Life Blood of Leicestershire
A short while ago, I met up with my old mate John who'd come back to
Leicester for a visit, down at the local pub. We had a good chat and
then I asked him if he minded me kind of transposing our chat into interview
form for the sake of Atomic Duster and he said no problem. But why the
bloody hell would you want to read a chat between me and my mate John?
I'll tell you why - because he was a member of that legendary eighties
group Life Blood that featured yours truly on guitar (which, incidentally,
I played so badly that it sounded like a bell). Or maybe, and I suspect
this is probably more likely, you know him as either The Slammer, Salmmin'
Johnny Animal, or, as he prefers to be known, Johnny Machin. I had a
little surprise in store for him...
AD: I think you'll be interested to hear this - it's a tape of our
old band (then called Enigma's Puzzle) recorded in your bedroom when
we were about fifteen.
JM: No way! That's great, I can't wait to hear it.
AD: Maybe you should sample something from it for the next album?
JM: Ha, yeah we'll sample anything. Costs us a bloody
fortune mind. We've upset a few people over the years.
AD: Like who?
JM: When we released "Disco Machine Gun",
we sampled a song by the Breeders and Kim Deal was none too chuffed
about it. We had to withdraw it after three days. That's why it's called
"Blisters on my Brain" on the first album.
AD: I wondered why that was. Still, "How To Operate With a Blown
Mind" spawned a couple of top 40 hits. That must have felt good...
JM: We felt fantastic and it was the lastthing that
we expected really. You see, we always thought we were going to be this
underground dance band that sold about one hundred copies - and then
all of a sudden we were flavour of the month with the press. A lot of
that was down to Steve Lamacq and Mary Ann Hobbs who both really loved
AD: Didn't you have trouble with "Battleflag" too?
JM: Yeah, that was a band called Pigeonhed, which is
a real funky outfit made up of members of Pearl Jam. They asked us to
remix it so we stripped the whole song bare, and I mean the WHOLE song,
and put what we wanted in there. They refused to pay us at the time,
but since it got in the charts they started crawling out of the woodwork.
So we thought bollocks to them.
AD: I heard a few rumours along the lines that you're supposed to
be supporting Robbie Williams on tour, remixing his CD, or having his
love child or something. What's the truth there?
JM: Nothing really. He asked us to remix his CD and
we said no. Simple as that. That was ages ago.
AD: Would you have supported him if you'd been given the chance?
AD: Really? I would have done it, but then I'd support Bucks Fizz
given the chance. Shame you didn't do it, if you'd got to know the bloke
you might have been able to introduce me to Anna Friel...
JM: Hmm...Anna Friel...
AD: What's that supposed to mean?
JM: I know inside information about Anna Friel...(John
then went into detail about this information but if I repeat it here
I'll probably be sued for libel. All I will say is that a certain "celebrity
wife" wouldn't be all that pleased if she found out what her even
more famous husband had been up to. Make your own conclusions up on
AD: Is it true that the Lo-fi's burnt all their decks at the end
of one gig?
JM: Yep. That was just a publicity stunt really. It
was good fun that.
AD: Didn't that cost an awful lot of money?
JM: Not really. We had this really, really old deck
that was worth nothing and just about falling apart, so we covered it
in lighter fuel and set light to it after our last tune. It was all
a bit of a scam really but it got us into all the music papers. Anything
for a bit of publicity.
AD: How come the second album was so different from your first?
JM: I think it was much better than the first personally.
A major difference was that we lost our frontman Dave as you know. We
had a bit of a falling out with him. The success we were starting to
get went to his head a bit and he kept threatening to leave the band
and then came back. He did that about three times, and the last time
he left a message on the answerphone saying he'd quit. We were getting
a bit fed up with it so we rang him up and said "Right then, fuck
off. You're definitely out this time". He tried to make it up,
but we were just pissed off getting messed around by the guy. So anyway,
differences - the second album was more dancey. I like the first album,
but I'm not sure we could have made another one based around Dave's
ramblings. There's only so far you can go with that!
AD: Moving on to parents, I saw your dad a few weeks ago, and he
seemed more concerned about whether you had a girlfriend or not than
the fact that you'd been in the charts!
JM: That sounds like my dad. He just wants me to settle
down with a nice girl, but you can't have a serious relationship while
you're on the road touring all the time anyway.
AD: You don't get many groupies then?
JM: Yeah we do. But they're all really young and giggly
and I've got nothing in common with them. It's a bit like the showbiz
parties we get invited to. I know this is going to sound really poncey
but I'd honestly rather just be down the pub with my mates.
AD: I know where you're coming form, but haven't you ever been tempted
to have a threesome with two nineteen year old nymphettes? You don't
actually have to have anything in common with them you know...
JM: Funny you should say that. When I used to live
with my ex, we used to share with this really attractive Scottish girl.
Me and the missus would be lying there in bed and the next thing you
know, this Scottish bird's sitting on our bed going "I can't get
to sleep. I'm feeling really horny". She'd do that for a few minutes
then she'd go out again. Then my girlfriend would go "I know what
SHE wants. It's fucking disgusting isn't it?" and I was having
to lie there sheepishly and go "Oh. Oh yes. Foul. Really disgusting"
while the duvet turned into a tent shape.
"Last orders at the bar please!". At this point I looked
around in panic, as I remember in those heady old days of yesteryear
when we'd finished our band rehearsals that John used to leap from his
drum stool and attack me with his sticks. It wouldn't have been so bad,
but our keyboard player at the time thought it was so funny that he
would pick up John's spares and do likewise. Thankfully though, tonight
we just sup up our beers and wander home. He's still as mad as a fucking
Interview and transcript by Tone E