Thursday 25 June 2009

News Bulletins In Colour

(with apologies to George Cairncross)

this evening I had shit for tea,
the Government calls it news,
non-nutritional excrement
with non-controversial views,
projecting ideal lives
wrapped in media disguises
in calculated words that
won’t offend the advertisers…

a diet of information
supposed to fuel my imagination,
a mind-polluting diarrhoea
inducing only indignation,
sometimes it makes me sick
like I’m gonna go insane,
wanna smash the radio and
stick the TV down the drain,
sometimes I try withdrawal
which only leaves me feeling bad,
like I wanna firebomb the Newsagent
and aerosol the hoarding ad…

but News Junkies depress the button
depress themselves, and me,
what more can you expect when
all they feed you’s shit for tea…?

Published in:
‘MOLOTOV COMICS No.3’ (UK – March 1981)
‘MELODIC SCRIBBLE No.6’ (UK – August 1986)
and on cassette:
(UK, C60 or C90 – June 1981)
(UK, C60 – Sept 1981)
‘LANDED (SYC NETWORK C60)’ Recorded ‘Live’ in Birmingham
(UK – August 1982)

Amid the furore about Michael Jackson, other notable have also quit this continuum, Sky Saxon of the Seeds, Beat writer Harold Norse, Soft Machine’s Hugh Hopper, and sometime Ranter Steven ‘Seething’ Wells. At the decayed end of the ‘70’s I was doing a lot of readings up and down the country, considering myself pretty-much way ‘out there’, until accepted a gig (accompanied by Andy Robson) at Bradford’s ‘Vaults’, to find myself on a bill with new full-on Punk-Poets Joolz Denby, Little Brother... & Seething Wells, reducing their set down to scatalogical rhyming doggeral of some considerable force, to audience-rush response more usually reserved for bands. Joolz was sweet about my obvious bemusement. It caused me some hard reconsidering. They had something. Sure they did. In response I did some rethinking. They read hyper-fast, so I slowed right down, make every vowel count. Then, I wrote ‘News Bulletins In Colour’ (adapting a line by George Cairncross) and a few more which Steven published in his ‘Molotov Comics’ zine with much amusing verbal-banter exchanges. Didn't always agree with his relentless attack-negativity, but – as he moved to ‘NME’ and beyond, always read him with interest. His loss now is disturbing...

Archive Interview: ADDICT


The deal is this. Free Festival+One tickets with
Full Backstage Press Enclosure access and unlimited
complimentary Häagen Dazs. The condition is you
interview ‘ADDICT’. They’re young, they’re loud,
and they’re the latest signing to Richard Branson’s
V2 label. With a major album launch to follow,
World Domination must surely be just a shot away...
well, maybe not, as it turns out it,
but they do make for an entertaining and
enjoyable interview…

It’s a kind of magic. Addict deliver a searing set in blazing sunshine on a stage that, just hours ago, reverberated to the mighty Prodigy and Beck, and on which Blur are yet to play. But already Addict are naturals at this kind of high-profile Open-Air Stadium Rock thing, prefacing their malevolent “Monster Slide” at a girl in the audience with “this is dedicated to you, ‘cos you’re still off your head from yesterday”. Their set gallumphs all over the Festival’s twee Indie-Rock competition. Then they come off stage... and the heavens open.

Back in the Hospitality Tent, slurping Virgin Cola, vocalist Mark’s immaculate blonde fringe is already bedraggled to rat’s tails as somewhere out of sight the next band up battles to make itself heard through the deluge at what little crowd remains huddled beneath its refugee insulation of bin-liners and plastic sheeting. It is, of course, no accident. Addict aren’t into paddling around in the Indie shallows. They’re going for the grand gesture. They want the world, and they want it soon. Today is a major step in the right direction, and they’re still high on it, full of stories of backstage mayhem, of watching the Foo Fighters high-jacking two jeeps and wrecking the backstage catering area. Hey, this is Rock ‘n Roll!

But why ‘Addict’? Don’t they envisage the name causing problems? “Hopefully it will” grins Mark disarmingly. “Maybe America will have more problems with it than over here. But at least it’s going to get people interested. But as you’re aware... this is Coke!”, brandishing his Cola.

“And this is Orange Juice” adds guitarist Nikolaj, through the obligatory face-metal. Er, no it isn’t actually, it’s lager. “But we are quite clean-living...”

“He did say ‘quite’” clarifies bassist Luke helpfully.

“OK, we’re relatively clean living, then. Maybe the Rock ‘n’ Roll cliché isn’t really applicable to us. And anyway, the name’s got nothing to do with the drug connection. It’s more about having passion for something. It’s more to do with everybody being addicted to something. There are all sorts of addictions.”

So what are you addicted to? “Snowboarding”. Mark Aston. “Music.” Nikolaj Juel. “Music.” James Denham. “First of all, it’s got to be music.” Drummer Luke Bullen. “But not really drugs as one would probably think.” There was actually a Punk group called the Addicts. “We’ve already had highly abusive death threats from their fans. So we’ve had death threats, but we haven’t had any problems with the name. Yet.”

Addict have already come a long way. First hearing suggests Nirvana, that same alternate texturing of light and shade (“dynamically I can appreciate that” concedes Mark unenthusiastically, “melodically and chordally, I don’t think so”). But then, no. Instead there’s something of the epic grandeur of ‘Joshua Tree’-era U2, dosed with some post-metal, hard but song-structured Rock. And anyway, so far, on record there’s only a three-track taster EP called “Save Me”, and a contribution (“Dust”, an advance sample from their October single) on a V2-label compilation sampler. The album, recorded over a manic eighteen days in Los Angeles with prestige producer David Bianco, will change all that. Already the songs they premiere here today - the suicidal desolation of “Red Bird”, “Teenage Angel” a strong acoustic ballad about under-age sex, or the teetering self-destruction of “95 Below”, sound mature and crafted power-Rock firmly grounded in limitless confidence and assertion. Then there’s the black-hearted self-loathing of their stand-out “Monster Slide” (“I am stupid / but I’m cool...”) already lined-up as the album’s second single…

Mark and James hit London via Cambridge, impacting with Nikolaj, fresh in from his native Denmark. The final ingredient, Luke, brought the band up to strength. But Addict don’t slot easily into the industry’s restrictive Dance or Britpop-obsessed readily marketable categories, and they worked together in virtual isolation during their ‘chrysalis stage’, those long couple of years before they got signed. It’s a time that firmed and clarified their unique Big-Time vision. “It took somebody who had a vision of the world, rather than just what’s going on in England to recognise what we’re about. All of us have always been into a bigger sound than the Indie thing. As a band we all hate small-sounding records, we want to put across a bigger sound. It’s not been a particularly conscious decision. It never was. It was just the sort of music that we’ve always been into. The sort of musicians that we are. And the sort of songwriter that I am. It just led us in a different direction. I’ve always been interested in taking it around the world, and NOT just following a fashion or being a fad. So hopefully we’re going to have an audience across-the-boards.”

“That’s what we’re aiming for. We’ve worked hard” adds Luke. “It’s just a question of knowing what you want to do, and sticking to it. Like with the album. We co-produced it with David Bianco. We already knew pretty much what we wanted. But he creates a great atmosphere in the studio. He got really good performances out of everyone”. With a production CV bulging with the likes of the Rollins Band, Fleetwood Mac, Red Hot Chilli Peppers... and Mick Jagger, he has some great stories too. “And he’s an ex-surfer. But one who’s over-indulged a bit food-wise. He’s gained a little too much mid-region. We saw him in a wet-suit. That was one of the highlights of the trip.”

“I like to record quickly, and do vocals in one or two takes. But he makes you work in such a way that you spend a couple of hours doing vocals, but it doesn’t really feel like a couple of hours. It’ll be, like, ‘Great, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just get that one word there, or that line’. He makes you feel like it’s you making the decision. Very skilful in a sort-of sociological way. And he was saying that when he was doing the Mick Jagger solo album it was like Jagger didn’t really want to work with any producer, ‘cos he’s the man, and that’s what he’s like. So David would be saying ‘why don’t you try this, why not try taking the key up a tone?’ and it would be ‘No, no, Fuck Off, no, no’. Then they’d all go out for dinner. And Jagger would lean across to him and say ‘so what do you think if we take the key of the song up a tone?’, and David would go ‘oh, that’s such a good idea’. Mick Jagger would take all the credit for everything!”

And America itself? “It was terrible,” suggests Luke with a leer. “Terrible. Just sunshine. Surfing. Top Snowboarding. It was terrible. But we did get to play in the ‘Viper Rooms’...” “That’s Johnny Depp’s Club. He was there. Behind the bar. Pulling pints.” “Kate Moss was there too. She was serving. She does a great cheese-&-pickle sandwich...”

“Then we went to New York and played on the deck of this aircraft carrier for American TV distribution. They had this party, and we played ten-eleven o’clock at night, so we had the whole of the Manhattan skyline behind us while we were playing...” Nikolaj leans over to emphasise the point, spilling his lager over my cassette machine as he does so, “ ...Oh shit, that’s fucked THIS interview!”

So finally, before the lager totally frazzles the tape, any last words of advice for that girl ‘still off her head from yesterday’? “Sure, JUST SAY NO. If your Mum asks did you get high, just say no.”

Addict want the world. They want it soon. And they might just get it. It’s a kind of magic.


Following the publication of this interview, Addict were dropped by V2 after the failure of their only major-label album – ‘Stones’ (1998 - V2 81845). New Orleans sessions with producer Malcolm Burns and a guesting Emmy-Lou Harris remained unissued until 2003 when an own-label issue titled ‘Come On Sun’ made them available. Meanwhile, Addict reformed as Zanderman, but went their separate ways after an acoustic ‘Live At The Kashmir’ (2001) album. Later, Mark Aston’s well-received solo album ‘The End Is Near The Beginning’ (2002) – with Addict drummer Luke Bullen, was followed by the impressive ‘Rolling Souls’ (2005) with guest musicians including KT Tunstall… all available from

Published in:
‘HOT PRESS Vol.21 No.19’ (Eire – October 1997)


Album Review of:
(Backshop Records BSRCD003)

No longer Things, they’re now merely String-Driven. You might recall “It’s A Game”, from their early violin-driven Shel Talmy-produced line-up, which became a belated hit for, erm… Bay City Rollers? The Things own original is now a bonus-track on the CD reissue of their second Charisma album ‘The Machine That Cried’ from 1973. Glasgow-based Chris Adams is the only constant element from that first phase. His autobiographical “Grisham Hotel” narrates the story, how the ‘frankincense of failure… drowned the scent of fame’. Until, reconvened and commendably clean-energy, their Prog-Folk roots are fine-tuned with new game-elements of Americana. The sinuously stalking “Place To Lie” is a voodoo-game of disguised band names delivered in hoarse weathered vocals, ‘beetles, stones and zombies’, then ‘turtles, eels, eagles and birds’. See how many you can spot. “Die Without It” is a paean to Rock ‘n’ Roll and a spirited attack on samplers and machines, gliding in on low-slide guitars embedded in tight finely-honed small-group instrumentation, slickly Dire Straits alike – but in a good way. The ‘Another Country’ is the past, and Chris evokes lyrical vagabond troubadour-muso poem-songs about silver strings, Patrick Kavanagh verse, and meeting your idol at a backstage party (Dylan?). He gave Rock ‘n’ Roll the best years of his life… and these are melodies shaped by lyric-structure, measured in metaphors as teasingly elusive as Roger McGuinn’s ‘Chestnut Mare’. Literate songs tormented by restless phantoms of loss, regret, ghosts and past-tense dreams, ‘gone for good, gone for bad’, but either way they ain’t coming back. If ‘Rock ‘n’ Reel’ had an album of the month, this would probably be it. But is there anything a new Bay City Rollers could make a hit out of? Probably not.