I did this interview for my fanzine in 1997, though looking at the text it’s probably a co-write between Claire and me – we’d take turns to type them up while splitting a bottle of Jack, each editing the other’s words.
If you haven’t seen Death In Vegas or haven’t got a copy of their album then you must be deaf, braindead or a Bon Jovi fan and we send you our deepest sympathy. They are without doubt one of the best and freshest dance outfits around.
Masterminded by Richard Fearless and Steve Hellier, Death in Vegas began over four years ago and have their first album, Dead Elvis, out on Conrete. The singles – Twist and Shout (a cover of The Beat’s 80s single) and Rekkit both went down a storm and they now enjoy a nice slice of radio airplay. This year they have toured with The Chemical Brothers as well as performing at Glastonbury and the Brighton Essential Music Festival. We managed to catch up with Steve at the Southend stop of the Chemicals’ tour and ask him a few questions.
We decided to subject Steve to a game of Wiggly Worms, where different coloured tailed worms bob up and down in a big plastic apple and you have to pick them out. The questions, which were colour co-ordinated with the worms’ tails, were hastily thought up over a cup of tea in a beautifully greasy Southend cafe. Right: let’s begin. .
Blue: which musical episode in your career would you most like to forget?
This is a bit difficult because I bet if I said the one you’d think I’d like to forget, like the Country and Western band I was in, it’s the one I’d most like to remember because it was brilliant. Errr … there were a couple of hardcore moments that were a bit embarrassing. I had this hardcore label and I did a bit of House, early 90s. Some of those records I wish I hadn’t put out, but there you go.
Yellow: what’s the difference between madness and being misunderstood?
Oh my god! What kind of tea were you drinking? It’s outrageous! I haven’t a clue, but I suppose if it’s for us, we’re probably misunderstood rather than mad. Ask my dad that one, he could tell you after a couple of gins.
Blue: Dead Elvis took two years to make: did you feel at any time frustrated by how long it took to complete?
No, because Richard and I both have things going on. I still have a day job working for the World Service, and Richard is DJing a lot (he is, of course, DJ Fearless, resident spinner at the Heavenly Social). It was just really when we could get together. I’ll tell you what was weird about it was when we put it together, it was weird how it actually worked; how it sat as an album.
Sits nicely on my turntable, thank you very much. Right – more worms! Blue: what’s your favourite gadget?
Ummm … I think the mixer is, actually. That’s really sad, isn’t it? I’m the technical one in the band, you see.
Yellow: what did your parents want you to be when you grew up?
(At this point, Steve’s adorable little five year-old daughter, Lauren, wakes up to see what the noise is. “Crazy people!” she declares. Steve tells here to “go to sleep or you’ll get one of those worms up your nose, darling.” Aren’t fathers lovely?)
Red: who was the first person you were in love with?
(A loud “ugh” of utter disgust comes from Lauren’s bunk.)
Ah, this is really sad but there was this girl called Miriam Hamburger. She lived down Blackheath Park and she was really posh. I was, like, really, really taken with her, but she wasn’t interested.
Green: if you were on a desert island with Tom and Ed (Chemical Bros), who would you eat first?
Hahahaha! Excellent question. Oh, I don’t know.
(“Ed! Tom would be too stringy,” shouts Steve’s girlfriend, Julia, to much amusement.)
Yeah, I’d have to say Ed because I’d probably have longer, more interesting technical conversations with Tom and we could bore each other s***less.
Blue: was there one single moment in your life when you thought, “I gotta be in a band?”
When I was 14-
(“To get women!” Julia shouts from the back of the bus.)
Cut the s***! Yeah, there’s only one single motivation for any youngster to get involved in music and that is it, basically.
Green: what’s the worst thing that has happened to you on stage?
Ummm … no, I’m not going to tell you the worst thing because it’s far too embarrasing. (After a lot of nagging) Well, it involved a serious need for going to the toilet that got a bit out of hand.
(OK, you can stop there, thank you.)
Yellow: which fictional character do you most admire?
Hal in 2001.
Most embarrassing record in your collection?
I suppose it would have to be Wham! The first album.
Julia: What about your greatest hits of Tammy Wynette?
Ah yeah, I’ve got a lot of Country. Dolly Parton’s greatest hits – fantastic!
Blue: which genre of music interests you most, apart from dance?
I don’t know because I think it’s really artificial to have genres in music – it’s like saying “that’s where you have to sit”, especially with dance music. I mean, if you listen to the album, it’s so influenced by so many other things. I don’t really listen to music that way.
At this point Andy Crysell from VOX magazine joins us. Ah! A professional journalist! We’re not embarrassed; there is absolutely nothing wrong with Wiggly Worms. Besides, it was time to go, anyway.