July 07, 1990
Cult Of The Basement
If things seemed weird back in February 1989, when we made this baby, the Weird were going shopping on bikes. In a farmhouse in the dead of winter, in personal circumstances too bizarre and complex to relate, we set about making our "commercial suicide" album. For the first time, I felt, we had made an album that really sounded like us. This record does have personality. One of my favourites, this.
There's a new album out on Creation Records
by an articulate,
entertaining, and only slightly mad performer, who's
guesting with talents as diverse as
and The Blue Aeroplanes
and who writes songs with titles like
She's On Drugs
Surely, then, he's the hippest name in town and the music
press loves him? Well, no. For some reason The Jazz
Butcher, whose recent single Girl-Go
was as beautifully
languorous a slab of slush as you could dare to dream, is
still, despite sizeable cult success abroad, generally
dismissed here as terminally wacky. This is something of a
travesty, but the bright Butcher, also known as
admits he sometimes brings it on himself.
"Abroad they're more open-minded - perhaps because they
don't know what I'm on about. As a band we are extreme in
pulling strokes, but we see that as a strength. I'm
sufficiently old to think that surprises are a good idea.
We've always had a habit of winding each other up and
saying, `You can't do that!' and then doing it. I don't find
anything funny on the record; we don't deal in sarcasm or
intend to deflate anything. People should take the songs
literally - I've worked hard on them with a pencil. When
they've let me have something sharp, that is."
The long-player in question is Cult Of The Basement, a disconcertingly fine
magnum opus which, if it emanated from a more in-vogue
source, would currently be having its maverick genius
analysed to death.
"That pointless movie `The Amityville Horror' made me
cackle the other night - all the evil was coming out of the
basement. Oh, all kinds of bad shit happened to us in the
basement where we were recording. Our guitarist had two
brain tumours and was rushed to hospital. We started having
some gruesome thoughts. It was all very subterranean, going
insane in a small, dark room. We're hopelessly nocturnal
and wintry. The mushrooms didn't help. `Debasement'
might have been more appropriate..."
If Beatrice Dalle features on the album, and she does, it's
only because the video libraries near Norwich weren't too
well-stocked on Czechoslovakian movies. Sometimes The
Jazz Butcher feels like Francis Of Assissi.
"The thing is, the songs are real life. Mister Odd did live
next door. He wrote his name up there for the postman. At
least Mister Rodd did and we came back from the boozer
one night and in our distressed state read it wrong. Then we
were told he'd died. So he had gone off into space. No one
ever believes these lyrics, they think 'Oh, old JB's in
Wackyland again.' And yet I can produce the evidence of
source material from the world."
The Jazz Butcher looks forward to a gig at Maidstone
Prison, further American dates, and a collaboration with
The Perfect Disaster's Phil Parfitt. He's "deeply flattered" by
constant use of his, "What could I do but care?"
line, and is altogether too "sincere and sinister" for the
"But then, if you're going to play a boring Thursday night
gig, you may as well do it in Dallas, Texas, as in
Ignore the herd; step into the basement.