Andrew J. Brooksbank
Apollox shares a conversation with The Jazz Butcher over a Free Lunch.
We talk to Pat Fish about the new compilation, the players involved and why
we need his Free Lunch.
Apollox:The Kizzy period, this seems nicely covered here and seemed a solid
and creative line up for about 2 or 3 years, obviously I am aware of his
illness and untimely death so I won't go into that particular area in any
detail but was wondering how much impact this was to have on the band at
this stage in it's career?
Oddly enough, I don't think that Kizzy's misfortune had that much to
do with it. He went sick on the way back from a gig in Sheffield in
September 1989, and was in the hospital by the next day. Almost immediately
it became clear that he wouldn't be fit for any gigs for at least several
weeks. Meanwhile, we were looking at starting an unprecedented nine week
tour of the USA and Canada. We spoke with Kiz and he urged us to carry on
and do the dates, so Richard Formby was invited to come in as Emergency
Guitarist. I'd known him for years, he was involved with two or three acts
that were recording for Glass in the early days (Religious Overdose, In
Embrace, maybe some others that I forgot). Richard settled in quite well
and we had a great tour. When we got back from tour it was Christmas. Then
on 8th January we went into the studio to record "Basement". Richard was
invited along, as he already knew some of the tunes (Mr. Odd, Girl-Go) from
the tour. Paul, Laurence and I put down the backing tracks first, then
awaited the arrival of Rich, Alex Lee (another guest) and Kiz himself. When
Kiz arrived, we were all pretty freaked-out at the state of him. After his
operations and stuff he was visibly sedated and not really "with it" at
all. He put a little bit of guitar and singing on "Excellent" (the Girl-Go
b-side), but even that was a bit of a struggle. So the guitars on the album
are all Richard, Alex, Paul Mulreany (he loves to play a bit of rhythm)
and myself. By the time we had finished "Basement" it was time to carry on
touring, this time in Europe. With Kiz in a state, Richard came along once
again. By now we were completely used to him, and felt quite comfortable
with the idea that he was The Lead Guitarist. We stayed on the road in
Europe from February to May 1990.
In about July 1990 Sonic Boom came around looking for
collaborators in what would become Spectrum. We talked about Richard, and
Sonic ended up making him a rather handsome cash offer to get involved in
the Spectrum project. Richard had the grace to come and explain to me about
the situation, but I could hardly object, as I'd actually spent a fair bit
of time "selling" the idea to Sonic in the first place. Richard played his
last gig with the JBC (for a while, anyway) at a festival in Sardinia in
We then had another US/Canada tour looming, so it was time to go
out and find another guitarist. We actually held auditions (the only time
we have ever done this) down in London. Among the people we saw was Pete
Crouch (not the lanky striker currently plying his trade at Norwich City),
but he seemed a bit "out of his depth" at the time and we ended up taking
Julian Poole with us. (Jazza, as he gets called, went on to join
Strangelove, and is currently with the band Witness). By the end of the
1990 US tour Laurence was feeling increasingly unhappy with the band, more
socially than musically. He was in some small way "losing it". On our
return to London he hooked up with Terry Bickers to start Levitation. I saw
the first gig. Terry had been a mate of the band for a while, and there had
even been talk of us drafting him into the JBC on guitar, but McGee wasn't
having it ("he's too mad"). So that was Laurence gone to Planet Terry.
Paul, meanwhile, hadn't come home at all! He was going out with a girl from
LA and had decided to spend Christmas over there with her. At the same time
John Langley, the Blue Aeroplanes drummer (also later in Strangelove) quit
the band for the very reason that they were planning to record their next
album in LA. John - at the time anyway - considered LA to be the home of
The Devil and was having none of it. In early January I got a call from the
Aeroplanes explaining the situation and asking if, since
he was on the spot, they could use Paul on the album. Obviously I said yes,
and that's how Paul began his association with the Aeroplanes.
All of which meant that by mid-January 1990 the band was no more. I phoned
up Pete Crouch and we started on building the next generation of the JBC.
So that (NOT in a nutshell) is how the JBC second line-up came to finish.
Poor Kiz was only a peripheral figure in it really. We lasted another 15
months or so after his departure.
So how did this affect the nucleus of the group once he had to
leave, did you feel you were alone again in terms of a writing partner as I
believe he contributed greatly particularly on Fishcoteque?
Kiz was certainly a good partner in terms of writing guitar parts and
so on, but he wouldn't generally contribute to the songs themselves. It
sounds harsh, but we didn't really miss him once he had to leave. You have
to remember that before we knew that he was sick, his behaviour had already
become pretty erratic. I can remember having a conversation with Paul
during June 1989 in which we were actually talking about "giving him one
last chance to get his shit together". Of course, only a few weeks later we
found out what he had been struggling with. In fact, it's fair to say that
the line-up of the day was very well-balanced creatively. Everybody was
bringing in positive ideas off their own bat. From 1988 through to 1990
felt like a very mad, creative and enjoyable time.
The JBC has had its (probably more than most actually) share of
compilations, is the world really ready for another?
Poor old World... Honestly, I think probably not. I have started to
refer to the JBC Pointless Re-Issues Library. Still, maybe somebody will
like it. There are a couple of oddities on there for truly, madly hardcore.
And it's nice that record companies still want to put this stuff out in the
public domain. Altogether, though, it doesn't mean much to me apart from
the fact that it's my debut as a sleeve designer. All the proposed front
covers that the "artist" from the record company submitted were truly,
desperately shite. So MC Bot and I opened up the Photoshop and went to
work. To our astonishment, the thing was accepted!
Do you have any say in the content and are you consulted before
hand, or are these things thrown together (loose expression) without any
real involvement from you?
To be fair to Rev-Ola they did consult me over the track listing. I
sent them back my idea of an interesting compilation, one that would
feature unusual and mental stuff, but Rev-Ola came back to me and asked for
more of the "hits". Urrrrm..."hits"??? What "hits"?
Personally I love compilations if they are handled well and
include 'bonus' material ('Free Lunch' does) there are some obvious 'cash
in's out there, particularly if an artist has just begun to be successful,
the obligatory 'early label releases' tend to errm... yes lets say it how
it is.. cash in on the success. (Adam and the Ants - Decca stuff is
probably a nice example). I am well aware of the other side of the coin too
of course in that this may well be the only way to obtain long deleted
tracks, in which case they will be welcome but other times it seems that
labels throw together any old shit that has been flogged, flogged and
flogged again (Stranglers - Hugh Cornwell period springs to mind, with Epic
and EMI etc constantly repackaging the most bizarre compilations,
unessential even to die hards. Oh! the question...whaddya (pun intended)
think of the way yours are handled?
Well, that business about the "hits" kinda sums up what's wrong with
compilations for me. Once folks have got one copy of "She's a Yoyo" they
don't really need any more, do they? So there's me, trying to put on mad
shit that would make for an interesting few minutes, and there's the record
company saying "No, more hits". It seems to me that with an act this old
and this (over) compiled, they should be a little bit more courageous. But
I don't want to complain. I still remember when i would have given an arm
and a leg (with a side-order of kidneys) to have one single record out.
Finally what's left in the vaults from the real early days, any
plans to finally clear out, like re-issue Bath Of Bacon (Jazz Butcher debut
long player from 1983) with the extra tracks, I'm sure there is a need you
Well, the Glass stuff isn't really under my control, as you know, and
I think it's fair to say that "Cake City" (last years round up /
compilation of the Glass Catalogue) did a fairly good job of trawling the
vaults for mental left-overs from that time.
I feel all right about the JBC right now. If folks want to, they can easily
get a hold of copies of "Scandal", "Distressed", "Cake City", "Rotten Soul"
and now this Rev-Ola deal. It seems to me that 5 albums of JBC is a fair
amount for folks to be getting on with. I don't think I would have expected
so much of the stuff still to be available in 2003. For the future, well
I'd certainly like to get Wilson recording a bit more. We're feeling good
about that, and it's my main project now. The thing is, we're not really
actively seeking a deal. But then I've always found that good things tend
to turn up out of the blue anyway, like the London date we just did. We
weren't expecting that, and we certainly wouldn't have dared to go for a
venue as good as Cargo, but it just fell into our laps. So I guess we'll
just keep on doing what we do and see what turns up.
I've also been thinking about the idea of making a "solo" record,
basically just me with the occasional guest singer or soloist. When I was
in LA last, in the summer of 2001, I spoke to a number of musicians and
studio guys out there about maybe doing something like this. Unfortunately
the balloon went up just a few weeks later (Dude! Where's my Country?)and
now I don't dare to go to America until proper Regime Change has been
effected. Come on, Howard Dean! Right now, though, folks have enough JBC
stuff to be going on with, so I shan't be rushing into anything on the
singer-songwriter front. I'll keep grinding away with the Wilson gang and
give people a little time off from The Butcher..
A tip of the hat to Pat Fish for sharing his Free Lunch.