Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Returned from a week of touring the band in the UK with Juana Molina. Last night in Nottingham, Sonic Boom of Spacemen 3, Spectrum and E.A.R. fame could be seen nodding his head appreciatively in the audience. The rest of the crowd wouldn't shut up but we were only playing for Sonic, so fuck the lot of them.

On thursday I play the notorious Klub Fist at the Scat Dungeon in Amsterdam, where murder is tolerated. The Dutch authorities claim that their liberal policies have resulted in a reduction in violent crime.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Hmm. I've revised my top five, and also given myself the liberty of a top ten, in no particular order:

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
An American Werewolf in London
The Blair Witch Project
The Exorcist
The Thing
The Shining
Don't Look Now
Dawn of the Dead

I can't make my mind up about the tenth one. Alien is a definite contender.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Cats in bomber jackets

Someone asked me what my favourite horror films were. I couldn't work out a top ten, but I think my top five favourite, in no particular order, are

The Shining - Stanley Kubrick
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer - John McNaughton
Halloween - John Carpenter
Psycho - Alfred Hitchcock
Dawn of the Dead - George A. Romero

Perhaps interestingly, only one of the above films -The Shining- features explicitly supernatural forces.

Thugs in barbour jackets

I never thought I would find myself on the side of riot police. But when the
Countryside Alliance descended upon Westminster to protest against the erosion of
their 'country way of life', and a small but significant minority thought it legitimate to
actually storm the House of Commons, I was, for the first time in my life, cheering on
the baton and shield wielders. It's particularly interesting that the Daily Mail-reading
classes are prepared to set such a disturbing precedent for direct action, and one
that will no doubt be imitated by the kind of groups they loathe and criticize for their
disregard for the democratic process: the anarchists, the animal liberationists, and
the religious fundamentalists. But the fox-hunters don't care about double -standards.
They're just trying to protect their God-given right to kill small animals.

The Countryside Alliance's claim to represent and protect the interests of countryside
-dwellers is patronising bullshit. The Countryside Alliance merely represents the
interests of people who like hunting foxes with dogs. They equivocate the interests of
the country-dweller with an interest in hunting, but there are plenty of country
dwellers with no interest in hunting; and there are plenty who actively oppose it.

Nonetheless the fox hunting issue is both a political and moral fudge. The
Government is keen to push through a bill that will distract attention away from Iraq, a
country that has been plunged into Civil War.The Labour Government has no qualms
about alienating the hunting lobby, a class which never votes Labour anyway. Morally,
we should be banning the intensive rearing of animals in factory farms before we ban
hunting. Chasing and tearing a fox to bits for fun, for all its savagery, is less degraded
than routinely chaining pigs in cages barely larger than their own body size and
devoid of any natural light for the tiny span of their decidedly unnatural lives, force fed
and pumped full of hormones. Killing animals for meer sport may be cruel, but so is
killing them for food if we don't raise them humanely. The fact of consumption doesn't
legitimize any old behaviour, especially considering that, like hunting them for sport,
eating animals isn't necessary for our survival.

But the Countryside Alliance can fuck right off.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

He left no traces Posted by Hello

Man with angle-grinder outside my room again.

Oh boy did I watch some bad movies at the weekend. We piled over to my brother Sean's house, ate custard doughnuts and got down to it.

We started off with a good film -John Carpenter's Christine- but the night went downhill after that. It's asking a lot of an audience to find a car scary, but with taut pacing, convincing performances and a classic Carpenter score, the B-Movie auteur pulls it off. There's
some real badass punk types who call lead-nerd Cunningham 'cuntface' and smash his glasses. Then they get expelled so they smash his car. Bad move; the car is Christine, and Christine is an evil car, and they all get run over. Christine's radio only plays '50's music, she drives herself, fixes herself and gets jealous when her owner touches girls. Ultimately, this makes Cunningham evil too, and he loses it and his friends have to kill him. But Christine won't die, because she isn't alive. Because she's a car, right? The film ends with the line 'I hate rock'n'roll'. Superb.

This is when it all kind of fell apart. We put on Andrea Bianchi's Burial Ground aka Nights of Terror aka Zombi 3. All Bianachi's other films were porno, and it shows. The scariest thing in it is is the child who is clearly played by a freakish adult midget. Italians wander around moaning with bits of clay on their faces. Some guts get eaten at one point.

After that we watched the incredible Story of Ricky, a kung fu film with insane amounts of gore. Ricky is in prison for killing a smack dealer. The prison is a privatised hell hole. Ricky rises to the top and takes control, beating the corrupt, capitalist wardens and destroying their opium harvest. Ricky has super-human strength, and when he punches people in the head, they explode. You're not allowed to watch it here because it will make you kill people, despite being probably the silliest film ever made.

Next up was a Hammer House of Horror episode called the House that Bled to Death, which Duncan Fleming brought round. For the most part it's dismal early 80's British fare, just before Hammer Studios finally realised they hadn't made a good film in years and called it a day. Everything has that depressing, suburban, Likely Lads vibe, where everyone is a total loser and has bloody awful wallpaper. This episode has a classic scene where lots of kids get sprayed with blood at a birthday party. The scene builds beautifully, with a sense of impending doom, and there really is something upsetting about kids having fun eating jelly and ice-cream,
and then getting drenched in blood from a burst water main. The film ends with one of those expected Tales of the Unexpected conceits which nullifies the first half of the film.

Then, despite my pleas, we watched Street Trash, a meandering bunch of crap with an awful comedy-rape scene where a very fat man attacks a woman while silly trombone music plays, indicating his fatness. Due to the presence of goofy circus music, it isn't rape, apparently. The only good part in the film is when someone melts after drinking out of date hooch. This doesn't happen frequently enough, and can't make up for the casual mysogyny of the previous scene. This is where the BBFC really mystifies me. They aren't prepared to pass I Spit On Your Grave, which whilst being a problematic and flawed film, does nothing if not depict rape as a truly horrifying ordeal, yet they are happy to allow us to watch something which completely trivialises it. Given their sensibly passing Irreversible uncut, i'm once again unable to comprehend their logic.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

this is how I relax in the evenings

I did an interview for Dazed and Confused and they asked me for my top ten Desert Island Discs. I know for a fact that they won't print the whole thing, so here it is.

1) my bloody valentine - come in alone
if the desert island i was stranded on was peopled by a primitive tribe I would use this song to demonstrate the art of guitar playing in the 20th century.

2) the smiths - there is a light that never goes out
this song could be used to school a primitive civilsation in the use of darkly humourous melancholy and flamboyant guitar overlays.

3) depeche mode - enjoy the silence
demonstrating to the tribe the art of dark, sensual, meticulously arranged synth pop.

4) can - i want more
who knows, maybe me and the tribe will hit it off. maybe we'll get loaded. maybe we'll have a party.

5) can - bel air
with only ten songs to listen to forever, i will soon get very bored of them. this song is twenty minutes long, so that might help a bit.

6) bert jansch - jack orion
the tribe have become bored of my music. they decide to eat me. they allow me one last song, and I choose a blues influenced fingerstyle interpretation of a traditional english folk song played by the jimmy hendrix of acoustic guitar. clocking in at nine minutes and fifty seconds, this song might give me enough time to plan my escape.

7) husker du - green eyes
perhaps if the tribe just understood that without this band we wouldn't have had the pixies or nirvana, they wouldn't eat me, and instead just grill me for interesting bits of indie rock trivia.

8) augustus pablo - king tubbys meets rockers uptown
maybe there is a shit load of pot growing on this island.

9) joy division - shadowplay
this song changed my life. maybe it will change it again, and somehow get me off this fucking island.

10) gravenhurst - black holes in the sand
everything is absolutely fine. it turns out that the tribe are massive Gravenhurst fans. who needs western civilisation when I have a legion of adoring acolytes catering to my every whim? it does, however, inspire them all to play the acoustic guitar, and it's beginning to grate on my nerves.

Yesterday I walked into the bedroom and smashed my hand on the door frame, bending my middle finger back until I heard a snapping sound. I've conducted all the standard exercises to check it isn't broken, and it isn't broken. It only hurts a bit now, but i'm going to refrain from guitar playing for a week, and i'm typing with my index fingers. In two weeks time we are recording a song at Toybox studios, then we tour the UK with Juana Molina, then I do a solo tour of Europe with Sufjan Stevens, so the use of my hands is fundamental.

I have been listening to three records on constant rotation: Sugar's 'Beaster', Onanist Homework Robot + The Guano Ignoramus' 'Large Ghost!' CD, and Life Without Building's 'Any Other City'. The latter was recommended to me by Tom of Maximo Park. LWB split after this one album, which is a great shame as they were very good. It does however mean that I can maintain my tradition of only getting into bands after they've split. According to reviews LWB sound like Television and The Slits, but I couldn't hear it myself, so that shows how little I know about music. It's a good job we have journalists, otherwise us musicians would be truly lost, wandering around in the dark and bumping into one another.

Onanist Homework Robot + The Guano Ignoramus is a project by two musicians from Bristol. Sam Wisternoff can usually be found performing under the name SJ Esau, and the other chap is usually known as Team Brick. I've known him for a couple of years but I still don't know his real name. 'Large Ghost!' is very poppy and quite strange. Though appropriate I hate to use the word 'quirky'; like 'wacky' it has become relegated to the vocabulary of the office joker, describing his humourous weekend antics to his 'straight' office chums. The track titles are 'Spannerfucker' and 'Philip Glass's Glasses'.

Car boot sale on sunday: I totally scored:
The Smuggler - Lucio Fulci VHS Graveyard Disturbance - Lamberto Bava VHS Ghost House II starring David Hasselhoff and Linda Blair VHS Steven Seagal: On Deadly Ground and Out to Kill VHS Nightmare on Elm Street - Wes Craven VHS Hellraiser I and III VHS Stallone : Cobra VHS
I also found a copy of She Freak on VHS but the woman wanted £2 for it. I offered her £1. "No, that's £2". Look lady, do you honestly think there is anyone else here who would be remotely interested in buying this rubbish?

I watched Ichi the Killer last night, disappointing. But never mind, karma wil be restored: my DVD of Andrea Bianchi's Burial Ground aka Nights of Terror aka Night of Terror aka Notil de Terrore aka Zombi 3 has arrived.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

test your consistency


This tests the consitency of your beliefs. I had a tension quotient of only 7%; apparently most people have a quotient of around 29%.

The area where I run into some tension is detailed below. I answer the tension by suggesting that my job totally requires me to use a car as we have to lug a drum kit around. Whilst one could theoretically do this by train, it would be pretty fucking hard, and on balance it seems that
using an efficient small car is the least wasteful method of transport for a band.

"But you might want to argue that much of your use of cars or aeroplanes is necessary, not for survival, but for a certain quality of life."

It has been scientifically proven that Gravenhurst is the only thing I can do without becoming chronically depressed.

"The difficulty is that the consequence of this response is that it then becomes hard to be critical of others, for it seems that 'necessary' simply means what one judges to be important for oneself."

It's not like I drive to the chip shop round the corner like some people do. In fact, I don't drive anywhere, because I can't drive. Practically the only time I get in a car is when we take our equipment to shows. Chip shop round the corner, fat kids driven to school and back one mile away: manifestly uneccesary and wasteful use of resources. Transport of drumkit in car: arguably necessary, and a statement to this effect is at least not prima facie implausible.


Questions 24 and 3: How much must I protect the environment?
23281 of the 44875 people who have completed this activity have this tension in their beliefs.
You agreed that:The environment should not be damaged unnecessarily in the pursuit of human ends
But disagreed that:People should not journey by car if they can walk, cycle or take a train instead
As walking, cycling and taking the train are all less environmentally damaging than driving a car for the same journey, if you choose to drive when you could have used another mode of transport, you are guilty of unnecessarily damaging the environment.
The problem here is the word 'unnecessary'. Very few things are necessary, if by necessary it is meant essential to survival. But you might want to argue that much of your use of cars or aeroplanes is necessary, not for survival, but for a certain quality of life. The difficulty is that the consequence of this response is that it then becomes hard to be critical of others, for it seems that 'necessary' simply means what one judges to be important for oneself. A single plane journey may add more pollutants to the atmosphere than a year's use of a high-emission vehicle. Who is guilty of causing unnecessary environmental harm here?

Be good


A rather wonderful Ethical Philosophy Selector, that determines which philosopher your views are closest to.

Kant came up top for me. But Mill came fairly close behind which doesn't make much sense considering they are commonly interpreted as having radically opposing views, and are the textbook examples of Duty versus Consequentialist ethics. I also found a few alternative answers consistent with my views, so I went back and chose those instead, and got a Spinoza result. This probably means i'm a rather confused and inconsistent man. I'm not very familiar with Spinoza's philosophy, so i'll have to get his Ethics.