in a Small Town
Martin Newell interview by Paul Wilkinson. Edited by Ian C. Stewart
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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...
did you first become active in the home-taping scene and trading tapes
with other musicians?
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.
there any tapes you still listen to from your trading tapes days?
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.
did you do Number 13 as The Cleaners when you?d just done The Brotherhood
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.
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.
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.
you buying other people?s stuff at that time?
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.
did it come about then, Andy producing you after you swapped books and
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
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.
you actually stay with him then, at his house in Swindon?
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.
because I was doing the Bath Fringe at the time too.
there any other home-taper types that you wanted to work with, apart from
other band members obviously?
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.
was your first home studio like?
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
did you copy your tapes, and how did you distribute them?
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.
have to treat me to one when we get back.
give you a bottle to take away, but you can?t drive on it!
was the reaction like at the time when you were putting out material yourself?
Lots of encouraging letters from musicians and DJs?
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.
Smith mentioned that in his book, he said his parents got quite worried
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.
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?
maybe, but this place has always been a bit like that, a bit eccentric.
There have been a lot of artists live here.
you send your tapes to be reviewed in zines?
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.
you still in friends with any of the hometaper types you were in contact
with in Ye Olde Days?
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.?
you lost contact when you stopped doing the DIY?
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.
are Ian?s questions. Andy Partridge: love him or hate him, and you can
only pick one.
in that case I?ll have to say I love him, he?s a force for good.
he?s a wonderful man.
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.
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.
does The Greatest Living Englishman sound to you - compared with the demos?
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.
has your relative fame allowed you to do which you couldn?t do before?
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.
already the UK?s most frequently published poet.
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.
lead you to cover Andy Partridge?s song ?Pearl? in the 80?s and why in
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
that?s in there too. Todd got me into XTC and XTC got me into you.
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.
met Todd and he was really nice. He also said he loved Skylarking.
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.
you enjoy being an obscure pop god, or would you prefer overt fame and
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.
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.
once said you were going to write your autobiography. Any plans on that
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.
Giles Smith steal your thunder when he wrote about the Cleaners in his
book Lost In Music?
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.
were in London all that time?
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.
I didn?t get that??[ Protests ]
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.
my eternal shame I was into heavy metal back then.
we all. I used to like Uriah Heep.
did I, but I?m not as old as you. I was well and truly unfashionable!
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.
my friends liked Duran Duran and the Blow Monkeys and stuff, I?m saying
?Uriah Heep are really good!?
that?s sound. Did you hear Salisbury their second album? Look At Yourself
wasn?t so good. Their first two were really good.
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.?
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.
today are missing out with their Steps and Boyzone.
you need more music like that, music that doesn?t interfere with a frantic
I did have one of those!
know I bloody did! Non-stop! I was a six a day man at one point.
mum never commented on my stiff sheets.
I never did that, I?d disappear to the bog with a picture of a sheep and
some anchovy paste.
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?
Richard did it recently didn?t he?.
Richard did an Oasis track?
he released a song under another name, a soul thing. It was doing really
well until he revealed it was him.
What was it called?
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!
it?s not really.
I guessed that!
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.
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?
you inspired to by my Cliff Richard story?
laughing ] No, no you?re not!
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.
could be Liam [ bad Liam impression at this point ] .
probably could yes. I think he?s got a good voice.
bit like John Lydon?s isn?t it.
between Lydon and Lennon. The Sex Beatles is how I think of them.
next question is did you ever get any nutters bothering you?
[ Serious ]
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.?
wonders have you ever been approached about having your music remixed?
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
you like that sort of music then?
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.
talk Gypp, the article you wrote for Mojo was priceless. Was the reunion
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
did you meet Captain Sensible? Is he a musical genius or just a big idiot,
how is he to work with?
not a big idiot, far from it, he?s a brilliant musician!
obvious isn?t it!
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.
hard to believe that music was so popular one minute and hated the next.
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.
Danny Baker, do you still hate him?
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!
Did you like what Sensible contributed to your live sound?
excellent, you get Captain in your band you?ve got the band. There?s other
good people, like Nelson, as well.
you ever write on anything other than guitar?
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.
some of those tapes are very bassy.
I?m on God-knows-what generation copies.
tapes we put out were always trebly.
have obviously compensated along the way.
have boosted the bass up, all along the way, so in the end, they probably
do sound wooffy.
it true that you and Andy were lovers and that was why you were getting
No they always say everyone?s a bit bisexual but I?m not! I?m a 100% fannywack.
might be a lesbian trapped in a man?s body.
I don?t mind watching other lesbians.
Laughs long and loud ]
you ever written songs for anyone else?
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
there anyone else in the realm of music you?d like to work with?
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!
think people who like your music are often attracted to similar artists,
XTC, Robyn Hitchcock, BabyBird etc.
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.
was your education like?
writing an article about that for the Independent. I left school at 15.
I went to 15 different schools.
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.
is your favourite novelist or poet?
that is really hard. My favourite poet is A.E. Houseman, followed by Betjeman.
I?m currently re-reading David Copperfield.
my favourite book.
was Dickens? favourite.
his story really.
I didn?t know that, my favourite living author is Peter Ackroyd. ?Hawksmoor.?
He?s a great author.
Dickens biographer. Whenever I watch those Dickens adaptations on telly,
there is always a character in them that looks a bit like you.
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.
suppose that?s where I made the connection. So you had a secondary school
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.
well aren?t we all. I know I prefer to be stimulated, rather than having
to think down all the time.
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.
Pink Bits channel.
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!
long have you been writing poetry?
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.
thoughts on the millenium?
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.
we hate it as well.
it this way: I?ll never do it again, and I hope Mrs Hollis never finds
out where I?m living!
your favourite beer?
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.
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.
why do vegetarians like me and you eat fish then?
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
not against people eating meat if people kept the animal themselves and
killed it themselves or at least there?s some honesty about it.
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.
kind of bike is it you ride?
a Falcon hand built tourer.
you ever make a video?
loads of them.
they shown on MTV?
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.?
guy in America swears he?s seen the Cleaners on MTV.
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.
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.
do you feel about drug use today?
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.
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.
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?
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
Kiosk was great.
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.
was my next question. Why did ?Popular Girl? only just surface on Wayward
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
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.
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.
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?
Black Shuck, I wrote it as I went along, I?d never done it like that before.
and poetry simultaneously?
as I wrote the words I?d think ?we?re going to need a bit of this!?
Powell asks ?Some of your poetry recently has been narrative based, have
you thought about recreating this live with a number of different speakers??
drama department can do that. I want Radio 4 to do Black Shuck.
?The Greatest Living Englishman? based on a real person?
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.?
kind of electric guitar do you use and what kind of effects do you employ
to get your trademark jangly sound?
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.
complicated isn?t it?
chorus, rock n roll echo.
Friedman asks: ?What deserves the most admiration: humorous and timely
poetry or timeless pop music??
don?t know, they sort of run neck and neck at different times.
I think that the newspaper ones are like read once, smile and move on.
it is, sometimes I managed to get something else in. But I don?t just do
the newspaper stuff.
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.)
that?s what you?re forced to write about, isn?t it?
no, in the last fortnight I was writing about acid and Woodstock and that.
loved your recent one about John Prescott and class. It summed my grandparents
up to a tee.
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.
You used to usually collaborate on your music. Do you miss that with poetry?
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.
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?
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.
you?ve breached it, would you combine it live?
I do a poetry set and a music set, I keep them separate.
you find that you had to water down or weaken your lyrics to make them
fit the song structure?
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.
do you cope with the deadlines?
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.
you don?t appear in the Independent.
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.
least poetry is portable.
I take the word-processor with me.
don?t find the pressure daunting?
was starting to get to me in April, driving me a bit mad. It made me a
bit depressed. I feel better now.
you think you can keep up Lyric Sheets forever?
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.
know, I?m sorry, I was just trying to be provocative. So do they tell you
what to write about?
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.
you ever write a book called Spinach and Zwieback?
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??
and politics, do they mix? Does the music suffer?
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.
thoughts on the Web?
that?s where most people are going to see this.
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??
you now have control of all your own music?
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.
you going to put any new stuff out through them?
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.
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