A little note on this one: additional to my obsession to meet Raymond Watts, I developed this mad idea that I absolutely HAD to meet Mary Mary if it was the very last thing I ever did in my life. It took me two years from thinking I’d quite like to have a chat to actually sitting down and talking with him, but … it really was one of the greatest moments of my life to sit there, nose-to-nose with my indie idol, chatting happily and animatedly. While we never met again, other people in the room remarked on how well we’d got on with each other, and I came away with one of my favourite ever interviews.
With their explosive blend of metal riffs and drum and bass grooves, Apollo 440’s rise to fame has been as meteoric as the name suggests. The funky, jazz-inspired Krupa and chart-busting Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Dub (from Van Halen’s Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love) have set a blueprint for their fast-developing sound. Finding an increased audience with the Lost In Space theme, @440’s star is in the ascendant. Incredibly, their trademark ragga-style vocals come courtesy of none other than industrial legend Mary Mary.
“I suppose the rumours are true,” Mary grins, as he reveals all about his days as vocalist for psychedelic punkers Gaye Bykers On Acid. He reveals that the speculation of huge, acid-fuelled frenzies stems from when a certain alternative celebrity handed out 250 tabs of acid to the band.
Ian: We were handing it out to the crowd, and we did take quite a lot of it ourselves. It’s something you get over, though.
He smiles, accounting for his current sober appearance.
Born Ian Garfield Hoxley, Mary hails from Leicester, but has spent years in various bands in Liverpool, Camden and Chicago. Mary has an extraordinary reputation. Not only as a versatile and talented vocalist, but as of The World’s Nicest Bloke. Former bandmates, roadies, producers and friends all chorus their affection for the tiny, affable, gregarious Kurt Cobain lookalike. In fact, so widespread was his acclaim that we simply had to find out what all the fuss was about. We weren’t disappointed.
After endless telephone calls to the Epic Press office (thanks guys!), I am finally led to a tiny room at Subterrania, where my favourite singer and one of the hottest bands on the planet are playing tonight. A man in an Afghan coat introduces himself as Simon. He in turn introduces me to the band. I promise to Mary that I am not going to neglect Apollo 440 (and miss this one?) and decide to start at the beginning.
Ian: After GBOA, one night we went to see Henry Rollins play in Highbury, when Paul Raven from Killing Joke came up to me and handed me £200. Cash. He said, “I really want you to be on the team. Get a plane and come to Chicago.” So I spent it. A couple of days later, he called and said, “I was serious about you coming out here. Get the next flight out.” I told him that I’d spent it, but a royalty cheque came through, so I ended up in Chicago. Martin Atkins (Killing Joke / Ministry) was like “Yeah, yeah, come on over”, so suddenly I’m surrounded by people like Andrew Weiss from Rollins Band, En Esch from KMFDM and it’s like, great, I’m in a band with loads of complete nutters.