Life is unfair. It is especially unfair to singers and artists. Pick up a guitar, and you face instant categorisation by hordes of hacks eager to coin a phrase or spot a similarity. When The Jazz Butcher began making his records about singing elephants and drinking a lot, he was immediately and enthusiastically labeled `eccentric'. While there are worse introductions (`dodgy goth' being one), four or five years of this gets tiresome.
"Can we lose the eccentric, please?" says Pat Fish , the original Butcher, with great weariness. "Eccentric is just what someone calls you. It only takes a couple os geezers thinking 'Ooh, I got an eccentric here,' a couple of bits of lazy journalism and you're stuck with it. Just because we don't sing `Baby, baby, baby' doesn't mean we're Robyn Hitchcock. And cos we play with guitars..."
They get isolated in the floppy fringe, right?
"Well, I can't help it if I don't know any decent barbers."
Jazzy B's sense of humour is the only thing that hasn't changed in the whole Jazz Butcher Conspiracy. Everything else has - the band members (there are now enough ex-JBC members to people several football teams), the personality of the band ("less polite, more hooliganish"), even the music, which has gotten a lot noisier.
"We've decided we're heavy metal," explains Pat. "Well, that's what we call it, anyway. It obviously isn't but our idea is to get a more old-fashioned, big guitar noise together, with beats and grooves underneath. The rhythm section now is groovier, or funkier or one of those crap words. It works is all I know."
Their main problem in Britain seems to be that they've been around long enough for people, who are not of the Butcher faithful, to be bored with them as if them band had remained static.
"Why does everything have to be new and exciting?" he demands, reasonably. "People forget that you can be odd and interesting."
Matters are not helped by the complete lack of radio interest.
"We've never had a radio session on the BBC of any description. We don't even have our records played on John Peel. It basically just comes down to the taste of one bloke who's got his head on upside down."
"I don't know, I'm getting a bit defensive. But I'm feeling quite happy and contented."
He should be, because everywhere else, the JBC is doing fine. The Japanese schoolgirls love him. Anyway, he says, if the poll tax comes in, he'll leave this ratty island. Brits beware, you never know what you've got til it's gone
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