Bald, bad and bonkers
- Steven Wells »
Ladies and gentlemen the Drowned In Sound staff would like to warn you that you are entering a Swells zone. Those with weak stomachs, a heart complaint, the heavily pregnant and those with a weak disposition should consult their doctor before continuing. We accept no responsibility for the ranting contained within this interview, and we are not liable for any injury this may cause.
I thank you
1.Why did you set up Attack!?
Because me and Glaswegian hard man and former pro-wrestler Tommy Udo thought it would be ace if you could walk into a shop and buy gaudily painted whorebooks with titles like 'Fat Goth Chick', 'Legalise Cannibalism', 'Tits-Out Teenage Terror Totty', 'GM Mutant Killer Babies'. Tokyo Bloodbath 2002", 'Cop Raper" et-frikkin-cetera. So whose going to do it for us? No-fukka!
Because everything is so fucking boring. The same country that worshipped the skullcrushed corpse of the doe-eyed parasite Diana is now sleepwaltzing into the second spasm of the New labour nightmare. Have you looked around recently? At your Badly Drawn Boys and your S Club 7s? Tramps! Meat Puppets! Whoo! Whoo! I'm so excited! Have you ever know a more vacuous, dull, smug, safe time? We're drowning in "celebrities". We're lobotomised by lad mags. We are being smothered in the dull death grip of the bland boring bastard blair-blair-blair consensus. Drenched in the relentless drizzle of consitpation-posturing-as-cool. It's raining shit - hallelujah!
Magazines, books, TV - it's all boring wank or dumbed down bottom-feeder cak. And in times of cultural stagnation it is the duty of the punk rocker to stir shit. That's why we set up Attack!
Rip it up! Tear it up! Kick over the statues! Attack! Attack! Attack! No mercy. No prisoners! Death or glory! 9000 mph all-out-war on SHITE! Like Little Richard - 1950's, distinctly effeminate and mad- eyed black rock'n'roll hero - setting fire to his piano in deepfried Southern hellholes and then shagging the blue eyed and blonde haired daughters of the local KKK luminaries. Fuck yes! Confrontation! Mind-fuck! Word-pox! Push the language envelope till it bursts! And stuff.
Attack! is the literary equivalent of a napalm strike on the Comic Relief studio.
It's like wading knee-deep through condoms casually tossed aside by the Ghaddaffi-trained lesbian killer squads whose mission it it to inject Ebola infected semen into the arteries of the common mind.
Basically, it's about love.
We're writers. Our only asset is an unmatched command of the gibbering mutant English language. We want a literature that suckerpunches the heart, head, stomach, reptile brain stem and sex organs all at the same time. Where are we going to get that from? Salman Rushdie? Martin Amis? Uh? This morning I wrote a scene where a publisher, desperately needing a million pounds to keep his company going, decides to collect it from the Ayatollahs after beating Salman's smug, elitist brains out with Martin Amis's elephantine cock. As a metaphor for the Attack! philosophy and our current parlous financial state, it'll do.
By way of explanation: Sub-Pop records used to have a sign up in their office which read - "which part of “we have no money" don't you understand". We know what they meant. Go buy our fucking books, you scum. Join the Attack! club. Give us all your fucking money! You bastards.
2.Why do you hate "serious novelists"?
Because the word "serious" is used here to describe a form of fiction that is stunted, conservative and willfully dull - and yet regards itself as inherently superior to writing that is a) actually about something b) where shit actually happens and c) isn't as boring as fuck. David Lodge, for instance, is (or was - is he dead yet? [No Swells, he’s still going strong.- RA]) an English Lit prof who writes books about English Lit profzzzzzz...excuse me, I dozed of there. The serious novel is monotonous. Literally. It's a one trick pony. It's obsessed with the psychological. Attack!'ll give you the psychological, sexual, social, political and visceral 12 times per mad para plus huge guns, massive tits, enormous cocks, deranged rhetoric, gasping cunts, ginormous explosions, insane aliens et-frikkin-cetera. MORE IS MORE!
Most of truly great novelists - Defoe, Swift, Orwell, Leyner, Shelley, Stoker (blah blah blah) were HACKS slamming out GENRE writing for a mass audience. Science fucking fiction for the most part. Is there anybody out there who seriously thinks Rushdie is fit to eat the sweetcorn out of William Gibson's shit? That Amis is qualified to lick Alan Moore's boots clean? That Virginia Wolf contributed a single character with as much emotional depth and impact as the impoverished hack who banged out Superman? Come on? Really?
When we talk about "serious" literature we're talking about a self-perpetuating ponce oligarchy of mutually back-slapping semi-talents with an incredibly conservative aesthetic and a truly pathetic grasp of the language's potential.
If you study Eng Lit at university - do you discuss comics? Does Alan Moore's Watchmen even get a mention? Can you imagine doing a media studies course that ignored television? We are pro-intellectual. We are pro-literate. Dumb-up - you semi-educated elitist fucks.
*3.How would you react if you were accepted by the literary establishment and your books put on the A-level syllabus? *
Job done. War over. Bring on the new young turks.
4.Who are your favourite writers and why?
Mark Leyner - gibbering genius author of Et Tu Babe.
Julie Burchill - yes I know she's a totally fucked in the head Thatcherite but she still writes like a bastard.
Elmore Leonard has an ear for spoken dialogue that is unmatched.
Alan Moore, Pat Mills (for his Marshall Law comic, Len Deighton, The tabloid sub who, when faced with the need for a headline to describe a story about the murder of frock designer Versace came up with "Shoots You, Sir". Genius!
Wilfred Owen – my first love, superb poetry, William Shakespeare (although I reckon he needed a good editor and could have have come up with some original plotlines instead of nicking everybody else's, the tinker).
Whatsisface who wrote the Invisibles - Grant Morrison? The Viz boys - obviously. Nancy Banks Smith - the TV critic in the Guardian. Leo Baxendale - the writer who invented the Bash St Kids in the Beano as a metaphor for the Vietnam war and who, in the first ever episode, had the kids bricking the pigs - I kid you not. The chap who wrote Tank Girl. The Brute Boys (check out their website).
Henry Rollins - not for his writing so much as his beetle-browed, look-at-me I'm a punkrock T-rex grraaaaaaar hat-he-chewed mudderfukkery.
5.Where do you get your ideas from?
From Udo, my pet monkey. He only appears when I take truly massive amounts of drugs. Or, perversely, when I take no drugs at all. He claims he's an hallucination. Yeah. Right. That's what Frank the Werewolf Scarecrow says as well and everyone knows he's a fucking liar.
We call our style "avant pulp" (we nicked it off Jeff Noon). Our role model is The Joker in Arkham Asylum who, it is revealed, has gone insane because he is unable to filter out the barrage of mindless information from the geometrically increasing media outlets and so channels the resulting confusion into acts of psychopathic violence.
*6.If you were given a tank what would you do with it? *
A tank? All for me? Fuck, I can't even drive. I'd much prefer 6 months of intensive SAS training, a sniper's rifle and a shitload of cash. Then I think I'd roam the country, killing Tories at random. Big Tories, little Tories - it wouldn't really matter. It's be great to pop Thatcher, though, wouldn't it? Imagine the feeling as you held her evil head in your sights and slowly squeezed the trigger....POP!...her skull explodes in a shower of blood, braingunk and powdered bone. I'm getting carried away here, aren't I?
*7.If you were appointed as the executive producer for Top of the Pops what changes would you make to the program? *
I'd get to interview the acts.
Me: Hello Badly Drawn Boy and welcome to Top of the Pops.
BDB: Hello, it's great to be here.
Me: Why don't you smarten yourself up, you scruffy tramp slag?
Me: And what the fuck is it with this slack-arsed hippy-dippy folk music, eh? I mean, have you got the right time? To the nearest decade? You fucking Oxfam shop bin-bag rifling ming-mong?
BDB: I don't have to listen to this!
Me: Well fuck off then! Go on, fuck off! Fuck right off! Fuck you in the eyeball! Fuck right off the planet and keep on fucking, you smelly hedgemonkey bastard!
Once again I get carried away. OK, next question.
8.Why did you decide to start off your career at the NME as a "transvestite hack"?
That was back in the dinosaur dominated days when I was punk poet Seething Wells (FRINGE POET IN SEX ACT SHOCK screamed The Harrogate Advertiser) and NME were slagging me something rotten (to use the cockernee vernacular). So I decided to infiltrate the paper in disguise. Hey! I'm English! I'm probably heterosexual! I'm from Bradford! Of course I dressed up as a woman. It's traditional.
9.Of all the names to have, why did you choose Susan Williams?
Same initials. Boring, isn't it?
10.What do you think of the quality of writing in the NME?
11. The NME is responsible for making crap bands famous. Discuss.
Aw come on! YOU make them famous, you wankers! That's YOU, personally. YOU are personally responsible for Badly Drawn Boy. You bastard!
12.Does the NME do enough for unsigned bands?
Oh excuse me! I didn't realise that was its job. Read this next sentence slowly - Rock hacks are not social workers. Now go back and read it again. FACT! - 99.9% of EVERYTHING - including bands - are shit, always have been, always will be - FACT! We are the dung beetles of rock. Without us you'd be neck deep in shit within weeks.
13.What do you think of the music around now? Any bands you'd recommend?
Oh don't ask me, I'm fucking senile. Oh go on then. Sugar Babes rule. As do Sona Fariq. That All Saints single rocked. As did 'Who Let The Dogs Out'. Marilyn Manson rules. Everything on Digital Hard Core. Amen are frikkin' awesome. Asian Dub Foundation are fantastic live. The last Primal Scream album was immense. Top of my playlist at them moment is 'Der Holle Rache kocht in meinen Herzen" from Mozart's Die Zauberflaut (Phillips 438 495-2, track 12).
14.What are your thoughts on the internet/ Napster?
Totally pro-Napster. Make the bastards squeal. I'm old enough to remember the pathetic "home taping is killing music" scam that the music industry tried to con us with.
I love e-mail. It makes hackery so much easier. The net was hyped to fuck but can be fun. Sure, there's tons of crap out there, but there's loads of of gold in them their shit-hills. What we need is for local telephone calls to be free - same as they are in the States.
The Attack! web-sites are pretty ropey at the moment but we're doing them up (bit of a priority, given that we haven't got the money to put more books out right at the moment).
*15. If you were a member of the Tellytubbies what would be your name? *
I wouldn't. I'd be one of them farting aliens.
What is social surrealism?
It's a play on words. Social Realism was the art inflicted on the world by Stalinism. Granite jawed and massively muscular workers and peasants staring heroically into the glorious future. That sort of thing.
Surrealism you know about - the incongruous juxtaposition, the use of absurdity.
Put the two together (itself an incongruous juxtaposition) and you've got granite jawed and massively muscular workers and peasants staring heroically at the 78 inch sensuround flat-screen Sony Triniton digital TV hanging suspended form a ceiling crawling with Trainspotting style hysterical crackbabies by the still throbbing intestines of recently eviscerated bureaucrats and middle mangers and showing (for the first time on terrestrial TV) Walt Disney's recently discovered fascist masterpiece Mickey Says Three Cheers For Mr Hitler. (1935). Or something.