Red Dots In The Butcher's Basement
(Seattle, WA, USA)
Red Dots In The Butcher's Basement
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.
Cult Of The Basement
the Jazz Butcher's seventh and most recent album, ranks
among his most adventurous. Like the ones before it, the
album contains far more than meets the eye. When
the always interesting and entertaining man who is the Jazz
Butcher, visited Seattle, it was story-time. A tragic illness,
a looney French artist, and three bizarre men from Vienna,
we got it all.
PF: Over the years, we've had the food album, the bus
album, the drink album, and now, ladies and gentlemen, we
have the death album. This is the death album. It was all
recorded in the middle of the night. We went nocturnal in
the first twenty four hours of recording, from 6pm to 6am,
middle of the winter, farmhouse middle of the English
countryside. There were a lot of curious concepts going off
there. For example, there was this thing involving the
jackal-headed dead. It was a kind of ancient Egyptian death
cult thing whereby the bathroom at the studio became "the
chamber". You can sort of picture a sort of Howard Cater
thing: "I-I-I'm entering the chamber now." I actually
recorded that little 12 string bit (at the start of
MMC: Were there secret ceremonies associated with this
For those of you who aren't familiar with our
policies at KCMU, a "red dot" is a song we cannot play on
the air because it includes some type of naughty word.
Or concept or cigarette. Damn!
Last summer (1989) just before we came over here-
was a very weird time. Kizzy was suddenly hit with a brain
tumor. We spent a lot of time in our friend Harry's
apartment (a basement), and things got really twisted.
People were going quite mad. We went to America and did
the tour with Richard Formby taking Kizzy's place. When
we got back to England, we went straight into the studio.
We were still completely mad, and this kind of basement
vibe was still there. It was a little instrumental called
Schweinhund. It was supposed to be a kind of
Argentine-Paraguayan thing. Schweinhund, kinda sexy.
Eventually we realized that what we were really talking
about was the basement (so we renamed it The Basement) I
don't remember who originally had the idea, but we thought
we could do little, different versions of it (on the L.P.) The
version on side two before
is supposed to be the
Syphillitic Argentinian Palm Court Orchestra version, and
then there's the accordion version called-never mind, I'm
Yes, I understand.
Well it all makes perfect sense, if you start at the top
and go through to the end, honest. It does. It's like Sex And Travel
a movie, and its flirting with the dark shit. Damn, red dot.
Its our goth (as in Gothic) album, and we're happy with it.
Kizzy's far too sick to tour with us now. He might die
at any minute. He's very positive in his head, but any
minute he might go into a coma and croak. And that's how
it is. On this tour we've got a 21 year old wunderkind
taking his place. We met Julian through the
The Blue Aeroplanes
, one of their guitarists, does some great stuff
on our new LP. When we were recording, he kept saying,
"Oh, I've got this friend who's better than me!" That was
Julian, and it's mad really. Julian is miles away the youngest
of our group.
Your albums have-from time to time-included
some rather unusual names among the credits, and I'm
sometimes not sure if its you or someone else.
I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing
but the truth.
Pascal? Yeah, Pascal's from Paris. We call him
Jean-Pierre Looney because he is quite mad. He first came
to us in 1986 and offered us a massive painting at a gig in
France. It was like a cave painting, the sort of thing you'd
see in a cave, of a male figure with gigantic-how can I say
this? - Ladies bits up his chest.
Yes, a gigantic red dot right up its chest. Phil, our
manager, looked at me and said, "Pat, I think he's trying to
tell you something."
And you kept in touch?
Eventually, yes. At first, we just dismissed him as a
complete looney. We hacked that painting to pieces and
threw it away. I later discovered that they're worth about L
1,000. each. Pascal does all kinds of stuff. He's working with
Tom Waits at the minute, and John Cale
is a friend. Pascal's just a weird pushy French artist
who likes rock and roll. Those are his feet on the cover of
Cult of the Basement.
There are these three Von Dämmerung brothers.
They're from Vienna. They have a fanzine called Sinful
. They're completely deranged. Karel wrote the liner
notes for Cult Of The Basement
. He has a band now with his
brothers Emil and Otto. They call themselves The Black Eg
the spell egg "e-g." It's just heinous. Musically, its really
just an amateur bedroom version of the Justified Ancients of
Mu (an early Bill Drummond group which relied heavily on sampling).
They're completely diseased Central European lunatics. In
an earlier age, they would have been burned at the stake. I
Oh, they're right into it! Karel actually came by when
we were recording it. He was into all this jackal-headed
dead business, Kizzy's "Hero of Chernobyl" haircut, and all
the rest of it. By the time Karel showed up for the
recording, Kizzy was out of the hospital and had had
radiation treatment. His hair had fallen out and...oh, God.
Mr. Odd is a real person. He's a funny, solitary old
chap. The day after we finished recording
, Harry, the
owner and proprietor phones us up and says that he's just
found Mr. Odd decomposing. Mr. Odd was dead, and he
lived in the basement next door. I mean this is really the
is about Madame's policy to turn people out
of asylums and care homes and leave them to wander the
streets, a policy she laughingly calls care in the community.
It's just basically a song about poor old boys who cant look
after themselves. It's one of the albums token sincere
numbers. And before you all write in and complain or
throw stuff, the title of the song was just floating around the
studio. We were taking the red dot out of Sonic Youth, a
band we admire intensely.
Is "Madame" the same woman who is behind the
English Poll Tax?
Any thoughts on that?
Only one: red dot. It's so fatuous. It's beyond medieval.
It's laughable. Fortunately, no ones paying it.
Has there been any anti-German sentiment in
England since the reunification of East and West Germany?
Yes, there has been some discontent, but it basically
comes from people who have never been to Germany,
people who don't realize that for the most part Germany is
what Britain should have been by now if it had not taken an
appalling turn. In Germany, people remember that rights
carry obligations and vice versa.
In Britain, its "I want it! Don't touch me!" It's just kinda
sick. But still, anyone who's got his head brain wired up
right is going to be a little bit concerned about German
reunification and how it's managed. Not least, no doubt, the
people who used to live in the DDR.