Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Karamazov Brothers Reimagined As Circus Stereotypes - Part Four

‘I got into music because of a girl. She dumped me and I moped around. They’re all impossible really, and they all say they want one thing when they want something completely opposite, or maybe they’re just testing you. Fuck knows. I sat around with some mates, smoking, and they gave me a hard time because I didn’t see much of them when I was going out with her, so it was “Now you’ve got time for us you prick” which was fair I suppose. But it gets you down spending your days indoors with the curtains drawn just spliffing, and money was low, so I got a job in a record shop and the pay was fucking awful, like two quid an hour but it was good to get away from my stoner mates for a few hours every day and have that music all the time. The guy who ran the shop, he didn’t own it and to be honest I think he had his fingers in the till, nothing stupid, just the odd tenner here and there, he was into all that old school shit, which I thought was embarrassing at first, but then of course you’ve got to factor in the drugs. A lot of those fat soul boys were taking a lot of speed because it was cheap, principally, and because they were fat, I dunno (laughs).
We drove up to Caister after we closed the shop on a Friday, and I’d got some E. My mate Chris, he was also fat and a junglist, but he used to get his stuff down in Plymouth and he reckoned it came straight off the boats from Russia. Or submarines, as if they’d surface in the English Channel and there’d be these mad Plymouth blokes, like frogmen, who’d do the deal on the hull, swap ‘em E’s for Levis or something. It was quite mad. My girlfriend, Chris would always say to her “You’re mine, you are. When you dump him, you’re mine” in this ridiculous yokel accent. He always had spit on his chin but he did take a shitload of drugs. He’s clean now, I heard, he works as a children’s counsellor or something ridiculous. Anyway, she did dump me, he was right about that. “Told yer Pav,” he said. “She’s mine now.” So we dropped the first lot in the car on the way up there driving up the A12. It was all over. We were fucked. Of course with the E it’s impossible to resist the big beat. When you’re near the speakers it feels like someone’s squeezing your heart, but it feels good. Anyway I’m dancing and sweating and it’s fucking packed and I look at the DJ and he’s just surveying the scene, laughing, and I think, “I could do that. How hard can it be?” I had no decks, no records, but right then I thought, “I’m gonna be a DJ. I’m gonna make these fat fuckers dance.” So I started dealing, smalltime really, just fulfilling a need, supplying a demand. And this is where I was smart I think, I didn’t consume the profits, or spend it on birds in tight jeans with long necks and bangles and all that. The temptation was there because the money was there. I was never interested in promotion. I’d get the E and sell it to the bouncers. Much less hassle. Then I’d go and do a three hour set for free. And I was good. I don’t know if it’s something you can learn, but I was good from the start. I was spending more on old records than new ones. There is so much music and everyone else was playing tiny percentages of it. I never saw it as a niche market, I wanted to include everyone, now you run the risk of turning some people off, but, you know, fuck them, basically. If their minds are so small that they can’t listen to new ideas, well, old ideas really, then fuck them. That was the attitude I brought. I wasn’t sucking up to the crowd, I was challenging them, seeking to educate them.’

‘I don’t know who my Dad was and I never really gave a thought to it. People back home remember my Mum. They all knew what she did for a living, but no-one tried to help her. It wasn’t as if the priest or the council were knocking on the door saying “Lizzie, we’re here to save your soul and get you off the game.” She wouldn’t have listened anyway. She never listened to me. She was kind though. She looked after me when she could. She’d put me to bed then go out to work, what else was she going to do? I got through school alright because of her, got my GCSEs. I was going off to college maybe, after that. There was a hitch in the road. I got dumped. Life does that to you, though, to keep you sharp and alert. Well, it does that to some people. Life just ground my Mum down. She loved me, I know that. Everything she did was for me, so I can’t blame her, I can’t think badly of her. I think that her death made me more determined to succeed and to come through, if you like. I didn’t want to be someone who people talked about for the wrong reason. It’s funny kind of example to set, I suppose, but that’s what it was. Whenever I’ve felt myself sliding into bad behaviour, I’ve stopped myself, shaken things up, followed a different path. I feel fortunate that I was able to make her comfortable at the end. It’s a horrible way to die, your body just kind of packs up. I knew she was dying but I was in Rio. It’s crazy over there. You’d could play Mantovani and they’d go mad for it. I flew back as soon as I could but she’d died the night before. It was easier than I thought. A relief, really. The funeral was pretty quiet. She had no family left, it was just me and some ageing Toms she knew, a couple of old guys I didn’t recognise. Punters maybe. There was some stuff about it in the papers, but I didn’t read it. I’d lived it, and it wasn’t a lot of fun. You try and remember the happy times, like they tell you to, but to be honest it was a stretch. We had no money, never went on holiday, ate shit food. But I know she loved me. Can I nick a fag?’

‘I never did it for the fame. Just as well, really, it’s a pretty anonymous life. It’s not like I can’t walk down the street. Ninety-eight percent of the population don’t know who I am. Of the two percent that buy the records or come to the clubs most of them couldn’t pick me out of a line-up. That’s as it should be. Most of the time I’m just playing other people’s music. It’s different when you’re in the studio, obviously. There’s a creative element to that. But it’s still a bit like a kid playing with poster paints, trying to see which colours go together best. I read a review of the last EP I put out which said I had an unusual talent for juxtaposition. It’s not a word I’d use. Because I don’t know what it means. (Laughs). Joking. But that’s a pretty slender talent. It’s not going to help me in many other areas of life is it? Unless I take up, what’s it called? With the broken tiles. Crazy paving. Those geezers are just like DJs aren’t they. Making it up as they go along. Fucking charlatans, that’s what they are. I’m not a missionary or anything, but the most satisfying thing is after a set when a punter comes up to you and asks, “What the fuck was that?” And they start singing a tune you’ve played back to you. You see it in their eyes, that they’ve understood. That’s pretty rewarding. A lot of guys try to make it into something it isn’t. They paint themselves like they’re some weird puppet-master directing the whole thing, controlling the energy of the room. That’s all bollocks. Music can be transcendent, especially if you’re fucked (laughs) but at the end of the day you’re just playing records. It’s not that taxing. You hear these wankers moaning about their schedules and all the travelling when most people are daydreaming about a life like theirs. They say they want more recognition. For what? They’re not saving lives or helping the poor are they? There’s no Nobel Prize for Hard House. (Laughs). I think that the bloke doing a mobile disco at a wedding has a tougher time than we do, trying to get the grown-ups to dance without playing Madness or something from “Grease”. That’s a fucking riot, I’d love to do that. Play for five hours and get fifty quid and a couple of chicken drumsticks. Mental, but real, y’know. No foam, no girls in cages, maybe a couple of tearaways in cheap suits doing some spliff in the pub car park but that’s it. Play some proper tunes. “Billy, Don’t Be A Hero”, all that. Mad. Maybe that’s what I’ll do. Go into semi-retirement. Get the Transit out at weekends and tour the South-East. Lights, PA, everything. There’s no way I’m playing fucking Spandau Ballet though, fuck that. Does that make me a snob? So be it.’


Nancy said...

Somewhere Tony Hadley is weeping.

Anonymous said...

So true. Funny how it seems...