Monday, 31 January 2011

The Static Age

This is a Petomane tune for the mooted second album "The Rock Machine Turns You On". It's actually a very old song that Kasch has stripped down and added some Martin guitar. I wanted to include a sample of Edward Woodward saying "Protected by the ejaculation of serpents?" but was shouted down as Kasch doesn't like vocal samples.(he liked them plenty on Fox Base Alpha one of the Petomane's ur-albums! One of our few bonding moments was on a fractious holiday in Portugal where the DJ "dropped" "Nothing Can Stop Us Now" by Saint Etienne)

I didnt take the opportunity of re-writing the lyrics to match the new tune!

The Static Age

Running through the Aquaduct
I got caught in a grating mesh,
I got my goat up I confess,
That's the modern age,
I'm static with rage,
This is the Static age,

Splitting a clementine,
To read the pith and juice within,
A process known as clemency,
I read nothing,
I'm static with rage,
This is the Static Age,

Crushing a serpent's head,
Beneath the tread of my puckered brogue,
Like mythology I've been told,
My shoes are ruined though!
I'm static with rage,
This is the Static Age

The Drunkest Man in the Room

This is another Club of Queer Trades "number" and therefore it was written in 2010 as I suspect all of them were. 2010 was a bumper year for me in terms of songwriting and personal devastation, writing upwards of 60 songs, most of them for The Club. Drinking is one of the mainstays of my ouvre and public and private drunkeness is one of my areas of expertise. Not that I'm an expert drinker my any means; I've always been rubbish at it, as I was at smoking when I gave that a go. I'm currently viceless, not even snuff at parties. This is why:



The Drunkest Man in the Room

I came here to party but the party's petered out
I'm drinking alone in the coat room
the hum of strangers; a strip of light under the door
I'll need another drink soon

A fat couple burst in from the party
she's flushed, he's amorous
I try to speak, slur my words, spill my drink
it's less than glamorous

Once again the drunkest man in the room
A fixed point, the party pivot
Always drinking to forget my life
And my failed attempts to live it

How much I drink, well, it's staggering
‘Round the room with my glass
Around the room with my top up
An own goal from a pretty pass

I'm John and I'm the party pole-star
My light is growing dim
Everybody navigates around me
"At least I'm not as pissed as him"

Once again the drunkest man in the room
A fixed point; the party pivot
Always drinking to forget my life
And my failed attempts to live it

I really like the flavour
I savour every drop
I like what drink does to me
I just can’t seem to stop
I've got a decent palette
And I can be a snob
I sleep upon the sofa
With wine stains around my gob
Once again the drunkest man in the room
A fixed point; the party pivot
Always drinking to forget my life
And my failed attempts to live it


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Tell them I said something

One of the neatest, most concise lyrics I've written and one of Martin's sweetest and simplest tunes - I love this one.

The title, of course, comes from Pancho Villa's famous last words: "Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something."



Tell them I said something

And if you find me, small and yellow
On a pillow
On some hospital ward that can’t afford
A working nursing staff
Tell them I had the last laugh

And tell them I said something

And if you ask me, semi-conscious
In a taxi
In sotto voice but sort of blotto
And maudlin in my cups
For heaven’s sake make something up

And tell them I said something

My Single Friend

This is a Red Atlas song and quite an early Red Atlas song. It's possibly still a staple of the theoretical Atlas live-set. It's necessarily a theoretical live-set as we haven't played now for nearly two years (can that be right? two years?). More than that we havent actually met each other en-mass since, I think, and I'm working sans diary here, last October. Now I have to take some responsibility for the former:I stropped off in a taxi after the last gig (third on the bill at the Legion in Old Street)in fully moody singer pomp. And I was right to do so: we had no soundcheck, nobody was in time or tune, the guitars were cranked-up so much that half way through the set the guy working the desk shrugged and sat down as there was no way to make the sond any better. The only person in the entire building who could hear me was me because my pr-eamp was working. I was in good voice!

It was a disaster and when I confronted the others about it they looked at me as if I had a small, lemon-coloured cat wedged behind my ear.The idea that the gig had not gone well was utterly alien to them. But then they are musicians: they have planks of wood and a wall of sound to hide behind. I am not, most assuredly I am not, a musician, but rather a red-faced, grey-haired, overweight man blithely miming through a selection of inaudible 80s indie songs, with the cheeks of Dizzy Gillespie and the auto-motive prowess of Bobby.

Things have rarely gone smoothly in the studio either. We've been in three times and have probably attempted an albums worth of material. I think there are perhaps three I'm "okay" with. This would be one of them.









My Single Friend,


My single friend,
Ticking like a cartoon bomb,
My ear-ache is now beyond repair,
My friends keep well away from me,
But my single friend, oh no, not my single friend,
My friends keep well down wind of me,
But not she, she won't let me alone,
My friends keep well down wind of me,
But not she, she won't let me alone,

My single friend,
A catalogue of woes,
She's teaching "Applied Neurosis 101"
My friends all shy away from me,
But my single friend? Not my single friend,
My friends cross the street when they see me,
But not she, she will not let me be,
My friends cross the street when they see me,
But not she, she won't let me alone,

My single friend,
What can it mean?
"His feet sweat, he really has to go!"
My friends burn photographs of me,
But my single friend? Not my single friend,
My friends stick pins in dolls of me,
But my single friend, not my single friend,
My friends stick pins in dolls of me,
But she, she will not let me be,
My friends stick pins in dolls of me,
But she, she will not let me be,

My single friend,
Tells me I'm,
Her straightest, gayest, straightest, gay best friend,
My friends stick daggers in my back,
Infamy, they've all got it in for me,
My friends burn me in effigy,
But she, she will not let me be,
My friends would remove me from history,
But not she, she'll always stick by me

Friday, 21 January 2011

Cell Phone & Celebrity Price Tag

I can't believe we live in a society where there is a consensus on the expression "celebrity price tag". Hello. These are two more songs for the mooted girl-band The Namedrops.

Cell Phoneis that staple of the tin pan alley/ hollywood teen experience - waiting for the telephone to ring. Blondie nailed this one of course with "Hanging on the telephone" and then, rather rudely, did it again with "Call me" . And of course there's the timeless classic "Clouds across the moon" by The Rah Band , giving the concept a much needed Sci Fi re-boot.

But I thought the time had come for another slightly duller and less inspired version. The title is, of course, a pun: the telephone has literally become a prison cell as she is waiting on a call, she is trapped and unable to function.

But obviously we're far sighted enough to have our eyes on the American market too.

Celebrity Price Tag is about my hatred of tabloid culture and the toxic overspill into other areas of life; advertising being an obvious choice. I find much of the modern world disgusting: from it's values, aspirations and cultural heroes to Ugg boots and tattoos popular entertainments. (whilst enjoying the availability of wireless-internet, disposable contact lenses and good food in pubs!)




Cell Phone

I'm in a mess
And my best party dress
I finally got into after 7 weeks
How could you go and do this
I look like a member of Kiss
My mascara running down my cheeks

O-oh oh maybe I got mixed signals
O-oh oh but you're so hard to figure
O-oh oh our date was a disaster
O-oh oh you didn’t call me after

You got me trapped like a prisoner
Hung up and alone
Waiting for your name on my cell phone, cell phone
You're on vibrate in my pocket
But you would never know
Cause I never see your name on my cell phone, cell phone

My friends all said
You'd leave me for dead
You've got a reputation follows you around
But I'm still in a state
Did i some how orchestrate
this communication break-down

O-oh oh maybe I got mixed signals
O-oh oh but you're so hard to figure
O-oh oh our date was a disaster
O-oh oh you didn’t call me after

You got me trapped like a prisoner
Hung up and alone
Waiting for your name on my cell phone, cell phone
You're on vibrate in my pocket
But you would never know
Cause I never see your name on my cell phone, cell phone

predictive text tells me next
time I'll do it all again
my phone thrown at the wall exactly as you call
tells me I've done it again

You got me trapped like a prisoner
Hung up and alone
Waiting for your name on my cell phone, cell phone
You're on vibrate in my pocket
But you would never know
Cause I never see your name on my cell phone, cell phone



Celebrity price tag

Tandooried in fake-tan
Tramp-stamp, thank you ma’am
Wicked-whispers and ugly rumours
You look like a panda drawn on a Satsuma
Leaking your sex-tapes
Selling your arsehole
Blinded by false lashes, driven by fame
Dancing up the greasy pole again and again

I don’t need the bag
Never read a fashion mag
Telling me what I should own?
I don’t think so
No celebrity price tag
No celebrity price tag no

Consumer consumptives
Presumably presumptuous
Papparazzi shoot you like they’re shooting fish
I’ve seen more culture in a Petri dish
Leaking your sex-tapes
Selling your arsehole
Blinded by false lashes, driven by fame
Dancing up the greasy pole again and again

I don’t need the bag
Never read a fashion mag
Telling me what I should own?
I don’t think so
No celebrity price tag
No celebrity price tag no

Forced to start necking the tabloidese
I feel sanatogen with these seven c’s:
Celebrity crack-den, caught out clubbing
Cancerous crotch rot, Conservative slumming
Our queen of hearts with a bun in the oven
Death by botox for the Grubb street coven

Grazia, nein danker yer wanker

I don’t need the bag
Never read a fashion mag
Telling me what I should own?
I don’t think so
No celebrity price tag
No celebrity price tag no

Short Man Blues & Fat Today

These too are jokes. Short Man Blues was written about a friend who, while claiming that she was desperately lonely and would try anything for love, maintained an aggressively heightist agenda. Men under 5'11" were simply not up for consideration.

Fat Today is me channeling my own woes through a "Loose Women" filter.

Short man blues

I’ve got the short man blues
I’m drowning myself in yellow fizzy booze
I’d cheer myself up with some impractical shoes
But then I’d tower over him

I’ve got short man syndrome something rotten
I’m Miss Woeful, Miss Wistful and Miss Begotten
A blue eyed boy in my bed seems somehow verboten
Replaced by something grim

Here comes another knee- high Napoleon
His bony-parts exposed, there’s no consoling him
Lying on his back on the linoleum
I’ll need to get out the vim


fat today

I felt fat today; it was hanging over my belt
How I wish, to paraphrase the bard
This solid flesh would melt

I pinch the flesh above my hip
Soft beneath my thumb and knuckle
I think I’ll join a gym, I muse
But pour a gin and then do fuck all

Come friendly bombs and fall on blokes
Their farting and their dirty jokes
The loo seat left up every time
Our partners in a life of grime

If we could break them in like horses
Send them off on umpteen courses
Till Stepford boyfriends were returned
Much humbled by lessons learned

Manicured and ripped and toned
Empathic skills all neatly honed
We’d learn to hate this new edition
We couldn’t stand the competition

Friday, 14 January 2011

That wasn't me (that was Stewart Lee)

This song is so new it doesn't even have a band or tune yet. It's been given to both Doug and Martin and I envision the verses sounding something like "North American scum" by LCD Soundsystem. But faster.

This a song born of jealousy really. Stewart Lee looks a bit like me (we're both ex-thin men with quiffs who have probably drunk more than is good for us) and he lives near me, he has simillar interests and likes a lot of the same music as I do. However he is almost universally acknowledged as the finest comedian of his generation and I am an anonymous sad-sack who can't get his book published. So, as you can see, I would seem to be motivated solely by jealousy.

And yet...

I can't even sustain even that level of bitterness, as the all too telling last verse records...

n.b. my first novel "A Devil in Camelot" is much better than Stewart's first (and to date only)novel "The Perfect Fool" and yet his, and only his, was published. This is because he is an award winning comedian with a proven fan-base and a television career stretching back almost two decades and the only time I've ever been on T.V. is when I was stopped by the cameras of "Thames Valley T,V." and asked about the mooted closure of Reading town centre's infamous "smelly alley".

Later that same day, on trying to buy a pair of shoes, I went to the cash machine and realised that I had completely forgotten my pin-number. It was just gone; forever. I had to ring the bank and ask for a new one and I never got the shoes.
This never happens to Stewart Lee who can afford expensive plastic surgery in order to render his pin-number handily on the back of his eyelids for safe and secure retrieval. He favours comic sans. But then he would.

That wasn’t me ( that was Stewart Lee)

Did I see you at the gig last night,
That wasn’t me that was Stewart Lee,
Alone at the bar and your jacket too tight,
That wasn’t me that was Stewart Lee,
You sneered and you snorted at every song,
That wasn’t me that was Stewart Lee,
And then went home before the main-act came on,
That wasn’t me that was Stewart Lee,

That wasn’t me that was Stewart Lee,
That wasn’t me that was Stewart Lee,

Did I see signing copies of your book,
That wasn’t me that was Stewart Lee,
The one that rambled on and on like a song without a hook,
That wasn’t me that was Stewart Lee,
Did I hear you got a second series on BBC2
That wasn’t me that was Stewart Lee,
Love all the rolling on the floor stuff that you do
That wasn’t me that was Stewart Lee

That wasn’t me that was Stewart Lee,
That wasn’t me that was Stewart Lee,

I look in the mirror and my face is a mess,
Stewart Lee haunts me like the ghost of success,
Like the same things, dress the same way, lives close by,
He’s a much better version of myself though I try and I try,

Did I hear you mostly wasted your time,
Yeah that was me not Stewart Lee,
Booze, broken bones and the search for semi-accurate rhymes,
Yeah that was me not stewart Lee,
Did I hear that you still don’t make any money,
Yeah that was me not Stewart Lee,
You’re a fat smart arse in a bad suit who thinks he’s funny,
Hey that both me and Stewart Lee,

That wasn’t me that was Stewart Lee,
That wasn’t me that was Stewart Lee,
That wasn’t me that was Stewart Lee,
That wasn’t me that was Stewart Lee,

The Hip Replacement Priest

This was written for The Club of Queer Trades. You can tell that really, I take time over the club songs because i can write them from scratch. with virtually all the other bands the music comes first and you sort of join the dots. this is an excellent way of working; a guide vocal gives you the timing, stresses, the syncopation and then you can go away and work backwards from that. When i'm working on Big Marker or KNOCK-KNOCK songs I'm singing them almost at the same time as hearing them so there is an immediacy and an energy to them: they're quite vivid. But with The Club I like to seat back in an armchair with a good single-malt and a loaded churchwarden and let the inspiration billow out of my nostrils.

The obvious reference for the song is The Fall's "Hip Priest" but really, lyrically it's a cross between Jarvis Cocker, Jake Thackray and the spoken word bits from Dexy's "Dont Stand Me Down" (specifically "What's she like" in the running to be one of my favourite ever songs).

The notion of making old people the vanguard of media culture is one that's close to my heart but it's a pipe-dream. Old people look funny.



The Hip Replacement Priest

A lot of people, they
Come up to me, they say
John, you’re a pretty cool guy
Well you must have been back in the day
I say “Sure, I had my moments
I wasn’t captain of the team, you understand
But the skinny boys, the readers
I took them by the hand
I told them what to read and why
And how to comb their hair
Which rock and roll bands were cool
And which of them were square
A long time ago and far away
There was a magic land
The sun was always shining so
Desert boots were in demand
There were feminists, vegetarians and hunting saboteurs
Seven inches, hand-pressed and dressed
Were always “de rigueur”
Fringes, badges and Crombie coats
Were non-gender specific
And no one ever had a fuck
But the wanking was terrific,
And I bestrode it like a colossus
They called me Iron John
Because of the solid principles
I built my empire on
But not any more friends
Fisherman’s caps no longer doffed
I’m super-annuated
My rep’s been pensioned off
My jowls have dropped like shopping
Beauty’s become the beast
My bed-side manner’s moribund
As the hip replacement priest

What is it, do you think
That first starts to go?
The first crack in the windscreen
First empty seats at the show
When did it first slip from my grasp
Could I place the date?
That I first tested my muscles
And found they couldn’t take my weight
I looked like I was off somewhere

Less crowded, dark and cramped
But the travelers’ cheques stayed in the drawer
The passport’s left unstamped
Now my thoughts are never sought
My opinions not required
I still get the odd enquiry
Like “Are you feeling tired?”
“Do you want a sit down?” “Shall I stick on the kettle?”
My carers all have tattoos
And their faces pierced with metal
I shift the tartan blanket
I rearrange my shawl
And think “I could have been the king
I could have had it all”
I’m swaddled in self-pity
Tight as a miser’s cigarette
But I don’t think it hasn’t happened
But that it hasn’t happened yet
I’ll reverse the polarities
I’ll turn things on their head
Popularise pot bellies
Eroticise the wed
They’ll colour their hair grey
With a dye called “Just for Boys”
They’ll be tutting at the live shows
Asking to turn down the noise
Hand-brake turns at the whist drive
They’ll swap the crack den for the snug
The only stimulant sanctioned is
An ounce of ready rubbed
Cardigans and crosswords
Youthful beauty lined with age
It’s not your cataracts; it’s dry ice
As I appear onstage
I’m seated in a rocking chair
Dressed in corduroy and tweed
At my feet sit leggy lovelies
All pretending to take heed
The orchestra starts to swell and
Once the applause has ceased
I croon my theme; my anthem:
The Hip Replacement Priest







http://www.myspace.com/clubofqueertrades

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Endless Summer Nights

This is a song for The Namedrops , our attempt to svengali it up a bit and have a girl band. An odd move for a pair of old-skool commited feminists but we need shoes too! This project is still mooted and there are a couple of singers who can potentially sing the songs but this one is a male/female duet: it's my very own "Dont you want me, baby".

I wouldnt be at all surprised if I affected a flat Northern accent to sing this. It's the sort of thing I do. I'm nothing if not inauthentic!


Endless Summer Night

Him.
I wanted local colour
When I first hit town
I was a cub reporter
On a national of renown

Her
I saw you by the dance floor
Shuffling nervously
I said “I’m like super-glue
Use me sparingly!”

Him
Yes, you took my breath away
One day I’ll need it back

Her
You could save your breath
If you could shut your trap

Both. Chorus.
Our eyes met on the dance-floor
Our tongues met in the cab
You couldn’t cook up this chemistry
In a beaker in a lab
I’ve heard of star-crossed lovers
But we’re for disco lights
Moving across the dance floor
On an endless summer night

Him.
The first thing I noticed
In fact I noticed two,
Your eyes ignite like cold blue bols
I knew it had to be you,

Her
You tried to buy me a drink
With a press card and some coppers
You looked like Johnny Depp
From the happy shopper

Mid-8
London prices in a local club
An indie night about a student pub
The muggy air is thick with pheromones
The bass is thumping get jumping on my bones

Both. Chorus.
Our eyes met on the dance-floor
Our tongues met in the cab
You couldn’t cook up this chemistry
In a beaker in a lab
I’ve heard of star-crossed lovers
But we’re for disco lights
Moving across the dance floor
On an endless summer night


Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Many Moods of John Patrick Higgins

I have many names. Here are the bands that I am currently in, and what they are for.n.b. All of the following are on hiatus given current circumstances but equally none have disbanded. There is unfinished business with virtually all of them:

Petomane: First album "Top Trumps" came out in limited edition last year to almost unanimous ignorance. A new album "The Rock Machine Turns You On" will be out when it's finished and not before, though given the previous album was over five years in the making and we're just getting older and slower, I wouldn't hold your breath. Unless you have hiccups and limited access to a chilly key.

Key tracks: "The Dark Night of David Soul", "The Plumber", "Yellow Glove"

Lyrical themes: Incredibly varied. Given that the gestation period of the album it's all over the shop. Songs about the flying Dutchman rub shoulders with Climate of Hunter knock-offs and meetings with superannuated TV dectectives in pub toilets.

Personnel: John Patrick Higgins, Christopher Kasch, Martin Kent Smith

Red Atlas: A live, or at least responsive to electrical current, six piece proposition. On hold currently for a number of reasons not least the singers mistrust of the rest of the band. Some recordings have been made, none of which were particularly satisfactory.Really good though. in a way that it seems impossible to describe.

Key tracks: Little Nemo, Drink the young wine, Deep, deep sleep of england,

Lyrical themes: Initially starting as a series of faintly mysogonistic revenge songs things take a spooky supernatural turn as loads of ghosts turn up and hang about, not doing much.

Personnel:John Patrick Higgins - singing, Simon Endicott - guitar, Ian Olney - guitar, Martin Kent Smith - guitar, Ben Pestell - bass guitar, Simon Oldham - drums

Big Marker: Big Marker were amongst the first sustained works that Douglas Steel and I made and the concept was fairly solid: we were three 17 year old boys from the village of Hartley Wintney in Hampshire. Our songs reflected our interests: girls, trying to get served in pubs, getting arrested for flyposting over a postbox and er King Alfred. In fact Douglas couldnt contain his musical sophistication and i couldn't maintain my stated intent not to sing and Big Marker became more and more jaded as time went on. The music of Big Marker remains far and away my wife's favourite band. Of the bands I've been in at any rate.

Key tracks: Really Hitting Ashley, Kilometres Davis, Etiquette,

Lyrical themes: getting drunk, feuding with ex-band members, mythical bluesmen.

Personnel: JPH, Douglas Steel


The Woods: The Woods was a band specifically invented for the musical "The Night of the Crabs". It's scope is vast encompassing thrash metal, folk tunes, music hall, nu-wave and even a sort of anaemic funk. Its some of the best and most realised music i've ever made and it WILL make it out into the world in some way.

Key tracks: I'd rather be drinking than thinking, Bartholomew's Fare, King Crab, A King Considers, Water Works,

Lyrical themes: Giant crabs invading the coast of Wales and paraquat poisoning.

Personnel: JPH, Douglas Steel, Michael Steel


KNOCK-KNOCK : KNOCK-KNOCK had it's genesis in an episode of Geraldo and the first song was entirely Douglas' construct: I filled in a few of the lyrics but the structure, title and concept were all his. After we put together "When it comes to girls (I ain't got no friends)" it was quite obvious that it was neither a Big Marker song nor did it fit anywhere within the framework of a musical about giant rampaging crabs. So a new band was born: KNOCK-KNOCK. With KNOCK-KNOCK we could explore whole areas of sound: Devo, Sparks, Eno and Gabriel, Sly Foxx, Fox, Landscape and Rockwell all flew into the mix. And I discovered the joy of singing in a German accent a la Klaus Nomi. KNOCK-KNOCK is a lot of fun. To do, at least. I can't vouch for the listening experience.

Key Songs: When it comes to girls (I ain't got no friends), Heart Murmur, If you prick me, Sleep Plated Nightmare,

Lyrical themes: er...friends, brer rabbit, The Trains by Robert Aickman

Personnel: JPH, Douglas Steel

The Club of Queer Trades: Writing songs with Martin is a joy as i get to write the words first and he then wraps my strangulated prose into some musical swaddling while managing to give it a melody and meaning at the same time! He's no slouch. I write a lot of my best lyrics for The Club as I am allowed room to play with form as well as content. The general trend is toward melancholia but some of the angriest songs i've ever written fall under this umbrella too. Oh, and i mean it, ma-an!

Key songs: I am beset by angels, That Plane has Sailed, Cold Devils, Boaster's Bar, Hip Replacement Priest, Not safe in Taxis,

Lyrical themes: Love, loss, love lost, jealousy, spite and righteous indignation

Personnel: JPH, MKS


The Namedrops: there is a contradiction at the heart of The Namedrops . The Namedrops is Martin's serious attempt to pay tribute not only to the riot grrl bands he so adores, as well as the entirety of the female fronted pop records from the year dot (and there is an inherent dichotomy there as well). However these would be grrl power anthems written by two men, espousing the sorts of things we thought girls songs should be about and trying to find girls to sing them! We may find some yet as the songs were quite good but Martin has deflected this compromised situation beautifully by joining a real female fronted punk band: The Ethical Debating Society.

Lyrical themes: girls = good, boys = bad, dancing, premature ejaculation,

Key Songs: Welcome to Dumpsville, Impossible, No Sex Please (we're skittish,) Never been afraid,

Personnel: JPH, MKS

The Charlemagnes: Another high-concept project. Or at the very least fair to middling - good to firm concept project. The Charlemagnes again are a two piece Nuggets style garage band with an awful lot of dead former members many of whom will be eulogised in song. The singer is Johnny Ghostly and the guitarist is Marty Polpette and I had originally writing between song banter as the main part of the show: it would be like Buster Pointdexter but without the credentials! The songs are the foray into parody I've ever done; titles like "Stoopid Girl", "That Girl is a mess" and "teardrop stop" are clearly from snot-punk school of terrified mysogyny, whereas "Shellshock Shuffle" clearly owes some small debt to the Ramones' "BlitzKrieg Bop". I still have some of Johnny Ghostly's monologues and it would be good to play these in a live setting - if nothing else they rock!

One other thing: I wanted to get an authentic 60's NY fuzz-beat sound for the guitars but it never happened: Martin plays guitar with an English accent!

Lyrical themes: Fallen soldiers, stupid gurlz, heartache, drugs and those they kill, being cool,

Key songs: Teardrop Stop, Shellshock Shuffle, That girl is a mess, Heart Face

Personnel: JPH, MKS


Nude Scientists: If you can imagine Big Marker twenty years on, living in an urban, metropolitan environment and beginning to feel middle-classed and middle-aged pangs of terror, as their life and life-style are suddenly irrelevant and the howling paranoia of the Daily Hate is starting, sickeningly to wear them into a rounded, more ergonomic ball of fear. Then add some synths. Nude Scientists are the snobbish terrified uncles of Big Marker; aghast at what they see hear and smell on the bus but more aghast at having to use public transport in the first place! They are snobbish, resolutely misanthropic and deeply, deeply terrified. Morrissey would love 'em.

Lyrical themes: Young people today, aging, no respect, hatred, the Daily Mail, Clarkson,

Key Songs: You again, Intruder Alert, Hangover Hospital, Idiot, Chicken in a box on the back of the bus,

Personnel: JPH, Doug Steel

I Am Beset By Angels

This is in a sense the definitive The Club of Queer Trades song: plangent, almost maudlin; full of bad puns and self-conscious cleverness. I stand by the first verse though. It's a true story too: as i was walking back from a pub in Finsbury Park (probably the Old Dairy) with a girlfriend, an older feller, in the days when there still were older fellers, was staggering all over the road ahead of us.One of the bollards had been knocked over in the road ahead of him, the huge lightbulb beneath it exposed and beaming up into the night. He went over to investigate, bent over to look at it and fell flat on his face. We went to assist, looping arms under his and dragging him to his feet, and causing him to complain "I am beset by angels!"

I thought it was one of the oddest and most beautiful expressions I'd ever heard and wrote a song about it 7 years later.


I am beset by Angels

I walk home slowly, by the scenic route
The shortest points between each letter of the alphabet
My snail’s pace leaves a shiny trail
As I leave the pavement black and wet
There’s silver in my water
There are subterranean lights
In the distance booming voices
Filter through the ochre night

I am beset by angels
As I rise above the lights
Strong hands will try and stop me
From dying here tonight

Three times they came to visit me
To save me from the glare
Icarus in factor 50
On a wing and a prayer
The first one took me by the cock
The second by the hand
The third one took a soft boy
And made a gentle man

I am beset by angels
As I rise above the lights
Strong hands will try and stop me
From dying here tonight

These angelic kick-starts
Bring water to the eye
Like the peeling of an onion
I’m a pretty layered guy
Sedimentary, my dear Watson
Tearing at the seams
Three angels at my table
Making me eat my greens








http://www.myspace.com/clubofqueertrades

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Gainsbarre (French Tickler)

This was written for the second Petomane album "The Rock Machine Turns You On". Petomane are myself, the painter Christopher Kasch and Martin Kent Smith; the only other person i know who is as loose with his musical favours as I am. We are bikes; no foolin':bikes! Petomane is the reason I got back into creating music after not doing anything from my mid-twenties to my early thirties. It was initially a lot of fun as neither of us could work Reason or Cubase and some of the original songs like "My Little Vampire" and "Hulk Sadness" were both magnificent and astoundingly stupid. We hit an early groove with a song called "The Dark Night of David Soul"*, from which point it be came far, far less enjoyable but a lot more artistically satisfying. On a lot of the early recordings you can hear Kasch's fishtank gurgling away in the background: our version of the jug played constantly throughout the 13th Floor Elevators records.

This is a song about, duh, Serge Gainsbourg, a universal constant in the Petomane world and the cornerstone of any equations formulated there. He is one of the building blocks of our life; a washed out, listless loop in our DNA strand. Gainsbarre is the latter dissipated Serge and the song is a fairly straight forward biography of the great man. I sing it in a rumbling monotone that sounds almost exactly unlike Serge Gainsbourg. Though possibly a bit Serge Danot.

Fact: an early incarnation of petomane was called Serge. That first e.p. released under that name (The Drinking Classes)is now a collector's item. Potentially.

*and by general consensus still the best thing we have ever done. I'll pop the lyrics up here at some point.

Gainsbarre (French Tickler)

I’m understudied and I’m ill prepared,
Hope you don’t notice that the words are slurred,
My fingers tremble as I flick the catch,
And Marie Curie turns to ash,
I’m always shivering though it’s hardly cold,
How’d an enfant terrible get so very old?
Looking out the windows at ticket punchers and English girls,
I pull my pants down and the tricolour unfurls,
My house is all black like Goya’s dining room,
I find I’m thinking dirty thoughts and waiting for the blue of noon,

One Pastis and one Gitane,
Again and again and again and again,

They call me lulu though I don’t like to shout about it,
I love the ladies but I’m never quite devout about it,
In the movies I never come up trumps,
Who casts heavy wearing women’s ballet pumps?
I am for Apollinaire and Stephane Mallarme,
I am for Rimbaud, the one that got away,
Baudelaire, Jacques Vache and Boris Vian,
Mine’s a slower suicide than Thomas Chatterton’s,

One Pastis and one Gitane,
Verlaine, Verlaine, Verlaine, Verlaine,

Guarding my modesty and girding my loins,
The kind of profile that you see on Roman coins,
A Jewish Russian Frenchman but you can’t see the joins,
Everybody knows me – from Descartes to Desmoines,
I staged a little riff on Bach called Je t’aimes moi non plus,
The Vatican then banned it and that was quite a coup,
In terms of sales specifically, cause between me and you,
Anywhere outside of France they think that’s all I do!

One Pastis and one Gitane,
Again and again and again and again

I am of the infinite in the Champs Elysees,
Plucking on a harp and drinking holy wine all day,
The women here are beautiful but lack certain grist,
I find I’m more a gourmet than an ornithologist,
You would think a cannon was a pretty heavy thing,
But my cannon moves the angels, god wants me up with him,
So while I serenade the seraphim with my celestial song,
They all know that down below is where I belong

One Pastis and one Gitane,
Amen, amen, amen, amen









http://www.myspace.com/petomanesounds

I know in my heart he's dead.

This is one of my favourite songs from our mooted "Night of the Crabs" musical, if not one of my favourite lyrics, though it certainly works in context. The band this was written for was The Woods , myself and Douglas Steel, and I think it's probably some of the best music I have ever produced. The key to that is of course actually enjoying the process. There were times I was bent double, tears streaming down my legs, during the recording of these songs.

As for the concept, well it's a musical based on Guy N. Smith's 1976 novel (novella really. if you take all the pictures of crabs out of it it's less than a hundred pages long!) and the libretto is fairly congruous with the text. There are one or two slight innovations: Smith only hints at an interior life for the villain, King Crab, whereas he gets the opening monologue and two songs in our musical. Also a number of minor characters get songs that are rather too good for their humble page time. I think in total we completed 12 songs for this before the project, as projects are want to do, petered out...

This song is a lament for a drowned lover. Pat, the heroine of the book, stares forlornly out to sea as Cliff, the romantic lead, last seen trying to locate the crab's subaqueous base, entirely fails to return home...

The comedian Robin Ince does something simillar based on Smith's book. But it's shit.


I know in my heart he’s dead

While the sun dawns on a new day,
Still this shadow follows me,
Like the French lieutenant’s woman,
I’m still standing, staring out to sea,
One single night of passion,
Match-light snatched from the abyss,
Incandescent in the moment,
A pin-prick in the emptiness,

A single, nagging thought enters my head
And I know in my heart he’s dead
Those simple words that were left unsaid
For I know in my heart he’s dead

He was just a man,
Only corduroy and bone,
But he had a nemesis,
To face on his own,
When the others went running,
He still stood his ground,
He had guile and cunning,
But now it looks as if he’s drowned,

Chorus


Our very first date was at,
A pub named “Davy Jones’ Locker”
It seems grimly ironic,
Now that he has come a cropper,
Through his submarine death,
He’ll be sadly missed but,
It’s what he would have wanted,
As a marine biologist

A single, nagging thought enters my head
And I know in my heart he’s dead
Those simple words that were left unsaid
For I know in my heart he’s dead




http://www.myspace.com/nightofthecrabs

Heartface

This is Heartface written for The Charlemagnes. Now there's quite a bit of concept behind The Charlemagnes. The Charlemagnes is the second or possibly third group to splinter off Red Atlas and features myself in the guise of Johnny Ghostly and Martin, the guitarist, hell, everythingist, as Marty Polpetta. We're the remnants of a New York nuggets style garage band and all of the other members have died. We mythologise some of them in song, but not this song. This song is a pure sixties snot-punk love song. In as much as such a thing can exist:

Heart Face

She’s got some eyes on her
Laser beam eyes on her
Cut you quickly down to size
With one blast of those laser eyes
She got some mouth on her
A filthy mouth on her
She looks like she couldn’t melt butter
But her mouth’s like a London gutter

My baby’s face is a heart
I shoulda known right from the start
It gets my blood a pumpin’
Ooh that girl is really something

She’s got some hair on her
My girl could never be square
Ratted up and combed right back
She makes my pulse race like a heart-attack
She’s got some smile on her
An ice-cream smile on her
When she gives me her secret look
I’ll start babbling like a brook

My baby’s face is a heart
I shoulda known right from the start
It gets my blood a pumpin’
Ooh that girl is really something

Hey heart face! What’s up?
You gotta walk that never stops
The way move is so insane
You hit me like a runaway train








The Cigarette Smokers

This is recent lyric and one written for The Club of Queer Trades but I'd been trying to write it for a number of years. I'd had the title "The Cigarette Smokers" since reading Richard Klein's "Cigarettes are Sublime" back when I still smoked myself. I mean when I still smoked cigarettes; I have never smoked myself. Well, yes there was that one time but I didn't inhale.

This is "Now Voyager" smoking; glamorous and sublimating. The smoke never gets in Bette Davis' eyes. It's about the glamour of the silver screen as well, though the screen at the end proves to be a surgeon's light-box and the prognosis is not so alluring.

The cigarette smokers

It’s all black and white in here,
But when that curtain falls,
You know that it’s red velvet,

The writings on the wall,
But when the credits roll,
I catch my breath – I simply cannot help it,

The orchestra tumesces,
And in under seven guesses,
I plot the plot like tacks upon a map,

That’s the point for me, you see,
I want predictability,
To surrender to the tenderest of traps,

Chorus

Smudging and blurring,
In and out of focus,
Shining like a wet moon,
Those cigarette smokers,
Teeth strung like pearls,
Marcel wave curls,
And they never die,
No they never die,

Men were men and women too,
Were shaped like you’d expect them to,
Wasp-waisted, tapered, beautifully buffed,

Still visibly shaking from the war,
The men snapped like their heads were sore,
And every female sortie was rebuffed,

And when cigarettes were lit,
Each carcinogenic hit,
Referred to fires banked well down below

And each orgasmic spasm,
Signalled ectoplasm,
Pluming from lips, parted; white as snow,

Chorus

A shadow on the silver screen,
As the doctor’s light-box gleams,
And you inhale, sharp and shallow breaths,
The price of glamour is death.

What is The Higgins Nobody Knows?.

I've been in bands since I was fifteen years old. Not constantly and certainly not seriously (though at times far more seriously than I let on) and during that time I have written an awful lot of songs and a lot of awful songs. But not always; sometimes my lyrics have been, I think, worthy of a wider audience than say the crescent of visible floorboard in front of each Red Atlas gig or a 16 year old girl from California I added to my Myspace page late one night and who thinks the music is "awesome".

So this is really an outlet for my lyrical prowess. There may well be music on here too at some point if I can work out how you do it but for the moment it will just be the simple elegance of curling black letters on white. Check the kerning.

I shall also add an approximate date for the lyric, which band or project it is for and any other local colour I deem appropriate. This is just our little secret. Sssh.