band producing the movie, we may not get to see the dwarves with trays of cocaine on their heads, though director Peter Morgan insists it will be truthful even if he’s “nervous” of reactions. Freddie II can deal with the AIDS death and Ben Elton raping Freddie’s memory with a strap-on.
WISE Cat 50 Cent may appear to spend his days chatting up women and giving Peter Tatchell a hernia on Twitter, but behind that 50X50 meathead avatar of his lurks the brain of someone with acute business acumen. When he’s not clattering out lascivious tweets or talking about his penis, Fiddy is meeting up with consortiums of investors like Action Jackson Films, led by healthcare executive Richard Jackson, pumping a cool $200m into his baby Cheetah Vision. He must be charming because why else would anyone invest in shit buddy movies starring Val Kilmer?
SCREEN Shot Great news for those who’ve missed Phil Spector. He’s back! And this time he’s played by Al Pacino. A movie by HBO films will no doubt include the requisite amount of tits, gore and a razor sharp script from Pulitzer-prize winner David Mamet. Pacino says Spector, the maverick sixties pop producer of some reputed genius who shot B-movie queen Lana Clarkson dead in 2003 at his LA mansion, is “a very interesting character”. A keen student of Stanislavski, one can only hope Al will take his method acting too far, go bananas and mistakenly blow Jeremy Clarkson’s fat head off.
News The Stool Pigeon December 2010
Albums Reviews by Alex Denney, John Doran, Rory Gibb, Ben Hewitt, Kev Kharas, Izzy Molina, David McNamara, Ross Pounds, Luke Turner, Thomas A. Ward
Small Craft on a Milk Sea
Drawing Down The Moon Saddle Creek
These two ladies are very much part of the Saddle Creek family, although they’re both from Alabama and not Omaha. It’s been seven years since their last album, during which time both members — Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink — have done solo albums and generally not disappeared. Nonetheless, anyone miss Azure Ray? Didn’t think so, and not least because dream pop has moved into more interesting areas since we last heard from this pair. Props to their producer for a decent-sounding record, but mostly this is nauseatingly pious, plain and outdated. It’s less Beach House and more Corrs, but at least The Corrs had tunes. IM
Life of Love Western Vinyl
Brian Eno wakes at dawn when rays from the sun penetrate his geodesic dome and activate his strontium-fluoride crystal mood chimes and Mayan perfume atomiser. He rises from his Arawak buffalo gut hammock and, once in his favourite Uchikake kimono, decorated with golden koi carp, slides down an antique Victorian fireman’s pole straight into his liminal breakfast nook. Something is bothering him; something he can’t quite put his finger on. He tries to realign his chakras by perusing some vintage 1930s negress amputee porn, and then by re-cataloguing his collection of prison shower block Polaroids taken by Michel Foucault. But nothing will set his mind at rest. He disconsolately pours his free range, artisan muesli into a bowl before sluicing it with tapir milk and just before he plunges his solid cedar Welsh love spoon (carved for him in Patagonia by a muscular hermaphrodite called Faustino VII) into his repast he notices something strange. There is a single raisin floating on the surface of the milk, like a tiny, shrivelled grape ship, slowly cutting through the meniscus of a white ocean. He pauses for a second and then plunges his spoon in and shovels the raisin into his mouth, begins chomping and says to himself absentmindedly: “Perhaps it’s time I made a new album...” Of course, one could never accuse Brian Eno, one of the most influential figures in popular and avant garde music, of being lazy. It may be five years since he released his last album, Another Day On Earth, but he certainly hasn’t been taking it easy. Among many recent projects, the former Roxy Music electronics expert and ambient pioneer has curated his own festival in Brighton, organised live performances of his sumptuous Apollo: Soundtracks And Textures album and scored the film The Lovely Bones. In fact, five of the songs that were rejected from this OST by the film’s producers form the backbone of this tantalising album, and the two musicians that he has collaborated with here, Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams, were part of his Pure Scenius festival on the South Coast. These two are ideal collaborators for Eno, given that they are both used to working in the fields of electronic composition and the writing of film scores. In this case, the music is for a film that doesn’t exist... a field that Eno has excelled in, not least since releasing Music For Films in 1978. And even though these tracks are fully improvised attempts to construct musical landscapes, it is still surprisingly song based and at its most enjoyable when toying with heavy industrial dub and glitchy house rather than faded piano textures. If Eno has been guilty of anything over the last 15-years, it’s certainly not of working with James, U2 or Coldplay — that’s just his job as a producer. Rather it has been his retreat from engaging with modern production techniques, various world musics and underground dance culture as a means of not risking tarnishing his impressive legacy. This album represents a promising step in the right direction, rather than a complete rehabilitation to brilliance. JD
New York-via-New Orleans trio Callers already established themselves as a class act in 2008 with the beguiling Fortune. Two years on and Life Of Love proves a fine addition to their catalogue, singer Sara Lucas doling out riddlesome jazz notes like Hissing Of Summer Lawns-era Joni Mitchell, high praise that’s borne out by sensitive handling of some complex material. ‘Glow’’s a shifting-sands, Grizzly Bearesque arrangement to raise a midnight candle to and ‘Bloodless Ties’ is as lazily pleasurable as scooping your hand through water on boat rides at dusk. The record’s back-end melts somewhat into coffee table anonymity but in the main this is beautifully textured stuff. AD
ETERNAL SUMMERS Silver
Above all, 2010 has been an overwhelmingly nice year for music, to the point where news of a full-length from a band called ‘Eternal Summers’ makes us want to smear ourselves in excrement, truss a segway up as the Nazi Popemobile and drive it off the nearest available cliff. Fortunately this duo Nicole Yun and Daniel Cundiff, who are from Virginia, are unafraid of jolting us out of our smug deckchair reveries - ‘I Know Now’ has the loose’n’limber feel of early Orange Juice, ‘Running High’ delves into Pylonesque post-punk, while ‘I’ll Die Young For Rock N’ Roll’ has some of The Vaselines’ boy-girl naughtiness about it. Sparky and surprisingly un-brittle. AD
THE FLOWERS OF HELL O
Toronto-based Greg Jarvis is a timbre-toshape synaesthete — he sees sound as shapes — while Tom Knott of The Earlies, who mixed this third album from the UK/Canada outfit, is a pitch-to-colour synaesthete. Which meant conversations in the studio along the lines of, “Tom, I think that cello is a bit too furry right now.” “I’m glad you said something about it Greg, it’s far too green for my liking.” Neither too green nor too furry, then, O is the sort of sophisticate’s post-rock record that sounds like jazz with all the content scraped out, leaving only a pained, sonorous echo in its place. This is potentially good news for fans of late-period Talk Talk, we suppose. AD
December 2010 The Stool Pigeon
Upset The Rhythm
Broken Dreams Club
It got big praise on release last year but Girl’s debut album, Album, turned out to be a solid medium, let down, ironically, by the fact that it had one song on it that was at least as twice as good as any other — ‘Hellhole Ratrace’. If that seven-minute epic was an indication of massive potential, know that this new mini album delivers on that potential in spades. Strangely, it also has a stand-out track (closer ‘Carolina’); the difference here being that other songs don’t fall so far behind and, really, this is quite an exciting release. Girls, who are two boys from San Francisco, moaned after Album’s release that they never got to record it properly; that it was too lo-fi and could have been a Pet Sounds. Pah! It hit the zeitgeist perfectly and afforded them many gifts, one of which was some cash to pump into their next release. So, yes, there’s a dramatic hike in production values here — all these songs sound fuller, and they’re further boosted by Girls using a bigger band, including a trumpet and lap steel. And so, ‘Carolina’: a wonderful piece of music — a moody, driving kind of song that flips into a huge burst of sunshine halfway through with a chorus that’s gigantic. The title track’s a winner, too, vaguely echoing ‘Drive’ by The Cars. ‘Alright’ is unashamedly Neil Young-like, and that’s alright. If there is a duffer among the six-song record, it’s ‘Substance’, which contains a yawn-inducingly regular guitar solo (hilariously introduced with, “Guitar solo, come on!”) and highlights an issue — that there remains something frustratingly trad rock about Girls. They need to shake that, but what exactly is a mini album? Usually something of a bridge. Broken Dreams Club is easily good enough to keep interest alive in Girls, and it could even point to them becoming a really great band. IM
What with this new decade’s obsession with making music in the gloomy sanctity of the bedroom, an electro-goth supergroup like Former Ghosts is a very 21st century proposition. With Freddie Ruppert flanked by Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart and Zola Jesus’s Nika Roza Danilova, their second album New Love is as ripe with twinkling confessionals as you’d expect. Tracks such as ‘The Days Will Get Long Again’ and ‘Right Here’ may sound like a more emofied Cold Cave — a tricky feat to pull off when you consider that Wesley Eisold was credited as an inspiration for Fall Out Boy — but a throat-tearing turn from Danilova on ‘Chin Up’, amongst others, lends some vital grit to the production glitz. BH
THE GOOD ONES
Kigali Y’ Izahabu Dead Oceans
Oh bugger. Because The Good Ones is a “trio of Rwandan genocide survivors who play joyous, acoustic love songs in the ancient local, Kinyarwanda dialect of their nation’s capital, Kigali” does that mean we can’t say that they sound like three fat men singing The Moldy Peaches? Except by track 5, ‘Kacyiry’, they find a sweet, acoustic groove and the album as a whole sounds like it was recorded by a single microphone on a porch at dusk, which is exactly what happened. Sparse, knackered guitar, cool three-part harmonies and the most natural of foot-tapped rhythms make this a vivid and blissful listen. IM
Upset The Rhythm
Ruth’s ‘Polaroid/Roman/Photo’, the title track of this reissued LP from 1985, was one of the stand-out moments on Angular Records’ recent Cold Waves And Minimal Electronics compilation. Its rhythm is kicked off by the whirr of a camera winder, a weary organ and stentorian parps before vocals that veer between deadpan and something incredulous come in — making for a perfect pop song and, curiously, one that doesn’t feel glued to the past. Now Angular have delved deeper, and are re-releasing Ruth’s one and only album. But if you imagined Ruth’s presence on the Cold Waves comp might suggest a record that’s all arch European retro-futurism, you’d be mistaken. Polaroid/Roman/Photo could be sneaked out as an album by a new group in 2010 and still feel fresh. The clue to this, perhaps, is in their cover of Can’s ‘She Brings The Rain’, which begins with a riff reminiscent of Coil’s apocalyptic take on ‘Tainted Love’, and continues with menacing vocals and worried guitar. For like Can, Ruth’s impresario Thierry Müller had his roots in the fertile experimental music scenes of 1970s Europe. There is much here, then, that feels connected not just to the austerity of cold wave and post punk, but the fracturing of the membrane of Western music that went along with the latter. There are hints of trumpeter Jon Hassell’s fourth world theories of minimalism and global influence throughout (seen most clearly in the pan-national rhythms and vocal stylings of ‘Mabelle’) while ‘Misty Mouse’ recalls Brian Eno’s ‘Before And After Science’. Opening number ‘Thriller’, though, is perhaps the finest moment, sounding like Roxy Music doing the theme music for a futuristic crime caper, louche and sensual as the laser beams fly. A wonderful snapshot of a forgotten past, yet one that never feels like ancient history. IM
Messageboard lurkers are given to complaining when indie pop acts — Foals, let’s say — profess affinities with musicians of the avantgarde but don’t sound anything like them. There’s a reason they don’t, though, and that’s because they’d be Munch Munch if they did. On their debut, the Bristol quartet sound variously like Yannis’ math-rocking troupe falling down the stairs with a Hammond organ, a gabba Sufjan Stevens and Dave Longstreth’s try-hard afterbirth. ‘Autumn Mask’ at least does a passable impersonation of Avey Tare in cosmic overdrive mode, itself an annoying thing when looked at from a certain angle. That title’s ironic, surely — plentiful ‘ideas’, impeccable music taste, zero vision. AD
NAPOLEON III Christiania Brainlove
Napoleon III is the stage name for the twisted brainwrongs of James Mabbet, a Yorkshire music scene vet known to some as Leeds’ great unsung hero. Christiania is Mabbet’s second outing under the pseudonym and offers plenty to support the theory — opener ‘The Unknown Unknown’ does throaty dancehall for nerdy white kids, ‘That Town’ recycles ‘Heroes’’ riff in ways more imaginative than James Murphy could muster and ‘Guys Just Wanna Have Sun’ does Spiritualized on a millionth of the budget. The schizophrenia risks coming off as a poor man’s Animal Collective at times, but Christiania’s dense pop productions merit further investigation and reveal a perverse intelligence at work. AD
Reviews The Stool Pigeon December 2010
RAH DIGGA Classic
Rah Digga is back after a decade-long sabbatical with a lot to prove, not least because debut album Dirty Harriet sold well on both sides of the Atlantic and hinted at her being one of the most skilled female MCs in the business. ‘Straight Spittin’ IV’ and ‘Who Gonna Check Me Boo’ suggest the New Jersey rapper still has the lyrical prowess to challenge newcomer Nicki Minaj, but lead single ‘This Ain’t No Lil’ Kid Rap’, despite Digga’s proclamations, isn’t “what the game’s been missing”. Nottz’s production is successful in parts, but God only knows what he was thinking when he made trainwrecks ‘Feel Good’ and ‘Viral’. Digga needs to drop Nottz and try again. DM
Scientist Launches Dubstep into Outer Space! Tectonic
SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO Delicacies Delicacies
While touring the world, Jas Shaw and James Ford have made a point of feasting on rare and exotic foods, which in turn have gone on to inspire a series of peerless acid/techno tracks all made on their fearsome arsenal of vintage equipment. So this astounding compilation/mix album (which makes their normal indie dance fodder seem flat by comparison) contains tracks called ‘Hákarl’ (Shark Cheese), which is suitably full of LFO-style menace, and ‘Nerve Salad’, which straps a monolithic Plastikman pulse onto a rigid analogue beat. It’s not all punishment... the serotonin burst comes in the form of ‘Casu Marzu’. Just pray you never have to eat a ‘Thousand Year Old Egg’ in real life. JD
Not Music Duphonic UHF Disks
As dubstep has expanded outward, there’s been a conspicuous absence of the ‘dub’ in its newer adherents, who tend towards twostep or house interpretations of the sound. Here, Tectonic attempt to redress the balance, with studio maestro Scientist taking on a host of the genre’s key names. The result is a largely fascinating look at the links forged between dub and dubstep, with an additional disc of the original tracks offering a means of direct comparison. Still, it occasionally feels as though little has been done to change them bar applying a cavern’s worth of echo, and the most compelling tracks are those where Scientist rips source material into entirely new shapes. RG
Stereolab called it a day in 2009 after 19 fruitful years spent sub-atomically fusing sweet kraut grooves and bargain-bin exotica — in the nicest possible way, the sort of thing Gene Rodenberry might’ve imagined they’d be piping into supermarkets by 2010. Actually, they called it an ‘indefinite hiatus’, an aptly modest way of putting it for a band that’s been small ‘i’-innovative since its inception. Not Music collects tracks left over from sessions for 2008’s exacting pop swansong Chemical Chords, along with Odyssean remixes of that record’s standout numbers from Emperor Machine (‘Silver Sands’) and Atlas Sound (‘Neon Beanbag’). Inessential, perhaps, but you’ll miss ‘em now they’re gone. AD
TEETH OF THE SEA
Bangs & Works Vol. 1: A Footwork Compilation
Your Mercury Rocket
Despite the torrent of hype that’s surrounded the emergence of Chicago juke/footwork in the UK, there’s been one crucial element missing: context. Planet Mu’s treatment of the genre so far has focused on single producers, highlighting the idiosyncrasies that mark out DJ Nate and DJ Roc’s own music, but sorely lacking a framework in which to place them. And with music as terrifyingly functional as footwork that’s a crucial piece of the puzzle. All dance music is, by nature, built for purpose to some extent, but footwork’s sparsely arranged 808s and maddening sample repetition operate on a different level, one where physical motion is an absolute goal and the means of reaching that point is far less important. Given that UK audiences experience it in isolation from Chicago dance culture, a wider look at the genre’s development and diversity would seem key to anything beyond simple surface appreciation. In that, the compilation approach of Bangs & Works Vol. 1 is a success. Rather than wearing the listener down with differing riffs on a single theme, the music here runs the gamut from frantic ghetto house (Traxman’s ‘Compute Funk’) to nigh-on undanceable sensory overload (Nate’s ‘He Ain’t ’Bout It’), via several individual slices of unique brilliance. Both Roc’s ‘One Blood’ and RP Boo’s ‘Total Darkness’ are highlights, the former’s adrenal burn-out wheezing like a particularly potent NOS trip, the latter’s layered croons generating a wilful, wired psychedelia that operates on several layers of consciousness at once. Which neatly sums up footwork’s power: on headphones this music is stark and foreboding to the point of total mental collapse. Play it on a dancefloor, though, and the effect is transformative, as its caffeinated energy translates into frantic motion. Bangs & Works balances both sides of the sound with surprising delicacy, and acts as formidable introduction to its mutant charms. RG
HEALTH and Fuck Buttons may have been the media-friendly faces fronting last year’s noise-rock craze, but neither managed to roll their sound into as sweet a ball as Teeth Of The Sea did with their debut, Orphaned By The Ocean. Dextrous and deafening in equal parts, Your Mercury sees them gathering even more momentum as they switch between punishing blasts of warped noise and swathes of sweeping arrangements in quicksilver flashes. Indeed, all the tracks reinforce the same undeniable and universal truth: Teeth Of The Sea don’t just make noise, they twist sound into something more sinister and sexy than could ever be measured in mere sonics. BH
SHUGO TOKUMARU Port Entropy Souterrain Transmissions Shugo Tokumaru’s music has plenty in common with the kaleidoscopic pop of Sufjan Stevens, even if his playful stylings don’t extend to 20-minute vocoderised jams about the apocalypse just yet. Port Entropy does sound remarkably polished for a bedroom recording, though (it entered the Japanese charts at number 33), and while odd moments here stray too far in the direction of cloying bonhomie, on the whole it’s the guy’s versatility that sings out: ‘Laminate’ does wistful harpsichord psych, ‘Rum Hee’’s all acoustic-driven good cheer while ‘Tracking Elevator’ sounds like a Japanese Ruby Suns. Sweet, like the first lick of a lollipop. AD
December 2010 The Stool Pigeon
Flat Cap Music
The Sound of Siam: Leftfield Luk Thung, Jazz And Molam From Thailand, 1964-1975 Soundway
Versailles outfit Turzi’s B is the follow-up to 2007’s A, brilliantly resolving the time-honoured issue of how best to proceed from A to B. Don’t ask them what to do once you get there, though: they’ll just tell you to write a faintly pointless album of Balearic-tinged psychedelia, and no-one wants that. Despite the ill-advised prog flourishes and inclusion of the words ‘featuring Bobby Gillespie’, however, there are some interesting moments here, mainly when the band fails to bring the rawk - ‘Buenos Aries’ does creepy, Kraut-inflected trance, and ‘Brasilia’’s ambient tech is like being buffeted by lava lamp bubbles. From A to B, then, but this is a C minus at best. AD
Despite being one of the few Asian countries never to have been colonised by Europeans, Thailand is very open culturally, with its indigenous music being influenced by China, India and much further afield. The Luk Thung of the title (literal translation: children of the fields) is the equivalent of country music, while Molam refers to the vigorous Laotian strand of folk pop that features urgent, almost rapped vocals. There are three tracks by Thailand’s leading female Molam singer Chaweewan Dumnern whose ‘Sao Lam Plearn’ sounds like the SE Asian ‘Jumping Jack Flash’. Yet again Soundway have struck gold with this curious and rewarding compilation. JD
Jon Savage Presents Black Hole: Californian Punk 1977-80 Domino
V2/ Cooperative Music
Black Hole is as thorough a document of the notoriously combustible Golden State punk movement as one could hope for. Jon Savage, a worthy guide, has compiled a potent mix of classics by the usual suspects — there are contributions from the likes of X and The Germs — alongside long-lost gems from bands who never got as far as putting out a record (The Middle Class, The Metro Squad). It’s an astutely built love letter to a fierce scene that seemed to be permanently teetering on the brink of implosion. Demonstrating a clear love for its subject, Black Hole is a near faultless collection of a movement that perhaps distilled the punk aesthetic more purely than any other. RP
Rough Trade Shops: Synth Wave 10
Purveyors of austere synth music have moved on a lot since the rise and swift fall of electroclash 10 years ago. Where that movement concerned high fashion and sunglasses worn at night, the artists collected here exist in a darker, more romantic sphere. The best moments are those that update the sounds of the mid-eighties, such as the motorik Soft Metals track ‘The Cold World Melts’ or Factory Floor’s brutal ‘Lying’. There’s something a little too arch about the Design A Wave’s ‘Remedy’ or Xeno & Oaklander’s ‘Preuss’, but in the context of sterner moments like Crystal Castles’ blissed-out ‘Empathy’, they merely add to the charm of this excellent compilation. LT
Soul Jazz Records
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Kanye steps out of his car and spies a phoenix lying unconscious on the road, lick of gold paint applied judiciously over her muff. Scooping the exquisitely baubled bird up and out of the high-definition flames in super slo-mo, the Chicago MC announces his rebirth as only Kanye can. ‘Runaway’ is the insanely epic 35-minute promo vid presaging the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, fifth studio album from a man last heard carping dismally about his ex in autotune. It has a feature-spot list longer than the average phonebook and a recording budget bigger than the numbers therein, but damn, if Yeezy hasn’t delivered the goods on this one. First single ‘Power’ is a triumphalist reworking of ‘Love Lockdown’’s sadface tribal shtick, with lyrics that find ’Ye embracing his galacticallyproportioned ego in ways more healthy and humorous than before: “At the end of day, god damn it, I’m killin’ this shit / I know damn well y’all feelin’ this shit / I don’t need yo’ pussy, bitch, I’m on my own dick.” ‘All Of The Lights’’ lush centrepiece takes in domestic abuse, Elton John and the death of Michael Jackson in five hot minutes; ‘Runaway’ cribs a Pete Rock sample and makes it sound like Blue Lines-era Massive Attack; and if ever a couplet summed up Kanye’s suspect way with the ladies better than, “I sent this bitch a picture of my dick / I don’t know what it is with females” (‘Runaway’), then we don’t want to know. There are guest spots from Rihanna, Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj in between, but in the end it’s Justin Vernon, a.k.a. Bon Iver, who helps deliver the unexpected highlight, with the heartbroken, dreamy ‘Lost In The World’. Music award winners better tuck their trophies under their pillows: Kanye West is back, baby, and hungry for your plaudits. AD
The Stool Pigeon December 2010
Soul Jazz Presents: Riddim Box
You’ll probably know by now that the best UK funky traps UK garage’s clean soul in lithe, slunk grooves, that it’s a confluence of junglist rigour and vocals recorded by girls you’d get the night bus across town for at three o’clock on a Thursday morning. This Soul Jazz compilation arrives too late to be truly revelatory, but that matters little when every track here is so great, highlights coming from Roska’s reworking of Ghosts On Tape’s ‘Predator Mode’ and Altered Natives’ unmistakable ‘Rass Out’. Catering to both heads and the uninitiated, buy this up – something good to sling on after supper and, as usual with Soul Jazz, beautifully packaged. KK
THE WILDEBEESTS Gnuggets
Dirty Water Club
The Wildebeests are not the kind of garage band you want to return to the garage that they crawled from, engines running. Instead, the band features members from such legendary groups as Thee Headcoats, Milkshakes, Thanes, Kaisers and Masonics, scuttling back to a fumigated time when rampant, raw beat music was as original as a Saab 99. This is a double album featuring 33 songs that hit or missed in their time, re-recorded and polished with a Black & Decker sander for that real vibe. Proving you can’t buff a piece of shit, but you can throw it up against a wall for a new generation to see it in all its natural, graphic glory. TW
Reviews by Kev Kharas
Only nine contestants this issue. I’d be able to take some small gratification in the fact my long-view approach to demo reviewing appeared to be paying off if everything here wasn’t more depressing than accidental parricide.
he sort of music women make when they’re given a Sigur Rós CD and too much encouragement, made by the sort of woman who’ll only let you at her if you take her to a farmhouse for the weekend and it’s raining outside. It’s staggering to think of the time and effort that went into making EVI VINE’s music. Seven people who’ve all given up their Saturday afternoons to go into the studio and devote precious energy to squib. “Sorry Richard, I had to take that call, it was my string section.” Put your coffee down, love, you’re not nothing special. myspace.com/evivine
emos don’t usually sound like they get made by people who enjoy their lives. myspace.com/bluejohnbenjamin
OUTSIDE THE MUSEUM
say they make music for “Awkward silences”.* myspace.com/outsidethemuseum
ometimes I wonder what my life would be like now if I’d never decided to leave Maidenhead, still listened to pop punk made by wetlads from America and, rather than becoming a professional demo reviewer, had instead gone into supply
teaching. I think BAD IDEAS know what my life would have been like. And I think they know that means I’m not going to say anything nice about their music. myspace.com/badideasuk
E HER NAME IS CALLA
veryone who read Drowned In Sound used to listen to bands like before I started working there. They’d all slag me off for writing about Jamie T and inventing fake news stories and ignored the features I wrote about Abe Vigoda, No Age, HEALTH, El Guincho, Telepathe, Banjo Or Freakout, etc. Then I left, and two months later everyone who read Drowned In Sound started talking to each other on the message boards about these new bands called Abe Vigoda, No Age, HEALTH, El Guincho, Telepathe and Banjo Or Freakout that they’d found. It was a little bit annoying, but that’s all in the past now. I don’t mind so much, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Sean Adams for giving me a chance there, and to tell Mike Diver, Alex Denney, Samuel Strang, Dan Wale and Gareth Dobson that I miss our days spent squawking at each other in the yellow basement. RIP in pieces. And
fuck Jordan Dowling. myspace.com/hernameiscalla
sound like all the noises we’ve made rattling around in the concrete corners of space.” – Kev Kharas, Stool Pigeon demo column, March 2010. If you’re gonna re-submit your demo I’m gonna quote myself. Write a pop song, come back to me in a few months time and we’ll talk. myspace.com/edgeofthecosmos
WHO SHOT WHO?
describe themselves as: “Shit kicking’ bird flickin’ tatted up punk rap.” Big Cheese Magazine describes them as “like a cross between Rancid and Chas & Dave”. Which is funny, because it’s kind of how I’d describe myself. Unfortunately for me, Who Shot Who? only exist because too many people are too scared to tell them they shouldn’t. myspace.com/whoshotwho
are a couple of vegan lesbians from Bristol who look like they fuck too much and whose music is awful. I never knew orgasms smelled of piss. myspace.com/hungrybellies
f The Purple Turtle in Camden shut tomorrow maybe bands from outside London would have to work harder not to sound like KARN8. I know how it is. You live in a small town. There’s one ‘rock pub’ and the people in there all know your name because you’re one of them, and, like you, they’ve sniffed out this invisible and unspoken code of conduct in the stale, beery air which dictates that no one is allowed to change the way they dress or the music they listen to once they’ve arrived at legal drinking age. Then you win a local battle of the bands because of local support and local judges who are just as clueless as you are and you think you’re hot shit, but you’re not, you’re just a terrible hard rock band from Hampshire with a female singer who lacks even the modicum of self-awareness to realise that songs about liking whiskey and sexual metaphors about snakes and the devil are a bit old-hat. It’s okay. I know how it is. I know who you are. I can see the number in your name, Karn8. It’s a number that lets me see right through you. myspace.com/karn8
This issue’s pick for the big advance is *not you!
Send your work of genius in through one ear of The Stool Pigeon and straight out the other. Address at front. Please mark the envelope ‘Demo’.
December 2010 The Stool Pigeon
LIGHT ALLOY LTD. Dales Road Ipswich Suffolk IP1 4JR T. 01473740445
T. 01753542720 MICKLEBURGH
1-9 Stokes Croft Bristol BS13PL T. 01179241151
High quality T-shirt designs combining art, fashion and music. WWW.moralkiosk.co.uk
133-137 Kilburn Lane London W10 T. 02089604466 WWW. audiohire.co.uk
Unit 109 Central Park Petherton Road Bristol BS14 9BZ T. 01275833779
NEW KINGS ROAD VINTAGE GUITARS
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PO Box 6519 Nottingham NG3 5LU T. 01159202645 SO BOARD Limited edition t-shirts WWW.soboard.co.uk
Backline For Hire
ROBANNA’S STUDIOS Robanna House Cliveland Street B’ham B19 3SN T. 01213333201 WWW. robannas-studios.co.uk
Band Driver Hire
TICKLE MARNIC PLC 37 Shooters Hill Road London SE3 7HS T. 02088588100
GREEN MAN van tours can take up to a fourpiece band with equipment and PA to any gig in UK or Europe. Experience with backline and man management. GREEN MAN takes care of the business GREEN MAN style. T. 07780832059 E. firstname.lastname@example.org
Generators BRM PRODUCTIONS Unit 12 Canalside Industrial Park Kinoulton Road Nottingham NG12 3BE T. 01159899955
ELSTREE LIGHT & POWER Millennium Studios 4-5 Elstree Way Borehamwood Herts WD6 T. 02084063758
Hardware For Sale
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CROSSBOW 322 Church Road Northolt Middlesex UB5 5AP T. 02088413487 WWW. splitterbus.co.uk
DAN’S LUXURY TRAVEL
PAPERBACK BOOKS from The Stool Pigeon including a selection of classic interviews and stories from the last five years. Come on you cunts, buy one for Christmas. WWW. thestoolpigeon.co.uk/blog/stool-pigeonsfifth.html
Royal Forest Coach House 109 Maybank Road London E18 1EJ T. 02085058833
TAURUS SELF DRIVE LTD.
AINN. T. WORFDAT - Music Division
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T. 01614349823 Chauffeurs ALL STAR LIMOUSINES 110 Womersley Road Knottingley West Yorkshire WF11 0DL T. 01977607979
MISS DAISY’S DRIVERS 12-16 Leopald St London T. 02084063758
PARKER’S CARS 12-16 Yusmaladee St London SE12 6NS T. 0208 406 3758
Finance & Accountants A & CO 7 Ivebury Court 325 Latimer Road London W10 T. 02089606644
BREBNER, ALLEN & TRAPP The Quadrangle 180 Wardour Street London W1F 8LB T. 02077342244
ERNST & YOUNG LLP 1 More London Place London SE1 2AF T. 02079512000
Competitive rates, excellent knowledge of the music business. Contact John Sweeney on email@example.com Telephone: 0207 684 1693 www.musictouraccounting.com
Flight Cases AMPTOWN CASES 21-23 Cavendish Street Peterborough Cambs PE1 5EQ T. 01733 557212
CONDOR CASES Wendover Road Rackheath Norwich NR13 6LH T. 01603735900
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BURLEY & COMPANY 10 Gray’s Inn Square Gray’s Inn London WC1R 5JD T. 02074044002
DAVID WINEMAN SOLICITORS Craven House 121 Kingsway London WC2B 6NX T. 02074007800 WWW.davidwineman.co.uk
GRAY & CO.
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HUMPHREY’S & CO. SOLICITORS 14 King Street Bristol BS1 4EF T. 08005422769
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MUSICIANS’ INSURANCE SERVICES
BASS guitarist and/or keyboardist wanted for
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The Beckery Beckery Road Glastonbury Somerset BA6 9NX T. 01458833186
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Instruments For Sale BLADDERPIPE renovated with fresh bladder, 3ft pattern decorated rosewood. £70 ono T. 01206 395578
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LASER LIGHTING & SOUND 39a Woodbridge Road East Ipswich IP4 5QN T. 01473721690
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SUPERMICK GROUP LTD. 16 Stoneleigh Street London W11 4DU T. 02072212322
FENDER Precision STILL Wanted. Anything considered preferably pre-1979. T. 07813066437 BRISKET DRUM needed before next school term for marching band newcomer. T. 07966212416
Accountancy services offered from
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are looking for bands/songwriters for U.S. representation Email firstname.lastname@example.org
B SHARP PIANOS LTD.
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COOKES BAND INSTRUMENTS 34 St. Benedict Street Norwich NR2 4AQ T. 01603623563
MARKSON’S PIANOS LTD. 8 Chester Court Albany Street London NW1 T. 08000748980 WWW.marsksonspianos.com
GUITAR CENTRE 126 Meadfield Road Langley Slough SL3 8JF
ABC ENTERTAINMENTS Trafalgar House Grenville Place Mill Hill London NW7 3SA T. 02089051831
AUDIO PLUS Unit 3 Central Park Military Road Colchester Essex CO1 2AA T. 01206369966
B & H SOUND SERVICES LTD. 3 KINGS MANAGEMENT
ALLEN’S MUSIC CENTRE 45 Market Gates Shopping Centre Great Yarmouth Norfolk NR30 2AX T. 01493842887
Merch & Clothing DJ TEES - T-SHIRTS THAT ROCK! T. 01653695632 for a catalogue WWW. djtees.com T-BIRDS quality band merchandise. No order too small or large. T. 015025008050 MORAL KIOSK
The Old School Crowland Road Eye Peterborough PE6 7TN T. 01733223535
BETTER SOUND LIMITED 31 Cathcart Street Kentish Town London NW5 3BJ T. 02074820177
DECIBEL AUDIO LTD. Unit 19 Greenwich Centre Business Park Norman Road Greenwich London SE10 9QF T. 08451284185
HAND HELD AUDIO LTD. Unit 2 12-48 Northumberland Park London N17 T. 02088803243 WWW.handheldaudio.co.uk
HIPPO SOUND PA HIRE T. 01373813518 MEGA WATT SOUND Tall Trees 136a Roe Lane Southport Merseyside PR9 7PJ T. 01704220639
MUSIC BANK (HIRE) LTD. T. 02072520001 WWW.musicbank.org
December 2010 The Stool Pigeon
P.A. Hire cont. DECIBEL AUDIO LTD Unit 19 Greenwich Centre Business Park Norman Road Greenwich London SE10 9QF T. 08451284185
E3 AUDIO Available for all size parties and gigs. 1K to 10K rigs available. T. 07780832059 E. email@example.com
HIPPO SOUND PA HIRE Park Farm Buckland Down Frome Somerset BA11 2RG T. 0137381351
THE PA COMPANY LTD. Unit 7 The Ashway Centre Elm Crescent Kingston Upon Thames T. 02085466640
Photographers JENNY HARDCORE MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHY Freelance photographer available for live/press/artwork shoots. Studio or location. For further info and examples of portfolio please visit : WWW.jennyhardcore.co.uk
SAWMILLS RESIDENTIAL RECORDING Golant Fowey Cornwall PL23 1LW T. 01726833338 WWW. sawmills.co.uk
SOUP RECORDING STUDIO Get that ‘Darren Hayman, Wave Pictures, Let’s Wrestle, Allo Darlin’’ sound under the Duke of Uke, Hanbury St., London EI6QR T. 07986101125 E. firstname.lastname@example.org WWW.soupstudio.co.uk
Rehearsal Spaces THE BOOM BOOM ROOMS Beehive Mill Jersey Street Manchester M4 6JG T. 01619504250 FRONTLINE STUDIOS 18 Cave Street Bristol BS2 8RU T. 01179248252 THE JOINT LTD. 1-6 Field Street London WC1X 9DG T. 02078333375 WWW.thejoint.org.uk
288 Kensington High Street London W14 8NZ T. 02076032016
Piano Tuners B SHARP PIANOS LTD. Baptist Church Wordsworth Road London N16 T. 02072757577
Pressing and Duplication MEDIADISC Unit 4C 101 Farm Lane London SW6 1QJ T. 02073852299 WWW.mediadisc.co.uk
SOUND RECORDING TECHNOLOGY LTD. Audio House Eddison Road St Ives Cambridgeshire PE27 3LF T. 01480461880
Royalty Experts THE ROYALTY COMPLIANCE ORGANISATION 4 Crescent Stables 139 Upper Richmond Road London SW15 2TN
kafri rehearsal studios Arch 357 Laburnum Road. London E2 8BB 07828 254 458 www.kafristudios.co.uk
Reply, quoting ref on envelope to address at front, or by emailing email@example.com with ref in subject box. Confidentiality assured.
6 Hollins Business Centre Rowley Street Stafford ST16 2RH T. 08451112048 WWW.castlebank.info
LADY Chatterley fed up with weeds in her beds
ROCK STEADY Broomloan House, G51 2YS Glasgow T. 01414199559
REF: 2902 TALL well-built French woman with good
MAD DOG REHEARSAL ROOMS Unit 57 Deeside Industrial Estate Welsh Road Deeside Clwyd CH5 2LR T. 01244281705
Best rates available for backline hire, self drive splitter vans. We can cover EU & UK tour management. Work waiting for drivers with their own vans. Midlands and London based. Can deliver. POA. T. 07875556467 WWW.blacklighttours.co.uk
THE PREMISES STUDIOS LTD.
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The Limes 78 Bute Road Wallington Surrey SM6 8AB T. 02086473948
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Vans and Equipment Hire
MATCO PIANO TRANSPORT
SCREAM STUDIOS Module A1 Enterprise Point Melbourne Street Brighton BN2 3LH T. 01273671086 SURVIVAL STUDIOS Acton Business Centre School Road North Acton London NW10 6TD T. 02089611977
HANS FOR VANS T. 07782340058 North London-based company with splitter and minivans, guaranteed to beat any quote.
STARCRAFT EXECUTIVE TRAVEL Fleet Hampshire T. 01252812328 WWW.starcraft.co.uk Tuition GUITAR & BASS TUITION Beginner to Intermediate. £22 per hour. MU member, RGT Registered and CRB checked. Based in SW
needs gardener with own sharp tools.
all-round reputation, who can cook frogs legs, and also really appreciates a good fucschia garden, classical music and talking without getting too serious. But please only read lines 1, 3 and 5. REF: 2903 EASY GOING athletic. SJF, 41, seeking SM, looks not important. Must be tall, slim and attractive. REF: 2904
Men Seeking... HAVE VIAGRA Need woman. Any woman between 18 & 80. REF: 2905 OLDER groover belies his years, influenced by Soho, Chelsea among other things - seeks chick into the 60s, gigs, nature, film, history, some football, drinking a bit, betting, must look foxy, fun time retro feel. GILL SANS Light designer seeks his very own Cooper Black for headlines and to squeeze her kerning to minus ten. REF: 2904 NEMESI WANTED: I’m 5’10”, into kayaking, books and conversation (by day), justice, honour and vengeance (by night). Seeking arch-enemy, or possibly deformed megalomaniac. REF: 2905
SOUNDS GOOD LTD. The UK’s home of CD, DVD & Cassette manufacturing, and multimedia services. 12 Chiltern Enterprise Centre Station Rd Theale Berkshire RG7 4AA T. 0118 930 1700 F. 0118 930 1709 E. firstname.lastname@example.org WWW.sounds-good.co.uk
The Stool Pigeon, 21a Maury Road, London, N16 7BP
Pyrotechnics ARSON AROUND Match Lane Beccles Norfolk NR32 T. 01502589939
PAINS FIREWORKS LTD. The Old Chalk Pit Romsey Road Whiteparish Salisbury Wiltshire SP5 2SD T. 01794884040
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Recording Studios 2 KHZ STUDIOS 97a Scrubs Lane London NW10 6QU T. 02089601331WWW.2khzstudios.co.uk
The Stool Pigeon December 2010
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MEAN FIDDLER PRESENTS IN ASSOCIATION WITH DHP & 13 ARTISTS
IN ASSOCIATION WITH CODA AGENCY
T H E
L E G E N D A R Y
PETE ROCK & CL SMOOTH JEHST (LIVE) DJ SARAH LOVE • DJ MATMAN • HOSTED BY BIG TED
TUE 30 NOV / THU 02 DEC
LONDON FRI 03 DEC
THE LIBRARY AT HMV INSTITUTE
SAT 04 DEC
Best Christmas Ever
HER BIGGEST EVER UK SHOW LIVE IN LONDON
plus Fredrika Stahl London only / myspace.com/fredrikastahl
MON 6 & TUE 7 DEC LONDON Jazz Cafe
THU 9 DEC BIRMINGHAM The Library @ HMV Institute
SAT 11 DEC EDINBURGH HMV Picture House
A new collection 'Ronnie Spector's Best Christmas Ever' out on November 9th, via Bad Girl Sounds / The Orchard
FULL LIVE SHOW
SUN 12 DECEMBER•HMV FORUM
MARTHA REEVES & T H E VA N D E L L A S
HMV PICTURE HOUSE
PLUS VERY SPECIAL GUESTS
THURSDAY 09 DECEMBER
12 OXFORD O2 ACADEMY 1 13 BOURNEMOUTH O2 ACADEMY 14/15/16 LONDON JAZZ CAFE 17 BIRMINGHAM THE LIBRARY @ HMV INSTITUTE 18 EDINBURGH HMV PICTURE HOUSE in association with Leftfoot
(Leftfoot / Freestyle)
SUN 12 DEC BIRMINGHAM The Library @ HMV Institute
New Album BLACK SANDS out now
hmvtickets.com • ticketweb.co.uk • ticketmaster.co.uk • seetickets.com • Jazz Café Box Office (no booking fee - cash only)
LACKING SUBSTANCE AND STYLE BUT NEW YORK’S DRUMS STILL MANAGE TO KICK OFF IN LIVERPOOL Words Spoonboy Photograph
Sakura THE DRUMS O2 academy, Liverpool
out of Brooklyn Bursting earlier this year, The Drums seemed like an answer to the wet dreams of plaid-shirted wastrels everywhere, sounding like the grandsons of the Beach Boys mincing through eighties Manchester. Who could hear ‘Best Friend’ and not give in to its stud-
ied naivety? They might be the new fops on the block, but vocalist Jonathan Pierce is no fashionista. Tonight he takes to the stage in a C&A top so horrible that even the bouncers are looking nauseous. But when you pump out tunes as immediate as this, nobody is ever gonna care. The Drums excel at gleeful simplicity, ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ being little more than drums and whistling. Similarly, ‘Don’t Be A Jerk Johnny’ is thrillingly scratchy and basic tonight. Guitarist Jacob Graham is lost in the moment, whirling and waltzing with his guitar, while the singer turns
flouncing into an Olympic sport. The crowd lap it all up like a palmful of hot man-milk — these songs speak of a defiant campness that just wants to break out. But the endless foppery can seem vacuous in comparison with the band’s influences. Pierce should flick through his iPod and have another listen to ‘The Queen Is Dead’, ‘Ghost Town’ or a million other eighties tunes that said something about life at the time. The Drums put on a tight and visceral show, but if you’re looking for any mental stimulation at all, save your money and watch the Fimbles.
HOMETOWN GIG HIGHLIGHTS THAT ALBUM THREE IS MISSING IN ACTION Words Alex Denney Photograph
Stuart Leech M.I.A. Brixton Academy, London
been a rum old year for M.I.A., It’s what with a grating third album many critics fought forgivably shy of calling out as a duffer, and that regrettable business with the truffleflavoured French fry in the New York Times. In truth, the Slumdog-soundtracking Kala had teed the London MC up nicely for superstardom at third time of asking, but she fluffed her
lines with a record whose unpalatable screechiness and half-assed conspiracy theories sounded like the artist her detractors had always (wrongly) believed her to be. And yet, and yet... say what you like about Mathangi ‘Maya’ Arulpragasam, she’s taken her gaudy, art-spattered pop sounds from out of the hipster enclaves and into the heart of multi-cultural Britain, and for that alone she’s one of the most interesting pop stars around. For half of tonight’s set at least, our keffiyehclad provocatrice gives an abject lesson to the naysayers. The snappy syncopations of ‘World Town’ make for a terrific opener, while
the horn-studded baile funk of ‘Bucky Done Gun’, and ‘Galang’’s dope dancehall prove Arulpragasam’s still got her swag as a live performer. Then, as the show hits its delirious halfway mark, a slew of numbers from /\/\/\Y/\, serves to underline the relative paucity of the material, even standouts like ‘Born Free’ and ‘It Takes A Muscle’ sounding ill-defined and lacking in thrust. She closes out the performance with the inevitable ‘Paper Planes’ rendition — never her best tune by a long chalk, but bags of fun all the same — but by then momentum’s been lost, and a question begins to form: where to now for the first lady of beat-driven agit-pop?
December 2010 The Stool Pigeon
NO HUMDRUM IN BRUM AS SWANS STICK THEIR NECKS OUT Words Luke Turner Photograph
SUPERSONIC FESTIVAL Digbeth, Birmingham the second you head into From the Custard Factory out of the Digbeth cold, Supersonic throws even the hardiest soul far out of their comfort zone. For three nights, there will be no respite from what Necro Deathmort are the first to unleash. A laptop squits out beats while guitar and bass act as tenderisers on flesh and spines, all aided by the most intense PA rig you’re ever going to hear at a UK festival. And it’s like that for the rest of the night as the Supersonic line-up treats you as a tennis ball, thwacking the curious and open-minded between the delightfully Ronseal treats of Demons, Fukpig and Devilman (who feature Shige a.k.a. DJ Scotch Egg), disembowelling dub beats and a dude brandishing a samurai sword. In fact, the only letdown is Napalm Death who are left sounding like an oddly conservative relic by comparison with all the electronic malevolence on offer. Supersonic should be commended for the way they make music become a dialogue between artist and audience, the latter at times being encouraged to participate. In a gallery on a wet Saturday afternoon, 30 people in what looks like an Al-Qaeda bomb-making
You stink, Eavis
I’m gonna take a bath before I meet Jarvis Cocker and PULP
class brandish soldering irons and learn how to build oscillators. Two doors down, another space is filled with guitars and amplifiers that anyone is invited to pick up and play. The result is the rather grandiose-sounding God’s White Noise, hours of reverberation punctuated by treble stabs and indigestion feedback. What’s pleasing is that, even if one of the guitarists leaves with a self-satisfied smile on his face, the racket continues unabated as the sound of drills from the taxi repair shop next door bleeds through the walls. King Midas Sound’s Saturday night set of cadmium sub-bass and industrial scree is a highlight of the weekend, yet it doesn’t unseat Godflesh, who prove how the discipline of a drum machine can make the fringes of metal a more enjoyable and brutal place. Sunday afternoon, and the Supersonic crowds fortify themselves with tea, homebaked goods, and the whirring, Meccano-produced jazz of M. Pierre Bastien. Even in the daytime there’s a convivial atmosphere at this festival where the only heavy branding you’ll see is in the form of SunnO))) t-shirts worn by attendees. After a stunning Factory Floor set, Hallogallo 2010 seem to divide Supersonic. Michael Rother, Steven Shelley and Aaron Mullan manage to make the music of Neu! sound uncannily like Jean Michelle Jarre – and not in a good way, the clipped sense of purpose of Neu! descending into rockist noodle. When the original versions of tracks like ‘Für Immer’ still sound like the future, it’s a shame that Hallogallo 2010’s at times feels like the past. Swans, by contrast, take one of the best albums of this year and lead it into a harder, altogether new place. After ten-to-twenty minutes of the chimes that open My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky they begin, guitar, bass and strident horns building the sense of alarm before the opening of the crack of doom. Undoubtedly some Swans purists might have felt disappointed that they weren’t subjected to the industrial bludgeon of earlier work, but that is not what Supersonic is all about. This is not the place for nostalgists, chinstrokers or those who prefer their culture to remain avowedly sub. There’s joy here, and humour, too — “thanks
Err, bless you, uh huh huh
“I wanna live like common people”
very much ladies,” quips Michael Gira, “how come English men all look like women?” And it was in large part the electronic and dub-influenced artists - not the metal and avant rockers - who offered the greatest treats at Supersonic, a festival for all those who believe life is best travelled at unusual speeds.
GRIP HIPSTER TIPSTER He’s always on the hunt for a steamer
TOP Master Musicians of Bukkake. Well covered up both to draw a veil over their Seattle origins and as protection should an over-enthusiastic Supersonic crowd choose to sew their seeds of love over them in the style their name implies. ABOVE Dethscalator. While Swans’ old man promised to guide us to the sky via a rope, this London troupe take the sensible route to the void.
“I wanna do whatever common people do”
Not anymore, they just reformed
Christmas is coming, the goose is getting phat, please stick some acid in the old man’s cat. And while worrying who will be Christmas number 1 is L-A-M-E, it doesn’t detract from the fact you can earn enough to ensure it keeps snowing well into New Year, you get me? Last year’s Christmas race was more exciting than it had been for years, and disaffected kids everywhere cheered righteously when Sony’s Rage Against the Machine pipped X Factor victor Joe McElderry to the summit. It felt for half a second like things would never be the same again, then Dick McEmery went to number 1 the following week and we got a Tory government. Even the Lib Dems turned Tory. QED. But don’t let a little cynicism detract you from earning some bread this Yuletide, and I’m not talking loser soup kitchens. The winner of X Factor, and my money has been on One Dire Erection from the start, is a cert, though have a flutter — as last year demonstrated, anything can happen. One Direction are 5/1 at Ladbrokes while Cher is 12/1. Here’s not what to back: Cliff the greedy Christmas cunt Richard, who’s split the blue-rinse vote by putting out two singles, one with Bryan May and the other with Daniel O’Donnell. You’d be better off whacking a pony on Ellie Goulding, well priced at 10-1 at Bill Hill. She’s doing an Elton John song for a John Lewis campaign. The ad won’t get the ladies weeping like the one where a woman rapidly decays in the space of 20 seconds, but remember, people love the bellwether and you can put your bell on this. All Angels could do it, though I was expecting a hot group of nurses, not four ladies dressed like your mum doing a Kiri Te Kanawa impression. And full fat Take That are in with a shout. Motörhead could have their biggest hit since they formed in 1664, though a number 1 is unlikely. And ‘Surfin’ Bird’ by The Trashmen is also taking out the rubbish. But your best bet at 9/1 at Laddy’s is four odd minutes of silence by some avant gardener called John Cage. It’s cutting hedge. Bwoy!
News The Stool Pigeon December 2010
DOPE SHOW AS LO-FI KIDS FAIL TO GET THE LUCK OF THE DRAW Words Thomas A. Ward
BRITS GET FRESH AT
Words Huw Nesbitt
so difficult to upset officials in It’s Reykjavik that, amongst other things, people were openly snorting codeine tablets in bars; walking around with their pants down; drinking their own vodka in front of venue staff; antagonising policemen by constantly asking them for cigs whilst getting lifted, and generally behaving like Mikhail Bakunin without the agenda. Of course, by “people” it’s under-
stood that you’ll replace that word with “British citizens”… Thing is, as Iceland looks to fix its economy with a tourism drive (48 per cent of Airwaves tickets went to foreigners), it’s also going to have to face the reality that these visitors are just as mental as the natives. But what the hell, let’s talk brass tacks. Friday night opened with a strange private gig that saw The Sugarcubes’ drummer playing what looked like the tip of a NASA space shuttle, followed by the UK’s Brainlove label stage
where Oxford group We Aeronauts strummed “pastoral indie” and sang about living in a field with some cows. The local emo band (Míri) that followed them were worse, however, a trick that could only have been eclipsed by, say, the raising of Stonehenge. This turned out to be the sole bum note, with the rest of the night spent in the company of other foreign nationals at the imaginatively named Venue. Along with dimly lit neighbours I∂nó and Sódóma, the club
JAILL Old Blue Last, London lead singer and guitarist Vincent Kircher must be thinking, “What’s the point?” It’s Movember and every baby-faced East End hipster is wearing a prepubescent ’tache as some sort of ironic gesture towards a charitable cool, making Kircher’s resplendent Ned Flanders-like facial hair redundant. And he’s desperate for weed. His band has barely been onstage 30 seconds and already he’s pleading with the crowd to sort them out: “If anyone has any [weed] and would like to get high with us, please meet us at the merchandising table after the show,” he utters in his best announcer’s voice. He scans the crowd for takers: nothing. He sighs and motions to a neatly arranged table at the back laden with goods all at right angles. “It’s over there,” he reiterates. It’s the Milwaukee trio’s first show in the UK, and although transatlantic drug connections are yet to be established, their music has at least scored on some existential level. Opening with ‘Always Wrong’ from 2009 debut There’s No Sky, a hook-infested little beach-wave punk number that first caught the attention of Sub Pop, their musical equation — like their drug demands — is transparent: play it clear, play it fast, and hope to fuck the message gets through. And it does: ‘On The Beat’, ‘She’s My Baby’, ‘How’s The Grave’, and new single ‘Everyone’s Hip’ — all taken from their new album That’s How We Burn — have an energetic lo-fi rhetoric about them. Foot-tapping, dancefloor-lighting tunes upheld by animalistic drumming, driving basslines, and Kircher’s sketchy guitar hooks and wry lyrical detail. Not that Vincent can sing their own praises: “We’re like the moles of America: dig deep enough and you will find shit like us,” he japes with the pot-less crowd. Let’s hope that they’re not deterred next time around.
RTIN’ SOMETHIN’ EL GUINCHO STA WITH HIS NON-PARTY MUSIC Pop it may have been, but El Guincho’s usly curio more the of one ins rema o Negr of out ded explo a! ranz second album Aleg overlooked records of 2010. After resident elona Barc , 2008 in head the to blogland like a cartoon hammer study of ca samples, plunged himself into EL GUINCHO Pablo Díaz-Reixa ditched the exoti bit off altogether and ies, ninet and ies eight the Cargo, the hit-making producers of d but intriguing follow-up. Hoxton, London more than he could chew for its flawe and d in fairly equal measure tonight sente repre are Both records pays ition amb a’s -Reix Díaz e wher are moments goes predictably bananas for, there tracks speak to a resolutely while it’s the older stuff the crowd of Alegranza! entirely, the newer loops tible diges y easil the g some deceptively clever to off handsomely — eschewin large in ks h, than theless revels in space and dept none that pop to oach appr t maximalis out of arrangements. who make deceptively light work ded bandmates on guitar and bass steel s bay’’ ‘Bom well: Props are also due to a pair of bear tifully it works, it works beau play is fraught at times but when a Mistral’ has the feel ‘Lycr while some tricky material. The trio’s inter te, palet olour ary-c nsion to Alegranza!’s rabid, prim nts. drum synths add a breezy third dime ing bass and gleaming guitar acce -temperate shores, all gently crest warm on up ed wash pop al Collective and Anim een betw of post-discofied ion collis ging orrha which is a sort of hem Eclipse’ Less effective are ‘FM Tan Sexy’, makes dancing tricky. ‘Soca Del ction of stalling sounds — which colle ato stacc a sily than clum with beat a but ’’, less Yeasayer; na Be Startin’ Somethin ic MJ-Quincy Jones hook-up ‘Wan weirdly evokes the antic funk of class while set madcap results. made to swing like vintage R&B, s of their own: ‘Palamitos Park’ is h point Díazwhic At Older tracks are given neat twist end. m botto hy splas d adde x of rapidly spat bass notes and rate sounds. closer ‘Antillas’ gets a riotous clima t but thirsting after ever more elabo phan trium nce, audie the of leave Reixa takes his
Words Alex Denney Photography Megan Sharp
your last record, was it difficult was quite a drastic change from ? switching up your approach
Q&A: Pop Negro It’s a big change because the songwriting process was With different. very Alegranza! there was really one big production idea, which was to take the exotica sound and put it into dance music structures. Whereas this time around I was attempting more sophisticated pop production. Do you think it’s less of a party record than the last one? Alegranza! is not a party record! For me it was more angry, I think what happened with foreign crowds they were missing a
ducers for the record, and negro’ mean to you? with Jon Gass, For me it was ref- even worked scored hits with has who in — c musi black erencing Michael Jackson, David Spain we have this term, ie and Madonna in the ‘musica negra’, and it’s kind Bow Would you like to pen . past of tion of a blurry interpreta big hit in your own right? soul and R&B ’cos maybe in a Well I write for d rstan unde t Spain we didn’ le in Spain for the peop r othe all the differences between dy, but I wanted alrea radio when c musi of these types step a bit outside of that. they appeared on the radio, to ed to do something want I this it gave just so they that still has those ent differ joke label. So it’s kind of a big step. s that you can relate to, hook a it’s also but that, t The album takes its abou ’t aiming for a hit, ence to the record label but I wasn title from a phrase you refer g for songs you aimin was I co y Negro, amongst misread on a restaurant Blan inside of, get to ed want r things. menu and decided to run othe evoke that could that s song n You drew inspiratio with as an imaginary g feelin propop kool old-s genre. What does ‘pop from
big part of it and some people thought maybe my lyrics weren’t so important. And I’m fine with that, really. But what people picked up from that record seems to have been three or four hooks actually these songs have more hooks than Alegranza!, but because of the way the vocals are treated in the mix it feels like a
December 2010 The Stool Pigeon
AIRWAVES FESTIVAL turns into a cave of drunkenness after the shows finish, as they all open their back doors into one another, meaning you can’t tell where you are after 2 am. Here, Shoreditch’s Teeth played a techno punk party with face paint, and Carolina’s Toro Y Moi ran through his debut chillwave album Causers Of This with a live band rather than his MacBook, which was pretty ballsy and convincing. Surprisingly, Silver Columns went off too, before James Blake came on and
put the crowd under with a DJ set comprising old dubstep licks and none of the new jazz that’s being flogged on Radio 1 at the moment, where he’s found his voice. Saturday night got nuked after Factory Floor finished wiping the stage with practically every band on earth at around 8.30 pm, with half an hour of minimal industrial gothicisim. After that were great sets from Sweden’s JJ (more chillwave), Mount Kimbie (more dubstep), and local weirdoes Ghostigital (Iceland’s Fall
equivalent), whilst on Sunday Rolo Tomassi spat some off-time hardcore in a record shop. Factory Floor however, sounded like they’d just travelled into the future with Basic Channel and Cabaret Voltaire, watched the world explode, and returned to warn everyone through the medium of awesome misery. Everything post-their set seemed dull and pointless by comparison, which is no-one’s fault but the organisers’, who know how to have a laugh, it must be said.
AUDIENCE TURNS BLIND EYE TO BOREDOMS FRONTMAN Words Alex Marshall
EYE AND SOFT CIRCLE The ICA, London
paper, this gig was going to be a cracker: a rare UK show by On Eye, the frontman of Boredoms, Japan’s greatest, most charismatic band. The last time he was over here was at an ATP, where he marshalled nine drummers to make a thunderous, joyful sound. This time he was joined by Soft Circle, a ‘tropical disco’ duo led by Hisham Bharoocha — a bloke whose past reads like a Who’s Who of the US underground (Lightning Bolt, Black Dice). The blurb said the three would be doing “something very special”. Everyone present assumed it would mean an hour of relentless, exotic rhythms. Unfortunately, the writing was on the wall hours before the gig even started when Eye took the stage for a Q&A. There, he was asked a series of straightforward ‘What is your inspiration?’ type questions, the likes of which he’d have been asked many a time before. But bizarrely he acted like every one was a bolt from the blue. After each, he’d just sit there, staring at the ceiling, scratching his head, deep in thought. At one point he was asked what the evening’s gig would be like. “An improvisation,” he eventually replied. There was an audible intake of breath. How on earth was this bloke going to improvise with two other people if it took him that long to answer a question? True to that belief, when he took the stage, he acted as if he was the only one there. He jabbered into one mic, then jabbered into another he had hidden in an oven mitt. Later, he chanted. At one point, I’m pretty sure he did a duck impression. A few yards away, the Soft Circle guys played, neither able to get his attention. About 10 minutes in, a woman at the front decided to leave. The fact she was in a large, electric wheelchair meant her exit couldn’t have been more obvious. But even that didn’t wake Eye up to the mess this was. The only time it actually worked was the last five minutes. I’m presuming that’s because they’d practised the ending.
News The Stool Pigeon December 2010