“We were considered a joke in Nottingham”
Nobody wanted to know. Then we started to get into magazines and things started stoking up. Now that we’ve got somewhere they’ve taken us under their wing. I mean, I can’t blame the Evening Post for not following it from day one, but the local promoters didn’t give a fuck. Now it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I remember them.’ Fuck off. We did it all by ourselves. We sold out Rock City without anyone’s help and they couldn’t understand why. It was a really nice feeling because for years we were ignored and looked down on, and for once someone turned it into something all by themselves without having to compromise, totally through their own set of beliefs.
“Ideas are what keep you going when nobody else cares”
With Andrew it wasn’t as desperate, but when I was doing it on my own it was terrible. But what kept me going was that I’d get another idea and think, oh, I’ll try that and see what happens. Sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn’t and something would push it to another level. And it was easy to maintain, because there wasn’t a band – just me and whatever idea for a backing track I had. When Andrew came along he wouldn’t gig with me, so I was still using his tunes on a CD as a backing track. It was essentially the same but with original beats rather than samples.
“How are you supposed to conduct yourself in the street?”
Initially you get a buzz out of being stopped in the street. I never thought I’d get anywhere, ever. And now you take it for granted, people saying ‘alright?’. I know it sounds wanky, but how are you supposed to conduct yourself? I went through a period of feeling a bit guilty about it, people stopping me, and me saying hello and then forgetting about it. Before it was like, ‘oh wow, who am I? I don’t deserve this!’
“I’m waiting for the media attention to collapse at any minute”
I’ve been feeling like that since they first got interested. Because papers like The Guardian, they’re so, like… [mimes snatching at the air]. Fuck that! And it’s better to think like that – that people are going to stop talking about you in the press – because as long as the music is interesting people are going to be bothered.
I reckon we’re still one of the most interesting bands about – y’know, without being a wanker. I listen to music everyday, and try to listen mostly to new stuff, and I think we’re on a par with anyone that’s perceived to be worthy of the moment.
We’ve not gone up our arse, and it’s still the same. To be honest, after ‘Key Markets’ I thought, well that’s that. Because where do you go from that? I was weary of just going on about the same old shit, as Noel Gallagher put it, ‘ranting about fried chicken’, or whatever. But it always comes back in a different way; there’s always something else you see.
There are a few more songs on this album. I think, for me, that makes it feel like it’s moved on and is still going, but most of the time I’m waiting for it to collapse, because there’s so little to it.
“Our enduring quality is the lack of other good music at the minute”
There’s a lot of stuff that’s make-do. It’s alright; it’s ok. You’re thinking, ‘yeah, that’s alright, it’s not bad’. Eventually you start humming it and think, ‘yeah, that’s ok, I’ll buy it.” But there’s nothing that fucking knocks your head off and makes you feel alive – really alive. And I’m not saying that we do, but I think we echo that idea a bit.
I come from the era of the mid ’90s, where there was always something coming out of the bag, like ‘Woah!’. I can’t think of anything other than grime that has that ‘oooh!’ and even that is tempered now. I heard that Skepta had a burning car onstage at Alexandra Palace. I don’t know if that’s true, but if it is, that’s done. Like the police-line-do-not-cross tape around Guns N’ Roses’ set at Wembley. Fucking done!
Maybe it’s my age. And I’m such a fucking mardy bastard. I tend to analyse stuff and make judgments on stuff, and I think, well, I don’t reserve the same judgment for myself sometimes.