A commenter on Collapse Board made the remark that the next big thing will probably be some hybrid of dubstep and rock. It’s a fair guess – maybe even a dubstep-screamo hybrid – but the existence of such a merger doesn’t mean that the public will embrace such a sound. Continue reading
So Marc from Cubanate’s being wittering away on Tumblr about the good old days *creak* when he hung out with Judda and Pig.
I don’t particularly remember the former, but I’ve been recalling the latter for a while now and have developed something of a craving for those old Raymond Watts releases.
Unfortunately, all but the very latest Pig records are almost impossible to find these days, even insofar as Amazon downloads being blocked from this country. It does seem ridiculous that I can’t legally purchase songs in this country from someone who lives less than 80 miles away.
Trawling for CDs on Ebay seems my best bet, but if the £20 for JG Thirlwell’s Hydroze Plus single made my eyes water (“I’d expect sexual favours for that price!”), you can only imagine my reaction to finding Pig’s S*** For Brains retailing at £99.99.
For that price, I could get a taxi from home to the railway station, get on a train, get a cab the other side, knock on Raymond’s door, take him out for a slap-up meal and ask him to sing each and every f***ing song to me over a plate of tiramasu.
I don’t mind paying £6.99 for an album (that’s great – that’s cheap! It just means I can buy more), and I’d be quite prepared to pay £10 or £11, but there has to be a point where a line is drawn and you say “no more”. Where the laws of supply and demand are revealed as crude exploitation.
Even so, Raymond, if you’re reading this: sort out your f***ing distribution or I’ll be testing the protective value of your ludicrously oversized codpiece.
(Just kidding, mate. Love ya really.)
Porcine disappointment aside, it does lead me to an interesting thought: the problem with Ebay is that you have to keep checking day after day to see when and if the object of your fancy becomes available. Shouldn’t there be a site where it’s the other way around? I would like to buy the following releases by Pig, and it would just be so easy if I could just list them on a site saying “I want these: lowest bidder wins my custom”:
Praise the Lard
A Stroll in the Pork
Fortunately, I’ve just seen three of them in a bundle deal that my very kind friend Scott is prepared to receive in the US and then ship onto me in the UK, at a frankly frightening cost when all things are considered. It’s a royal pain in the tail for all concerned, but some records are just too good not to own.
:edit: I had assumed that anyone reading this would “get” my sense of humour and know that I wasn’t of course demanding that Raymond miraculously whips major label-style distribution out of thin air. I know how it works well enough to be fully aware that these things are very difficult (though often not impossible).
There is a coda to all this, in that I was recently irritated by some snarky, demanding comments made to me about some of my video game modifications (mods). My initial, instinctive reaction was to think, “F*** off! I don’t make these mods for you! If was the sort of person who catered to the random whims of other people, then my mods would be very different – bland crowd-pleasers indistinguishable from others of their kind, rather than eccentric flights of fancy that are simply not to everyone’s taste.” So yes, I can empathise, but I can also empathise to some extent with the frustration of the end user, who just wants to get on with enjoying something without sparing a thought for why they can’t just have what they want.
<< … PART ONE
GUNS, COKE AND GROUPIES
The Night We Trashed The Hotel
“Julian Beeston, he’s quite rock’n’roll. He’s been on Depeche Mode tours with Nitzer Ebb. Jools lobbed a TV through a window. Rock’n’roll cliché to the max. That was the worst. Jools said, “Guys, we can’t be wusses. We’re just not wrecking hotel rooms. So we all pooled together some money, lobbed the TV set out the window, just did the standard things, just so we could say we did it. Roddy wanted porn on his TV that night. He paid twelve bucks to get the porn channel and then complained to the hotel management that it wasn’t giving him an erection, and got his money back.”
By the end of the tour, all you want is a house in the country, picket fence, kids, dog. “You never want to leave the country again,” says Marc, “You want to be settled with 2.4 kids, it really does drive you to becoming an accountant with a Volvo. You do become rock’n’rolled out. One thing about touring, which is always fun, is that there is always a new scene every day. There’s always a new place every day. I think that, at a larger level, if you’re playing stadiums, you don’t see any of the town, whereas if you are playing to 500 people, you actually get to see and meet people, and that’s quite cool.”
This was conducted in 2001. I took over running Cubanate’s website for a bit and did this piece with Marc to give the site some content. It was originally presented in four parts so I’ll split it in half. Marc and I had a lot of the same friends and were both really extravert people, so we found it easy to get along with each other. I was hitting the top of my game in terms of conducting interviews, but oddly it turned out to be the last music interview I ever did. Shame, really, because when I read this back just now, I was just laughing my tail off …
SPARKS, SYNTHS AND SHEEP
It started with Sparks. Marc was about nine, in that precious short time before punk blew apart our preconceptions about what music was supposed to sound like, and Marc became a Sparks fan. “It was incredibly out there,” he reminisces. “Then it was punk – punk was my first big thing that I was into. I think the roots of what I’ve always been into have come from the music of around that period – punk and disco. It was always punk versus disco.”
“My mother was a professional chorus girl, so she loved big musicals, South Pacific, that kind of thing. The rest of it was all the Sixties stuff. This says all you need to know about my parents: They were definitely Beatles-type parents. I mean, now, I’d come down on the side of the Stones, but I grew up on The Beatles. I like the pompousness of the later albums, I think they got better later on when they started to basically get out of their heads. The early pop stuff, which everyone says is really classic, I think is alright, but nothing special.”
Those formative years were spent in the Middle East, before moving to the South of England. Marc was denied a lost youth, hanging out with the rebel crowd, because he lived in a sleepy village near Haywards Heath in mid-Sussex. He started going down to Brighton to experience his first taste of wild nights on the town. “Down there, there was really quite a cool scene, going to the Top Rank and places like that. Going to some f***ing rough gigs, come to think of it. I mean, there were always stabbings – you wouldn’t believe the amount of violence in those shows then, all the time, things that would create national headlines these days would happen every Saturday. The difficulty when you are isolated, out in the country, is that there’s no real way to meet people who are thinking similarly, because all you have is the village disco.”
In primary school, Marc formed his first band. “At first, none of us could play instruments, so at first we used to put on shows, miming along to records. That was the earliest thing I did.”
A really, really early synthesiser
This encouraged Marc’s fledgling love of performance, which grew as he moved to Leicester, and, later, London. During his teens, however, Marc came into contact for the first time with the one thing that would change his life for ever. “A friend of mine bought a really, really early synthesiser. This would have been about 1981. I was about fifteen or sixteen. Just having a synthesiser and a little, primitive drum machine, immediately made you feel completely special because nobody else had one. It just made you feel good about making music. You could be weird from the word go. You didn’t need to learn how to play chords on the guitar, it was more punk rock than punk, in a way, because anything you did, no matter how s*** it was, at least you sounded different than everybody else.”
“I then got to London, and this is the Eighties, and I said to myself, I want to make it big! I formed a band with a mate and we were doing electro-pop (I suppose is the best way to describe it), very commercial stuff, and then we got signed with a producer called Colin Thurston, who was my idol producer at the time. He produced the early Human League and all the early Duran Duran stuff, so we made an album with him, which was an absolute disaster. But the first inkling I had that I might end up doing what I’m doing was that the guy who gave us our first break offered us a support with Gary Numan. So, we supported Numan in 1987, and it was great. I mean, we didn’t have a record label or anything so that immediately kicked things off. So, we struggled on with that and at some point Bill, the guy I was working with, left, and I took over as lead singer (I was on keyboards before), and we got re-signed in the early Nineties to Music For Nations. We made another album, essentially remaking that first album, which was also a complete f***ing failure. The first thing we did there, moving towards what I’m doing now, is make a couple of dance remixes of those songs which were actually dance hits and scraped into the Top 100 of that scene.”
“So, it was all looking a bit possible, but I realised that something was amiss and by that time I was going down Gossips on a Wednesday to the Hard Club. Techno was becoming a lot harder, and I thought, I can see my way forward here.”
I hadn’t planned to transfer all these interviews over but I think they belong in one place, since a lot of them intermingle in some ways. I did this one in about 1999 for a website called Cybase23. I’ve edited it slightly.
One gorgeous balmy evening, Frontline Assembly’s Rhys Fulber was kindly answering a few questions when we heard a shout. “Don’t listen to him! HE’S LYING!”
“Oh, that’s just Marc from Cubanate,” explained Rhys. “Ignore him,” he giggled. The interview continued with similar such interruptions from the mad bloke at the next table.It’s an interesting first impression to make on a person.
Rhys was taking time out from a recording session in Fulham – it was the post-production on what turned out to be Interference, the break-filled crossover album from Cubanate. It was two years until its final release, and in that time, Cubanate scored yet another lucky break. Four songs from their acclaimed Antimatter album appeared on the Gran Turismo soundtrack.
As the computer game sold by the lorry-load, so the royalties accumulated. When the first big cheque came through, celebrations were in order. Marc invited all the people involved in Antimatter to the pub and then clubbing afterwards – and since those people were now in other bands, all the people in those bands came too – including me. “Hey, is that chick in the band? She looks like Monica Lewinsky!” he quipped when he saw me, but apologised swiftly afterwards, and bought me about eighteen beers in recompense. My lasting impression was of someone who was, despite his outrageousness, a pretty nice guy. His somewhat caustic wit belies a warm charm that makes it nearly impossible to take offence at his mischievous outbursts.
Marc Heal is a fairly complex case, though. He’s a notorious bon viveur who can’t do anything by halves. Therefore, in his business life, he is a hard-headed character who views band-members primarily as colleagues rather than friends. In his social life, he’ll always help out his mates and he’s garnered a party-animal reputation that he’s finding hard to shake. It’s not as though he behaves particularly badly – hell, we’ve all fallen over drunk before – but Marc just does it with so much panache!