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|8 January 2003:|
|- ||Stove King's 29th birthday|
|5 June 2003:|
|- ||Dominic Chad's 30th birthday|
|8 September 2003:|
|- ||Andie Rathbone's 32nd birthday|
|26 September 2003:|
|- ||Paul Draper's 31st birthday|
|No releases are scheduled at present, but the band hope to release the first single early in 2003 with the album following soon after|
|MANSUN.ORG Poll: 'Mansun' New Tracks|
Mansun previewed five new songs on their May 2002 UK/Ireland tour, to be featured on their forthcoming album (working title 'Mansun') - pencilled in to be released at the end of 2002/early 2003. From what you heard, which of them did you most like?|
Want to hear what the guys are up to, directly from their own mouths? Just call the Mansun Ansaphone, run for over 5 years from Stove's house, and you can hear a regularly updated recorded message left by one of the band, and even leave your own for them if you like. For more info see the Mansun contact page.
Did You Know?
Whilst on tour with the Charlatans, Chad beat up the hotel manager in Southampton after the Charlies and the Melody Maker's Studd Brothers repeatedly called his room pretending to be the manager complaining about the noise. Chad was insistent that he was merely getting quietly pissed and therefore causing no disturbance and was obviously annoyed at the constant interruptions.
New Musical Express Interview
Saturday, September 27, 1997 - Category: Interviews
THE OUTLAW TYPETattoos! Naked hotel encounters! Rude onstage shenanigans! After 18 months apart, MANSUN and the rock'n'roll lifestyle have finally been reunited in, of all places, Baywatch Territory. And to celebrate, they've got another image - well, a cowboy hat - and a cracking new EP, 'Closed For Business'. MARK BEAUMONT charts their mighty fall. Do I not like hat? STEVE DOUBLE
Sand flung in a whirlwind around thrashing rotors, a helicopter settles gently onto Venice Beach, met by a swarm of yellow-jacketed tan titans scurrying to off-load a stretcher-bound swimmer or, more likely, a couple of film cameras. Lifeguards jog in slow motion through the waves, orange floats held aloft. Out on the crests the LA beach bums fling themselves into higher and faster feats of surfboard athletics, desperate to be swept from surf to stardom. Even when the cameras are packed away. bar the odd flash of cellulite, Baywatch never stops rolling.
But HEY! Charlie! Who the f--- are those guys? Those freaky bums in the back. GET THEM OUT OF MY SHOT! They're blocking out at least $30,000 worth of silicone and they re f---ing up the camera's Jigglevision monitor! WHAT THE F---'S GOING ON HERE?!?!
From the shadows of the palm trees step four pastry-faced men from Chester. They stride moodily towards the shore casting foul looks and problem hair in their wake. They pose defiantly by a Baywatch beach hut, glowering down at the surgically enhanced extras at their feet. They are quite possibly the first ever to tread these sands wearing black jeans. They are Mansun, rock's brightest and bitterist Karmic Chameleons - out of place, in yer face and glowing as the silicone squirms.
"It's one giant film set, America," Paul Draper sighs, settling at a table back under the palm shadows, almost lost under the Walkman buzz of a passing rollerblader. "And we're some of the extras in it."
But imagine the possibilities! All you have to do these days is hit three home runs or swivel your hips in a raunchy lurve stylee from the top of the Billboard charts and suddenly you're in line for an Oscar! The Silver Screen could be lit up with your sneering gob! The champers! The stretch limos! The models frolicking naked in star-shaped swimming pools full of smack! The Hollywood life could be YOURS! ALL YOURS!!
"Fookin' hell, no," Paul grunts, slamming his jet-black Roy Rogers cowboy hat - the sum total of this week's 'new image' - on the table and sending a startled boho scuttling to the next trash can along the beach. "Hollywood. man! Shithole of America, innit? Diabolical! They build up this myth of Hollywood. We're playing at the Hollywood Palace, right in the centre of Hollywood, and you've got all the stars' hand prints right outside the venue, and everyone's smoking crack round the back and stores are getting looted. It's just a facade. That's probably what most of America is about."
Obsessive viewers of Mansun II: The Lost Sense of Humour will already be able to recite this particular plot backwards: boy meets town, boy recognises the essential shallowness at town's soul, boy moans about it to journalist. Ah yes. we know this Mansun - the band who did all their hotel trashing, crawled cut of their drug hells and almost self-imploded in alcholic insanity long before anyone gave anything approaching a toss. The band who emerged early last year as cynical old rock lags disguised as the New Northern Uproar: rehab'd, wagon-bound and only a few rock operas away from the trout farm. The band who, despite more costume changes than Julian Clary during Fetish Fashion Week, still seem lost in showbusiness grasping for a niche.
Thus our scene opens. close up on Paul Draper. head bowed and sullen. In the month that he has been touring the USA in support of The Seahorses he has been arrested for drinking openly in the streets in Chicago (his cause wasn't helped when he tried to throw his beer away into a nearby mail box), sat aghast as he and guitarist Chad were introduced as Chas & Dave during a radio interview in Portland and been charged with 34 counts of Blowing The Headliners Offstage Without Due Care And Attention. And so he sits in the middle of a televisual paradise and prepares to launch a full-on nuclear bile attack on all organised religion. The People's Republic Of China, critics, hypocrites, his old art teacher, all American bands, all British bands, all human beings living, dead or ever intending to be alive and Kula Shaker. Pity poor, twisted Paul - shunned by America. kicked in the sphincter by life once more. Not, all told, a happy bunny.
Then the frame widens and the truth is revealed. The crowds have been in paroxysms. 'Wide Open Space' has taken so firm a grip on America's subconscious that it's played in baseball stadiums when the players hit a home run. The rock jocks consider Mansun's esoteric robopunk and careering image-changes to be 'like. dead rad!' And Paul's pained moanings are merely the howlings of the tyrannosaurus rex of all hangovers.
"We were mates before we came out," he winces, putting on sunglasses, "and we'd heard that America splits a lot of bands up. But we got out here and it was right up our street.
"We f---in' show them how to play. A lot of American bands are boring and crap. If I come offstage and I'm not f---ed totally, out of breath and with nothing left to give, then it's not a good gig."
Mansun has been in LA for 24 hours. In that time there has been inter-band frottaging, bad tattoos, drug abuse on a frankly demented scale, naked hotel hallway encounters and approximateiy nil sleep on the part of any band member bar the utterly charming bassist Stove. It is a story that takes in scenes from Swingers, Down And Out In Beverly Hills, Apocalypse Now! and a heartening love story in which Mansun and the rock'n'roll lifestyle, after 18 months apart, meet again in a grotty LA nightclub and fall hopelessly, ridiculously in love.
Tarantino-esque, we shall leave the beginning to the end. LIGHTS! CAMERA! TRACTION!
"I WAS OFF MY F---IN' FACE BEFORE WE WENT ON!!!" Paul gargles, slumped amid the mirror lights and crumpled notes of Mansun's luxury tourbus. "PISSED AS F---!"
It is three hours since Mansun left the stage at the Hollywood Palace Club. A stage that looked as though it had been the scene of a battle to the death between a rabid horde of guitar string salesmen and a crack amp demolition squad. It is ten minutes since Paul managed to shake off the attentions of two slavering Blossom-a-likes offering to frisk him for safety pins and clambered on the bus to 'chill'. It is 3O seconds since a mysterious gentleman arrived bearing 'recreational' gifts for band and entourage. It is two days until Mansun's next gig, in San Diego. Mr Party has been saved a bunk tonight.
"...And then Chad just strolled over to me at the end and he... he..."
A memory too horrifying to relate is cut short as Stove charges into the inner sanctum of the bus' back lounge and begins to unbuckle his trouser's.
"'Ave a look at this..."
Buttons pop. The belt drops. And we come face to face with a six-hour old tattoo. A faithful replication of Bert & Ernie from Sesame Street, smiling and giving a friendly wave. From Stove's arse.
"I thought I'd have Animal (from The Muppets) on me arm because he's the best drummer ever. I'm not into all that serious stuff, the skulls, the naked women. The pirate thing with all the swirls and the 'MUM' in the middle. I'm not into all that. It's just fun."
Indeed. And can we expect a pecker appearance from Mr Benn next?
"Nah," Stove grins, "the bass player from The Muppets. Floyd. I thought I'd break myself into my second one by getting one on me arse where it's not very seeable. You get the bug!. I think it's the pain. It's a nice sadistic pleasure."
Crikey. We make the short bus ride back to the hotel, where Stove disappears towards pizza and bed and Paul and Chad disappear to show the two Blossoms - who appear again having chased the bus along Hollywood Boulevard - some 'interesting bushes' in the hotel's garden. Thus, for an hour, we are left in the presence of the Mystery Boy drummer Andie, the man widely acclaimed as transforming Mansun from a directionless mess into a proper band - and his tales of being so pissed that his first six months with Mansun felt like two weeks.
"My first show was TFI Friday," he recalls, aghast, "nine million viewers. The day before I'd gone to Bristol for my first gig and it was in Brighton! I got there and checked the gig guide in the back of the NME and I thought, 'It's in Brighton. SHEEEEET!!'"
At around seven this morning, in the three seconds that Andie sleeps. he will dream that there is a scratching sound somewhere in his room. Dream Andy investigates, checking the windows, opening all the cupboards. Then he wanders out into the hallway. totally naked. and walks into a horrified porter. He wakes to the sound of his room door clicking closed behind him and shocked gasps as a group of ageing residents shuffle past, heads down.
Paul, meanwhile, doesn't sleep at all. Wired and babbling, he spends the small-to-middling hours regaling a roomful of rapt entourage wtth stories of The Carnage, the days before Chad recognised that he had a drink problem. The stories that "they could make a f---in' film out of and noone would believe it!" The time they had to cancel half of a UK tour because Chad had cut his hand open punching a hotel room mirror, the incident in which he fell off a roof in a drunken stupor and broke his arm. The various accidents that led him to realise in January that the demon booze was destroying Mansun's swipe at the Big Time, give it up for good and devote all of his spare time studying the ancient philosophy of Daoism.
And when Paul finally retires, at 10am, he will be denied sleep, half by the drug buzz and half by the taunting memory of the night's gig. The point where 'Take It Easy Chicken' had mutated into a feedback cacophony. Chad's monitor had exploded and was making only ear bleed-inducing whines, Paul had spent two minutes wanking his guitar against his amp and slumped onto his back to soak up the chaotic Vietnam spirit which overtakes Mansun at the height of their impetuosity.
And Chad had strolled nonchalantly across the stage, straddled Paul's chest and... and...
"...SO, I'M just lying there on the floor playing me guitar with me teeth and he comes over and starts gyrating his hips in me face! It was full-on, mouth-to-mouth! No simulation, it was right there!'"
A jogger pauses mid-stride, disgusted, and then races on along the beach. Paul drops his head into his hands half-gagging, half-laughing.
It is, after all, the what-the-bugger-are-they-going-to-do-next factor which makes Mansun so intriguing as a modern pop phenomenon. They've been through every image in the pop catalogue from generic northern band to moustichio'd dandies to cyberpunks with half a stationery cupboard holding their trousers together. Their gigs regularly descend into the kind of near-pornographic mayhem that may be acceptable in Chester but is probably a hanging offence in some states. And their singles have shown a band willing to systematically trash every influence from The Beatles to Def Leppard to Radiohead to the Pet Shop Boys to Tears For Bloody Fears and never once back to cackle at the wreckage.
To the legions of (immensely cool) disassociated rock fans who 'get' the whole Mansun malarkey they Lancashire bombers dropping devastating depth charges into the stagnant Britrock swamp. To everyone else they are a band sent from Hades specifically to piss each and every rock fan off. Individually and forever.
"We don't want to piss people off, no," Paul says, "I think if people were bland towards Mansun and had an apathetic view, I'd be wondering why."
But it still doesn't seem as if you know what kind of band you are.
"I don't think we know what we are. But one thing I do is that I don't want to be pinned down as having A Sound. I hate bands where you listen to a single and think 'great' and then you buy the album and it's just a replication of the single, but weaker versions.
NEWS FLASH! What The Bugger Mansun Do Next Revealed! And it's no white flag to their critics. In fact their forthcoming 'Closed For Business EP' will get so far up the noses of the classic rock craperatti that it'll blow holes in their Kangols.
Get this. It opens with a harpsichord refrain and Paul falsettoing like a castrated feudal pauper auditioning for Dead Can Dance. Then from nowhere, a Phantom Of The Opera string harpy descends with its tongue wrapped around a 12-necked guitar and sets fire to the Royal Opera House. It ends after two-and-a-half minutes. And that's the single.
There follows the chomp of marching feet and a nursery rhyme performed in the style of Charles Manson called 'K.I.Double.S.I.N.G'. Then Magazine impresario Howard Devoto appears for the electro-chunder of 'Everyone Must Win' before the whole ridiculous, thrilling mess ends with a Bowie-shaming glam anthem called 'The World's Still Open' that's a sure fire Number Wun smash hit everywhere from Telford to Tibet. If it wasn't at the end.
"The last thing I give a shit about is commercialism or the charts or the radio or having a hit single," Paul rants. "A few people said 'The World's Still Open' is a big hit single, but I don't wanna have just massive hit singles. When we finished them four tracks the one we thought was the most innovative was 'Closed For Business', so that's what should represent the whole EP on radio'. Chad's playing a harpsichord in it, it's in waltz time and it's two-and-a-half minutes long! There's not that many bands prepared to stick their necks on the line and do a two-and-a-half minute harpsichord waltz and put it out as the first single after their album.
"The worst thing you can do is to play safe. F---in' all British bands play safe! When this band's over and the history is written there'll be some amusing lost tracks there. All our singles have been deleted. You won't be able to get hold of those tracks, and I like that. I'm not a situationist, but it's impossible to get into a conversation without situationism because if you were a situationist you'd go, 'Of course I'm not a situationist!' That's what situationists do. Maybe I am but I don't realise it."
The Baywatch 'copter swoops down on another dramatic sunstroke mission and Paul is suddenly struck by his own ridiculousness.
"Maybe it's a new philosophy, a new way of working. Subconscious Situationism. Yeah, that's what this EP's all about."
Admit it though. You glean your credibility from shock tactics over three formats.
"F---in' 'ell no! If we wanted to shock people we could really f---in' shock them. If I wanted to really be a situationist then I'd make sure we looked the same and sounded the same for the next six months, because that'd really f--- people off."
The single also includes artwork by ex-Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe, the first time any band has been given permission to use his work on their sleeve. Which begs the question: honest appreciation or shameless cred-grabbing?
"Loaded question! Stuart Sutcliffe is an historical figure who painted some great paintings. That combination made us ask for that for the cover. If the paintings were shit we wouldn't have them on, but they're actually quite good. Anything that gets kids into anything except f---in' Nintendo or opens people's eyes to a bit of culture, opens people's eyes to Stuart Sutcliffe or anything, is good.
"I'm not a big fan of modern art. I got kicked out of art college because I used to do all my drawings with a ruler. They said, 'No! Your creativity doesn't fit into our parameters of what creativity should be'. And I just said, 'That's my style. I wanna draw with rulers. I like triangles and shit'. They couldn't get onto it, they wanted me to draw with the influence of natural form and I said, 'What's creative about that? You've got 30 kids in a class all drawing with the same influence!' So I pretty much fell out with art and got a group together.
But while you may take the man out of art hostage, you can't take the art terrorist out of the man. Or something. For whether he's using a razor-sharp F Major or an Etch-A-Sketch, Paul has never shirked from his mission to subvert the accepted artistic hegemony from the outside. He WILL write songs about pervy clergymen and bondage and if he can rip off The Beatles more traitorously than anyone else vhile he's at it, that's a bonus. He WILL record a thinly-veiled concept album about a bunch of weirdos in an imaginary town that makes Twin Peaks look like Two Point Four Children and STILL sell shitloads of copies. And he WILL wear a deep-sea diver's outfit with matching tutu for his next photo shoot if he feels like it. 2K? Marilyn Manson? Chumbawamba? David Devant & His Spirit Wife? Measured situationist charlatans all. Paul Draper is the onesour-faced agent provocateur in current rock music with the musical guts to leap before he looks. And all in order to perform an autopsy on society and drag out the green-eyed Devil Within.
"Most of our songs are about the absurdity of things and how disgusting the world is," Paul explains, spinning his cowboy hat on the table with the grin of a man who's head is starting to feel smaller than Jupiter. "'Closed For Business' is about anyone who tries to sell false hope to people. Everyone from TV evangelists to that guy who's on cable every night going, 'You can earn thousands and thousands of dollars for only $39,99!' Because he's on TV it gives him a credibility! People are constantly bearing false witness or selling false hopes. There's no honesty in the world at all. It's all f---in' rubbish."
That's charity, humanity, loving relationships and any chance of getting a decent price on a second-hand Cortina f--ed, then. Hasn't your cynicism even slightly slackened in the face of the UN's spare cash mountain?
"I hope not. That's where you come from, innit? There's no fun in writing 'Life's Great'. In life people will constantly bullshit you. There's no morals to the way people live their lives. It's a f---in' jungle. innit? Human nature and the absurdity of people's lives. I'll write about those forever."
No collaborations with Captain Sensible on the cards, then?
"Maybe Captain Beefheart would be more up my street."
And what about this image of yours? A cowboy hat? Hardly the Victorian gent/caveman loincloth ensemble we were expecting, is it?'
Paul sighs. "Maybe it's because I've run out of enthusiasm for clothes at the minute or maybe I'm just waiting for the next idea to hit me. Chad's f---in' around a bit at the minute. He's now convinced he IS Brian Jones. So he's ditched the f---in' safety pins and bought himself this green jacket and striped Brian Jones trousers. He's got this deed poll form to change his middle name to Brian, the sad f---er."
"BEING NUMBER One on the People's Republic Of China's Wanted List is not really one of my greatest achievements."
"When we went to Hong Kong we smashed the whole f---in' place up. They used us as a propaganda tool, a vehicle for their propaganda about, 'See, we told you this Western influence would be bad for Hong Kong'. We were just pawns in the game. We got out of there as quick as possible."
Fame deals the most unexpected blows. I mean, as the singer in a provocative and successful art rock collective Paul could expect the odd severed finger through the post, an eternally crowded lawn and the regular cry of, 'Paid yer tax yet, WANKAH!?' in the street. But to be hunted down as an international Demon Dog of Capitalism by one third of the Earth's population and its wife and 28 children? Hmmm, wouldn't happen to Andy Bell...
Of course, having such a corrupting influence on so many innocent communist minds, surely you could start your own cult?
"Oh yeah! The Church Of The Drive-Through Elvis! It's one of our songs for the next album! It was dead funny because we got to Salt Lake City and Chad had gone on MTV and said, 'Well, I don't drink now because of this, that and the other' - so we arrive in Salt Lake City where drinking is the Devil, and he was a national hero! All these kids crowding round him going, 'What's it taste like?' and, 'You've renounced it, then? WOW!!!'"
Talking of stinking pins under the fingernails of your Catholic guilt, when did you lose your virginity?
"It was probably in a paralytic stupor at a party somewhere in the latter part of my schooldays, 14, 15, something like that. Not that hot, really. Sex is a weird thing really. I wouldn't say I was obsessed with it but I meet a lot of our fans who are obsessed with the idea of songs like 'She Makes My Nose Bleed', which is just this mad song about bondage. But girls come up to me after gigs and go, 'So what would you do to me in bed? Would you smack me around?' and I'm like, 'I'm just having a quiet beer'."
When was the first time you fell in love?
"Probably recently. I don't think when I was growing up I found anything like that. I've not been in love before. I sort of believe in having a karma wrth someone. It's impossible to have any sort of normal relationship when you're a touring group."
Isn't it fair to say, after showing up Led Zepplin as cough medicine-guzzling lightweights last night, that you've fallen back in love with rock'n'roll?
"I don't think we ever fell out of love with it. I think there was a point when Chad made the decision to give up alcohol that we all made a quantum leap for the group in how we took it seriously. We don't rip anybody off. We don't get off our faces and go up there and do bad gigs."
So it's a moderately savage Mansun that are preparing to leap onto Oasis' coat-tails and ride into the higher echelons of the US mainstream. A muzzled Mansun that knows how to slip its leash. A Mansun that with vision, romance, unlimited vitriol, a huge price on its head and the most unexpected tattoos in rock. A Mansun. Ladeezangennulmen, with a dream.
"People are desperate for something to come out that's gonna change things," Paul intones, "we're living in times like it was in 1976. There's these lumbering giants of groups out there and someone's gonna come along and f--- the whole thing up. It'd be fantastic to think that on the night of the year 2000 some f---in' godhead is gonna rise up and go, 'ALL '60s MUSIC IS SHIT! STOP RIPPING OFF LED ZEPPELIN! HERE'S THE NEW SOUND!' and this white light comes down and some new sound comes out. We'll have a record out in the year 2000, and it certainly won't sound like the f---in' '60s."
Three hundred yards down the shoreline, beyond a yellow cordon, a loudspeaker blares out, announcing a cellulite ban on Venice Beach. As film is loaded into camera, the unsightly real people with their flab and stretch marks and real-life insecurities are herded off to be replaced by the plastic extras and chisel-jawed embodiments of How They Say You Should Be.
"It's pretty surreal this, innit?" Paul muses, tipping his cowboy hat onto his head, "I'm expecting Pamela Anderson to leg it past at any point here."
He pauses, breathes in the World Of The Unimaginable gathering around him.
"And she'll go, 'Hey! Aren't you the 'Wide Open Space' guy?'"
© 2002 David Nattriss, natts.com and Parlophone Records.
This page last updated: Saturday 18 May 2002