Interview – No

(Originally published in Inform Magazine, July 2003)

No, that’s really what they’re called. No, honestly. No are a local rock band of four guys who make loud music to entertain your hairy ears, and who else could we get but local radio DJ and pig fondler Mike Flange to interview them in his own unique way.

Hello No. Now I understand you’re a local band who plays gigs in Liverpool. Is this why I’ve never heard of you?
I think it’s more down to our, at times, prolific self-promotion. We’ve been known to distribute literally ten or more flyers in a frenzied promotional build up to a No gig. Madness!  Some or more people do actually know us, but by the name of “No Tongues” – which was in no small part due to the hilariously pun-tastic website addy we adopted (www.NOtongues.com). At the time was the only address we could buy with our limited funds. We’ve just bought http://www.NOrock.co.uk which is much better by all accounts.
For those who didn’t quite catch it the first time round, our name is No. Just fucking No, ok?
That’s an, er, interesting name. Was that the best you could come up with? Aren’t you worried about the negative vibes you’re giving out?
…and what a very fine name it is indeed. No – sometimes the beauty and simplicity of our band name astounds me.
I had a raging argument with some bloke after one of our gigs. He was saying ‘how can you project a band into the world with such a negative name’, but for me it’s the strength of the word I love, and besides there is so much saccharin niceness in music today it absolutely needs to be readdressed with some negativity… but he was right.
Are you the complete opposite of Yes then?
See? This is what I’m talking about. We’re giving you journos a free ride with our name. “No talent, No tunes”… “Are you a Yes tribute band”… this interview is virtually writing itself. The amount of diatribe you can milk out of our band name is phenomenal. Hey, backwards it spells “ON” which is the opposite of “OFF”, y’know.
God you’re right. Now I understand you play ‘indie’ music, whatever that is. Why do you do that then?
Indie music? Do one mister; No does not play indie music. No play ROCK; a label generic enough to encapsulate us (and every other ’kin band on the planet). We’ve also been called alternative, punk, punk ‘n’ roll, gertcha, slacker rock, dirty rawk growlers, the list goes on… but no-one has called us indie yet; at least, not to our face.
Do people actually like you?
People are too scared to talk to me / I’m too scared to talk to people. It’s a reciprocal relationship. Onstage is a different matter. The band is known to go a bit loopy, bless ‘em.
Which band would you all rather be in, if you had the ability?
Van Halen – unfortunately I don’t have the ability to do star jumps clad in spandex, or get my hair to style to such an incredible size.
Who are your favourite bands? Please make sure I’ve heard of them.
No has many favourites. We like Sebadoh, for honesty and humanity and great riffs. Pavement and the Pixies are also in there, because there’s always room for them in your life.
Who would you like to imitate on Stars In Their Eyes?
Matthew Kelly? Owww, no, sorry, bad joke. I’m amazed no one has realized that there is real potential for subversion on that program. I mean I’d love to see someone do Peaches’ Fuck the Pain Away on prime-time Saturday television. Now that’s entertainment.
You could probably do with the benefits of Pop Idol or Fame Academy. Where do you think you’re going wrong?
We took a lot of from the combined wisdoms of Pop Idol & Fame Academy; it appeals to our vulture-like whorish desire for celebrity. Surely the best thing in the world is to be on TV? Do people exist outside of TV?
Now I understand you’re a local band. That’s your choice, I’m not judging you. Have you any thought of going somewhere else?
Maybe to get away from you, ya big meff!
Which member of the band would you like to get rid of, ‘cos they’re holding you back?
I wouldn’t say any one member of the band is holding us back; I’d like to think it’s the combined effort of all of us.
You see No is all about the team ethic… oh, and music and guitars and stuff; but mainly team effort.
Remember when music used to be good. Whatever happened to those days?
Are you forgetting the dark days of the late eighties? There was nothing but pop on the radio, we were overrun by talent-less antipodeans like Kylie Minge, and Pete Waterman had a vice like grip on the charts. Er, hang on…
Ok, so the mainstream music culture is piss poor, even the cool stuff about at the moment is a bunch of Americans making garage music and post-rock electro stuff… I don’t worry, because it’s times like this that underground culture can really kick against the bollocks.
No thank you very much. I mean No, thank you very much. (This is fun, you’re right).

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Top Ten – Upcoming Films About the War

(Originally published in Inform Magazine, June 2003)

1. Kicking Iraqi Butt
2. WMD: The Search
3. Tony and George Get It On
4. Gulf War II: Saddam’s Time Is Up
5. Deck of Cards
6. Dubya Dubya II
7. Collateral Damage II: British Fighter Pilots
8. Always In The Last Place You Look
9. War on Terror: A Pointless Aside
10. The Gulf War Reloaded

Film Review – The Matrix Reloaded

There Is No Point

(Originally published in Inform Magazine, June 2003)

It’s surprisingly rare to get a thoroughly lousy hyped-to-the-heavens Hollywood blockbuster to really spit venom at, that indulgences must be craved just so we can talk about one film that came out last month and which has already had more than enough words written about it. Not since the glorious farrago that was Batman And Robin has something as genuinely, gobsmackingly awful as The Matrix Reloaded assaulted an audience who have a right to expect their big blockbusters to be at least mindlessly entertaining.
The men responsible in every way for this terrible sequel are a couple of geeky film directors who like to avoid the spotlight. The Warchowski Brothers are looking ever more sensible at this moment, because if they were to do the chat show circuit they would be inundated by slightly disbelieving people simply asking “why?” Until now, the Warchowskis were praised for their ‘single-minded vision’ and the fact that they made blockbusters outside of the manufactured studio process. Just like George Lucas did for his prequels. Hmm…
As reported in our sequel special last month, The Matrix Reloaded was something that was conceived after the success of the first film and boy does it show. You know how The Matrix ends with the shot of Keanu Reeves flying up into the air? We could forgive that slightly daft moment because the rest of the film was such an exhilarating thrill ride. The Matrix Reloaded takes that idea and, unbelievably, runs with it. People learning instant martial arts is an idea we can take. Keanu flying around in dark glasses and daft overcoat is just plain silly.
This is the world of The Matrix Reloaded. It’s a world completely devoid of humour and of two filmmakers who so love their own creations that they refuse to accept that people might view what they’ve created in a different light from theirs. They probably haven’t got a clue why people are sniggering at Keanu “doing his Superman act”, as a character actually has the nerve to point out, nor do they understand why people are bored to tears a lot of the time. I expected many bad things from The Matrix Reloaded, but I did not for a minute think it would be boring.
Huge sections of the movie are taken up explaining things from the first movie that didn’t need explaining. And what’s even worse is that these explanations are thoroughly incoherent. There’s a thing that writers do when they’re not sure of a scene where they write their way into it by coming up with any old rubbish, with the intention of deleting it later. Most of the dialogue in the Matrix Reloaded sounds just like this. So the Oracle from the first film gets a huge scene where she explains what she is to Keanu and we’re left at the end not knowing what the hell she was talking about. The actress playing the Oracle died during the making of the film, probably from having to read such nonsensical and portentious exposition like, “you didn’t come here to make a choice, you’ve already made it. You’re here to try to understand why you made it”. Taken individually these lines aren’t so bad, but over two hours of them, shared out amongst possibly the worst actors the Warchowskis could find (there’s some truly terrible acting going on here but then this is a series that stars Keanu Reeves) and it tends to turn your brain to mulch.
But wait, you cry, The Matrix isn’t about acting and dialogue. It’s all about great martial arts and special effects. Well the problem there is that for some bizarre reason, the Warchowskis have decided that what happens in the ‘real world’ is much more interesting than what happens in the Matrix. So we get lots of stuff set in Zion (a happy place it seems, despite the point of the first film), with lots of thrill a minute confrontations between Morpheus and the ‘council’. “There is no point”, says one councillor, taking the words out of your mouth. So it’s a while before we actually get into the Matrix – something that the filmmakers may have realised as Neo then has a completely pointless fight with a martial arts master. But then that’s not quite as pointless as the fight he has with the baffling multitudes of Agent Smiths, where not only is the CGI horribly obvious (the effects in this film cost the earth and they still don’t look right) but every single person watching goes ‘why doesn’t Neo just fly away?’ He does, in the end.
The Matrix Reloaded so desperately doesn’t want to be brainless eye-candy that it becomes a pretentious, incoherent and boring mess. You can’t fault the Warchowskis for ambition but could someone please tell them that they’re only making films. If they could do this before The Matrix Revolutions comes out that would be great. Ta.

Top Ten – Best Big Brother Moments So Far

(Originally published in Inform Magazine, June 2003)

1. That bit where that bloke looks a bit miserable
2. That bit where that woman laughs in a funny way
3. That bit where they all look at each other in confusion
4. That bit when they’re all talking
5. That bit with the bloke and the chickens
6. That bit where Davina doesn’t know what to say
7. That bit where they realise they’re on telly
8. That bit when the gay bloke says something outrageous
9. That bit where everybody’s trying to get attention
10. That bit when the cricket comes on

Interview – Surge

(Originally published in Inform Magazine, June 2003)

We all like punk music. Apparently. And there’s no one more punkier than young urchins Surge, who are no strangers to the odd Ramones cover. Local radio DJ and a man who’s already got his order in for the new Barbie range Mike Flange is the man for the job of talking to singer Aaron, because he hasn’t got a clue what punk is, although he does hang around Quiggins on a Saturday afternoon.

Hello Surge, now I understand you’re a local band who plays gigs in Liverpool. Is this why I’ve never heard of you?
If we put aside the grammatical errors in that question, I would say the reason you havent [sic – Revengeful Ed] heard of us is that you are ignorant and have spent too much time listening to Iconoclast.

Interesting name, was that the best you could come up with?
No actually, we came up with loads of great names. Killing Joke, Joy Division, Bill Hayley and his Comets. Unfortunately these names had all been taken up so we had to settle for the only one that wouldn’t land us in court.

I understand you play ‘punk’ music. Isn’t that all a bit old nowadays?
Nah, not really…. there are a lot of bands now that think themselves to be ‘punk’, when actually they’re shite, ripping off american pop bands. We’re just concerned that kids think punk is wearing a cap backwards with a pair of baggy kecks, without actually taking note of its roots.

Do people actually like you?
Probably not, but we don’t care. As long as some fat cat record company geezer, who’s willing to throw bin bags full of money at us likes us, that’s the main thing.

Which band would you all rather be in, if you had the ability?
Cock Off… they wish.

Who are your favourite bands? Please make sure I’ve heard of them?
I can’t quarantee you’ll have heard of them, I only like cool bands. Well, my fave band of all time has gotta be The Clash, but I also lurve The Ramones, Stiff Little Fingers… a lot of crusty punk bands. To some extent though, it’s a shame that I’ve had to look into the past to find exciting music, it’s pretty soul destroying to think that there is very little inspiration around at the moment.

Who would you like to be on Stars in Their Eyes, if you had the ability?
It’d be good to try and be Mathew Kelly trying to be Gary Glitter. Perhaps with an alleged guest appearance from Pete Townshend.

You could probably do with the benefits of Pop Idol or Fame Academy, where do you think you’re going wrong?
We’ve never heard of either of those things, but I think we should have jumped on the scall rock bandwagon when we had the chance. I hate the fact that scouse music has been pigeonholed, but if you get a whiff of money you should follow it. Yeah, that’s defo where we’ve gone wrong… too little emphasis on making cold, hard, evil cash. One of The Crescent lives on my road, get in touch if you want all the dirt on ’em.

Now I understand you’re a local band. Have you any thought of playing gigs outside Liverpool?
Hactually, we’ve done quite a few outside Liverpool. We done The Cathouse in Glasgow once and ended up owing them £60 ’cos we didn’t get enough heads in, the thieving bastards. They don’t exactly help the Scottish stereotype! We’ve got plans to tour soon as well, taking a couple of local bands with us.

Which member of the band would you to get rid of ’cos they’re holding you back?
Ha ha! Good ’un! To be honest, we’re sick of kicking people out of the band, were down from six members to three now! Any more and we’d be fucked.

Remember when music used to be good.  Whatever happened to those days?
Are you shitting me? We have lots of quality acts today, just look at Good Charlotte or Bowling for Soup. You just won’t find better bands in the group aimed at five to eight year olds. Music hasn’t gotten worse, our standards have increased. Now I’m off to swap recipes with Kling Klang. They make a rockin’ sponge cake y’know.

Article – Liverpool Comedy Festival

Funny Peculiar

(Originally published in Inform Magazine, June 2003)

The second annual Liverpool Comedy Festival is upon us this month, reflecting a recent upsurge in all things comedic in the city. This isn’t the first time we’ve had a Comedy Festival but let’s hope this is a bigger success than last time.

Those amongst you who are devotees of the cheaper end of Channel 4’s programming will know that there is an annual festival in Canada called the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival. And devotees of the cheaper end of Liverpool’s annual summer entertainments will know that recently there has been an attempt to get something similar going here.
If you think about it, there should be a comedy festival in Liverpool. Okay, I’m not going to say the likes of Stan Boardman or Jimmy Tarbuck are great comedic talents, or that we’re all fantastic natural comedians and Cilla Black’s ‘funny’ remarks are a result of her inherent breeding rather than what she reads off the autocue, but even in my darkest, most self-loathing moments I will admit that we can be a very funny city. We’ve got one of those accents that naturally encourages funny remarks, and when Liverpudlian people appear on the radio or TV they do have a tendency to be naturally funny. Mind you, so do people from Manchester, Newcastle, Bolton, Birmingham, Leeds and everywhere else north of London excluding Scotland. (By the way, why do we seem to get a completely unfunny Scottish sketch show on the BBC every couple of years? Is it a contractual obligation or something?)
Okay, now we’ve definitively nailed that we can be funny, let’s examine our worth as a comedy festival venue. Although the people behind the Liverpool Comedy Festival claim that this is only its second year, there was a similar comedy festival going in the early 90s that enjoyed a bit of success before disappearing for Reasons Unknown. So whilst the current festival is actually a bit of a revival, it’s a bit of a crime that everyone knows about the annual embarrassment that is the Mathew Street Festival but it has taken so long until the Comedy Festival has achieved even this level of recognition.
At the moment it’s a good time to be a comedian in Liverpool. Recently there has been what journalists call an ‘explosion’ of comedic clubs and events, although obviously this would be a bit messy if this were literally true. The Rawhide Comedy Club, which once upon a time occupied the back room of the Everyman, has now enjoyed considerable success at the ultra-smart Baby Blue down at the Albert Dock for over a year now. The recently opened Head of Steam complex near Lime Street station has also been promoting a more student-orientated comedy night called Kill For A Seat. More recently, the Slaughterhouse pub/club has also started a weekly comedy night and managed to get some pretty big names, although we still think that the only reason they do it is so they can use the name Laughterhouse. Geddit?
And the comedy is expanding. Smaller clubs have sprouted up in such diverse places as the Egg Café and the 33-45 Club on Parr Street, the latter of which gave birth to TV’s own Glenn Patterson. This all seems to be related to the rennaisance in Liverpudlian culture which has surfaced over the past year and which may be related somehow to the City of Culture bid, although perhaps more as a reaction than as any desire to go with the flow.
It’s great that there is now such an organised culture of comedy in Liverpool – both overground and underground – and that there is an audience to enjoy it. With all the po-faced nonsense surround the City of culture of bid, where even indifference is treated as a traitorous act, it’s great that our culture still knows how to prick this sort of pomposity. So support the Comedy Festival – a real reason to be proud of Liverpool.

Top Ten – Worst Sequel Film Titles

(Originally published in Inform Magazine, May 2003)

1. Analyze That
2. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
3. Die Hard 2: Die Harder
4. Beware! The Blob
5. 2 Fast 2 Furious
6. Seriously Dude, Where’s My Car?
7. For A Few Dollars More
8. Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit
9. Alien3
10. Bare Witch Project 2: Scared Topless

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