Now I know all you Clam Abusers will read this interview. I absolutely know it, because youíre fans of the duo and not simply because some bloke known as Ginger is involved. Well thatís good, cos this IS a CLAM ABUSE interview. Not a Ginger interview. In fact, as itís currently 12.45am, in Dudley, Ginger is currently "with people", and so this CLAM ABUSE interview takes place in the back of the transit with the other Clamster, Alex Kane ... aye, there is someone else involved in the lunacy.
So yeah, itís 12.45am. Various reasons meant the interview has been delayed until now. The gig has come and gone. Maybe itís influenced what Iím going to ask, maybe not. What I know is that after this Iíve got at least an hours drive home after this, and Iíve got to get up for work in the morning. In other words, and Iím sure this is a relief to Alex as well, seeing as how heís just spent an hour onstage, this is going to be a relatively brief interview. So, as the rain pisses down outside, a barefoot and barechested Alex sits opposite. Just passed on a couple of copies of the zine. Heís promised to send some of his own material, though whether anything comes of that only time will tell, and weíre about ready to go.
Anyway, having seen the gig, Iíll try to re-arrange some of the questions, but firstly, how would you describe what youíre doing?
Uh, I wish we knew, I wish we knew. We just play and make fun of everything, ourselves, the audience, the world, but weíre both extremely serious people, so go figure.
Yeah, kind of in this country Gingerís got a reputation a little bit. So is this taking the piss, or sincere?
Itís definitely both, but itís not negative. You stand on my side of the stage trying to figure what heís thinking.
How did you get together to do the Clam Abuse thing?
The sigh that preludes the answer indicates itís a question the man is probably being sick of asked and having to answer. Well I met some guy and if I won I was going to get to go out with Pamela Anderson and if I lost I had to make a record with Ginger. You know what fucking happens, the Cubs! One day theyíll win the world series he hollers into the tape, in reference to the baseball in the States. The Cubs will never win the world series, you shouldíve bet on the Yankess surely is my informed "Iíve watched some of the Channel 5 baseball coverage" response. But Iím from Chicago though, "go Cubs come on". Itís an American affliction I think. Being loyal to your home town. We donít suffer from that diesease in the UK. I support Liverpool after all. Not in baseball I might add.
Basically what happened was we were working on some tunes for a solo record and I was sort of functioning as a guitar player. And I gave him a CD of my band Anti Product, and he listened to it, and honestly itís sad to say, but I didnít know that much about the Wildhearts when I came over. And when I finally heard the music I understood what he liked about my music, cos thereís strong similarities as far as pop melodies, pop sensibility, tongue in cheek, still heavy and hard, but never stupid. So he came over to my house on a Thursday night, and we wrote six tunes in a couple of hours most of which ended up on the record. And he called me up like three days later "hey you want to make a record?" No, no Iíd rather sit and just play around, cheating my ass all the time he exclaims in the way of sarcasm that Americans do so well (no, not an insult, you know how they do it on the comedy shows, the tone of voice sort of thing.) So a couple of days later I was over here, Iíd known the guy for maybe like 2 months.
With all the electronics and samples and stuff ...
The way that that happened was when we got the record together and talked about it, we were just going to play some tunes together and see what happens. So then it was like "are you drunk and stoned?" Ďyep, are you drunk and stoned?í "yep. Do you think this is a good idea?" Ďyep, do you?í "yep. Alright letís do it." So that is how everything happened. Initially we were going to just do like two guys playing acoustic guitar, all the guitars on the record are acoustic, thereís not one electric guitar on there, which was cool from a guitar perspective cos it like showed you more of the instrument. I mean I can get serious right here. But, um, yeah, I canít even remember the fucking question"
About the samples...
Oh yeah that. Exactly. So intially it was going to be two guys playing a couple of tunes theyíd written on acoustic guitars. and then Kieron Pepper who plays drums with Prodigy came down to the studio and all of a sudden everything went from here to here he indicates moving his hands. And everything took on a new complexion, yíknow what I mean. And we filled it out, did all the funny shit that we did, and it was all done in I donít know, maybe 7 days it took. You know, it was like fucking 18 hour days, 3 hour naps, 18 hours, 3 hours nap, just constantly cracking it out man, it was great man he clicks his fingers as he reels off the workload. The enthusiasm is evident, and he sounds just like Henry Rollins sometimes does in his spoken word shows. It was like going back home and I did a couple of sessions between recording this record and coming on tour and it was just the opposite he almost whispers the words in disgust, it was like professional and not fun, and nobody was fucked up and whatever. So yeah, the whole thingís just been a great experience and I wish it hadnít taken so long for me to play over here. Getting a beer at 2 oíclock in the afternoon, we wouldnít have thought of that, yíknow what I mean, weíre too busy fucking yanking on our soapsomething? (sounds like soapboogs, dunno, ainít heard it called that before.) and driving BMWs.
Is it the first time that youíve played live with a backing tape?
Oh for both of us.
How do you feel doing that?
Honestly, itís good and bad, good and bad. Itís good cos itís the begining of something, itís bad because you just want to look around and see the drummer going "I ... donít ... have ... any ... more ... energy .. but ... Iím ... going ... to ..." yíknow, and it just fires you up. So from that aspect, I think it would be nice to have a band to feed off of, but just for the sheer audacity and madness of it, doing it like this and not making any apologies yíknow, itís definitely exciting. And weíve both been playing for a while so itís something new, even if you risk falling on your face. Honestly speaking, we always fall on our face constantly.
Well it seemed like you fell on your feet tonight.
Actually, I didnít feel that, I kind of felt off balance. I didnít really feel like we had the crowd.
Well, Iíve seen a few bands here, and itís strange. Itís a nice big venue but for some reason they put the bands on late and people are tired by then well from what Iím aware, the people from say Birmingham have to get trains and a bus, and the last ones are while the bands are still on, say at 11. Oooooh. Oooooooooooh. Very interesting. The crowd here tonight was bigger than Iíd anticipated for this place. Thatís because weíre fucking huge man, weíre Godzilla.
So I wondered how you felt then seeing an actual drumkit here today with Sack Trick turning up?
I miss having somebody to yell at in the drummer. Because you always blame EVERYTHING on the drummer. So now itís blame it on the drum machine? No know itís blame it on the a dat.
So do you see Clam Abuse as something that will continue as a side project between you?
We hadnít really figured that out yet, I mean both of us kind of work all the time as hard as possible, in different continents. But I mean itís been a great experience and I know I get addicted to great experiences, and itís really been fun and certainly been a challenge. And that I think is kinda the point of making music, for all those reasons. Weíre always fighting, which is great, bickering constantly. So, who knows, who knows.
Ginger once said in an article over here that every now and again, every rock star including himself needs a good slapping.
Oh god, first of all I didnít know he was a rock star. But if thereís anyone that needs a slapping itís that guy. Yeah. It was kind of borne out of some Kerrang! articles that accused him of being a "rock star" whether he is or not. Well thereís really no such thing as a rock star. And itís weird to because over here, and Iím just thinking now, but over here the musician is, uh, um, I mean I havenít needed to lift my suitcase since Iíve been over here. And Iím from Chicago, I donít know if you know anything about Chicago Illinois, but weíre just all just fucking (fungus, punters?), we do everything ourselves. so in a way itís kind of weird that people are so anxious to pamper you and stuff. But itís definitely not where I come from where itís like ĎItís ok, Iíll do my own laundry, just do whatever youíre going to doí. So whatever, rock stars to me donít really exist, theyíre just musicians with whatever level of success they obtain itís still just that same fucking guy. Itís just that now theyíve got a car.
For me itís when you can get close to them like now to do an interview. Thereís some bands I wonít even bother trying for because I know all the channels youíve got to go through, and some are just "too big" for this kind of thing.
Yeah the danger for anyone thatís a musician, regardless of what level youíre at, is that if you start taking your amibtion and all that shit too seriously, Kurt Cobain, I LOVE that guyís music. But what a fucking pinhead. Just stop playing, go somewhere, you got a fucking kid, just chill out, smoke some weed and relax, yíknow what Iím saying. If something starts sucking so much that it drives you insane, all youíve got to do is walk away be a man, be a grown up. Figure it out, Iím not into this, my chickís driving me crazy, blow her off.
It wouldíve seemed the obvious thing to do.
Yeah you can always change your what youíre doing. I mean if you hate your job, get another one. Donít take it so serious, yíknow what I mean. Itís just, life is beautiful, but itís just life. Thatís all it.
Time to turn thoughts to one of my pet subjects - the industry. So, the obvious one is what one thing would you change about the industry?
The music industry? Iíd give me lots more money he laughs, lots more. Tons more. Um, just so that I can get a better studio. I donít know, the main thing that pisses me off about the music business, and I understand that itís a business, which is the other thing, all these bands that are always rallying against "the man" like Pearl Jam and Rage Against The Machine, theyíre sucking corporate cock way more than anybody. So all the posturing and stuff although I definitely see it being noble in its motivation, but on the other hand itís just bullshit posturing. Even if they believe. So the industry is what it is. Itís a sick, disgusting, dirty, pathetic game for a bunch of rip-off con artists who will do anything to fuck the public, the musician and the guy in the office next to him all. They will do anything. Theyíre all scared little pussy sheep. Thatís given. Basically Warner Bros, or whatever label, is General Motors, and thereís a chain of command, and everyoneís a pussy, and youíve got to not make any decisions so that when the shit falls it doesnít fall on you blah blah blah blah. Everybodyís a pussy. Given that and taking that out of the equation, the only thing thatís really grotesque ... at this point the van door opens and a conversation ensues between Alex and one of the roadies. As the door is shut again, we try to return to things, I still donít have a shirt though. But the thing is the follow the leader mentality. Where if thereís an original thought, encourage it, let it grow and let it bloom and share it with people. I can only say about the United States, but thereís one band after another that sounds exactly like the last band, and itís all just sad. Itís all just commerce. But thatís the nature of the thing. So the only thing you can do as an artist is maintain the integrity in what you do, and after youíve written the song and youíve recorded the song, you just give it to the world and you let the shisters and the assholes do with it what they will. That way you donít go crazy and youíre still true to your art.
You say "giving the music to the world", do you consider the Internet making it in a way almost free if the artist chooses.
Oh yeah absolutely. Sure. Itís only a tune. Iíve been doing it all my life and barely got paid. So hey, whatever, give it away. As long as they hear the song, thatís how I feel.
So you donít think the record companies should try to ban all this stuff?
No, I think the record companies are just an extension of Satan. So whatever, I have no sympathy for the industry. Itís the thing weíve all chosen to be in, and hopefully thereís somebody making music that just loves music and wants to share it with everyone.
Thereís another one over in the UK, chart singles you used to be able to have 4 tracks on a single. And then last year they reduced it to 3, with one reason being that it was putting too much pressure on bands to come up with the b-sides.
Oh fuck that bullshit. Thatís a bunch of bullshit. Itís all lies.
If theyíre a band and they canít write 3 songs then surely, exactly. If theyíre a band, hereís some more tunes - fine yíknow.
Remixes. How do you feel about them?
As long as you get your version, and then you give it to someone else and they can do their version. Anybody thatís inspired by your work, go for it. To quote a great American.
Ah, not keen on them myself.
Ah theyíre cool man. Fuck up the song. Have fun.
You mentioned Pearl Jam and Rage earlier. Does politics have a place in music?
Yeah, but as long as it actually changes something. Like when the Beatles said All You Need Is Love, you believed that. But when Rage Against The Machine says "oh Iím so fucking opressed" you just go Ďwell so the fuck am I man, lift meí, yíknow. So there is a place for politics because life is politics, just talking to people is politics but at a different level, so yeah, communicate what you feel. Itís all politics.
One of the things that seems to be coming through with the Clam Abuse fun, and then thereís the image. Do you have impression on bands like Coal Chamber ...oh Coal Chamber he laughs, those guys crack me up. What a sad fucking, I havenít heard them Iíve got to say, but Iíve seen pictures. And thereís just some people that do not look scary. And theyíve got them all in one band. It just seems like Ďoh Iím going to get arbitrary piercings and paint my face all weird and stuffí, and thereís like nothing behind it. Thereís nothing, like Marilyn Manson, yawn, but still you look at the guy and go Ďwell I know heís fucked up no matter whatí and if he has to wear a mask to express how fucked up he is then God bless him. But I mean those guys you just look at them, and the other one, Cradle of Filth, címon, like you donít think nobody heard of Marilyn Manson pal. Itís like some guys live in a cave and theyíve ripped Marilyn Manson without even knowing it.
Sometimes it all feels like style over substance. And I think thereís a fine line.
Well as far as Clam Abuse goes with the make-up and stuff thatís just I dunno why we do it he laughs. But you can see that itís kind of a piss take and humour without being too serious about it.
I think it is. Arenít those guys funny. I mean like that singer guy, heís always like adopts a deeper growl, Ďhi, man Iím freaking you outí and that guys just so, I donít know if theyíre big or anything, no, theyíre not, yeah he just seems that explains it. He just seems like a guy that never got chicks never had anything like whatever going for him so he saw some scary video of a rock band and just aped it.
Have you heard of or seen Slipknot? No Iíve not. Thereís like 9 members in the band and they all wear masks and identical jump suits. Oh Iíve seen pictures. Thatís cool. Thatís alright. That sounds kind of Devoish to me, and I love Devo.
Silly question time. If you could put together your ultimate festival bill, oooh man, and would Clam Abuse headline?
We are or? Would you? Oh god, yeah fuck yeah, what do you think Iím new. Clam Abuse would headline, Cheap Trick would be on there, The Beatles would be on there, uh, who else would be on there? Well I guess having The Beatles open for you would be enough. Cheap Trick, The Beatles and Clam Abuse headlining.
Are you a Star Wars fan? Yeah. Actually yeah I was. Do you think he shouldíve made the yeah. I donít think it was great but, have you seen it? not yet, it didnít blow me away as much as when I was a kid, but yeah, fuck yeah. Just for the innocence and all that. Iím glad he did yeah.
Couple more. Semi-serious. All the gun shootings in the States, and how they like to blame it on the music.
You know what, my girlfriend is a teacher, she teaches high school kids, and we had an argument about that. I think actually yes, I think that music is such a powerful mean in a personís life, I mean Iím just speaking for myself right, itís such a powerful thing that if youíre at an age where so many things seem overwhelming, and your music is telling you that everything sucks, and you feel like shit anyway cos you got zits and whatever, youíre gay, or youíre fat or chicks donít like you, or whatever it is, whatever that makes you not fit in is also what makes you special. And if youíre music is telling you that everything sucks, and you think everything sucks and all youíre getting on television is dead children and murdered newscasters and violence and bombing and wars, and youíre young and still innocent, and all this shits flying at you and itís not uplifting, I definitely think you can become overwhelmed by it. And I think itís a cop out for any musician to say itís not their fault. I really do. Because whether or not they like Marilyn Manson, who gives a shit, but the guy knows that what heís buying his houses with, what heís paying his bills with and his cars, and his movie star girlfriend, he knows thatís from feeding into the worst aspects of human nature. Everybody loves a freak show, thatís cool and I get that. But he is definitely exploiting the worst parts of human nature. And if itís some kind of weird karma thing then hey.
I think people should be able to reason about things for themselves, and if they see something in music an image like Marilyn Manson, if you canít reason from it, then it says thereís something more fundamentally wrong.
Thereís something fundamentally wrong with society but you canít love Marilyn Manson and dislike the music business the door opens and beer arrives oh man who just turned to God.
And itís gone on long enough now. Time to bring things to an end. If you could give one piece of advice to bands starting out what would it be.
The joke answer would be Ďbuy Clam Abuse and worship the ground I walk oní. But the serious answer would be, if itís the only thing that makes sense to you, and itís the only thing that makes you happy and sane and itís the only way you can express yourself, do it. Otherwise youíre in for a disappointment.
Any final words?
After a pause, yeah, buy Clam Abuse and worship the ground I walk on. Thatís all I ask he laughs as I let him go to somehow try and avoid having caught pneumonia in the course of doing this interview.
Did I ever get that CD? Nah, course not.
Insight zine #1is another zine on itís first issue. Why is it that all the first issue zines I ever see now piss all over the effort I put out. Itís 40 A4 pages, and dealing in the more hardcore aspects of music. Thereís contributions from various people, columns by Cookie of Itchy Bum zine, Ian Glasper of Stampiní Ground / Blackfish Records and a piece on being a publicist in the music industry. The interviews in this first issue cover Knuckledust, Medulla Nocte, No Fun At All, Confusion Corporation, Out, One Minute Silence and Caffeine. The length and quality varies, but often that comes down to the band. Ed from OMS gives indepth answers, others manage one word answers. I mean, I reckon Caffeine are crap anyway, but take a sample of their interview:
Q: What does "punk" mean to you?
A: Attitude, out of tune guitars, stage diving, moshing, a total reaction to all the corporate bollocks.
Q: When you were growing up, did you ever have any feelings of alienation?
Now, it may be me, but do those two answers contradict. But see, Caffeine arenít punk, just crap, and if the apparent interest they showed in answering the questions is anything like their commitment and attitude towards the people that express an interest in them, then theyíre an utter waste of time. Mind you, No Fun At All donít come out a lot better.
Itís all done with enthusiasm and attitude, and a nice sense of honesty with both Coma Deluxe and Sonewall Jackson having their demos slaughtered in a viscious way, plus thereís plenty of support for upcoming bands, with a fair few ads for bands demos littering the pages. A nice first issue from Charlene. Be interesting to see how the second one develops.
£1 plus an SAE from Charlene Ridley, 44 Hillview Park, Coleraine, N. Ireland, BT51 3EH.