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Old Jazz Butcher Article

From: Hank Tomczak <>
Date: Thu 11 Dec 1997 - 07:12:06 PST

[I'm forwarding this from the FallNet mailing list]

APR84 ZIGZAG (interview)
"Jazz Butcher: Meat Means Murder!" p13

The Jazz Butcher interests me strangely. He's quite tall, with a name inspired from a famous fishing painting. He therefore sings of goldfish. He wraps concern round lions, a young girl and her bedroom and generally quaffs the lager with gusto. He releases records like other people dream of holidays and crams so many styles and ideas onto one never-to-be-ash-tray that my head spins. Not literally! How would he classify his music?

"I always call it muck."


"Muck. Sorry!"

So how do people know if they can trust you, if they're not wimps? "Can a man who describes his records as muck be all bad? That's what I'd say."

And that's what he did say in the public house next door to ZigZag Acres, a place where the stars do roam. The Butcher is keen. Is integrity a major factor?

"It's all we've got. All it is, is one bloke wandering around
and he'll see something and he'll think STUPID! He'll go away, play around with it and that'll be one record. There isn't a style, it's all different. I think there was one for a bit, The Big Soppy Pussycats. They've all gone and done other things, it was always a borrowed group. So now we'll do pop concerts and it'll just be me and Max. Two blokes. On stools."

Having spent a short term sentence in Oxford. Things were less than sparkling. The Butcher went to Northampton where, within the batting of an extremely slow eye lid, he was landed by Glass Records. Probably not surprising.

"There's a big sign on the door saying, 'Dave Barker
owns this town'. Some people think it's a Northampton label because he's done The Tempest, David Jay and he's got me and he puts on all these shows in Northampton with Mitch (Jenkins).

''We're very lucky because the people that tend to work with us are always brilliant! Namechecks! We've got a bass player who's on 'Marnie' (the newest single) and 'Smith' (an older one), called Role. He's got a group too called The Woodentops who are good. Another guy in his band, brilliant drummer, called Paul Hookham. Then there's Joby (the crack shot behind In Embrace) ... these people! The other time we had a date where we'd committed ourselves to using bass and drums. Drummer we picked couldn't do it and we were doing it for him! I like musicians, people who can make good music without any effort, and we've got a history of bumping into people ... Max is ridiculous. Me, I can't play. I just fiddle with some things."

Give Butch a chance and it will be words he fiddles with. For a reason that has long since made a dash for freedom his voice pipes up with, "It must be some kind of satan to modern womanhood, satan on your back .. ." And then ...

"Course, you know who my favourite band is?"

Do I?

"Velvet Underground."

And if I said it didn't show in your music would that be a good thing?

"Probably. We've been doing 'Sweet Jane' live and
conned into doing it on record, The Jazz Butcher's career wrecker I tell ya!

Ah, that career. Take us back Butch, take us back ...

''I'd left my old group in Oxford and went I to live with my parents near Northampton, completely broke and they lived in the country. Nothing to do, nobody to play with so I had this tape recorder and a guitar and I started playing to see if I could play all the instruments and fake up a track. I played drums one day on the bath. If Test Dept turned up onstage with a bath, it'd be 'WAAAAHHHHH!'. We phoned people up, like the sax player and said, 'Look, we're making a record, come and blow a bit'."

You actually use phrases like 'Come and blow a bit'?

"Well you do blow a bloody saxaphone! If he was a
drummer it would be different. Bang a bit! We're very literally minded people. We take pop music literally sometimes. You get the lovable stupidity of it all. I adore pop music but it is dumb. Most of it, Lou Reed maybe isn"t."

Your own stuff is dumb?

"Dumb as hell. We want people to enjoy it, we're
entertainers, we've got no qualms about it. Pr ... I've lost the thread."

He taps a table (that fails to tap back).

''Politics. That's what I was going to go on about."

Were you!?

"We see ourselves as entertainers. Dumb things are
entertaining. I find it lovably dumb, pop music. I hope this isn't going to come out sounding patronising. I was just thinking, if you're reading it and some twat from nowhere is saying, 'Pop music is lovably dumb' y'know.''

You think it's dumb.

"Yeah, just me."

Right, stop talking about it.

"We like The Clash. I bet they're really pleased with the
guys they've got because there's been no pressure. They haven't got to get anyone out of Death Cult."

Or 'an ex member of Chelsea'.

"Yeah! There must be a special dole office for them.
We've used about thirty musicians in a year since we started doing pop concerts. Never wanted to stay the same."

You call them pop concerts.

"I haven't got to say 'GIGS' have I? We used to say
shows a lot actually."

Which is a reversal or revulsion from his days in The Sonic Tonics (''Five blokes who went out tooking like Sioux-sie Sioux. We spent all our dole money on beer and hair spray"), a time for misty eyed recollection,
"The Tonics were important, a good liberal education
for a young man. We got to show off a lot but it was getting a bit daft and all my ideas of owning vans and getting lots of gear ... I decided it was all bollocks to go with the eleltric guitar prick. And our friends paying money three nights a week to see us making fools of ourselves! I got fed up with it, so The Jazz Butcher was largely born out of a reaction against all that ... GIG ... BAND... stuff."


"Hot little combo."

Well to a lot of you with precious little pocket money your main taste of Butcher is probably his single
"Southern Mark Smith". Now hold on there Butch,
the general idea is you just don't touch The Fall. OK? MATE!
"I've always been very fond of Mark Smith and the
Fall but they didn't have a lot to do with the record really. I had this fear when it was made it would look like a really cheap out-of-nowhere publicity shot and the prole art threat would turn up on my doorstep but we got a letter from Mark Smith saying, 'We are STILLLL working your ReKKKKKaRRRdd out but it's very pleasant work'. Pheeww, off the hook ! Do you want to know what it's about? It's basically an extended chat up about this girl I used to meet in the shopping precinct. It was perfect. We're going out now. So it's not surprising Mark Smith is having trouble working it out."

Who's your favourite newscaster?

"Peter Sissons. I spent years when I was in The Tonics
getting up at one o'clock and the first person I'd see was Peter Sissons. I used to stare at this guy with awe and admiration. Charming man.

"Now I'I1 probably get Morrissey fans yelling at me.

"Always used to detest them but I had long hair at the
time. Mind you now they're playing Futurama and everyone has long hair there.

What do I think of Futurama?

Wouldn't play there for money. Reading festival indoors mate! Got to watch out! There's good groups, ZigZag groups, but they've got to stop drifting into hippies. Seriously worried! Sex Gang Children! How do they make a whole career out of 'Playground Twist'?"  I'm not going to discuss that!

"That's another story eh? My girlfriend loves the Sex
Gang Children and I love my girlfriend."

More sense than you by the sound of it.

"Well to be honest I did only hear the one single she
played me. Jazz Butcher likes Siouxsie and The Banshees. A lot of people say that's because my girlfriend looks like her but I've liked The Banshees since before she was born."


"She's very young. Not that young but too young for

Final quote?

"What a thing to put a man on the spot about !
Final question?"

(Oh yeah?) Have oriental people pubic hair?

"I reckon."

And there we almost finished apart from a brief diversion down the Grays Inn Road where two damsels in undress leapt from a telephone box as we approached, opened their coats and displayed their 'erotic underwear', before running away. A bemused Jazz Butcher.

''I don't believe those are phone boxes!''

And down an open manhole he fell. Merely a second's work to replace the cover, pay the girls and walk away, whistling a happy song. The Butcher would have liked it that way.
-=-=-=-=- Received on Thu Dec 11 07:12:06 1997

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