(Athens, GA, USA)
April 22, 1992
Cult of the Jazz Butcher
"We don't play jazz and we don't eat meat, that's about it,"
, aka Butcher (or vice versa), lead whosit of the
Jazz Butcher Conspiracy, heretoforth known as just plain
Jazz Butcher. "I do actually have, now, meat eaters in the
group which I'm not crazy about, but we'll work on them. I
was a meat eater when we started the group. The others
worked on me. It's just part of the system of infiltration,
here and so forth. I personally don't really hold with meat."
And thus a conversation with the Jazz Butcher begins, not to
wax eloquent on the fine intricacies or cadences of the
recent Condition Blue
, (Sky Records, 1992), or to discuss the subtle
ironies of Cult Of The Basement
(Rough Trade, 1990), nor even to extricate
the inflections found on Edward's Closet
, 1991). No, a
conversation with the Jazz Butcher - which doesn't, by the
way, necessarily mean that he actually butchers those
progenitors of the very artform his name encompasses -
relies wholly on the metaphorical. Basically, what it all
means is that Jazz Butcher are a really cool band.
The number of recorded material Fish and his merry bunch
of assorted musicians that have coerced with him in the past
have outnumbered the amount of space there is for this
intro. Let's just say that first known Jazz Butcher recording
happened upon us in 1982. From there various conspiracies
have sprouted, including one in which Max Eider figures
prominently. At present, Condition Blue is the hot item with its
varieties of musical tones from a bit o' guitar pop to
garagey, British-style numbers. You can catch Jazz Butcher
at the Georgia Theatre, Friday,
April 24. Phoning Pat in
London, a very expensive interview indeed (but well worth
it for the amusing conversation!), he spoke about
understanding just what it is that makes up Jazz Butcher...
"You just don't understand the Jazz Butcher..."
(concert-goer in Atlanta at
the Jazz Butcher/The Blue Aeroplanes show)
"This guy, my friend
, he comes up after a gig we
did together and he says, `That's gothic!' I was about to fell
him with a single blow when he says, `As in Shelley not as
in Bauhaus!' And as a result we've been hamming it up ever
since. He's a great songwriter. I love him. We did a tour
around Germany and Austria just before Christmas. It was
his tour. He organized the tour. It was his crew, his crew's
bus. Three of us sat in the back with our drinking and our
suitcases and made hell for them, including 90 percent of
the venues. It was great."
Many different drummers...
"There's a very small gang of us in England around the
The Blue Aeroplanes
and Spacemen 3
, you see, and we do that. Gerard
[Langley], The Blue Aeroplanes
's front man, because he doesn't play
anything, regards it all with deep suspicion, and refers to us
as `mafia' because no one makes any money. I'll go play on
will come and
play with me. The question of payment if just out the
window. We'll drink and have a smoke, put each other up,
and just make the music. Each of us has some sort of central
project where we put our own records out and get some
money. Each of us, at any time, there'll be a `paid' band.
The people come together in all sorts of different
combinations all the time. It is sociable and it is civilized.
Music is a shared human activity, like sport or sex, it's not a
competition, you know?" [laughs].
Aspects of `grouping'...
"Whenever England attempts to impersonate America they
get it completely wrong. Even today. Imaging in the '50s
when there were no fax machines - I think when they got a
hold of rock'n'roll they said - `Oh, I see, I get the point.
You have your group and I have my group and group is
better than your group because they're higher in the charts.'
And if they turn it all into this kind of '50s, British,
repressed, school competition kind of thing, which is like
the whole concept of grouping I just find so totally
"We're making music here, and we're not fools. We
wouldn't go out and do it in front of people unless we
thought it was something worth playing for. I think
honestly, people that come from the original days of
rock'n'roll, if you dug them out in a bar somewhere and
talked to them about it, they'd pretty much give you the
same schpiel. I think it's the commercialization thing that's
caused people to band together in disparate little groups for
mutual ego support, and so forth. And lots of money. If I
want to make lots of money I'll get a real job, you know. It's
not like I didn't go to college or anything."
"What could I tell about Robyn Hitchcock
? He writes in code, and it's
my proud boast to have never written anything that can't be
said in ordinary speech at a bus stop. Of course, having said
it, someone might say he's a bit odd. At least it could be
said, and it would make sense as an English sentence. I think
his lyrics are quite good, and I think his guitar playing is
beyond belief, totally underrated guitar player. We don't do
the same thing, anymore than I do the same thing as the Kinks,
or XTC, or anybody else. `Cause it's just coming from one
guy, it's just me doing that."
"It's great when you go to a show and someone says, `I
thought you were great.' And then they say, `Have you
heard the new John Cale album?' You sort of like, get off
on that. It's always nice. It makes you think you're doing it
for a reason, it's worthwhile, apparent, and clearly
worthwhile to other people, which is really rewarding."
A matter of expression...
"It's very nice for all of you to contribute to my therapy
[laughs]. It really is. People are paying me to do my therapy,
and I get to show off as well. I guess that's part of it. Hey,
I'm not Daniel Johnson, or anything. I don't like people to
think I'm a professional looney for fun and profit because
I'm not. In respects, if I'm looney, it's only because
someone's enraged me or something."
"You have to be a looney to get one of those! Ambitious
teachers, a little treadmill, you know. I kept passing
scholarship exams. I'm good at passing exams, what can I
say? Get out early, give the bastards what they want. When I
left college I swore I'd never take another examination,
knowing how in a sense I had given the bastards what they
wanted. I'm getting what I want (I wish I could remember
that one and just spew it out whenever I want)." [laughs]
Who's paying for this call?
"I don't know how it really works... record companies spend
a lot of money promoting your record, but at the end of the
day it takes longer before you get paid, doesn't it? But then
someone from the record company told me I was going to
make lots of money off this record. Maybe they're just
stringing me along, huh? Maybe they think I'm young and
naive, instead of old and twisted."