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Summer in a Small Town
The Martin Newell interview by Paul Wilkinson. Edited by Ian C. Stewart 

On Friday 6th of August 1999 I set out to meet Martin Newell. It?s about an hour?s drive up country for me; I live in South East England, in Kent to be precise. Martin lives in North East Essex. 

He lives near Colchester, in a small, almost secret, village called Wivenhoe. I was amazed to find no sign to it until I was almost entering the village itself. I arrived about forty minutes early, deliberately, so I could have a little look around. I?m glad I did, it is a beautiful little village. A quay, riverside pubs, and an unusual church are just some of its attractions (the church is famous for having fallen down, in the worst recorded earthquake in England?s history, about three hundred years ago). 

Wivenhoe is just busy enough, with people shopping, cycling and walking, to seem alive, but there is very little traffic and noise. It?s the perfect example of how an English village should be. To add to all these delights it was a beautiful summer?s day, with hardly a cloud in the sky and a gentle breeze keeping it comfortable. I wandered around taking pictures and generally being a complete tourist until two o?clock came round and it was time to go round Martin?s house to see if he wanted to come out to play. 

I went round the back to ring his doorbell and was greeted by the sight of Martin, looking extremely fit and healthy, in his back garden up to his shoulders in oil and muck. An upturned bicycle and a big collie dog stood loyally by his side. ?Bicycle repair man!? said Martin, waving a determined spanner, quoting from the classic Monty Python sketch. ?I?ve just dashed back from Colchester to get here in time and got a puncture!? He finished off quickly and put the bike, a handmade Falcon Tourer, into his shed. ?This is the bike I did the Lizard?s tour on? he explained. Referring to the famous tour he and Nelson embarked on in the Brotherhood of Lizards days. He introduced me to Woolly Wulf his dog, and we all went upstairs into his house. 

As Martin cleaned himself up, I had a chance to look at his living room/office. It?s really neat, clean and tidy, the walls are lined with hundreds of books and pictures (especially James Dodds originals) guitars, a recorder  and a mandolin are all close to hand and it?s obvious Martin still likes to keep in practice. A phone/fax/answerphone combination stands ready. This is how Martin receives and delivers his work to the Independent. He explains that Wivenhoe is home to a number of artists and writers who work in this way. We decide to head out and find a quiet pub where we could tape the interview. Before we left he told me about the various hairstyles he?s had over the years, and he sported a few of his hats for me. 

Our stroll took us to The Greyhound, the pub where Martin recorded his live poetry album. Live at The Greyhound, which was given away with early copies of The Greatest Living Englishman. Martin stuck his head round the door and asked the barman by his first name (he knows just about everyone in the village) if it was quiet in there. It was, so we went in. Martin got me a pint of Stella and himself a lager and lime, ?Sixties drink, sixties geezer.? he said. On the way through, he showed me the function room where they recorded said album and we went out into the garden... 



When did you first become active in the home-taping scene and trading tapes with other musicians? 
About 1981 going into 1982, when it really started to take off. I started getting in touch with other people who were doing it. I mean I thought it would just be us, I developed the idea of a DIY tape in 1979 when I was really thinking ?yeah, but what if a record company doesn?t sign us? What if I put it out now, but what about the copyright?? The first ever one was The Dead Students? Diminished Responsibility which was later Barricades and Angels by The Stray Trolleys. It is the same thing. 

Are there any tapes you still listen to from your trading tapes days? 
I?ve started listening to them again. Number 13 was a big favourite of mine so was Midnight Cleaners. I?ve got a copy of Any Normal Monday but I really don?t know where that is. I haven?t got the master. I?ve lost the master of that and the master of In the Golden Autumn which is a shame. 

Why did you do Number 13 as The Cleaners when you?d just done The Brotherhood of Lizards? 
Because it was in the spirit of it. I had intended to get Lol down, and various people were supposed to be playing on it but they didn?t. It so happened at that time I got chickenpox for the second time, which you?re not supposed to get, but it was diagnosed and, although I wasn?t very ill I was told in no uncertain terms it was a serious illness if you are an adult. I basically had to be locked in my room for three weeks and so I recorded and by the time I came out I had most of 13 done. 

The Scratch And Sniff Album - It?s one of my favourites as well - it?s got The Greatest Living Englishman songs in their original form on it. 
It sounds like The Cleaners From Venus and I thought ?this is stupid - why don?t I just call it The Cleaners From Venus?? It wasn?t originally meant to be a Newell solo thing. 

Were you buying other people?s stuff at that time? 
I was constantly listening to XTC with a kind of wonderment as they grew from being a sort of jerky punk band, into something a bit more interesting. I listened to them a lot, but I can?t honestly say it influenced me to play like that, but they were always much better players than us anyway. We were kind of less well-heeled, bizarro, hip cousins from the East really. There was a kind of relationship between the bands. At one time Lol was living in Bath and he?d actually been in the studio when they were making The Big Express. He went in and had dinner with Andy and Colin, he just wandered in, as he tends to do, and I think they said they wanted him to do some backing vocals at one point. This is when David Lord was producing, but he declined, and I said ?you what?!!? [ incredulous ] And another time he bumped into Andy Partridge, and pressed a Cleaners From Venus tape on him. So I knew that Andy Partridge had heard Any Normal Monday and had sort of liked one of the tracks on it and said that he?d listened to it over breakfast and found one of the tracks enjoyable. Andy doesn?t remember that now, but that?s what I heard at the time. And then Andy got in contact with me in 1991 or 1992 and said ?I?ve got your first book - where can I get the second one?? I couldn?t believe it was him ringing up. He rang me at 9.00 in the morning and said ?this is Andy Partridge - do you happen to know XTC?? and I said ?course I do? and he said ?we could do a swap then?? and so I swapped him my second book for Nonsvch. And then, by another coincidence, he ended up producing me, so there?s kind of a thread of contact, but it wasn?t very strong. 

How did it come about then, Andy producing you after you swapped books and CDs? 
Um, it was Kevin Crace of Humbug Records, had some kind of inspired idea that Andy should produce me. I only knew him as somebody who only knew my poetry and I said, ?I?m not going to ask him?. You know I think they phoned him up in Japan or something and he said ?yeah - send me some songs!? So I sent him about 20 songs and he said ?you know these songs aren?t actually bad Martin, I reckon we have 
about half an album here.? And I thought ?half an album!!? Eventually I wrote some songs as I was going along and wrote ?Straight To You Boy? when we were there - I wrote it at his place. 

Did you actually stay with him then, at his house in Swindon? 
Well I might as well have done, I spent so much time with him, but no, I stayed with Lol in Bath. I had to commute from Bath for about six months. 

By bike? 
No, because I was doing the Bath Fringe at the time too. 

Were there any other home-taper types that you wanted to work with, apart from other band members obviously? 
There was talk of working with Gary Gypps at one point, and those guys from Falling A, Barry Lamb. He was instrumental, they lived in Clacton and he had a band called The Young Analysts [ cracks up as he remembers the name ]. Fucking great! I think he was in Ipswich at one time, not far from here. 

What was your first home studio like? 
A Sony TC 630 Sound on Sound Machine - which I?d owned since I was 21. I?d inherited about 127 quid from an account my mum had taken out when I was a kid, and it came to maturity when I was 21. I bought this tape recorder for ?120 and from that point on, from March 1974 I?d started doing my own tapes- playing everything myself. Then I bought a portastudio and like Andy and Captain Sensible, I think we?d all must have got our Teac 144 about the same time. I got mine in September ?81 I think. I?d heard they were coming out and I thought that technically we had the same facilities that The Beatles had, but in our living room. I just, straight away thought ?I?m going to make an album in my living room.? My life just became that, for years actually. The woman who?d I just met at the time, who was with me for 13 years, she just found the dining room became a studio. She was very patient about it really, but we lived with other people and they?d came home and would be eating their meals around me, and I would be in headphones nodding saying ?urgh!? cranking the sound up, playing the guitar, you know, trebly electric guitar, and shouting ?yesss?. I think I was just about ready for the loony bin then, from anyone who didn?t know me?s point of view. I?d become a living room Phil Spector. If anyone interrupted, I would say ?Not now! This is really important?. I was in fact making Any Normal Monday. 

How did you copy your tapes, and how did you distribute them? 
We?d usually order copies of 50 if I could scrape the money up. Then I?d go through the long thing of writing, this was long before the days of faxes and E-mails, of writing letters and then send them out to the fanzines I knew. Then eventually after several months orders would start coming in. When you found a guy who was good you?d think ?right, I?ll send him a master and a photostattable cover.? It?s amazing the amount of honesty there was, people would sell ten, tell you they?d sold ten, then send you ?7.10 and you?d put it in the biscuit tin. There was never enough in there, but once I remember, when we?d paid for all the copies and paid for all the stamps and I still had seven quid left and I thought ?this is beer money, I?m going out for a drink! I?ve earned a drink on money I?ve made from my music!? This other guy I know, who was always growing his own gear, his own dope and I was making my own beer, and one night we got really wrecked on his marijuana and my beer, cause I made very good beer - I was famous for it. It was Newell?s Young and Vicious, which later became Liquid Therapy (Counselling in a Glass) and there was another slightly stronger winter one which was called Bombs Away which is what you young chaps like to drink up topside when you?re not flying over Blighty. There were all these different labels and there was a cider and that was called Newell?s Suicider and there was a wine called Apple Wine, which had a picture of a pink banana on it. Because I was living in this big old house, there was a paint shed and I used to keep it all in there - loads of it, gallons of it, and it was good and sometimes I used to sell it or swap it for grass or something. One night I was just sitting by the fire with Lol, with some wood we?d foraged from the woods, thinking ?bloody hell this is brilliant? and he?d made all these candles. We were sitting here being lit, and heated, listening to our own music which we?d made at home, smoking and drinking, everything home made and thinking this has made the Capitalist system no money at all and we?re having a bloody good time. If everybody did this they?d go bankrupt. But we were young guys, we were anarchists and bla bla bla it seems like a good idea. I still do it, I don?t smoke dope anymore, and I still brew my own beer though. 

You?ll have to treat me to one when we get back. 
I?ll give you a bottle to take away, but you can?t drive on it! 

What was the reaction like at the time when you were putting out material yourself? Lots of encouraging letters from musicians and DJs? 
There was an incredible amount of letters. I found that I spent, probably as you do now, the E-mail people do now, I found that I spent a lot of my evenings, when I wasn?t colouring in covers and making stuff, writing letters to people on a little Hungarian Maritz 30 typewriter. I just wrote so many letters and that?s where a lot of the money went, just stamps, just buying stamps. Sometimes I would have to wait until the end of the week, as I was washing up dishes in a restaurant. If I?d made some tips I?d put that into the tin because I?d have 15 letters ready to go but not be able to buy the stamps for them. We were very poor, I know that it?s a clich? but its true, we were poor but we were happy. It was very uncomplicated, we foraged everything. Lol was a cleaner in the restaurant and I was the washer-upper, sometimes the cleaner. He was very good at scrounging stuff. If he did gardening and got apples we?d make cider out of it.It was pretty idyllic in a way; we had this great big house for 5 or 6 years and paid very little rent for it because I was looking after the tenants. I was a bit of a caretaker and Annabel?s kids were running about the place. It wasn?t like a hippie house as such, but it was like a functioning, alternative home, people would come round, and be surprised how organised we were. 

Giles Smith mentioned that in his book, he said his parents got quite worried about it. 
They did, yeah; I don?t know what they thought, as I suppose we dressed pretty outlandishly. Paul was a hairdresser and there were Goth girls and lots of drama students. 

People in London probably wouldn?t turn a hair but in a community like this you must have stood out. Gives them something to talk about basically doesn?t it? They probably miss it don?t they?
Yeah, maybe, but this place has always been a bit like that, a bit eccentric. There have been a lot of artists live here. 

Did you send your tapes to be reviewed in zines? 
We did. We sent them to Melody Maker because they had a review page, as the DIY thing was taking off. They had a demo review page, Patrick somebody, he?s still writing. I forget his name; he gave the Cleaners a glowing review. We sent him it, saying we weren?t looking for a deal but this is what we did. NME had Garageland and Sounds had Cassette Pets. For about two years all those papers ran cassette reviews. So it was possible to get your work publicized. Sounds printed a picture of us occasionally as well. 

Are you still in friends with any of the hometaper types you were in contact with in Ye Olde Days? 
No, I?ve lost contact with a lot of them; I?ve recently made contact with Barry Lamb, he moved around a lot, a mysterious guy for me. Garry Gypps, I last saw about ten years ago at a gig in London. I know he?s still out there doing good stuff. And Yoachim and a guy called Martin Christagau I met in Germany. It?s amazing how many of these guys I?ve actually met. I was in Hanover 3 years ago and this guy came up to me and gave me the master of a tape that I?d forgotten all about, that?s how careless I was, I?d just send the master out. The cassette master not the mix master, but I haven?t got the machine to mix it on anymore. He came up to me and said you won?t remember me and gave me the master back. I can?t remember his name now; I said ?bloody hell I didn?t even know you had this.? And he said [ assumes German accent] ?No but I have kept it for you, and I knew that if I saw you I would give it back to you.? 

So you lost contact when you stopped doing the DIY? 
There was a heyday for DIY and some peopled stayed with it and some people didn?t. I dipped in and out of it. The time I was really doing it non-stop was between 81-86 five years. Then I kept sporadic contact with it. Once we started to make proper records as the Cleaners From Venus it began to suck energy out of me. Because of that and the record company and all sorts of hassle I became really, really poor, desperately poor. Sometimes I was ill I was fighting for survival. Between 86 and 88 they were really tough times. Big mistake. 

These are Ian?s questions. Andy Partridge: love him or hate him, and you can only pick one. 
Well, in that case I?ll have to say I love him, he?s a force for good. 

Don?t we all! 
Yeah he?s a wonderful man. 

I was lucky enough to meet him recently, well meet is putting it a bit strongly, bother him perhaps, and he was so nice, people have this image of him as this shy retiring character, but he?s really blokey and an ?all right mate!? kind of geezer. 
Yeah well he?s a Swindon lad he?s a good chap. He doesn?t ever claim to be intellectual but he?s fearfully clever. I got on with him like a house on fire. It was sometimes like we were mirror images of each other, because I?d asked Giles what he was like before I met him and he said, ?he?s the person most like you I?d ever met?. He is in a way, as he never stops yakking he?s always got loads of stupid jokes. He?s got what Dave Gregory calls ?a strangely wired brain? a ?differently? wired brain. 

How does The Greatest Living Englishman sound to you - compared with the demos? 
Um, it depends which demo. Some of the demos were piss-poor - some were a little more than strumming. GLE was something that I probably can take into my grave saying I made was my one good album. Andy Partridge did a proper producer?s job, he brought the best flavours out of me and put in not too much of himself. I hardly ever argued with him and mostly did as he said. He?s quite autocratic, some people have a problem with him but I never did. Andy?s quite aware of that he describes himself as a cross between Mussolini and Santa Claus, but it?s true he would push me. I couldn?t sometimes hear when I?d gone flat and when you listened to it back I?d say ?Andy I can?t hear it,? but he?d just polish his glasses like a Nazi officer and turn round and say, ?Sorry to play the torturer Martin, but just one more. You can get it a bit better than that?. I?d do it, but sometimes after six or seven goes, I?d say ?Andy it?s going sterile, I?m going deaf listening to it? he?d say, ?okay do you want a cup of tea? and he?d go and make me a cup of tea 
- he was really nice. We had this constant thing running when we were making the album that we were a couple of northern landladies. It started because we were listening to John Shuttleworth?s stuff. So we became a couple of northern seaside landladies in cardigans, we?d be sitting there and as both our long term relationships were breaking up, his 17 years and mine 13 years, you know each day there?d be a fresh onslaught on our sensibilities, his Mrs would be knocking at the studio door to take the kids to school saying ?Harry needs a new pair of shoes and I?m having the toaster?. [Cracks up again.] Then he?d be all down and I?d have to walk him round the park. The next day it would be my turn, my bird would call and say ?? and another thing, I?ve moved so and so and so and so (two blokes) into the house, they?re living here now, but I hope you don?t mind but they?ve borrowed some of your books? and I?d answer like some American business man ?WHAT!? I?d say to Andy ?Fucking hell Andy I don?t think I can cope with this?. We coped by becoming these seaside landladies saying ?men and their muck ?. And it goes all over the sheets and flakes disgusting?.. We?ll have to get a Black & Decker attachment to flail it off. Men and their muck!?. Some days we couldn?t do things for laughing. Other days we?d be a couple of old bodgers in a shed arguing about the best way of making a rocking horse, pencils behind our ears etc. Just boys really, boys making a den. 

What has your relative fame allowed you to do which you couldn?t do before? 
One thing it has allowed me to do - you get to meet your heroes. You get to meet people you really respect and have them talk to you as equals. Like, I can go and get drunk with John Cooper-Clarke who I used to worship. I can go and make a record with Andy Partridge who I really admire. I can phone up Captain Sensible and make jokes about the Queen, and such. I think, apart than one or two people, I?ve met everyone I?d wanted to work with. I?m a very lucky boy and fame has done that for me. But apart from that I have to be careful about my own manor. I cannot now go out here and get drunk, and I would never have got into a fight, but if somebody has a pop at me I cannot then use my caustic wit to demolish them. The one time I did that I said ?I?m on a planet and you?re in a village? But now I just have to say ?well if you think that you?re probably right? and just leave. I don?t court fame, but I don?t turn it down out of hand. 

You?re already the UK?s most frequently published poet. 
It?s all right at this level, but I don?t know how big you can get as a poet. I don?t go to big literary things in London. I don?t put myself about. They don?t talk about me in London because if you don?t go and have dinner with them and don?t do the schmooze, you?re not in the club. 

What lead you to cover Andy Partridge?s song ?Pearl? in the 80?s and why in that style? 
Yeah, Andy?s amazed about it. Giles Smith got hold of this unused XTC song, Giles was a real fan, I wasn?t, at that stage. I just listened to their records, I got given them by people saying ?Martin you really must listen to this?, between Giles and Lol, I got converted. Giles said I?ve got this unreleased Andy Partridge song, why don?t we cover it? I said alright. Also Giles had just bought this Todd Rundgren album called A Cappella which was all voice and said why don?t we do this song like Todd would have done on A Cappella. So I said ?all right, but I think we ought to write a bit in.? So we?ve got a little solo to put our stamp on it. A Cappella is in my top 10 all time favourite albums anyway. Really, amazing, I like Something Anything myself. 

Yeah that?s in there too. Todd got me into XTC and XTC got me into you. 
That?s interesting ?cause Andy had a really bad time with Todd but Dave and Colin got on with him quite well. I think Todd was probably a superior ego. Andy does recognize the good job he did on it now, however much he hated it at the time. 

I?ve met Todd and he was really nice. He also said he loved Skylarking. 
I think Todd suspected there were two really rampant egos, and one of them was going to have to be governor and it wasn?t going to be Andy. 

Do you enjoy being an obscure pop god, or would you prefer overt fame and fortune? 
It?s too late now. But just lately I?ve started listening to my own stuff. Believe it or not I can go a year or even two without listening to anything I?ve done. Nel and my friends keep me doing music. Nel says ?come on Martin?? Because I?m kept busy writing poetry. Then I really enjoy it and I?m into it again. Other people have kept that flame burning for me. I still play my instruments a lot. Do I enjoy it? Without any bitterness, when I listen to some of my old music I think they were actually quite good. 

Quite good. 
And I didn?t get a fair crack of the whip. Part of it was my own stupid fault, for being obstinate and an anarchist and fairly ignorant about the industry, and part of it I?ve got a genuine grievance, but so have plenty of other clever people. It is the way of the industry and especially the industry in this country. So I still hold a grudge against the industry for that. The media, the lot. If you don?t do the schmooze you?re not in the club. The same with poetry. But with the poetry I?m being so well published, and getting so well known at it I?m sitting at the top of that fucking hill waving my big fat wanger at them and they can fuck off. That?s Andrew Motion, the poetry society and the arts council, they can all fuck off and die. And what are you going to do about me? If I go bankrupt and have to go back to gardening then I?ve still done it and they haven?t. Which is great because I?ve had my revenge on them. One day I?ll have my revenge on the music industry too. I will write a book. Not a novel, a massive funny piss take, a ?this is what they do? kind of thing. 

You once said you were going to write your autobiography. Any plans on that front? 
I?ve started it. We?ve sent a few sample chapters off to publishers and they haven?t liked them very much. I sent it to Andy Partridge, he said ?you must go on with this, it?s great.? The way I?ve done it is-1964, then zip forward to 1974. Like 1964 I?m at my first ever gig, I?d been sneaked into a school dance in Colchester, thinking ?this is brilliant,? then zip, I?m in 1974 playing in Plodd my Glam rock band, brilliant. Then I?m in 64 watching my friends sister putting on her white lipstick, then zip, I?m shagging a bird in a broom cupboard ?cause Plodd haven?t gone down well at Essex university then zip, I?m drunk in Leeds after another dreadful gig?. It?s supposed to be funny.. I think I?ll have to wait until I?m a bit more, well until the point where someone will publish anything I do. I?ll say ?well I have this thing here??. It?s going to be called, and I refuse to change the title, The Chicks Are Gone, The Drugs Were Dodgy And I Never Did Get The Bastard Loot. 

Did Giles Smith steal your thunder when he wrote about the Cleaners in his book Lost In Music? 
Noooo! But I do wish he had come to me for the stories. He?s a brilliant storyteller and he?s good on the chronology of it, but he?s not so good on? Well, for instance, he says something like ?two months of living between scabrous sheets drove Martin a bit mad.? I was there for 18 months! I never slept between scabrous sheets. I had my own sleeping bag, which I hid in a loose ceiling panel so other musicians wouldn?t use it. 

You were in London all that time? 
Yes, I slept under the mixing desk. When Captain Sensible was there, to his credit, he slept under the grand piano. Giles slept there a couple of times, but he would go and stay with friends in Hampstead, that he?d met at Cambridge, or stay in the manager?s flat. Oh, and another thing my beer was not called Old Peculiar it was Young and Vicious. He ought to have known that, he drank enough of it. Whatever feeling I have for my ex now, she was a bit more than a former doctor who had who cured a rabbit. She was a bit cleverer than that. She was a Greenham woman?. He wrote her off, he didn?t approve of her, he was from the 80?s generation. The other thing about the book, and these are my only criticisms, it must be said because it?s a super book, and it?s done me a lot of favours, I came out of it really well, was that it was a book about a band being crap. 

Well I didn?t get that??[ Protests ] 
This is a book about a band failing. So in order to keep the joke going he couldn?t mention the good things we chalked up. We played a couple of stunning gigs, one of which he mentions. The other thing is that Going To England shifted 10,000 units really quickly. He never mentions that. I?m not trying to say we were really big rock stars you know, but the music press thought really well of us. In fact one Christmas we were crossword clues in Sounds! You don?t get used as crossword clues unless people know who you are. We were really getting a little bit fashionable. People liked us. 

To my eternal shame I was into heavy metal back then. 
Weren?t we all. I used to like Uriah Heep. 

So did I, but I?m not as old as you. I was well and truly unfashionable! 
No, but it?s music for young guys. You need spunky music. You?ve got all this stuff surging through you. You need music that?s eclectic, that goes durgh, durgh, durgh, clang crash, durgh, durgh. Course you do. God bless it. 

All my friends liked Duran Duran and the Blow Monkeys and stuff, I?m saying ?Uriah Heep are really good!? 
No, that?s sound. Did you hear Salisbury their second album? Look At Yourself wasn?t so good. Their first two were really good. 

I used to work with a lot of older guys, they would say ?oh, you?re into music, you?ll like this? and foist heavy stuff on me and I?d be like? ?Ooh, I do, actually.? 
AC/DC were really good. What better thing to give a 17 year old boy on his birthday than an AC/DC album. Or Led Zeppelin when he gets a bit more intelligent. 

Kids today are missing out with their Steps and Boyzone. 
Yeah you need more music like that, music that doesn?t interfere with a frantic wanking schedule. 

Yes I did have one of those! 
I know I bloody did! Non-stop! I was a six a day man at one point. 

My mum never commented on my stiff sheets. 
Oh I never did that, I?d disappear to the bog with a picture of a sheep and some anchovy paste. 

I can?t believe I?m sitting here with one of my heroes talking about my wanking activities! Anyway back to the questions, have you ever considered doing an Oasis style track to see how far up the charts you could ride it? 
What?!! 

Cliff Richard did it recently didn?t he?. 
Cliff Richard did an Oasis track? 

No, he released a song under another name, a soul thing. It was doing really well until he revealed it was him. 
Oh? What was it called? 

?Black Knight,? I think. I can?t believe we?re talking about Cliff now. Hey hang on a minute, you?ve got Cliff Richard?s ?Summer Holiday? on your mantelpiece! 
No it?s not really. 

No, I guessed that! 
No, that?s someone I know, Alan Jenkins he?s another from the DIY time. He?s completely defiant. He?s done a series of classic LP covers that aren?t quite right, so you?ve got Cliff Richard And The Shadows? ?Summer Holiday? with a picture of the goat of Mendes standing menacingly outside a cottage. I thought it was so hilarious I used it as an ornament. 

It is brilliant yeah. Getting back to the original question have you ever considered doing an Oasis style track to see how far up the charts you could ride it? 
No. 

Are you inspired to by my Cliff Richard story? 
No. 

[ laughing ] No, no you?re not! 
Well if someone said to me ?Do you fancy a go, here?s the budget,? I?d be up for it, but there wouldn?t be much point. 

You could be Liam [ bad Liam impression at this point ]
I probably could yes. I think he?s got a good voice. 

A bit like John Lydon?s isn?t it. 
Somewhere between Lydon and Lennon. The Sex Beatles is how I think of them. 

My next question is did you ever get any nutters bothering you? 
Yeah. [ Serious ] 

What, around here? 
No. I have had a couple of serious ones. When we were doing the Cleaners we had some scary stuff. People on drugs, one letter came from someone who?d been in prison. He sent me a great big joint in the post; I thought ?bloody hell if the police find this they?ll blame me as a receiver.? He meant well. I don?t get too many I think, because I don?t try to create any mystique. No point in pestering Martin, he?ll only pester you back. ?Have you got a fag? Give me some money.? 

Ian wonders have you ever been approached about having your music remixed? 
Well do you know, I never have. It might be interesting. I might even collaborate, I?d be daft not to. I?ve even suggested it to my publishers, they deal with dance people, much bigger people than me now. Nothing came of it, they think I?m a flake anyway. I wanted them to get me together, this is years ago now, with someone who did ambient dance trance sort of stuff. I could write something, we could have dance trance poetry. There were people doing it and I knew I could do it better because I?m a professional. I could come up with it. All we would need is a DAT of my voice, doing a long sort of space age poem that would appeal to people on the dance floor. 

Do you like that sort of music then? 
Sometimes, yeah! I?m not someone who goes dancing. I?m not one of those people who goes ?Well I?m 46 and I still go out dancing, I like those raves and I?ve been known to have an E as well? They say there?s no age barrier but I think there bloody is! I bet when all those young ravers of about 19 or 20 see some sad pathetic geezer of 50 or some old woman who?s had a face full of Gurana and Vodka they think ?fucking hell!? It?s the same as when we were younger and we saw some arthritic old granddad doing the twist and saying ?I can still keep up with the young?ns aaaargh!? in 1969. 
 

Let?s talk Gypp, the article you wrote for Mojo was priceless. Was the reunion filmed? 
Gypp, it was filmed by Germans probably, yeah. I?ve got live tapes. They?re quite good, but the music does sound like it would have sounded. I always say Gypp was a good band, we were just at the wrong time. We were a great live band we had a big following, kids who didn?t like punk. We were real gigging veterans. I played a place in Kent once and some young modern Darren in white socks came up and said ?scuse me mate but don?t you think your music?s a bit outta date? and I said ?In what way? We?re doing it now a lot of punters like it, how can it be out of date? If there?s no demand for it how come we are working?? He said ?yeah but all these double necked guitars and all that? I said ?maybe food will become unfashionable and people will stop eating.? It?s so precious, people have been reading too many NME?s or something. 

How did you meet Captain Sensible? Is he a musical genius or just a big idiot, how is he to work with? 
He?s not a big idiot, far from it, he?s a brilliant musician! 

It?s obvious isn?t it! 
He?s as good as Andy Partridge. Captain has a real feel for new stuff, unlike Andy, Captain veers towards the dance stuff, he understands that. He was into house music and dance from the beginning, and avant-garde. His favourite band, he always maintains, was the Soft Machine. He was another prog rocker he was sympathetic to my thing with Gypp. 

It?s hard to believe that music was so popular one minute and hated the next. 
Well that?s just a few fashionable people in London, they wrote about it. If it?s happening in London it must happen all over the world. I still hate the fucking bastards. 

Like Danny Baker, do you still hate him? 
I think he?s a very witty, funny man. He?s a Millwall supporter for which I like him. I?m not a football fan but my dad supported Millwall.  My manager?s husband supports Millwall. I?ve always thought I was the poetic equivalent of Millwall. I?m still good but you know it?s like, ?We?re Millwall, no one likes us and we don?t care?. There?s a bit of that in XTC and the Cleaners and the Dammed. The Clash were Arsenal, the Sex Pistols were Chelsea and the Dammed were Millwall! 

Brilliant. Did you like what Sensible contributed to your live sound? 
He?s excellent, you get Captain in your band you?ve got the band. There?s other good people, like Nelson, as well. 

Do you ever write on anything other than guitar? 
I wrote ?Before The Hurricane? on piano. ?Home Counties Boy? was written on mandolin. Some of the Cleaners stuff was written on bass. Most of Any Normal Monday was written with me and Lol on bass then me putting guitar on top of the bass and drums. So the bass leads the songs. 

Yeah, some of those tapes are very bassy. 
Are they? 

Well I?m on God-knows-what generation copies. 
The tapes we put out were always trebly. 

People have obviously compensated along the way. 
People have boosted the bass up, all along the way, so in the end, they probably do sound wooffy. 

Is it true that you and Andy were lovers and that was why you were getting divorced? 
Whaattt!!!! No they always say everyone?s a bit bisexual but I?m not! I?m a 100% fannywack. 

So am I. 
I might be a lesbian trapped in a man?s body. 

Yeah, I don?t mind watching other lesbians. 
[ Laughs long and loud ] 

Have you ever written songs for anyone else? 
I have, I used to write with Captain Sensible?s ex. She is a really good musician. We wrote a couple of good songs together. One of these was called ?Marianne Has Gone Away? I don?t think it was released, it?s well worth hearing,. 

Is there anyone else in the realm of music you?d like to work with? 
Er, yeah, I would really like to work, at some point, with that guy from the High Llamas. If I was gonna work with anyone, that is a guy that I think is just great. Another guy I have a really soft spot for is- well I don?t know if I want to work with him, people say he is difficult-then again people say I?m difficult- is that guy from BabyBird. I think he?s brilliant. That guy is a genius. What a guy! 

I think people who like your music are often attracted to similar artists, XTC, Robyn Hitchcock, BabyBird etc. 
I think of Hitchcock as a contemporary. I stepped into his shoes when they were making the third Captain Sensible album. Robyn wasn?t getting on very well with the producer, so he got chased out. Sensible kind of remembered me from working with me in 1981, 5 years before. Tony Phillips was the engineer on that album, he was with me in Gypp. He recommended me to Captain. We got in touch, I did some lyrics, we have been working together ever since in some form or other. We are really good buddies. In fact I?m going down to see him this weekend, we?re looking after the kids. Would you leave your kids with these men? Sensible and Newell and four kids in Sussex, the kids have a good time with us. We give them lighters and cider and they?re happy. The grass is nice and dry up on the downs this time of year. We go down the pub. 

What was your education like? 
I?m writing an article about that for the Independent. I left school at 15. I went to 15 different schools. 

Bloody hell!! 
By the time I was 17 when I left home in London, which is where my parents were living at the time, I?d lived in more houses than I was years old. I went to these 11 schools, most of which I was bullied at, apart from the last one, Elliot school in Putney which believe it or not Pierce Brosnan was at. I remember Pierce as a really well turned out Irish lad who was bullied. He was a tall good looking boy, I remember him as being alright. Rat Scabies [ The Dammed ] was at my school but he was 2 years down from me. I didn?t know him then, his name was Chris Miller. My education was pretty patchy. One consistent thing however, was I was good at English. I have no qualifications to my name. I was exam phobic. The only exam I ever took was my 11+ which I failed, and I?ve never had any further education. I?m self-educated, I probably am well read as my main love is books and I?m a compulsive reader. 

Who is your favourite novelist or poet? 
Blimey, that is really hard. My favourite poet is A.E. Houseman, followed by Betjeman. I?m currently re-reading David Copperfield. 

That?s my favourite book. 
It was Dickens? favourite. 

It?s his story really. 
Well I didn?t know that, my favourite living author is Peter Ackroyd. ?Hawksmoor.? He?s a great author. 

The Dickens biographer. Whenever I watch those Dickens adaptations on telly, there is always a character in them that looks a bit like you. 
Yeah, I?ve got one of those faces. I?ve also got one of those English rock n? roll faces, you know stick a wig on me, put me in a picture of the Yardbirds or something and peole will go, ?oh, what was his name?? I used to wear Dickensian clothes quite a lot. 

I suppose that?s where I made the connection. So you had a secondary school education. 
Yes, well actually I went to all three. Secondary, grammar and comprehensive. I was always good at English and history, which got me roundly castigated by my peers. I was never in the top stream because I was mathematically retarded. I?m a typical rock star- peripatetic, can?t concentrate, but when I get into something I really will. I owe all my education to, what my colleagues in my early bands described as a perverse desire to go out with difficult women. When they said difficult they meant they weren?t 15 and they weren?t schoolgirls. I used to go out with women my own age or older, who were at university or had loads of books. I was fascinated by intelligent women, I owe all my education to brainy birds. I?m incredibly attracted to them. 

Yeah, well aren?t we all. I know I prefer to be stimulated, rather than having to think down all the time. 
On the other hand, I love fifty dollar hookers! I like it when they lick my weenie and go ?Ooh Ooh Oh? when I squeeze their little buns! No, I?ve never been that way, Giles Smith was the funniest, we went to Hamburg in the reeperbahn, the reeperbahn right. People say it?s like Soho in London, but it?s not. Okay, they?ve got some music there, it?s where the Beatles went, but you can go to Soho and have a meal, see a film, a play, all sorts of alternative things. If you go to the reeperbahn, you are going for a shag. The Germans say ?we put you in reeperbahn because all you English rock stars like to bonk.? Our hotel room, which I shared with Smith, looked out on commanding views of an aging whore. She was plying her trade and whistling like Lilly Marlane but with a big spreading arse. We went into a gay bar without realising it, which shows how naive we were. We went in and there were only these four, fat, pissed off looking guys drinking beer. I walked out of there with Smith and our manager, a big old sussed out Scottish geezer. Giles says ?Well that was a bit dull, just four miserable guys, what?s all that about?? and the manager says ?I think you?ll find that was a gay bar, and they were all rent boys!?. I was like, ?oh, right?. When we got back to our room, Smith unzipped his rather smart bag and pulled out this massive tome of of 18 th century poetry and proceeded to read it. So I thought ?This is it is it? I?m in the reeperbahn in Hamburg in a whore house district and he?s going to read 18th century poetry?? So I turned on the telly and that?s where I found the porn channel. 

The Pink Bits channel. 
Yeah that?s it. The two Scottish managers were down the hall and you could here them shouting out. Bring out the pink bits! I went to bed early. By myself! 

How long have you been writing poetry? 
Well, I think I?ve been trying to write poetry since I was 5 or 6, ever since I could write. I was a bit late at writing, but ever since I could, and I knew what it was, I was trying to rhyme things. But poets in England have such a bad reputation, as being boring or whatever that you almost have to come out of the closet as a poet. Like, yeah, I suppose gays do. 

Any thoughts on the millenium? 
I?m just trying to work out how I can get away from it. One idea was, because I?m a great kitchen porter, was to go and do that for a couple of days, the other was to barricade myself in my room with some money in a sock, some tins of beans and a shotgun! No, I think we?ll be singularly underwhelmed. I don?t really like New Year very much. Everybody has too much to drink and then expects something to happen at midnight. And then nothing does and fights break out where you end up in bed with your elderly Landlady Mrs Hollis who then wants to take the relationship further. 

Yeah, we hate it as well. 
Put it this way: I?ll never do it again, and I hope Mrs Hollis never finds out where I?m living! 

What?s your favourite beer? 
A Czechoslovakian lager called Urquallah. I like lager. I don?t make lager, I make my own bitter. My favourite bitter is Adnams - if you?re drinking it in Southwold - where it comes from. It doesn?t travel well, it tastes better the nearer you are to the brewery. Or Fullers ESB, but that?s underpants mixture. Makes your underpants look like Santa Pod that does! Fullers is a good brewery. 

Favourite food? 
Breakfast: scrambled egg, kippers, grilled tomato, freshly squeezed orange juice and real coffee. I have a cooked breakfast every day. I don?t eat cereal. I?m really good at making breakfast. I do them for people sometimes. 

So why do vegetarians like me and you eat fish then? 
I?m not a vegetarian, I?m a non-carnivore. I would eat meat, if pushed, I just don?t like it. It?s not a compassion or sentimental thing - I?m a country geezer. 

I?m not against people eating meat if people kept the animal themselves and killed it themselves or at least there?s some honesty about it. 
For those people who are obsessed with eating meat, I think there should be community slaughter houses - you go and pick your animal, you don?t have to kill it yourself, but you would have to be there while they do it. That would turn half the people off. 

What kind of bike is it you ride? 
It?s a Falcon hand built tourer. 

Have you ever make a video? 
Yeah, loads of them. 

Were they shown on MTV? 
I don?t know. We made one with the guy who made The Monochrome Set?s videos. Me and Giles did it, it was ?Johnny The Moondog Is Dead?. It got shown in Germany. I?ve never consciously made a pop video, because I said ?how much is this going to cost? and they said ?30,000 or something and I said ?that?s an awful lot of Ethiopian breakfasts for a three minute film which may never get shown.? 

A guy in America swears he?s seen the Cleaners on MTV. 
It?s possible. I?ve been filmed a lot. It?s possible that someone has welded them together. There were lots of live bits and pieces. I haven?t got a VCR, but I?ve got a cupboard full of things that I?ve done for telly. My mum very kindly made me a compilation one Christmas. She has a network of old ladies who tape anything I do when they see it. They ring her up and say ?I saw your Martin on cable last week? and my mum got my brother to put this collage together as a Christmas present. 

Ah, bless her! Have your parents been supportive then? 
[ laughs ] No, not a first. They were completely baffled - they thought they had a complete casualty on their hands. But they were glad when I actually joined a pop group when I was 20, cos I?d been doing a lot of chemical naughtiness between 17 and 20 and got myself into substantial trouble of various sorts because of it. 

What do you feel about drug use today? 
When I used to do it, it was a small and inelegant coterie of shy and rather inadequate middle-class young men who wore great coats and listened to Uriah Heap and Stray and the Pink Fairies and had this thing where you smoked joints or go to the temple and take pills, or we?d trip out on acid and stuff and some of us got into a bigger mess than others. Like me. It was something you did and grew out of. It was something the straights didn?t do. Skinheads didn?t take drugs or anything. But now everyone?s bollocking all this stuff down like its beer and they don?t actually know what it?s doing. We had this thing, we were clued up, we would check out the literature, you know, we were bright Bohemian arty kids. It doesn?t make us any better, we still did stupid things, but it wasn?t generally associated with crime. You?d have a dealer come round - it was usually some long haired geezer in an afghan who usually live a couple of streets away. He?d have little quid deals wrapped in silver foil. Six of you would be in a room under a red light bulb listening to Sabbath, having a joint saying [ in posh English voice ] ?British Standard three pulls? it was the unspoken rule. If you broke it people would think ?oh, we can?t have that, the chap took more than three pulls there, we won?t invite him again.? It was all very English you know. It?s like Andy Partridge says, the difference between English and American psychedelia was that America was full blown riots and Grateful Dead explosions of colour. English psychedelia was like something gone rather wrong at the garden party. The vicar?s turned into a walrus. Jeremy thinks he?s a stoat. 

Very Lewis Carol. 
Yeah, that?s it. Now every bonehead?s at it. [ thuggy voice ] ?Got some fucking ecstasy? and then later when they?re out on blue six and they?re having a punch up or there?s these ravers dancing to a toilet flushing chewing on their cardigan sleeves gnash gnash gnash saying ?top sounds man, top sounds? and it started this whole industry of people using machine guns on each other. Drug taking should be something you grow out of. I didn?t realise I had it in my head anyway because I was always like that. If anything drugs kill it, drugs kill creativity. Well, it did for me. I don?t like what they do. Luckily, I went through my drug phase very quickly. I do like the humour in it, the old acid humour. All drugs are an overdraft on your own health and happiness. Drinking, unless you?re really going for it, is only a short cheap loan with just a little bit of interest. You pay it back in the morning with a hangover and a bit of the squits. With drugs you have something incredible happen in your head for about an evening, but it?s still bouncing about in there weeks later. 

All your recent musical output has been studio based, or at least had more of a studio feel. Is this a conscious effort on your part to produce music of a better technical quality? Do you think this approach loses the charm of your home produced stuff? 
That?s exactly why I feel I?ve gone back to DIY, I can prove it. I?ve 6 or so songs I?ve been doing on Nelson?s 4 track. I did Black Shuck like that as well. 

Let?s Kiosk was great. 
Let?s Kiosk was 8 track. Fucking great, Let?s Kiosk. I was playing that to someone last night. I said ?this is what happens when I go into a garage studio and I?m in complete control. The guy in the studio said we won?t be able to do anything fancy. I said ?don?t worry I?m a great garage producer.? ?Jangling Man? wasn?t supposed to be on that. I wrote a song called ?Popular Girl? for that. 

That was my next question. Why did ?Popular Girl? only just surface on Wayward Genius? 
Because Kevin at Humbug, in his infinite wisdom creamed it off for the Humbug Sampler. He also wanted to attach Andy Partridge?s name to the EP. That took three days to record, it was supposed to be a cheap and cheerful stopgap for the fans. 

People love it. If I had my way, that would be the direction your music would go. It?s professionally polished, but has all the charm of the home stuff. 
Yes, every time I do something that?s what I?m aiming for. Even now people are trying to get me into a studio to do something ?posh?. I?d rather do something in my living room because I?m good at that. 

You?ve started using music as a backdrop to your poetry - do you write the music with poetry in mind, or do you write the music afterwards? 
With Black Shuck, I wrote it as I went along, I?d never done it like that before. 

Music and poetry simultaneously? 
Yeah, as I wrote the words I?d think ?we?re going to need a bit of this!? 

Ashley Powell asks ?Some of your poetry recently has been narrative based, have you thought about recreating this live with a number of different speakers?? 
BBC drama department can do that. I want Radio 4 to do Black Shuck. 

Is ?The Greatest Living Englishman? based on a real person? 
It?s actually about any of those barrow boys from the East End, or conversely the kind of people from Eton who are mavericks. No one person in particular, but examples would be your Andrew Loog Oldam, your John Bloom, even your John Profumo. Any Englishman who?s made it to a point of power and then been deprived of it. A kind of conglomerate of all those people who have come up and were walking on water, then ended up in the Nick but they still said ?well, I had to do it, I would have been mad not to try.? 

What kind of electric guitar do you use and what kind of effects do you employ to get your trademark jangly sound? 
I usually use a Hofner. I?ve never been fussy, but I actually prefer a Rickenbacker 330 Fireglow which I use for the Cleaners a lot, or a Rickenbacker 12. I actually have a 1958 Hofner which I used on the early stuff. To get that sound I used to use a very old MXR flanger, but I never used it as a flanger, I used it as a chorus by using barely any regenertion but a little bit of depth to get a chorus sound, then I?d compress it with a cheap front line compressor. The guitar goes into the compressor first with quite a lot, then into a very cheap copycat echo unit. Then there?s the tunings, B string dropped to A and sometimes E to D. 

Quite complicated isn?t it? 
Compression, chorus, rock n roll echo. 

Mitch Friedman asks: ?What deserves the most admiration: humorous and timely poetry or timeless pop music?? 
I don?t know, they sort of run neck and neck at different times. 

Sometimes I think that the newspaper ones are like read once, smile and move on. 
Sometimes it is, sometimes I managed to get something else in. But I don?t just do the newspaper stuff. 

I personally prefer your Poetic Licence to Lyric Sheets, because perhaps as I get older, I?m not so interested in the Spice Girls or whatever. (don't look for Poetic Licence now, he doesn't do it anymore.) 
Exactly. 

But that?s what you?re forced to write about, isn?t it? 
No, no, in the last fortnight I was writing about acid and Woodstock and that. 

I loved your recent one about John Prescott and class. It summed my grandparents up to a tee. 
Yeah, and there?s the Weekly Muse, I write a bit of ?proper? poetry at the beginning of that every week. It?s poetry as pop music. It?s for here and now and then ? But there is stuff that retains its currency and it?s kept. I?m proud of some of the stuff that I write. 

Justly. You used to usually collaborate on your music. Do you miss that with poetry? 
Yeah, yeah. It?s lonely poetry, really lonely. I like doing it live touring with John Cooper Clarke because there?s two of us and we have a banter. But I miss being with the chaps having a laugh. I?m at my best when I?ve got a couple of guys to entertain. It?s a scream sometimes. 

Is there a conscious difference in the process of writing song lyrics and writing poems? Do you evaluate what you have written and think ?that will be a good song? and then come up with a tune to fit it? 
The tune always comes first, but the tune suggests words and I develop them together. I find writing lyrics for songs harder, it?s a different process. They?re not brother and sister, lyrics and poetry, they?re cousins. Had I not been writing lyrics my poetry would not have been kept honed all these years. What I?m known and respected for and what has advanced my career and made me a living has been doing poetry. For some reason a whole bunch of people out there think it?s great and aren?t even interested in the music - can you believe that? There?s been hardly any crossover. I?ve studiously kept the two apart until Black Shuck. I don?t understand their lack of interest in the music but I?ve taken it on board. 

Now you?ve breached it, would you combine it live? 
No, I do a poetry set and a music set, I keep them separate. 

Did you find that you had to water down or weaken your lyrics to make them fit the song structure? 
No, I work in rhyme anyway, I?ve always regarded that a cage to be brilliant in. Rhyme is the cage, scansion the amount of steps you can take from one set of bars to another before you have to turn it around and walk the other way. If you had complete freedom you might write gobbledegook. Here?s the box, here?s the subject - go and be clever in that, Mr Fucking Genius. It?s good for me. 

How do you cope with the deadlines? 
I just do it. I just get on with it. It used to freak me out but it?s like a tightrope, you don?t look down. 

Ever missed any? 
Never, not one. 

Sometimes you don?t appear in the Independent. 
Sometimes it gets spiked. That?s newspapers. I haven?t had a week off - this is week 50 of 3 poems a week. I haven?t had a proper holiday since 1996 and then I just laid around on a hillside at Sensible?s for two weeks and I still had a poem at the end of that. 

At least poetry is portable. 
Yeah, I take the word-processor with me. 

You don?t find the pressure daunting? 
It was starting to get to me in April, driving me a bit mad. It made me a bit depressed. I feel better now. 

Do you think you can keep up Lyric Sheets forever? 
If one had to go, I would rather it were Lyric Sheets. I can still do it, I?m interested in the future because I can imagine it. I?m interested in the past because I know about it. What I?m not particularly interested in is the present. They do ask me to do stuff that I?m not interested in, but they don?t always ask me to write about the Spice Girls. 

I know, I?m sorry, I was just trying to be provocative. So do they tell you what to write about? 
No, I say ?we?ve got this or this.? I wanted to do something about this song Blur are recording that?s going to be bounced off of Mars. I think that?s something interesting to write a poem about. I?m interested in the future. 

Did you ever write a book called Spinach and Zwieback? 
No, that?s Newell Martin. I?ve no idea who he is, but if he?s got a surname as a first name it?s a good bet that he?s an American. There is, however, another Martin Newell and he?s an Irishman and I think he?s a top mathematician. I know this because I had a letter from an Irish fella inviting me to a conference in Belgium being very affectionate and saying ?do come out to this conference, I look forward to having a pint of beer with you, I knew your father very well. I read this thinking ?a mathematical conference in Belgium!? then I thought ?hang on a minute, perhaps this is that top mathematician.? What I know about maths could be written on a grain of rice and there?d still be some space. So watch out for Newell Martin and Martin Newell, but then again they?ve probably been pestered by people wanting tapes off them! [in Irish accent] ?I don?t know why you would want to hear a recording of my theories of long division?? 

Music and politics, do they mix? Does the music suffer? 
When it gets too strident, especially the English. The English do not like stridency. I always think it is best to do it as a prankster, satire works better than stridency. New Model Army, Nel plays with them, they?ve got this solid Northern attitude: ?What is this madness what we?ve done?? We were quite political in the early Cleaners days but I think we got a bit strident. I?d recently discovered politics and wanted to make a statement but there?s no point. No one listens to you, they just think you?re being stupid. 

Any thoughts on the Web? 
The Web? 

Well, that?s where most people are going to see this. 
Well, I think it?s probably a very good thing. I haven?t got time, I know how much time it takes. It?s like the DIY thing. Little did I know when I was doing my DIY thing back then how it would take off on the Internet. I?m not saying I was a prophet, if I was it was an accident, just like when I made a profit. But you can bet your life the record companies are doing their best to regulate it. It?s out of their control and they really hate it. They are probably reeling in young software buffs asking ?how do we control this thing so that we can make money from it?? 

Do you now have control of all your own music? 
Yeah, I own most of it now, the copyrights. The publishing is owned but my publishers Notting Hill Music are very good. I license my music to Cherry Red. The Wayward Genius CD has sold a thousand copies so far, but the good thing is Cherry Red don?t delete, so people can get it for five years or so which is marvelous. They are putting out The Greatest Living Englishman in September and The Off White Album. 

Are you going to put any new stuff out through them? 
I don?t know if they?d be interested really, I might sell my new stuff on the Web. There?s a company in Colchester called Ten Penny Hill Records - they might do it. 


We strolled back to Martin?s house and went upstairs where he made us some toast and he put some demos for his forthcoming album Four Track Demo God on the tape deck. Now I know why I do this, why I persistently hound this man to make some more music. He played me a track called, I think, ?At My Funeral,? which is unlike anything I?ve heard before from Martin. It?s a bit morose, but highly absorbing, all about getting his friends to a woodland glade to drink his beer and dance to his songs, while he burns on a fire of green twigs?. Oh yeah, it is morose, but it?s great. So is the next one up, ?A Smashing Bird Like Brenda? a song for a classic British 60?s film that was never made. It is pure Cleaners From Venus and possibly his best pure pop song since ?Popular Girl.? Martin and I grinned at each other like Cheshire cats; we?re both chuffed to bits with it. He played me various other things then it was time for me to go. I then spent the following month typing up this interview. 
(c) Paul Wilkinson 1999