Tuesday September 22nd 1998
One thing that definitely sets me apart from the Romo crowd.
They all either got to be extras in the new film “Velvet Goldmine”, or should have been.
I, on the other hand, should have been an extra in “The Last Days Of Disco”.
Dress code for the film (after re-seeing it tonight, this time with Clare Wadd):
Girls: Blusher, boob tubes, bitchiness.
Boys: Suits, side-partings, sardonicism.
I still can’t recommend it highly enough.
And then there’s the photos accompanying the new Josef K compilation on Marina Records: “Endless Soul”. I don’t know enough about this band. Just the lazy soundbites: early 80s Scottish New Wave /post-punk scratchy flicker-guitar group, who had connections with Aztec Camera and Orange Juice and Momus’ first band, The Happy Family. But what I do know is that they had Great Suits and Great Side-Partings. The sleeve to this CD matches my silver-grey suit. Which is mainly why I bought it. Obviously.
Clare is talking about a disturbing new trend in London gigs. People have been thrown out or barred entry to the Water Rats etc for carrying a copy of The Guardian with them, as if smuggling in a newspaper to read at a gig is worse than smuggling in a knife. Is Jonathan Aitken starting out on a new career as an indie venue promoter?
If I one day find myself in the privileged position of being able to influence such matters, I will actively encourage reading at gigs. Never mind some naff flyer, take a good novel along to a gig and get a concession.
The line-up for Friday’s one-off free Fosca excursion in Brixton:
Self (diarist): voice and guitar player
Charley (Frantic Spiders): guitar player
Deb (Linus): bass player
Caroline (Frantic Spiders): drum player
Rachel (care worker): keyboard player, singing
Cressida (care worker): singing, flute player, keyboard player
Fiona (second-hand bookshop manager): singing, keyboard player
I have a horrible feeling there might be more people on stage than in the audience.
Saturday September 19th 1998
Club Popstarz last night:
“What’s the new band sound like?”
“slow, quiet, weepy sad songs. Eyes closed. Me singing. Galaxie 500 covering Barbra Streisand”
“God, that sounds awful. I think I’ll kill you.”
Other words thrown at my ear that night:
“You look like Lily Savage’s husband. Bob Downe. God, you really do. God.”
“This is my best friend. She’s a stripper… She DOES wear a wig, though.”
“Who was that boy you were with at the Kenickie aftershow? He looked so like you. Can’t you get him in the band?”
“But WHY do you dress like that? WHY? You don’t HAVE to…”
“We’re doing a fabulous show, modelling, this is the choreographer. I’m costumes… I see you… AS A MARIONETTE!”
“Can I fuck you while my friend watches?”
I was so taken aback by the last request, coming as it did from a very urbane looking American who’d up till then been chatting about London weather, that I just ummed and erred. He was serious. Fortunately I was rescued by an Orlando fan who recognised me.
Archway Adrian (who indeed, has many arch ways) is going to be modelling in a new calendar. It’s called “Camden Boys”. I am not sure whether to believe this or not.
Went to First Out for the first time. My dad recommended it. How many people have gay bars recommended by their dad?
It’s at 52 St Giles High Street, which is that badly-planned little bit of London around (and under) Centrepoint. Bottles of Stella Artois £1.50, Spirits and mixer £1. Sarit says there’s lots of pricing competition in gay bars. Shame there isn’t in the clubs too. I daren’t think how much last night at Popstarz cost me. I was meant to meet Howard at First Out. It didn’t happen, so I propped myself up at the bar, alone, and got quickly, cheaply drunk. Swapped numbers with a beautiful blond Norweigan. Phoned him the next day. Number unobtainable. Took some pills.
Went to see Linus at the Dublin Castle. Support bands were one featuring Mario of “Mario’s Cafe” fame, that Saint Etienne song used in some advert recently; and one featuring Hannah from Hollywood, who were part of that Romo tour palaver. I don’t know if she recognised me. I suspect she did, which is why she blanked me. Ah, London. One day a real rain is gonna come…
Charley was there to save my soul. Archway Adrian too, friendly as ever. He offered to play in Fosca. Promises, promises, Adrian. Rarely returns my calls, but he’s forgiven. Everyone is so BUSY. Went to the Black Cap, and then to the Metro, yet another tourist indie disco in Oxford Street. Erol DJ-ing. Got maudlin and upset and paranoid. Took more pills. Thought seriously about cutting my arm up. New low for me. Ridiculous, so I phoned Simon. Picked up the guitar to stop myself crying. This really must end.
Theorised on Lesbian Mannerisms. We all know about stereotypical gay male mannerisms, the wrist, the flutter, the rolling eyes, but a lesbian equivalent? Not haircut, not dress sense, not taste, but actual mannerisms?
Charley and Sarit suggested tomboyishness. I call it Lesbian Energy. The little bargirl at First Out suddenly jumping when Chumbawamba come on the bar stereo. Sarit dancing at Club V. Charley demonstrating her guitar riffing style at Bar Vinyl, startling the girl behind her. It’s not tomboyishness, because no boy really acts like that: the unnerving sudden burst of violent energy, like spiders moving quickly after hours of stillness. I’ve only ever seen it in lesbians. I’m quite chuffed with this theory.
Working title for the album is “Friendship’s Death”, after the film with Tilda Swinton and Bill Paterson. More outsiders looking in on real life… Woolf’s Orlando, De Beauvoir’s Fosca… recognise a pattern?
So today I’m sitting in Jackson’s Lane, bleary and hungover, supping milky coffee. Then I notice Bill Paterson is at the table next to me.
I’ve completely reverted to using “Dickon” again, after a period of experimenting with “Richard”. I look in the mirror, and it says Dickon, so Dickon it is.
Charley is playing Brixton Academy in October. She’s supporting Mansun in the band Gay Dad, on tour with them too. So if you’re going to see Mansun, do get there early and shout out for her when Gay Dad play. Go on.
Fosca Mk II play their live debut as part of the Queeruption free festival, at Brady’s, Atlantic Road, Brixton, London, on Friday 25th Sept. Onstage no earlier than 9pm.
That’s two weeks from today. I have no band or songs rehearsed. It’s always been this way: book the gig first, find the band lineup and songs to play second. Just like Orlando Mk I’s first gig at the Monarch in 1993. And Orlando Mk II’s debut at Club Skinny in 1995. And Fosca Mk I’s one at Club V, 1997.
Here we go again. I’ll be singing this time too, be warned O world.
The festival includes a Shoplifting Workshop.
It was my birthday last Thursday. I celebrated by going to two indie-schmindie gigs… Firstly, Mojave 3 at Borders Bookshop in Oxford Street. They were okay in an aging shoegazers pretending to be from Texas (and not the Home Counties) sitting on stools with acoustic guitars way. They played in the bookshop’s DIY section. Rachel Thing looked like she was on her break from working there: bookshop sales assistant “chic” glasses. In the last song, she didn’t have anything to do, so she got up and had a look at the books on quiltmaking behind her. Since last seeing her when Slowdive played Bristol Fleece and Firkin in 1892, I think she’s aged in that strange way only some middle class girls do: all mumsy teeth and second-house-in-the-country chin.
I’d much rather review the bookshop. Apparently it’s famous in the US for being somewhere you can pick up people while supping coffee and browsing through the books. And this new branch has a huge cafe section on the second floor, plus lots of sofas and seats. The idea is you can browse and get crumbs and coffee on books all day until 11pm. And watch passers by down in Oxford Street, giggling at garishly coloured backpacks of tourists and stressed Englishmens’ premature bald patches.
After that, I went to see Sleater Kinney at the Kings College. There were 700 flights of stairs (forgot the lift might have been a better idea) and a packed hot, sticky ball of hip people in the venue itself. Spent most of my time there chatting to Gary Wiija, Jarvis Pulp And Jon Huggybear.
Didn’t watch the band much. They dress nicely though.
On the way back, I noticed some dog mess on the pavement that I’d avoided on the way in. It had now been stepped in by someone else. Completely and utterly, with a trail of angry smears all the way down the street.
I was the happiest I’d been for ages.
Saw Belle and Sebastian at Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Monday.Well, APART from going on far too late (though they then played 16 songs: well over an hour), and APART from the ridiculous “Quietcore” nature of the PA (apparently due to their soft singing style… not to mention standing miles away from the mikes in case they bite, they couldn’t turn up the vocals anymore without feedback, and so the instruments had to be mixed under the quiet vocals… but does anyone really buy this? I just think they’re cursed) and APART from the silly self-indulgent see-we’re-not-twee-honest jamming bits (“Spaceboy Dream”, which is B&S’s own “Revolution No. 9 / Humblebee)… they were terrific. And it was the first time I’d seen them when , now that the new album was out, they played NO new songs at all (well, unless you count “Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner”, which though unreleased has been done on radio sessions ages ago) just all the hits.
Someone made a joke about how they’d gotten rid of all the gaps between their songs and instead put them in one big gap at the beginning….lasting 9.45 (when they were due on) till 10.30 (eventual appearance)….
And as usual at most gigs I attend regardless of “target audience”, I got my view obscured by a tall man with a ponytail… until I moved to the little dais bit at the back and could then see everything fine, if not necessarily hear it all that well.
And oh, I got to chat to Stephen Pastel. And that Mojave 3 girl was following me around.
Elliott Smith did a really good version of “Isn’t It A Pity”. No one else but me apparently knew this was a George Harrison cover. And even then they though it was a Galaxie 500 song (last song on “On Fire”)…
Got stopped while crossing Archway Road yesterday by someone who recognised me. It was Jo Whiley. It’s one thing to go up to celebrities and chew their ear off, it’s another (at least as far as one’s ego is concerned) when they collar you. Jo Whiley. Jarvis Cocker. Noel Gallagher. Not Neil Tennant though: he recognised Tim once, and ignored me altogether. I’m convinced it’s because at the time I’d just shaved my golden hair off. Now the blondness is back, and I’m a “Star” again. Strange how you can be famous to the famous, but not to real people. But the ultimately depressing thing is that name-dropping is only forgiveable if you’re as famous yourself as the names you bandy about. Otherwise you’re in danger of being remembered only for remembering others.
– Belle and Sebastian: “The Boy With The Arab Strap”. Predictable choice, I know: old-school whiteboy indie comfort-food, perhaps, as many stalwart lyrical and musical references of the genre are present and correct. One song, “Dirty Dream #2”, seems to be either influenced by Orlando, or (far more likely) the things that influenced Orlando: disco guitar stabs, Northern Soul rhythm, swooping strings and so on. There’s no real pain or despair here though: just a sense of cosiness and relaxed happiness with one’s lot. Naturally, I am fiercely envious of this last quality. They are not as important as The Smiths, Fieldmice, Galaxie 500, or even The Orchids, though. And even this album is not as good as:
-Divine Comedy: “Fin De Siecle”. Utterly impressive: lyrical prowess to the fore, almost Sondheim-like in use of internal rhymes, and possibly the only use of Wagnerian choirs and Broadway musical arrangements on a major pop record ever. Utter disdain for current musical trends. Utterly unique. Good monochrome sleeve photos, too.
-Plush: “More You Becomes You”. Harvey told me to get this. Not sure if I like it yet. It’s a man who thinks he’s Brian Wilson and Jimmy Webb singing and playing a piano and nothing else. Which is what Harvey’s last album was like. At least Harvey wore a nice suit on the cover.
-Bowie: all his 70s albums, of course, but I’m particularly enjoying his “Thin White Duke” late 70s period at the moment. Thin White Dickon? Anthony from Jack thinks and drinks that I should strive to make my “image” more like this Bowie, the one that was in “The Man Who Fell To Earth”, the one that sang “Heroes” and “Knock On Wood”… cool blond parting, skinniness, and really, really nice trousers.
-El Records compilations. Style over success!
-“The Last Days of Disco”: I’ve waited four years for this. Whit Stillman makes films as often as World Cups: “Metropolitan” in 1990, “Barcelona” in 1994, this one in 1998. More privileged Americans talking about Life and Love. But this time there’s room between conversations for… DANCING! And lots of it! Kate and Chloe cast against type, Chris Eigemann cast as himself again, which of course is a Good Thing. He gets to do yet another “what if….” rant or two. No car crashes. Or special effects. At all. Have seen it once alone. Hope to see it at least once more with others.
-“The Daytrippers”. Saw this one twice: once with mother and once with Kate Dornan. Parker Posey, Campbell Scott: more favourite actors of mine. Great use of Stan Getz music against NY backdrop. Witty as hell.