Art Brut: Interview
Art Brut Pepsi Smash!
Although they may not have a cricket bat-carrying
manager, miniature Stonehenge sets (complete with dwarf), or had Fran Drescher
censor their album cover, Art Brut are certainly turned to 11. We sat down with
guitarist Ian Catskilkin, guitarist Jasper Future, and drummer Mikey B. to
dissect whether their debut album Bang Bang Rock & Roll was
well-intentioned humor, irony, or sincere rawk. Kidding! Instead, we touched
upon the finer points of being in a band — namely, free stuff, getting fined for
on-air swearing, and subbing out performances to officially endorsed Art Brut
RRRachel: Are you really coming back [to New York] for a show in May, or are you
just curating it?
Ian Catskilkin: No, we're coming back.
Jasper Future: It's true, the rumors are true, we're coming back.
R: Because before I found out about this show, all I was planning on doing was
bombarding you with "When are the Chalets finally coming over?"
J : Yeah, yeah, it'll be quite cool. We're not as happy as Eddie is, Eddie's
R: Are [Eddie and Chalets member Paula Cullen] actually married
yet, or are they just engaged?
J: No, no not yet.
I: Not yet.
J: I hope they do get married, I want to go to their wedding. I've never been to
a wedding actually.
I: I hope they do a seventeen guitar wedding march, like Queen did.
J: Yeah, yeah, that'll be cool.
R: That seems like it would have something even weirder in it, going by Art
Goblins [band featuring Jasper Future and Eddie Argos] standards—throwing things
at him, or, I dunno...
I: He can escape from a sack.
J: Yeah, he can walk down the aisle with a vacuum cleaner.
Elizabeth U.: So, since you've come back pretty soon since your last tour, you
guys don't have day jobs anymore, right?
J: Yeah, no.
Mikey B: Never had.
E: Really, you didn't have a job?
M: Nah, no we did. We gave up like about a year ago, so...
I: If we had a job we'd have money.
J: I haven't got a house though, I'm homeless. The road is my home, the sea is
E: I also wanted to congratulate you guys for finally getting an American label
I: Yeah, it's good.
E: I've never heard of this label before, how did you guys end up
J: It's a brand new record label, recommended to us by people. It's brand new.
It's us, Eagles of Death Metal, and Gnarls Barkley.
E: Have you guys heard Gnarls Barkley?
J: I haven't heard the song yet, it's #1 in England at the moment.
I: It's big in England, but we haven't been there whilst it's been big, so we
don't know what it's like.
E: It's really good.
I: Eddie's heard it, he's had to compare the English top ten to the American top
R: So what are the odds of getting on some sort of show either here or there,
what is our equivalent of Top of the Pops?
J: Ah, it's CD:USA.
I: No, but then we have CD:UK, as well.
J: That's true.
I: So it's not the same.
E: I've never heard of this show.
J: CD:USA? It's on cable.
E: Oh yeah, I don't have cable.
J: We've got it on the bus. I dunno, I dunno if you've got an equivalent.
R: We've just got Jay Leno, or something, where people go on at the end. It's
not the same though.
J: No, it's not Top of the Pops. We've got that that kind of thing as
well. There's TRL, but that's rubbish.
I: You know, there really isn't any one I can think of off the top of my head.
J: Top of the Pops is so old, you know, it's got so much history.
E: How long has it been going on?
J: Ages, since the '60s?
I: The '60s.
J: Actually, it's rubbish now. It's really bad. It got ruined. It used to be on
a Friday night, and they moved it to a Sunday now, and it couldn't handle the
I: Yeah, it's really bad now.
J: It really sucks now. CD:UK is actually better.
R: It doesn't have the same ring to it, though.
J: No, no, I suppose not.
I: "Art Brut CD:U...K..."
J: We've been doing that actually, "Art Brut CD:USA." It's very confusing.
R: I had never heard of it, that's why it was so weird. I went to a show in
England last summer, so everyone was actually yelling "Art Brut Top of the
Pops!," and everyone here is just "Oh, yeah, that's... some show I've never
I: Yeah, yeah. I dunno, you tell us, what's an equivalent?
J: Yeah, give us something new, we'll do that.
E: There was Pepsi Smash, for a summer.
J: Pepsi Smash? That's a cool name. "Art Brut Pepsi Smash," that's pretty
R: The Cure were on Pepsi Smash once.
J: Let's do that one. "Art Brut Pepsi Smash!"
E: It just happened one summer though, I guess nobody really cared about it.
I: Pepsi Smash. "Art Brut Pepsi Smash."
J: It sounds cool.
I: Would people know what we were talking about, if we said "Art Brut Pepsi
R: We would! They had all these different stages going at the same time, and it
looked like none of the people there knew who any of the bands were...
E: It was very LA, you know.
J: Yeah, we played a gig like that. We played an Xbox 360 launch party, in
Austria, in Vienna.
E: Did you guys get an Xbox 360?
I: That's why we did it!
J: The only people who could get tickets were all PC gamers and nobody
knew who we were. But it was a really good gig.
J: I jumped off the stage onto some bean bags.
I: There were kids sitting on bean bags just looking at us, like, "What?"
J: There were actually only like ten people who had won tickets from a radio
M: Yeah, they had fun there.
J: We got so much free crap. All those caps—
M: —Free hoodies—
I: —T-shirts, baseball caps.
J: I love being a corporate whore. We should do more corporate stuff. I would be
happy just to play corporate shows, I think. That would be fun.
I: Free stuff rules.
R: You could sponsor out the show, sell wall space...
J: Yeah, that's what we should do. Get more corporate.
I: Yeah man. Let's sell right out.
J: Every song's going to feature some kind of brand name. Like adverts.
M: So what do we want at the moment? Get Eddie to write it into a song.
J: Eddie wants some trousers.
J: A house is what I need.
I: "Estate Agents, Top of the Pops!"
J: "Whoever's selling a house, and cheaply, Top of the Pops."
R: I'm sure that could work out. I mean, there are so many pop culture
references in the songs that you can just work in brand names.
J: We're already thinking about it. I'm only half joking.
M: We should do that.
E: Have you guys written any new stuff?
M: Yeah, we've got new stuff.
J: We're playing three new songs right now.
M: And we're writing new stuff and trying out other subjects. There's three
playing that are not on our first album, which is "Blame it on the Trains," "St.
Pauli," which is about the German football team, and "Post Soothing Out."
J: "Post" is amazing.
M: Yeah, you're doing really good actually.
[Someone walks in with posters]
J: Posters! Amazing.
M: They do look pretty good actually.
E: Wait, what are those for? You sounded so excited.
J: It's cause [bassist] Freddy [Feedback] collects them, she's got a scrapbook.
She's got every single show we've ever played.
I: I wish I had that.
J: Yeah, it's worth the effort.
E: How long has she been doing that?
I: Since the
beginning. She's got every flyer—
J: - they're
completely catalogued, all of them.
I: I wish I had
it, but I'm not really organized. I kind of felt bad, I went up to her and said
"Hey, do you mind if I got a photocopy."
I: "You do the
legwork, I'll just come in and take it. Here's twenty pounds, can you go make me
a copy? Sweetheart, go to the printers and get me a copy please." No, but
really, I want a copy of that.
R: She's got all the originals, she seems like she's set to make
a killing on eBay, she's really going to make money on all of this.
J: That's probably why she's doing it!
I: She is a bit of a mastermind.
J: She's going to show up at the next show in a pair of gold boots.
R: So is she not allowed to do interviews? I've never heard or read anything
M: She's not allowed to. We keep her locked up.
J: We keep her locked up in a cage.
I: We keep her locked up in the bus.
J: She's just really quite shy.
I: If she wanted to, fine by us. I don't often do interviews either, so you're
I: I just usually end up swearing or saying bad things.
R: This is going online, so this doesn't matter.
M: He's a punk, that's why. He's a real punk.
I: See, I won't be swearing all that stuff now, but then we'll be on the
television and I'll go "Aw, fucking hell!"
E: Especially in America, you guys will get in so much trouble.
J: Yeah, we played at a radio station and there are just these massive
signs everywhere that just say like, you can't swear.
M: They told us like a million times, just please, please, don't swear.
J: We have to put tape over his mouth.
I: So much power. "That cost us half a million!" "Really? Fucking hell!"
R: That just seems like it would want to make you swear even more, you know,
"Fuck, that's a lot of money!"
J: If you're thinking about it that much...
I: You can say "bloody..."
M: "Fucking hell," there's two!
I: The three things you can say: "bloody," "bastard," and "shite." They're the
three things you can say. The bloody shite bastard!
J: The bloody bastard.
R: Well, you can get away with a lot more, with English words that people here
wouldn't get, I guess.
E: They wouldn't get "bollocks," right?
I: Yeah! "Bollocks," and "slag," and...
J: You might have said "bollocks."
R: You might be getting a bill in the mail, you know...
I: Yeah, well, fuck it.
I: What can they do to me now?
J: The best thing about not having a house is that I'm untraceable. I'm like a
I: You are actually. You should start committing crimes. Financial based crime,
I think. Credit cards, et cetera. And spend it on me. Oh! Get Blockbuster
J: Oh, I should do that!
I: Friends' houses.
J: You have to have a bill to get a Blockbuster card.
I: You just go in your mate's house, borrow a couple bills, nip out the money,
you're set. Get loads of free stuff. Well, not free, cheap.
E: It's all about the free stuff?
J: It's all about the free stuff.
I: See, see, I'm already thinking about how you can be a criminal.
J: I don't know what happened, it used to be about the music.
I: Tchuh! Now it's about Blockbuster videos and Xboxes. What happened to us man?
R: It's the twenty-first century, you just gotta go with it.
I: Yeah, we don't really care. You know, anything for a penny. It's free? I'll
J: I don't even usually plug my guitar in anymore. That is true actually. Last
night in the encore my lead was just hanging out. I didn't notice. James the
guitar tech had to tap me on the shoulder.
M: No one noticed?
J: No one cared.
I: I noticed!
J: It's all about the stagecraft.
I: I noticed, and I was thinking, "What the fuck's he doing?" But it shows how
bloody good your monitor was if you didn't even notice you'd become unplugged.
M: Still rocking out!
J: I've never noticed.
I: Why not?
J: There just isn't one. I'm sharing with Freddy, with Eddie.
I: There's a reason why I'm not on that side of the stage.
J: I've been on your side of the stage, the monitor on your side of the stage is
like going to another gig! It's so fucking loud.
I: It is cool.
J: But it was like, "I don't know this song!"
I: When we first started gigging with you, when you first sort of joined, you
were playing the wrong thing it sounded like but I couldn't really tell, I was
in my Ian Zone like that. It was just all the noise and the drums and the
massive guitar sound and I didn't even realize. And then I looked over at your
side of the stage one time and it was just, "What the fuck's he playing? Have
you always been playing that?" "Yeah," "Aw, fucking hell."
J: Ian taught me how to play "Modern Art" the other day.
I: Yeah, you had been playing it wrong for about half a year.
M: Who did?
I: He did! The wrong chords.
[Long discussion of guitar parts of "Modern Art" with guitar noises]
J: Well, I'd been messing it up for the past fucking six months!
I: I always wanted to tell you but I'd keep forgetting after the gig. We speak
to you like children.
M: To tell you the truth, we did notice, but we like you.
I: You know, I occasionally pay attention to what you do.
J: I was deliberately playing it wrong. I really don't like your band. I'm
trying to ruin them, to make it worse.
I: From the inside!
J: That's right, I'm a Bloc Party agent.
R: So what happened with all of that? At Maxwell's [in New Jersey] last year,
Eddie went off on this whole tangent about inventing a car that went underwater,
and then said he had borrowed it from Bloc Party. I just remember the whole
audience going, "Ohhhh," but Eddie insisted that whole thing was all over. Is
that true, or are they trying to sabotage your shows?
J: No, it's just a running joke.
I: I don't think anyone really cares.
J: They certainly don't care.
I: Especially not about fat people.
I: No, no one cares really to be honest.
J: No, it's done. It's just a running joke.
R: It's a good one.
I: It's quite fun.
R: And with other running pop culture joke, when will Pete Doherty die? Eddie
always ends "My Little Brother" with "Stay off the crack! Stay away from Pete
Doherty!" and he listed [The Indelicates'] 'Waiting for Pete Doherty to Die' as
one of his favorite songs in Blender –
J: That song's amazing.
R: That song is amazing.
I: I remembered the other day that when I used to work at HMV we did a
sweepstake on actually picking a date the following year which he was going to
I: Yeah. Obviously none of us won.
J: I'm praying that he doesn't die though, it's going to be so
irritating. Everyone's going to worship him then. God, it'll be
I: We can't win, live or die.
J: I just want him to sloooowly fade into obscurity. Or to go to prison so long
that he fades into obscurity.
I: I want to, you know, and not give him money on the streets of Camden or
J: That's going to be good. You know, I really like the Libertines, to be
I: I like the first album. I think Carl's alright. Apart from that it's all
J: I haven't heard Dirty Pretty Things.
I: I haven't either.
[Publicist makes a face]
J: Are they rubbish, really?
I: Said the mysterious voice from the cupboard!
[Publicist informs us there are five minutes left]
E: Dude, did we even ask anything?
I: Sorry, sorry.
E: We got onto the free stuff.
R: This is, you know, the most serious publication online.
E: Have you ever read it? No?
I: What is it? What's it called?
E: Tiny Mix Tapes.
E: It's okay—
I: Can't read.
J: Yeah actually, we can't read.
I: It could be called anything you like. I wouldn't know that!
J: He wouldn't know, he grew up in the woods.
I: I was raised by gorillas.
J: Were you?
J: I was brought up by—
I: In the mist! [All laugh, pause] I wasn't really, that's an insult to
I: I know that she certainly doesn't go online and read Tiny Mix Tapes.
M: Maybe she does.
R: It's better to absolve yourself.
I: Eh, well, you know, I don't really care much. No, I do, I love me mum, I just
don't like those gorillas.
I: Oh, I'm talking nonsense.
R: If you read the site it would fit in perfectly.
I: See, this is why I'm not supposed to do interviews! I talk about stupid
R: Are the Art Brut Franchises still in existence, or did those die out?
I: Yeah, yeah.
J: We Are Scientists. They're a franchise. They're 47.
I: I don't actually know, there might be some that have started and then broken
J: I know the British ones are still together. There's Art Brut 4...
I: I mean, every day a new one's born.
J: The Space Peacocks...
E: Where did the idea come from, anyway?
I: God knows. Alcohol, probably.
M: It was just a funny idea in a pub, actually.
I: And then it was just blown out of proportion.
M: It was just like a joke idea, but it really happened.
J: They had a Franchise Battle of the Bands in London not long ago and we didn't
know about it.
R: There was just one, or it was it a battle between all of the franchises?
J: All the franchises.
M: I read about it in the newspaper.
I: But we were on tour at the time, we couldn't have gone, it was like, "Aw
R: Alright then, thanks.
J: You didn't ask me any questions about the Art Goblins, I'm very disappointed.
R: Oh yeah! I'm friends with a lot of Manic Street Preachers fans—
R: No, they all love "Fuck the MSP."
R: Yeah, it's so funny, I think they want Art Brut to officially cover it.
J: Oh no, we can't. It's really actually originally a Welsh Elephants song, it's
not actually strictly an Art Goblins song. Some of the Art Goblins had a band
called the Welsh Elephants, it's actually their song.
R: That's sad to know.
J: So it's actually technically a cover. James, our guitar tech, is the tech
with James Dean Bradfield as well, so we're going to try and get a copy to him
via James – it's going to be amazing. James actually thinks it will be funny.
I: I'm not quite sure about that.
J: I can't imagine James Dean Bradfield's humor stretching that far.
R: Well, the main part of the song doesn't affect him, I guess.
J: He says he looks like – oh, you don't get Cadfael over here. He said he looks
like Cadfael. He's like a funny bald monk.
R: Oh, I wondered what that was, I always just assumed I couldn't understand
what Eddie was saying.
J: No, he's a bald monk who went around solving crimes.
M: But he wasn't fat.
J: He was a bit like Quincy, but religious.
I: All those religious based crimes that went on!
J: Yeah, it's crazy!
E: So that's it?
R: Yeah, I guess so.
I: How long is it going to 'til dinner, because I'm fucking starving.
R: Shouldn't you have platters of food, like Spinal Tap-esque?
J: We usually do.
I: We should, you're right.
J: I'm not going on unless we get some food.
I: I'm expecting it to arrive any minute.
[Everyone starts quoting different parts of Spinal Tap simultaneously
in false English accents]
M: I love Spinal Tap. We should have that DVD with us.
J: Yeah, it's a shame. I'd probably watch it too many times.
R: I don't think you could ever watch it too many times.
M: It's weird watching it on tour.
J: Watching it on tour is so weirdly accurate.
R: Have you guys gotten lost backstage yet?
J: Yeah, yeah.
M: Only once, it really happens.
J: I get lost on the bus. Really. Everything, everything in that film is
M: Yeah, it's so funny, yeah.
J: When we were staying in LA we stayed at the Hyatt, and the party that they
have, the end of the tour party, the pool on the roof, we were there.
M: Yeah, we were there!
J: It was so cool. That was the only reason we stayed at the hotel, just so we
could do that. So cool.
M: All that stuff, it just happens when you're in a band.
J: It does happen. Even that funny food thing, that's happened. It all happens.
[TMT got one final question in via MySpace, which Jasper says he treats like
Pokemon – he tries to collect as many friends as possible.]
E: Would Art Brut be willing to play weddings and/or bar mitzvahs? If so, what
would your price be?
J: art brut are always available for weddings and bar mitzvahs. we play out of
the goodness of your hearts. the joy of the occasion, the sound of laughter and
life long memories are the only payment we can bring ourselves to take...