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Material World - Vox, October 1996

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Title: Material World
Publication: Vox
Date: October 1996
Writer: Sylvia Patterson
Photos: Steve Double

Vox1096 (1).jpg Vox1096 (2).jpg

Taking time out from smelling the flowers and vacuuming the carpet, the manics' motormouth reveals his design for life...

What are your addictions?

Housework. It's something I've got to do whenever I come home. Hoovering I find quite therapeutic. I'm addicted to the TV. I've learned more from TV than I ever did at university. The last completely magical moment was that series "Our friends in the North". Amazing. And when "Don't look back in anger" came on at the end I just wished "A design for life" had been out earlier - that would've been...ooof. Perfect.

I used to be addicted to gambling. Fruit machines. I had a three-grand overdraft at university because we'd put 50 pounds' worth of tokens in to try and win four pounds worth of tokens for a meal. By that time I was convinced we'd be incredibly rich and famous, so it didn't matter.

Full cream milk, I'm addicted to that. Skimmed milk is the lowest of the low. And making beds. Usually, when we go to a hotel I remake the bed before I do anything. I just like everything tucked in and nice.

Hospital corners?

Just so when you get in you're... completely flat. Prison corners, maybe.

Ever woken up in the wrong country?

Never anything that exciting. Maybe getting off the train at Cardiff instead of Newport, but that's about it. I could never be Bobby Gillespie.

What's your definition of sexy?

Wet. Natural. Dirty.

Five records that turn you on?

The Boo Radleys "What's in the box"; "distant sun" by crowded house (begins singing tune); the sex pistols "never mind the bollocks"; "love will tear us apart" by joy division; Iggy pop's "lust for life". When I was doing my finals, I used to wake up every morning to the charlatans "the only one I know" on my alarm, a definite turn-on. Usually I never think of music and sex together, I'm strange like that. Not much off "The Holy Bible". Unless you're into necrophilia.

Five that turn you off?

Lots of mod records - really sterile. And I'm sick to death of hearing harmonies, far too pleasant. Lots of American bands. I can't be specific, my new thing is to be as humble as possible! Robbie William's "Freedom" - that makes me sick. He said "right, that's it, new attitude. I'm coming back" - and does a fucking cover version to show he can't write a song and never could in the fucking first place. Infinite amounts of boy bands. Peter Andre's new one is one of the worst records I've ever heard in my entire life.

What's the most expensive thing you've ever bought?

A car. A brand new Volkswagen convertible. Reliable, nice colour, metallic red. Even though I can't drive it. I've never had a driving lesson in my life. I think the responsibility of driving scares me, like you're driving death. I hate fast driving. I'm always shouting to slow down. Things won't be any different when I'm a grandfather. The only time I've been at the front wheel of a car is when my friend was trying to steal it and I fell asleep in the front seat. We had to walk home about six miles from this pub, and he said "Let's steal this car". I passed out and the next thing I was in a police car, and I ended up in jail. We were charged, but I got off with a conditional discharge. Young and free and completely pissed.

What's the most trouble you've ever gotten into?

Plenty with the band, well documented. With the record company for cancelling things. And that thing with the car. I'm a sensible lad, really.

Are you still abstaining from alcohol?

I've had a glass of red wine now and again, for the blood. I still don't enjoy it. I had a full one on the plane to Dublin recently and I was absolutely wild, like being 15 again. Only for 20 minutes. It really went to my neck and I couldn't walk and everything.

Drink goes to your neck???

Red wine always goes for my neck and makes it funny. It sort of flops down. Floppy alcoholic neck syndrome, yes. Not good.

What do you try not to miss?

Sport on telly. In the way other people feel they've missed out if they don't go to a party. i define my youth by sporting moments that really elated me where I had that warm glow. Jocky Wilson winning the darts championship in '82. Phenomenal, jumping around the house. I've got a photographic memory when it comes to sport on the TV. Very sad. My brain's the only organ in my body that functions properly, so I try to keep it in good-working order. Like Davros on Dr Who. I'm a pickled brain in a wheelchair.

When did you lose your virginity?

I was 18. It was a reasonably pleasurable experience, actually. It was one of those slipped-in-by-accident things when you know it's going to happen and you pretend you don't know. And I ended up marrying her. We went out for a long time, then split up and got back and ended up getting married. So I must have made some impression.

Blub. That's the most romantic story in rock'n'roll.

Quite rare, I suppose. Me, Richey and James were the retards when it came to girls, and we struggled very hard before we got our first girlfriends. Very, very shy. And most people thought we were gay, so they didn't even bother.

What's your favourite journey?

Always coming home. Especially coming over the Severn Bridge on a train. Heaven.

If you met your 15-year-old self in the street, what would you tell him?

To think more about what he says. Control his mouth. I've realised lately that we polarised people's opinions very early on, which is good, and it's what we set out to do, but "motorcycle emptiness" would've been a massive hit if the first line wasn't "life lies, a slow suicide". Slagging people off for having moustaches. The Glastonbury bypass comment. We were a trifle too honest at times. And never to smoke dope. Not that I have, but it kills the brain faster than anything else, and people don't realise how boring they are when they're doing it. Spiritual enlightenment? Absolute bollocks.

Sounds like you regret your infamous outbursts...

No, I've no regrets really. Apart from Richey boy.

Are you still phobic about your mother not buttering your cream crackers on the puffy side?

I've become a bit more exotic, heheh. But when I'm abroad I still only eat apples because of being so paranoid. Unless I see it cooked right in front of me, I'm not very keen on food full stop. If there was a Marks & Spencer's in every city in the world, I'd be alright.

You're not a grandad at all, you're a posh housewife living in the Cotswolds.

Oh yeah. All stuff and nonsense. My speciality's a proper tuna melt. With loads of cheese and onion. And chips. I like everything burnt. When you get bacon these days in a cafe it's this sloppy, wet, horrible mess and it's supposed to be crispy and burnt. That annoys me. I even fry beans - a fried breakfast is everything fried. James' father always used to do it - a good tip, beautiful. Nothing's cooked right any more. There's been an outbreak of food-poisoning through fish in Japan at the moment. Ten thousand kids. If they'd fried it in lard they'd have been alright.

Is the mad cow/lamb's testicles syndrome a vegetarian revolution instigated by nature itself?

I feel sorry for the animals, they've been fed utter shit. People will always eat meat, you can't beat a lovely roast chicken or a leg of lamb. Richey had a reindeer steak once in Norway. I couldn't handle that; the way we grow up we think of them as magical. He said it was beautiful. I was a vegetarian for three years and it made me so ill because I don't like vegetables. So I packed that in.

Do you ever stand on the moon inside your head for a lark?

I'd find that incredibly hard to do. To switch off. My daydreams are usually concerned with being on the Letterman show in a dress, smashing everything up and being expelled from America. Architecture and nature blanks my mind. Gaudi. Cathedrals. Trees. Trees give me an amazing natural high. I love dead trees and I love blossom. Like Dennis Potter in that interview when he was dying, he talked about the cherry blossom at the bottom of his garden blooming brighter than ever when he knew he was going to die. Trees make me feel calm. I live on a mountain and when I'm walking I feel overpowered by nature. Infinity, the nature of time...I'm going to get all morbid now.

Would you rather go to prison than do a proper job?

Prison would be a lot harder. But I've never had a proper job. Except at the Post Office for three days, to get Christmas money when I was at university. My dad ended up helping me deliver the letters. The bag was too heavy and I just didn't know where I was going. But I think I'd survive. I can imagine being a sports journalist. I've always wanted to go on "A Question Of Sport".

You'd be to A Question Of Sport what Jarvis is to Pop Quiz.

If only I could be that fantastic.

Shaun Ryder said he would rather go to prison than do a proper job. And he really, really meant it.

Haha! That's great! That's so cool. He'd be King Dealer straight away.

Spike Milligan thinks nothing makes sense except poetry. What do you think makes sense?

Certain kinds of socialism, where everyone's given a chance. A true egalitarian society where everyone's offered an education. I truly believe that every single person has a talent and should be given the chance to use that talent, and that would create a better world. You're never going to eradicate all the evils of the world, but I do think the horror of ourselves is 95 percent confined to men, and it's men who've got to change - they are perpetrators of 95 percent of the world's violent crimes. We've got to face up to ourselves, we've got a brain capable of controlling it, our biology, our bestiality, and we should. Men are the beasts of the race, the fucks of the world.

Oh dear. Why bother, eh?

Heheh."Why do anything when you can forget everything?" "Hell is other people!" That's too much of a slacker thing for me. There are too many fantastic things. Where there's nature, or where there is breathing, there are true moments of joy. You've just got to recognise them. And not take them for granted. And that's what I try to do, have moments of elation in life, however small, five minutes a day, and be able to think "Yeah, that'll do. That'll do me, now".