Alex Green & The Sinister Ducks – An Interview
Andrew J. Brooksbank
ALEX GREEN & THE SINISTER DUCKS – AN INTERVIEW
In an exclusive interview for APOLLOX, Max Akropolis (A.K.A Mr. Alex Green) talks about the project that spawned perhaps one of the rarist singles from the early Eighties.... During his time with Bauhaus, David J. had an extra marital affair the result of this affair was the bastard spawn.... The Sinister Ducks; A Northampton based three piece, the Ducks were the above mentioned Max Akropolis, Captain Jose Da Silva (David J.) and the Translucia Baboon (Alan Moore). The origin of the band can be traced as far back as1978 when Alex had placed an advert in the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, seeking musicians for a band he was putting together....but first a little history.
Can you begin by giving a brief explanation of the various bands
that you have been involved with?
'Escalator'(1976-1980)An embarrassing Northampton jazz-funk band. The line up included Adrian Utley, now in PORTISHEAD, and the excellent drummer Coach York who later played on David's 'Crocodile Tears' album. Stanton Walgrave (1976-1978) Wildly avant-garde outfit that attempted everything from Henry Cow style multiple time signatures to Faustian free improvisations. Line up included Glyn Bush & Pickle. 'The Mystery Guests' (1978-1979) Avant-Garde three piece comprising, myself, Pickle and Buster Skinner. We covered the 'News At Ten' theme. We also supported Bauhaus at early gigs. 'The Emperors Of Ice Cream' (1978-1979) The dream band that never got beyond rehearsals. All music and lyrics by myself and Alan Moore. Much of this material was performed by Glyn Bush's Birmingham-based band THE DEGO TEE's. 'The Army' (1980-1982)Ska Reggae, line up included Adrian and Coach again, two singles were released. (1982-1985)Self-imposed exile in Sweden, except for a couple of guest appearances and 'THE SINISTER DUCKS' of course. 'The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy'(1986-1995)plus many sessions with David J. Kevin Haskins, Spacemen Three ETC...ETC...
So how and why did THE SINISTER DUCKS come to exist in the first place?
The genesis of THE DUCKS is dark and mysterious by its very nature.
This odd birth must have occurred during one of my return visits to England. I had known Alan Moore since '76 and David since '78. I can remember that we were all hell bent on total world domination by the stealthiest means.
Was the project ever 'serious'?
Yes, it was always deadly serious.
Tell me a little about the recording of the single.
The Single was recorded at Beck Studios in Northampton (Wellingborough). 'March Of The Sinister Ducks' was built up in layers on top of a basic structure of Dave's guitar and piano. The cabaret saxophones on the choruses were augmented with kazoos played by Alan and myself. Vocals and duck effect came later. 'Old Gangsters Never Die' was recorded live with us all together in the same room, I seem to recall that the version released was the third take.
Do THE DUCKS still actually exist or is the thing extinct ?
Evidence would suggest that THE DUCKS may not currently exist. We don't exactly get together, but I last saw Alan about three weeks ago, and will be seeing Dave later this month (September).
How did you manage to get the single released in the first place,
surely Dave's involvement with Situation Two must have been beneficial
having put out his debut solo album out at around the time of the single?
As you have guessed, the single was accomplished on the coat tails of
Dave's solo work for Situation Two.
How did yourself and David get together with Alan for this project then ?
I first met Alan in '76 when STANTON WALGRAVE were invited to do the music for the play 'Another Suburban Romance'. This great surrealist drama, a cross between Beckett and Peyton Place, had been written by Alan and Jamie Detano and was then in rehearsal. Glyn Bush and Pickle wrote an incredibly complex score which was exhaustingly perfected and mostly recorded only for the project to founder when a couple of actors dropped out.
'Old Gangsters Never Die' was originally a soliloquy in the play. After this I kept in close touch with Alan -- amongst other things we worked on the material that would subsequently become the set for the EMPERORS, when we had a dozen songs ready I placed an advert in the Chronicle & Echo seeking fellow conspirators -- this would have been October or November 1978. Dave was one of the respondents -- we met in the Angel Hotel. Although he was really into the idea of the EMPERORS he couldn't stop talking about this other band, BAUHAUS l919. Subsequently he did not have any spare time for several years and so had no involvement with the EMPERORS -- and did not in fact, meet Alan until years later.
© Andrew J Brooksbank for Apollox 1995
Contrary to the above statement, I first met Alan two days after that fateful rendezvous with mister Green. Ushered into a dank basement flat in Colwyn road, Northampton, I became the delighted witness to a scene straight out of Kerouac's 'The Subterraneans'. There was the imposing figure of Alan Moore holding forth in the center of the small room, the walls of which were covered with reversed posters, picture side facing the wall(!), proclaiming that "Old Gangsters Never Die!" Whilst Alex blew smoky ribbons of saxophone sound , a sandy haired angelic looking boy known as 'Seaweed' scratched at a cheap electric guitar and the strange and inscrutable Doctor Pickle a.k.a. Mr. Liquorice ran skeletal fingers over the keys of an ancient Wurlitzer. Various small time criminals and denizens of the local underground art scene nodded approvingly in the sepulchral corners. I also nodded and eventually joined in.
(Former 'Emperor of Ice Cream')