The Jazz Butcher, the public enemy n ° 1
Pat Fish aka The Jazz Butcher returns from the dead with a new album, Last Of The Gentleman Adventurers (Fire Records).
He talks to us about these new adventures, his long-distance musical journey and his special relationship with ... the police and the customs officers. Holy brothel, does the Butcher Jazz really disturb the world?
Good news on your new album, Max Eider is back with his incendiary guitars ...
Yes, that's a special person for me. Officially, the Butcher Jazz stopped in 1995. But you also have this life after death. Less than a year later, however, we were invited to a festival in Mallorca. And so, all those years, we continued to play off radars, from Japan to the United States. But last summer he told me he wanted to stop shooting. It was too hard physically for him. It must be said that Pete has a very peaceful lifestyle. It continues of course to play on the discs but it does not turn anymore. He is replaced by a trumpeter.
Your new band is more acoustic ...
Yes, at the beginning of the concerts, we are taken for a jazzy jazz band but, after a few songs, we find strange. And then we show the fangs and we are downright demented! This album was, in fact, initially done with two, with Max in 2012. We made an internet subscription to finance it. The 500 initial disks were sold in a flash. A new subscription was made for an additional 500 LPs. And then two unexpected things happened. I was planning concerts in a club in my town of Northampton. They wanted something jazzy. So I contacted my bassist (who was not then and who had been in class with me when we were kids). He said, "Is it to play with you?" I said, "No, no. But we did try. All three come from jazz. The bass player and the trumpet player played on cruises all over the world. And when we jammed, not even an hour, we knew we were a group. As the Clash were a group. It was amazing as a sensation. The second incidence was the arrival of Fire Records who contacted me to reissue my old records. I accepted but I also explained to them that they were coming at the right time since I had a new album to make known (beyond the first thousand subscribers). It was thus the ideal bridge between the past and the present. And they understood it very well.
Besides this new formula, there is also a more bluesy side in your music today ... Always condition blue!
It's probably because I've listened to a lot of blues in recent years, old stuff like David Graham (Folk, Blues And Beyond). But this record was a bit like a Cup final in football, with two teams clashing. For us, this final would have been Alex Chilton versus Can.
I love Chilton (from Box Tops to Big Star, and solo) but it's a sad example of an extremely talented, moving music that has never really been successful when it was accessible. I find it depressing about what it says of the public ...
For Chilton, I would suggest another explanation. It was not convenient for a record company. He was not one of those totally malleable artists that the majors love (even more today). He was not the type to be dictated what he had to do.
Yes, I understand, but by taking bankers or accountants, the majors will make music as a banker and an accountant ... Was that how it was when you started in the 80s?
I was very lucky to meet labels like Glass Records or Creation. The two bosses of these record companies really believed in what is pompously called "artistic development". They allowed their groups time to mature and find their audience. Today, after two or three singles, we take stock and we decide whether to fire or not.
And record sales have become so ridiculous (in quantity) that record companies are ruthless ...
Of course ! In the 80s, the public was also much more present at concerts. I'm not talking about big bands like Radiohead who still have full stadiums. But bands like mine play in clubs or medium sized rooms. We stopped playing in those kind of places in the 80's. It's become a lot, much more complicated today, and these places have become scarce.
Same thing in France ...
It's the same all over the world!
I was talking earlier about the more bluesy tone of your album but there is also this little jazzy color that has always flown over your discs, with tracks like "Just Like Betty Page" or "D.R.I.N.K. "...
It's just a little perfume, you're right. I love jazz and even more soul. We love Wes Montgomery or Steve Cropper.
The Velvet is also this little madeleine of Proust that is also found on the disc, with a song like "Shakey". Is Velvet still so important and present in your life?
It's a bit like a member of my family. He will accompany me until my death. But I can also spend a year without listening to them. But they never left me and never left me.
What are the other members of the family?
When I am asked for the music I like, I always answer: good music! But some of them hold a special place as the Velvet Underground, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Patti Smith that made me want to make music.
It was a Tuesday night of 1976.
I was watching TV with my parents.
Patti Smith appeared on the screen to play live "Horses".
I loved it so much that I made the trip to London to see her in concert the following evening (luckily she was playing one day after this TV show!).
It was a great concert.
This is original because, generally speaking, the English bands of your generation have been marked by the arrival of punk and especially the Sex Pistols ...
I saw them one or two days after Patti Smith.
They were not known yet, it was the name that made us laugh with a buddy.
Besides, we were the only ones with long hair.
With a couple that turned out to be ...
Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye! But to get back to your question, punk was also very important to me.
So you liked the Clash, the Damned, the Jam ...
I cut you, the Jam were not punk.
They are often associated with the wave punk 77.
But they were more mods than punk, it is true.
But the Buzzcocks were not exactly punk either.
I do not like the Jam.
Even if some songs like "Going Underground".
Paul Weller is a good songwriter but I do not appreciate his voice that it forces too much.
You had already sung in French with your famous "La Mer".
You re-offend here with the mischievous "Fallen In The Apples" ...
"The Sea" was inspired by that of Charles Trenet, no?
My song "La Mer" finally has little to do with that of Trenet (Which I like very much else).
It is, in fact, a song about how we are taught French at school in England.
We had these little flexidiscs with these French songs / rhymes like "An Elephant Who Rocked".
When I wrote "La Mer", I was drying an entire afternoon on a very serious, serious song, and I could not do anything.
So I started to play something else, and the song came very quickly, including the lyrics in French (though I'm not so good at it in your language).
The last two verses of "Falling in the Apples" ("You're okay? / In my armchair of clouds") are borrowed from "Boum" of Trenet.
You know French music well ...
Oh, I also know Jean Sablon .
(Laughs) But I like things like Jacques Dutronc or Françoise Hardy.
You're going to come back to play in France?
Ok, I prepare my garden and warn my friends!
The reissues of your discs will include anything more than the original (good) albums?
I am quite dubious about all the shit which is sometimes added as a bonus on reissues.
If these demos or other rarities had been so good, they would have been put on the record.
But I think we'll find some shit for ours.
(Laughs) We got it in the store!
Where did the name Jazz Butcher come from?
When we started, we absolutely did not want to do this.
We were in the early eighties.
And you had a lot of bands with unlikely, ridiculous names: Factory Records Artists, Crispy Ambulances, Pink Military Stand Alone ...
(laughs) I was with a friend and we inventions names equally Crazy to laugh and make fun of that.
And he launched The Jazz Butchers.
I know you opened a bookstore in Northampton.
Which writers do you like?
One of my favorites is the Irishman Flann O'Brien who wrote the stunning Third Policeman.
I read a lot of music books and I like those of Greil Marcus (Lipstick Traces is fantastic).
I love Saki too, a very caustic English writer on English society ...
Some kind of P.G. Wodehouse?
I'm glad you're talking about Wodehouse because he owes a lot to Saki.
But the latter is much more caustic.
For example, Wodehouse would write: "He ate an ice cream in the sun.
Saki, he said, "He ate an ice cream that would soon complete his diabetes.
(Laughs) Behind politeness and luster, the universe of Saki can be sinister.
You're right, Wodehouse is the soft version of the English wit.
Saki is also happening in this very bourgeois milieu but it is very anarchist.
Wodehouse has always a little even mechanical (even if I appreciate it) ...
Yes, you are right, the details change but the screw comica is always the same.
I also love Wodehouse.
About comica vis, in more than 30 years of Jazz Butcher, you had to live quite a lot of funny moments, no?
I remember a tour where we left the USA to play in Canada.
It was snowing hard.
And the customs officers found in the van the baking soda used by our American merchandiser to wash her teeth.
It must be said that she carried him stupidly in a plastic bag.
And these idiots thought it was dope! In fact, rockers on tour ...
(sigh) They got crazy, asked the chick (who told them the truth) and they even sent the powder to a laboratory for analysis.
And I would always remember, one of the customs officers turned to us and said with his big voice: "Ok, which of you is the asshole who forced her to carry this shit?" A little later, I smoked a cigarette with one of them while waiting for some confabulation, and he said to me: "You know, it breaks my heart to see so adorable American girl mixed up with a traffic like that ...
But who is this jazzy butcher? Jazz Butcher is the group founded in 1982 in Oxford by Pat Fish.
In the first line-up, we find the future keyboardist of Woodentops, Alice Thompson (who was also the girlfriend of Pat Fish).
Just before the Butcher Jazz, Fish had also played in an ephemeral band with the singer of the Woodentops, Rolo.
The indie pop of the Jazz Butcher, with lyrics tinged with black humor, earned him recognition all over the planet.
In France, both Les Inrockuptibles and Nineteen plaited him laurels.
Crown deserved, just listen to songs like "Party Time", "Mr Odd" or "Get It Wrong" to convince yourself ...