Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Rolo Tomassi Interview

Interview with small screamo kids Rolo Tomassi for Vice Magazine.

Rolo Tomassi

Small people playing in bands are cute. They hit you right in the ah shucks spot. “Look how big that guitar looks on his little body!”, “Hahaha, he can hardly see over his drum kit!”. That sort of thing. Stop and think about it. Prince, Kylie, Phil Collins, guy who plays bass in SSS: all cute, endearing, talented, tiny scamps who the world has taken to their collective music-loving hearts. Apart from guy who plays bass in SSS. I think that’s just me.

The thing is that all of those guys are just small people, adults who happened to be littler than other adults. The recent fetishising of bands simply because they are young had a pretty creepy side to it. We’re not saying the whole music press is made up by Chris Langham’s but you know, it is kind of weird that so many bands are being feted simply because they aren’t old enough to buy a packet of cigarettes. Have you actually listened to any of the music? A lot of it is pretty basic. And not basic in a Ramones we-only-play-three-chords kind of way. More like basic in a this-isn’t-very-good kind of way.

Rolo Tomassi strike the perfect balance between people who are small and look funny while they play music voyeurism and borderline obsession with kids who are young and can still somehow make coherent-ish songs. The fact that they make a unique and ridiculously accomplished mess of grindcore, screamo and post-hardcore while they are mostly still too young to legally drink and have been playing DIY shows for three years already makes them both pretty hilarious and pretty amazing. Oh, and that deaths-head banshee howl that’s coming out over the all the blastbeats and guitar tapping is coming out of a cute-as-a button 17 year old girls mouth. Wow.

VICE: So, how did a bunch of 14 year olds in the ass-end of Sheffield decide it would be a good idea to play something that sounds like Indian Summer raping Napalm Death?
James Spence (keyboards): There was actually a really healthy scene in our village. There were loads of kids who were into the same stuff as us, loads of shows in the village hall. I sort of miss not playing there every week actually.
Joe Nicholson (guitars): Everyone was into the same sort of thing. Just heavy stuff, some suspect bits but never as bad as Walls Of Jehrico or anything. Once we heard the Murder Of 7” we knew what we wanted to do.

You are almost all too young to even technically be in this bar. Have you ever had shit from promoters about playing?
Joseph Thorpe (bass): All the time. Even now.
Eva Spence (vocals): It is worse for me because I look really young. They always think I am one of their little sisters. Well, I guess I am but it’s pretty annoying.
Edward Dutton (drums): When we played with These Arms Are Snakes in Birmingham me and Joe were 18 so they let us in and we set up onstage while they did the bass, keys and vocals from outside. That was pretty fun.

How do you sing like that Eva? Do you just pretend that you really really don’t want to do your homework?
Eva: Not really. I just think about the words and sing It actually comes pretty naturally.

Rolo Tomassi are named after Guy Pearce’s alias in L.A. Confidential and have an EP available on Holy Roar Records next month.



News piece for Vice Magazine.


Ever been driving along the motorway bleary eyed, tired and hungover and pulled into services hoping to be magically lifted back to health and wellness by something to eat that tastes like it’s been shat out by the god of good food? Us to. The only problem is that nine times out of ten you will end up paying 7 pounds for a sausage roll that ends up making you feel like you have a limp, dead, battered mouse in your mouth. Spare a thought then for the drivers of Malawi where the roadside services consist of kids running along selling you actual limp, dead, battered mice. But on sticks. Yup, no Ginsters in Lilongwe just good old fashioned mice popcicles. Mmmm. We spoke to the photojournalist Abbie Trayler-Smith who was so into the drive by rodent-batons that she sent us millions of pictures of them in all of their furry, skewered glory.

Vice: So, what were you up to when you ran into this local delicacy?
Abbie Trayler-Smith: I was travelling to Blantyre in South Malawi from Lilongwe where I had been researching a piece on Malawian cuisine for the Observer Food Monthly. We were driving along and as soon as we pulled over the sticks holding ten mice apiece were shoved through the window.

I am guessing that the mice-kebabs didn’t make it into the Observer piece?
No. The smell was overwhelming. They were poached in mango juice and I felt pretty ill immediately. They are a speciality of the region though and the kids kept telling us “you must eat with fur on” over and over again.

So, the big question: how far down the pole did you get?
I couldn’t bring myself to sample the goods. I was travelling with Alex Renton who is a well respected international food critic. He’s eaten fried tarantula before in Asia and he lost his nerve as well so I didn’t feel so bad. I just purchased two bottles of water instead.

November Vice Record Reviews

November Vice Reviews

Underwater Dancehall

8 Although dubstep has rapidly morphed into ’03 clownstep drum&bass all is not totally lost. Here Pinch rolls out ten measured, glacial pieces of 130bpm perfectness. He’s even been kind enough to include a second disc of instrumentals in case all the yelling about burning down Babylon or whatever gets a bit much.

Planet Mu

4 The guys on the cover of this one look like that funny little Cyclops thing Ed Templeton used to draw all over old Toy Machine videos. Shame the stuff inside sounds like being trapped in Bristol at 7am regretting that last bump of ketamine.

The Warlocks
Heavy Deavy Skull Lover
Tee Pee

0 Have you read the title of this album? I don’t even care that it’s on Tee Pee. When did being a stoned BRMC rip off band become acceptable anyway? One of the guys from Klaxons once told me that it’s really just apple juice in the BRMC guys Jack Daniels bottles onstage.

Bobb Trimble
Iron Curtain Innocence
Secretly Canadian

10 Could this lost gem be any better? Nobody knows about it, on the cover you get the lost child of Arthur Lee and Tim Buckley smiling at you with an SG in one hand and a Tommy Gun in the other and on the back you get this: “Dear John, Paul, George and Ringo, if I am a good boy and work real hard, may I please be the 5th Beatle someday. Your friend, Bobb”.

Six Organs Of Admittance
Shelter From The Ash
Drag City

8 Ben Chasny has become the anti-Banhart. For every stupid, belly-dancing, boat-top photo call Devandra pulls Ben pops up like some free-folk Jack Bauer out of nowhere with another wonderful, dream-like trip through electro-acoustic niceness to make everything OK again and banish the urge to kill all hippies on sight. Thanks Ben!

Ordination Of The Globetrotting Conscripts

7 This is either the most joyous, good times, noise freakout since ‘Vision Creation Newsun’ or a big mess that sounds like Ornette Coleman leading the Magic Band while they play saxophones out of their asses like those Monty Python cartoon guys. Either way it is pretty good.

Moving Units
Hexes For Exes

2 The punk-funk party was dead on arrival in 2003. Now it’s so bad that even the jumpy up and down guy from !!! has quit. What chance do these guys have? They only had two songs on the last one and nothing whatsoever going on here. Better than Foals though I guess. Those guys look as though they could so with some Imodium.

Mooken & Keswickelmon
Ono Achew!

9 Mix CD’s are a tricky one. Unless you have a great concept like the Villalobos thing where all the tracks have never been heard on the planet anywhere before then for a mix to shine it has to consist of a pretty special selection that makes the whole a sum greater than its parts. Yawn. This one does just that though. I bet you a Chomp you’ll never see the Human League successfully shacked up with Terry Riley and Maurizio anywhere else ever again.

Oren Ambarchi
In The Pendulum’s Embrace

8 The only Australian to ever get into one of Sunn O)))’s cowls rumbles out three shimmering low-end drones that don’t go anywhere too fast. Which is sort of the whole point.

Electric Wizard
Witchcult Today
Rise Above

7 I went see Pagan Altar the other day. Electric Wizard aren’t quite the South London Sabbath but they are as close as we’ve got so it’s nice of them to release something every now and again just to remind everybody that they are still here.

Soul Jazz Records

5 The record collectors record label rounds up another year’s worth of 12” releases. If you are the sort of person interested in this kind of thing then you probably have them all already. If not you get ‘Conference’ by Digital Mystikz and you can now legitimately claim to own something by the guys who are on the back cover of the Wire every month. Which is handy if you end up at ATP with a bunch of strangers or something.

All Hour Cymbals
We Are Free

7 Something from Brooklyn that makes you happy. Like Gang Gang Dance or little old people saying “Fugheddaboudit”. But with more major key bits.

Shy Child
Drop The Phone
Wall of Sound

7 Guess what? Shy Child are still making fun party music that you can dance to and all the girls will love and the guys will secretly love too. Even if they won’t admit it and just go on about only being at the show because the guy used to be in El Guapo.

The Modern Tribe

5 Half of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and all of TVOTR go cross keys with ex members of Birdland and Lovelife. It basically sounds like all of those things played out under a dreamy 4AD gauze of shimmer. Which sounds very exciting. Except that they did it all already two years ago.

Mlle Carro & Franck Garcia
Always You EP
Buzzin Fly

7 While the woozy, melancholy original cut skips and meanders along pleasantly enough the secret winner hidden on this tidy 12” for Buzzin Fly is the Ewan Peason refix which dips the sadness in amber and crystalises sorrow in a minimal space capsule of joy.

November Vice Literary/DVD Reviews

November Literary

Eighty-Eight Shades Of Grey 14

The North of England is a depressing place. We know this because people keep telling us in pretty much every medium possible ever. Even though it is probably not intended this little zine from Chester fills you with a good old-fashioned dollop of dread. It’s kind of heart warming though in a fear-yourself-fitter way. Eighty-Eight Shades Of Grey consists of a bunch of pages tacked together in black and white photocopy. It’s so basic you kind of have to react. Seeing a torn image of Lemmy next to a playing card depicting a feral pigeon next to a list of different names for female genetalia might even make you question something. I’m not sure what. But something.

To get a copy mail these miserable guys: 12 Watertower View, Boughton, Chester CH23EA UK

Among The Living 2-3

Skateboarding in the UK is all about triumph over adversity. Shitty weather conditions, poorly maintained parks, spots getting nobbed, members of the public laughing at you for being in your 20’s and still riding around on a little piece of wood with wheels stuck to the bottom. The Among The Living Guys are here to celebrate the triumph and have a party and a road trip all at once. And then take photos and write scribbly words about it in a big boadsheet zine. Tonnes of original art, board graphics, moody shots of windswept bowls and even a guy with a massive ‘Real Life’ tattoo. We’re sold!


McSweeny’s 24

We know we have gone on about McSweeny’s a bunch before but it really is one of those amazing things that is so good that as soon as it turns up you want to go off and sob quietly in a corner because you know that secretly you will never be quite there no matter how hard you try. We wouldn’t bring it up again other than this one is so everything-else-eclipsingly amazing that they had to come up with a whole new method of book binding just to contain it, gave it a Rachell Sumpter illustrated cover and got a bunch of people like Ann Beatie and David Gettes to write original thoughts on Barthelme. Did They Might Be Giants ever write a song for your shitty zine? Nope. They did for McSweeny’s.


Vanessa Del Rio: Fifty Years Of Slightly Slutty Beahviour

Uh oh, it’s the Latina Foxy Brown who loves to put out on camera! If you want a book that’s covered in Leopard-skin print so kitschy it looks like the inside of one of those Soho stroke joints you could never quite bring yourself to walk into and you really can’t get enough of big, untamed 70’s bush shots, floppy tits and floppier penises then Taschen have really come up with goods here. Vanessa is a reminder of an innocent pre-AIDS age where fucking as many people as possible on camera was just seen as having a healthy appetite. Like wanting to eat steak and potatoes for dinner every night or catch the game on Saturday or whatever. She was so good at the ol’ give-an-receive that even Snoop Dog is moved to admit that: “she could really take one”.


R. Crumbs Sex Obsessions

If you are not familiar with Robert Crumb at this stage it might be time to re-figure things. Like your path in life and what you do on a daily basis. After the last couple of collected outings from the worlds greatest borderline maniacal, compulsive, workaholic, gonzoid, weirdo illustrator which featured his illustrations of his country, blues and bluesgrass heroes this one focuses on another of his obsessions: big women. Yup, big asses, overweight-child bearing hips and tits that can suffocate a guy in seconds all float Crumb’s boat. As creepy as being party to some of his twisted inner-monologues can get you can’t really beat a guy who thought-bubbles stuff like “I am currently inventing ways to make your wonderous body my personal playground”. He’d probably loose it at a Gossip show completely.

www.taschen.com (again, big month for Taschen eh?)


The Unholy Alliance

This is a live Slayer DVD. It was recorded on 06/06/06. They play ‘Angel Of Death’, ‘South Of Heaven’ and every other track that makes them indisputably, irrefutably the greatest thrash band ever. Kerry’s head looks really shiny. And you even get Mastadon bonus footage. It’s one of those things that you have on pre-order. Basically this little, shiny disc of fun is pretty essential and probably the most excited I have been about seeing Slayer perform since the first time I actually saw them in sweaty, beer-drenched real life. Except there is no red-button footage of a guy getting his eyebrow ring yanked out mid-crowd surf which did actually happen that time at the Astoria.

I Hate Music
Output Recordings 1996-2006

They can’t of hated music that much. They set up a label and put the stuff out for ten years. Or maybe they didn’t before but having suffered industry slings and arrows for a decade they now do? Boo hoo. I’m not sure. Life is pretty confusing sometimes. Output was a label run by Trevor Jackson which broadly released electronic dance music. Although he is not quite as good as Jackson the chap with the Computer Band, Trevor is a pretty good Jackson. Output released a bunch stuff that paved the way for electroclash and people dancing to songs with guitars in like Playgroup, DK7 and the Rapture as well as stuff like Fridge for you to sit around and listen to after all the disco burgers. It is no coincidence that in the early days of the DFA, Output distributed their records in Europe.

Ultimate Reality

Ultimate Reality treads a pretty fine line. I might have to sit on the fence with this one. It consists of a 40 minute psychedelic montage of Schwazeneger films cut up with piercing kaleidoscope colours and strobing neon laser rays created by Baltimore artist Jimmy Joe Roche. The whole thing is soundtracked by fellow Wham City alumnus and current worldwide party starting fat guy Dan Deacon’s freakout electropop. These elements combined could constitute either a weapon of mass enlightenment or a streamlined bullet of pure fear and asthma-attack inducing paranoia. I guess it depends upon what you’ve ingested before viewing.

Millenial Reign

Press Release that I co-authored with Andy Capper about Damian from Fucked Up's new project Millenial Reign. All the recollections are Andy's.

Millennial Reign- Bones, Dust, Nothing EP

‘Bones, Dust, Nothing’ by Millennial Reign is one of the most brutal hardcore records you will hear in a long time. Guaranteed. It harks back to the glorious, crushing days of Clevo hardcore that trod the fine line of sounding like metal played by punks or punk played by metalheads. Think Ringworm, Confront, Die Hard and above all Integrity: the band that directly caused Millenial Reign to come into being.

The band was formed by Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham and No Warning’s Jordan Posner as a way of making flesh their teenage Integrity fantasies and exult the work of Dwid Van Hellion to the ears, hearts and souls of a new generation of children, some of whom remain bizarrely unaware of the existence of one of the greatest bands to exist in hardcore or in music.

I remember singing along to Integrity songs in my kitchen in London with Damian a few months back. We were arguing about the five best hardcore vocalists of all time and the only one two we agreed on were Brannon and Dwid. We played our favourite Integ songs to each other for hours, miming and trying to sing like Dwid. It was extremely gay but also one of funnest nights of the year so far. Some of the ideas behind the vocal lines on this seven-inch came from that night, but most came from Damian working with Jordan and producer Greg Dawson.

‘Bones, Dust, Nothing’ is the first chapter in Millennial Reign’s recorded legacy and takes the Integrity template of crushing riffs, blasting drums and apocalypse obsessed vocals with an added Maiden and Cro Mags obsession to create a new, fearful tomorrow for right now. The EP was recorded by Greg Dawson at BWC Studios with Jesse Labowitz (ex-No Warning) on drums and Chris Colohan from the Cursed guesting on vocals. It contains four raging, behemoths that will slay every other seven inch you hear this year. What you hold in your hand here is the first episode of what promises to be a very bloody and brutal reign. A Millennial Reign, you motherfuckers.


LA scene report for Gaurdian Unlimited Blog in unedited form.

“This Is Boston Not LA”

So sang The Freeze in 1982. A period when L.A. burnt so brightly that other American regions felt the effect of the areas thriving musical growth so fiercely it became both an epicentre and a powerful galvanising force. The Freeze sang out of defiance but also out of realisation and acceptance. Los Angeles had become the benchmark and for a brief moment, New York, Detroit, Chicago, Seattle and pretty much anywhere just looked stagnant and irrelevant. Progression into challenging and innovative new realms of both music itself but also of the very means by which music was consumed and distributed had come about as a direct form of reaction.

This cause and effect dialogue is a natural manifestation of musical evolution. Just as the Sex Pistols and The Clash razed the excess of Floyd, Old Grey Whistle test bucolic rambling and Prog frippery to a new ground zero in mid 70’s London so the late 70’s and early 80’s hardcore punk movement in L.A. that Fear and The Germs began and Black Flag continued railed against the skinny tied, cocaine fuelled New Wave bands that had succeeded in destroying all sense of purpose and integrity.

A quarter of a century later this binary is repeating itself in eerily similar circumstances. Black Flag, The Minutemen and The Circle Jerks were railing against new-wave mediocrity and Reaganite repression at DIY shows in venues like the infamous ‘Church’ in Hermosa Beach while releasing affordable 7” records on labels like Greg Ginn’s own SST. Innovation came musically by playing at greater tempo’s and with more anger than had been witnessed up until that point in time thus simultaneously subverting the status quo and innovating from within.

After years of enduring bland Red Hot Chili Peppers funk, awful Papa Roach style nu-metal and in a political climate of fear, corruption and Bush administrated lies a group of bands have emerged in Los Angeles centred around the West Hollywood all-ages venue The Smell and leftfield record, clothes and general make-your-life better shop Ooga Booga all of which is chronicled by the movements own newspaper the LA Record < http://www.myspace.com/larecord >.

By sidestepping the daily socio-political strife and distractions and operating through the traditional punk-rock DIY channels that their early 80’s forebears created a scene has slowly been allowed to develop around and has been nurtured by putting on shows that anyone of any age can attend and self-releasing records through small independent labels like Post Present Medium and Ol Factory .

The most exciting development is of course the music that this support network has allowed to come into being. Buoyed by a sense of artistic security, freedom and support a diverse and innovative array of bands and artists have emerged over the last 18 months to create what Angus Andrew described in a recent Pitchfork interview in very excited terms: “I am excited about what's going on in L.A. right now. I hate the word "scene," but it's a good community of artists making interesting music. Bands like No Age and Mika Miko, and of course the Smell being the genesis of all that. I've been in L.A. a lot recently, and I've noticed a lot there, and I hope it gets more attention.” . It was the stifling effect of formulaic musical structure that rent the original LA hardcore scene asunder. The flexibility that the openness of the current scene offers allows such divergent musical exploration to positively effect and improve the overall quality of the scene’s output. The juxtaposition of Mika Miko turning a Misfits song into a 2 minute junkyard Rrrriot Grrrl rant and Health creating loops of impossible to replicate ever again sound is the kind of refreshing variation that can only breed further creativity.

Arguably the most well known of the current L.A. crop are No Age who recently made the leap from the comfort of DIY to what in comparison seems a corporate blood sucking major in the form of independent label Sub Pop. The band comprises Dean Spunt and Randy Randall, formerly of arty, noise-hardcore party starters Wives who would end shows in blows on a regular basis. Sonically No Age acts as a continuation of Wives in an instrumentally stripped down but musically fleshed out fashion. Ideas that would have been battered to death in a minute and half in Wives are played out with in an almost Krautrock sense of repletion by No Age. The bands debt to the early 80’s scene is immediately clear from their name, the title of an SST compilation. Dean also sees the band as “the fulfilment of my childhood Husker Du fantasy. Now I get to sing and play drums all at once just like Grant Hart”. The band’s adherence to DIY is unquestionable: Dean runs Post Present Medium out of his bedroom and their debut CD Weirdo Rippers is in fact a compilation of five vinyl EP’s released on five different independent labels in five different countries. The UK leg of the EP was released by London DIY promoters and label Upset The Rhythm . Chris Tipton general UTR impresario commented that: “they are one of the most exciting bands we have ever been involved with in any capacity”.

Of the rash of bands that have followed in No Age’s wake possibly the most exciting are Mika Miko . They manifest the early 80’s aesthetic of bands like Reagan Youth or The Urinals but inject the raging framework with the nihilism of The Germs and The Wipers and perhaps most excitingly the sheer shake yourself danceability of ESG or Liquid Liquid. Much is made of the fact that they are all girls, this however is something that “we couldn’t give less of a shit about, it only ever even gets us shit in like the Midwest”. Live the band represents a thrilling proposition: microphones are substituted for telephones, saxophones wail and everybody dances. It’s pretty much impossible not too. In a just world they would be filling the hearts and ears of kids everywhere who are rotting themselves from inside wasting their time listening to New Young Pony Club and CSS.

Although both of these bands have, to some extent, broken out of the close-knit L.A. Smell based scene it is the strength in depth and variety of the other bands vying for attention and creating in a communally creative environment that mark a movement as opposed to flash in the pan. From (deep breath) Brendan Fowler’s dialogue obsessed, spoken word set to music project Barr to the wondrous rolling psyche garage of Abe Vigoda http://www.myspace.com/abevigoda. The spooked experimental free noise freak-outs of Pocahaunted sit
alongside the Silver Dagger’s scatterbrained, skronk no-wave, Lavender Diamond’s delicate, melody-infused pop, Carla Bozulich’s synth spookiness and the Mae Shi’s screamed art-punk. Got your breath back? There is basically a lot going on and no two things sound the same. An accusation that could never be leveled at London’s consistently derivative creative axis.

The story of Los Angeles musical past is one of innovative swings and barren roundabouts. The area offers a soulless expanse that allows a blank canvas of such magnitude that any vision can be realised yet this freedom equally engenders the power to quash dreams and aspirations in an instant. Saturated as it is with the false facade of Hollywood the city’s size and the superficial embrace that it offers can eat as many young, talented prospective musicians alive as it does motivate others to the point of creation. By operating within a viable alternative network the current L.A. scene has to some extent woven its very own Los Angeles allowing talent to be nurtured, developed and set free to soar in whatever direction it chooses. For this brief moment in time I would far rather be in L.A. than Boston.

Neil Richard

David Shrigley

Here is something that I wrote about David Shrigley's 'Worried Noodles' project for the News section of Vice Magazine.

David Shrigley- Worried Noodles

I would really love to not like David Shrigley. In case you have been asleep since 1992 David is that Glaswegian artist guy who doodles his every waking thought, no matter how weird, in these tiny crappy looking sketches with a bit text knocking around somewhere in the general vicinity of the tiny crappy looking sketch. It should be so easy to hate him. The drawings look like a 5 year old did them and as soon as you mention him to anyone else ever they start gushing praise like you just told them that you have found a way of curing their chronic halletosis problem (what is going on with all the bad breath right now, ever heard of gum guy?). The problem is that his work is so resoundingly, brilliantly funny and profound in a completely unassuming and ego-less way that you have no other option than to agree with smelly breath over there and love him with all your heart forever. I even have one of his sketches right here by my desk. It’s about the law of straightness and it keeps me calm when I am loosing it spectacularly from all sides. Like a little oasis of positivity in a day that might otherwise crush me.

Last year the German record label Tomlab commissioned Shrigley to create whatever he wanted for them. He came back with something called “The Missing Sleeve”. It was a 12” record sleeve that contained no record but instead a liner notes booklet for a tonne of the sort of songs that Shrigley probably has knocking around his head all day. “The Missing Sleeve” sold out pretty much before it went onsale and it was kind of inevitable that Tomlab would get someone to record these sketches. And so “Worried Noodles” came to be. It is a measure of how much love there is for this guy’s work that the double CD is rammed with a lineup of musicians that would give your average Pitchfork reader full blown wood on sight. Deerhoof, Phil Elverum, Trans AM, Liars, Hot Chip and even the much missed Les Georges Leningrad all cut tracks for the project. It is good that Les Georges chose “Manager & Coordinator Of Prostitutes” as one of the last things they ever released. Fitting.

We spoke to David, Aidan Moffat who used to be in Arab Strap and the guys from Psapp about “Worried Noodles” mainly as an excuse for me to talk to people we like.

Vice: David, how did the decision to record the songs come about?
David Shrigley: I guess it was probably logical. Either the music industry is full of hyperactive people or maybe there’s just too many of them because the whole thing seemed to happen in about a week and everyone got in arguments about who got to do what track. It was nice though. Once the songs were recorded it was like meeting an old friend at an airport that you hadn’t seen for so log that you had forgotten what they look like.

What attracted you guys to the project as musicians:
Aidan Moffat: He asked me in the pub. You cannae say no to a request from a gentleman in a pub.
Carim Classman (Psaap): I just though that the line “Peter just called to say he saw a slug eating a chip” was the best line I had ever heard.
Aidan Moffat: He’s just weird but really funny. That is what I have been striving for and failing to achieve with my music for years. That creepiness but with a bit of a laugh round the corner. It’s harder than it looks you know.
David Longstreth (Dirty Projectors): Yeah, I didn’t really know his stuff from before but now I think it rules like anything. It’s so odd and yet jubilant. That song I chose “Come Forward” just seemed like the oddest and most jubilant of the lot.

Did you consider recording any of the songs yourself David?
David Shrigley: I do have a band but we are pretty rubbish so not really.

Worried Noodles will be available as double CD or triple vinyl package accompanied by a hardback 106 page book on Tomlab Records from October 23rd.

There will be a special performance by a selection of the artists featured on the compilation at Cargo in London on Sunday the 14th of October. We imagine that it will be pretty great.


Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Veterans Of The War On Terror

Here is the text from an interview I conducted with Stuart Griffiths, a photographer who documents with portraits the human effects of those that the Allied forces send to fight the war on terror. Stuart is an articulate, kind and funny man with a great sense of purpose. Transcribing some of the victims interviews was not easy.

Stuart Griffiths Interview:

Vice: Hi Stuart how did you first become interested in taking photographs?
Stuart Griffiths: I had always had an interest in photography that I had picked up from my stepfather who was a keen amateur photographer. He bought me my first camera when I was 18. While I was on patrol in West Belfast I would keep this instamatic camera in my chest webbing and document without really knowing anything about documentation. I was just known for being the guy with the camera. I ended up becoming the Battalion photographer. They sent me on a course and the more I learned the more I became addicted to it.

What made you move from a career in the army to a career in photography?
Although it sounds ironic now I also had a desire to see more combat. I was serving in the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute regiment so we were pretty highly trained; we had been due to do a tour of the Gulf but that never came to pass. We just kept getting sent to Ireland, I served several tours in West Belfast and East Tyrone. I eventually quit due to an increasing interest in photography. The more I got into photography the less I wanted to be a soldier.

What happened when you ditched the uniform for the camera?
After I passed out I moved to Brighton I studied and built up a network of people who introduced me to photographers like Bresson, Don McCullin and Eugene Smith. When I first moved to London though I was homeless and living rough. There was a Big Issue seller I encountered in a passage in Victoria and he told me that if I had no place to go and I was an ex soldier I should call the Ex-Service Fellowship Centre. Every soldier that leaves the army is given a little red book as proof of service and I had that with me so I went down there and they sorted me a bed in a hostel Limehouse.

How did the concept for your current project come about?
Living in the hostel I was surrounded by the homeless veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as some older Falklands vets who were displaying symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and were finding it very difficult to adjust to normal civilian life. Being an ex-serviceman myself I had great empathy towards these guys. Instead of actually going and shooting out there I thought that shooting the effects of the homecoming would prove a more powerful, harrowing and truer portrayal of the effect of the war on terror on the average soldier. It was also semi autobiographical as it also represented my feelings towards the conflict.

How have you encountered the veterans that you have shot?
I got in touch with many of them through my old service network. Once you meet one vet they will tell you their story and that will lead to the next story. There is lot of trust involved. They feel that they can open up to me because they know that I understand what they have been through and what they continue to go through. Systematic distrust of the media is implanted in soldiers. You have to go through the chain of command and if you don’t abide by those rules you know that you will get a knock on the door from the man in the pin stripe suit from Vauxhall.

What are your personal feelings on the war on terror?
The armed forces are the industry of violence and death. They have a job to do and you cannot blame them for doing their job. It is the politicians who are to blame for making the decisions that lead those men to war. I am opposed to both wars. Afghanistan because there now seems to be no justifiable strategy or long term plan and Iraq because we should never have been there in the first place.

Are these feelings shared by the veterans that you encounter?
They feel let down and they are suffering disproportionate to what they have given. Many of them are suffering from PTSD and have not been looked after by the army. Many of them are also from small towns outside of London where they do not have the facilities to care for them properly. Many of the vets I first encountered in the homeless hostels were 10 or 15 years out of the army and that was when PTSD really sets in. The soldiers I have been photographing for this project are freshly out of service. Fuck knows what is in store for them. It scares me and as a photographer I feel a responsibility to highlight their situation. As the war on terror drags on the number of men out there like this increases. For every soldier killed five are wounded. There is a lot of shit going down.

Andy Julien

Andy Julien was 18 years old and had been serving in Iraq for two months with the Queens Royal Lancers when his Challenger tank came under fire south of Basra. Andy and Lance-Corporal Daniel Twiddy had been asleep on top of the tank when they came under attack. An eyewitness later described to a MoD board of enquiry how after hearing “the boom of a heavy weapon and a bright flash of light” the tank had become “an exploding ball of fire”. Andy and Daniel were thrown to the ground engulfed in flames. Two of their fellow soldiers were killed inside the tank on impact.

Andy’s tank had come under fire from fellow Allied troops. This friendly-fire incident was caused by what was described in the enquiry as a “catalogue of errors”. Despite the errors Combat Immunity protects the identities of those responsible for the attack and no one has been charged. It is believed that since the incident members of the firing tank have been promoted.

After having incorrectly informed his parents of his death, the MoD flew Andy back to Broomfield Hospital in Essex. Andy’s mother and father did not initially recognize the swollen, bloody body that they were told was there son. After twenty operations and six months in a wheelchair Andy was medically discharged from the army without even being offered a desk job. Having waited almost two years on a GP’s waiting list to have his uncontrollable fits of anger diagnosed it was only when Andy began work at the phone company 02 that he was provided with counselling and informed that he had PTSD

Daniel Twiddy

“Five days into the war in Iraq on March 2003 I was blown off the top of my Challenger II tank outside Basra by a round of friendly fire. It was a 120mm high-explosive squash-head shell from another British tank. I remember bursting into flames as a second round impacted on the turret of the vehicle, killing two of my colleagues. I remember being on my hands and knees, on fire, screaming and thinking I was going to die.”

“ I awoke a month later in Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford. Initially my parents couldn’t identify the swollen bundle of bones, scarred flesh and gauze in the bed next to the life-support machine. My skin was burnt to 80 per cent and there was a large hole in my face. I consider myself very lucky. I’ve been a gunner myself and when you hit hard targets like tanks, it’s unbelievable. 120mm high explosive squash heads are designed for bunkers and large targets. They fired two. That's how lucky I was”.

“When I joined the British Army I respected the MoD and respected that it was their care of duty to support you through thick and thin. When you're at the passing off parade and they say: “not only is your son part of our family, you're all part of our family now”, it's bollocks, total shit. As soon as something like this happens, they toss you aside like a number. They’re not bothered about you. Physically, I can heal up. What hurts the most is that I’ve been left. I’ll always remember what they’ve done to me. It’s something that should never have happened, friendly fire. So their care of duty should be looking after me. They won't admit it. That’s what makes me angry, they won't admit they’ve messed up”.

Mark Drydon

“During my second tour of Iraq in 2005 I was on a bog standard routine patrol. It was a Sunday. Friday’s in Iraq are fairly quiet because everyone goes to mosques so a Sunday for Iraqi’s is a fairly normal working day. This particular Sunday when we got there though there was no one of the street. It was like the Iraqi people knew what was going to happen. The road we drove up is usually one of the busiest roads in Basra but there were no kids, no cars, nothing. Suddenly there were two explosions. The first one exploded in the engine block of the ‘snatch’ vehicle, the second came through my door. It happened in seconds, everything slowed down from the point of the second explosion going off. I knew I was badly injured. Everything was like slow motion TV. I was sent back to the MRS (medical recovery station) in a hotel in Basra where they can stabilise you and get you ready for the helicopter evacuation to the main hospital. I was heli-lifted from there up to Shiba Air Hospital in Basra.”

“I don’t think that the British public have slagged the army off, they slagged off the government for sending us and now it’s like, why are we still out there? Why are we still getting killed and injured? I’d already done the war fighting phase in Iraq in 2003, I’ve been to Bosnia, Kosovo, done two tours of Ireland but I was more scared to go back to Iraq in 2005 than I ever was in my life. I even changed my life insurance and made sure my will was bang up to date before I went out there. After seeing all the news of people getting blown up, people getting killed and this that and other and I was like, is this really the place to be? When I look back to Northern Ireland in 1970’s Iraq is very similar. I think we will be there for another 10-15 years at least.”

David McGough

David McGough was one of the first British soldiers to arrive in Iraq as a Lance Corporal in the Medical Corps at the age of 21. “We did exactly what the other soldiers did, patrols and stuff. The difference with medics is we see the after-effects of war as well. We see the casualties. We have to deal with the carnage and death and destruction”. David would spend 17 hours a day dressing bodies blown apart by shrapnel and ordnance, sewing the living dead back together and watching others die in the intensifying sectarian war that followed Saddam Hussein’s removal from power.

He particularly recalls one incident: “She was about 8 or 9, a little girl, her family had died. We were trying to do a nice thing by giving her water and bits of chocolate. We saw a militia hanging her in an alleyway. We had to make the decision whether to go in and save her and cause a riot and have more people dying, or just allow one person to die”. She hung. “When the guys left, we took her down and buried her but that’s on my conscience. Most 21 year olds are out getting pissed. I’ve got that on my conscience and I will till I die”.

After initially suffering lack of sleep and coughing up blood David was prescribed Prozac by his GP and told by his military doctor that it was ‘all in his head’. He was eventually medically discharged after six months and diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder a year later. With daily structure removed, McGough’s weight plummeted, he could not sleep, and he broke up with his girlfriend. He says former colleagues were told not to speak to him. “My OCD got really bad, I was bleaching myself and wouldn't got out of the house. There was no contact and everything was failing around me and I felt like shit. The nightmares would make me go into the bathroom, lock the door and cry for hours”. David has attempted suicide twice. Once with a knife and once with a gun that misfired.

Dave Hart

“I had been with the TA for years when the call came through that there would be opportunities to serve in Afghanistan. I had already done a tour in South Armagh and I had really enjoyed it. It re-affirmed why I joined in the first place, doing the job for real. So I signed up for Afghanistan straight up”.

“The patrol that day was nothing out of the ordinary. There were four vehicles in the patrol and I was in the first vehicle, which was a stripped down Land rover. A suicide bomber had tried to get into Bagram US airbase, which was a few miles from us but came to a Vehicle Check Point (VCP), so he decided to turn around. We had a couple of UN compounds down the road from us and he probably wanted to hit one of those compounds, but he came across us instead and we seemed too much of a target to miss.”

“I don’t remember much after that. I have been told that I was blown out the vehicle. The driver was killed instantly, my mate Dave was in the passenger seat and lost his eye. The road on which we were attacked was like the M4 in Kabul. It’s a busy road and I was on the floor on fire. A couple of UN workers came over and doused the fire. My platoon Sergeant flagged down a vehicle at gunpoint and threw us all in the back and got us to the multi national camp in 7 minutes which was good for me, as I had already lost 8 pints of blood. A couple of more minutes and it would have been the end for me.”

“Next I came round in Germany. That Dia-Morphine is pretty good stuff, I was off my tits for a while before I fell into a coma for about 2 and a half weeks. I was in Germany for 2 months and was then flown back to the UK and taken to Selly Oak in Birmingham. It was a real comedown; really piss poor to be honest. I went from intensive care in Germany with 6 nurses to Selly Oak where you’re dumped in bed for three days, seen by a consultant then cheers off you go. And then I got MRSA.”

Andy Barlow

“Growing up as a kind in Bolton I would always see the Corps Of Drums and always fancied the military so as soon as I was done at school I joined up at 16. I had done tours in Afghanistan and Iraq but it was on my second tour of Afghanistan that the incident happened.”

“We were giving overhead protection when we saw that an illegal Vehicle Check Point had been set up on the other side of the mountain. We sent a patrol to check on it but as they went down they side of the mountain we heard a big explosion. One of our guy’s right legs had been blown off midway. We all knew that it was a mine incident from there on. The lads went down to give medical support and someone got on the radio asking for a chopper when Corporal Pearson walked backwards and set a mine off that took his leg as well. I began to tourniquet him when two other soldiers joined me, my friend Mark Wright and a medic. For about an hour we waited. When the chopper finally came in another mine was set off by a rock. That mine hit Mark, I was knocked back 6 foot with shrapnel injuries to my arm and the medic had also been hit. As I took a step towards Mark another mine blew my foot clean off”.

“Mark passed away in the Chinook. He was next to me on the flight in a body bag. I knew that I was going to get my leg amputated; the fact that we had waited so long meant that gangrene quickly set in. I flew back to the UK and straight into Birmingham Airport where they took me to Selly Oak Hospital. At the time Selly Oak were not prepared for as many casualties. One of the main problems was being on a ward with civilians. Civvies are the last people you want to see after something like that and the staff did not know how to treat or handle you”.

Stevie Williams Interview

Here is an interview I did with the skateboarder Stevie Williams. It was originally intended for the Fear Issue of Vice magazine but ended up on the Viceland.com blog

Stevie Williams

Stevie Williams knows fear. He grew up in West Philadelphia having to look out for himself and his mother. As an eleven year old black kids he was in the damned if you do damned if you don’t position of being called ‘white’ by kids in his neighbourhood for picking up a skateboard as well as being ostracized by the predominantly white skating community. While this would have made most kids quit before they could even pop an ollie, Stevie came up skating in Philly’s notorious Love Park. Love in the early 90’s was an area as synonymous with police brutality, fistfights and intimidation as it was with skateboarding. By the time he hit 15 he was already restless and decided to head to the West Coast ‘cos you know…it’s always sunny and every street is just one big skate spot right? Like something out of a Steinbeck novel, Stevie wound up on floors and in doorways without food or friends. Somehow in the face of what amounted to be a whole brimming shit storm of fear he pulled out a defining part in the Chocolate video and the rest you probably already know.

Vice: How was growing up as black kid in Philly trying to skate?
Stevie: Y’know, people are just unaccepting of shit that’s different just cos it wasn’t playing basketball or whatever. They just don’t get it. I mean I knew all the kids from round the way but I still got in a bunch of fights all the time. It was tough being ten and a half and being in West Philly and wanting to skate and just getting shit. You’re always living in fear of the cops too you know? We were getting chased four, five times a day. But that kind of fear is good. It keeps you on point.

It must have been pretty scary turning up in California alone at 15?
Well, all I knew was that trying to skate on the East Coast was harsh man. Real harsh. I knew my boy Marcus McBride to talk to on the phone and one day I was just like: I’m a be there in a week. I just made that decision you know? I didn’t even know what Marcus looked like or where I was gonna stay. No school, no parents, nothing. I doubted myself a whole lot of times. It was the same when I first got to LA. I didn’t really leave the house for a month cause I was just intimidated by the whole place. Then one day my boy Keenan Milton just came and got me out of the spot and made me go to a party and cheer me up. It was the first time I was feeling happy, I was partying till late. On my way home though I began to feel something was wrong, I just didn’t know what. The next morning Mike Carrol called me and told me what had happened. It was like right when I was feeling happy for a minute my boy Keenan passes on, drowned, just like that. That was a dark time right there and it was on the 4th of July. Every year I get the same dark chill on Independence Day. After that I was back in the house for like two months. Dark times, the fear was high-level right there for sure.

There is always a massive pressure to be putting out video parts. Have you felt scared trying to pull big tricks out for a video part?
I only just started going down stairs again. Stairs is scary.

How about sketchy spots?
Oslo, Norway. We were chased out of a spot by some Nazi dudes, seven skinhead guys and I was the only black guy in sight. We split real quick, that was some scary ass shit for real.

You are in Serbia right now, is it weird skating a city that was war torn just a couple of years ago?
It was? Man, no wonder it all looks like it’s falling down. I like it though; it’s one of the best places I’ve ever been in Europe, good kids.

It is also the world’s second largest producer of raspberries.
They need to start getting some nicer buildings up in here then.

Septemver Vice Reviews

I guess it is Rocktober? I am confused.

Only a few this month.

September Reviews

Rolo Tomassi
Mini Album
Holy Roar

7 Re-issue of the EP that made everybody sit up and finally take of these Sheffield synth-screamo kids. It could go either way: fame, fortune and Warped Tours with Gallows or DIY clear lemon yellow 7”s and The Grosvenor on Sundays for evermore.

Southern Lord

8 The two other guys from Sleep are still droning out making doom with lots of o’s while Pike does the riffs over there in High On Fire. This is a really great record but you can’t help getting a semi dreaming about them all getting together again and doing ‘Jerusalem’. Now that would be an ATP show worth going to.

Scott Walker
And Who Shall Go To The Ball? And What Shall Go To The Ball?

4 ‘The Drift’ was like an incredible, sweeping, magisterial, statement of everything Scott has ever stood for. This one sees him returning to obtuse experimentation just you know, 'cos he can. It’s actually his original soundtrack to a contemporary dance piece but no matter how much you like to name drop you will only ever listen to this once max.

Wooden Shjips
Wooden Shjips
Holy Mountain

9 Just when you though the whole nu-psyche, Wurlitzer organs, looped, shimmering vocals and endlessly repeating drums thing had been totally and utterly done to death this comes along and makes you remember how good it was hearing ‘Sound Of Confusion’ for the first time.

Okkervil River
The Stage Names

6 Why do people keep calling stuff like this Americana? The Hold Steady record sounded more like an episode of the OC than ‘Gas, Food, Lodging’. This deserves the hype that record got but there needs to be at least one peddle steel involved before you can start chucking Uncle Tupelo references around.

Wolves in the Throneroom
Two Hunters
Southern Lord

8 This is shaping up to be one of my favourite USBM albums of all time. Up there with ‘Nocturnal Poisoning’ or the Weakling record. I once walked over Waterloo Bridge in the snow at about 4am listening to it and I am sure there was a little Wolf following me. It was probably a fox but it was still a pretty intense walk.

Dead Raven Choir
My Firstborn Will Surely Be Blind
Aurora Borealis

7 What began as a band doing black metal covers of Winnie-The-Pooh poems (no, really) has morphed into a terrifying, guitarless, creeping, death march dirge outfit. Like Burzum played at the wrong speed with the high ends cut out. Terrifying.

Georgie James
Saddle Creek

4 How come when every great, original young musician guy gets old they just revert to becoming boring condensed versions of their dad’s record collections? Maybe the Beach Boys left a hidden aural dependency viral in their albums. Ex-Q and Not U goes chamber pop.

Ricardo Villaobos
Fabric 36

9 Despite being filed away as part of the unending behemoth dance emporiums mix cd series this is essentially a brand new Villalobos album as it is consists solely of new material and collaborations by everyone’s favourite Chilean minimalist space cadet. People keep whittering on about about how Ricardo has chosen to release new stuff in this mixed format to prevent leaks after soundboard rips of brand new tracks began surfacing online. Who cares? This represents all of the elements that make a Villalobos set so special. It starts with bare bones clicks and whirs and takes you all the way through a milky kick drum led, blissed out odyssey. Bits of it almost border on the primally folky. It is all pretty special.

The Violets
The Lost Pages

7 Bare bones angular bass, guitar and drums post punk with a boner-inducing amalgam of Debbie Harry and Nico wailing up front. It’s only rock and roll but I like it.

Pocahaunted Interview

Here is an interview I did with the free noise band Pocahaunted.


Pocahaunted make scary music. Music that twists and eats at your innermost fears like a plague-ridden maggot burrowing through your queasy unease. It’s all low level drones and voices from beyond the pail that clunk along in a shambolic, rootsified manor that Devandra could only dream of. It somehow sounds like some lost field recording of a bunch of Navajos subconsciously conversing with Anguta while hopped up on Mescal out in the middle of the dessert. They have been hand picked to support Thurston Moore and Sonic Youth and released a bunch of records on labels that you really should be familiar with by now like Not Not Fun and Ecstatic Peace! They currently have a split CDR with Robedoor out on the great UK label Blackest Rainbow. It scares the fuck out of me.

Where is the most haunted place you have ever been?
Bethany: My best friend in high school lived in this house, which my new age mom always suspected was haunted. Once we did this experiment where she left the house for a night with her rocking chair pushed against the wall. My mom said if the chair was in the middle of the room the next day, then we’d know a ghost moved it. Totally in the middle of the room the next day. Fucked up.
Amanda: I’ve never been anywhere haunted, I’m Jewish and we don’t go anywhere or do anything that has anything to do with the supernatural

Ok Amanada, what would you expect to see in a haunted wood that contained your greatest fears were you to find yourself in one theoretically speaking?
Amanda: I’d see Bethany wearing a Lakers jersey and dream catcher earrings. I imagine that she has been in every creepy place that there has ever been. Or I’d see my husband Britt leading a Manson-like cult of beautiful girls in white robes.
Bethany: The woods make my allergies flare up so I’d probably be hopped up on a whole bunch of Clarityin or Piriton if I was there.

How frightening on a scale of one to ten would you grade your music?
Bethany: The most fucked up, haunted sound ever is reverse talking. Thinking about it right now is making me freak out. I think our music is pretty spooky and up there with that sound. It’s like our own language of sisterhood, I can just stare into Amanda’s eyes and hear our music playing.
Amanda: It is more kind of psychedelic and woozy than straight frightening. Bethany’s voice is chamber-style dramatic and when the death metal pedal is on the mood is very heavy. We also insist on playing in 90 degree heat for optimum crazed sweatiness.

What are your favourite Disney movies?
Bethany: The Little Mermaid. That is where I get all my vocal cues. I’m also into Cruella DeVille because she’s wicked bad and my hair used to look like that.
Amanda: I’m more into live action stuff. The Parent Trap and Pollyanna. Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty could be Bethany’s replacement, she’s hot and cruel. I could definitely drone out with anyone from the animated Robin Hood, those dudes are just all soul.

I Am Scared Of Cotton Wool

This is a lttle thing I wrote on why I hate cotton wool for Vice magazine's Fear Issue.

I can’t handle cotton wool. Just thinking about it makes me think about the strands of a human brain unravelling like a damp flacid, dripping, grey cheese string. It’s something to do with the weird stringy, fibrous nature of the stuff. If you squeeze it you can feel all the tiny fibres screeching and rubbing together like a massive wiry car crash inside a cloud. It’s like being on acid when you aren’t on acid and having a hightened sense of touch and feel . It is also often used as a bedding material by weird people who collect dead baby sparrow foetus’s in safety match boxes and that is also pretty scary. I am also terrified of ear buds because that is basically like stuffing a compact globule of cotton wool down a hole in your body. No thanks. I would prefer to build up a nice collection of yellow gunk in my ears that the GP can then syringe out and show me in a Perspex cup.

Holy Fuck Interview

Here is an interview I did with the band Holy Fuck for Vice magazine. They are Canadian as well.

Holy Fuck
Holy Fuck is Graham Walsh and Brian Brocherdt. It is lots of other people as well but mainly those two. The band formed three years ago and were spat out of the Dependent Music co-operative which has produced lots of great stuff like Land Of Talk and Wintersleep. They are sort of from Toronto and sort of a supergroup but more in the sense of playing the best bits of all the other Dependent bands music than being some creepy Manson Family indie cult led by Kevin Drew. Their music attempts to loosely approximate electronic dance music with vintage analogue equipment. As horrific as this could potentially be it sounds like some amazing acid drenched version of Julian Cope playing “Future Days” for all its worth. The blogger kids give them stick for their name but who really gives a shit about the opinions of dickless 14 year old boy wonders who can’t reconcile themselves with the fact that they will never get to see Pavement play live. I think it’s kind of cute. Like saying “gosh darn it” when you stub your toe or something. Holy Fuck have an album entitled “LP” forthcoming on Young Turks.
Vice: There are loads of you on stage when you play but there are only two of you here. What have you done with the rest of the band?
Brian Borcherdt (Effects/Synths): Everyone is in Holy Fuck. It is a constantly morphing cast. It changes over time because we are all friends and we can’t handle conflict. The moment things conflict it's time for something new. Graham and me are just the captains of the vessel. We are determined to go down with the ship.
Why bother trying to make dance music with no electronic equipment? That just seems like a pain in the ass. Who do you think you are, the White Stripes?
Graham Walsh (Effects/Synths): We don't want our music to sound more dated than it has to. By using modern devices you have too much control over the end result. By using Casio’s, toy keyboards, old film editing gear, shitty mixers or whatever we are at the mercy of our own crap limitations. Also I don't know how to use hi-fi electronics and have no attention span.
I heard that you never rehearse. That just seems lazy.
Graham: We'd like to rehearse. At first we didn’t practice because it was fun just seeking out something that might have been there without thinking about it.
Brian: Now we just all live in different cities. Fortunately we connect well. A couple nights in on a tour we'll already have songs. Sort of.
What would be the Holiest Fuck? Fucking the Virgin Mary? That would be pretty Holy.
Brian: Didn't God already do that?
True. Who would win in a fuck-off, you guys or Fucked Up?
Graham: You mean where someone holds a starting pistol in the air and upon firing it everyone has to fuck as much as possible? In that case Fucked Up would definitely win. Mostly on account of their low standards. They'd fuck anything.

Girls Of Guncrime

Here are 4 interviews I conducted for Vice with female survivors of others who have been killed by guncrime in London.

Aleisha Townsend
Girlfriend of Daniel Ross who was fatally shot in the head at the age of 22 in The Scala nightclub, Kings Cross, London in September 2006.

Vice: How did the news of Daniel’s shooting reach you?
Aleisha: I was asleep at home and one of Daniels friends who had been with him at the club called me from his mobile and told me what had happened. I went straight to the hospital. They allowed me in after about 10 minutes to help identify him. I then waited in the hospital with Daniels mum and dad for about 24 hours by his bedside until he was pronounced.

How did you feel when you received the call?
It was about 2 in the morning and I was in total shock. My heart felt like it had shrunk. I was just shouting at the boys over and over again to stop lying. When I got to the hospital I knew it was for real.

What reminds you of Daniel?
Being here in this house where he lived with me and his two kids. I could never forget him for a minute, I was seeing him for almost 6 years and his eldest looks like the image of him. He was just a smiley, loving person. He wasn’t one to argue and his main priority was his family. Now that is my responsibility, looking after the daily runnings and bringing up the kids.

What would you say to kids who continue to carry guns on the street?
Put the guns dem down. It is unnecessary and just not a natural thing. You have to wake up and see the bigger picture. You are not just shooting that person or that problem. You have to look at the family, the sons and the daughters. Think about the damage before you pull the trigger.

Shirin Sadeghi
Girlfriend of Arian Arthur fatally shot at the age of 22 in the Jam nightclub, Shoreditch, East London in November 2006.

Vice: How did you receive the news of Arian’s shooting?
Shirin: We had been seeing each other on and off for about three and a half years, since I was 19, but it was complicated at that time. The shooting happened on a Saturday night, I was calling him all Sunday and there was no answer so I knew something weren’t right. I decided to go over to his block in Clapham and all his mates was outside. I knew before I got there something was wrong but when I got there I was not ready for what they told me.

How did you react when they told you what had happened?
I was shocked, I could not move, it felt unreal. I was with my friend and I had to get away from there straight away, I couldn’t handle it. I got back in my car with my friend but I couldn’t even drive, we just sat in the car.

How does being here remind you of Arian?
This is his yard, where he lived, where we would hang out together. I first met him in the street here in Clapham and this is just where we would hang out. Whenever I think about him now I feel all my feelings just get mixed up all together.

What is your message to those that continue to perpetrate this kind of violence?
It is just the wrong way to go about. It does not solve anything. It just causes more problems. It affects families and friends and they do not think of the loved ones. Once someone is gone you can never bring them back.

Rachael Odger
High Wood, Colchester
Sister of Westley Odger who was stabbed to death at 27 in a shopping centre in Colchester, Essex in September 2005.

Vice: Can you remember where you were when you heard the news about Westley?
Rachael: I was at home with my little daughter, I live two doors down from my mum and she knocked. As soon as I opened the door to her I knew something was wrong. She told me what had happened and what the police had told her on the phone and I just felt shocked and numb, like I could not move. With all the comings and goings it is difficult to remember how it felt. It just didn’t feel real.

What happened after you had heard the news?
We all got in the car, all my family, and we went to the hospital. We saw the Police liaison officer who explained what had happened but by the time we reached the Hospital Westley had already been pronounced dead.

What did you feel towards the people that had done this to your brother?
Hate. Just hatred.

Have your feelings changed over time?
I still feel so angry. These people just don’t think about the devastation that they cause.

How does this particular place remind you of Westley?
It is the park behind where he lived. We are a close family, we all lived around here, we would socialize together particularly on Christmas and birthdays. It reminds me of being young and outdoors and happy as well. We used to go to the leisure centre around the corner all the time and swim and do bowling. I don’t have one single memory of him though. It changes all the time.

Stephanie Bull
Best friend of Charity Josiene who was shot on her way home from a party in Mottingham, East London at the age of 15 in March 2004 . Her killer is still yet to be apprehended.

Could you tell us what happened on the day of the incident?
We went to a party in a youth hall because wanted to go and see what it was like. As we were walking home through the woods it was all dark and I heard a gunshot, really loud and Charity just dropped to the floor. I saw a person with a balaclava running off and I just dropped down and felt her neck to feel her heartbeat. I could feel it getting slower and slower and she just died right there in my arms.

What was going through your mind at the time?
I was so confused and scared, I just did not know what to do, my best friend was dying right there in front of me and there was nothing I could do. I felt that I was just going to be by myself, no one else. I still think about her every day and when I do I get in a fat mood and get depressed and don’t want to talk to no-one.

How do you remember Charity?
She was really bubbly and outgoing, if she had something to say she would say it. You could always trust her. We used to listen to songs together and make up dances to go with the songs. That is what we used to do in this park, just hang out and dance and have fun. I have good memories of this place.

What would you say to the people that continue to carry guns and knives.
You aren’t big and you aren’t clever.

Brutal Knights Interview

Here is an interview I did with Canadian party starting Hardcore band Brutal Knights. They played the best punk show I have seen all year at the Cross Kings last month. I am going to see Gorilla Biscuits tomorrow so that might soon change but for now the Knights win.

Brutal Knights

Punk gigs have got kind of depressing. You either end up at overly serious beatdown shows where no-neck goons in flat caps try and clothes-line you before you get in the door or no one turns up at all and the only people that do are there to get some tour only split 7” in eight different colours on five different labels. Brutal Knights are like a good times shot in the arm to all these harbingers of doom. If Fucked Up are Toronto’s evangelical hardcore modernisers and Haymaker are their all out destruction unit then the Knights are the loveable partying losers who turn up, puke on your carpet, wet themselves, steal your records and screw your girl but get away with it because they have all the best tunes. Last time they played London they turned up about ten minutes before they were due to play and managed to blast through 20 songs in 15 minutes ending up in lager stewed heap on the floor. It was perfect. Their guitarist is also called Katie G Warrior. If you get that reference you are as cool as she is. Brutal Knights second LP “Feast of Shame” is available now on Deranged Records.

What is a Feast of Shame? It sounds pretty scary to me.
Nick Flannagan (Vocals): You don’t need to be scared, you can embrace it. Fear does not live in the Feast of Shame.
John Power (Drums): A real Feast of Shame should involve an area where you can urinate publicly. Maybe on other people but if there is a urinal just by the bar that would be OK. The drinking and the excreting can’t be separated, that is where the shame comes in. I am yet to find a bar with a urinal right there. One day though.
Matt Carrol (Bass): Last night in Edinburgh Nick found a cheesecake in the middle of the show and got pretty naked and turned himself into this horrible beery, cheesecake, juice soup. That was pretty shameful. Especially when we all tried to get into this gay bar afterwards to go dancing.

What was the concept behind the Extreme Lifestyles series of records?
Nick: Extreme Lifestyles was a product of a whole bunch of stuff that happened in the 90’s: the X Games, the glorification of ESPN, steroid spoon-fed wrestlers and the whole fuelled by Red Bull thing. Extreme Lifestyles is essentially Red Bull Music. Energy drink music. Dog the Bounty Hunter and Arnold Schwarzenegger music. Just really over the top strong man competition theme tunes. Initially it was a spoken word thing but it works well with music. I guess the ultimate music to set it to would be nu-metal but we don’t know how to play that.

How has coming to Europe for the first time been? If I was playing a show in Guildford I would be terrified.
John: It’s been pretty good. Our driver’s German and he’s furnished us with some intense porn. We were totally ready for the worst though.
Nick: Yeah, the bratworst.

For a stand-up comedian that was one of the worst jokes I have ever heard. It’s Friday night; tell me a joke that will get me laid.
Nick: Ok. I am a Jewish guy so I love sleeping with beautiful Jewish women. The only problem is that my dick is shaped like a swastika.

Dude, that so won’t get me laid.
Nick: You just gotta freestyle. That’s my only advice with the ladies. Freestyle like the RZA.

James Not So Brutal Knight