Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Looking back over the year's entries to this blog, I've noticed a pattern emerging of my reacting to reviews - not something I ever really used to do or care about doing. A phenomenon of the internet is this capacity for everyone to have their say in public, which is absolutely fine (complaining about that would be like complaining about the shit rainy weather that is upon us here today - yet again!) so therefore why not extend the dialogue further? I know I often find other writers' and artists' feelings about responses given to their work revealing and insightful.

Of course, having spent a year and a half making a record gives you a privileged position when it comes to picking holes in all the minor factually incorrect claims - and I think it's important to resist that temptation. I also stand by the position that any response is part of the artwork itself and reveals as much about that person - and my favourite measure of artistic success is how deep that goes.

That said, the albums since Mummy And Daddy have garnered a really large body of often fascinating opinion, and there are a few commonly repeated themes I've noticed emerging, and once again with Racket. Here below listed are a few themes I'd like to take issue with, each having their very own obtuse sub-heading.

Has anyone raised with Conrad the argument that his novel would have read so much better if it were 40 pages longer? Or 100 pages? Or pointed out that Tolstoi's War And Peace is such excellent value for money? Or since when do you measure the beauty of a painting by its size? I don't give a toss about the capacity of a fucking CD. I want quality. I want to experience music full of ideas and content and feelings, and I want to enjoy playing it hundreds of times and still love it years from now.

Some men can be such prudes. In one sense they're traditionally obsessed with sex, in another they get all fidgety when you're open about it. I've written songs about all sorts of subjects, containing all sorts of cultural references, expressing all kinds of strong emotions, and yet it's amazing how often a review or band description will reference I'm Coming Up Your Ass or similar. Does that make you feel uncomfortable? Get over it. Yes, it's a song about sex. This prudishness is comparable to the early days of rock'n'roll, R&B and blues when the originally explicit lyrics had to be toned down with euphemisms for the repressed white audiences. And then again with reggae, dancehall and rap. Funny thing is, one of the reasons for The Sex Pistols' infamy was because of the very word 'sex' - at the time, incredible though it may sound now, use of the word in a band's name was a taboo. It's noticeable that the legions of noise copycats are far more comfortable with murder and destruction, or just general total abstractness, than they are with filthy explicit juicy sex. It still amazes me now that, as a band within any genre, we seem to almost have an unchallenged monopoly on the use of the word 'cunt'. Well the men don't know but the little girls do indeed understand.

All your albums sound the same. I don't remember Jimi Hendrix ever getting accused of using a muff pedal on two consecutive albums, or John Coltrane for -gulp- using a saxophone again, or Bob Dylan for repeated use of a mouth organ. Oh, the recidivism. I'll stand up for myself here and boldly state that I don't think there are many bands around that, for such a long time, have experimented with totally new sounds and continued to progress and take risks. And to say otherwise reveals to me a lack of fundamental musical understanding. So there.

Of course I think Racket and Asceticists 2006 are classics - I suppose I have to say that. And I genuinely do believe that. However, I respect anyone's opinion - I have no problem with those who think differently or dislike our music, I really don't. It's understood that the music that we make isn't going to be popular like other mainstream forms; it's accepted that there are going to be a lot of people out there that will miss the point of it (even when they think they understand it): it's part of the territory because it's difficult music in the strictest sense of the word, and by the same token, the rewards are potentially much greater. Albums going right back to Birthdeath Experience and Erector and Great White Death and later Cruise and others were given very mixed responses upon release, and it was only much later that they began to get seen in a different light. Haven't you ever seen something or tasted something that at first disgusted you only for some mysterious reason at a later time find yourself really loving it?

Friday, July 27, 2007


Although, at least for the time being, I'll continue to do vocals live, as far as studio work is concerned, now that Dyad is out there, I've decided to just focus on the producing, the writing and the playing roles.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Iraq In Fragments (James Longley, 2006)

Essential viewing. This is a voyeuristic portrait of the disastrous and chaotic state of Iraq as seen through the eyes of three cute young boys: a Sunni, a Shia, and a Kurd. The US/UK invading forces' sporadic appearances form a shadowy backdrop throughout that remind me of the Martian tripods in War Of The Worlds (perhaps an apposite analogy if we accept Isaac Asimov's allegorical interpretation of the novel).

And the film's deeply impressionistic stylism, and artistic use of photography and colour, added to the boys' shared viewpoint of lost vulnerability, and the extraordinarily patriarchal society in which they live, all contrive to put the projected fantasy of our daily dose of Western media reports into even starker focus; and the atmosphere throughout at no stage allows for a feeling of comfort.


Praise the heavens for the hapless Nick Cain who single-handedly restores the balance. For a moment I was almost worrying and now we can all sleep more comfily in our scratchers. In his opening salvo of a few judiciously chosen song-titles to get the neutral reader on board, added to some predictable incorrect assumptions and prejudices, he teaches us all a thing or two about self-parody and cliché with his lazy now-familiar pattern of countless false contrasts - '...though this...', '...but that...' and so forth. I don't want to dwell on this particular clone (it's adequately dealt with in the interview) other than to say in a few years' time he'll once again be shamelessly stealing all your ideas. Oh well, I guess that's ruined our chances of a New Zealand tour.

Monday, July 16, 2007


The Boss Of It All (Lars Von Trier, 2007)

I really love a person who's never afraid to mess with convention nor an audience's expectations - and even better with a hearty dose of mischief thrown in for good measure.

The first few frames of The Boss Of It All feature Lars Von Trier narrating a theatrical-style introduction in his now distinctive Danish tones seen but as a reflection in the office building where the drama is soon to take place; and immediately you just know he's going to take you somewhere special. 'Theatrical' is really the key word here: this movie is a light almost Shakespearean comedy, full of subtlety and intrigue and clever language, and I imagine much is probably missed (especially by us non-Scandinavians).

The protagonist, an out-of-work thespian, is drafted in to act out the role of the top boss of a company who's never previously been seen by the staff; and things get predictably complicated as events unfold and relationships develop. It all plays out like a weird hybrid of Ricky Gervais's The Office and Extras, but fewer chuckles and more meaningful. At times it also reminded me of Catherine Breillat's brilliant underrated Sex Is Comedy - in particular for its intricate drama-referencing humour and message.

One of LVT's trademarks is often the camera-work and the physiology of the sets he employs - here I learned that he utilised odd computer-generated random camera shots which often miss the subject, and they act as an effective metaphor for the unpredictable nature of the storyline.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


There's a recurring comment you hear from what one might a tad patronisingly call the layperson. And someone asked me this again last week.

Why are you so angry all the time?

Of course this isn't the case, and I think the connoisseur will appreciate that - in fact, on or off the stage, it's an extremely rare event for me to get anywhere near to the state of anger.

Isn't it a bit like a small child walking in on their parents shagging?

Mummy, why are you fighting with daddy?

Friday, July 13, 2007


Simon Reynolds' much-feted Rip It Up And Start Again is an entertaining but ultimately shoddily researched book about what he describes as 'post-punk'; he has far less grasp on the literary and artistic cultural references he bandies about than he and his band of nostalgic mostly fortysomething readers might like to think. But that's rock writers for you. Anyway, enough of that.

On a personal note, it's irritating how Reynolds' included unverified quotes from Neil Megson get lazily regurgitated in various quarters, and once again, in this month's Wire magazine, Megson eagerly jumps at the opportunity tossed in his direction. And before I continue, I should state for the record that I admire both Chris and Cosey, nor do I have a problem with Sleazy (despite not being especially familiar with his latter-day work).

Hippie Megson has been playing the numbers game since the early 70s, trying his luck at almost any thing in the hope of hitting the big celebrity jackpot that, like the grapes to Tantalus, so sadly seems to keep eluding him. And despite the bold bulimic rhetoric he utilises in conversation, Megson in all that time - with the assistance of his trusty sidekick, the Oxford Rhyming Dictionary - has not managed (in my opinion) to write one single half-decent set of lyrics. His continual griping and posturing and bitching and rationalising and whingeing and namechecking and boasting says a lot more about him than it does about anyone else: a subtext of why he doesn't get the recognition and public love for everything that, at least in his own addled moral worldview, he feels he's invented or achieved, and donated to the world.

The ironic and disappointing truth is that he's not a man in drag at all, I really wish he was. He's Nicholas Fairbairn with piercings.


I'll get my apologies in first. As the first anniversary of this blog approaches, I've noticed my posting frequency inexorably diminishing month by month, so from now on have decided to somewhat artificially pad things out a bit in the form of more movie 'reviews'.

The curious thing is that, despite never having done any acting since playing Captain Smollett in a school production of Treasure Island at the age of about 11 (my major claim to fame since it also starred Laurence Olivier's daughter Tamsin...), of all the theory that interests me, that of the theatre is where I find one can learn the most. Plus it's an endless source of powerful inspiration because in its purest form it's inside you at potentially the deepest emotional level.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I'm recommending a Disney film: and before you impertinently laugh out loud at the suggestion, or choke on your luxury chocolate cake - why not reread REVISIONISM and see Bridge To Terabithia.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


Egon Schiele prints hang all around my flat, you can't escape them - he always has been one of my favourite painters, and yet I was astounded, when visiting some of Vienna's finest galleries, to see them live, as it were, hanging on the museum-white walls. They seemed to reach out and touch in a way the more celebrated Klimt works didn't - at least for me. Schiele is perhaps most noted for his sexy female studies, and they are indeed studies in the most unflinching sense of the word - not jut because of the graphic poses and reveals but also because he forces the truth, and at the same time are truly romantic, as I would define the word.

There were also several of his other landscape and more abstract works, which were also vivid, and dark and foreboding - and this posting is only serving to remind how much a return trip to Vienna is needed for another fix of Schiele and the countless other lesser known (though equally impressive) artists' works.