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Delirious With Weird

Monday, June 30, 2003  
Epiphany 2
January 2002…

Part 1

Oh come now. What was I thinking? There’s still this moment that owes a bit more to Zappa than Smokey or Carole or Noel and it just jumps from the middle of nowhere and peals back a cloud and for once they sound like they’re actually enjoying themselves (you’re playing music for fuck’s sake, do you realise how many other people want your job? How many other people are better at your job than you are and don’t get half the success? - oh sweet irony; the success is long gone now boys) and at that point, the profundity aimed for and missed but closer this time, close enough to not be gauche and vaguely embarrassing (I always felt it, for heaven’s sake, I just had a desperate need to believe and you were there, you know, to believe in and that’s why I never said it till now). I don’t even like Zappa, but at least it’s pushing things a bit.

What did you do? Took everything back to zero, stripped away how you made music and put it back together again from the bottom up in the simplest terms. What was I looking for?- “the width and whoosh of The Verve, with Noel Gallagher writing the tunes” (I don’t even like Oasis either, for that matter, except for “Slide Away” and “Columbia”, a punch in the stomach and slap round the head done very slowly again and again until you get the message, and maybe “Bring It On Down”, just cos Bonehead tried to break a piano and not by throwing it out of a window, but rather by hitting it, in the same place, over and over again until it got the message). I caught about a minute of the chorus on the radio one evening after seeing something, live reviews, in NME, palpitations and really bad sweaters and greasy hair, and that was fine, more than fine, because you couldn’t afford clothes and I desperately wanted my hair like that too for about a month. Promise, promise, potential, potential. Oh I hated that word at school because people always used it about me. “You’ll never do anything, but you really could.” When you die, kids, there’s just darkness.

And I was writing, just starting out, what do I write, how do i do this, why does no one explain how to do it or who can help or whatever, so I wrote to them and them and them and you, and you wrote back, and hence a love affair was born. I remember Bristol. Richard made sure I had beer. The singer from Santa Cruz was in the bar. God they were shite. Gomez sat on some stools and got given an award for it. Mickey wasn’t even in the band yet and I stopped him on the stairs and asked about his other band and he was shocked that anyone would know (“WE ARE LASER BOY!” damn right you are).

The 7” I got direct from the bloke’s kitchen for £2.50 and played side a ten times in a row on my dad’s record player (cos back then I didn’t have one), and it was the only time I ever got into recording stuff off the radio. “Blind” on Mary Anne Hobbs at midnight and I was in bed with the volume really quiet, not 18 yet and still in so many ways so naïve and innocent, much as I’d smoked my brain out since I was fifteen I’d still been climbing trees and running round ponds not long before. And I didn’t know it was you, did I?, cos she didn’t say till after it had finished but I had the idea that it might be and that was hideously exciting because it was good and blue and metal and crunch crunch crunch, made Johnny Dollar deaf you know. Cost him £50,000 in lost earnings.

But it was the talking, the other bands, the stuff around the outside that really got me. Beastie Boys, Beach Boys, Sly, Otis, Marvin, Chemicals, Prodigy. Not fucking Oasis treading water and Cast having a right good swim. My Bloody Valentine and J&MC (god, you fucked that one up something chronic, didn’t you? Even that bit that sounded like The Clash didn’t redeem it). That first proper EP wrapped in pale blue and people sitting on a fence, BANG shush BANG shush, that first bang a shoegazer miasma, all strident though and thumping chains and riding a bike, the first shush a delicate cinematic sweep, airy and pretty much formless and with trumpets so fake as to be beautiful, that gentle percussive bass quite unlike any other sound you made (trumpets and piano were the key to those early bits, and guitar, reckless, twitching guitar played by a kid who liked setting fire to things and waving his hair around like a loon; yes, we liked that, our own little rock god jumping off bridges onto railway tracks and playing with a broken hand). The second and third EPs were governed by the law of diminishing returns but the live stuff (taped off the radio!) suggested things were good. Little snippets and hints of what was on the album (if this isn’t their best stuff then what the fuck are they holding back?!). Talking about the May 1998 single on the radio and underneath the instrumental piece of music was some electronic thing and I was so excited in case it was yours, in case it was the single, in case you’d thrown everything out and blown everything up and totally done what nobody expected you to do, making “Fools Gold” following The Stone Roses look like logic, yes yes yes, the only way to truly do something amazing then is to do the totally unexpected and impossible and do it well. And what was the single? “Come Back To What You Know”. The title alone is evil and regressive and backwards and safe and conservative and weak. What’s it smashing? Nothing.

6/30/2003 09:13:00 am


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Nick Southall is Contributing Editor at Stylus Magazine and occasionally writes for various other places on and offline. You can contact him by emailing auspiciousfishNO@SPAMgmail.com

All material © Nick Southall, 2003/2004/2005