“Pop Trash” By Detox Cute And The Beauty Junkies
Initially Detox Cute And The Beauty Junkies may come across as a great big good-natured sugar coated hug, and with names like Paisley Play-doh and Charlie Darling they also may appear about as sombre as a puppy wearing a bow-tie riding a unicycle across Chuckle Land, but have a closer listen and you’ll realise they shouldn’t be dismissed as mere lightweight pop fluff. No it’s not Radiohead but they are certainly more Dubstar than Five Star, more like The Primitives than 2 Unlimited, and they don’t feel the need to reduce “pop” to the nursery rhyme crap that some acts feel is the only way to express “fun.” When people prattle on about the “fun and innocence and the purity of pop” I narrow my eyes with deep suspicion, furrow my brow and get ready to vigorously wag my finger, as this is usually a preamble to justify a liking for some hideous corporate X-Factor style- monstrosity of a pop song. “But it’s just a bit of fun” they mewl. Really ? “So why the f**k does it sound so bloody awful?“
Does so called “pure pop” really have to be sound like such contrived, stylised rubbish? Obviously the answer is a resounding NO, it can have depth and move people as well as being catchy and danceable. Bands like Detox Cute and The Beauty Junkies and Helen Love prove that pure pop can be clever, funny, tongue in cheek without being soulless dumbed down shite. Detox Cute and The Beauty junkies score very highly on VPME’s “Pop Genius-o-meter,” and in reality band members Paisley Play-doh (wouldn’t it be great if that was her real name kids?) and Charlie Darling also have a far more radical agenda then many so called “edgy” bands, who are about as subversive as Phil Collins in his plus-fours at the local golf club discussing the forthcoming village fete….with Peggy Mount. Yes Charlie and Paisley share the VPME’s dream of wanting to reclaim pop from the insidious grasp of the cankerous Simon Cowell and his demonic hoard, a man who must truly hate music and whose “talent shows” are resolutely “anti-talent.” He has done more harm to pop music over the years than any amount of illegal downloading could ever do….it’s a fight worth fighting- let us take arms against a sea of trouble and by opposing end them. Cowell is a musical Ronald McDonald and his “discoveries” are simply the burger flippers for his musical equivalent of fast food …and I tell you what, after a hard and fruitless day trying to change the world, there’s plenty of room in my heart for a bit of Detox Cute and The Beauty Junkies . And there should be in yours too. We spoke to them to find out more about their musical mission, how we can defeat the musical “Dementor” that is Simon Cowell and how to put the joy back into pop.
VP: Tell us how you got together and became Detox Cute and the Beauty Junkies
Charlie: I had written a load of pop songs and people I played them to thought were great. After some encouragement and harassment from a good friend I decided, yes, I’ll get them out there! At the time I felt the best way to do this would be to see if I could get a band together to rehearse and play them live. I put an ad on Gumtree, and ended up with a singer, a guitarist, nearly a drummer and Paisley , who was to be the keyboard player.
Paisley: Yeah, after being in lots of bands over the last few years I was once again trawling the web to find another one! I love music and I love singing. Unfortunately my playing abilities stretch to the tambourine and hand clapping, so I was on the lookout for some great musicians. As soon as I saw the ad and heard ‘Pop Trash’ I was excited and desperate to be a part of the band, even though Charlie told me he had a singer already. I agreed to play keys but thank goodness it never came to that, as that could have been very embarrassing. Where is middle ‘C’ anyway?
Charlie: The ‘band’ never got past the first rehearsals, as the question of money raised its ugly head. Who gets paid to turn up for rehearsals anyway? So it turned out that Paisley was left still wanting to get the songs out there with me, so we decided to give it a go as a twosome. Happily, this has worked out really well – organising everything from rehearsals to videos is so easy when there are only two of you!
Paisley: And we must let everyone know why the name ‘Detox Cute and the Beauty Junkies’. No, it’s not because there are only two of us that we need to make up for it with a really long band name!
Charlie: Detox Cute & The Beauty Junkies is the name of a fictional band from my unpublished novel; ‘Paul King Stole My Haircut’ (a quote directly to me from Catatonia record producer Paul Sampson who bemoaned his failure as a pop star in the early 80’s, attributing blame to the aforementioned King for ‘stealing’ his trademark uber-mullet).
VP: Your mission is to stop people being afraid of pop, despite Simon Cowell, how would you do that? Hasn’t Cowell and his dark forces besmirched the good name of pop and extracted the joy from it, replacing it with something more sinister?
Charlie: Precisely. Adam Ant said: “the devil’ll take your stereo” and that’s exactly what’s happened. Cowell has sucked the soul from pop music and turned it into a product, a commodity to be paid for in blood. Therefore, today’s TV popstars are soul-less puppets, their strings being pulled by the deadliest puppet master of them all. People are fully justified in being afraid, very afraid. I can’t believe Cowell understands that pop music is supposed to be fun and not the sort of entertainment that leaves you feeling like you’d rather poke your own eyeballs out with a sharp implement than endure yet another rendition of ‘Unchained Melody’ sung by some pre-pubescent dishcloth with the face of a wet lettuce and as much personality as the inside of a ping-pong ball. We want to reclaim the charts from his grubby mits, show people that pop can be fun and doesn’t have to be sold with a sob story. T-Rex rescued pop from the grasp of long-haired doom merchants of prog rock and gave it back to those who wanted to be entertained. Adam Ant was just the tonic the doctor ordered to remedy an ailing pop world, suffering under a cloud of Bee Gees induced influenza and the hangover from Punk’s demise and the early mumblings of a Phil Collins led Genesis and musicians wearing their jackets with sleeves rolled up to the elbow.
Paisley: – Not to harp on but bless it, the X Factor really is a pain in the bot. I mean, we have had Christmas stolen by Leona, then Leon, who next, Leo? They are who little ‘uns look up to as their musical heroes. Now, that’s what I call scary!
VP: What have you been up to in 2008?
Paisley: Watching Cliff Richard movies and ‘The Neverending Story’, ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘Total Recall’; listening to Paul Bevoir and waiting for Charlie’s hair to grow after a terrible haircut in Soho ;
Charlie: We recorded the songs you can hear on our MySpace at Bunker Studios in London , and we shot the videos too, down in Brighton . It’s a Punk work ethic – Do It Yourself – after all, no-one is going to do it for you. Oh, and played some gigs too in the Indie hell that is Camden Town . Remember, Indie kids, just wearing a hat does not make you a fashion icon – hats are not an image!
VP: What sort of music would you say influences your sound and ethos? Helen Love that sort of thing?
Charlie: The Beatles, obviously, T-Rex, Adam Ant, Abba, Cliff are the oldies and then contemporary songwriters such as Edwyn Collins, Frank Read from the Trashcan Sinatras and Stephen Duffy. Oh, and we absolutely adore Chris Martin and The Coldplay! (Just kidding!!! We’d rather eat our own sick than listen to that old nonsense.) Helen Love are a great band because they’re fun – they don’t take themselves too seriously and it comes across that they have a genuine love for The Ramones. And who else could name check The Kursaal Flyers or The Ohio Express and still be one of the coolest bands on the planet? Although our songs are very poppy we like to think the lyrics say something more than just ‘boy meets girl’. John Lennon, (when talking about ‘Imagine’) once said that if you want to get your message across then wrap it up in sugar. We give people great tunes but hope that our lyrics aren’t perceived as banal just because we’re a pop band.
Paisley: – Yeah, what he said really. I just like all sorts of music and can’t pick the best or what influences me – all of it does! Dolly is an icon and Elvis is king – obvious I know – but that’s me! Blimey, it really is so difficult, that question really harshes my mellow!
VP: If there’s one song you’d love to cover and give it the full on “pop” sound what would it be (and why)?
Charlie: ‘La La La Lu’ as sung by Cilla Black in the film ‘Please Sir’, although it’s already quite poppy, but it’s a great song that few people would have heard and also folk need to know that Cilla was a great singer before all that ‘Surprise Surprise’ wailing. We’ve thought about seriously putting together an ‘Abba and The Ants’ tribute band – so we could try singing ‘Whip In My Valise’ in four-part harmony, Beatle-esque piano and full string orchestra or alternatively, ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You …. Ahhhhhh Haaaaaaa!’ dooom di doooom, (in a ‘Prince Charming yelp stylee). However, the thought of crossing Bananarama with Nirvana and getting Nivanaramerama and doing ‘Teen spirit’ in the style of ‘Robert De Niro’s Waiting’ has quite an appeal!
Paisley: – Oooh, and I’d like to put words to the ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ theme and make that a pop song. Plus a B Side featuring Toyah Wilcox from the ‘Blue Marigold’ episode.
VP: Any plans for a single or album to be released in the near future
Charlie: ‘We have a couple of releases coming up very soon. Don’t want to say too much right now in case we jinx it but are we are very, very excited!
Paisley: Yes, all news will be posted on the faithful MySpace as it happens, but the Dick Van Dykes among you may be able to take a look at our ‘top friends’ to see who we might be releasing songs with!
VP: So when you’re not in a “pop” mood what other sorts of music would you listen too?
Charlie: Acoustic singer/songwriters like The Trashcan Sinatras or Alex Lloyd; Punk, Folk, Heavy Metal (strangely, heavy metal bands and pop bands generally get on well – it must be the sense of fun and not taking yourselves too seriously)… Oh, and Razorlite – they’re great !!! NOT.
Paisley: I already admitted two of my American vices but my favourite singer, live performer and person in music is John Otway. I LOVE HIM! I have met him a couple of times and he is such a nice guy. The best YouTube of him has to be when he was on the Old Grey Whistle Test. I’m going to recreate that whole performance at one of our gigs soon. Apart from ripping my top open of course. Oooh, Charlie would look great dressed up as Wild Willy Barrett!
VP: How helpful has the internet been for bands like yourselves getting your music heard ?
Paisley: I love it! I type so much these days I can’t even read my own handwriting anymore, which is fine by me!
Charlie: Fantastic – we can bypass the corporate nonsense and the Simon’s of this world and actually get heard by people who like our sort of music. And not just in London or the UK . London can be too cool for school and the UK is so wrapped up in Indie or TV Talent Show Popstars that you’d be forgiven for thinking that anyone else hasn’t got a hope. But the internet gives us a worldwide audience and also worldwide friends too. We’re regularly in contact with people in Japan , the States, France , Holland , Germany and Spain .
VP: A dilemma …you have the chance to go back in time and rewrite pop history, but you are given just 2 bullets, you have a opportunity to stop the musical crimes perpetrated by Simon Cowell, Pete Waterman and Simon Fuller What do you do?
Charlie: Easy, only one bullet needed and that’s for Cowell. Pete Waterman’s actually ok, and we can forgive him Sonia and Jason Donovan because let’s not forget he also gave Cliff a hit single and was originally behind ‘You Spin Me Right Round’ by Dead Or Alive – one of the best pop records of all time. As for Simon Fuller – well, The Spice Girls were shit but their only real crimes are the fact they think by flouncing around on TOTP a few times that gives them the ability to write books, design clothes or launch perfume ranges. If Geri Halliwell was so talented why did she feel the need to do topless telly before finding fame?
Paisley: Well I would let Mr Waterman live. I asked him where the toilet was once, so I class him as a friend. The Simons can go and get stuffed.
VP: Five words that aptly sum up your “vibe”
Charlie: A Little Bit Too Sensitive
Paisley: It’s Turned Out Nice Again
“Pop Trash” by Detox Cute & The Beauty Junkies
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