Friday, February 11, 2011

Animals and Men Vague fanzine interview

Here is an indepth interview from about 1980 with the legendary Tom Vague from his webpage Vague rants.

Animals and Men: Futurist Manifesto

‘Uno, due, tre, quattro, Marinetti, Boccioni, Carra Balla, Palasechi, Marinetti, Boccioni, Carra Balla, Palasechi, Futurist Manifesto, Futurist Manifesto, War is the world’s only hygiene, energy and fearlessness, racing car the beauteous beast, hurl defiance at the stars.’ Another mysterious local band for you – Animals and Men. I know the name reeks of Ants rip-off dated punk, also they come from Somerset, so on the face of it they seem lacking in street credibility. The one thing I knew they did have going for them was that Puddle ex-Stalag 44 drummer and local hero was playing with them. March 15 Puddle brought the rest of Animals and Men over to the Ship one night… They are a very individual bunch leaning on the arty side except Puddle, they’ve renamed him Dean incidentally. Their lead singer Susan Wells does not fit into any Sioux, Styrene, etc look-alike slots, and within the confines of a noisy public bar they are very eloquent and gave us our best interview yet.

Firstly I query Ralph Mitchard, the guitarist and spokesman, about their choice of name: “The name came about 8 months ago, before the Ants’ John Peel session, it’s been a longstanding thing, we haven’t just jumped on the bandwagon. It was intended as a sort of tribute. We thought the imagery of the name suited our music and if we didn’t acknowledge the name somebody would. Anyway, we’re pretty influenced by the Ants and wanted to give them credit, because at that time they were not getting any press. We could have just masqueraded as another band not anything to do with them but we wanted to say we were on their side… We’re more like the old Ants, I like their music but a lot of things about them I don’t like.”

“We started about 10 months ago as a 3-piece, Geoff, Nigel and me, called Psychotic Reaction, that’s a song by Count 5, the 60s psychedelic punk band, good name, it started as a 60s punk orientated thing, influences; Elevators, Mysterons and so on, and American punk rock like the Dolls, Stooges, Voidoids. To a certain extent we bypassed the Pistols. We’ve only done 5 gigs, 2 in London, our bass player (Nigel House) lives in London, one in Frome and 2 in Bath… Our lyrics are more socially orientated, the Ants are more about themselves. We sing about situations rather than feelings – some political, some other things… The lyrics aren’t politically orientated they’re about real life situations… Individualism.” Puddle says he’s got socialist leanings and then goes off to have another game of Space Invaders.

Ralph continues: “We don’t sit down and aim to write a song seriously about a particular subject… Everybody writes the songs – we all contribute – no individuals take the credit.” On the new single: “It’s called ‘Car Crash Blues’.” Puddle: “It’s Siberian reggae.” Ralph: “Cars taken from a cynical viewpoint. A semi-humorous view of cars crashing, parodying the sexual implications of a car crashing.” On their first single ‘Don’t Misbehave in the New Age’: “It’s a tongue in cheek standard 1984 oppression nursery rhyme, very glib and pithy, it was brought across in a poppy way. It shouldn’t have been a single really. ‘New Age’ is more serious but we made it too jokey, even sing-along. People took it on face value. The object was to bring serious songs into a light-hearted aspect, like ‘Young Parisians’.

“It was recorded really cheap, about £20 at a 4-track studio in Porton. It’s got a really trashy production – only took one and a half hours to do. There’s mistakes on the B-side. We wanted the record company to re-record it but they had no intention of doing that. We had 1,000 pressed, all gone, no profit… We don’t have a lot of fun, we don’t enjoy playing.” Sue: “We do – well, I do – everybody else enjoys playing except for Ralph.” Ralph: “I enjoy it better than going to work. We’re not martyrs to any cause except Dean to his sexuality… We’ve lost about £500… We went to London to get the badges pressed and Adam came in shortly after we left. We wrote to him asking what he thought and he consequently replied saying he was honoured and that he liked the single; said it was a pure product, glorious, danceable with great promise, great vocalist, tight rhythm section…”

“We asked if we could support them and we were going to go on the gigs in the south but that’s all fallen through now. Perhaps it was not such a good idea. When we supported Toyah at Bath we had a very poor response, the audience was not interested in the support band… We were going to support Crass in Bath but that fell through. They had wanted to read our lyrics before agreeing that we could support them. But I think Crass are on the right track although I don’t entirely agree with the way they are doing it, whereas Toyah are just another showbiz rock band… The Psychedelic Furs, we’re more like them than the Ants. We’re not necessarily like them, just influenced by them and the Monochrome Set and the Pop Group.” Fave bands: Puddle – Punishment of Luxury, Nigel – the Doors, Sue – the Velvet Underground, Ralph – the Ants.

“I think the Pop Group are pretty commendable, not in the least bit boring. There’s nothing wrong with being naïve. It’s better to be naïve than cynical. I sympathise with them, I’m naïve, Adam’s naïve. If you’re cynical you lack enthusiasm. I think enthusiasm is connected with naivety. The Ants are naïve enthusiasts whereas the Banshees are tailor-made cynics made by the music press. The Ants and the Banshees are the 2 extremes… I’m more influenced by the cinema, by films and directors. I find early silent, 30s cinema interesting. They provide the inspiration to some of my songs. I like Warhol who was anti-art… I doubt if we’ll stay here, we’re not very popular in Frome, only a few people have shown any interest, most of them think we are arty posers, that’s not bad I suppose. If they don’t like us they can fuck off but we’ll probably fuck off instead.”