“Rose Hips” Neil Perry listens to the mountainous rumblings of the Rose of Avalanche
Submission time. “LA Rain” the debut single from Rose of Avalanche shot me pretty close to vinyl heaven. A heady mix of melancholy sleaze and rock ‘n’ roll glamour, the song is swathed in sheets of guitar and fuelled by a talk alonga-Lou American drawl, very close to the mark indeed.
You want a clue? OK. The opening voice on the interview tape intones just three words “Stones, Stooges, Hendrix.”
They must be a bunch of West Coast space cadets…
Well not quite, Rose of Avalanche are four sensible, down to earth lads from Leeds, plus one drum machine. We meet before the bands gig at the Croydon Underground, only the seventh of their career.
Leeds? Who would have thought it…vocalist Phil explains, rather warily.
“The American feel is international. During gigs, my accent’s…erm…slightly different to what it is now. It’s part of the entertainment”
The band listened to what I had to say about LA Rain. They showed no reaction. Cool customers, eh?
Phil: “You’re talking in a cult sense, but I imagine it appealing to a really big audience, people who are into pop music as well as other stuff. There’s a lot commerciality about it, it’s hard to explain”
Are you your surprised at the early interest in Rose of Avalanche?
Bassist Alan: “We’re not surprised, no. We thought there would be a bit more”
These Rose-hips are arrogant, from their curly manes to their black pointed boots. The attitude to get you places?
“We don’t trust anybody in the music business,” Phil continues, perhaps looking at me through his shades.
Alan “We’re expecting more than other people get, so when we get pissed about it really annoys us”
Guitarists Glyn and Paul drink and watch, and say nothing. On to a thorny subject which should be cleared up as soon as possible. Is it difficult living in the shadow of the Sisters?
Gyn: “it’s just because we’ve got a drum machine. The public in Leeds regard us as Sisters of Mercy rip offs, but we know we’re good so we’ll pull through”
“The Sisters are adored in Leeds”, laughs Alan. “Even the grannies love the Sisters. But we like them as well. They’ve done it themselves, you know?”
Inevitably we return to LA Rain. Alan sighs and attempts to give some sort of thesis.
“There’s no pride in music anymore, and that’s something we’ve all got. We’re all influenced by stuff from the late ’60′s, when songwriting was a big thing”
A grim sort of smile registers of Phil’s face. “Although”, he adds, “LA Rain has been called the song that Andrew Eldritch never dared to write!”
The gig that night was a success, although live Rose of Avalanche have all the stage presence of a bunch of scarecrows. They can cut it, for proof witness of their definitive version of “Gimme Some Loving” which is on the flip side of their latest single “Goddess”
Poseurs, rockers, what the well. I’m impressed. Well are you experienced…?
Peel Session, 1985
Recorded 28th May 1985, first transmitted 12th June 1985.
A Thousand Landscapes
Gimme Some Lovin’
Rise To The Groove
Phil Morris – Vocals
Alan Davis – Bass
Paul James Berry – Guitar
Glenn Schultz – Guitar
Steve Allen – Keyboards
Janice Long Session, 1986
Recorded 5th March 1986, first transmitted 11th March 1986.
Stick In The works
Too Many Castles
Never Another Sunset
Phil Morris – Vocals
Alan Davis – Bass
Paul James Berry – Guitar
Glenn Schultz – Guitar
Steve Allen – Keyboards
“Heavy Petal Kids” A thorn in the side of modern pop? Chris Roberts buttonholes The Rose of Avalanche. Cultivated pic: Steve Double.
From Leeds to Harlesden with loud licentious guitars.
Down at the Mean Fiddler The Rose of Avalanche coolly don’t try to be cool.
They’re about to play their twentieth gig and release their third single “Too Many Castles In The Sky” a silvery streamlined sequel to the ravaging “LA Rain” and “Goddess”. Meanwhile a debut album they have disowned rumbles and tumbles around the charts like a rock in a spin dyer.
They’re an unusual group visually, torn between languid laissez-faire and overt incompetence at scissor management. Vocalist Phil Morris, guitarists Glenn Shultz and Paul Berry, bassist Alan Davies and a real live drummer Mark Thompson, find Yorkshire rather similar to America.
They’re not the worlds most sparkling interviewees, but they’re curiously (too?) unpretentious for a group who sing of gutters and gurls and have overtaken the bulk of Leeds league table of cult bands with barley a heavy breath. The career went: compilation track, Peel session, “LA Rain”, then first gig. Bright boys, dark boys.
Do you ever send roses to people? “We haven’t got enough money. Plastic roses maybe. Or a drawing of a Rose?”
Philip, tall, thin, sings in a cutely dumb American accent, quite fancies himself, just about has a right to.
I can’t say we’re really living that whole rock ‘n’ roll thing but we have experienced it. For a few months I loved like the songs are. And saw things the average person doesn’t see.
“LA Rain” relates to the extreme of what could happen to some of my friends: I don’t believe in writing songs which are nothing to do with me or anyone I know. “Goddess” is a friends girlfriend; “Too Many Castles” is about a girlfriend I had that I fell out with. I’ve only ever met one bloke who worth writing about; and he’s too over the top so I won’t.
“Leeds is very like Detroit. At least the characters we hang around with. One kid there deserves…there’s no different between him and Johnny Thunders except that Thunders is “a star”.
But it’d be such a pressure for us to keep up an image all the time offstage. Keeping your audience think – Oh God, what’s the rock ‘n’ roll thing to do now? How do you rock ‘n’ roll when you go to the toilet? There are some people, obviously, who think like that, and you just feel sorry for them.
Glenn, long long hair, very late ’60′s, obsessed with guitars.
I was classically trained but I dropped out to become…ha ha…a rock ‘n’ roller. Classical is just an exercise, not music. You’re trained to move your fingers really fast. There’s very few…only Julian Bream, Paco Pena, who can make it sound like music…all the others are just cold and sterile. Whereas a rock guitarist enjoys it, puts something of himself into it. Some bollocks, not just mechanics.
“I brought my first electric guitar cos it looked really horrible I had to have it. That’s the way my taste’s gone ever since, really. The horribler the better”
It’s very violent, aggressive music. “Seedy maybe. Disgusting maybe. Not aggressive”
It doesn’t sound very 1986.
“People tell us it does, that’s what matters”
There’s this stuff about Baby let’s go for a ride in my car… “It’s inferred as two things – either come for a f*** or just come for a ride in my car. It depends whether you think we’re dirtballs or decent lads”
So you’re not saying your not dirt balls?
“Mmm…no. No! No!”
“The music is. We’re not”
“We never sat down and said – lets put across this filthy dopey VD ridden dirtball image” It just sort of happened that way?
“Aw, the only time you’ve seen us play live before, two of us had food poisoning” “We’re still learning”
The Rose of Avalanche’s fourth single will be “Velveteen”. What a lovely word. It’s this, that and the other, I like.
Ambitions: to write the ultimate song; to make money and live in massive mansions; to be so successful they don’t have to see each other between world tours; “its pointless just being in a band; we’re in it also for the whole thing that could happen to us”; to keep evoking romance with dirt; to make people move their legs about.
The Rose of Avalanche do what they do so very clearly and arrogantly, it’s really not on to doubt the flow. They also have a splendid (tender and menacing) name.
Above all, any group which screams “A goddess of love, yes you’re a goddess, goddess, g-g-g-g goddess of love” over a neighbour annoying barrage of noise, has to be worth its place in the cultural annals of Western Europe.
You agree, don’t you dear?
“A Bloom With A View” Those leather clad lads of Leeds The Rose Of Avalanche don their shades for a bit of storytelling about life in the ’60′s, big flashy shirts, plus some bitchin’ gossip on The Mission. Kevin Murphy takes it all in. Steve Double gives it his best shot.
The Rose of Avalanche are blooming. Their arrogant entrance astride the magnificent “LA Rain” some two years ago has been followed by some sweet moves in “Goddess” and “Velveteen”, and their latest swirl “Always There”
Time has brought them a confidence, competence and a real drummer in Mark Thompson to replace the drum machine that adorned their early recordings and appearances, and was contributing factor to them being hailed as Sisters of Mercy plagiarists.
Those days are gone. Their new persona incorporates the chilled air of the Stooges and Doors, with a reverential treatment of “Waiting for the Sun” on the flip side of the new single, but their driving guitars and rhythm have the road to themselves.
And then there were five. The original three have blossomed into Philip Morris, vocals; Paul Berry, guitar; Glenn Schultz, guitar; Mark Thompson, drums and Nicol McKay on bass.
Following their tour early in the year supporting the Mission, Philip and Mark made the trip down from their home town of Leeds to the humble surrounds of their record company Fire near me.
Philip resembled the later, rounding shape of his hero Jim Morrison swamped in an outsize purple tent of a shirt, minus the beard, while Mark’s all leather look covered the Lizard King’s earlier period. they looked odd, great, and together.
Having survived the Sisters comparisons, wasn’t supporting The Mission an odd move?
Philip: “On the Mission tour we played to three times as many people as we’d ever played to before, that’s the only reason we did it. That’s what made it worth it”
But the Mission?
“We’re in the same vein as The Mission, like their influences are our influences and as far as rock bands are concerned those influences are the greatest in the world”
Those influences are at the forefront of a ’60′s revival spearheaded by the likes of The Cult, The Mission and Zodiac. It’s a path well trodden by the Roses and while they amble along in the the slow lane others take the fast lane to success. For some reason they have had to play second fiddle. Maybe their faces do not fit or, more likely, it’s that others have made the live show their priority.
It’s common knowledge that the Rose of Avalanche’s early shows were static, nervy affairs that did little to embellish the music or stir the crowd and which such extravagant competition impressionable eyes looked elsewhere.
“An image is important”, declares Phillip. “When we started out we just didn’t go for an image. It was like we were taking the piss out of ourselves for a year and no one caught on. Over the last six months we’ve realised that you’ve go to create a certain type of image that people can look up to,. so now each member represents what he likes out of music, and me…me I went and got loads of big flashy shirts”
Isn’t it unhealthy to regurgitate the ’60′s?
Philip: “It’s up to you, whatever’s your cup of tea. If you want to try and see if that works. The people that are buying records these days are not particularly aware of what happened in the ’60′s”
What do you think the ’60′s where about?
Mark: “It seems that most bands in the ’60′s – and I’m not just talking about bands like Hendrix and The Doors – had a feel to them, this kind of soul, even people like James Brown. It seems quite strange how many bands people have compared us to. It started off with The Velvet Underground, Doors, Stooges and went on to the Sisters and I’ve even heard things like Lynryd Skynyrd and MC5″
Philip: “We’d say we were a totally unoriginal band, but you name me one totally original band and they’d be shit”
Maybe: “I think the only comparison that really hurt me was when someone said that I drum like Ian Beale from EastEnders”
Pop’s history is littered with casualties, those who choose to compete do so for varying reasons, some to satisfy their ego’s, some their souls and some of their curiosity. What lure tempted The Rose of Avalanche?
“We’re in a band to enjoy ourselves, make loads of money and become famous,” smiles Philip.
What comes first?
“Enjoying ourselves, cos if you don’t enjoy doing it what’s the point. There’s a lot of bands about, especially independent bands, that say they don’t want anything to do with money and all that crap, but it’s pointless being in a band otherwise, cos that’s what it’s all about”
After many years careful study I arrived at this theory that when pubescent popsters decide to form a band the first move they make is towards the mirror. If the reflection paints a pretty picture they prepare themselves for a future in the charts. If, however, the mirror is not quite so complimentary they resign themselves to a lifetime of exile in the indie charts.
Why is it that it appears the charts are the prerogative of the handsome (Gary Moore and Mick Hucknall excluded)?
Philip; “it’s simply that major record companies don’t tend to pick ugly bands. Mind you Wayne Hussey’s not particularly good looking. Like, I saw a picture of him in this magazine next to Dennis Norden and there was not a lot of difference…at all”
Do you regard the pop business as serious?
“It’s serious” states Philip, “as long as it doesn’t become a job. That’s the main thing because a job is serious and, as far as I’m concerned, enjoying yourself isn’t”
So what’s the best bit about being in a group then lads?
Philip “The women, the drugs, the whole aspect of it”
So it’s kinda what you expected?
Mark: “I think it’s a bit better then I’d envisaged. It’s quite strange, quite strange to start getting fan mail”
Philip: “It’s good when people send in letters saying their mother thinks your voice is gorgeous. I got a good one from someone who said they when to a concert of ours and shouted out “Velveteen” while their sister called out “LA Rain”. We played “Velveteen” so they thought we must prefer them to their sister. It’s really strange.
“We got this Valentine card which said that love between two is beautiful, but love between six is unbelievable. I don’t know what the girl had in mind”
Don’t you ever worry about AIDS?
Mark; “Yes. I think it’s struck about now. It worries me. I mean, if I went aboard again and some girl, that I didn’t know, threw herself at me, I’d think twice about doing anything. When I recently got back from a trip abroad my girlfriend had received on of those leaflets, she’d written on it, To Mark, love from the government”
Philip: “Like I’m not particularly bad with groupies. I’ve got this girlfriend in Leeds and if I didn’t have her I wouldn’t give a shit, I think I’d live a total rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, and probably die of AIDS in ten years”
Mark: “When we were on tour, all these girls would come up to us and ask if we were The Rose of Avalanche and we’d go, Yes yes excitedly and they’d say Can you get me into Wayne Hussey dressing room?”
“I think the answer is to get so drunk that you can’t do anything anyway”
Drinking seems to play an important part in the Roses lives, if you get my drift.
Mark; “I’d suddenly find myself on stage, pissed and from my point of view drumming when drunk is quite difficult. But I guess with practice, it can get to the stage where can actually handling playing an instrument and be drunk at the same time, I mean the Mission have obviously got that down to a fine art!”
That’s what they call professionalism isn’t it? Mark; “We had that pointed out to us by our tour manager” He said your lacking it?
“He said we were shit” laughs Philip. “He said we were totally unprofessional and then on the last day he lost all our money, so he wasn’t professional was he!”
Is this pop game something you’ve always wanted to play?
Philip; “It is actually, cos when I was young I never actually thought of growing up. I still occasionally think of myself as not being grown up. I look at people the same age as me and I think of them as a helluva lot older and grown up and I’m not! There’s still a child in me.”
I guess that would account for his shape and loose shirts.
As the ’60′s guitar revival gathers force, hungry consumers and greedy companies will be on the look out for fresh faces, and with the Rose of Avalanche blooming, their life in the slow lane could be nearing it’s end.
With Phil from The Rose of Avalanche, Crazyhead, Bomb Party, Gaye Bykers On Acid etc etc.
“It don’t seem right somehow.” (Anonymous dork, Altamont.)
UNBELIEVABLY, in recent months, I have seen bands of ostensibly sensible, youngpeople hallucinating horribly, covering ‘Born To Be Wild’, ‘Radar Love’ and ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ yet’ and I have these lumpen antiquities applauded! Every day it becomes more worrying just leaving the house, wondering how soon it will be before finding an audience that might not laugh at ‘Stairway To Heaven’. The great gorgon Hippy, fornicating with Rock, has slipped unobtrusively out from under the double chins of The Mission, to be suckled by the pretend Rock fever of The Cult, and there’s more stubble coming every day.
So let’s KILL it!
IT DOES! It’s happening out there RIGHT NOW! Brains usually softened by allegiance to Sisters Of Mercy, Julian Cope and Killing Joke are anticipating the luxuries of laziness, when all you need do is lay back and let the effluence wash over you. truly, this is the Devil’s work. Mystical charms have sprouted round people’s necks and wrists. (Mother Earth! Hot damn, how interesting!), flares have taken over from the colorado beetle and a Roger Dean revival could be on the cards, posters and record sleeves even as we struggle.
Unless something is done to ensure this species are contained, and then educated, someone, somewhere, may even see fit to emulate Supertramp, as they are currently exhuming Hendrix. Satan, with controlling links in afghan coats and coach links with Marrakech is happy as a pig in castle Donington. How he will reap the wind caused by people rutting in medieval squalor, as their new Gods traipse all over them! he will laugh fit to burst as babies named Druid are breast- fed at free festivals and, when no-one is looking, he will inflict this country’s greatest, most debilitating curse.
DENIM. For menials who don’t try at all.
The roots of this revival are still visible through the top-soil. There has always been low-key interest in the Sixties, fostered most recently by brainwashing institutions like Alice In Wonderland; the clothes, mannerism and increasing torpor have been severely magnified by the success of The Mission (Jeremy irons on vocals). As the clothes get gaudier, so the audiences, short-haired, obtain longer, criminal records. These loners with perverse listening habits began to get chummy with Rocky Foreplay, and to them bands like Ghost dance come as a blessed relief! They haven’t got a song worth recounting, but make a pleasantly idle backdrop for mooching around in post-Goth sackcloth. or, if you have drippier melancholic feelings to hide, there is the failsafe support All About Eve can provide. Maybe Victims Of The Pestilence and their love-ins might work, or the Sixties respectfully revamped with Voodoo Child? To some, The Prime Movers’ socks may smell sweet, and for the really hopeless cases there is The Cult.
“Be my…Angel!” (Ian Arse.)
THIS is the danger period. 1987, 20 years on from when the stylish demise of that decade, with its mad and psychedelic bodycount, became flatulent and dreary. By 1969 you couldn’t move for headlice. The UN was on standby. Do we really want that to happen again in 18 months? A time, as then, of dim, distant performers, with considerably dimmer audiences? Acid’s already on the way back in large quantities. IT could happen, and that indolence, that blank-eyed approval that gave us progressive (sic) and pompous rock in unforeseen circumstances will be with us again. Remember, as the expansive minds of these consciousness-raising performers increased, so their imaginations contracted.
And then came Concept Albums. If anyone seriously wants The Grateful Dead, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, Spirit, YES, ELP or Genesis as role models, today’s usually ostracized pop may become heroic. (Five Star as anarchists?)
So far the signs haven’t been too bad. Longhairs with presentable variety. As people forget about Balaam And The Angel, and speculate over the date of Zodiac’s guest slot with Little & Large, the newer bands manage an unconnected sense of spirit.
For all their ponchos, Victims Of The Pestilence are a fruitily, wild bunch, Hunters Club cudgel The Buzzcocks, Voodoo Child claim to be a reverential archaeological dig and All About Eve know only too well the power of POP. Stir them in among Fields Of The Nephilim, Webcore, Batfish Boys, Crazyhead, Gaye Bykers On Acid, Scratch Acid, Junior Manson Slags and Rose Of Avalanche, all Hippy-free detergents, and the fall-out is admirably hemmed in. (Mind you, the Siegfried Sassoon Salon still calls to them…)
To find out where these people are coming from, it is as well to start with a man who clearly confesses a love of the past, Ricky Powell of Voodoo Child,.
“It certainly is getting trendy,” he reflects. “Let’s face it, most of the bands are putting themselves into that position. See a bandwagon, and jump on it.”
Criticisms of pre-stressed adolescence are cheerily dismissed.
“The music is base din early Seventies, but the way it’s projected is not. I like the way music’s gone back to guitar, bass and drums. It’s great, you’ve got to learn a bit about the instrument to be able to be a three-piece band. As far as writing songs goes, I think none of the bands are as good as that time.”
But he has hope.
“I believe what is needed is for one or two of these bands, like Gaye Bykers, or Crazyhead, or as well as ourselves, to break big, to say, no, it’s not a joke. Bands like us, playing Seventies rock, is happening now. People forget, they say, ‘God, that happened in the Seventies, why hasn’t it died?’ For kids of 18/19 it’s new, that’s why it’s taking off. Okay, we are like Jimi Hendrix our live show is based on that. People ask, ‘why are you doing that?’ but come down and see the crowds. They’ve all heard of Jimi Hendrix, seen hundreds of videos, but never seen it live.
“Some of the best music ever came out of the late Sixties, early Seventies, music still being listened to day and bought in large quantities. I can’t imagine Duran Duran still being appreciated in 20 years’ time. I know we’ll never recapture it again, but we are trying to create something from that era.”
People haven’t heard many madrigals before either but I suppose there’s no point carping continually. (You have to draw breath sometime.) Bad points Ricky?
“It’s to say ‘we’re not part of the scene’, that they’re doing it themselves, always slagging off Hippies. We don’t do that. I can’t really see the point. I think there’s a bit of Hippy in everyone somewhere along the line.”
(Frantically scans x-rays!) Is there any in Phil Morris of Rose Of Avalanche?
“If there is, I don’t know anything about it!”
Mock accents flying, Rose Of Avalanche’s adopted Americana, straddling both coats could saddle them as revivalists. Never one to mince words, Phil disagrees.
“We’ve done it from the beginning, slightly more accessible now. We can’t be put in with this thing. People could associate us with the image, especially Glenn, our guitarist; classic sixties guitar hero, glasses and stupid shirts.
“I dunno, it’s hard to understand. It’s obvious we are different, but it doesn’t seem that we are different.”
Prepared to give a brief nod of affirmation towards the idea of good rock songs, his view of the new pretenders is anything but complimentary.
“I think it’s appalling,” he grumbles. “I can’t see what people see in Crazyhead or Gaye Bykers for a start. They’re reverting back to shitpunk, not even good punk.”
The openly gregarious, unconcerned vocal trio of Leicester’s main coincidental onslaught, Anderson (Crazyhead), Andy ‘Jesus’ Mesquera (Bomb Party) and Mary (Gaye Bykers and, presumably, Andy’s mummy) react with little short of inertia,.
Anderson: “Fair enough.”
Mary: “You know ‘shit’ means? It’s a Freudian message for gold.”
Anderson: “It doesn’t really matter. It comes down to I know we do good songs, we’re a good band, and that’s what matters.”
And he’s right. None of these bands induce soporific trance. Visigoth visitations, here solely to twang contemporary bra-straps, their emission is far from impossible. Musical moustaches, the bands on everyone’s lips, they are antidotes (in Bomb Party’s case, anti-Christs) with literary awareness; great expectations stuffed inside their overtly dazzled heads. Similarly, Simon Detroit of the trusty Batfish Boys, the most eloquent non-spokesman for degeneration, is bemused by it all.
“You can cross Hip Hop with metal, so you can cross Goth with Hippy, which would be Gippy, with Metal, which’d make it Gimippy, and it just goes on and on! It seems everyone’s looking for something to blend together and make their own cup of coffee, but I think the main reason it’s happening is because kids of that age haven’t heard of that music, and it’s a new thing, but as regards all this imagery, what do people think they’re doing? It’s HIDEOUS!!!”
Well you’ve got a strong image!
“I was born with it,” he chortles. “We’re state-of-the-art Screaming Metal!”
As long as they don’t become rending metal, these bands will continue holding their heads above polluted waters with their economical historical affiliations and their ego-comical cynicism, but it’s no good any of them pretending that this is all entirely natural. They can’t just have started playing or dressing like they’ve never done before. The Punk and Goth years of the late Seventies and early Eighties doesn’t immediately lend itself to never telling the barber you’re sorry. They chose this direction, it didn’t choose them. Feigning surprise over people’s indignation and questioning is similarly short-sighted. To an outsider, so much colostomy knitwear and Long hair makes it hard to differentiate visually between The Cult and something cute, between a hippy, a rocker and a carthorse. People are being asked to deal with images, of dirt and malarkey, every nit as much as they are being subjected to long forgotten ‘artforms’, where even the guitar solo, which once served a purpose,. Could start beingthe purpose.
“The rebirth of the dirty rocker,” as Simon Detroit adroitly puts it. “Before, in the Sixties, acid was taken to try and ‘find’ yourself. Now it’s taken to escape from yourself. Same thing with music. Whereas before Led Zep might have been something amazing to be into when it first happened, now it’s like attempting to reverse our troubled times and escape.”
The Leicestershire Lovelies hum and hah behind sunglasses and curls.
Anderson: “That’s how we look. I don’t know if we did graduate towards it. Do you sit and analyze how you dress? The rocker thing I find a bit of a joke. The biker/metal thing is tedious.”
Jesus: “If you think about your image it becomes contrived. It’s a bit like saying why is your arse burning, ‘cos you had a vindaloo curry last night. That’s not why you had the curry, so that your arse would burn. You had it because you like curry.
Point taken. (At a distance.)
‘Good songs’, however, is another matter. The notion, expressed by some, that it takes backward appraisal to write them is laughably self-denigrating. Any band with self-respect should feel itself capable of writing them anyway.
“People ripping off good songs,” snorts Detroit, spinning.
The ultimate crime?
“Ripping off Led Zep badly is the ultimate crime,” the li’il devil continues, “and being accused of ripping off Led Zep when you’re not.”
How would you react if someone called you a Hippy?
“I’d probably bite their head off.”
“There’s a fine line between being basically crap,” Anderson ventures, “and being a boring self- indulgent muso. You have to get something in-between. We’re doing that fine line. We’re having a good time. I’m total crap. I was born crap and I’m crap now. It’s great…I’m gonna be a star. A crap star.”
Julianne Regan of the undeniably Hippy-infected but still mischievously adorable All About Eve shudders when the word ‘muso’ is raised.
“I hope that doesn’t happen! I’ve been listening to Pink Floyd this morning and even I would find it boring to watch them for an hour at Pompeii. Good Lord!”
Mary would practically kill for a ticket.
“Love to,” he burbles, trousers torn in anticipation. “They were a really good band. The first two albums were inspired. Everyone revered The Velvet Underground and, at the time, The Velvet Underground revered Pink Floyd.” (An extremely unlikely concept – Ed.)
WEBCORE, A BAND WHOSE CROSS-BOUNDARIES AND peculiarities have led to them erroneously dubbed as psychedelic hippies, find it all ludicrous.
Mick (vocals): “If anyone’s got any values they don’t need to align themselves with any cult or label, because those are personal values they’ve got for themselves.”
Karen (vocals/gyrations): “They think, ‘Everything else has been rehashed, so why can’t it work now?’ Cashing in on fashion.”
Phil (bass): “If it is a revival then it’s just a big wank, isn’t it?”
I must be coarse and agree. Prankster pop-metal-funk merchants Junior Manson Slags, who deserve to be in the end of the dream, haven’t got a clue what it (or anything) is.
“Is it such a bad thing?” guitarist Finn ponders. “I don’t think it is. Rock has lost its entire purity. Hippies have lost their purity, but the kids….what are they supposed to relate to? They’re relating to the music. What is better than that as a progression, have you got an answer to that?”
Ricky Powell, an amiable sage, appreciates the dilemma.
“It’s too young yet. No particular band has grabbed it. Going back to come forward, I can see progression coming in a couple of years’ time.”
With any luck we’ll all be dead by then.
“It’s a pretty optimistic viewpoint,” Simon D (!) rationalizes. “I presume they’re saying we’re distilling the essence of rock ‘n’ roll and we’ll end up with a finer, purer thing at the end of it but a lot of the original rock they’re taking off had nothing to do with the songs so much as being there. I suppose. Not that I was, but the whole atmosphere that went with it, as opposed to anything you could distill out of it…”
THOSE who want to forget the low stakes of the past are bound to fall upon them and it’s simply a question of how many of our prime young things and thugs will sink so low. How many will jettison shares in favor of stocks?
Graven images appropriated by raven lunatics like Zodiac Mindwarp and The C**t, with poorly rehashed Motorhead and Bad Company tributes is all bad enough, but with their craving for hollow theatrics and emotions they may manage it on a huge scale, because what all these bands had to do before was turn a club band into ‘a show’. With Old father Bono, one of the biggest hippies of the lot because them they can doze contentedly, safe in the knowledge that, beneath a landslide of merchandising, in some foreign field forever Woodstock, only cretins connect. (They also have the technology.)
“I can put my hand on my heart,” Julianne Regan says, during her Napoleonic impersonation, “and say we do put a very genuine feeling of love and concern into our songs, so the good that comes out of it is we’ll give some real joy to people, and get some back for ourselves.
“I’m a bit concerned we’re lumped in with all these people because I do dread it becoming a bit of a joke, trivialized and turned into a movement because all the bad apples will embarrass the good. I’ve got a feeling that these other…folk, are in great competition to be the vanguard of the Hippym Rock movement. Come the day of reckoning the bandwagon jumpers, if that’s what they are, will be seen in their true colors. I hope they’re getting ready to hang their heads in shame.”
Care to name names?
“I couldn’t, ‘cos that’s a ‘bad vibe’ isn’t it?”
(She screeches, which saves me bothering.)
Speculating what degree of involvement Chernobyl has played in this dreadful occurrence I am interrupted by Mary Byker, being as sweet as pie.
“Are we going to impose this kind of fascism and say people are not allowed to be hippies? With youth culture now you’ve got a huge spectrum of how you can represent yourself. Hippies represent pace and love and if that’s realistic to them, fair enough.”
But we have to stop them, to help them. And alleviate future breakdowns. Nobody is more embarrassed about the first Hippy and Rock explosion that lingered bombastically on for five years than those who took part. These casualties now thrive as capitalist dogs, running to evade their memories.
“It’s like asking us what we think of Curiosity Killed The Cat,” Mary pipes up, taking the question right out of my mouth. “You see’ The Sun’ and they’re taking acid. A tenuous word, ‘hippies’.”
Anderson: “I don’t give a shit. I just wanna make loads of money.”
Simon Detroit polishes off a Norton or two and assesses it all.
“I think the symptoms will be dying out by the end of the year and those happy little microbes with the strongest sense of melody will be left at the end. It is happening, that’s why you’re writing about it. Front pages of Sounds! When that starts, the tumbleweed gets rolling. There’s no way you can stop it until it wears itself out and falls apart which is, pessimism akimbo, what will happen and something else ill come along. People playing bits of toast, or something.”
That’s all we need. A Bread revival.
Hippy begat Rock, begat Pompous Drivel until, on the seventh day of the seventh decade God gave up the meths, saw sense, and invented Punk. Hippy and Rock have no place now if recreating sloth, because the old days were times of truce, when that was still affordable. Days of optimism are over, only cynicism and anger bears fruit. We need Crazyhead and Batfish Byker Bombs (etc) over and above the Old Order, as you may need your head dressing removed.
“It don’t seem right somehow.” (Anonymous Dork, 18 years on.)
Look around and wince. McLaren said ‘Never trust a Hippy’, which was a bit rich coming from the likes of him, but the idea holds true. (Never trust anyone with the initials M.M.) We’ve got The Mission, pleasant men, pleasant tunes. Zodiac! Peasant men, peasant tunes. Aren’t we lucky?
So, before anyone spikes your guns, putting petunias down your barrel, get those machine gun emplacements implanted around those suburban lawns. Alternatively, hold your nose and pray that an icy sense of perspective will blow the flower children back into the compost heap of credibility where they belong.
Chris Roberts’ recent (accurate) observation, that Hippy clothes always look like you’ve been sick over yourself, ties in with a couple of things. Mary Byker was correct in his earlier musing. The Longhairs aren’t committing any greater crime than the people who constantly open the Velvet Underground casket to tamper with the remains. They simply look worse.
All good things come to those who hate. Take a good look at what is happening an marvel at what a hopelessly lackluster ‘happening’ it is, if you’re seeking Ancient Britons then study the latest Cult video. Notice how they, and the Longhairs at gigs, look. How the facial countenance and coiffure strive to suggest torrid oral sex with decomposing mammoths. Then take those sleeping pills. Plagiarists will always claim they were only obeying orders, but we know, don’t we children?
Day 1 – Newcastle
In the interests of economy the band and crew traveled together in the back of the van, in the interests of comfort we tool a three piece suite (which wasn’t quite big enough to seat the seven people sentenced to suffer in there) and against the interests of safety the door wouldn’t open from the inside and on being opened, wouldn’t shut properly, adding some much needed ventilation and come completely unnecessary air conditioning. So in high spirits (if not temperatures) the merry band set forth. Within seconds of arrival confusion ensued with the first of many contractual cock ups which were to mar the proceedings. This time it was merely the inconvenience of having no monitors or lights – it was an ominous portant of what was to come…. Undaunted, on with the business at hand and the Rhubarbs (Tour Support band) were unleashed on an unsuspecting audience, the nature of their stage show cannot be wholly described with words alone, and therefore must remain largely undocumented, suffice to say there was a subtle blend of lingerie, celery, cabbage leaves & red dye (Rhubarb being out of season until the final gig of the tour) and a hefty chunk of no messin rock and roll. Encompassing subject matter of an unashamedly dubious nature – 10 out of 10 for entertainment value. Show time – The Rose justify their long layoff by being breathtakingly good. After the gig members of the audience come backstage for a chat and litation – a good time was had by all. One incident of note in the van – one of Dave’s by means of a one word answer reduced the band to hysteria which lasted until the pain became too great and we had to stop laughing.
And so North of the border to sunny Glasgow where further unnecessary irritations occurred, due to double booking the Rubes were unable to perform – The Rose however can and do. After the gig the guys to go one of the few hotels that will still allow us in and the two degenerates room ends up resembling a battle ground after the mobile party.
Arrived and the many hangovers took their respective owners round the Waverly Centre where the see through lifts and massive escalators made life bearable for a short while, but eventually more orthodox methods had to be used, so coffee was consumed by the gallon. The gig with the Rhubarbs actually playing playing, again went down a storm. After arctic conditions in the back of the van that night there was a noticeable addition of a stupendously large quilt and numerous layers of extra clothing.
Where absolutely nothing happened apart from Om the Sound man parading in front of the dressing room windows clad only in women’s underwear.
Contractual cockups yet again prevent the Rhubes from doing their by now semi legendary thing, but the Rose cruise through yet another spine tingler, and at the post gig celebration two young ladies were chatting with the band until quite late, but then the tete a tete was interrupted by the intrusion of a matronly figure shouting “where’s my daughter” The band packed up and left quickly in case they were charged with corrupting minors. Two days respite and thawing out.
On the way there we managed to find a low bridge & the van becomes slightly scared. At the gig problems occur when Mark’s drum kit pegs out rather suddenly, but against all odds the team still prevail. Notable for the fact that there was more beer than could be downed by the lads in the after gig session, and of course the inevitable mobile party ensued. It was at this point we realised how difficult it was to communicate with the tour manager in the front of the van for calls of nature.
Frenzied activity results in the acquisition and subsequent unveiling of the gleaming golden emergency replacement drumkit. The evenings performance is more dazzling then usual. 7 dates into the tour and no casualties as yet. B & B with the welcome feature of an open bar as long as you’re upright private bar. But moderation prevails and all retire to the seeming safety of their rooms where discovery of the substantial remains of the Wolverhampton rider ignites a spontaneous session that last into the wee hours. Traditions must be maintained and certain crew members were found wandering the corridors.
A strange venue, tin roofs over cables with stuffed cats on – the overall decor is reminiscent of a Victorian antique shop, apart from the TV’s dotted around which the promoter delights in showing us his personal collection of videos that are painstakingly woven together to create a delicate tapestry of blood and sex. The video most prominent tonight is his favorite, the classic Killer Clowns from Outer Space. Perhaps he was trying to tell us something. Still the Rhubarbs and the Rose both prevail over cramped stage conditions and an inadequate PA, to rip it up. The lads then spend 5 hours in the back of the van and hit home for two days off to contract the hypothermia.
Where the doorman display the usual courtesy and tact when ushering out guests, crew, the band. There is a retributive strike on the van leaving permanently scarred. Due to over zealous consumption of alcohol 3 girls become amenable to the suggestion they travel 300 miles in the back of the van with 7 people who are almost human, and who’s mental equilibrium’s is more than a bit disturbed. Inevitably the situation becomes interesting in the following struggle. Om transforms into a raging beast and visits his wrath on one of the poor unfortunates – naturally the recipient of the punishment objects and plants her Doc Marten in Dave’s head head so hard it sounds like John Bonhams bass drum. The next morning they awoke with no recollection of the previous evening and the question that always springs to mind on these occasions – “Where am I?”
The home straight, the final three gigs and so with composure regained and relatively sober onto the final onslaught. As always with the end in sight things really start coming together. The momentum picks up at a blistering pace and the boards are left smoldering.
The circus arrives in London at the Marquee, which contrary to prevailing beliefs is not the be all and end all of rock venues that it’s cracked up to be. What self-respecting venue would be wimpy enough to have a PA cut out at 98 db’s – Not very rock & roll. They are also too snotty to allow a backdrop to cover their logo. They justify this insanity by saying that it’s an enormous honour to play there – was say Pah! Despite these tiresome drawbacks & uncivilized bottle throwing incident the evening was a resounding success. The extra leg room on stage gave rise to the usual scintillating performance blah, blah, blah.
It seems that no one came remember Leeds so all we can say is that it must have been good, or bad depending on which way you look at it.
Tour Set List
1.What’s Going Down?
2.The World Is Ours
4.Nowhere To Run
5.Not Another Day
6.Never Another Sunset
7.You Don’t Belong
9.King of Fools
10.Don’t Fly To High
11.A Romantic Vision
12.Too Many Castles In The Sky