WTF013 - Acoustic.
01 - Utilising blasphemy as a seduction technique.
The phone call comes much earlier than I expect.
"Um, no." I reply, "Bramble's in hospital this weekend."
"Ah," the voice conceals a touch of Scouse, running beneath the surface of the conversation, visible only on occasion, like polished rocks on a riverbed. "Is that Jamie?"
"Yes." I reply. "Reverend?"
"Aye, I'm up now if you're ready."
We make brief arrangements and The Reverend hangs up. I grab my notebook and bag, and head off into Cardiff's grey Sunday rain.
The Reverend's rock mansion of bass is only a few streets away from mine, and after managing to avoid squealing children splashing through puddles on stolen scooters, I arrive. The Reverend answers the door himself.
"Hello." he says. "Want some tea?"
After The Reverend's main door there's a further security door, acting as an airlock against the terror of the "real" world. He pauses for a moment to relock the multitude of security features and reset the alarm. He turns to me and raises an eyebrow. "Stalkers." He says simply.
We walk through huge, echoing rooms. Light seems to become trapped and confused, and from the shadows come strange noises. The Reverend halts and raises his arm. He listens to the sounds for a second, nods. "Cats." We continue further into the house.
He prepares me tea in the ballroom-like kitchen. There's a huge space under one of the lengthy breakfast bars. There are scratch marks and missing panels all around it.
"What happened there?" I ask, tremulously.
"Ah. That's where we kept the bear. Neighbours complained though and Bruno had to go."
For a moment I catch a glimpse of something behind the steel, a flash of light in The Reverend's heart of darkness. It seems to mock and pity simultaneously, and yet carries a desperation with it. And also sorrow.
I would soon learn how much pain was held behind the eyes of the man who now offered me tea. Tea in a giant mug.
We sit in The Reverend's designated "interview room", a long elegant wood-paneled room. Well-aired and fitted with a modest stereo system, games console and television. In keeping with the rest of the house's "chairs are anathema" rule, we sit on Tibetan rugs.
The Reverend is wearing a black and red polo-neck sweatshirt, blue jeans and Converse trainers. He is relaxed and affable, pausing only to arrange a reply in his head, or wipe stray flecks of ash from his knees. In the background, ‘Upwards At 45 Degrees', from Julian Cope's much maligned Jehovahkill album, rises.
The Reverend nods and the interview begins.
Propaganda: What's your favourite drink?
The Reverend: (pause.) Probably flaming sambuca, because it burns my nasal hair. I have to clip before going on a sambuca sesh. Wouldn't mind trying absinthe either.
Is H gay?
I wouldn't like to comment. I wouldn't like to say he's as gay as a tree full of monkeys on laughing gas.
Did you read about Noel from Popstars Mum telling all the papers he wasn't gay?
Nah. To be honest I don't buy newspapers.
I don't like the manipulation of things like that into a media phenomenon. For example, you have a plane crash in Zaire, three hundred people dead, and it's on page 5. Page 1 to 4 is all Popstars . It's cobblers.
Any priors I should know about?
Can I borrow your lighter?
Cheers. What was the question?
Any priors I should know about?
None that I know of.
But that doesn't mean that there aren't any.
What are you reading at the moment?
Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson . It's fantastic. Really, really fucking good. I'm only reading the one thing at the moment, which is unusual. It has my full attention.
Where were you born?
Billing. 17/11/74. Around 11am. Sun in Scorpio.
You know that?
Looked into it. Do you want the whole lot?
Moon in Capricorn, Mercury in Scorpio, Venus in Scorpio, Mars in Scorpio, Jupiter in Cancer and Saturn in Pisces. That's as far as my charts go. There were none of these new planets when they were drawn up. (Laughs). Here's an astrological conundrum, "If a planet revolves around the sun and no-one knows about it will it affect your star sign?"
What don't you like?
No, change that to “crowds”. We all done?
I reckon that's enough.
"You coming on the 30th?" he asks as we walk the lonely corridors.
I tell him I intend to be there.
"Walpurgis Nacht." he says as the outer door closes.
"Sorry?" I begin, but the entrance to his palace of solitude has closed on the crowds and the rain and the ignorance.
I stand there in the downpour for a second, a stray raindrop trickles down my neck as I realise that the bastard still has my lighter.
JL (Originally published in Propaganda 2.)
02 - Children.
It's a pleasant enough Monday evening, around 6pm, and I'm stuck outside the club. For some reason nobody's answering the intercom, so I can't get in. After waiting a further ten minutes, pacing up and down the street, smoking and trying to find another way in, the door opens and Nameless ' drummer, Sklav, comes out. I run over and introduce myself.
"I've got to move my car," explains Sklav. "Some stinking hippy's complaining I've blocked him in, but just head on up. Do you know the way?"
I reply that I do and head inside the deserted club, just as it begins to rain.
There's no one in the foyer, so I head through the doors and up the metal staircase to the top floor.
Empty and houselit, the club looks huge. The French, The Reverend and Al are sat at a table to the left of the stage, as a young lady moves the monitors on the stage, and the soundman mutters through the PA: "Left a bit... bit more." He tuts. "That'll do."
Al recognises me and comes bounding over like an over-excited puppy. "Hiya! Propaganda , yeah?" I reply in the affirmative and we walk to the table where Al makes introductions.
"This is The Reverend, this is The French, Sklav's moving his car at the-"
"He let me in." At this his inane grin falls.
After these introductions have been made, I explain that I'm here solely to interview The French. Al seems a bit put out by this, but after I explain that he'll be interviewed himself after their gig in the Oz Bar he calms down a bit. To be honest I'm beginning to see why the editor dislikes him. He seems enthusiastic, but it all gets a bit wearing, after all nobody can be that nice. Can they?
To my surprise The French certainly seem to be. Despite insisting on being referred to in "the third person plural", they seem to be very affable indeed. I've heard all the tales of course, after every gig The Cult of Topper fair hums with them. The whisky, the nudity, the destruction of guitars, the drugs and of course the jokes. But I'm only allowed until the soundcheck begins, as they have to head back to their lair to get prepared.
The French are wearing trainers, black flares, a very tight T-shirt and a black hooded top. They smoke Marlboro Lights constantly, and sip at their drink. They are dusky and polite and smile a lot more than you'd think.
We've had a lot of correspondence at Propaganda , asking exactly why you changed your name from "Disco" to "The French". There's been no official reason put forward by the band so can I ask why?
The French: You may.
(Silence. The French are inscrutable.)
Okay. What's your favourite drink?
Jack Daniels and coke. No ice.
Is H gay?
Of course he is. Controversial.
Any priors I should know about?
I'm trying to think of something witty to say. Not unless you count that incident with the... um...
(He trails off and starts laughing.)
What are you reading at the moment?
I'm not. Make something up.
Alright, what's your favourite book then?
The Bible. It's great. The best work of fiction ever written. (Laughs.)
What's your favourite book in the Bible then?
The Old Testament's much better. You wouldn't invite the Old Testament God for tea, he'd be turning everyone into pillars of salt. Still, you wouldn't need condiments.
Where were you born?
( Further silence. The French smoke.)
What don't you like?
My answer's the same as The Reverend's. Punter. People. I've a real problem with people. Especially living ones.
What are you listening to at the moment?
The new Nick Cave album. I would be listening to Much Against Everyone's Advice by Soulwax , but Al's purloined it.
(Sklav has returned, muttering darkly, and the soundcheck is about to begin.)
Thanks for your time.
Can I watch the soundcheck?
After the individual instruments have been checked the band run through three songs, two new ones that aren't played tonight (‘Mamihilapinatapai' and ‘Chris, Chris of the 70s') and ‘Think!'. The promoter has arrived and is putting up posters for other gigs. He catches my arm as I'm on my way out.
"Fucking Nameless with harmonies. Hur hur hur." He chuckles.
I nod. And leave.
HB (Originally published in Propaganda 3.)
03 - Too much.
I was supposed to be interviewing Al after their gig in the Oz Bar, but things went all kerflooey there and didn't happen, so it's with a little miffedness that I find myself traipsing to the House of Sin. As my faithful readers will no doubt recall Al and I have a bit of a history, so I'm nervous about this meeting taking place on his home turf, especially with all the threats of writs and the like that've been churned through cyberspace recently. I don't want to say this really, but the whole thing goes smoothly, with both of us keeping up a purely professional air.
Al meets me at the door, and seems just as nervous as me.
"Come in then."
He stands aside and I walk into the house. Although it's a lovely and sunny Thursday afternoon the house has a chill to it, and a bizarre smell. We walk up the rickety staircase to the studio/study where the interview is to take place. It's a cramped and very dark room lit with candles and the glow of a PC screen. The walls are covered with Nameless posters from across the years, and books lie everywhere. There's a double bed pushed up against a tortured boiler and a quilt cover hangs over the one tiny window. A bizarre, clanking tune drags itself groaning from speakers on the floor.
"What's this?" I ask as I unpack my tape-recorder and iced gems.
"It's an alternate take of ‘Suspicious Minds' from one of Elvis ' Vegas concerts." He says. "If you listen he starts yelling "Shove it up your nose!" at one point. I love Elvis ."
Al's wearing a black skinny-rib T-shirt and black jogging bottoms. His toenails have black nail varnish on them. A cage on top of a wardrobe catches my eye.
"What's that?" I ask.
"That's Bartok . My rat."
"Oh. The composer?"
He looks a bit baffled.
"No, the bat in Anastasia."
There's a long pause. Whenever I talk to Al there's always long pauses. Unfortunately for the rest of you this is very rare. I should also mention that Al is grinning throughout most of this, so it's very difficult to tell whether he's winding me up or he believes it.
PROPAGANDA: What's your favourite drink?
AL: I've pretty much given up drinking now, because I'm a dick when I'm pissed. I'll drink lager if anything. I still have a few before going on stage. Other than that, just black coffee for the kick. Stimulants! Anything that makes you work faster is good.
Is H gay?
(Very long pause.)
Are there any priors I should know about?
There've been nearly a couple…
(Pause as he makes them up.)
There was a time when I was in college in Wrexham, well, a couple of times when I was pissed. For one, I was walking back from the student union with a lad called Christ , a nine foot goth who thought he looked like Johnny Depp . Well, so did everybody else. We were singing Nick Cave songs and I don't think the people of Wrexham were ready for that. We were singing ‘The Mercy Seat' I think... No. No it was ‘Papa Won't Leave You, Henry'. Christ was, and probably still is, a cockney, and the police pulled up next to us beside the most dangerous kebab shop in Wrexham. They were all a bit iffy come to think of it. And they stopped us. They said that we'd been singing filth at the top of our voices, or just shouting filth, which wasn't the best thing to say to a drunken Londoner because he just kept giggling and saying "Hur! Filf!" Which pissed them off. So they said-
(Adopts Wrexham accent, I imagine)
"If you say that again I'll arrest you." And Christ said-
(Cockney this time, almost)
"Wot? Filf?" And - firm upstanding bastions of society that they are - nicked him and told me to fuck off home. He got done for drunk and disorderly.
The other occasion involves a dog.
Yeah. Because no-one seemed to fancy me – ah, how things change - I was feeling sorry for myself, and drunk, and wandering around the streets with this dog who'd taken a shine to me. Lovely little fellow. And again the police turn up and...
I had to admit that, indeed, it wasn't my dog. So they popped my canine chum into the back of the van and drove off, which was a shame. He got done for drunk and disorderly as well oddly enough. Think of the adventures we could have had. I didn't really enjoy my time in Wrexham very much.
What are you reading at the moment?
At the moment, Colditz Recaptured by Rheinhold Eggers , who was the security chief at Colditz. It's a collection of memoirs I found in charity shop. Written by ex-prisoners who escaped, ex-prisoners who didn't escape, and himself. Then I'm moving on to " The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire which I was lucky enough to download for free, thus saving myself the £15 a volume for the Classics For All series.
Where were you born?
Cardiff. I'm a Leo.
You'll have to wait for the book. "All roads lead to Rome".
(Long pause. I wonder if he's gone to sleep.)
What don't you like?
I don't like nu-metal, because it strikes me as a lifestyle choice rather than music, and it all sounds like Iron Maiden anyway. I don't like...
(Very long pause. Seasons pass.)
...bigots. I don't like most of the people who write in to the Echo letters page. Brains equal to those of gnats. I don't like people who let you down, promoters who don't and people who don't, or won't listen. Ignorance may be bliss, but you can be blissful somewhere the fuck else, thank you.
What do you listen to then?
I was listening to Soulwax , but The French have claimed it back.
(Pause. Plays with feet.)
I'm listening to the new Angels Of Light CD and Elvis bootlegs.
I've heard a lot of rumours about you. Are you gay?
I'm very happy. Yes.
(He grins like a tree frog.)
Cheers. Who are your heroes?
(Another geological pause.)
That's really weird. No-one's ever asked me that. As I'm an only child, pretty much, I spent a lot of time on own and read a lot of books and comics. I befriended a comic publisher in Bristol called Chris Bell , and I used to write to people like Pat Mills and Glenn Fabry .
Alan Moore .
Chris said "people are just people, they all have feet of clay", or something like that. It would have been much less cliched than that. I'm very self centered and I think that...
...I also have a great deal of self-loathing and I'm too busy with myself to idolise others. The problems I've had in past relationships is that we've both been in love with the same person.
So, I admire Alan Moore and...
... Steve Irwin and I think that's it.
I know you like a lot of Doctor Who . What about Tom Baker ?
He's not a hero. He's a god.
What do you write about?
I spend a lot of time on the lyrics and that's one of the reasons we don't do covers. I don't want to sing someone else's words. We used to do covers if they were pertinent to the way we live our lives and represented values we agreed with. Or if they would piss people off. I write about things that have happened to me, personal experience. A lot of the songs are almost too personal. I know a lot of people don't do that, but you have to believe and understand what you're saying. I can't think of very many other people in this current musical climate who are as good as us, certainly not in the sphere of music we belong in. I can't see anyone else with that level of commitment. At The Drive-In would have been, if their lyrics weren't wanky piss. Cut-up technique is pathetic, It's like other people's drug stories or holiday snaps - incredibly tedious and a waste of ink. I'm not going to publish the lyrics again because I know they're fantastic, and I haven't written them for anyone else. But if someone else gets something from it, then that's great (laughs).
Many. Everything I've just said.
And so I leave. A bit confused about the whole thing. Al's either just opened up to me, or used the hour as an exercise in satire. It's hard to pick the truth out, especially as I know he's embarrassed about some of the things he's written, because he told me that the second time I spoke to him. Also, off-stage he's the politest person you'd hope to meet.
"What the fuck is going on?" indeed.
BJ (Originally published in Propaganda 4.)
04 - Welcome to the machine. Originally by famous goths Pink Floyd .
The first part of this interview took place a considerable time ago, shortly after the Teflon Monkey 's first public exhibition as part of Nameless . At this time he was kept under the stairs in the House of Sin and cared for by his marvelous handler, the divine Ellie. At first the monkey was unable to communicate except through grunts and yowps that only Ellie could understand, and suffered from a severe and debilitating disease.
Later it was discovered the monkey's ill health was directly connected to his confinement, and so the boys had no choice but to release him back into the wild. Stockholm Syndrome in full effect, the monkey refused to move far and set up a nest in the nearby Abandoned Ruins of Roath. Following his throat operation Ellie worked tirelessly to teach the monkey a complex sign language and basic English. Now, with the aid of a razor, the monkey can pass amongst polite society.
As long as he keeps the tail tucked in.
The door that guards the entrance to the monkey's subterranean kingdom is a sturdy and reassuring steel. It's fixed with padlocks and a large orange warning sign that simply says, “Danger Of Death”. The gentle, but silent, cowled giant who's let me in and checked my identification unlocks the padlocks for me. Around its waist hangs a giant iron circle full of keys, some rusty, some azure and glinting. Things drop from the darkness under its robe and crawl away.
The corridor is cold, and tiny kittens rub against my jeans.
It's with some trepidation that I press the code into the numbered panel next to the door. No sound carries from the other side at all, the door's too thick, and when it begins to creak open I freak out more than a little. Ellie stands beyond, blinking against the light. She's shivering slightly, despite the huge jumper she wears, and there's a tiny cat perched on her shoulder.
“Hello. I'm Hyperbole.” I say, extending my hand.
She takes it. We shake. She smiles.
“Hi. Ellie. Pleased to meet you. This is Megan,” she says, nodding her shoulder down a little. The little white and black cat seems to grin up. “I'm a bit rough at the moment,” she continues, “Teflon's given me a cold. He's full of little treats like that.”
The giant nods and I walk through the door onto a rough wooden platform. The walls are smooth rock and a tunnel leads down to the left, carved stairs vanishing around a bend.
“Cheers, Carstairs.” says Ellie to the giant.
Carstairs nods, more things fall to the carpet.
The door closes behind us.
It's warmer than I expect and much better lit. Bare bulbs are strung along the wall of the tunnel as we follow it down. From the distance come strange animal noises echo up towards us. Eventually the tunnel opens to reveal a huge grotto. Light flickers from a giant chandelier in the ceiling reflecting back off pockets of quartz in the distant walls. It's dry and warm. Ellie tells me it stays at a fixed temperature the whole year round, but can't explain why. Apparently the tunnels run under the whole of Cardiff , occasionally connecting with older sections of the sewer network. Nobody knows for sure who built them, but there's a rumour, as Ellie explains, that an eccentric Victorian philanthropist had them built by unemployed tradesmen. She mentions something about the same thing happening in Liverpool , but I fail to catch it.
We reach the Monkey Area. A huge metal cage stretches to the ceiling, exotic leaves and flowers spurt through the thin spaces. The jungle has been entirely recreated inside.
Ellie opens the gate, her collection of keys no less impressive than that carried by the silent giant. I notice a giraffe head poking up from a huge fenced hole in the distance. This must be a top layer with much more running beneath.
Just before we enter there's a huge vibration and the floor shudders. A roar that's been building unnoticed for some time reaches its deafening crescendo and then passes. For a moment there's silence, then bird song begins from inside the Monkey's cage.
“What the fuck was that?” I ask.
“Underground train,” replies Ellie. She catches my bemused look, Cardiff doesn't have an Underground. “It's not public. Why d'you think Russell Goodway needs so much money?”
“I thought it was so he could give every child in Cardiff a mug with his picture on it.” I reply, a little lamely.
Ellie giggles a little. We move into the cage. A Mayoral mystery solved.
The monkey is much taller than I expected, and wears glasses. He sniffs me, then hugs me round the waist.
“He likes you,” says Ellie.
I notice his eyes are seeping a little, and every so often he snuffles sadly.
“How's he doing?” I ask. He's been ill ever since his capture, which caused considerable worry to Nameless . Mostly because it had taken so long to coax him into trusting them.
“Well,” says Ellie, “The virus seems to be animal in origin. It's compounded a little by the cold he's caught from somewhere.”
“What does he eat?” I ask, scratching him behind a tiny, furred ear. He almost purrs when he's happy.
“Although monkeys strictly speaking are omnivorous, “Rhodri”, as I call him, indulges mainly in the non-flesh world of food, following me.” Ellie smiles. “Chips and curry sauce is a favourite.”
The monkey's found a Toffee Crisp in my bag. After checking it's alright I open it up and hand it to him. It's gone in seconds and the purring's back.
“How does he cope with the kitten?” I ask. Rhodri's snuggling up to Ellie at this point, making gentle “ook” noises.
“Generally they're both of a friendly disposition,” Ellie says. “Rhodri's very protective of his food, and Megan won't share hers. If he takes any she tends to piss on his Super Furry Animal t-shirts. Julian Cope 's jacket took a splashing last week as well.”
At this a small tear builds like a bubble in the Monkey's eye, bursts and slides down his furry cheek.
“Do you think Nameless are cruel?”
“No.” Ellie replies. “It's good for him to get out and develop social skills. His sign language is coming along nicely and needs etiquette. The throat operation to extend his atrophied vocal cords is soon and all of that will help.
“He needs to understand that nudity is wrong,” she continues. “Sometimes, if it weren't for the tail, I'd almost believe he's a feral child.”
“What plans are there?” I ask.
“To get out and meet other people.”
There's a musky scent emanting from a collection of spiky green plants under an enormous blue light. At first my nose stang, but now my head is a little swimmy, and I'm finding it difficult to keep track with the conversation. It's a little like being stoned, I imagine.
“Is he excited?” I begin, “Or has his will been crushed by the titanic piano of imprisonment?”
“It's a bit daunting. He was first found in a small town, hiding in a colliery on a hill, and now he's in a thriving metropolis. You can try, but you can't exactly replicate his environment. Although a Nameless gig is quite close to Bargoed on a Friday night. Tension. Fear. Violence.”
At the mention of “Bargoed” Rhodri rears and leaps into the foliage, where he vanishes. Everything seems to stretch away, the bars are too close and it's getting difficult to breathe. The green is pushing down on me, and the animal screams and calls are no longer soothing. I turn off my dictaphone, pack it into my bag and say goodbye to Ellie. She lets me out of the cage and I stumble back into the grotto.
“If you see any wolves, bash them on the snout. They don't like that.” She advises.
Not reassured, I stumble up the tunnel, key in the code and wait. I press my forehead up against the cool steel and wait for Carstairs.
CHAPTER TWO: STARTING A WAR.
The monkey is playing Tony Hawks 3 . Present are Teflon, Ellie, The Reverend, Megan, Mogwai and Propaganda .
Propaganda: I must admit, I haven't got any questions.
The Reverend: What? About anything?
Teflon: I know everything.
The Reverend: I'm impressed mate. Share your knowledge.
Why did you use the glockenspiel on the second session?
Teflon: Because it's got a funny name. And I had a father who was Gareman and a mother who was Austrian. Which makes me Goschtrian.
What are you reading at the moment?
Teflon: The captions on Tony Hawks . What? In general? Private Eye and BBC Wildlife magazine. It's got lots of monkeys in it. Lots of monkeys with no clothes on.
Either I'm going to have to write faster or you're going to have to talk slower.
Teflon: C'mon. Work that wrist.
What are you up to outside of Nameless ?
Teflon: I work in a Monkey Fancy Dress Shop.
Is that fun?
Teflon: Yeah. Why not.
Why wouldn't it be?
Teflon: Yeah. People keep saying “Aren't you too primate-like to be working in a shop?”
Ellie: You should be in a zoo.
Have you got anything to plug or not?
Teflon: Only my kettle.
For fuck's sake!
Ellie: We've got a kitten.
Teflon: And an album of monkey noises.
When's that out?
Teflon: Fuck knows. This year hopefully.
HB&BJ – Additonal material courtesy of the Reverend .
(Original version first published in Propaganda 6.)
05 – Propaganda.
Hi! What's your favourite drink?
(xxx) Rated: Mmmmm... Okay... Well, as you know from our many encounters, I like my drinks interesting. So for this one I'll have to say a Rainbow Drop. Don't worry, it has nothing to do with the exchange of bodily fluids. At least, not until after you're done drinking, should it have the right effect. It's a mix of champagne, absinthe and strawberry-flavoured sugar crystals. If you'd care to sample one I know of a very nice place which mixes them very well where we can head over to after the interview is over.
Um... Okay. Moving swiftly on, was H gay?
I said: “was H gay?”
From Steps .
I wasn't aware he'd passed on.
No, I don't think he has. He's sort of dropped out of the public eye since he escaped from Steps . I should really revise these questions.
I'll take a stab he swings either way. I've spotted him around once or twice, generally in and around London , and he's always in some interesting bars when I'm on a blurry night out. I'll ask him sometime. Assuming he isn't really dead.
Any priors I should know about?
Nope. None whatsoever.
What are you reading at the moment?
Okay, this would be the point where I differ greatly from the rest of the band as I generally don't read a great deal. "Ooh" and "ahh" noises from the crowd. I spend most of my spare time out and about, usually in a social atmosphere as I play relatively well with others. And besides, it's difficult to focus on a book when you've finished a bottle of Jack Daniels ten minutes earlier.
Where were you born?
Everyone else answered this one with some wild and wonderful answer didn't they? Hmm... Let's see...
On the outermost ridge of the ninth crater of... Nope, that's no good. I'll try again.
I was forged out of a rare gold found only on... Nope, that one's a bit dire as well.
How about this one? If you need to ask then you probably don't need to know.
What don't you like?
Feel free to refer to my most recent drunken rant on the Namelesspropaganda group for this one that generally sums it up. “Stupid people are the main focus”. If I recall correctly. Right, that's those questions answered. Any further info you may throw at me later this evening.
How's eight o'clock ?
Okay. See you then. Yours?
Bye. Well that didn't really go as planned.
Good day. That's a thing, how should I address you?
Whatever you like my dear. ‘Triple X'. ‘Rated', as the boys do. ‘Bitch', if you're exceptionally talented or ‘Daddy' if that kind of thing takes your fancy.
Ever the charmer! ‘Rated' it is.
I'll just call you “Beautiful”, if that's okay?
Actually, I lie. Given the chance I'll call you all the time.
Ah. Uh.... Where are you taking me tonight then ?
Planned, and if you have any more suggestions then I'm more than willing, we'll have a nice Italian just off Cardiff's main "street", or "walk of shame" as it's sometimes known. Then I thought I'd take you to a lovely, and exclusive, bar nearby.
Okay, sounds good.
Noises of traveling, shouting taxi drivers (“This is Romeo Six Four. I UNDERSTAND you need to be extracted. I've done EVERYTHING I CAN to get those vehicles to you, over”), some conversation but then inaudible. Scuffling yakayaka, like a chirruping whale chased by the brutality of a restaurant.
Order whatever you like - tonight is on me.
Glasses tinkle, subtle whispers.
I'm going for the Bruschetta.
Personally I shall have the Veal Parmigiana as my main course. No starter, as starters are for those who don't watch their shape. Wine my dear?
You choose. Actually I'll skip the starter and go for Garlic-Herb Chicken con Broccoli. I had a big lunch.
I'm never one to tell a lady what she should eat or drink, but as a regular here I recommend the Straccali Chianti, as its fierce, deep, red matches your fiery temperament nicely.
You've worked hard for your reputation haven't you? Okay. That sounds lovely.
I have a reputation now? That's a new one.
It's growing rapidly.
Really? Well as we know people love to talk. Be it truthfully or otherwise.
Indeed. Okay. To business. How'd you end up in Nameless ?
In a very roundabout way: I began by seeing the band a few times in a Cardiff nightclub, having moved down here to pursue a degree. These nights were very hazy and I didn't properly notice the band until I saw them in the Rock Garden in London . That night I stood and truly appreciated a band musically for the first time since seeing Guns And Roses many years before. I announced to the young lady that accompanied me that night that I would be in this band one day, and two weeks later, after the vanishing act by one Disco, I was. It all fed itself together nicely.
So this would've been... 1999?
Probably early '99 yes. You'll have to excuse the classic rock influences, this came as part of my upbringing along with a musical style now known only as the “g-word", which has always appeared on the Nameless resume.
I guess that that's not "guitar" then? Al was fuming when the first few reviews kept going on about goth. I don't reckon that Nameless are goths myself. Very dark, but that doesn't mean it's goth. What was it he called it? "Lazy journalism".
I think so myself - my original opinion was that the journalist had just seen a few of the members of the band dressed in black so the "g-word” was applied. He or she, and I'm dropping no names as that would be impolite, of course ignores the fact that bands like Steps have colour-themed songs/videos. And when Steps released a silver themed video the world didn't start labeling them as the new wave of cyber-goth.
That'd be ace though! Steps ! Cybergoth! 5-6-7-EXTERMINATE!
It would certainly be one I'd like to play in a club. There are, scarily, remixes of Steps tracks in that style. I think they may be bootleg only as I can't see them being official, whatever “official” actually is when a band is posthumous. How is your Garlic-Herb Chicken con Broccoli?
It's really nice. This wine is lovely as well. Going back a bit, do you think Nameless have an image?
I think the Nameless "image" is one that is slowly changing as more and more people see them again. Of course, after Disco's vanishing act and my brief stint, there was the Fallow Time where the band rebuilt itself from scratch. As I understand it members came and went until The French was found again and a line-up started to come to fruition.
Yeah. That whole time was a bit weird. I've asked Al about it quite a bit, but he won't really say much about it. I think it all got a bit crazy. The Reverend just says he was "too busy doing Good Work to get involved with the madness".
That's definitely true when it comes to the Reverend. His work, and rightly so, always comes first. I can always think of things, which I'd rather came before work, and especially before me.
Saucy. My own suspicion is that black clothes don't need to be washed as much.
With that it depends on what you get on them. Some things show up more than others do. I've always liked the contrast between blacks and whites in my clothing. Not to mention a nice deep red. But then this isn't the fashion show so I won't bore you with my clothing obsession. Dessert my dear?
Yeah, go on. More wine? Tell me some more about the DJ stuff you do. Mmmmmmm. Tiramisu.
I'll get another bottle in now; I'm never one to turn down a nice red. Consider the Tiramisu on the way. As far as the DJing goes, it came about as a friend volunteered me for a tryout in Clwb Ifor Bach. I did the it and was offered the job. I've worked my way up the Welsh Club's ladder and put on nights in many other clubs as well. One of my favourites was in a club called The Roxy, where we put on a night called The Saturday Apocalypse. I think you can hear a reference to in ‘At the arse-end of the rainbow', although you never can be sure with Al, as his lyrics are often very personal and he has a knack of making them very cryptic at times.
Nah, he just writes the first thing that comes into his head. You've got a bit of a "posse" as well I heard.
The "posse" is something I'm really not sure about at the moment. I have my following, mostly due to the people in Grimsoc , who are Cardiff University 's Rock Society. I maintain their website for and generally drag them out for missions of corruption, though they deny full knowledge of the graffiti which has sprung up around the Cardiff area. It mostly just reads things like "XXX Rated Crew, Cardiff ", but to tell you the truth I have no idea who they actually are. It began outside Metros, a club I DJ at, and has slowly spread to Roath, Rhiwbina and Splott. Very confusing
What's been the worst thing about being in Nameless so far?
There isn't a "worst" bit, to tell you the truth, as no-matter what's going on, good or bad, it has to be said Nameless will always leave you thinking, which is the important bit as I see it.
Plus, if it wasn't for Nameless then I would never meet any of the attractive people I get to meet.
Ace. You finished? I'm stuffed.
Later dear, later. I'll pay the bill and shall we head on?
Okay. Where are we going?
Just a bar I'm a fan of. The barstaff are very good with cocktails, so if you name the kind of drink you like, they can match it almost perfectly.
Sound of a street at night. Urine. Vomit. Bullshit. Y'know.
I've.. Um... I don't really recognise this. Wow! I never realised there was anything down here!
Muffled music that grows suddenly louder. An opening door I'd guess.
I like this! So what's this place do again?
I'll demonstrate, what kind of drink do you like?
Well. Black Russian. Ever had a Cheggers?
I dread to ask...
My good friend, the Moose, and me came up with it. She got a cocktail shaker for Xmas one year, and we bought loads of different types of spirits and a bottle of coke. Basically, a Cheggers is creme de menthe and whatever's left over. It's bright green and tastes like mouthwash but it gets you very, very drunk. And gives you green sick. I can't tell you why it's got the name because the tape's still on and we'd get sued. That was the weekend we made the Malibu Milk as well. That's ace, but it destroys your brain and makes your sick bright white.
Sounds like a good night was had by all. Well, as I see it there are two routes you could go down. There's Black Russian, and base your drinks around coffee spirits, or, if you would like a similar experience to your Cheggers, there are a few that would do the same to you in here. There is, of course, the in-between of the two, which is called Death Before Stalingrad which is one of their specialties and has a coffee taste to it.
The Death Before Stalingrad ? How's that work?
It's similar to the Black Russian, except served hot. Instead of making standard coffee with water you replace it with spirits. They're surprisingly good regardless of how they sound. The Honeymooner's Java is also very good and mixes kahlua, rum and coffee
Oh! I love kahlua! I'll have one of those please. The Reverend's favourite drink is Flaming Sambucca, but it sets his nostrils on fire!
Not a problem.
Where shall we sit?
Take your pick. Over by the fountain always has a nice atmosphere.
Okay. Ooo! A bridge! Bloody hell! Are those fish?
Indeed they are.
That's really cool. This is lovely, I can't believe I've never been here before.
It took me a while to discover myself. You've drunk that quickly, not that I can blame you with the quality of the cocktails in here. Another? Then we can get on with the questions if you like.
Wow. So many...
And all so rude... What's that one you were talking about before? The Strawberry Switchblade ?
I don't remember bringing that one up. I suggested Death Before Stalingrad, but that's quite the brain-melter.
What's that one you've got?
This is called a Rainbow Drop - Absinthe, Champagne and strawberry sugar-syrup. It's certainly my favourite. Care to sample?
I'd better not. I'll have a "Lenin's Lament" then. Or whatever it's called.
Thanks. Oh, weird. It is hot isn't it? I'll let it cool a bit.
Not a problem my dear. Now, any more questions for Propaganda , or can we put professional aspects out of the way?
Well, yeah. Do you mind if I ask you stuff about you? Quid pro quo if you like, Clarice.
Tasteful way to ask. You're more than welcome to take a bite out of me with your questions.
What were you up to musically before Nameless ?
Prior to Nameless I played in one or two bands, the only one of any real worth being a band called Infection who used to tour back in my original homestead area. We played some quite high-profile shows, though at the time the drive was there, but the talent wasn't. The rest of my musical history is something I think it best to keep quiet about until someone notices. I'll leave it at that.
Fair enough. This is really nice. Different. You said you don't read much, but you've got loads of films and music and stuff. Well, you would have loads of music, you're a DJ. Films?
I like the odd film. Generally I enjoy a good explosion packed blockbuster. The less brain power the better, as films should be used for escapism I feel, to save you having to deal with stupid people all the time. Though I'm not adverse to the odd well thought out thriller. And I really have to like horror due to my utter dedication to the “g-word"
Aaargh! I've got a good one! What will you have to be doing to know that you've made it? With Nameless . What would - where would you need to be?
I think that as a band we'll realise we've made it the second the album comes into existence. I'm pretty sure we're all proud of what we're doing. On a personal level, I think I'll know we've made it when we're playing in front of a hundred thousand people, headlining somewhere like Glastonbury or Rock In Rio, but then that could just be the eighties classic rocker in me coming out again.
I don't think there's much danger of you "coming out". Rock In Rio though. That'd be good. Or Glastonbury . Actually... m'a bit pissed...
Fair enough my dear, I shall order a taxi and we'll get you home to be-
Tape runs out.
BJ (Original version published in Propaganda 7.)
06 - Eating people is wrong.
What's your favourite drink?
Dems: Guinness. Although I do enjoy a nice, cheap, red wine, and I'm very partial to certain brand of Bourbon that the French and Rated also enjoy. Couldn't tell you my favourite hot beverage, depends on my mood.
Any priors I should know about?
What are you reading at the moment?
Terry Pratchet 's 'Pyramids', '24 Frames and Under' by Russell Lack and 'The Fractal Geometry Of Nature' by Benoit B. Mandelbrot . The first I'm reading 'cos I like Pratchet's mix of abstract humour and thinking and his boyish sense of comedy, the second is related to the Creative Music Technology degree I'm working for. It's a book about the history and thinking behind film sound tracks, starts slow but really lifts when the murders get going. And the third is an attempt at research into Fractals, the study of the concepts and maths behind the geometric asymmetry throughout nature. I'm preparing for a presentation for college on Fractal Music, a branch of music that I can date back to only five or so years ago, the maths behind it's been around for a good while longer though, since about the mid-seventies. I only started thinking about Fractal music because of this presentation I'm supposed to be giving, but it's got my really interested for my own music, it's very new and uncharted and ties in with my general, awe-filled interest in the universe. Which is nice. Can't really see me adopting it for my offerings in Nameless though. Too much thinking and not enough passion.
Where were you born?
Shrewsbury in Shropshire , I was only born there as my mum was over 35 when she had me, she had to go to a major hospital for the birth and we were living in a caravan in the Welsh hills at the time. My dad was building a house for the first couple of years of my life so my mum, dad, brother and I were living in a caravan and getting water from a stream, no electricity I think, it was definitely back to basics for mum, dad and Paul (my brother), I guess it didn't really bother me having known no different and not being old enough to really notice anyway. Don't really remember much from that time except that I got Cuprinol... I can use brand names can't I?
OK. Anyway, yeah, I got Cuprinol wood stain in my eyes when I was two. Oh, yeah, and I fell out of my pram and tore some finger nails out around the same time. That was pretty shit. But it must have been a healthy start in life, all that fresh air and stream water, although it could have something to do with the chronic bowel condition I've always suffered with.
What don't you like?
Cuprinol wood stain, makes me shiver when I walk past a stained wooden fence.
“ Contains mild peril sounds more polished than previous Nameless releases.” Discuss
Matter of opinion. I think it sounds most like us, as in us live than any of the other recordings to date. It could sound more polished I think, given more time for the mixing, but we had a fairly tight time limit to work with and did the best we could. Not that I'm displeased with the sound, it does sound fairly raw but in a nice way, not like a lion. If it sounds like any animal it sounds like something angry and sharp with pointy killing parts. I can't wait to hear it mastered. Ed 's a star and gave us free reign in the studio throughout the entire process. It was the first time I'd been let at the desk in a proper studio, ‘twas great fun, but if it wasn't for Ed, The French and the rest of the guys I would've been far more intimidated by it. It wasn't our money that got us in there so we needed to do a good job for James as well as ourselves and if was just up to me to get the results I think I would have curled up into a tight ball and just gurgled when it came to the mixing.
Is there anything different about the way you recorded Contains mild peril ?
Not technically really, but the very relaxed atmosphere in Giant Wafer must have had an influence on the process. I suppose the fact that we had 24 tracks to play with allowed us to indulge a bit more in the tracking stage, adding more guitars and extra synth parts and shit. But the actual recording process was fairly textbook. I decided to use an ambience mic on the kit, for the first time, which was mixed in with the rest of the close-mic'd kit. That helped give the sound its live edge, for one thing. Also, to get that here-and-now live feel, Ed recorded the French, the Rev and me playing together as the basis of the tracking, so we could react off of each other. That definitely helped push the feel of the thing in the direction we wanted, or at least what me and the French wanted!
So really, yeah there's loads that different about this one actually. It was a really good experience and great fun, I wish it was our lives, playing and recording and touring and all that caper. Although I think I'd probably develop a deep and meaningful relationship with straight Southern Comfort if given the chance, missed that one on the drinks list...
Are Nameless a live or studio band?
What's been your favourite Nameless moment so far?
The time I look back on the fondest would have to be the first two gigs we did in Newtown . I've a love/hate relationship with that place. It can be depressing and shit at times, but then when the night's right it can be an amazing place, the atmosphere can be so warm and close. Could be something to do with the inbreeding, I don't know the science behind it, but it can really go off. When I think back to the Hamsters of Rock night I smile, the sight of the Rev and the Being, howling drunk trying to play as we were perched at the top of a riser modelled on a sky scraper, was a bit surreal that one, but yeah, ace fun.
Oh yeah, the Newcastle gig was piss funny as well, again, booze-fuelled mayhem and a bass player using wall to defy gravity as it tried to topple him.
I hate shit gigs, with passions reserved for Nemeses, not that a have any Nemeses as yet, the Being said he'd get me one for my Birthday though, bless him. I really don't like seeing the others brought down by something like poor monitoring. I mean if you can't hear yourself (I don't personally have that problem) and the rest of the others then it doesn't make it pleasant experience. A poor turn out is not such a bad thing if the people the do turn up have a good time but technical hitches can really piss us off, it makes it no fun to play and if it's no fun what's the point?
So then, what's next for the boys?
I don't know, porn maybe. We're blessed with some good looking members, maybe we can scrape together a romp-vid off the back of the release of Contains mild peril . Arse talking aside, I'd like to see more of a spread of gigs, geographically, and proper distribution for Contains mild peril would be nice along with loads of press coverage, get what we've got to those that will like it type thing. Not Quantum physics really, just a fair crack of the whip. I think The French and Al deserve it, they've been going at this thing since they were born I think
BJ (Originally published in Propaganda 8.)
07 - GTFM.
Original 2003 Rant:
James and I had already been up to check the area out with the boys from Nuke , and a distinctly on-form Glyn a while back. Jay Marshall was there as well and the beer was cheap, so we'd had a fun time. GTFM doesn't broadcast over a huge area, but as it streams over the net and we had gigs and the like to promote, we knew it would be a good evening out. TPrice listened in and recorded it for us. He's a lovely fellow.
This time only half of us were available, The French, The Reverend and myself. This meant that even with James and Emma popping along to slap us if we started to swear there was still enough room for us to arrive in a single car, and therefore to drink copiously before taking to the air.
We blagged our way past the bouncer into the Student Union bar, hearts filled with quips, bellies crying for lager. The first person we met, after we skipped down the stairs and pushed open the doors, was of course Dan from Panel . Nursing a pint and watching own goals on the telly he looked even more surprised to see us than we were to see him. Panel have just finished recording some new songs in Swansea with Joe Gibb , who if memory serves did a lot of work on The Mission's ill advised foray into “tragic dance” in the early 90's. They've got a new website and we're playing with them in MS1 along with Mclusky , and they're still very beautiful.
We had half an hour so we drank more than we should, faster than we should, came up with game-plans and dragged ourselves through the icy air and wind to the studio. I think it's under the library. Well, either that or a very big study. A lot of tonight was spent underground, which is interesting in its own way. Most of the doors on the campus are automatic, but open outwards, which makes it feel like they employ spectral doormen.
We met the staff, who were very pleasant indeed and even had CDs lurking already. We chatted and decided which tracks would be played. The Read More Books prologue still confuses people as to exactly how many songs there are on the shiny disc. Consequently we ended up listening to ‘Drinking hell dry' rather than ‘Propaganda'.
But that was later.
We were ushered into a tiny room, with a table and a monitor on it. Three sets of headphones dangled, blasting out ‘Children', and three boom mikes pointed suggestively. The Reverend managed to sit as far away as possible again, but I think that they were wise to this and turned him up during the soundcheck. Of course this meant that when he actually leaned in closer his voice filled my soul, but I should be used to that by now.
So far so good so now things start to go wrong.
We hadn't at this point met the person who was interviewing us, and couldn't actually see anyone. It's been a while since I last heard voices, and my doctor did recommend that when I did I shouldn't reply to them.
“It'll only encourage them.” he said, “But, to be honest I'm more concerned about these marks on your chest. If it was your back I'd understand.” Sexual proclivity aside, everyone else seemed to be hearing the instructions so I decided to play along.
I don't think it was intentional, but they didn't entirely know what to expect from us. The fact that we were suffering from the highly contagious, and medically recognised syndrome of Mad Giggles probably added to everything. I felt they hated us. I reckon now that I was wrong. They were, as said, very lovely. But that doubt was there.
There was then a lot of lunacy, maneuvers, giggling, the Queen song titles, more giggling, and some very desperate bluffing. For example, and I can't remember why I was asking them questions, I'll let you know when I've read the transcript, there's this nugget from memory:
Al: What's the average annual rainfall of the Amazon Basin ?
Voice of God: I've no idea.
Al: Fourteen inches.
Voice of God: Wow. Really? I'm impressed you know that.
Al: I don't. I made it up.
There was something else about bullfighting, Victorian inventions, the perils of band longevity and so on. We found our feet as we went on, and it was amusing.
Then some of us went to the Welsh Club and got drunker.