photos by Paul Newman
Below is a piece I wrote some years ago for a fanzine (on actual paper, yet). Explanation follows.
I arrived at 221B Baker Street to find my friend Sherlock Holmes deep in consultation with a well-to-do lady of middle years, her pale worried features a sad contrast to the richness of her dress. ‘It’s my son Francis,’ she said in a voice cracked with weariness. ‘Ever since he joined this.. “rock band”, he’s been like a perfect stranger. He comes and goes at all hours, refuses his dinner, and seems to detest my husband and I – but worse yet…’
Here Holmes interrupted with a brusque gesture of his nervous fingers. ‘This band. What do they call themselves?’
‘I blush to tell you, Mr Holmes, but they are known as The Fucking Cocksuckers.’
‘Quite so. If you will permit me – ?’ Holmes stretched out a long arm and reached into the jumble of documents and periodicals on the mantelpiece. ‘Hmm. Yes, here we are – this week’s New Musical Express.. Watson, what a catalogue of horrors is here! The lubberly scum of London, the very dregs of the opium dens.. Where was it.. Ah! I quote: “spotted by yr excited reporter picking their noses in a darkened toilet with the Damp Socket Scuzz Collective (formerly We Luv Public School Records) – anti-music – anti-quotes – they wipe their arses on the smug corpse of the Old Previous Cunts – doing it for The Kids, man – tired rhetoric – I play guitar like I’m flogging my old PE teacher – drums like a scotch egg full of Iggy’s spunk…” Enough!’
‘But Mr Holmes, this is not the worst of it!’ the good lady interjected. ‘I listened to some of their.. music.. only this afternoon, and my own Francis was,’ she coughed with embarrassment, ‘..singing, after a fashion, about “snorting bones”. In somebody’s garden shed.’ Her face was ashen with horror. ‘Bones, Mr Holmes!’
Holmes looked grim indeed. ‘Mrs Glendinning, I shall be most glad to rescue your son from these villains. Watson, I would be grateful if you’d pass me the inhaler of benzedrine cough remedy.’
‘Why, have you a cold, Holmes?’
‘Just do it.’
Suitably refreshed, my friend bade the dowager Lady goodbye and stepped out to hail a cab. I found him prostrate with nervous exhaustion a few feet from the porch, his athletic frame splayed on the cobblestones. ‘Quickly Watson – the brandy,’ he croaked, gesturing feebly toward the inner pocket of his greatcoat, ‘and you’d better have some too if we’re to stand a chance of surviving the ghastly work that lies ahead of us. I trust you’ve brought your revolver.’
‘Holmes, you surely cannot anticipate any danger from these noisy children?’
My friend smiled thinly as I helped him to his feet. ‘No. But I might feel like shooting someone.’
We arrived in a swirling fog outside the lowest kind of tavern. The noises from within are beyond my power to describe – and over it all a nasal, tortured yelp as of a man crying out in mortal crisis.
We pushed inside through the heat and throng, eyes watering in the murk, minds assaulted by the din. My cheeks burn as I write it, but the music began to work within me in strange ways – my moral fibre was shaken – my resistance wavered.. I plugged my ears and pushed on, seeing the lithe form of my friend leap onto the stage!
What a scene I beheld: the preening figure that had once been Francis Strathbogie Glendinning, beloved heir of a respectable family, twitching and cursing in language that must not – must not – be repeated. Surrounding him were a group of haggard, perspiring louts, sneering in practised ennui as they mishandled their instruments; a glassy-eyed stare and a shrug was their only reaction to Holmes’ appearance. He grasped Francis’s skinny shoulder and pushed the repulsive figure aside, seizing the microphone – howls of protest rose from the crowd – with his other hand Holmes picked up a guitar and lifted it high above his head, then dashed it to the floor!
I felt a thrill of fear as he snarled, ‘Right you lightweight little shits.. I’ll show you something..’
TO BE CONTINUED
(Except it wasn’t, nor was it intended to be. It was a dig at the then-prevalent mid-00’s fashion for bands made up of crackheads and public-school wankers pretending to be ex-rent boys, weird as that seems now. Anyway, I rediscovered it by accident and thought it might be a laugh to stick it on here.)
The 13th August update of Unpeeled has very positive things to say about Glow in the Dark – “once in a blue one, you come across something of genuine interest”, for a start – and I’ve taken the liberty of quoting the entire review somewhere on here. Go to the site, though, it’s all good writing (and they clearly have excellent taste).
Wish me luck – or a gloriously messy death. x
GLOW IN THE DARK – album #2 – is now available from Bandcamp, Amazon, Spotify & the rest. My advice is get it from Bandcamp, where it comes with extras.
It’s been reviewed by Whiteboard Project, here. (Scroll down, it’s the second or third item.) It “will infuriate some and delight others […] Highly recommended”. Amen to that.
On top of this, I’m part of a brief tour from 15th – 19th August.
I haven’t fronted a band since Empty Vessels on 14th Dec 2006 at The Montague Arms (SE15): so what’s changed? Happily, very little.
Solo acoustic is a totally different animal – I’d forgotten how charged the atmosphere at a real gig can be. The New Cross Inn on Friday was vibey as ever; I, Ludicrous sounded good – well, their soundcheck did, we’d buggered off back to Brighton in the van by the time they went onstage, I’m ashamed to admit – and the sheer power and physicality of the experience was… well, there aren’t any words. I just love feeling the drum-cracks and noises blast my spine, and aiming my voice right… through… the middle; worth every second, every minor discomfort and expediency.
It went over well, too; nice crowd. It’s good to be back.
oh, and many thanks to Andy Clarke, without whom…
As mentioned before, in a previous life I had a band called Empty Vessels. It started off as a duo with – hard as it seems to believe now – a heavy but mildewed drum n bass influence. What can I say… we were young, we were foolish, and guitar-based music seemed even deader than it does at present.
Anyway, it was a short-lived but intense period which we moved away from – inevitably, with hindsight – to become a very guitar-chord-based, oafish art rock trio; and even to make a tiny commercial dent. But at the time I speak of, we met a… polarized response. Some people loved us, some absolutely hated us; I just got off on the ructions, being a kid at the time. Very rarely, we’d get an insightful review from someone who might not’ve gone for the music, but appreciated what we were trying to do.
Such a review appeared on a literate and thoughtful site called Misfit City, which has been inactive for quite a while but recently started up again. Here’s the re-issued and updated article on EVs circa 2000…
It’s true what they say: be it ever so obscure, you never can escape your own past. But in this case, there’s nothing to run away from, and maybe something to be proud of. See if you agree.
the past: cobwebs or stardust? discuss
- A Certain Ratio – Do The Du
- Joy Division – Warsaw
- Hawkwind – Death Trap
- Adrian Sherwood – Boogaloo
- The Lovely Eggs – Watermelons
- Monkeys In Love – I’m Alan
- Can – And More
- Sky Architects – Cave In
- Gespenst – The Bloodline
- The Fall – R.O.D.
- Althea and Donna – Uptown Top Ranking
- Power Switchblade – Keep it Light
- Jake Bugg – Taste It
- Empty Vessels – Monkey
- Stanley – Obstacles
- There Will Be Fireworks – Harmonium Song
- New Order – Vanishing Point
- X – Johnny Hit and Run Pauline
- Kingsley and Perrey – Unidentified Flying Object
- Bauhaus – Spy in the Cab
- Human Don’t be Angry – Asklippio
- Porcelain Raft – Put Me To Sleep
- Mugstar – Serra
- Ennio Morricone – L Estasi Dell Oro
- Signalsundertests – Kapelle
Thanks, as always, are in order. The song was recorded live at Rooz Studios, nr Old St in London, as part of an EP/album thing (it’s complicated). I’m told it was available in shops, back when that sort of thing mattered. Anyway, it’s a blast from the recent-ish past; my principles are unswerved, my delusions intact. If nothing else, it’s a nice fit with Hawkwind and The Fall.
old news and new news…
New: looks like I’ve finally got a band together, at least the strong framework of one. All we lack – perhaps – is a keyboard or synth (or even laptop) player. It’s sounding great so far… Exciting stuff.
Also, been getting some more airplay on Brighton’s Burst Radio – check em out.
Old: my former band Empty Vessels now has a Youtube channel here. There’s live footage in 3 parts, and also loads of free audio on Bandcamp. While I don’t want to make the mistake of raking around in the past too much, it captures the chaos and focused energy of those days – just as well I’ve got a new band, really.