On Friday 6th of August 1999 I set out to meet Martin Newell. Its about an hours drive up country for me; I live in South East England, in Kent to be precise. Martin lives in Essex, East Anglia.
He lives near Colchester, in a small, almost secret, village called Wivenhoe. I was amazed to find no sign to it until I was almost entering the village itself. I arrived about forty minutes early, deliberately, so I could have a little look around. Im glad I did, it is a beautiful little village. A quay, riverside pubs, and unusual church are some of its attractions (the church is famous for having fallen down, in the worst recorded earthquake in Englands history, about three hundred years ago).
Wivenhoe is just busy enough, with people shopping, cycling and walking, to seem alive, but there is very little traffic and noise. Its the perfect example of how an English village should be. To add to all these delights it was a beautiful summers day, with hardly a cloud in the sky and a gentle breeze keeping it comfortable. I wandered around taking pictures and generally being a complete tourist until two oclock came round and it was time to go round Martins house to see if he wanted to come out to play.
I went round the back to ring his doorbell and was greeted by the sight of Martin, looking extremely fit and healthy, in his back garden up to his shoulders in oil and muck. An upturned bicycle and a big collie dog stood loyally by his side. Bicycle repair man! said Martin, waving a determined spanner, quoting from the classic Monty Python sketch. Ive just dashed back from Colchester to get here in time and got a puncture! He finished off quickly and put the bike, a handmade Falcon Tourer, into his shed. This is the bike I did the Lizards tour on he explained. Referring to the famous tour he and Nelson embarked on in the Brotherhood of Lizards days. He introduced me to Woolly Wolf his dog, and we all went upstairs into his house.
As Martin cleaned himself up, I had a chance to look at his living room/office. Its really neat, clean and tidy, the walls are lined with hundreds of books and pictures (especially James Dodds originals) guitars, a recorder and a mandolin are all close to hand and its obvious Martin still likes to keep in practice. A phone/fax/answerphone combination stands ready. This is how Martin receives and delivers his work to the Independent. He explains that Wivenhoe is home to a number of artists and writers who work in this way. We decide to head out and find a quiet pub where we could tape the interview. Before we left he told me about the various hairstyles hes had over the years, and he sported a few of his hats for me.
Our stroll took us to
The Greyhound, the pub where Martin recorded his live poetry album. Live at
The Greyhound, which was given away with early copies of The Greatest Living
Englishman. Martin stuck his head round the door and asked the barman by his
first name (he knows just about everyone in the village) if it was quiet in
there. It was, so we went in. Martin got me a pint of Stella and himself a
lager and lime, Sixties drink, sixties geezer. he said. On the
way through, he showed me the function room where they recorded said album
and we went out into the garden...
Who were the contacts
you made then? Can you remember any of them?
The most important one really, who I am still in touch with now, but who stretches back to those days, is Joachim Reinbold, from Jarmusic. He has been completely consistent even though hes changed addresses quite a lot. Another one is Fraser Nash. I dont know what happened to him. Another guy called Gary Gypps who used to do his own stuff and I used to get all his tapes. He had a band called The Sun Dial and they actually got quite well known. He was always pretty good. Some people just distributed tapes. There was another guy in Wiltshire - Acid Tapes. Also, indirectly, Monty the Moron, who now plays keyboards with The Damned, but he was a guy I was not in touch with him much, the odd letter, but we were both being distributed by the same people. R. Stevie More eventually, but that was not until about 1986. Another one was Lord Litter - who I saw in AUTOreverse 8 - Lord Litter I was in touch with back in 1982, I used to change tapes with him quite a lot. Hes a wacky German guy. Its funny how some of them are still at it, and I am myself really, but only due to the persistence and faith of Joachim.
How did you contact
Joachim in the first place?
I cant remember, I cant remember whether it was Lord Litter or Joachim I got in touch with first. Certainly one led to the other and I wrote to one and got a letter back, but Joachim in those days used to write very short notes, usually on recycled paper with a few things on the back, you know, like maybe can sell ten copies and in the end he was beginning to sell them. It wasnt just the distributors as well it was the people who used to write about it, there were loads, especially German guys, who used to actually write about it. And another guy called Rudi Tushner or Tushler? In Switzerland. The stuff The Cleaners got was amazing. I mean at one point there was a guy in the Falklands War, a radio operator, who was listening to our tapes and playing them on forces radio. Ive still got the letter from him, it was from BFPO ships from the middle of the Falklands War.
I read about that.
[ In Richie Unterbergers Unknown Legends of Rock n Roll
I kept that letter; I felt that we were, in some small way, functioning in the context of what was happening in the world. You know, if our music was being listened to in the middle of a conflagration like that - I thought it was very strange because The Cleaners when Lol was in there - you know we did quite a lot of anti war stuff. I think at one point we thought about calling one of our albums More Songs About Nuclear Bombs And Aliens or something like that [laughs]. We had a thing about aliens and llamas! Llamas constantly came up - I dont know why!
Thats been pinched
now what with the High Llamas and the Llama Farmers.
The High Llamas are actually my favourite living band now.
Yeah, Ive got
all their stuff as well.
Blimey - another Llamas fan - I thought I was the only one! I think theyre brilliant.
Are there any tapes
you still listen to from your trading tapes days?
Ive started listening to them again. Number 13 was a big favourite of mine so was Midnight Cleaners. Ive got a copy of Any Normal Monday but I really dont know where that is. I havent got the master. Ive lost the master of that and the master of In the Golden Autumn which is a shame.
Why did you do Number
13 as The Cleaners when youd just done The Brotherhood of Lizards?
Because it was in the spirit of it. I had intended to get Lol down, and various people were supposed to be playing on it but they didnt. It so happened at that time I got chickenpox for the second time, which youre not supposed to get, but it was diagnosed and, although I wasnt very ill I was told in no uncertain terms it was a serious illness if you are an adult. I basically had to be locked in my room for three weeks and so I recorded and by the time I came out I had most of 13 done.
The Scratch And Sniff
Album - Its one of my favourites as well - its got The Greatest
Living Englishman songs in their original form on it.
It sounds like The Cleaners From Venus and I thought this is stupid - why dont I just call it The Cleaners From Venus? It wasnt originally meant to be a Newell solo thing.
Were you buying other
peoples stuff at that time?
I was constantly listening to XTC with a kind of wonderment as they grew from being a sort of jerky punk band, into something a bit more interesting. I listened to them a lot, but I cant honestly say it influenced me to play like that, but they were always much better players than us anyway. We were kind of less well-heeled, bizarro, hip cousins from the East really. There was a kind of relationship between the bands. At one time Lol was living in Bath and hed actually been in the studio when they were making The Big Express. He went in and had dinner with Andy and Colin, he just wandered in, as he tends to do, and I think they said they wanted him to do some backing vocals at one point. This is when David Lord was producing, but he declined, and I said you what?!! [ incredulous ] And another time he bumped into Andy Partridge, and pressed a Cleaners From Venus tape on him. So I knew that Andy Partridge had heard Any Normal Monday and had sort of liked one of the tracks on it and said that hed listened to it over breakfast and found one of the tracks enjoyable. Andy doesnt remember that now, but thats what I heard at the time. And then Andy got in contact with me in 1991 or 1992 and said Ive got your first book - where can I get the second one? I couldnt believe it was him ringing up. He rang me at 9.00 in the morning and said this is Andy Partridge - do you happen to know XTC? and I said course I do and he said we could do a swap then? and so I swapped him my second book for Nonsvch. And then, by another coincidence, he ended up producing me, so theres kind of a thread of contact, but it wasnt very strong.
How did it come about
then, Andy producing you after you swapped books and CDs?
Um, it was Kevin Crace of Humbug Records, had some kind of inspired idea that Andy should produce me. I only knew him as somebody who only knew my poetry and I said, Im not going to ask him. You know I think they phoned him up in Japan or something and he said yeah - send me some songs! So I sent him about 20 songs and he said you know these songs arent actually bad Martin, I reckon we have
about half an album here. And I thought half an album!! Eventually I wrote some songs as I was going along and wrote Straight To You Boy when we were there - I wrote it at his place.
Did you actually stay
with him then, at his house in Swindon?
Well I might as well have done, I spent so much time with him, but no, I stayed with Lol in Bath. I had to commute from Bath for about six months.
No, because I was doing the Bath Fringe at the time too.
Were there any other
home-taper types that you wanted to work with, apart from other band members
There was talk of working with Gary Gypps at one point, and those guys from Falling A, Barry Lamb. He was instrumental, they lived in Clacton. And oddly enough I think Ukyo Young, or Terry Boroughs as he is now, is a Jarmusic artist now, and he had a band called The Young Analysts [ cracks up as he remembers the name ]. Fucking great! I think he was in Ipswich at one time, not far from here.
What was your first
home studio like?
A Sony TC 630 Sound on Sound Machine - which Id owned since I was 21. Id inherited about 127 quid from an account my mum had taken out when I was a kid, and it came to maturity when I was 21. I bought this tape recorder for £120 and from that point on, from March 1974 Id started doing my own tapes- playing everything myself. Then I bought a portastudio and like Andy and Captain Sensible, I think wed all must have got our Teac 144 about the same time. I got mine in September 81 I think. Id heard they were coming out and I thought that technically we had the same facilities that The Beatles had, but in our living room. I just, straight away thought Im going to make an album in my living room. My life just became that, for years actually. The woman whod I just met at the time, who was with me for 13 years, she just found the dining room became a studio. She was very patient about it really, but we lived with other people and theyd came home and would be eating their meals around me, and I would be in headphones nodding saying urgh! cranking the sound up, playing the guitar, you know, trebly electric guitar, and shouting yesss. I think I was just about ready for the loony bin then, from anyone who didnt know mes point of view. Id become a living room Phil Spector. If anyone interrupted, I would say Not now! This is really important. I was in fact making Any Normal Monday.
How did you copy your
tapes, and how did you distribute them?
Wed usually order copies of 50 if I could scrape the money up. Then Id go through the long thing of writing, this was long before the days of faxes and E-mails, of writing letters and then send them out to the fanzines I knew. Then eventually after several months orders would start coming in. When you found a guy who was good youd think right, Ill send him a master and a photostattable cover. Its amazing the amount of honesty there was, people would sell ten, tell you theyd sold ten, then send you £7.10 and youd put it in the biscuit tin. There was never enough in there, but once I remember, when wed paid for all the copies and paid for all the stamps and I still had seven quid left and I thought this is beer money, Im going out for a drink! Ive earned a drink on money Ive made from my music! This other guy I know, who was always growing his own gear, his own dope and I was making my own beer, and one night we got really wrecked on his marijuana and my beer, cause I made very good beer - I was famous for it. It was Newells Young and Vicious, which later became Liquid Therapy (Counselling in a Glass) and there was another slightly stronger winter one which was called Bombs Away which is what you young chaps like to drink up topside when youre not flying over Blighty. There were all these different labels and there was a cider and that was called Newells Suicider and there was a wine called Apple Wine, which had a picture of a pink banana on it. Because I was living in this big old house, there was a paint shed and I used to keep it all in there - loads of it, gallons of it, and it was good and sometimes I used to sell it or swap it for grass or something. One night I was just sitting by the fire with Lol, with some wood wed foraged from the woods, thinking bloody hell this is brilliant and hed made all these candles. We were sitting here being lit, and heated, listening to our own music which wed made at home, smoking and drinking, everything home made and thinking this has made the Capitalist system no money at all and were having a bloody good time. If everybody did this theyd go bankrupt. But we were young guys, we were anarchists and bla bla bla it seems like a good idea. I still do it, I dont smoke dope anymore, and I still brew my own beer though.
Youll have to
treat me to one when we get back.
Ill give you a bottle to take away, but you cant drive on it!
What was the reaction
like at the time when you were putting out material yourself? Lots of encouraging
letters from musicians and DJs?
There was an incredible amount of letters. I found that I spent, probably as you do now, the E-mail people do now, I found that I spent a lot of my evenings, when I wasnt colouring in covers and making stuff, writing letters to people on a little Hungarian Maritz 30 typewriter. I just wrote so many letters and thats where a lot of the money went, just stamps, just buying stamps. Sometimes I would have to wait until the end of the week, as I was washing up dishes in a restaurant. If Id made some tips Id put that into the tin because Id have 15 letters ready to go but not be able to buy the stamps for them. We were very poor, I know that its a cliché but its true, we were poor but we were happy. It was very uncomplicated, we foraged everything. Lol was a cleaner in the restaurant and I was the washer-upper, sometimes the cleaner. He was very good at scrounging stuff. If he did gardening and got apples wed make cider out of it.It was pretty idyllic in a way; we had this great big house for 5 or 6 years and paid very little rent for it because I was looking after the tenants. I was a bit of a caretaker and Annabels kids were running about the place. It wasnt like a hippie house as such, but it was like a functioning, alternative home, people would come round, and be surprised how organised we were.
Giles Smith mentioned
that in his book, he said his parents got quite worried about it.
They did, yeah; I dont know what they thought, as I suppose we dressed pretty outlandishly. Paul was a hairdresser and there were Goth girls and lots of drama students.
People in London probably
wouldnt turn a hair but in a community like this you must have stood
out. Gives them something to talk about basically doesnt it? They probably
miss it dont they?
Yeah, maybe, but this place has always been a bit like that, a bit eccentric. There have been a lot of artists live here.
Did you send your tapes
to be reviewed in zines?
We did. We sent them to Melody Maker because they had a review page, as the DIY thing was taking off. They had a demo review page, Patrick somebody, hes still writing. I forget his name; he gave the Cleaners a glowing review. We sent him it, saying we werent looking for a deal but this is what we did. NME had Garageland and Sounds had Cassette Pets. For about two years all those papers ran cassette reviews. So it was possible to get your work publicized. Sounds printed a picture of us occasionally as well.
Are you still in friends
with any of the hometaper types you were in contact with in Ye Olde Days?
No, Ive lost contact with a lot of them; Ive recently made contact with Barry Lamb, he moved around a lot, a mysterious guy for me. Garry Gypps, I last saw about ten years ago at a gig in London. I know hes still out there doing good stuff. And Yoachim and a guy called Martin Christagau I met in Germany. Its amazing how many of these guys Ive actually met. I was in Hanover 3 years ago and this guy came up to me and gave me the master of a tape that Id forgotten all about, thats how careless I was, Id just send the master out. The cassette master not the mix master, but I havent got the machine to mix it on anymore. He came up to me and said you wont remember me and gave me the master back. I cant remember his name now; I said bloody hell I didnt even know you had this. And he said [ assumes German accent] No but I have kept it for you, and I knew that if I saw you I would give it back to you.
So you lost contact
when you stopped doing the DIY?
There was a heyday for DIY and some peopled stayed with it and some people didnt. I dipped in and out of it. The time I was really doing it non-stop was between 81-86 five years. Then I kept sporadic contact with it. Once we started to make proper records as the Cleaners From Venus it began to suck energy out of me. Because of that and the record company and all sorts of hassle I became really, really poor, desperately poor. Sometimes I was ill I was fighting for survival. Between 86 and 88 they were really tough times. Big mistake.
These are Ians
questions. Andy Partridge: love him or hate him, and you can only pick one.
Well, in that case Ill have to say I love him, hes a force for good.
Dont we all!
Yeah hes a wonderful man.
I was lucky enough
to meet him recently, well meet is putting it a bit strongly, bother him perhaps,
and he was so nice, people have this image of him as this shy retiring character,
but hes really blokey and an all right mate! kind of geezer.
Yeah well hes a Swindon lad hes a good chap. He doesnt ever claim to be intellectual but hes fearfully clever. I got on with him like a house on fire. It was sometimes like we were mirror images of each other, because Id asked Giles what he was like before I met him and he said, hes the person most like you Id ever met. He is in a way, as he never stops yakking hes always got loads of stupid jokes. Hes got what Dave Gregory calls a strangely wired brain a differently wired brain.
How does The Greatest
Living Englishman sound to you - compared with the demos?
Um, it depends which demo. Some of the demos were piss-poor - some were a little more than strumming. GLE was something that I probably can take into my grave saying I made was my one good album. Andy Partridge did a proper producers job, he brought the best flavours out of me and put in not too much of himself. I hardly ever argued with him and mostly did as he said. Hes quite autocratic, some people have a problem with him but I never did. Andys quite aware of that he describes himself as a cross between Mussolini and Santa Claus, but its true he would push me. I couldnt sometimes hear when Id gone flat and when you listened to it back Id say Andy I cant hear it, but hed just polish his glasses like a Nazi officer and turn round and say, Sorry to play the torturer Martin, but just one more. You can get it a bit better than that. Id do it, but sometimes after six or seven goes, Id say Andy its going sterile, Im going deaf listening to it hed say, okay do you want a cup of tea and hed go and make me a cup of tea
- he was really nice. We had this constant thing running when we were making the album that we were a couple of northern landladies. It started because we were listening to John Shuttleworths stuff. So we became a couple of northern seaside landladies in cardigans, wed be sitting there and as both our long term relationships were breaking up, his 17 years and mine 13 years, you know each day thered be a fresh onslaught on our sensibilities, his Mrs would be knocking at the studio door to take the kids to school saying Harry needs a new pair of shoes and Im having the toaster. [Cracks up again.] Then hed be all down and Id have to walk him round the park. The next day it would be my turn, my bird would call and say and another thing, Ive moved so and so and so and so (two blokes) into the house, theyre living here now, but I hope you dont mind but theyve borrowed some of your books and Id answer like some American business man WHAT! Id say to Andy Fucking hell Andy I dont think I can cope with this. We coped by becoming these seaside landladies saying men and their muck . And it goes all over the sheets and flakes disgusting .. Well have to get a Black & Decker attachment to flail it off. Men and their muck!. Some days we couldnt do things for laughing. Other days wed be a couple of old bodgers in a shed arguing about the best way of making a rocking horse, pencils behind our ears etc. Just boys really, boys making a den.
What has your relative
fame allowed you to do which you couldnt do before?
One thing it has allowed me to do - you get to meet your heroes. You get to meet people you really respect and have them talk to you as equals. Like, I can go and get drunk with John Cooper-Clarke who I used to worship. I can go and make a record with Andy Partridge who I really admire. I can phone up Captain Sensible and make jokes about the Queen, and such. I think, apart than one or two people, Ive met everyone Id wanted to work with. Im a very lucky boy and fame has done that for me. But apart from that I have to be careful about my own manor. I cannot now go out here and get drunk, and I would never have got into a fight, but if somebody has a pop at me I cannot then use my caustic wit to demolish them. The one time I did that I said Im on a planet and youre in a village But now I just have to say well if you think that youre probably right and just leave. I dont court fame, but I dont turn it down out of hand.
the UKs most frequently published poet.
Its all right at this level, but I dont know how big you can get as a poet. I dont go to big literary things in London. I dont put myself about. They dont talk about me in London because if you dont go and have dinner with them and dont do the schmooze, youre not in the club.
What lead you to cover
Andy Partridges song Pearl in the 80s and why in that
Yeah, Andys amazed about it. Giles Smith got hold of this unused XTC song, Giles was a real fan, I wasnt, at that stage. I just listened to their records, I got given them by people saying Martin you really must listen to this, between Giles and Lol, I got converted. Giles said Ive got this unreleased Andy Partridge song, why dont we cover it? I said alright. Also Giles had just bought this Todd Rundgren album called A Cappella which was all voice and said why dont we do this song like Todd would have done on A Cappella. So I said all right, but I think we ought to write a bit in. So weve got a little solo to put our stamp on it. A Cappella is in my top 10 all time favourite albums anyway. Really, amazing, I like Something Anything myself.
Yeah thats in
there too. Todd got me into XTC and XTC got me into you.
Thats interesting cause Andy had a really bad time with Todd but Dave and Colin got on with him quite well. I think Todd was probably a superior ego. Andy does recognize the good job he did on it now, however much he hated it at the time.
Ive met Todd
and he was really nice. He also said he loved Skylarking.
I think Todd suspected there were two really rampant egos, and one of them was going to have to be governor and it wasnt going to be Andy.
Do you enjoy being
an obscure pop god, or would you prefer overt fame and fortune?
Its too late now. But just lately Ive started listening to my own stuff. Believe it or not I can go a year or even two without listening to anything Ive done. Nel and my friends keep me doing music. Nel says come on Martin Because Im kept busy writing poetry. Then I really enjoy it and Im into it again. Other people have kept that flame burning for me. I still play my instruments a lot. Do I enjoy it? Without any bitterness, when I listen to some of my old music I think they were actually quite good.
And I didnt get a fair crack of the whip. Part of it was my own stupid fault, for being obstinate and an anarchist and fairly ignorant about the industry, and part of it Ive got a genuine grievance, but so have plenty of other clever people. It is the way of the industry and especially the industry in this country. So I still hold a grudge against the industry for that. The media, the lot. If you dont do the schmooze youre not in the club. The same with poetry. But with the poetry Im being so well published, and getting so well known at it Im sitting at the top of that fucking hill waving my big fat wanger at them and they can fuck off. Thats Andrew Motion, the poetry society and the arts council, they can all fuck off and die. And what are you going to do about me? If I go bankrupt and have to go back to gardening then Ive still done it and they havent. Which is great because Ive had my revenge on them. One day Ill have my revenge on the music industry too. I will write a book. Not a novel, a massive funny piss take, a this is what they do kind of thing.
You once said you were
going to write your autobiography. Any plans on that front?
Ive started it. Weve sent a few sample chapters off to publishers and they havent liked them very much. I sent it to Andy Partridge, he said you must go on with this, its great. The way Ive done it is-1964, then zip forward to 1974. Like 1964 Im at my first ever gig, Id been sneaked into a school dance in Colchester, thinking this is brilliant, then zip, Im in 1974 playing in Plodd my Glam rock band, brilliant. Then Im in 64 watching my friends sister putting on her white lipstick, then zip, Im shagging a bird in a broom cupboard cause Plodd havent gone down well at Essex university then zip, Im drunk in Leeds after another dreadful gig . Its supposed to be funny.. I think Ill have to wait until Im a bit more, well until the point where someone will publish anything I do. Ill say well I have this thing here . Its going to be called, and I refuse to change the title, The Chicks Are Gone, The Drugs Were Dodgy And I Never Did Get The Bastard Loot.
Did Giles Smith steal
your thunder when he wrote about the Cleaners in his book Lost In Music?
Noooo! But I do wish he had come to me for the stories. Hes a brilliant storyteller and hes good on the chronology of it, but hes not so good on Well, for instance, he says something like two months of living between scabrous sheets drove Martin a bit mad. I was there for 18 months! I never slept between scabrous sheets. I had my own sleeping bag, which I hid in a loose ceiling panel so other musicians wouldnt use it.
You were in London
all that time?
Yes, I slept under the mixing desk. When Captain Sensible was there, to his credit, he slept under the grand piano. Giles slept there a couple of times, but he would go and stay with friends in Hampstead, that hed met at Cambridge, or stay in the managers flat. Oh, and another thing my beer was not called Old Peculiar it was Young and Vicious. He ought to have known that, he drank enough of it. Whatever feeling I have for my ex now, she was a bit more than a former doctor who had who cured a rabbit. She was a bit cleverer than that. She was a Greenham woman . He wrote her off, he didnt approve of her, he was from the 80s generation. The other thing about the book, and these are my only criticisms, it must be said because its a super book, and its done me a lot of favours, I came out of it really well, was that it was a book about a band being crap.
Well I didnt
[ Protests ]
This is a book about a band failing. So in order to keep the joke going he couldnt mention the good things we chalked up. We played a couple of stunning gigs, one of which he mentions. The other thing is that Going To England shifted 10,000 units really quickly. He never mentions that. Im not trying to say we were really big rock stars you know, but the music press thought really well of us. In fact one Christmas we were crossword clues in Sounds! You dont get used as crossword clues unless people know who you are. We were really getting a little bit fashionable. People liked us.
To my eternal shame
I was into heavy metal back then.
Werent we all. I used to like Uriah Heep.
So did I, but Im
not as old as you. I was well and truly unfashionable!
No, but its music for young guys. You need spunky music. Youve got all this stuff surging through you. You need music thats eclectic, that goes durgh, durgh, durgh, clang crash, durgh, durgh. Course you do. God bless it.
All my friends liked
Duran Duran and the Blow Monkeys and stuff, Im saying Uriah Heep
are really good!
No, thats sound. Did you hear Salisbury their second album? Look At Yourself wasnt so good. Their first two were really good.
I used to work with
a lot of older guys, they would say oh, youre into music, youll
like this and foist heavy stuff on me and Id be like
I do, actually.
AC/DC were really good. What better thing to give a 17 year old boy on his birthday than an AC/DC album. Or Led Zeppelin when he gets a bit more intelligent.
Kids today are missing
out with their Steps and Boyzone.
Yeah you need more music like that, music that doesnt interfere with a frantic wanking schedule.
Yes I did have one
I know I bloody did! Non-stop! I was a six a day man at one point.
My mum never commented
on my stiff sheets.
Oh I never did that, Id disappear to the bog with a picture of a sheep and some anchovy paste.
I cant believe
Im sitting here with one of my heroes talking about my wanking activities!
Anyway back to the questions, have you ever considered doing an Oasis style
track to see how far up the charts you could ride it?
Cliff Richard did it recently didnt he .
Cliff Richard did an Oasis track?
No, he released a song
under another name, a soul thing. It was doing really well until he revealed
it was him.
Oh? What was it called?
I think. I cant believe were talking about Cliff now. Hey hang
on a minute, youve got Cliff Richards Summer Holiday
on your mantelpiece!
No its not really.
No, I guessed that!
No, thats someone I know, Alan Jenkins hes another from the DIY time. Hes completely defiant. Hes done a series of classic LP covers that arent quite right, so youve got Cliff Richard And The Shadows Summer Holiday with a picture of the goat of Mendes standing menacingly outside a cottage. I thought it was so hilarious I used it as an ornament.
It is brilliant yeah.
Getting back to the original question have you ever considered doing an Oasis
style track to see how far up the charts you could ride it?
Are you inspired to
by my Cliff Richard story?
[ laughing ] No, no
Well if someone said to me Do you fancy a go, heres the budget, Id be up for it, but there wouldnt be much point.
You could be Liam [
bad Liam impression at this point ].
I probably could yes. I think hes got a good voice.
A bit like John Lydons
Somewhere between Lydon and Lennon. The Sex Beatles is how I think of them.
My next question is
did you ever get any nutters bothering you?
Yeah. [ Serious ]
What, around here?
No. I have had a couple of serious ones. When we were doing the Cleaners we had some scary stuff. People on drugs, one letter came from someone whod been in prison. He sent me a great big joint in the post; I thought bloody hell if the police find this theyll blame me as a receiver. He meant well. I dont get too many I think, because I dont try to create any mystique. No point in pestering Martin, hell only pester you back. Have you got a fag? Give me some money.
Ian wonders have you
ever been approached about having your music remixed?
Well do you know, I never have. It might be interesting. I might even collaborate, Id be daft not to. Ive even suggested it to my publishers, they deal with dance people, much bigger people than me now. Nothing came of it, they think Im a flake anyway. I wanted them to get me together, this is years ago now, with someone who did ambient dance trance sort of stuff. I could write something, we could have dance trance poetry. There were people doing it and I knew I could do it better because Im a professional. I could come up with it. All we would need is a DAT of my voice, doing a long sort of space age poem that would appeal to people on the dance floor.
Do you like that sort
of music then?
Sometimes, yeah! Im not someone who goes dancing. Im not one of those people who goes Well Im 46 and I still go out dancing, I like those raves and Ive been known to have an E as well They say theres no age barrier but I think there bloody is! I bet when all those young ravers of about 19 or 20 see some sad pathetic geezer of 50 or some old woman whos had a face full of Gurana and Vodka they think fucking hell! Its the same as when we were younger and we saw some arthritic old granddad doing the twist and saying I can still keep up with the youngns aaaargh! in 1969.
Lets talk Gypp, the article you wrote for Mojo was priceless. Was the reunion filmed?
Gypp, it was filmed by Germans probably, yeah. Ive got live tapes. Theyre quite good, but the music does sound like it would have sounded. I always say Gypp was a good band, we were just at the wrong time. We were a great live band we had a big following, kids who didnt like punk. We were real gigging veterans. I played a place in Kent once and some young modern Darren in white socks came up and said scuse me mate but dont you think your musics a bit outta date and I said In what way? Were doing it now a lot of punters like it, how can it be out of date? If theres no demand for it how come we are working? He said yeah but all these double necked guitars and all that I said maybe food will become unfashionable and people will stop eating. Its so precious, people have been reading too many NMEs or something.
How did you meet Captain
Sensible? Is he a musical genius or just a big idiot, how is he to work with?
Hes not a big idiot, far from it, hes a brilliant musician!
Its obvious isnt
Hes as good as Andy Partridge. Captain has a real feel for new stuff, unlike Andy, Captain veers towards the dance stuff, he understands that. He was into house music and dance from the beginning, and avant-garde. His favourite band, he always maintains, was the Soft Machine. He was another prog rocker he was sympathetic to my thing with Gypp.
Its hard to believe
that music was so popular one minute and hated the next.
Well thats just a few fashionable people in London, they wrote about it. If its happening in London it must happen all over the world. I still hate the fucking bastards.
Like Danny Baker, do
you still hate him?
I think hes a very witty, funny man. Hes a Millwall supporter for which I like him. Im not a football fan but my dad supported Millwall. My managers husband supports Millwall. Ive always thought I was the poetic equivalent of Millwall. Im still good but you know its like, Were Millwall, no one likes us and we dont care. Theres a bit of that in XTC and the Cleaners and the Dammed. The Clash were Arsenal, the Sex Pistols were Chelsea and the Dammed were Millwall!
Brilliant. Did you like what Sensible contributed to your live sound?
Hes excellent, you get Captain in your band youve got the band. Theres other good people, like Nelson, as well.
Do you ever write on
anything other than guitar?
I wrote Before The Hurricane on piano. Home Counties Boy was written on mandolin. Some of the Cleaners stuff was written on bass. Most of Any Normal Monday was written with me and Lol on bass then me putting guitar on top of the bass and drums. So the bass leads the songs.
Yeah, some of those
tapes are very bassy.
Well Im on God-knows-what
The tapes we put out were always trebly.
People have obviously
compensated along the way.
People have boosted the bass up, all along the way, so in the end, they probably do sound wooffy.
Is it true that you
and Andy were lovers and that was why you were getting divorced?
Whaattt!!!! No they always say everyones a bit bisexual but Im not! Im a 100% fannywack.
So am I.
I might be a lesbian trapped in a mans body.
Yeah, I dont
mind watching other lesbians.
[ Laughs long and loud ]
Have you ever written
songs for anyone else?
I have, I used to write with Captain Sensibles ex. She is a really good musician. We wrote a couple of good songs together. One of these was called Marianne Has Gone Away I dont think it was released, its well worth hearing,.
Is there anyone else
in the realm of music youd like to work with?
Er, yeah, I would really like to work, at some point, with that guy from the High Llamas. If I was gonna work with anyone, that is a guy that I think is just great. Another guy I have a really soft spot for is- well I dont know if I want to work with him, people say he is difficult-then again people say Im difficult- is that guy from BabyBird. I think hes brilliant. That guy is a genius. What a guy!
I think people who
like your music are often attracted to similar artists, XTC, Robyn Hitchcock,
I think of Hitchcock as a contemporary. I stepped into his shoes when they were making the third Captain Sensible album. Robyn wasnt getting on very well with the producer, so he got chased out. Sensible kind of remembered me from working with me in 1981, 5 years before. Tony Phillips was the engineer on that album, he was with me in Gypp. He recommended me to Captain. We got in touch, I did some lyrics, we have been working together ever since in some form or other. We are really good buddies. In fact Im going down to see him this weekend, were looking after the kids. Would you leave your kids with these men? Sensible and Newell and four kids in Sussex, the kids have a good time with us. We give them lighters and cider and theyre happy. The grass is nice and dry up on the downs this time of year. We go down the pub.
What was your education
Im writing an article about that for the Independent. I left school at 15. I went to 15 different schools.
By the time I was 17 when I left home in London, which is where my parents were living at the time, Id lived in more houses than I was years old. I went to these 11 schools, most of which I was bullied at, apart from the last one, Elliot school in Putney which believe it or not Pierce Brosnan was at. I remember Pierce as a really well turned out Irish lad who was bullied. He was a tall good looking boy, I remember him as being alright. Rat Scabies [ The Dammed ] was at my school but he was 2 years down from me. I didnt know him then, his name was Chris Miller. My education was pretty patchy. One consistent thing however, was I was good at English. I have no qualifications to my name. I was exam phobic. The only exam I ever took was my 11+ which I failed, and Ive never had any further education. Im self-educated, I probably am well read as my main love is books and Im a compulsive reader.
Who is your favourite
novelist or poet?
Blimey, that is really hard. My favourite poet is A.E. Houseman, followed by Betjeman. Im currently re-reading David Copperfield.
Thats my favourite
It was Dickens favourite.
Its his story
Well I didnt know that, my favourite living author is Peter Ackroyd. Hawksmoor. Hes a great author.
The Dickens biographer.
Whenever I watch those Dickens adaptations on telly, there is always a character
in them that looks a bit like you.
Yeah, Ive got one of those faces. Ive also got one of those English rock n roll faces, you know stick a wig on me, put me in a picture of the Yardbirds or something and peole will go, oh, what was his name? I used to wear Dickensian clothes quite a lot.
I suppose thats
where I made the connection. So you had a secondary school education.
Yes, well actually I went to all three. Secondary, grammar and comprehensive. I was always good at English and history, which got me roundly castigated by my peers. I was never in the top stream because I was mathematically retarded. Im a typical rock star- peripatetic, cant concentrate, but when I get into something I really will. I owe all my education to, what my colleagues in my early bands described as a perverse desire to go out with difficult women. When they said difficult they meant they werent 15 and they werent schoolgirls. I used to go out with women my own age or older, who were at university or had loads of books. I was fascinated by intelligent women, I owe all my education to brainy birds. Im incredibly attracted to them.
Yeah, well arent
we all. I know I prefer to be stimulated, rather than having to think down
all the time.
On the other hand, I love fifty dollar hookers! I like it when they lick my weenie and go Ooh Ooh Oh when I squeeze their little buns! No, Ive never been that way, Giles Smith was the funniest, we went to Hamburg in the reeperbahn, the reeperbahn right. People say its like Soho in London, but its not. Okay, theyve got some music there, its where the Beatles went, but you can go to Soho and have a meal, see a film, a play, all sorts of alternative things. If you go to the reeperbahn, you are going for a shag. The Germans say we put you in reeperbahn because all you English rock stars like to bonk. Our hotel room, which I shared with Smith, looked out on commanding views of an aging whore. She was plying her trade and whistling like Lilly Marlane but with a big spreading arse. We went into a gay bar without realising it, which shows how naive we were. We went in and there were only these four, fat, pissed off looking guys drinking beer. I walked out of there with Smith and our manager, a big old sussed out Scottish geezer. Giles says Well that was a bit dull, just four miserable guys, whats all that about? and the manager says I think youll find that was a gay bar, and they were all rent boys!. I was like, oh, right. When we got back to our room, Smith unzipped his rather smart bag and pulled out this massive tome of of 18 th century poetry and proceeded to read it. So I thought This is it is it? Im in the reeperbahn in Hamburg in a whore house district and hes going to read 18th century poetry? So I turned on the telly and thats where I found the porn channel.
The Pink Bits channel.
Yeah thats it. The two Scottish managers were down the hall and you could here them shouting out. Bring out the pink bits! I went to bed early. By myself!
How long have you been
Well, I think Ive been trying to write poetry since I was 5 or 6, ever since I could write. I was a bit late at writing, but ever since I could, and I knew what it was, I was trying to rhyme things. But poets in England have such a bad reputation, as being boring or whatever that you almost have to come out of the closet as a poet. Like, yeah, I suppose gays do.
Any thoughts on the
Im just trying to work out how I can get away from it. One idea was, because Im a great kitchen porter, was to go and do that for a couple of days, the other was to barricade myself in my room with some money in a sock, some tins of beans and a shotgun! No, I think well be singularly underwhelmed. I dont really like New Year very much. Everybody has too much to drink and then expects something to happen at midnight. And then nothing does and fights break out where you end up in bed with your elderly Landlady Mrs Hollis who then wants to take the relationship further.
Yeah, we hate it as
Put it this way: Ill never do it again, and I hope Mrs Hollis never finds out where Im living!
Whats your favourite
A Czechoslovakian lager called Urquallah. I like lager. I dont make lager, I make my own bitter. My favourite bitter is Adnams - if youre drinking it in Southwold - where it comes from. It doesnt travel well, it tastes better the nearer you are to the brewery. Or Fullers ESB, but thats underpants mixture. Makes your underpants look like Santa Pod that does! Fullers is a good brewery.
Breakfast: scrambled egg, kippers, grilled tomato, freshly squeezed orange juice and real coffee. I have a cooked breakfast every day. I dont eat cereal. Im really good at making breakfast. I do them for people sometimes.
So why do vegetarians
like me and you eat fish then?
Im not a vegetarian, Im a non-carnivore. I would eat meat, if pushed, I just dont like it. Its not a compassion or sentimental thing - Im a country geezer.
Im not against
people eating meat if people kept the animal themselves and killed it themselves
or at least theres some honesty about it.
For those people who are obsessed with eating meat, I think there should be community slaughter houses - you go and pick your animal, you dont have to kill it yourself, but you would have to be there while they do it. That would turn half the people off.
What kind of bike is
it you ride?
Its a Falcon hand built tourer.
Have you ever make
Yeah, loads of them.
Were they shown on
I dont know. We made one with the guy who made The Monochrome Sets videos. Me and Giles did it, it was Johnny The Moondog Is Dead. It got shown in Germany. Ive never consciously made a pop video, because I said how much is this going to cost and they said £30,000 or something and I said thats an awful lot of Ethiopian breakfasts for a three minute film which may never get shown.
A guy in America swears
hes seen the Cleaners on MTV.
Its possible. Ive been filmed a lot. Its possible that someone has welded them together. There were lots of live bits and pieces. I havent got a VCR, but Ive got a cupboard full of things that Ive done for telly. My mum very kindly made me a compilation one Christmas. She has a network of old ladies who tape anything I do when they see it. They ring her up and say I saw your Martin on cable last week and my mum got my brother to put this collage together as a Christmas present.
Ah, bless her! Have
your parents been supportive then?
[ laughs ] No, not a first. They were completely baffled - they thought they had a complete casualty on their hands. But they were glad when I actually joined a pop group when I was 20, cos Id been doing a lot of chemical naughtiness between 17 and 20 and got myself into substantial trouble of various sorts because of it.
What do you feel about
drug use today?
When I used to do it, it was a small and inelegant coterie of shy and rather inadequate middle-class young men who wore great coats and listened to Uriah Heap and Stray and the Pink Fairies and had this thing where you smoked joints or go to the temple and take pills, or wed trip out on acid and stuff and some of us got into a bigger mess than others. Like me. It was something you did and grew out of. It was something the straights didnt do. Skinheads didnt take drugs or anything. But now everyones bollocking all this stuff down like its beer and they dont actually know what its doing. We had this thing, we were clued up, we would check out the literature, you know, we were bright Bohemian arty kids. It doesnt make us any better, we still did stupid things, but it wasnt generally associated with crime. Youd have a dealer come round - it was usually some long haired geezer in an afghan who usually live a couple of streets away. Hed have little quid deals wrapped in silver foil. Six of you would be in a room under a red light bulb listening to Sabbath, having a joint saying [ in posh English voice ] British Standard three pulls it was the unspoken rule. If you broke it people would think oh, we cant have that, the chap took more than three pulls there, we wont invite him again. It was all very English you know. Its like Andy Partridge says, the difference between English and American psychedelia was that America was full blown riots and Grateful Dead explosions of colour. English psychedelia was like something gone rather wrong at the garden party. The vicars turned into a walrus. Jeremy thinks hes a stoat.
Very Lewis Carol.
Yeah, thats it. Now every boneheads at it. [ thuggy voice ] Got some fucking ecstasy and then later when theyre out on blue six and theyre having a punch up or theres these ravers dancing to a toilet flushing chewing on their cardigan sleeves gnash gnash gnash saying top sounds man, top sounds and it started this whole industry of people using machine guns on each other. Drug taking should be something you grow out of. I didnt realise I had it in my head anyway because I was always like that. If anything drugs kill it, drugs kill creativity. Well, it did for me. I dont like what they do. Luckily, I went through my drug phase very quickly. I do like the humour in it, the old acid humour. All drugs are an overdraft on your own health and happiness. Drinking, unless youre really going for it, is only a short cheap loan with just a little bit of interest. You pay it back in the morning with a hangover and a bit of the squits. With drugs you have something incredible happen in your head for about an evening, but its still bouncing about in there weeks later.
All your recent musical
output has been studio based, or at least had more of a studio feel. Is this
a conscious effort on your part to produce music of a better technical quality?
Do you think this approach loses the charm of your home produced stuff?
Thats exactly why I feel Ive gone back to DIY, I can prove it. Ive 6 or so songs Ive been doing on Nelsons 4 track. I did Black Shuck like that as well.
Lets Kiosk was
Lets Kiosk was 8 track. Fucking great, Lets Kiosk. I was playing that to someone last night. I said this is what happens when I go into a garage studio and Im in complete control. The guy in the studio said we wont be able to do anything fancy. I said dont worry Im a great garage producer. Jangling Man wasnt supposed to be on that. I wrote a song called Popular Girl for that.
That was my next question.
Why did Popular Girl only just surface on Wayward Genius?
Because Kevin at Humbug, in his infinite wisdom creamed it off for the Humbug Sampler. He also wanted to attach Andy Partridges name to the EP. That took three days to record, it was supposed to be a cheap and cheerful stopgap for the fans.
People love it. If
I had my way, that would be the direction your music would go. Its professionally
polished, but has all the charm of the home stuff.
Yes, every time I do something thats what Im aiming for. Even now people are trying to get me into a studio to do something posh. Id rather do something in my living room because Im good at that.
using music as a backdrop to your poetry - do you write the music with poetry
in mind, or do you write the music afterwards?
With Black Shuck, I wrote it as I went along, Id never done it like that before.
Music and poetry simultaneously?
Yeah, as I wrote the words Id think were going to need a bit of this!
Ashley Powell asks
Some of your poetry recently has been narrative based, have you thought
about recreating this live with a number of different speakers?
BBC drama department can do that. I want Radio 4 to do Black Shuck.
Is The Greatest
Living Englishman based on a real person?
Its actually about any of those barrow boys from the East End, or conversely the kind of people from Eton who are mavericks. No one person in particular, but examples would be your Andrew Loog Oldam, your John Bloom, even your John Profumo. Any Englishman whos made it to a point of power and then been deprived of it. A kind of conglomerate of all those people who have come up and were walking on water, then ended up in the Nick but they still said well, I had to do it, I would have been mad not to try.
What kind of electric
guitar do you use and what kind of effects do you employ to get your trademark
I usually use a Hofner. Ive never been fussy, but I actually prefer a Rickenbacker 330 Fireglow which I use for the Cleaners a lot, or a Rickenbacker 12. I actually have a 1958 Hofner which I used on the early stuff. To get that sound I used to use a very old MXR flanger, but I never used it as a flanger, I used it as a chorus by using barely any regenertion but a little bit of depth to get a chorus sound, then Id compress it with a cheap front line compressor. The guitar goes into the compressor first with quite a lot, then into a very cheap copycat echo unit. Then theres the tunings, B string dropped to A and sometimes E to D.
Quite complicated isnt
Compression, chorus, rock n roll echo.
Mitch Friedman asks:
What deserves the most admiration: humorous and timely poetry or timeless
I dont know, they sort of run neck and neck at different times.
Sometimes I think that
the newspaper ones are like read once, smile and move on.
Sometimes it is, sometimes I managed to get something else in. But I dont just do the newspaper stuff.
I personally prefer
your Poetic Licence to Lyric Sheets, because perhaps as I get older, Im
not so interested in the Spice Girls or whatever.
But thats what
youre forced to write about, isnt it?
No, no, in the last fortnight I was writing about acid and Woodstock and that.
I loved your recent
one about John Prescott and class. It summed my grandparents up to a tee.
Yeah, and theres the Weekly Muse, I write a bit of proper poetry at the beginning of that every week. Its poetry as pop music. Its for here and now and then But there is stuff that retains its currency and its kept. Im proud of some of the stuff that I write.
Justly. You used to
usually collaborate on your music. Do you miss that with poetry?
Yeah, yeah. Its lonely poetry, really lonely. I like doing it live touring with John Cooper Clarke because theres two of us and we have a banter. But I miss being with the chaps having a laugh. Im at my best when Ive got a couple of guys to entertain. Its a scream sometimes.
Is there a conscious
difference in the process of writing song lyrics and writing poems? Do you
evaluate what you have written and think that will be a good song
and then come up with a tune to fit it?
The tune always comes first, but the tune suggests words and I develop them together. I find writing lyrics for songs harder, its a different process. Theyre not brother and sister, lyrics and poetry, theyre cousins. Had I not been writing lyrics my poetry would not have been kept honed all these years. What Im known and respected for and what has advanced my career and made me a living has been doing poetry. For some reason a whole bunch of people out there think its great and arent even interested in the music - can you believe that? Theres been hardly any crossover. Ive studiously kept the two apart until Black Shuck. I dont understand their lack of interest in the music but Ive taken it on board.
Now youve breached
it, would you combine it live?
No, I do a poetry set and a music set, I keep them separate.
Did you find that you
had to water down or weaken your lyrics to make them fit the song structure?
No, I work in rhyme anyway, Ive always regarded that a cage to be brilliant in. Rhyme is the cage, scansion the amount of steps you can take from one set of bars to another before you have to turn it around and walk the other way. If you had complete freedom you might write gobbledegook. Heres the box, heres the subject - go and be clever in that, Mr Fucking Genius. Its good for me.
How do you cope with
I just do it. I just get on with it. It used to freak me out but its like a tightrope, you dont look down.
Ever missed any?
Never, not one.
Sometimes you dont
appear in the Independent.
Sometimes it gets spiked. Thats newspapers. I havent had a week off - this is week 50 of 3 poems a week. I havent had a proper holiday since 1996 and then I just laid around on a hillside at Sensibles for two weeks and I still had a poem at the end of that.
At least poetry is
Yeah, I take the word-processor with me.
You dont find
the pressure daunting?
It was starting to get to me in April, driving me a bit mad. It made me a bit depressed. I feel better now.
Do you think you can
keep up Lyric Sheets forever?
If one had to go, I would rather it were Lyric Sheets. I can still do it, Im interested in the future because I can imagine it. Im interested in the past because I know about it. What Im not particularly interested in is the present. They do ask me to do stuff that Im not interested in, but they dont always ask me to write about the Spice Girls.
I know, Im sorry,
I was just trying to be provocative. So do they tell you what to write about?
No, I say weve got this or this. I wanted to do something about this song Blur are recording thats going to be bounced off of Mars. I think thats something interesting to write a poem about. Im interested in the future.
Did you ever write
a book called Spinach and Zwieback?
No, thats Newell Martin. Ive no idea who he is, but if hes got a surname as a first name its a good bet that hes an American. There is, however, another Martin Newell and hes an Irishman and I think hes a top mathematician. I know this because I had a letter from an Irish fella inviting me to a conference in Belgium being very affectionate and saying do come out to this conference, I look forward to having a pint of beer with you, I knew your father very well. I read this thinking a mathematical conference in Belgium! then I thought hang on a minute, perhaps this is that top mathematician. What I know about maths could be written on a grain of rice and thered still be some space. So watch out for Newell Martin and Martin Newell, but then again theyve probably been pestered by people wanting tapes off them! [in Irish accent] I dont know why you would want to hear a recording of my theories of long division?
Music and politics,
do they mix? Does the music suffer?
When it gets too strident, especially the English. The English do not like stridency. I always think it is best to do it as a prankster, satire works better than stridency. New Model Army, Nel plays with them, theyve got this solid Northern attitude: What is this madness what weve done? We were quite political in the early Cleaners days but I think we got a bit strident. Id recently discovered politics and wanted to make a statement but theres no point. No one listens to you, they just think youre being stupid.
Any thoughts on the
Well, thats where
most people are going to see this.
Well, I think its probably a very good thing. I havent got time, I know how much time it takes. Its like the DIY thing. Little did I know when I was doing my DIY thing back then how it would take off on the Internet. Im not saying I was a prophet, if I was it was an accident, just like when I made a profit. But you can bet your life the record companies are doing their best to regulate it. Its out of their control and they really hate it. They are probably reeling in young software buffs asking how do we control this thing so that we can make money from it?
Do you now have control
of all your own music?
Yeah, I own most of it now, the copyrights. The publishing is owned but my publishers Notting Hill Music are very good. I license my music to Cherry Red. The Wayward Genius CD has sold a thousand copies so far, but the good thing is Cherry Red dont delete, so people can get it for five years or so which is marvelous. They are putting out The Greatest Living Englishman in September and The Off White Album.
Are you going to put
any new stuff out through them?
I dont know if theyd be interested really, I might sell my new stuff on the Web. Theres a company in Colchester called Ten Penny Hill Records - they might do it.
We strolled back to Martins house and went upstairs where he made us some toast and he put some demos for his forthcoming album Four Track Demo God on the tape deck. Now I know why I do this, why I persistently hound this man to make some more music. He played me a track called, I think, At My Funeral, which is unlike anything Ive heard before from Martin. Its a bit morose, but highly absorbing, all about getting his friends to a woodland glade to drink his beer and dance to his songs, while he burns on a fire of green twigs . Oh yeah, it is morose, but its great. So is the next one up, A Smashing Bird Like Brenda a song for a classic British 60s film that was never made. It is pure Cleaners From Venus and possibly his best pure pop song since Popular Girl. Martin and I grinned at each other like Cheshire cats; were both chuffed to bits with it. He played me various other things and we recorded him doing his poem Bob, which can be downloaded from the MP3 page, then its time for me to go. I then spent the following month typing up this interview.
Hot news for the listeners.
I am rushing this letter because this very day 24th January, I begin work on the first all new Cleaners from Venus album for several years.
Thats right, I reconciled my differences with myself. Ive been writing new stuff. Dusting down instruments.
Im bicycling over to Nels in about an hours time to start on a new track. if nothing goes wrong we hope to finish this project in summer....maybe earlier for release in early autumn. Title of album will be The Spirit Cage. Im really very excited about this and feel like Im coming home to an old cottage with roses round the door.
I only hope that the finished results of this pre-menopausal project will please those listeners still old enough to remember me.
More when I know more.
http://www.martinnewell.co.uk (c) 2000 Paul Wilkinson/AUTOreverse