WTF93 93/93 – The Beast Must DIE! Legacy Edition
WTF021 - How others see me.
After this gig, John Sicolo made a point of tracking me down and saying it was “fucking excellent”. There you go. We were always a lot more popular in Newport than Cardiff .
ORIGINAL TJ's RANTS
7 FEBRUARY 2002
It took us six years to actually get to play here, but I think we gave them a memorable, if flawed, show.
Jonny Janiero had run himself so hard promoting this gig I felt really bad that there was such a low attendance. It wasn't their fault at all, but I've heard since that it was an above average turnout for a Thursday, so they shouldn't let it get to them. We're used to playing in front of nobody, but because we're not as bright as we let on (we have to write the quotes in code on each other) we don't treat it as a rehearsal as a professional band should, but we let go. Inevitably you use more energy than you would at a busy gig because you've got to make up for the audience and you run the risk of terrifying the audience who are there. You'd think we'd learn.
I suppose that there must have been ill portents for this gig, crows flying backwards, babies being left on doorsteps, stuff like that, but I didn't notice any. Oh, hang on.
Anyway, we were told to be there by 1830 by yer main man Matt “Goth” Blythe , Janiero 's manager and very tall journalist. I arrived in Newport Town Center (should be “ City Center ” but they were robbed in that New City For Every Reader scam) about two hours early. This was careless.
After picking up something to read from Smiths ( Dodgy Dave's Little Black Book by Dave Courtney , Sprout Mask Replica by Robert Rankin , Kerrang and Private Eye in case you're interested. I did have The Miserly Middle Ages by Terry Deary as well, but I'd read most of that) I repaired to O'Neills as it was raining, windy and cold.
Settling down with a pint and staring out of the window for a couple of hours seemed to be a just fine way of passing the time. Like I said, “careless”.
I was refreshed when I arrived, nervous and twitchy as well. We wanted to be good tonight. We've had the press and radio play and exposure since the last gig in the Barfly, so people will already be making their minds up. I refer the reader to Think!
I met Jonny not long after I arrived. He's taller than me, and can't spike his hair, but he's a really nice guy. I don't care what you think, that's the way it is. We chatted for a while.
Big Sound were doing the sound again, haven't seen them since the Sammo Hung debacle back in Sam's Bar last year, and I'll state here that it sounded great out front and my monitor mix was brilliant.
Right then, Serotonin had pulled out for reasons that I haven't heard and Teriyaki filled in. They're in the same territory as Mogwai I'd say. Big building soundscapes, flushing out feedback and big cymbal noises. Very good. They should've moved around a bit more as they seemed very distanced by what they were doing, but then people get into performing in different ways so I shouldn't complain. I say again, “very good”.
And then there was us. The people I'd asked had arrived and I'd been chatting with them and supping, in an exaggerated fashion, from multiple cans of Stella. Still refreshed, but the precipice in full view now. On we bounce, we make the right noises, we offend, we leave. Hardly Julius Caesar , but concise.
I fell over a lot, The Reverend forgot his lines, Rated was flashed and The French and Dems were fine. I fucked up a rant (more of which later), but Commercial Love Song had a fun and chunky homo-erotic feel (the sort of thing you'll be seeing in our secret identity as covers band Glammstein ) with scenes of masturbation and full on M and M and M, not to mention the “double-snowball” that so amused Jon Losing Sun .
I was approached by a bloke in the toilets afterwards, not the first time, who had gobbets of wisdom to bestow upon me. To whit, “Your band's ace, I'm down here to check out the competition, I'm 26, you need to get rid of that queer shit.”
“You need to get rid of that queer shit. It's disgusting.”
Something fresh and new and exciting happened to me then. A voice started to talk to me. Calm down kids, I'm not going mad, I was thinking. Anyway, this voice said: “Bridgend! Remember Bridgend? You're pissed and you're going to say something and whilst that's commendable, it's probably going to hurt.”
Aha , I thought. In a different voice of course. “ Self-preservation”. I've heard of this.
If I'd known Pi was keeping an eye on me I wouldn't have worried. And in case I sound like I go out looking for fights, I'd like to say that I don't. I'm not into that.
I'm aware that what we do is provocative in a lot of ways, and that what happens on stage can give a conflicting message. We aren't us when we perform. That's why we're so good! I don't subscribe to the notion that performers get possessed, because it's a bit silly. Hmmm...
So I walked Mr Homophobe back into the club, told him the only thing “disgusting” tonight was his fucked Nazi opinions and walked away. I wouldn't normally do this, I'd make my excuses and leave. But if you're going to do the things we do you'll get opinions, and you have to listen to what people say. I will, and if you've got a pertinent point I'll agree or try and explain why we don't do that. If you talk bigoted shit I'll mention it. There are ways to behave in public, and though I break some of those I do it when I'm performing.
Janiero were a revelation. Even though they were beset by problems they pulled off a startling, sexy and thoroughly enjoyable set. I was tired and emotional at this point. I'd been introduced to John , the Legend of TJ's himself, and he asked us to sign a CD for him. He'd missed the set, but said he'd been told (by either the very nice barman , or the friendly door-guy ) that it was “fantastic”.
I think we were probably better than we thought we were, but something definitely went wrong. And something went right.
I really started to go off on one there, and a lot of it is stuff that doesn't need to be said in a gig review. I've been thinking about this for years, and a lot of it goes into what we do. So I'm going to give you some thoughts to play with. This is mega self-indulgent, so feel free to skip away now.
You should be able to do anything on stage. As long as it doesn't injure or cause death and suffering to others.
You should be able to say anything on stage. Ditto.
The stage is a kind of speaker's platform. A “sanctuary”, for want of a better word, and I won't use a thesaurus so you're stuck with it. Even criminals used to be able to hide in churches, so there should still be some places that aren't subject to the same laws as everywhere else. And not just places with a 3am licence. That said, if you leave the stage you're breaking the new rules and whatever happens to you is your own look-out.
There y'go. Briefer than I expected, but it'll do.
16 MARCH 2002
ALZHEIMER'S AWARENESS GIG
THE VALLEY OF FEAR
The water is calm. Nocturnal insects flit low over the surface. They leave tiny ripples that break the moon into shuddering scythes of white oil. Screams and whistles carry from miles away, slipping along the friction free lake. Suddenly the water erupts.
The broiling upheaval is so intense it can take days for the lake to settle.
The spring moon does strange things to the Tawny Crab.
STOWAWAYS TO MARS
“Be there before 1200.”
That's what we were told, so that's what we did for this charity ten-band all-ages all-dayer in Britain 's newest city. And yes I know that means the gag I made the last time we played here doesn't work anymore, so I'm sorry about that.
The PA was confused and didn't turn up ‘til quite some time later. Big Sound again, lovely lovely guys.
We'd already decided that there was a lot of fun to be had today. In the end we were the only band to soundcheck, as there wasn't enough time and the whole thing had to be finished before 1900. Then the next bands were due in.
Busy day for John and the boys really, I don't envy them. As always the guys in TJ's were fantastic.
We soundchecked with History Today , Chris Chris Of The 70's and a truncated version of The Salt Flats . People danced. That's a first for a soundcheck.
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN TOWN
Special mention to the opening band, who may have been either Mechanical Fish or Wigham , for having the most fun on stage (and with cum-squirting dildos as well) ever.
Rejected were very entertaining. Green almost-dreads, Columbine trench coats and more than one GWAR album in their possession. Keep your eye peeled and in a jar in your pocket, they're worth a look.
We had to dash back to Cardiff to pick up some performance enhancers, and so missed the next couple of bands. Hitler's Lost Daughter were excellent, but we only caught the violent finale of their set. Again, keep your eyes open.
Newport seems to be a bit more musically interesting than Cardiff to me at the moment I have to admit. There's excellent bands in both cities, but I'm more prone to the sort of clattering noise that's coming from the east myself.
Shout, scratch, swear, fall over, scream.
Never wear boxers at a gig again...
There'd been a metal barrier added to the front of the stage, which was just fine. Like having a jungle gym to fool around with. Ace for Continental Rock Posing and showing off the balancing skills I learned during my time in Clevedon.
Dems was on fire tonight. Really.
And a big “hello!” to the innocent young lady I grabbed for a waltz . She was a great sport, even though I was screaming my guts out at the people behind her and then saying things like “Don't worry, I won't make you look like a twat.” We need more of that. And less of this crescent moon thing you've got going on. As I said, you're not going to meet boys doing that.
The French , Dems and myself danced through the whole of Janiero 's fine set with members of their extended family and had a wonderful time. They get better every gig. Which of course you either already know, or are about to find out.
16 APRIL 2002
JANIERO/NAMELESS/CHANG/DEATH (OF) COOL
Tonight was Janiero 's, without a doubt. As it was a launch night they had a lot to gain and a lot to lose, and I think they crossed the line first. Programs, goody bags, coupons and the posters. There were at least three different designs. And they were all brilliant. And with arses licked, let's plow on.
We'd finished the single the day before and were in pretty good moods. These gigs get to be like reunions. We keep seeing the same people so often it's like an extended group of mates having a slightly different night out. It's fun this. And no other clique seems to want to us, so we're making our own.
death (of) cool weren't what I was expecting. I can't pinpoint the type of music they make, but it works very well. They've had a lot of press recently, and it looks as though they're headed for great things. I think this was their third gig, but they carried it off well. A lot of the crowd were there for them as well, and they got some ace write-ups on the TJ's messageboards. Also they had a shopping trolley.
Chang weren't what I was expecting either. I listened to the CD I managed to blag from them earlier and I managed to work out what was bugging me about them. They're very similar to us in a lot of ways, but completely different in others. We both have a frontman who, whether he likes it or not, becomes a main focus of the show. We're both extreme. We're both very physical bands with lots of energy. And this one: we're both coming from the same point somewhere. That's the one that got me. Where? Or more accurately, who?
The Birthday Party . Circa Junkyard . Well, that's what I reckon. We started in the same sort of place and we've branched off in very different directions. They're absolutely incredible. Go and see them.
I thought we were good. Tight, but not as tight as usual. Dems had to return to his Rehydration Tank at one point, The Reverend smote me mightily with his bass, Teflon went mental, Rated and The French had it off. I ended up hanging from the ceiling at one point according to the video.
Janiero were very good. They covered Madonna , played Music Makes Me Feel Dead so Big J and I could have a private dance, gave EPs away and dressed up in Chem Suits and balaclavas.
Oh, and Gaz from Rocket Goldstar has offered us a support on the condition I only wear the kilt and nothing else. Naturally I've accepted.
There y'go. It's in print now, so one of us is fucked.
25 MAY 2002
I'm writing this, and the next rant, with the benefit of extra hindsight. This just means that I've left it far too long between the gig and the rant. What follows is therefore about as reliable as The Diary of Jack the Ripper . Similar, in that both contain real people, a bit different in that this isn't entirely a work of fiction. Easy target stabbed, let's shuffle further on and ignore its noises. Nonchalantly, if you reckon you can manage it.
It rained a lot. I've even checked metereological records to confirm it*. We'd been asked by Ciccone , through the medium of Sam the Promoter , if we could bring along full backline as they couldn't. That's what we were told. “Just the facts, Man. ”
Ciccone turn up, with a backline, and soundcheck. They're really nice guys and gal, and the song they soundchecked with reminded me a lot of early Nameless . Sequencers, drums, art punk guitars all click, but we weren't likely to get played on the radio whereas these guys will.
We soundcheck with the new one, Children . If you haven't heard it yet then I won't spoil the surprise. It goes well, but I resolve to write the lyrics on my arm.
In the end I don't. As it transpires it wouldn't have made a difference anyway.
Off to the Riverside for a pint we go as Chris McDonagh is already there.
Alcohol and ribald humour aside for the moment, this was a weird night. Amid talking with Chris about the next session, getting the first rough cut of The Salt Flats video from Big J and all sorts of other things that can wait until we know each other better, it all came clear. A bit like those Magic Eye pictures.
It's finally beginning to pull together.
The Sugarhouse and ourselves are at disparate musical poles. That's not to say anything nasty about them, they were as honest with me: “Not my cup of tea, but you're good at what you do.” Which I liked. Mostly because if people don't like us they usually want to maim us. The contempt and need to cause harm are in roughly equal measure too.
Apart from the disasters, of which more soon, this was the tightest we've ever played. We weren't as tight at Ebbw Vale, a week later. We were good, as I'm sure you'll read (I mean, if you've got this far...), but we weren't as tight.
The lovely Soundchap played The Salt Flats for us before we went on.
“Sounds alright.” said Chris .
Propaganda goes very well indeed. We've been talking about opening with it amongst ourselves for a while, and then chickening out.
Next up is Children . I'd gone over the words for the whole week, we'd only rehearsed the damn thing once since writing it and I just couldn't remember them. To my amuse and amazement I get them right. “Aha!” I think. “I'm bloody great! I'll close my eyes and swing my head around a bit.”
The next thing I know I'm on my knees on the edge of the stage, trying not to puke up all that nourishing lager. “Fuck.” I think. “Fuck. Am I supposed to be singing?”
Rated kicks me to say “Sorry.”
Then I notice there's a pool of blood forming on the floor about a foot below me. And even better than that, the drops are plopping in time with the snare. I try writing my name, before deciding that maybe I should get a drink of water and a plaster or something, and stumble off the stage.
I wobble past the Ciccone guitarist . We nod hello. I have a quick drink of water, take off my shirt, and pour the rest over my head. This doesn't stop the bleeding, so I wipe an Adam Ant bloodstreak across my face, chuckle, and set off back to the stage. The Ciccone guitarist does a double take and asks me if I'm okay.
“Yeah. It's fucking hot up there mind.”
I don't think this sets his mind to rest.
And, indeed TWANG!
Iin that simple sound a whole bass guitar is fucked. Right at the start of Too Much . I, of course, fail to notice The Reverend silently screaming his lungs out and strangling his bass in Righteous Fury and so am caught on the hop a little when introducing the next number.
“Play Eating People Is Wrong !” A voice from the infinite darkness and cement. Fuck me! A request.
I'm a bit bloody by now, but have discovered what happened in regard to my head wound. Turns out I was the unwitting Element X in a science experiment that Rated had wanted to try for years.** “Two objects can't occupy a single space at a single time, eh? I'll show ‘em.”
We ask Ciccone , over the mike (and in the form of a dirty limerick I seem to recall) if we can borrow their bass. Wot is on the stage. The Ciccone guitarist comes forward.
“You'll have to ask our basssist. It's his bass and you'll have to ask him.”
“Where is he?”
Time's a'wasting. The Reverend 's stare is melting stuff. He knows what we all know, but daren't mutter. He's going to have to blag like a demon.
Scream, bleed, wrench, tear, sob, moan, yowp and exaunt.
* This might be a lie.
** This certainly is.
31 JULY 2002
NAMELESS/JANIERO/STUNTFACE/PANEL/HITLER'S LOST DAUGHTER
Well. That wasn't what we were expecting at all.
Everything ran an hour late for some strange reason. Everyone was wired, but by the time we were on even the other bands had left. About thirty people saw us.
Despite the promotion in the press, apathy continues to rule. People keep telling me there's a “buzz like you wouldn't believe” around us at the moment, whatever that means. Maybe we've got a loose connection somewhere. The last time I was in TJ's a load of people I'd never met before kept coming up and introducing themselves, people keep asking Rated if he's heard of Nameless ; Petrified are getting hassled by DJs from other countries and Big Name Record Companies . But still...
Where are the kids?
The students have all gone home, I remember that the summer has always been a nightmare for getting audiences, and if there's only one or two posters up then your audience may well not know that you're playing. Not everyone has access to the Internet. I think that when we get a major support that'll help a lot, and word is definitely getting around, so the waiting game continues. Some of the guys were very down after tonight, and I can't blame them really. We still give everything (Rants passim) if it's an empty room, we always have done and we always will.
And if it was easy then everyone would do it.
We've had a very good review in Honk , the Welsh Music Foundation 's trade mag, so The Salt Flats is doing some sterling work already. The ball's rolling, but it's on a shallow slope at the moment, and I really do believe that it's going to begin to pick up speed soon.
It was great to see Skeks , GRhys and the TJ's guys again. And I finally got to meet Glyn Mills who's organised this series of Haiti Fund gigs. He's a lovely, quiet guy and he gave me a book. The Haiti Fund (should be getting a Fair Trade endorsement soon) promotes literacy and educational development in Haiti (rather than Rhyl you understand). It's an excellent cause, and literacy is something very close to my heart as you might have guessed. They've produced a 16 track CD for Sunday with unreleased or rare tracks from, among others, SAL , Christopher Rees , Rocket Goldstar , Levin , Riff and ourselves.
HLD have got bigger than I remember them being. They're now an enthused ska-attack octet and very approachable young things. Vigour and vim and a be-hatted nutter never hurt.
Panel are amazing. They're tight and clever and insist we played with them in Sam's Bar a while back. I'm sure I remember it, I think it was the gig with Sammo Hung when Teflon first saw us live. Those days are a bit of a blur and I can't find their name on any of the stolen posters from the time, but the more I think about it the clearer it gets. Whether or not it happened is another matter. They say so and that's good enough for me. Keep an eye out for them.
Stuntface came down from Wrexham and were classic punk. It was great to chat to them about the old Nameless stomping grounds, the Watershed, Baldrics and so on. Half of them have got terrifying hair. Dems bought a CD.
Janiero have changed their style a bit since last we talked and are doing a Radio Wales session. The songs have grown, but the attitude and shirts are the same. They're going to be alright. And the bass pixie may well be the sexiest man in rock right now.
We did what we do. I fell off the stage by accident, Rated 's guitars both fucked up, and Eating People Is Wrong sounded like a burning bed at 0300 looks.
I think the people who were there enjoyed it, and a few of them should be there for Sunday's acoustic gig. Just to see how the hell we're going to do it.
Dems , The Rev and myself stayed up until 0500 drinking Jack Daniels .