Wednesday, 30 January 2013

An interview with Davey Woodward from The Experimental Pop Band

It’s sometime in the early hours of the morning. I hear thunder and the machine gun splatter of rain on double glazing.  I am asleep but I am dreaming too. I dream very lucidly. Often when I am awake I talk to people about stuff we did or said and they tell me we did no such thing! That’s when I know I  have had a lucid dream and thought it was real. I know I am dreaming this because the guy interviewing me looks like me, well he is me!  Except he has a smug sureness about him and  looks cold and aloof. Put it this way I do not warm to him in any way whatsoever
Q )So your album ‘Vertigo ‘ came out last year. It was not in anyone’s end of year top ten.
A) No I don’t think many people knew it was released.
Q)How frustrating is this?  
A) Very , extremely frustrating. I spend an age putting an album full of songs together and no one notices!
Q)Which is more disappointing, that you spent an age or that no one knew the  record was out? 
A) The time thing is not so important but I would have thought the album would have got some attention. Actually the single ‘ Little Things’ had a lot of positive stuff on the web but something went amiss with the album.
Q)Well it did get reviewed in Q magazine , they compared the band to Stereolab meets the Go Betweens?
A)Oh that review, I don’t mind that comparison, you can’t escape comparisons but generally the review said little about the record and focussed on my past.
Q) The Brilliant Corners?
A) Yeah, I just thought it was lazy Journalism, you know the experimental pop band have been around a long time. The jist of it was I should give up and go away kind of thing.
Q) The experimental pop band gets criticised for being around a long time. What do you say to that?
A) No one criticises writers and painters for being around a long time. Hey Miro put yer brush down and fuck off , you paint too much!
Q) So you are comparing the EPB to Miro?
A) No , no , not at all.
Q) Which artist would you compare the EPB too?
A)Er I don’t know, that’s hard, that would require a lot of thought.
Q) Well are you, Pop art, Surrealists, Dadaist, what genre?
A) Er I really don’t know. We spent a lot of time genre hoping with our first releases. These days it’s more conventional pop songs really.
Q) Conventional. So the EPB are like those shit watercolours of country scenes by local artists that you can never escape from when you are on a family holiday in Cornwall.  It fucking rains, and rains and rains so you have to look around those cramped fucking local art galleries stuffed with shitty local artists shit! There’s always bloody pottery and glass that the  kids knock over and you end up having to pay the whispering lady a fortune for. That’s how they make their money no one buys the shit art but you have to pay for the breakages don’t you!
A) What?

To be continued

The brilliant corners 4

Gigs in Bristol in the late 70s and early 80s were secured by dropping in a cassette tape into a  disinterested landlord. Few pubs put bands on that were playing original music. The landlords would always ask if you had a ‘ following’ and make a joke about the bands ‘groupies’. The Plume of Feathers on Hotwells Road was one of the first pubs I ever gave a tape too. However they favoured Metal through the week and jazz on Sunday lunchtimes. I remember gingerly giving a tape to the landlord when Iron Maiden were doing a gig. Pretty sure it was them. Naturally the landlord never contacted us.

The Wheatchief was a pub that put us ( The Hybrids) on with a band called ‘Gus Bus’. This pub was where the magistrate’s courts are, bang in the centre of Bristol. If I remember rightly we got the gig because one of the female bar staff thought me and Chris were funny and cute  and we were coming a long way to play. (Avonmouth was about 8 miles out of the town centre.) I remember the gig well. Phil Wilmot who plays bass in the experimental pop band played guitar in Gus Bus. They were terrific; they had a Mark E Smith type singer who kept shouting ‘Bastard Panzas!’
Burgundy leather was big that year , 81’ bum fluff moustaches too, sleeves on jackets rolled up, pretty sure mullets were also in vogue. So in this pub there is that kind of crowd versus  the oddball post punk people that we had around us. So it was like do a gig,  get insulted, try not to get ones head kicked in when going for a piss and try and not take the piss too much with the in between song banter. Pretty exciting.
I may have mentioned Mistys night club in another post, there was also The Ace of Spades nightclub. The idea these places had was to make money from beer sales out of the post punks and oddballs, who were into the bands. Get the bands off by 9 thirty and get the proper disco crowd in. Again this was fraught with tension but excitement too. After one particular gig I remember   this woman taking an interest in me, she was probably only a few years older than myself ,  but she seemed really grown up. She was definitely a woman, not a girl. I am not quite sure what my definition of a woman was back then but I can remember having a distinct coming of age kind thrilling feeling. She was there for the disco and dressed for it. Lots of spangled shit , may have even had leg warmers on. I do remember her having heavy eyeliner and glitter on her eyelids that was sort of Glam rock but not.  She had a black bob hair cut which was  Immaculate and shiny, remember this was before hair products were invented! So this woman had taken amazing care of her hair, it was not fluffy and frzzy but straight and slick perfect! She was speaking to me in Swedish or Russian, very exotic. I could feel my heart beat speeding up like some out of control snare beat.Whatever she was saying it was pretty obvious she was very interested in me. Very. We kissed once, twice, the third time we kissed she threw up into my mouth.

At that instant I could hear Chris shouting ‘leg it Dave’   (Chris shouting ‘leg it’ was a constant phrase I would hear for many years to come). Next I could see a lot of burgundy and a very angry face swearing at me in a broad Bristolian accent. The angry man pulled at the exotic woman who un-exotically shouted at him ‘Get yer fucking ands of me Gary yer prick.’ Whilst Gary was momentarily occupied by this I fled the Ace of Spades with sick running down my jacket.
A few years later when The Brilliant Corners were looking for gigs things were a bit easier. The whole Clifton band art scene helped a lot. One could play the Lansdown pub  without fear of a kicking. The students union bar also put on bands. I saw some really good bands play in that bar, the Electric guitars, Essential Bop, The Art Objects (they later morphed into the Blue Aeroplanes)and we played there  too. Once actually then we got banned . Because of us they stopped putting on bands in the bar, I did feel pretty guilty about that.
Let me explain. The cheapest place to drink in Bristol was the Epicurean bar in the students Union building.The snag was how would all of us get in there when only me and Chris had student  passes ( I was at Filton Tech, Chris at Brunel,  both of us doing Art) , easy really you just forge a whole lot of passes. The problem was none of us looked like students. For some strange reason and I do not know if this was a Bristol thing only but a lot of university students still wore flares ,trench coats and had long hair, the ones that didn’t dressed really straight, straight back then was a v neck jumper , shirt or a T shirt tucked into unflattering jeans,  yeah like Simon Cowell. Those guys were usually the rugby team boys and we were always getting into trouble with the rugby team boys.
To be truthful we should have got banned before we even played, the bar manager was  sick of us buying several snake bites when they called last orders and never drinking up on time. Sick of Bob calling him a fat arse, sick of Winston telling him and several bar staff that they were picking on him and us because they were racists. Chris and me saying we would call the Evening Post and tell them about all these racists at the university!
So on a Friday or Saturday for about 6 months there would be a collective sigh from behind the bar when we showed up. There was also a fare few disgusted looks from students  but there was also a another group of students we got on with .  We got on but argued about politics, music, anything really, there was also this rather tricky element of one of us lot usually trying to steal one of their girlfriends too.  However there was this pretty cool alternative thing going on and for the first time in our lives I think we felt that we were actually pretty hip, an outsider kind of hip, dare I say it sort of cool, well that’s what the students who talked to us made us feel like, made us feel so good that we agreed to play a gig in the bar.
It went like this. The amps were on ten. We channeled a lot of our anger and frustration into rock n roll songs, that sounded like The Cramps , a terrible sounding Cramps.  We refused to turn it down and played for maybe 20 minutes. The union bar received loads of complaints and we got our ban and they never put another band on in that bar again.