Thursday, January 28, 2010


Like a few bloggers / cartoon gurus, you've mentioned 'magic', as a byword for the creative process. I've never really got my head round the concept. Is magic (or 'magick') something you actually practice outside of your writing, etc? I've always had the impression that black magic / voodoo's been pretty big in the West. Tell us about it.

Ah, the “M” word (laughs)'s tricky even talking about something this without sounding like either (a) a total burn-out, or (b) precious and pretentious.
Yeah, Somerset's full of practising Wiccans, White magicians, druids and pagans of every type and persuasion. I only live a short drive away from Glastonbury. The next county over – Wiltshire – is Paranornal Central. UFO flaps, neolithic monuments, crop circles, ley-lines, you name it.

Magic's a real thing, but it's not necessarily what most people think it is. I tend to use the term ”Magic” as a sort of extended metaphor for making things happen, creatively or otherwise. It's a set of personal strategies – a skill-set – designed to get you into the zone or get shit done. It's different for everyone, but for me it's a mixed-bag of cod-psychology, quasi-mystical post-NLP self-help bollocks, self-hypnosis, automation, the I-Ching, fake-MPD persona-juggling, blahblahblah. A series of activities that you can use like an internal deck of Oblique Strategies cards. It’s about invoking aspects of your subconscious, giving into impulsive/obsessive urges, allowing certain skills or personality aspects to surface, etc. It’s about exploiting certain loop-holes in human neuro-consciousness. When you do it properly you can end up in the middle of a sort of weird Synchronicity Storm where ideas flow freely and things almost randomly fall into place. It’s a lot less self-destructive than using booze, drugs or extreme sexual practices (laughs).

It’s essential, I think, to create your own mythology that’s rooted in Times and Places (both real and imagined) that have a strong personal resonance and which, when you access it, allows you to open up certain mental doorways that help make shit happen. Over the years I’ve created an ever-growing personal pantheon – a library of identities, processes, entities, reference-points and assorted weird shit – one that’s completely different to the more traditional occult stuff that, say, Crowley or The Golden Dawn used. My references might include, for example Lol Creme or Webern rather than, say, Choronzon (though all that shit is allegorical too). It’s like a personal tool-kit that’s always evolving.

Julian Cope wearing a turtle shell or bringing a pulpit into the recording-studio is Magic. Genesis P-Orridge and his pals dicking about with a snake and dentist-chair in Beck Road, Hackney, is Magic. Going for a two-mile run through some woods and coming back high on endorphins and ready to write a novel is Magic. It’s about summoning up something – a resource – to get something done.

Magic: it’s, uh, conceptual sleight-of-hand, a repertoire. A lot of it just sounds plain daft: deliberately using repetitive behaviour in order to avoid repetitive creative behaviour, etc. But it mostly works. After a while you don’t really even think about this stuff; you just get on and do. It’s talking about it that’s weird.

So, no, I don’t get nekkid and bother goats, but I know some people who do (laughs).

I've always been under the impression that married bloggers / bloggers with kids are hunched over the screen, cackling to themselves, before their SOs call out, "What on earth are you doing up there?", prompting them to reply, "Oh, just checking the weather, dear." Does your family know of Kid Shirt's existence? If so, what do they think of it?

Yeah, the whole family knows what I get up to (laughs). I try and involve the kids in the creative stuff, if I can. They come at things from angles that I wouldn’t even think of, so I’m always getting ideas off them. We collaborate in all sorts of ways: music, art, etc. My oldest daughter – she’s 9 – already has her own blog, but I’m very protective of her privacy. She needs a place where she can learn how to do internet-y stuff at her own pace without adults hassling or spamming her.

My wife has been incredibly supportive of all my various activities since I first met her. She exactly knew what she was getting into. But I do worry that I don’t give those closest to me a fair shake sometimes.

Yonks ago, I was talking to K-Punk, John Eden, Owen Hatherley, Infinite Thought and Jim Backhouse, and I was really disgusted to learn that they've all received completely loopy emails from people since they starting writing online - offers to have their babies, death threats from Christians, badly worded rants, etc. I haven't had one bizarre / abusive email, in all of 5 and a half years. Have you had any nutso communications since doing Kid Shirt? Reveal all.

Someone wants to have Nina’s baby?? Okaaaaay....(laughs) ((NOTE - it was some girl who wanted Owen H or Eden to inseminate her, if I remember right - BTi))

Nah, no death-threats as a result of the blog. Though I did post this spoof thing a few years ago claiming that the Aphex Twin’s Analord series was actually done using digital gear and Rich James had tweaked it so it sounded like vintage kit. Actually, even though I was joking, it’s exactly the sort of thing he’d do, just for his own amusement. I mean, clearly, I need to get a fucking life myself for even having bothered to write it...but then this swarm of irate IDM kids suddenly swooped in and started leaving abusive comments, calling me a cocksucker, etc for even having suggested such a thing. God, it was like some godawful sweary bug infestation. A nerdrabble. My youngest daughter is better behaved than them.

‘Course, they were all anonymous or had aliases named after old B12 EPs, Black Dog B-Sides, etc. But I tracked a couple of them back to their idiot-hives, only to find that – surprise! - they all made intelligent ‘electronica’ that was sooo lame and boring that it would have been a public embarrassment even back in ‘93.

Their complaints were all, like, “you fucking wanker, you don’t know the first thing about electronic music or you wouldn’t be saying that....” But I think what really inwardly irked them - apart from their myopic worldview, their complete and utter lack of any original musical ideas whatsoever, etc, etc - was the thought that their hero might – just might - have been taking the piss (laughs). If I planted that seed of insecurity in them then I’m proud.

ABOVE: one third of an Ice Bird Spiral live set. Kek once flashed his rump at Henry Flynt! As he says, IBS "didn't look like anyone else" - apart from when Peters and Lee went through their "Mescalero Mad Max sand raider witchdoctor 'weird shape you get in the corner of the room during a bout of sleep paralysis'" phase, of course

How is Ice Bird Spiral going? How much time do you get to rehearse / play, set against the daily grind, boring human-level 'subsistence' crap, and the like?

Ice Bird Spiral are no longer an active unit. “Musical differences” (laughs). Nah, we had a really good run with IBS – got to meet and play with some incredible people – time to pull down the blinds and do something else. There are still releases coming out, but I don’t want to do any more new stuff. There were some moments where some pretty unbelievable and unexpected stuff happened (see, “Magic” again!), but I think it’s pretty much run its course.

We never rehearsed. It was an incredibly liberating experience for me, playing without a safety-net like that. Terrifying, but exhilarating. I loved that whole Car-Boot Aesthetic thing and the fusion of Surrealism, Psych, village-hall theatre, a seance and free-form noise. I don’t think we sounded – or looked – like anyone else. A couple of the later releases are pretty awesome, I think, listening to them now with a bit of distance. The 'Mr. Punch' section on Exit Through the Mirror, Child (we hired a children’s entertainer and I scripted a monologue for him) is genuinely fucking disturbing. And you should check Jayson Densman’s film Party Girl – his use of our music and a couple of sequences that I sent him is pretty amazing and inspired. I never thought I’d ever get to soundtrack a scene in a film where a person’s face is physically peeled off (laughs).

At the moment I’ve got a handful of different collaborations in various states of play, and I’m doing a solo live/ recorded thing as Orchestra Intangible ’73 which should be pretty crazy. The Oneiric Hardware CD has just come out - which is field-recordings of assorted servers, hard-drives and so forth – and the 19F3 (“Nineteen Seventy Fucking Three”) nano-label is up and limping about. I’ve also got an idea for a ballet (laughs) I’d like to tackle later in the year. And I think there’s some more soundtrack stuff happening somewhen...

You've got this tireless enthusiasm for new underground music (and introduced me to the delights of Pan Fino, who're pretty fucking awesome). It's such a joy to read, especially when everyone else is whining that the underground's dead, or become a mere marketing exercise, ad nauseum. How do you keep it up? You seem to sniff out the most demented sounds from the unlikeliest places.

Aww, cheers, Martin. That’s a really sweet thing to say. ((I am actually Britain's sweetest blogger - FACT))

I dunno...I’m just curious about stuff, I guess. Always have been. I need novelty - to be amazed, amused, excited, whatever. I get bored pretty easily. I’m one of those annoying people who find it hard to sit still. I have to be doing something or I feel...distracted. I’ve been like that since I was a kid.

Remember when you were, like, 7 or something, and one week you’re completely into dinosaurs, the next it’s, like...ants or bees or something? You move unselfconsciouslessly from one bizarre reckless enthusiasm to the next. Well, it’s kinda like that for me. I swear that the older I get, the more things there are that interest or fascinate me. I’ve retained a younger guy’s interests, but now I’m also starting to get an old guy’s interests (laughs) know: steam engines, obscure forms of engineering, bowls...(laughs)....

I just dig shit, basically. If I really like something then it doesn’t matter if only 30 other people on the planet have ever heard of it – it’s only right and proper to write about that guy who’s been toiling away for years in the spare bedroom with (at the very least) the same seriousness and respect as you would afford some far better-known cool or influential act.

There’s so much great shit around and most of it is right in front of us.

Finally, what are your literary / comic / musical tips for 2010?

Tips? Ha! Well, I’ve always been wary of that ever since I tipped Tuxedomoon as being next year’s big thing, only for them to immediately split up. Any recommendation from me is usually the kiss of death. I thought TM were waaaay ahead of the curve with that whole early-80’s over-wrought cabaret torch-song meets electronic North African Funk thing (laughs). Just goes to show how wrong a guy can be...

I’m sure if you ask Dan Hancox or Martin Blackdown where things are heading they’d be bang on the ol’ predictive number. Me, well, a lot of my interests are very much micro-niche type things. I’m fascinated by what I call the Sub-Underground – stuff that’s just on the edge of the radar-screen. There, you’re very often dealing with people who sit outside of scenes or work in relative isolation. Or they might be part of some small local node in a bigger, but still fairly vague global network of shared interest-groups where the only guiding principle is little more than a generalised sense of wanting to do something ‘different’. So you end up getting mutually-supportative coalitions of people who might be playing stuff as superficially different as Doom Metal, Folk, freeform Noise, Laptop spazz-outs, etc. The individuals involved might have different emphases on their own interests or obsessions, but they’re happy to share stages, releases, etc with each other. When you get that sort of set-up, the notion of trends generally becomes meaningless (laughs).

Sub-Underground artists tend to be, I dunno, more open to random impulses or radical changes in direction – a kind of “ah, fuck it! I’ve been doing this for 2 years – so time to change...” type gesture. Down at this level the normal laws of musical physics no longer apply (laughs) – there’s often very little chance of much financial re-numeration – or even recognition, to be honest – so gestures cost less; you don’t need to have necessarily created a genre-consistent body of work in order to build an audience. A&R is a dirty word here; the artists aren’t careerist; they’re mostly driven by other, stranger, more personal motives. In fact, at this level, the audience almost expects a higher level of risk-taking and musical curve-balls. The more whacked-out and implausible it gets the more they’ll cheer you on. So, easily-predicable marketing- and PR-driven trends don’t generally play a part in this.

But - to kinda start not-answering your question (laughs) – one of the strands of influence that started coming into play about three years ago was the re-appropriation of elements of New Age music and imagery. I ought to emphasise that there is no real New New Age ‘scene’ and this is just one of a handful of old musical elements or threads that were getting picked up and played around with recently...but now, suddenly, 2-3 years later, a handful of high-profile writers/bloggerati like Simon Reynolds, etc (try and keep up, Simon! lol) have finally picked up on some of The Skaters endless solo projects, Dolphins Into The Future, etc – probably because of their own interest in early 90’s Chill-Out Ambient and 80’s Shoegaze/Dream-Pop.

I mean, I think it’s great that marginalised artists like Lieven Martens are finally getting some more ‘mainstream’ recognition, but I have to say that I’m finding it pretty funny how wide of the mark some of the pundits are about the music. Also, people like Lieven will still be there doing their own thing looong after Simon and Co have lost interest. It goes back again to having your own personal non-market-driven mythology and worldview. And Leiven certainly has that in spades! Did you know he’s handing out own business-cards now claiming he’s an ambassador to The Cetacean Nation (laughs). We’re in a zone here where standing at the back of a show with a note-book just doesn’t cut it; you just have to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty with this stuff, I’m afraid.

So, yeah, the ‘New Age’ / post-Kosmische influenced thing may start appearing on radar a bit more this year if more pro writers run with it. But it’s just one of a whole bunch of re-appropriated forms and ideas that are being played with right now. Something else that might be getting a bit more visibility soon – especially if Simon & Co. pick up on it – is more Acid House and Rave-inspired ‘Outsider’ music: but really rough / fucked-up lo-fi stuff. Like the ‘New Age’ thing, it’s mostly to do with the age of the people making music. For a lot of these guys Acid House, etc is an unchartered zone – it happened when they were kids – so their take on it is pretty unselfconscious and raw. A bit like the Japanese reinvention of Western Hard Rock and Psych a while’s so wonderfully fucking un-premeditated when stuff like this happens. Irony goes straight out the window.

There were quite a few, I dunno, Anti-Rave (for lack of a better word) mixtapes and productions circulating a couple years ago. It’s the blinking Belgians again, innit (laughs)...I only know this cos I submitted some of my own archival ’94 Amiga stuff to a couple of micro-labels that were playing around with these ideas. I’m looking forward to hearing some more stuff like that which is, y’know, totally wrong...rather than people trying to consciously ape ‘Ardcore tropes, or filter ‘em thru 80’s drug-goggles...but what the first-wave bloggers will make of it is anyone’s guess: it’ll be completely outside of any cosy little dance music Continuum. It’s non-canonical (laughs).

In fact, all of this stuff is part of what I call The Discontinuum: a series of interrupted musical conversations that are now being continued years after going out of fashion. Actually, the Discontinuum links into the whole 19F3 thing, where ’73 becomes a semi- arbitrary (coulda equally have been ’74, ’75 – but ’73 has now become an inadvertent totem-number for me) Pre-Punk point of musical break-off. Actually, ’73 feels like a possible High Tide mark of...something. Kraut/Prog/Folk/Psych/Electronics/Outsider Rock. We didn’t see that particular tide come back in again with any real force until about 2003/2004. And then the water looked verrry different. Darker. I think people had been weeing in it for 30 years. (laughs).

Sorry, Martin...I could talk about shit like this for hours. Which I why I never get anything done.

Rather than just recommend stuff – which’ll invariably just be things by my mates (laughs); plus I’m wary of pandering to so-called Expert Culture - I’d much rather say that the most exciting stuff is probably happening 4 or 5 miles from your house, right under your nose. So, rather than pointing people at, I dunno, the Portuguese Underground or Israel Funk records I’m just gonna say that pretty much every town in every country has something going on. Every village has at least one totally mental bedroom band or loner sub-genius artist.

And if there’s nothing going on round your way, then – fuck it - why not make something happen? Hook up with other folks, create your own non-scene, invent a new genre, go local-global. There’s never been a better time to do something, to make things happen – there’s so many free/cheap tools available. Some of the best stuff has been made by non-artists / non-musicians, so don’t be put off by the fact that you don’t, uh, ‘know’ what you’re doing. In fact, that’s a fucking asset in an era where even the so-called Indie/Alt sector is so utterly fucking bankrupt in terms of creativity. Form a network of like-minded individuals. Then hook up with other networks. Make your own magazine. A cinema. Put on a show. Create your own private world and populate it.

There’s no excuse not to. You don’t need anyone’s permission.

The best nights out are the ones you and your mates put on for yourselves. And if all that sounds like the beginning of some half-baked manifesto then you’re damn right!

It’s Punk V. 7.3.1 innit.

So, there you have it. Go and do something. And there concludes the KID SHIRT interview!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Simon Silverdollarcircle while back concurred with my "bloggworld, it's like the 1970s innit" quip, albeit praps only to big up beyond the implode and kid shirt as "the punk revolution come to shake us up" (personally I'd say Captain Beefheart and Sensational Alex Harvey Band respectively, maybe) - Simon Reynolds, 2004

Yeah, never mind what they tell you about the 'Blogging Golden Age'. OK, Troubled Diva, TWANBOC, Shards, Church of Me, Blissblog, K-Punk et al started it. But they all used to blog on dial-up, at home, sitting on cushions...while people brought them mugs of cha, mid-post. By 2004, our autonomous auteur heroes were all squabbling in comments boxes, jetting off to Typepad and bleeding Wordpress and declaring 'blogging' R.I.P. Guardian hacks and hackettes breathed a sigh of relief and mopped their furrowed brows, as the blogosphere sobbed itself into silence.

Meanwhile...back on the streets, in internet cafe's from Battersea to Bangkok...the kids were freaking out to the rhythmic keyboard clatter of D.I.Y SCRIBBLEDOM! The new breed had arrived!! Some of the old guard tutted at our unruly posts and "lack of research" - but what did we fucking care, we were having a laugh. Anyway, amidst the foaming brine of the 2004 New Wave emerged a lawless, vibrant WEST COUNTRY scene - Dubversion (via Streatham), An Idiot's Guide To Dreaming, Gutterbreakz, Farmer Glitch, Psychbloke...and, from Yeovil, KID SHIRT - the brainiac creation of KEK-W, who's knocked out more brain-melting prose and art/noise projects than I can shove into an intro. He also mooned Henry Flynt once: show me a Golden Age oldie who can boast that. You can't, so zip it.

Kek's lived in Yeovil all his life - it's a bit like Mark E Smith and Salford, it's what keeps him going. His turf. I find the West Country a bit fascinating, as I've never really been. Well, apart from a school day-trip to Bath, where we got into trouble for trying to extract coins from a Roman-built 'wishing spa'. I dunno, fucking cockneys, eh? If it ain't nailed down... Oh, and I passed through Bristol once, on a train to Falmouth Docks. One day, I intend to check the whole place out. By the way, for the benefit of foreign readers, do you know how to really piss off a Cornishman? Tell him that Dorset invented clotted cream.

Anyway, I decided to interview Kek-W. Some of the questions are rubbish, but I was on a 72-hour insomnia bender when I composed them. I junked one question (about the Avon cidercore group Disorder) as Kek hadn't heard them. I'm in bold, he's in normal.

Our blogs sort of came out around the same time, when everyone was moaning about the 'Golden Age' of blogging being 'dead'. Personally, I thought that was a load of rubbish and that the 'innovators' had just run out of steam, but what do you think? Was the 'Golden Age' just a case of sentimental egotism? And did you seriously think you'd still be scribbling on the internet in 2010 when you first started?

I started picking up on blogs round about the time that The Big Three reckon the so-called Golden Age was petering out. Up until then about 95% of my internet time was spent obsessing about my health and related matters. So I'm part of the Second Wave, I guess. The Silver Age (laughs).

I have to say that Matt Ingram was a huge influence on me, not in terms of content - Matt and I are very different people in terms of our interests, our approach to writing and agendas - but more a sort of "Holy fuck! I didn't know you could do that on the internet" type thing (laughs). Up until that point I'd seen websites as being very static entities rather than onward-rolling info-flows - narratives - so the Woebot blog was quite an eye-opener to me. That you could talk about music in a playful, formal/non-formal format like that.

I still can't read very long pieces on a screen - it's me age, see? I grew up with books, physical media, etc - but what I immediately liked about blogging was you could play around with post-lengths, your writing voice, the tone of a piece, mess about with graphics and so forth. It seemed very fluid.

I really liked Heronbone for a while too. It showed another way of doing things: it was a weird mixture of personal diary, meta-dream-fiction, surrealist drift, psychogeography and, uh...birdwatching. And I liked some of the other, odder peripheral blogs too - the ones that obsessed over architecture, obscure art/film shit, 1930s fashion – it was really interesting and kinda strange for a while. I came out of semi-hibernation round about 2004 and found the spectre of JG Ballard seemed to be hovering over everything. The blogs were very Ballardised back then. Though a lot of it was – still is – too fucking Londoncentric for me sometimes. That’s why it felt important to mythologise the West Country, in order to balance that out.

Did I expect to be still doing this, what, 5+ years later? Nah,'course not. But I think the format still has a lot of mileage in it; my main problem is that I often don’t have enough time to blog as much as I'd like to. I try to post most days, if I can, but there's just too many other things going on sometimes. There's always a mental backlog of a dozen things I'd like to be posting about - records, tapes, books, whatever...but I still think there's a lot more that could be done with the medium. It helped get me off me arse and back on my feet in a lot of different ways. I've met some amazing people and made some great friends. I like the interaction it generates between people, the creation of networks.

I'm still not entirely sure why I blog though. It's some (or all) of the above. Mainly, I think I just like talking...a lot (laughs).

Did Simon Reynolds and the first wave of bloggers run out of steam 4 or 5 years ago? Oh, I dunno, you'd have to ask them that (laughs). If there was a golden age of blogging – and it wasn’t just self-mythologising on the part of early adopters – then I would guess it was mostly based around the novelty of the format. It’s hard for me to assess, to be honest – even looking through their archives back then, there was never much commonality between my worldview and that of K-Punk or Blissblog. No disrespect to Mark and Simon – they’ve always been very graceful and generous in their dealings with me – but I disagree with most of what they write and that’s the way it should be! The worlds that my head and body inhabit are so very different to theirs. A lot less, uh, intellectually rigorous, I suspect...

Now, am I alone in thinking that some of these guys are starting to hit their middle-age envelopes – y’know, where the bandwidth of personal interests ceases widening and, in some cases, begins to narrow? (laughs) But, in fairness, it's fucking tricky not to repeat yourself - in anything in life, not just blogging. It takes a lot of energy - or something - not to keep falling back into comfort-zone behaviour. As you get older you're kinda cursed to keep returning to the things - apart from sex (laughs) – that interested you in yer teens n twenties. I literally have to point a gun at my own head not to write about Amon Duul 2. I'm doing it now.

When in Yeovil, why not pop in to the town's finest establishment, the Globe & Crown? Enjoy a refreshing cider, and some well-earned respite from having your purple-spikey-haired head stoved in by a pack of freak-bashers

I love reading about London in the '70s/'80s, particularly about how trashy and decrepit the place was back then, pre-gentrification. But the focus on London does get a bit myopic after a while. Can you tell us a bit more about the West Country during this era? How much has the place changed? Were there any notable characters / venues / areas, subsequently airbrushed out of history, that you think should be reclaimed / celebrated? Was there a sizeable squat scene there at the time? Any random bits of history the world should know about?

No squats down here, apart from people shitting by the side of the road.

Yeovil has consistently produced more weirdos and freaks per head of population than anywhere else I can think of. It has an abnormally high Freak Quotient, considering how small it is.

I ran into my old friend Dave Workman just after Christmas for the first time in nearly 20 years, and one of the first things he said to me was about how there's always been something mental about this place. And he's been all over the globe, so he should know (laughs). I guess it's a Small Town thing; people making their own entertainment, forming bands, freaking out. Dave is one of six brothers, I think - now all scattered to the four winds - but they used to live in this Waltons-esque house outside of town called The Workman Ranch. All the younger brothers were obsessed with The Stooges, and they all played in various local Iggy/Stooges-influenced bands. Jesus, I could tell you some stories. In the early '80s they hooked up with this guy - a local binman from Thornford; a ciderhead called Rocket Ron - who they used as their frontman to form Rocket Ron and The Death Trips. Ron's a fucking legend round here. He did the definitive version of Wild Thing. It was so far beyond...anything. The Butthole Surfers? Forget it.

Later on, we all got a bit cocky, but in the '70s it was very dangerous living round here if you were an outsider. In the late '70s you'd get beaten up in the streets for just wearing straight jeans. Dyed hair was a death sentence. Seriously, you could get lynched.

I remember getting chased through the cemetery by a carload of casual types one night after the pub. Me and a guy called Max who used to hang out with The Mob. Mark Wilson (from The Mob) and his mates used to drink with the gypsies in a ciderhouse called The Globe & Crown, 'cos they wouldn't get hassled there. Most of my close friends were out in the villages, so I’d leave town at the weekends. But there was only one pub in Crewekerne that we could drink in without getting physically attacked. So we used to hang out in a big group and hope no one would have a go.

One night we were up in Bridgwater for a gig and there were about 20+ of us upstairs in a pub - a bunch of Post-Punky types from south and central Somerset who had hooked up - but these guys still came for us with pool cues and stuff. They took their shoes off and hit people with them. Beat the shit out of a couple mates. Chard was the worst, though. It's about 15 miles from Yeovil. Up until the late '80s you were taking your life in your hands even going there. Really fucking heavy. I'm not joking, the Goth kids that hang around the churchyard in Yeovil these days wouldn't have survived the '70s. It was real character-building stuff.

In the late '70s most of the gigs were out in village halls - miles away from anywhere, where it was safe. People would literally drive miles to see 2 or 3 ragettyass bedroom bands, plus our friend Hairy, who actually brought out a local mobile DJ-rig just so he could play at Punk parties. Hearing all those early seven-inches being played on a sound-system in a freezing-cold village hall while you were cidered-up with your mates was a visceral thrill. Sometimes bands would play round someone’s house, or in a skittle-alley on the edge of town. If there was a gig it would be spread word-of-mouth in the record shop. There were a couple of great gigs at The Deaf Centre – which was this tin-shack down South Street that was a day-centre for deaf people that’s now sadly been demolished.

Apart from The Mob (who, in fairness, were at the heart of that whole anarcho-hippy-punk crossover thing) – another local Punk-era band was The Bikini Mutants who were Christine Cole, Debbie Googe (from My Bloody Valentine) and Geoff who later became Gemma, I think, after a gender reassignment. My old pal Dave Goldsworthy (much later in The Chesterfields) joined them on guitar. They were great. But there were a whole bunch of other little bands like that round here. Fractured Entertainment, The System, The Box Combo, etc.

(As an aside, I was living in Bristol off and on between ‘77 and ’80 so I was lucky enough to see most of the bands round then that I really wanted to see. I think I saw most of the first gen Bristol Punk bands, most of which have been tragically erased by the fickle finger of history. I saw The Pop Group about 5 times in various configurations and also went to some of their party/jam-session nights where people would just turn up with percussion and stuff. It was like a mass free-form precursor to Rip, Rig & Panic. That peculiarly Bristolian mash-up of African drumming, Dub, Hard Funk and Free Jazz was a huge influence on me around ’78-’79-ish. After The Pop Group the next must-see Bristol band was The Glaxo Babies – hugely under-rated and a lot fiercer live than their few records might suggest. I still love their song Stay Awake; really raw and intense...)

Speaking of Cidercore ((NOTE - this is from the question that got ditched - BTi)): in the mid-80s my friend Skipper Webb had a band called Dadi Janki who released a cassette-album called Ciderdelia. When they supported The Butthole Surfers in Newport, The Skipper wore a baby bonnet, bib and booties made out of bacofoil. Fucking priceless (laughs).

But what I really liked about it round here in South Somerset was the raggedness of it all. Punk may have come out of the suburbs, but it was the provinces and the rural areas where it really caught fire (think of the Welsh guys who eventually fled to London and went on to create the Blitz thing…). There was no internet back then, so out in the sticks – away from the cities - people were starved of reliable information…so all the local outsiders would band together and make up their own brilliantly stupid version of what they thought Punk was supposed to be about. Which was the whole point of it, I think. It was like a virus.

Down here, we made a virtue out of our own relative cluelessness. We entertained ourselves. Made shit up. Bluffed it. Improvised with what we had close at hand. I love that spirit of heroic failure that suffused this area for ages – up until, I dunno, the mid-90s – the idea of doing something totally dumb – just in the spirit of doing it, you know – cobbling a few amps together or some decks and playing to just a handful of mates in the most ridiculous venue you can think of. Some of my best nights ever have been in a basement or the back room of a social club, watching or performing in some bonkers and ridiculously-named make-it-up-as-you-go-along band.

These days there are *proper* venues round here and it’s all shitty Emo and Fake Metal bands. All the kids are so serious about what they do, but in a kinda careerist way. It’s sad. (Like London, everything has become progressively gentrified down here in recent years; the interesting buildings are all getting knocked down. Guardian readers, burnt-out city-traders and media folk have all migrated down here – particularly Dorset – and made a right fucking nuisance of themselves.)

Anyway, I’m seriously thinking about putting on another Noise Night in Yeovil sometime later this year. After studiously ignoring the scene for several years various music journalists have recently declared that Noise is officially 'dead', so this now seems exactly the right time to do something like this in Yeovil (laughs)... Yeah, fuck it. ((I'm there - BTi))

LEFT: Vice Squad yowler Beki Bondage. Likes: foxes, encouraging schoolboy masturbation and **possibly** stealing drum machines.

When I was younger, I remember older kids at school swapping copies of the magazine 'Punk Lives' - primarily to ogle pictures of Bristolian Vice Squad vocalist Beki Bondage (I was more into Linda Lusardi, God forgive me). Do you have any amusing anecdotes regarding her? And do you think we'll ever see tattooed, scrumpy-swigging vegetarian molls storm the indie charts again?

No, probably not (laughs).

A band I was in – Red Factory – supported Vice Squad in Weston-Super-Mare in the very early 80s. I’m trying to think where it was – we did one show in that amazing old derelict Edwardian wooden pier – but I think this one was in a bar or a hotel or something. Didn’t Beki used to work at the DHSS in Clevedon or Nailsea, or did I just make that up? My memory’s fuzzy, but I’ve got some faint recall of one of my band-mates telling me that she’d turned up in Top Shop office work-clothes and changed into her Bekiware in the bogs…people were muttering that she was a part-time Punk (laughs). She’s still going now, bless her. Thirty years, that’s not part-time.

Anyway, we blew up one of the speakers while we were playing the show and this grumpy hippy sound-man started shouting at us – telling us off and calling us wankers in front of the audience (laughs). So we had to walk off stage mid-set with our tails between our legs…run the gauntlet of shame (laughs). Oh, the ignomy! I don’t remember much about Vice Squad’s set because I was too busy trying to stop our bass-player from punching the sound-man.

Then our drum-machine disappeared from the stage at some point during the gig. Nicked. I doubt it was Vice Squad (laughs)…I think the sound-guy ‘fined’ us for blowing up his speaker.

Were you ever active in bands / musical cooperatives in the 70s/80s? If so, spill your guts. The more lurid the details, the better. (((PS - YEAH YEAH, I KNOW, HE'S JUST TOLD US HE SUPPORTED VICE SQUAD)))

Everyone I knew back in the '70s was in a band. First ‘group’ I was in – in the late 70s - were called Spare Cells - who were, like a really baaaad Somerset version of Swell Maps.

There were four core members - Mick, Lurch, Stodges and me - plus a revolving line-up of people who could actually play (laughs). Steve Vaughn - who later played with PJ Harvey - used to play bass with us. He was the only person we knew who could play the Batman theme ((and he ended up playing with PJ Harvey? What went wrong? - BTi)). We'd play village halls waaay out in the wilds. Stodges would read Animal Porn stories. Sometimes someone from the Mob might drum for us, or a non-musical mate or a random person from the audience (laughs). There was one song called They Don’t Like Me which had this oddly catchy bass-line (“The bedroooooooooom wallllllls are closing innnnnnn on me again…”), then later we wrote Jugheads and Towelmaster which were both kinda Fall-ish sounding ruh-ruh-repetitive things. It was a right laugh.

I used to dick around with old cassette-recorders in me bedroom and try and make Concrete-ish Noise tapes with absolutely no gear at all. Then Lurch, Ben Jefferies and me did this bedroom thing called The Skin Department with drum-machine, clarinet and tapes where we tried – and completely failed – to sound like Cabaret Voltaire (laughs). This was about 1979/80. That eventually evolved into Rote Fabrik, then Red Factory, which we did for a couple years in the early 80s with various line-ups. That was a sort of dirgey Post-Punk thing – kinda Section 25 rhythm-section with various percussionists, electronics, etc. We had lots of ideas, but just couldn’t play them.

That got kinda interesting around 82-ish when Steve and I started listening to more Psychedelia. We shoulda turned into an Acid Garage Band, but I think we were just too hung up on the whole Post-Punk thing. Then my mate Brendan and Martin Herring (from Tools You Can Trust) joined and it sounded like a grinding slow-motion version of Hawkwind for a while (laughs).

Then more tinkering around at home – making 8mm animated films and playing around with keyboards. I had the first sampler in Yeovil – local people thought it was Black Magic! But no more splicing tapes, etc. Then I formed a Synthpop band called Kickstate with some friends. That was about ’87, but we quickly started making House, then Acid and Techno records. Album tracks and a couple twelves. Even I don’t have everything we did. Thank God (laughs). We did a Late Era Industrial record as Federal State, then called it a day. My Lost Years were calling me.

(Pic stolen from Loki. The Yeovil Acid House revolution was mad-as-a-smoking-beagle flat-demolishing parties and plans for Pirate TV mayhem. London had... Renegade Soundwave)

In the late '80s me and Flinty used to have a great old time DJing early Acid and Techno records at Chesterfields and local Indie shows. You used to get the same reaction from the guitar bands as the Punks had a few years earlier from the musos: “Turn it off! That’s not music!” So you’d play Derrick May and Suburban Knights tunes just to wind them up even more (laughs).

Then me and a bunch of friends, including Tim Goldsworthy, formed a Rave Collective called Eddson and we’d put on acid parties round Yeovil. Some of us were techies and programmers, so we’d do ray-traced posters and run Fractal emulations using hacked software through TVs and video-projectors. We’d been to the Synergy and Decadance parties in London, saw what they did and thought, ah, fuck it, we can do that... So we did. People round here had never seen anything like it.

Everyone in the collective could do something different: we had DJs, tech-heads, sound-engineers, while others made sculptures, paintings, backdrops, whatever. All the money we made would go back into more gear, lights, etc. For a while there seemed to be no ceiling on what we could or couldn’t do. At one point we were offered some equipment that would enable us to set up a Pirate TV station that could potentially broadcast across Yeovil. How amazing would that have been – playing William Burroughs videos at 1am with absolutely no one watching. But we took a vote in the pub and ended up blowing all the money on a free party (laughs).

When I was a kid, 2000AD was the only comic I used to read regularly. I used to be blown away by Nemesis The Warlock, Judge Anderson had a crude impact on my early sexual awakenings (especially when she had the Brix Smith flick) and it never seemed to condescend to its readers. So I'm pretty impressed that you used to do work for them. What strips did you do, and what were you doing (art, scripts, etc)? Were you working for 2000AD full time, or did you freelance? (probably a dumb question, but I've no ideas how comics work - was it like the NME?) Any memorable incidents? Feel free to slay some of my childhood myths and dish the dirt. And how would you truthfully rate 'Tharg' as an employer?

Yeah, I’ve written comic scripts for 2000AD as a freelancer on and off since the mid-90s. Haven’t done anything for them for about 3 or 4 years. That might or might not change.

Basically, how it works – for those interested - is you write a story outline for the strip, redraft it as appropriate until it gets approved, then break it down into episodes/pages, writing it in a formalised script format which is broken down into individual panels with dialogue and panel descriptions for the artist. This is known as Full Script, as opposed to The Marvel Method, which is a vaguer, page-based treatment where the artist breaks down the pages as he sees fit and the writer then dialogues the pages after they’ve been drawn. Both methods have their relative advantages and disadvantages.

I did some stuff that was, well, a bit crap to be honest, and some other things that have held up a bit better. For various reasons I fumbled the ball. I never did anything really great – never fulfilled my own potential - which is a source of disappointment to me, personally. No excuses. But it’s something I intend to put right one day, if I get the opportunity. I’ve spent the last 2 or 3 years sharpening my chops, mostly off-camera.

Still, the good stuff was a lot of fun and I was lucky enough to work with some amazing artists who are also lovely blokes: Chris Weston, Warren Pleece, Dylan Teague and my good friend Andy Clarke all immediately come to mind. Doing a short 5-page strip with Colin Wilson was also a huge thrill for me, even though I never got to deal directly with him.

Shaky Kane is a close friend of mine. I genuinely believe he’s England’s Greatest Living Pop Artist. Most people don’t even realise that what he’s doing is a form of mutant post-Warhol Pop Art. He’s one of the funniest, most uniquely talented guys I know. He streams off ideas at a ferocious rate and has a very unique and personal world view. He’s a fucking national treasure and it’s a real shame that people don’t even know that. He should get loads more mainstream work than he does. He should be where Jamie Hewlett is, with people just paying him to dream up shit. He’d be an incredible ideas-asset for any project. Advertising, animation, films, design, whatever. He’s a real Concept-Engine is Shaky. ((NOTE - I would have linked to this bloke, but his official website seems to be dead))

LEFT: Tharg - only 16.7% 'twat'. Zarjaz!

I’ve worked with six different Thargs. Most were everything a good editor should be: decent, courteous, helpful, professional. A couple – one in particular – were total dudes: encouraging and supportative beyond the call of duty. Lovely guys. Another one, though, was a complete twat. One of the biggest pricks I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter.

I grew up in the height of the Silver Age / Marvel Explosion, so Jack and Stan are in my blood. There's no way I wasn't going to have a crack at comics at some point. It was almost inevitable. A lot of writers are actually failed artists – I certainly am (laughs) – I see pretty much everything in visual terms anyway. It’s how I'm wired...


Friday, January 22, 2010


OK, gonna pre-empt all you told ya so Marxists, sitting there in your wanking mittens: LISTEN - IF A MAN CAN'T BE MELODRAMATIC ON HIS OWN FUCKING BLOG, HE SHOULDN'T BE ONLINE IN THE FIRST PLACE. That's why they invented the internet - for masturbation and hissy fits. Seven poxy comments?? That's IT??(two of which were from the same bloke, so that's technically just six)?? Jesus - no wonder Technorati banned me. Didn't ANYONE'S GIRLFRIEND slice their arteries into a mish-mash of flapping, spurting geysers, at least???

Y'see... this shit was standard when I was a little brat. My dad had this ritual, every second weekend: Sunday was designated 'Aggro-Day'. The old man would come back from the pub, laughing and singing and full of the joys of...Sunday afternoon, I guess. My siblings would get their heads down and rip into Sunday lunch, like a pack of jackals tearing into a lame baby zebra, fear in their eyes. It was was coming...oh here it comes...

Mid-munch, my dad would suddenly want to write a letter to his old mate, Johnny Cronin, who'd emigrated to Oz in '72 for a lifestyle of half-assed building projects and 17-year old Asian brides ((a year's worth of gummy blow jobs before the exotic 'wee burd' scarpered, with half his savings in tow - but, fuck it, give it 2 months of overtime and he could afford to snap up another one, easy)). Unfortunately though, there wouldn't be a stamp, pen or scrap of paper available to my dad - at that particular moment. Especially as we were meant to be eating. We didn't do 'literary lunches' back then. This really displeased my father.


"Wahh, wahhh," we'd wail. "Please Daddy, don't leave us."

"FUCK YEZ!" he'd rage, pushing past everyone, dumping his suitcase into the boot and revving up the car engine. I'd be clinging to the tyre, "Da...da...don't go". My mum catatonic. My family destroyed! I was gonna end up like that shy, lonely girl in Infants' School whose parents had a divorce, and who was always breaking into tears in the playground and being treated with kid gloves by the grown-ups.

About 5 minutes later, my dad would turn the engine off. My siblings had disappeared to some vague semblance of normality down the Northern Line. My mum, eager to placate the old man, would try to open up the boot, to lug the suitcase back in.

"LEAVE IT!" he'd yell - and I mean YELL like the word 'yell' doesn't do justice. So, that was that. My mum spongeing Pollock-esque gravy splatters off the wall, me sitting in front of Credo or Winner Takes All, or whatever crap was on the goggle box back then, and my dad swaggering back indoors and slamming things, empty suitcase in hand.

You far as my dad was concerned...any other day of the week, and Johnny Cronin was a "SHITHOUSE" and "FUCKIN' BIGMOUTH" and the object of much derision and laughter round ours. I still remember the Polaroids that used to accompany Cronin's badly scribbled bragging missions: comb-over; beergut sagging over tight Speedos; frightened hula-girl clenched under sweaty armpit; leering Celt face, peeled to Nagasaki ketchup in the Aussie sun.

So, yeah - count yourselves lucky. I just fucked off for a couple of days. Hardly the same level as mental torture as I had to endure. Not that more than six of you care (sniff). Brutes. Ingrates. TYRANTS. I will NEVER leave you, chicklets. Oh, who fucking cares. I don't give a toss about this blog's reputation. So, I lied. I shew off. So what? The devil made me do it.

Anyway, stay tuned, cos coming up -

**Exclusive, epic KID SHIRT interview - yes! KEK-W dishes the dirt, opens the back ferry doors and spills the goss on... Magick! Bekki Bondage! 2000 A.D Comic! Glaxo Babies! The Mob! Wild, Wild West - Ultraviolence in Chard, '70s-Stylee! Proper DJing! Blogging! Button-cocked IDM twerps! Birdwatching! Synchronicity Storms! And loads more besides...**


And then I'm quitting the internet.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Well... had some grim personal news this week, and now have umpteen important things to sort out (nothing as bad as being trapped under a collapsed stairwell in Haiti, but it still sucks). Thanks a lot,'redundancy consultations'. Wouldn't mind but I actually really liked working there. Best team I was ever in. We fucking ruled.

Anyway, I'm gonna bury this blog for a while. I might come back when I get shit sorted. But who knows... I'm not 100% either way, to be honest. Last couple of months, me and the blog have been eyeing each other warily every time I log in; its black, white and orange visage starting to display the pixellated ghost of a scowl, where once there was only a beamer. I could swear that, the last time I clicked PUBLISH POST, the blog and I simultaneously gawped at each other, groaning, How did it ever come to this?

Did hear an amusing rumour that we might be offered jobs in Paris. I think they have to tell employees that though, for legal reasons. Hmmm... moving to France. Sounds quite exciting, but I'd probably get homesick in two weeks. French people hate Brit accents, so I'd be paranoid about cafe'-owners spitting on my bread du pain. Did your school ever have a French pupil exchange scheme? Ours did. I know exactly why everyone wanted to sign up to it - sex. The allure of steamy first-time sex with a chain-smoking foreign 'other', to be precise. I never did go through with it, though; couldn't imagine how the hell I'd run it past my parents. I could imagine spending a balmy week with a French family; being escorted around landmarks and eating rare beef and pastries; my 'foreign correspondent' letting me smoke his dad's Gitannes; and then falling in love with his foxy cousin on the last evening. Didn't see how I could repay such a halcyon experience by condemning some French tyke to a week in Luton, my dad probably accusing him of being a homosexual or something...

Then again, my brother went on one of those French exchange trips in the '70s, and apparently the family confiscated the bottle of cider he'd rolled up in his bag, hardly spoke to him for the entire time he was there, and only took him out once, to see a 4th division football match where half the home fans spent the game farting and punching each other.

Look, reader - I know, I know: what are you going to do without me?? Well, I've been educating you for the past 5 years and 8 months. I've told you most of what I know about this crazy, fucked-up world, and how I reckon you should approach it. I've taught you to curse, rant and cuss with the best of 'em. Or at least I hope I have. It's time to stand on your own two feet, seize the bull by the glass houses, rob Peter to save nine! I've given you the gift of TRUTH, and you can't say fairer than that.

And, IF I never come back... and it's a big 'if'... ((BTi Blog's like an ex-g/f I can't shake - oh, and there was meant to be a KID SHIRT interview on here too, soon - oh yeah, and I'm still on for doing bits for WOOFAH 5, if it goes ahead)), a few last words, to take with you as you will.

* All furious raging aside: if you meet a genuinely nice person, be genuinely nice to them. Then they'll be more likely to be genuinely nice to someone else, and so the whole thing goes around, like a whirlpool, til we wake up in a world without YouTube / CiF comments. Do try to deter people from wearing shorts and sandals in summer, though. If hugs and reason don't work... shoot them. Estate agents can still go and fuck themselves, the pricks.

* ALWAYS speak well of Patti Smith. I know she hasn't done anything to match Horses, Radio Ethiopia and Easter since 1978, but she invented Anarcho-Punk, for fuck's sake.

* Or, as Mark Pownall once put it: "Every office uses typewriter correction fluids which are useful when wiping out a mistake, but which can be deadly when wiping out reality in a sniffing session".

* If you're canoodling with your honey, and a MINOTAUR bursts out of the trees, wielding a knife: just run away. I've seen too many young have-a-go hero(in)es end up badly gored to take a 'hard nut' stance on this problem anymore. Unless you're in a labyrinth, just leg it to safety and let the cops sort it out ((if you're in a labyrinth, it's easy; unravel a ball of wool as you walk around, and wait for the minotaur to trip over a strand and knock itself out)).

Oh, and a little secret between you and me: that magickal summoning up demons stuff? It doesn't really work...shhh, some occultists have just logged on.

Anyway, ta, adios, ciao, cheers, buh-buh-buh bye, for now or whenever. Hang loose.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


1) Although believed to be 'extinct' in London since 1980, approximately 8 to 10 unicorns currently roam the Vauxhall area.

2) A trapdoor, located in the bowels of the Vauxhall Viaduct (currently occupied by the club 'Fire'), opens up to a secret passageway leading directly to Hydrabad. Victorians used the passage to smuggle tea, samosas, MDMA and tigers into Britain.

3) The ghost of scragged pirate WILLIAM KIDD still haunts Wapping. The spectre is notorious for violently pushing unwary travellers down the Wapping steps, towards a watery grave. Those who survive the phantom's attacks are said to be blessed with the luck of the Devil, and destined for abundant fortunes.

4) The Swiss Citizenship Test includes a section on FLYING CARPETS. Although this mode of transport became deeply unfashionable in the early 1990s, applicants for Swiss naturalisation must demonstrate adequate knowledge of safe carpet piloting.

5) Billy Idol was so obsessed with the 'Cinderella' fairy story, he would take a pair of thigh-high leather boots with him whenever he went on tour. Only groupies who managed to fit the boots were permitted access to his hotel boudoir.

6) The first Sex Pistols session, recorded by Chris Spedding, was funded with Iranian drug money.

7) Hans Christian Andersen had a 3-year on/off sado-masochistic relationship with a 13-year old prostitute called Hilma. Apparently, Andersen would pay her 200 Kroners to dress as a goose and whip his nether regions, whilst honking nursery rhymes through her wooden 'beak'.

8) The crossroads that quarters the Bedfordshire town of Dunstable serves as a runway for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

9) Every time a London tube train hits a 'bump' in the track, it has just run over a dead body. Most of the corpses dumped on the Underground network are the victims of gangland slayings.

10) '90s chanteuse GABRIELLE lost her eye after being pushed into the Thames by Captain Kidd's ghost, outside a pub in Wapping. Shortly afterwards, her hit single Dreams landed her an abundant fortune. Although her record company offered her a realistic, replacement 'robot eye', she prefers to wear an eyepatch as a momento of her brush with death.

11) The only person to be injured in the 1993 Phoenix Festival 'Riot' was concussed by a projectile loaf of stale Sunblest.

12) Sir Clive Sinclair is one of the few British celebrities to have 'come out' about his lycanthropy, alongside darts player Martin 'Wolfie' Adams and the chick who used to sing in Echobelly. Sinclair, who invented the ZX Spectrum, contracted the disease during his time at Solatron, when he was savaged by a werewolf in a car park, after leaving the office late at night. He has frequently appealed for more A-List lycanthropes to come forward, to raise awareness of this hideous affliction.

13) The 2004 Saatchi fire was actually started by disgruntled former Cult crooner IAN ASTBURY. Astbury claimed that TRACEY EMIN's Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 'tent' was one of his prized teepees, which had been stolen from a backstage party 10 years before. After reaching deadlock in a tense and costly custody battle, Astbury decided to torch the Saatchi lock-up, in a fit of desperation.

14) The last man to be hung in Luton was Reg Haynes. The pensioner was sentenced to death in 1926, after shooting an endangered magenta unicorn. On the scaffold, Haynes allegedly scoffed, "I'm a bitter old bastard, I couldn't give a monkey's about unicorns, I enjoyed plugging the soppy wee beast!" The enraged townsfolk pelted his cadaver with bottles - accidentally taking out the hangman's right eye.

15) According to his diary, Captain Kidd claimed to have been given a blow job by a MERMAID. Apparently, the sea-creature bequeathed a coral cock-ring to the pirate, as a momento of this oral encounter - which he later lost, when his ship was capsized by a colossal squid. However, this boastful account is an unlikely tale. Mermaids only engage in intercourse with mermen, as humans are "too cruel".

16) Hans Christian Andersen actually committed suicide in 1875, after discovering that copies of the penny dreadful epic Varney The Vampire, Or The Feast Of Blood were out-selling The Little Mermaid by 6 copies to 1 across Europe. The rumour that the Danish author had died after 'falling out of bed' was started by Bram Stoker, as a joke.

17) The "CAPTAIN BIRDSEYE MUTILATES MERMAIDS" campaign began during the Cod War, when mermaids' rights activists discovered Birdseye Foods was illegally netting mermaids in the Irish Sea, to produce the fillings for 'Fish Fingers'. This is just one of 1,000 reasons why mermaids hate humans and take great pleasure in luring lonely sailors to their deaths on jagged rocks.

18) JOHNNY THUNDERS was the only guitarist to ever master a MERMAID'S HARP, which he played at a gig at the Bowery in 1990. However, this incredibly difficult-to-learn instrument carries a deadly hex for humans - as Thunders discovered to his cost, a year later.

19) Garry Bushell is a practising Muslim. He converted to Islam in 1991. He has publicly stated that his "gags" and casual sideswipes at minorities are intended as parodies of "kafir bigotry", and not meant to be taken seriously. In his autobiography, he claims that the defunct UK music weekly SOUNDS was funded with Iranian drug money.

20) Sculptor and artist Anthony Gormley is involved in a bitter legal dispute with Ian Astbury, who claims that 'The Angel of the North' is in fact one of his totem poles, which was stolen from a Cult after-show party in LA in 1989.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

AT LAST!! A SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION FOR WHY YOU GET 'CRAP' SONGS IN YOUR HEAD AT RANDOM MOMENTS you're running down the escalator, late for work for the fourth day on the trot, and your brain is spinning No Way No Way by Vanilla on a loop. You're sitting down the pub, bragging about your new Warp boxset - then your foot involuntarily starts to tap to the beat when some freak puts Babylon Zoo's Spaceman on the juke! You're sitting an important exam, with £16,000 worth of student debt at stake - your paper demands 3,000 words on what Chaucer really meant when he said "gave her a kick up the queynte", but your ears are buzzing to the chorus of Pride (In The Name Of Love) - FOR TWO HOURS. What on earth is going on?

Randomly getting 'crap song' loops in your head is a common phenomenon, but why does it happen? Well, back in the 1980s, the theory was that radio waves were zinging around all over the place. Scientists argued that, as these waves were flying through the air at the 'speed of radio', before making contact with transistor sets across the world, it was inevitable that some waves would woosh through folks' heads on their travels - turning these peoples' brains into temporary receivers.

Fortunately, we now know that EVERY single 'theory' posited in the 1980s was bullshit, so we can dismiss this flight of fancy and curse the so-called 'experts' who were paid thousands to peddle such voodoo to the public. No, the honest answer to this question is - - you get crap songs in your head because you secretly like them. That's about it, really.

Sit down, take a swig of something strong. You're not going to like this, and I hate to be the cat driving the car, but it's true. You just can't shift R Kelly's I Believe I Can Fly from your head, and it's "driving you crazy"?? No it's not - you like it, deep down. The fact you have to tell everyone in your vicinity, "GOD, I CAN'T GET THIS CRAP R KELLY SONG OUT OF MY HEAD, IT'S BEEN THERE ALL MORNING!" proves it. You're basically the kid who goes "SHARON? WHAT, SHE'S COMING TO THE PARTY? SHE'S REALLY STUCK-UP, SHE'S THICK TOO...WHAT TIME IS SHE COMING?"... and then tries to add her as a Facebook friend, 15 years later.

You just got a Dollar song in your head? Ha, I don't care how many Ghostbox albums you own - face facts, YOU LOVE DOLLAR. Your girlfriend's dozing off in a post-coital slumber in your arms, and suddenly Boyz II Men fire up in your skull? Yeah, you like to kid yourself that the most romantic date in the world would be taking her to see Nick Cave, then sitting up all night drinking coffee, smoking and talking about life and death - with Jim Jarmusch turning it into a black and white film, natch. But you don't really want to do that. You REALLY want to plonk your G/F onto a pink swing, gently push her through wisps of dry ice, and serenade her with I Swear! You utter queynte.

I told you you wouldn't like this post. But there y'go - it's not just a 'random coincidence'. You get these songs in your head because you secretly love and crave them, 24/7.

There's actually a very easy psychological explanation for why this is happening. Think of your 'conscious mind' as a rather refined superstar DJ. Your conscious mind is Norman Jay, basically. So your conscious mind's flicking through a box of carefully pre-selected 12"s to create and maintain a certain dancefloor vibe. This 'vibe' is how you choose to perceive reality, and how you opt to define yourself.

Only problem with this is your 'subconscious mind' doesn't really get any say in the playlist, and ends up feeling neglected. Your 'subconscious mind' is the bloke who approaches the DJ box, slurring, "'SCUSE MATE, YOU GOT ANY...?" The conscious mind gets pissed off, disgustedly turns its back on the subconscious, and selects a top tune that'll get the punters grooving. The audacity! Does he think this is 'Grab A Gran' night at Genie's, or something?

Your conscious 'inner DJ' knows that King Midas Sound and a bit of Cutty Ranks will fill the spot nicely. Your subconscious punter, however, taps the infuriated DJ on the shoulder, requesting THE greatest dancehall tune ever committed to vinyl - Rat In Mi Kitchen. The conscious mind responds by spinning some Big Black and Shellac at full blast - but it's just a feeble attempt to drown out the subconscious mind as it pogos round the dancefloor, shout-singing: IN A BIIIIG CUNTTRY / DREAMSHH SHHHTAY WITH YOOOOO. You can try and fool yourself that the subconscious has gone home at 2am after failing to pull, or been chucked out and mullah'd by the bouncers. But he's there, every minute of the day. Perched at the front of the DJ booth of your consciousness. Demanding a tune. It's YOU vs YOU. Forever.

That's how it works, no shit. Look, I know this revelation has come of a bit of a shock to you all. Maybe you need to lie down for a while. Yeah, yeah - you thought your brain just retained fragments of songs you heard on some awful station at work 15 years ago, which merely crop up again at inopportune moments as some sort of 'fluke'. But there's no fluke. You love these songs - you just can't admit it to yourselves. In fact, your record collections are a big lie.

I know it's really hard, and I've destroyed 2010 for you, etc, but just learn to deal with it. Even I'm not immune - I had Kraftwerk in my head earlier, for Christ's sake. How do you think I feel realising I love those nazi synth-nerds? So, next time you get Daphne & Celeste in your head, don't grimace - realise that, in your heart of hearts, you love them. Give yourself a gentle kick for missing that gig they played at G.A.Y in 1999, and move on. Cheer up - the Van Der Valk theme tune'll be along in a minute.

Friday, January 08, 2010


MAJOR MACKEREL: Mark, do you know the meaning of obeah?

MARK E SMITH: Yah... 's one of them fookin' cardboard slips the Japs put round their fookin' CDs-ah.

(Little Boots told me that one)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Every new year, I rip through loads of CDs and vinyl, consigning old sonic flames to the portaskip of history. Fuck it, I can't afford to be too sentimental. Weird as it may sound, I hate having 'too much' music (or stuff in general, really). 'Too much' is a pretty relative concept, though tell that to people who actually build sheds to house their 7"s. I haven't got a garden (yet), but I'm buggered if I'm ever popping outside and traipsing through the snow just to rifle through racks of plastic for a quick blast of Methodist Centre or Major Mackerel.

I think my attitude stems from multiple flat moves. I've always liked travelling light. Lugging cardboard boxes, stuffed with vinyl, between various London postcodes soon makes you salivate for the invention of the MP3. Also, when I was sharing, as cool as your three or four pad allies might be, they tend to enjoy having a bit of space as well. Sometimes, they just don't wanna have to dine sitting on the floor, cos Stations of the Crass and 20 vinyl 'mates' are hogging the armchair. I'd be pissed off if I had to go to the toilet in the dark and ended up breaking my neck on something as ignominious as a pile of Ministry of Sound Sessions mixes ((oh, who am I kidding. Me and my flatmate Andy used to dance around to Sessions Vol 1 when everyone else was out)).

Music's a very communal thing for me; I've never really got my head around the hoarding mentality. I think the full horror hit me in 2003, when I was listening to some ultra-obscure Finnish jazz-psych concrete LP, on my own. A record I'd bought, over the internet. On my own. Absorbing some freaky, subterranean wackiness, skronked to the gills. On my own. Suddenly, I just twigged: what's the point? Was this really more fun than the time me and somebody sat up all night, chatting and drinking coffee and smoking, and listening to Super Ape? Was it remotely comparable to the time we spent an evening driving around central London in a van, hosting our own 'mobile NYE party' with a slab of Kronenburg and a Body Count tape, because every party we attempted to gatecrash had three sheepish looking hosts and a paltry 10 cans of Fosters to its name?

I'm not dissing record collectors; I'm just on another wavelength. I actually knew someone who bought a tonne of reggae CDs from Out On The Floor in Camden, many moons ago, and only realised, halfway home on the Thameslink, that he'd already got one of his new purchases. Imagine not even knowing what you've got! Also, there's something about completism that evades me. I suppose it's important for DJs... but unless I can play it repeatedly, for years, I don't want it propping up a pile of other occasional listens, like some monstrous nuclear stockpile, in my gaffe.

I also hate having crap tracks on anything, even compilations. For example, I used to own the Jack The Tab LP Tekno Acid Beat, though I only ever listened to one track repeatedly - Wicked - and what a tune that was! Blew most of PTV's Crowley/Manson-era stuff into a sigil-stained sock, if you ask me. Never mind 'sex magick', I'll take magic sex instead, any day! But what about the rest of the LP? was dreadful, quite frankly - sounded like a Swedish chemistry teacher had just discovered 'sampling' and was dedicating the rest of his evenings to knocking out tracks in his mid-life-crisis-attic-conversion studio (I seem to remember an unhealthy amount of Kraftwerk loops). So: that left me with one brilliant track and five duds. Sorry, Tekno Acid Beat, but one track taped later and you were on your way to MVE, cruelly flogged for the price of a packet of Monster Munch ((oh I dunno, maybe I actually got a quid for it)). I just ain't got time for hangers-on and you weren't no good for me. Shame the muppets didn't just release Wicked as an individual 12", as Tekno Acid Beat's subsequently become reviled as a total turkey in dancefloor history.

As for reggae comps, I honestly think I've burnt one decent CD-R for every six CDs I bought...see, it's just a series of never-ending purges. But maybe my anti-collector thing goes back to childhood. I was never really interested in Panini football stickers when they were all the rage. For those blissfully ignorant of this archaic rite: in the '80s, Panini made their money by selling children stickers featuring mugshots of football players. They also sold a sticker album, with a double-page spread for each team in (the old) Division One. Kids were encouraged to buy as many stickers as possible, so they could obtain a full set of mugshots, as a souvenir of the season.

Of course, Panini wasn't in the business of helping these completists to complete their sticker albums without hoovering up as much pocket money as possible. Stickers were sold at 50p for a wrapped pack of 5, meaning that the whole process became a lottery. If you bought a duplicate of a sticker you already had, you were encouraged to swap it for one you wanted - from a friend, a schoolmate, etc. Only catch being: the stickers everyone was after - the 'cool' players, like Bryan Robson or Glenn Hoddle - were fairly limited, whereas there'd be about a trillion stickers in circulation for a player nobody wanted - like Gary Birtles. Shit, you couldn't get a cola bottle for a Birtles, so these stickers became absolutely worthless. Kids just resorted to affixing them to bus stops, or throwing them away. You couldn't even draw a comedy beard on the sticker, cos Gary Birtles already had one.

But here's the big joke - when these kids had almost completed their books, minus three unattainable stickers, and were gazing wistfully at the vacant frames as the football season drew to a close, Panini offered them the chance to write in and specify which outstanding stickers they needed! For a price, natch - and considerably more than the going rate of 10p per sticker. So, these 'rare' stickers weren't unattainable at all. And then, these brats finally had a completed book. The entire Division, neatly pressed onto paper. The result of obsessive newsagent purchases, playground swaps, schoolbag thefts and last-minute Panini bungs. you know exactly what happened to these prized Panini sticker books, once they'd finally been completed, and all the footballers' faces were neatly in place?

Yeah. Precisely.

Man, if I was gonna waste 50p, I was having 5 hits on SPACE INVADERS... gimme the instant techno rush of the impossible war, the adrenaline-sozzled dream of becoming the first white boy to topple the evil Taito Corporation.

I dunno... I kind of find boxed sets, limited editions, "collectors' editions", deluxe editions, expanded sets, etc, a bit BLEARRGHH. "Deluxe"?? Uggh, a Ferrero Rocher recption's 'deluxe'. Talk about turning rebellion into bath salts. A while back, I re-bought Pulp's Different Class album, which had been released as a 'deluxe' 2CD set, packaged in a chunky digipack, with a thick booklet and dozens of studio out-takes on the second disc. You know what? I actually hated the fucking thing as soon as I opened it. Some prat waffling on over 12 pages about the recording sessions, what the songs meant, conducting a critical appraisal - as if I had time to kill and eternity to injure by wading through some Mojo freelancer's opinionated drivel! The CD made me feel sick. Was I meant to mount the damn thing on a quartz pedestal? Don sterile gloves before handling the discs? Roll around with it under a silken, zebra print duvet? It looked bloated, overblown, redundant. It wasn't the Different Class I knew. Bring back my tape copy, with its frayed edges, its cracked plastic, its distinct smell - enriched with the curry, cigarette and perfume tang that it'd acquired from years of being played and lent to people, all over London. THAT battered cassette was Different Class, not this glossy abomination. I punted the 'deluxe' POS on Amazon and picked up a second-hand copy of the single, original CD edition for a couple of quid. I need an instrumental demo version of Disco 2000 like I need a broken glass sarnie.

On the subject - why do record companies feel the need to let writers and contemporary musicians scribble all over re-release booklets? OK, I'll let Steve Barrow off the hook, as he normally got to the point when he was annotating freshly unearthed Black Ark recordings. But why ANYONE should give a fuck about the fact that Michael Stipe 'rates' Gang Of Four - let alone why he should get to contribute a sizeable quote to the Entertainment CD booklet - is beyond me. It's not like there's anything on there worth listening to except At Home He's A Tourist, Damaged Goods or Anthrax. I couldn't give a toss if Colonel Gadaffi used to drive around Tripoli in a jeep with Entertainment blaring out of the bass bins (I've got him pegged as more of a Bad Reputation by Thin Lizzy man, anyway...), I just want to hear the bloody thing, ta very much.

This all sounds like I'm having a pop at anyone who owns more than 30 scratchy pieces of vinyl! I'm not, honest - like I said, I'm just marching to a different drummer. The truth is, big record collections scare me. Show me 1,000 LPs in a rack, and I'm just thinking: hernia. The memories of those cardboard boxes bite deep. Anyway, I'm having another purge soon, which means loads of fucking around with the camera before trying to offload a bunch of stuff on eBay, or something. Oh God, please don't give me any German bidders, they always start querying the deal after they've bought something. I hate dealing with anarcho-punks too - wow, all that nit-picking about how you're not a "real veggie" if you wear leather boots obviously extends to online transactions as well. I'm really sorry your purchase didn't arrive 10 minutes ago. Maybe if we overthrow the socialist scuzzbags who infest the GPO, we can train anarcho-pigeons to drop the bloody Flux Of Pink Indians CD on your doorstep an hour after bidding ends. Emailing to tell me I'm a fucking 'con man' and threatening to report me ((smash the system!)) isn't going to magically speed up the progress of a package that you won last night and which I posted this morning. Ah, the joys...

I guess what I'm saying is, don't get so hung up on owning everything that's out there. Again, unless you're a DJ, in which case these platters are probably your launchpads to oodles of free oral sex and sushi. I remember a now defunct UK hardcore band called Admit You're Shit, who once declared, rather boisterously, FRIENDS ARE NOT FUCKING RECORDS! I never really paid that tidbit much heed at the time, but I think I sort of understand what they meant.

Then again, the singer in Admit You're Shit went on to set up Combat 18, so maybe you don't wanna take too much heed, either way...

Monday, January 04, 2010

7" EXPLOSION pt 17 (and out)

Sex Pistols, wah wah, Crass, blah de fucking blah. The fluorescent blue 7" thumper issued by The Insecure Offenders cracks its granny-bashing, delinquent knuckles into the entire blogospheric preening contest that's Look, look at my rare vinyl, but don't expect me to share it with the plebs, cos then I won't feel like I'm mummy's little obscurist soldier. Pah! I spit on you all in my contempt. Released in 1969, on Rock Against Humanism Records, Rebellious Youth In The Welfare State b/w Kill The Mods and I Hate The Blind (no, not as in ignorant, 'straight society' conformists who can't see beyond their self-imposed, suburban battery pens - just physically blind people in general, particularly blind OAPs) is six minutes of stomach-pumpin', Honda-throttlin', blood-chuggin' biker-punk noise that rocks like a CND camper van that's just been bombed by a heavy breezeblock tossed from a motorway bridge. Only 25 copies in existence!

I've managed to track down Sweet FA information on the group, except that they used to play gigs wearing German WW2 helmets, with viking horns glued on, and they were banned from a 24-hour St Martin's College of Art 'happening' when a riot outside left six students nursing serious gouge-holes and bite marks (two later died of rabies). I hate the blind / And their labradors too / Kick away their sticks when they're standing in a queue / Blind old pensioners / Beat 'em black and blue / Dump 'em on a motorway, kill 'em with kung fu/ Blind war veterans / Beat 'em blue and black / Lead 'em to the platform edge and push 'em on the track. Utter filth. Obviously, I prefer the A-side: Rebellious youth in the welfare state / Take lots of acid and masturbate / Harry Roberts is our best mate / Cos poppin' coppers makes Britain great.

Mergus are probably better known for the "oceanic krautrock" LPs they put out in the early '70s - overblown affairs that, although technically well-produced, failed to really compete against the more popular, albeit equally snoozeworthy output by the likes of Faust and Amon Duul. However, the '78 disco explosion saw the group reinvent themselves, resulting in the Aquarium Atlas series of 7" EPs. I've only got Volume 4, but it's way ahead of its time - you can see where those turnip-heads Drexciya nicked all their ideas from.

Sometime in 1994, I was invited to DJ at Fishcoteque, a 'chippie-cum-shebeen' in Deptford. In scenes unparalleled since the glory nights of Wigan Casino, dozens of punters queued round the block, eagerly pushing their way past two battle-scarred Millwall bouncers, to revel in the heady aroma of poppers, sweat and batter. In the basement, buxom girls danced around their bags of deep-fried scampi, to the strains of Imagination's Just An Illusion, while gigolos in snorkel jackets lurked by the stairs, bottles of ketchup in hand, surveying their amply-stacked prey like a pack of hyenas with comb-overs. Good nights, those. I dropped this 7" on the deck and its quirky disco rhythms even managed to diffuse a fight between two slappers who'd been snorting tartare in the bogs.

But, ask most music critics, and you'll only get, No, the REAL Mergus stuff was between '71-'73, when they borrowed Damo Suzuki's... WANK, WANK, WANK, WANK. Oh, give it a fucking rest. Nobody thinks you're cool. Nobody cares about your obscurities, or if Mark Stewart talked to you in a lift. In fact, fuck Mark Stewart and fuck you. You know everything there is to know about records, except how to enjoy them.

Oh Jesus... this is why you should NEVER listen to 'popists', the twats. Yeah, OK - I was suckered into checking out the Glitter Girls. 2000 was so pants for new music, I allowed myself to be subsumed by the whole underage electroclash jive that every 40-year old, snivelling 'critic' was gushing over. Oh, Collette G does smack! She overdosed during a PE lesson! Andrea Corr described the whole Glitter Girls concept as "repulsively obscene" and people complained about the promo posters on the tube! Well, how post-ironically shocking! - obviously COULDN'T have been a shitload of hype to distract everyone from the fact that this was 5th rate Euro-Rave with a really bad, nasally 'rap' thrown into the sorry mix. I actually paid £30 for this 7" too ((it's the swirly 'candy stick' vinyl version)). Now? Couldn't flog it for tuppence. Worst purchase of my life. Even worse than the CD by Wolf Eyes ((thanks a fucking lot, all the bloggers who hyped it)).

Anyway, that's enough 7"s. It's a new decade and I wanna write about other stuff. Starting with...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?