Jazz Butcher: Meat Means Murder!
The Jazz Butcher interests me strangely. He's quite tall,
with a name inspired from a famous fishing painting. He
therefore sings of goldfish. He wraps concern round
lions, a young girl and her bedroom and generally
quaffs the lager with gusto. He releases records like
other people dream of holidays and crams so many
styles and ideas onto one never-to-be-ash-tray that my
head spins. Not literally!
How would he classify his music?
I always call it muck.
So how do people know if they can trust you, if they're
not wimps? Can a man who describes his records as
muck be all bad? That's what I'd say.
And that's what he did say in the public house next door
to ZigZag Acres, a place where the stars do roam. The
Butcher is keen. Is integrity a major factor?
It's all we've got. All it is, is one bloke wandering around
and he'll see something and he'll think STUPID! He'll go
away, play around with it and that'll be one record. There
isn't a style, it's all different. I think there was one for a bit,
The Big Soppy Pussycats. They've all gone and done
other things, it was always a borrowed group. So now
we'll do pop concerts and it'll just be me and Max. Two
blokes. On stools.
Having spent a short term sentence in Oxford. Things
were less than sparkling. The Butcher went to
Northampton where, within the batting of an extremely
slow eye lid, he was landed by Glass Records. Probably
There's a big sign on the door saying, 'Dave Barker
owns this town'. Some people think it's a Northampton
label because he's done The Tempest,
he's got me and he puts on all these shows in
We're very lucky because the people that tend to work
with us are always brilliant! Namechecks! We've got a
bass player who's on 'Marnie' (the newest single) and
'Smith' (an older one), called Rolo. He's got a group too
called The Woodentops who are good. Another guy in
his band, brilliant drummer, called Paul Hookham. Then
there's Joby (the crack shot behind In Embrace) ... these
people! The other time we had a date where we'd
committed ourselves to using bass and drums. Drummer
we picked couldn't do it and we were doing it for him!
I like musicians, people who can make good music
without any effort, and we've got a history of bumping
into people ...
is ridiculous. Me, I can't play. I just
fiddle with some things.
Give Butch a chance and it will be words he fiddles
with. For a reason that has long since made a dash for
freedom his voice pipes up with, It must be some
kind of satan to modern womanhood, satan on your
back .. . And then ...
Course, you know who my favourite band is?
And if I said it didn't show in your music would that be
a good thing?
Probably. We've been doing '
' live and
conned into doing it on record, The Jazz Butcher's
career wrecker I tell ya!
Ah, that career. Take us back Butch, take us back ...
I'd left my old group in Oxford and went I to live with
my parents near Northampton, completely broke and
they lived in the country. Nothing to do, nobody to
play with so I had this tape recorder and a guitar and
I started playing to see if I could play all the
instruments and fake up a track. I played drums one
day on the bath. If Test Dept turned up onstage with
a bath, it'd be 'WAAAAHHHHH!'. We phoned people
up, like the sax player and said, 'Look, we're making a
record, come and blow a bit'.
You actually use phrases like 'Come and blow a bit'?
Well you do blow a bloody saxaphone! If he was a
drummer it would be different. Bang a bit! We're very
literally minded people. We take pop music literally
sometimes. You get the lovable stupidity of it all. I adore
pop music but it is dumb. Most of it, Lou Reed maybe
Your own stuff is dumb?
Dumb as hell. We want people to enjoy it, we're
entertainers, we've got no qualms about it. Pr ... I've lost
He taps a table (that fails to tap back).
Politics. That's what I was going to go on about.
We see ourselves as entertainers. Dumb things are
entertaining. I find it lovably dumb, pop music. I hope
this isn't going to come out sounding patronising. I was
just thinking, if you're reading it and some twat from
nowhere is saying, 'Pop music is lovably dumb'
You think it's dumb.
Yeah, just me.
Right, stop talking about it.
We like The Clash. I bet they're really pleased with the
guys they've got because there's been no pressure.
They haven't got to get anyone out of Death Cult.
Or 'an ex member of Chelsea'.
Yeah! There must be a special dole office for them.
We've used about thirty musicians in a year since
we started doing pop concerts. Never wanted to stay
You call them pop concerts.
I haven't got to say 'GIGS' have I? We used to say
shows a lot actually.
Which is a reversal or revulsion from his days in The
Sonic Tonics (Five blokes who went out looking like
We spent all our dole money on beer
and hair spray), a time for misty eyed recollection,
The Tonics were important, a good liberal education
for a young man. We got to show off a lot but it was
getting a bit daft and all my ideas of owning vans
and getting lots of gear ... I decided it was all bollocks
to go with the electric guitar prick. And our friends
paying money three nights a week to see us making
fools of ourselves! I got fed up with it, so The Jazz
Butcher was largely born out of a reaction against all
that ... GIG ... BAND... stuff.
Hot little combo.
Well to a lot of you with precious little pocket money
your main taste of Butcher is probably his single
Southern Mark Smith
. Now hold on there Butch,
the general idea is you just don't touch The Fall. OK?
I've always been very fond of Mark Smith and the
Fall but they didn't have a lot to do with the record
really. I had this fear when it was made it would look
like a really cheap out-of-nowhere publicity shot and
the prole art threat would turn up on my doorstep but
we got a letter from Mark Smith saying, 'We are STILLLL
working your ReKKKKKaRRRdd out but it's very
pleasant work'. Pheeww, off the hook ! Do you want
to know what it's about? It's basically an extended
chat up about this girl I used to meet in the shopping
precinct. It was perfect. We're going out now. So it's
not surprising Mark Smith is having trouble working it
Who's your favourite newscaster?
Peter Sissons. I spent years when I was in The Tonics
getting up at one o'clock and the first person I'd see was
Peter Sissons. I used to stare at this guy with awe and
admiration. Charming man.
Now I'Il probably get Morrissey fans yelling at me.
CHARMING, CHARMING, CHARMING!
Bay City Rollers?
Always used to detest them but I had long hair at the
time. Mind you now they're playing Futurama and
everyone has long hair there.
What do I think of Futurama?
Wouldn't play there for money. Reading festival indoors
mate! Got to watch out! There's good groups, ZigZag
groups, but they've got to stop drifting into hippies.
Seriously worried! Sex Gang Children! How
do they make a whole career out of 'Playground Twist'?
I'm not going to discuss that!
That's another story eh? My girlfriend loves the Sex
Gang Children and I love my girlfriend.
More sense than you by the sound of it.
Well to be honest I did only hear the one single she
played me. Jazz Butcher likes Siouxsie and The
Banshees. A lot of people say that's because my
girlfriend looks like her but I've liked The Banshees
since before she was born.
She's very young. Not that young but too young for
What a thing to put a man on the spot about !
(Oh yeah?) Have oriental people pubic hair?
And there we almost finished apart from a brief
diversion down the Grays Inn Road where two
damsels in undress leapt from a telephone box as
we approached, opened their coats and displayed
their 'erotic underwear', before running away. A
bemused Jazz Butcher.
I don't believe those are phone boxes!
And down an open manhole he fell. Merely a second's
work to replace the cover, pay the girls and walk away,
whistling a happy song. The Butcher would have liked
it that way.