Lush’s Miki Berenyi “The Interview 2008” and her personal photo album Part 3( Part 1 is here ,and part 2 here )
Miki Interview 1996
Miki: “Me with Ian Astbury (The Cult) after our gig at the Electric Ballroom in 1996. Chris was an absolutely MASSIVE fan of The Cult (well, back to when they were Southern Death Cult) and met Ian the first time during the Ride tour in 1991 in LA. Ian ended up joining us on stage in LA one unforgettable time to duet on the song Ciao! (the Jarvis duet on Lovelife). The really funny thing though was that when we went through it at the soundcheck, it became obvious that Ian had got a bit confused and thought we were going to cover the Cult’s Edie (Ciao Baby). We’re playing the intro and he’s going “It’s quite skiffle, isn’t it?”. Chris was laughing so hard he could barely play.”
“Ciao!” By Lush (ft. Jarvis Cocker)
Miki: “Interview with ‘Kennedy’ at the MTV Weenie Roast – a big production stadium gig that’s comparable to various media-run roadshows, but this is in a fucking huge stadium. There was a revolving stage so that as one band played, the next band could set up. That was the theory anyway. We were on after The Fugees who, clearly, had been booked into that slot shortly before they spent about a million weeks in the top ten with Killing Me Softly. As a consequence, they weren’t too keen on playing so low down on the bill and turned up late, spent ages setting up and then failed to leave the stage after their third song, a 15-minute rendition of No Woman No Cry. By this time the MTV organisation had had enough and as Lauryn Hill’s soulful vocals released the first strains of their hit song the stage started to revolve slowly and the rapturous cheering turned to boos as Lush appeared, startled and apologetic. Possibly the most Spinal Tap moment of my entire music career.”
Miki : With Mark Gardener (Ride) at Phoenix 1996. I only put this in because I didn’t have any photos from the 1991 tour and we’d had such a lovely time – the band and the crew were all really lovely and it was such a great way to have our first adventure to America.”
Photos 36 Is From Kat Bjelland (Babes In Toyland) own collection
Miki: “Somewhere on stage – 1993”
Miki: “Photo shoot for Lovelife with the Fiat 500 car.”
“Love At First Sight” By Lush
Miki : “My last New Year’s Eve with Chris – Dec 1995 ”
“If you want heroes keep them safe.
They don’t stand up to life.
So lock them in your soul and lose the key.”
Certain bands or songs will forever be intertwined with particular events or certain times in people’s lives. Lush are one such band, whom, in my case, will always have a special place in my heart. There was no world shattering event in my life, no personal catharthis; I can’t even entertain you with a tragic “Our Tune” type story of heartbreak and redemption or the agony of unrequited love… It was quite simple, I heard their music and thought it was F***ing brilliant, I can remember the thrill when I first heard their thrashing swirling guitars, the thunderous drumming and the evocative wispy vocals. Some cite hearing Hendrix, The Beatles, the Stones the Sex Pistols, or Nirvana etc as their musical “JFK” moment, but it was Lush for me, I can recall it with perfect clarity ( although I certainly won’t reveal what I was up to!) It’s true to say Lush was underrated and unappreciated by certain sections of the music press in the early 90s. A press that, like today’s NME, liked to pigeonhole bands into easily identifiable categories or ludicrous genres. (Hipcore- tranceopera-emotrip- skagospel-doomgaze-jangle thrash-zzzzz) It seemed the press didn’t quite know where to put Lush, which of course just wouldn’t do, I mean how dare they transcend the arsey classification system imposed by the style gurus and genre makers! Where they shoegaze? Well not really, were they Brit-pop? Erm nope…
Still despite the confusion, indignation, snobbery and sexism in some quarters of the press they gathered a cult following in the UK, and seemed to be going from strength to strength. 1996 had seen Lush release their biggest selling album yet “Lovelife” complete with top 30 singles and numerous high profile TV slots. They also had just finished yet more successful dates in the U.S.….. Then …everything fell apart….. As Joe Strummer once said “Whatever a group is, it was the chemical mixture of those four people that makes a group work. That’s a lesson everyone should learn, “Don’t mess with it! If it works just let it… Do whatever you have to do to bring it forward but don’t mess with it”... However the tragic the death of drummer Chris Acland meant Lush really had no choice but to disband, it just wouldn’t have been the same without him.
I won’t retread old ground here, for those unaware of all things Lush they can find an earlier article HERE which goes into a little more depth about the bands history, their beginnings, triumphs and their eventual break-up. Suffice to say they are a band who remain incredibly special to me even more so than the way in which The Clash, The Smiths, Siouxsie, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Blondie etc are. I, like many others, just totally connected with their music and although I still miss Lush, their music sounds as amazing and as vital today as it did some 10 years or so ago …. I was lucky, I got to see them live twice and those shows remain the highlights of my many musical adventures …………
So what happened post-Lush? Well, Emma Anderson formed Sing-Sing with Lisa O’Neil,(who, incidentally, have recently called it a day) Phil King stayed within the industry playing with The Fallen Leaves, and Jim Reid amongst others, and is now a member of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s current line up. Miki Berenyi sang on The Rentals 1999 album Seven More Minutes (track “The Cruise”,) she sang lead vocals on Mitsuo Tate’s lovely “Lost In Blue “-Flat 7 album (track-“Smile” later remixed by Robin Guthrie) she’d had a drunken conversation with Patrick Fitzgerald of The Kitchens Of Distinction recorded and released on Fruits “Hark! At Her” (Track “Starring Relationships”) album and then….well then she just seemed to disappear! Rumours where rife, she’d started a business with Kim Wilde as musical landscape gardeners called “Songs, Shoegaze N’ Shrubs,” she’d joined that diminutive but rather scary little fellow, Tom Cruise, and his wacky scientologist chums (Hey maybe that’s what The Rentals track “The Cruise” was all about?) Others suggested she’d ran off to enroll in Mr. Whiffle’s Big Top to become a trapeze artist . Aside from the latter none of these absurd rumours were true…so where on earth was Miki? What was she doing?
Now I’m sure it’s apparent that Miki is a huge hero of mine, and I was as surprised and saddened as anybody that she had apparently left the musical community completely. She’s talented, intelligent, beautiful, she produced some wonderful songs, which covered an amazing range of subjects, as well as being one of the coolest, nicest people, in music, and she also genuinely seemed to enjoy being up on stage. She always had a laugh with the audience, and could render the tedious Neanderthals (who seem to plague female fronted bands) speechless with a cutting quip or the more basic “Oh do fack off.” Underneath that iconic red barnet there appeared to be genuinely warm, kind, caring person who loved what she did. I’d heard via the wonders of the internet that she was happy and enjoying life, away from the music biz, which was obviously great to know but a part of me also still, felt it was a shame that such a talent wasn’t still writing songs and performing. I wondered if others felt the same.
I therefore resolved to set up a “We Miss Miki” website and myspace page. Soon messages where pouring in from all around the world “What’s she up to?” “She was a rock goddess…come back” “I love Toni Basil, where the devil is she now?!”,-“You get the picture ? 😉 ” People shared tales of meeting Miki, what Lush’s music meant to them and, reminisced about favourite gigs. There were also messages from musicians such as Robin Guthrie, The Kitchens of Distinction, The Wallflowers, music mags and numerous record labels hoping to sign her up. The message was clear, she was and is, much admired, respected loved and missed.
Within the many missives received was a message from Eric Matthews, a musician and composer who’s been producing high quality albums for well over a decade, from his early days as one half of Cardinal to his solo albums on Sub Pop and Empyrean Records. Eric informed me that he had joined forces with Ohio based guitarist Christopher Seink and that Miki had agreed to provide guest vocals on a couple of tracks for their “Seinking Ships” project. Apparently Miki and her partner Moose were long time fans of Eric’s work. I was delighted to know that the “majesty of Miki” would be heard once more and obviously keen to know how things had gone, kept in touch with Eric. In due course he informed me he was delighted with the results of Miki’s work in the studio. I can only assume that at some point he must have assured her that I was no wild eyed, gothic loony toon whose calendar still read “4AD” and who sat at home stroking a red wig whilst pretending Miki and Emma were guests of honour at some sort of weird freakish Miss Haversham type dinner party involving an imaginary Andrew Eldritch as the butler and…. (Ahem!)….Erm…quite!….. and Miki agreed to an interview with The VPME. Several somersaults and no small amount of jigging for joy later (including a rather lame “Dancing Homer” impression and a moonwalk) I actually contained my excitement long enough to talk to Miki, Eric and Christopher and discovered that sometimes heroes really, really do “stand up to life”
“Kiss Chase” By Lush
VP: After the tragic circumstances that surrounded the break up of Lush did you make a deliberate decision to get out of the music business completely?
MIKI: No – not really. It’s not like I heard the news of Chris’s suicide and thought, ‘I’m never playing in a band again’. It just happened that way – my life simply changed as a result.
VP: When “Lovelife” was released some critics rather predictably started to use the old “sell out” angle. Did this reaction surprise you?
MIKI: Not at all! By the time Lovelife came out we were pretty well used to being treated with contempt and ridicule by most quarters of the music press. HA! I remember the Melody Maker reviewing Split and slagging us off because (apparently) all our songs were light, jangly things about fluffy clouds and fairies. Meanwhile, reviewing the same album, the NME complained that our lyrics were too depressing (covering child abuse and parental death) and didn’t fit the sparkly, light melodies. I guess what I’m saying is that we couldn’t do right for doing wrong. I, of course, don’t agree with the sell-out accusation. I mean, is Ladykillers more commercial than Hypocrite? Is Desire Lines more shadowy than Last Night? Is I’ve Been Here Before a throwaway exercise in jazz lite whereas Lit Up is a trawl through the underbelly of dischordancy rivalling the darkest periods of Miles Davis?
The production on Lovelife is a little zappier and more upfront. Beyond that, I just think we got a bit more attention. When Split came out, the world was grunge and you had to search hard to find a niche in English pop, so I guess we seemed rare and obscure. By the time we released Lovelife, Britpop had lightened the mood a little and radio and TV were receptive to melody-driven pop songs so our version of that felt commercially acceptable. (i.e., if you stick around for long enough, you eventually become fashionable)
VP: “Ladykillers”? Was this song biographical? There’s been much speculation in the past with regard to who the “Ladykillers” in question may have been…
MIKI: Yes, it was biographical. Three verses, three men, three experiences – and all united by a baffling attitude to women. I’m probably being deeply unfair – after all, I didn’t know any of them particularly well and – god knows – I’ve acted like an arsehole on occasion and could similarly be hung out for ridicule. Still, it was great fun writing it and I remember Ivo Watts-Russell (the then head of 4AD) laughing his head off when he first heard it in the studio. (So much for the enigmatic Svengali image.) As for who it’s about – I’ve definitely heard bachelor number 2 (pretty obvious – see the video) and bachelor number 3 correctly identified, but never bachelor number 1.
VP: Recently bands such as The Jesus & Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine have reformed , given that a lot of music can now be made using a laptop and reach a huge audience via the likes of myspace, have you never been tempted to dip your toe in the murky waters of the Biz again . If financial constraints and time were not an issue could you see yourself writing and playing again?
MIKI : Hey – if financial constraints and time were not an issue I’d be on my 10th LP and recording a Greatest Hits compilation with the Royal Philharmonic by now. I would love to make music again, but it’s precisely those things that are stopping me! Also – I know people out there who are too young to have – or simply don’t want kids, HATE this answer, but when I do have some spare time (which is rarely) I really, really just want to spend it with my family and friends. I just had nine days (NINE!) off for Christmas and New Year, and – believe me – the very last thing I wanted to do with it was lock myself away in a room with a keyboard, guitar and a computer to wrestle with my tortured soul. I’m 40 and my metabolism is slowing. Meanwhile, the children are small and cute and not yet slamming doors, stealing cash from my wallet and mugging our neighbours. So I’m quite content to savour the moment by sitting around playing ‘Balloon Lagoon’ and stuffing my face with “Quality Street.”
VP: Do you still play the guitar, and do you still have your guitars from your Lush days such as the Fender Telecaster, Rickenbacker 370-12, Epiphone Riviera, Firebird II etc?
MIKI: No – I don’t play I’m afraid. I was never a proper guitarist – only in the context of Lush. I played the guitar to write songs on and to play live. That’s probably why I was so crap! To be honest, unless someone is really good, my heart always sinks a bit when you’re in a public place (campsite, party, holiday) and someone whips out a guitar. My least favourite phrase in friendly company is “Here’s a song I’ve been working on…” I still have the guitars, though. Sentimental reasons.
VP: How did you hear about my “We Miss Miki” campaign, did it freak you out or did it make you realise how much you have been missed by many fans and how much your music meant to them?
MIKI : Hmmmm. I can’t remember. Maybe Emma told me? I was very flattered. And also slightly frightened. Still, having exchanged a few emails with you, Andy, it turns out you’re not a frothing psychopath who wants to abduct my children so, yes – it’s rather lovely to know that anybody cares!
VP: Are your work colleagues aware of your iconic, guitar playing, cider guzzling rock n roll past?
MIKI: Oh god, yes. I talk about it all the time. They LOVE hearing about my rock ‘n’ roll anecdotes. I’m like Les McQueen in The League of Gentlemen – always handing out my old records and warning my workmates about the pitfalls of the music industry – “It’s a shit business” – that’s my catchphrase.
VP: Have you heard any news with regard to 4AD re-mastering and re-releasing of Lush’s back catalogue, (it’s been rumoured there will also be a DVD?)
MIKI: Yes, I’ve heard that too! I seem to remember a bunch of emails about it last year where Emma and I were trying to rack our brains over every hard-to-find release in the Lush back catalogue but I honestly don’t know what’s going on with that. Ask Emma or 4AD!
VP: You are guesting on Seinking Ships album, which will hopefully be available in 2008, did you enjoy the process, you’ve said you’re an Eric Matthews fan, and also that his songs were difficult to sing 😉 could you expand on this? (For Eric’s sake!!)
MIKI : Eric got in touch with me through Simon Raymonde (formerly of the Cocteau Twins and now running Bella Union). He just asked me if I wanted to sing on his record and after reassuring me that he had literally no expectations of the shoddy state of my vocals after a decade away from the mic and that I would be required to make virtually no effort at all, I agreed. He was very patient with my numerous delays due to various family crises and really understanding about my total ignorance of the technological revolution regarding music and computers. I guess what I meant with the ‘difficult to sing’ comment is that the vocal line and harmonies are quite unusual – not obvious. It reminded me of some of Emma’s songs like Thoughtforms, Lit Up, Olympia and Tiny Smiles (Christ, it nearly killed me trying to get the pitching right on that damned song). The vocals work brilliantly within the track, but it’s not the obvious vocal line or harmony that you would pick, given the notes that surround it (if you get what I mean!). Plus there’s a pretty big range – hitting those high notes is fine when you’re young but after 25 years of Silk Cut I’m finding it a strain to get up there!
VP: If as mentioned you didn’t feel able to make a big commitment to music again, would you consider occasional musical ventures such as this (Seinking Ships) in the future. For example if Jarvis rang you and said lets write “Ciao 2” – would that sort of thing appeal?
MIKI : It’s funny, actually, I was in Paris last summer and we went to a fairground at the Tuileries and who should I bump into while trying to cram chocolate crepes into my kids’ faces but Jarvis Cocker, also out with his kid. What a coincidence! I was actually rather touched that he remembered who I was! But no – no Ciao 2. I guess I would consider anything so long as I had the time and it seemed like a fun thing to do!
VP : Do you miss anything about the music Industry , has it changed much since Lush ?
MIKI : I miss the excitement and energy of playing live and the camaraderie of touring – being with the band and crew in a foreign country is like going on holiday with your mates but even more fun because it’s free and there’s a party every night! To be honest, I was never crazy about the studio. That was much more Emma’s environment. I enjoyed writing, and got a real satisfaction and kick out of creating a song. But, to be honest, rehearsing and demoing and recording it seemed like a bit of a drag. Once I’d written the song I just wanted to get out there and play it!
VP: What’s your fondest memory of being a member of Lush?
MIKI: Loads of memories – well, there would be! Most of the best are from playing gigs. Even supporting The Darling Buds when we were crammed three in the back of an ex-British Telecom Dodge Commer going from York to Glasgow at 3am on a damp mattress with my legs up on the bass drum and an arm keeping the guitars from falling on my head. Even that was fun. Right up to supporting Jane’s Addiction at a fucking hockey stadium in America where I thought we were going to get bottled off and murdered and was virtually in tears I was so scared but the kids crowd-surfed and cheered and were very sweet and gentle with us! Actually, as much as recording always seemed a bit of a drag for me, I really did enjoy doing “Lovelife.” This is no slag off of any of the other producers we worked with, but I think because Pete Bartlett (our live sound engineer) recorded it, there was no nervousness and I didn’t feel so self-conscious about making suggestions (and being a crap musician and singer!) so I could actually relax a bit and have fun. I loved that we got our friends involved (doing back-up vocals, Jarvis duetting, our mate Melissa doing speaky bits on Last Night, Dan from Kitchens of Distinction coming in to do a load of percussion, etc) and mucked about with silly instruments (the toy harmonica keyboard on Ciao, the dripping water on Papasan etc). It was a proper laugh!
VP: You have a new album out yourself very soon which is getting rave reviews and the Seinking Ships featuring Miki in the pipeline do you have titles as yet
ERIC: My album is called The Imagination Stage. The Seinking Ships debut LP is called Museum Quality Capture
VP:With regard to The Seinking Ships project how would you describe the music?
ERIC: It’s basically a new wave cinema score. By new wave, I mean to reference the early and mid-80’s UK stuff. I am quite a bit older than Christopher but for a kid, he was pretty hip with his love of Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Cure, Cocteau Twins, etc… So, he came out of his teens with some of the same influences as me. Together we are making a brave new kind of instrumental music. And with Miki doing the featurette vocals, on those songs it really comes off as new wave adventure pop.
VP: When you writing the songs did you have Miki in mind, or once the songs were completed did you then think “wouldn’t it be great to get Miki Berenyi to guest on these tracks?”
ERIC: More of the latter. We had the songs written and done more or less and then we decided that it would be cool to have a lady singer on a few of the songs. We made a short list of singers that would be great for the project and contacted Miki first. Thankfully, she already knew about my music and was “honored” to be asked. So, I picked the 3 songs that seemed best suited for a lead vocal and wrote the vocal parts especially for her, in her range, etc. I felt like Burt Bacharach and Miki was my D. Warwick.
VP: I reckon you’ll certainly have the eternal gratitude of fans of Miki for tempting her back into the studio. Given that Miki’s been away from the biz for quite a while, where you confident in your powers of persuasion?
ERIC: I am a pretty good pitchman but no, not exactly confident. I didn’t know the conditions of her retirement at the time. So, looking back, and now knowing her situation better I am pretty shocked that she got on board. We are honored to be the project to bring her back. But what can I say; she more or less agreed to do it without even hearing the music just based on my reputation. I think that’s how it was. But when I sent her the package of music she really came back flipped out and in love with the sound.
VP: Yourself and Christopher (Sienk) seem to be big fans of British music, who would you say are your fave Brit bands?
ERIC: Christopher will have his own list but my top faves are –
The Damned, The Cure The Smiths Depeche Mode Joy Division New Order Killing Joke Japan Cocteau Twins Dead Can Dance Kissing The Pink Duran Duran Tears For Fears ABC Tones On Tail Adam and the Ants Gary Numan …all that genius shit
VP: How did you and Eric hook up?
CHRIS: I knew Eric had done session work in the past; so I reached out and asked if he would session in on a few tracks I was working on. I figured three things could happen. He’d ignore me, he’d decline, or by some miracle he’d listen to the sessions which happened to be the case.
VP: What other musical projects have you been involved with in the past?
CHRIS: I played in and around the Cleveland/Akron area with a few bands in the 90’s. It was lot of fun back then. I kind of miss those days of recording on a TASCAM 4 track, making demo cassettes recorded on a boom box, and then doing the sleeve artwork at the 24hr Kinko’s at 2am. If I had to do that now I’d be hating life. Kids have it easy these days. Uh-oh…. I am sounding old.
VP: You’ve previously stated you where a big Lush fan how does it feel to be involved in working with Miki.
CHRIS: It has been a real exciting moment for me. It’s still a little hard to believe that Miki sang on a few tracks that I was a part of. If someone would have told me, while I was watching Lush play live in Cleveland back in the 90’s, that Miki would be singing on some tracks of mine that Eric Matthews co-wrote and produced I would have laughed and laughed.
VP: Eric’s described the music of Seinking Ships but how would you describe it?
CHRIS: Cinematic, dreamy, jazzy, dark, pop
VP: Are there any future plans for Seinking Ships, I believe this is a studio only project, is it a one -off or may there be other projects in the future? and what are your own musical plans?
CHRIS: Yeah I am sure there will be more Seinking Ships tracks in the future but we’re taking it once step at a time. I am looking forward to a 2008 release of the Seinking Ships LP.
VP: Which other British bands would you say have been a major influence on you?
CHRIS: RIDE, PULP, SWERVEDRIVER, CURE, WIRE, IRON MAIDEN, early VERVE, JOY DIVISION
“Light from A Dead Star” Lush
Don’t miss Part 2 – – EXCLUSIVE
“A Pictorial History Of Lush.” Miki has kindly shared her personal photo collection with us, complete with notes and anecdotes . PART 2 HERE
Miki: “With the middling chart success of Single Girl and Ladykillers, we found ourselves appearing on the kind of TV shows we’d never before been invited onto. There was an absolutely horrendous show called Pyjama Party which we had to endure, the premise being a girlie sleepover with gossip and beauty tips in babydoll nighties – like, basically, my worst f*cking nightmare. We had to have face packs put on us by a pair of transvestites. Originally they wanted us to try out tantric sex exercises, but we decided that whoredom was one thing – rape and buggery another. However, Katie Puckrick, the presenter of that desperate programme, was actually a very likable and friendly woman who came into the dressing room for a chat and was very charming and welcoming. Our appearance on Dear Davina was just as reluctant, but just to add to the misery we also got to experience the famous Davina charm which basically doesn’t exist until the camera gets switched on. No interaction, no hello, no nothing. And then ACTION and you get the chummy, cosy façade. Frankly, I can’t bear the woman. Her entire interview technique is geared toward making herself look good and she clearly doesn’t give the slightest shit what your answer will be. No wonder she got so famous!
Chirpy Chirpy Chirpy Tweet Tweet By Lush(from the “Alvin Lives In Leeds- Anti Poll Tax Album” )
Without further ado lets kick off with one of the best Xmas songs to be released, it’s by an old friend of mine……yes all the way from the Wirral, it’s Halfman Half Biscuit
“It’s Clichéd To Be Cynical At Christmas” By Halfman Half Biscuit
Well, the baubles have been vigorously polished, the tree has been erected, the turkeys been roundly stuffed, and we await Santa’s heaving, bulging sack with bated breath. But meanwhile, away from the buxom snowcapped, twin peaked mountains of the magical “Land Of Double Entendre” and back in the real world, parents are preparing for their annual blitzkrieg in “Toys-R-Us” over this seasons “must have toy/gadget.” This is of course due to the fact that if little Johnny doesn’t get exactly what little Johnny has demanded, then the child who has yet to be acquainted with the word “no” or even the concept of compromise may well grow up to be psychologically damaged. (or worse, a solicitor ) It is against such a background that the corporate giants expertly manufacture this kind of hysteria. Huge advertising campaigns, involving the sort hyperbole Alistair Campbell could only dream of, are launched, which cleverly exploit parental guilt, the basic message being, if little Johnny doesn’t get this product you are a CRAP parent, a loathsome individual and you deserve to live a life of friendless, unremitting misery, forever haunted by your shameful neglect. With this in place they then deliberately undersource retail outlets of said product in the run up to Xmas, thus creating the kind of Seasonal pandemonium, that sees quite reasonable, educated people fighting over Nintendo WII’s in order to assuage their guilt. Meanwhile others are cramming their shopping trolleys to bursting point with ludicrous amounts of food that they quite frankly, could never eat, even if the entire population of Birmingham had been invited for Christmas dinner! But hey-ho, if nuclear war ever breaks out, let’s pray it’s over the Christmas period , as we, as a nation, will be well stocked ! It most certainly is “The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” the season of goodwill and indeed the season to be jolly! So bollocks to all that negative humbug ! We love Christmas, and as the song says “It’s Clichéd To Be Cynical At Christmas” so let’s be thankful for all the positives, as we reflect on the year, and what Christmas means to us. It is also a chance to thank all the readers, musicians and contributors who have joined in and to wish everybody a very Happy Christmas.
As a seasonal treat we thought it would be fun to quiz some of our favourite artists and special friends, enabling them to share their thoughts on the festive season, how do they spend Christmas?… what do they love about it (or not) ?? and/or , what are their most cherished Christmas songs that warm the cockles of their hearts and induce a fierce and compelling desire to roast their chestnuts on an open fire.
Well, Christmas certainly has arrived early for Mr VP as one of his all time heroes ex- Lush legendMiki Berenyiagreed to share her favourite Christmas songs with us:-
MIKI : “Frosty the Snowman” featuring Angela McCluskey
from “The Rumor Mill’s Christmas On Clinton St.” charity album. Heard this very recently and knew nothing whatsoever about Angela McCluskey (that’s how out of touch I am). What a lovely voice! Also an excellent cause (http://www.savefrosty.org) and a lovely video on YouTube (below)
“Sleigh Ride” by The Ronettes
“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by The Crystals
“Both from the Phil Spector Christmas album – I’d pick every track but these 2 are my favourites. Genuinely the most HAPPY renditions of any Christmas songs EVER, this is a staple of our family Christmas and will induce dancing, singing and genreral whoops of delight from me, Moose and the kids.”
The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl “Fairytale of New York”
“You’re a bum,You’re a punk, You’re an old slut on junk, lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed You scumbag, you maggot, You cheap lousy faggot, Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God its our last ! “Lyrics that just beg to be yelled out as you stagger home from the Christmas booze-up”
“Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses
“Reminds me of being a teenager – I think I was about 15 when it was out! I remember seeing the Waitresses on some music programme miming or whatever. I thought Patty Donahue looked so amazing – this giant leggy geeky thing in a mini skirt. Brilliant! Love the sweet love-story soap-opera story line, too.”
“Frosty The Snowman” Angela McClusky
“Fairytale Of New York” The Pogues And Kirtsy McColl
1/ Come on Let’s Boogie to the Elf Dance- Sufjan Stevens
2/ Snow plus Xmas- Pearlfishers
3/Santa Claus is Coming to Town- The Crystals
4/ I Was Born on Xmas Day- St Etienne
5/ The Wizzard One
“Come on Let’s Boogie To The Elf Dance”- Sufjan Stevens
For Yuki from Asobi Seksu it sounds like Christmas is a chance to rest
“I’m looking forward to wearing sweat pants and eating lots of food that is “bad” for you. Mostly this holiday, I’m looking forward to being in one place for an extended period of time. And in 2008- can’t wait to make a new album!”
Asobi Seksu have just released a fabulous reverb soaked festive cover of The Ramones “Merry Christmas ( I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight )”backed by the fantastic “New Year” get it here from One Little Indian Records
Rowena from Santa Dog describes her perfect Xmas thus ;
“It’s all about the food! Full on turkey, all the trimmings, flaming pudding, too much booze and sharing with those you love (aaahhh). Every other year we’re in Aberdeen and then it often snows – perfect. 2008 plans? To keep having fun and to get to Japan!”
And if you’ve ever wondered what Charlotte Hatherley gets up to at Christmas….apart from causing a near nationwide stampede at job centres in the rush to fill out those Santa Claus job application forms…..
Charlotte :” Every year I try to go to Sydney for Xmas where most of my family live (lucky bastards). I have Xmas on the beach drinking beer in the sweltering heat thinking how great it is to get out of London.”
Toby from The Duke Spirit will be full of Xmas Spirit and indeed possibly spirits !
“My parents live on the Isle Of Wight, so I like going to visit them for Xmas day. It feels like a cool adventure getting the train and boat down there. I’m a big Xmas fan. I love the excuse to cook huge meals, more food than you can eat, and drink for 3 days without feeling like an alcoholic. I like the suppressed childish excitement you can see in peoples eyes too. It’s a good time of year. 2008 The Duke Spirit start spreading their wings once again.–My hope for 2008 ?- to reap the rewards of 2007. It’s been a hard year but things can only get better.”
“Just Like Christmas” By Low
For Screaming Ballerina’s vocalist Laura Trouble its all about animal welfare, champagne and big eared farm boys !
“What I like about Xmas is lots of presents please. Christmas is good because i get to go home and see my beloved dogs (April and Ulie) (RIP Rosie and Scampy and Sooty) and cats (George and Oscar )and its the only time of year where my lunatic family get to be all together in a big ball off tinsel and fuzz and love. Watching Dad’s Army (“WHAT IS YOUR NAME , BOY? ….’Dont tell him Pike! ‘”….) and Black Adder “YOU SHOT MY SPECKLED JIM! “) is good . Throwing wrapping paper at the TV while my gran sleeps through the queens speech is bad. Going to the farm near my dads house to drink with all the inbred big eared locals and having to leave when some member of my family insults someone unintentionally- is bad but hilarious so its good. Getting over excited at 9 am and drinking so much champagne that i peak to soon and need a cat nap at 1pm – is bad. Eating a bloody nice xmas dinner – is good. Eating too much bloody nice xmas dinner – is bad and extremely uncomfortable. Listening to lots of music and wearing your slippers all day – is very good indeed. Fairy lights are the best invention in the world, so thats good, because they are EVERYWHERE . The apocaliptic blood bath that is 10 million turkeys getting slaughtered in the most in-humane way possible in an extremely short space of time – is very very bad.And makes me sad inside. But over all I do love Christmas, its a time for loving and giving and skipping and swaying and glowing and eating and shitting and singing and that my friends is a good thing.”
My fave xmas songs are
1. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Sinatra
2. Merry Christmas Everybody – Slade
3 . “I Hope You All Die You Blood Hungry Carnivorous Christian Bastards”
– Laura Trouble (that’s a joke)
“What do I like best about Christmas?. Going home to my Mum and Dad’s and spending time with family and friends mainly. That’s the big bit! Then, singing Christmas carols, Christmas stockings full of bits you’ll find throughout the year that take you right back to Christmas, Christmas morning with “The Philadelphia Story” and Christmas evening eating too much chocolate! and the songs;
“Fairy Tale Of New York” The Pogues
“Oh Holy Night ”
And anything christmassy by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin!”
“What Christmas means to me….
-24 hour marathons of “A Christmas Story”
-Avoiding the malls at all cost (shopping online)
-Spending time with loved ones
-Mastering the art of regifting”
Favorite Christmas tunes….
Skating (A Charlie Brown Christmas)
Let It Snow
Nutcracker- Op. 71: No. 2 March
“The Christmas Song” By The Raveonettes
Mr Von Pip, who having a birthday on Xmas Eve is rather fond of the festive season…” There are toooooo many great Xmas songs to mention , but here’s my top 10
1. Fairytale Of New York- the Pogues and Kirsty McColl
2. Merry Xmas From The Family – Jill Souble
3. It’s Cliched To Be Cynical At Christmas – Halfman Half Biscuit
4. Just Like Xmas – Low
5. Christmas Lullaby -Shane Mac Gowan
6. The Christmas Song – The Raveonettes
7. Donner And Blitzen – Badly Drawn Boy
8. Frosty The Snowman -The Cocteau Twins
9. All Alone On Christmas-Darlene Love
10. Same Old Christmas-Hilary Duff (!!)
And then theres the carols “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” “Silent Night” “O Little Town Of Bethlehem.”
And to this years festive releases:- as well as The Rumour Mills Christmas Charity Album mentioned by Miki which you can get HERE on I-tunes and Asobi Seksu’s single, there’s also Lucky Souls “Lips Are Unhappy” backed by an exclusive festive cover of “Lonely This Christmas” (all profits go to the War Child charity). Buy it here its only £0.40p !”
For films,well Christmas Eve wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without “It’s A Wonderful Life” it is possibly my favourite film ever. Not only is it thoughtful, emotive, magical and Christmassy…it’s possibly the most subversive film ever made. George Bailey is on the brink of suicide on Christmas Eve, and gets a chance to see what the world would be like if he’d never been born.”Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” – “You’ve been given a great gift, George: A chance to see what the world would be like without you.” It appeals to me on every level, its humanity , its politics, it’s message, it really is so uplifting, people can make a difference, the little guy does matter! The good will out! The performance of Jimmy Stewart is incredible and it makes me cry-everytime! A perfect film! (sniffle)
“All Alone On Christmas” By Darlene Love
“Merry Christmas From The Family” By Jill Souble
Dogwood , who surely will one day be delivering the Christmas message to the nation, has this to say about the festive season :
“Hello Dogwood here, Settle down….
I don’t think Christmas has been Christmas since Andy Williams was forcibly removed from the schedules by the likes of Grade the Younger. Thank you Michael Grade, for reducing Christmas Day to an unceasing conveyor belt of Eastender ‘your gonna get yours’ storylines featuring nervous breakdowns, petty revenge, petty larceny, grand larceny, gay vengeance, straight vengeance, children coming out of the woodwork to unwitting parents, parents coming out of the closet to unwitting children – processed misery for the masses. Orwell would be proud. I’d like to sit down with my snowball and unshelled nuts and watch the afore-mentioned Williams or Como gad about in a sleigh against a filmed background of Aspen or some such place with a load of dolly birds in scanty Santa suits and white teeth. I can’t do that now because some idiot down at health and safety has decided that unshelled Brazil nuts represent too much of a litigation risk with the flying shell shrapnel that occurs when one applies their nutcracker.Back in Preston when I was a lad, Christmas would begin when Ma Dogwood would skin the tripe and allow us to mix the rendering pot whilst singing Industrial Revolution carols. My Dad, fresh from his Chartist meeting, would mix up a gin punch and serve them in a custard jug as we didn’t have any glassware. I would swig mine from a jam jar. Santa Claus would bring a variety of treats including a Satsuma, a root vegetable, a tin of pilchards, half a pound of cough candies, a box of matches and some woodbines. One year I got a scale size Anthony Eden whittled from driftwood. I still have him and he sits on top of my 4’ tinsel tree that I’ve had since 1968. Ipodman? I wouldn’t have known where to start lad.
As for my favourite Christmas songs, well: Perry Como and Angie Dickinson – The twelve foods of Christmas. It starts off with ‘On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a de-licious chocolate éclair and climaxes with ’12 Artic rolls, 11 Jaffa Cakes, 10 Swiss Rolls, 9 Wagon Wheels, 8 Mince Pies, 7 Iceland Bannofee Kebabs, 6 Lidl Lincoln biccies, 5 Crepe Suzettes, 4 Crunchie Bars,3 Selection Boxes, 2 Tins of Roses and a de-licious chocolate eclair’
The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forget – Vera Lynn. This always reduces me to tears as I WAS that boy in 1952.
Perry Como – ‘A Christmas Dream’ from The Odessa File. I admire Jon Voight immensely.
1 “Poetry For The Winter” By Komon (free download here)
2 As Above
3 As Above
4. Little Saint Nick By The Beach Boys ( or is it Hanson?)
5 Mary’s Boy Child (?) Boney M
BOBBY: ” I think my two favourite artists at the moment are Boney M and Komon (god knows what that says about the direction for the next Pips album..!) ” (Pipettes in Boney M- direction shocker!!? 3 female singers and a dude called Bobby ???!!!;)-VP)
“Mary’s Boy Child” By Boney M
For Marcella Puppini its “all-a about-a da family, capiche?”
For me, Christmas is all about going back to Italy and spending time with my extended family. We are really lucky as we all get on really well, and even my parents, who’ve been divorced for 20 years, get together during the holidays for family dinners. Our Christmas lunch is an absurdly lavish affair: the silver cutlery and embroidered table cloth come out, and we have about 6 or 7 courses, of which the main one is a whole rosted leg of pork. Every year we hope for snow, but these days it doesn’t snow until the new year. When I was a kid we sometimes would get snowed in for a couple of days and read by the fireplace. I loved that. The Christmas song that we listen to every year is an italian one called “Un Natale da buttare via” – a Christmas to forget. It’s a really tragic song about being dumped on Christmas day and it has always appealed to my melodramatic side. And there’s another song that my father requests every year, which me and my sister have been singing since we were about 7. It’s another Italian one, and my dad makes us sing it from the garden as it’s about the baby Jesus being cold on Christmas day. Us Italians do love a bit of drama!!! That one always makes us giggle.It’s a wonderful life is also a staple, which we usually watch on Boxing day.
“This Christmas I’ll be listening to the soundtrack of The Ghosts Of Oxford Street. I’ve had a cassette copy for years and finally managed to track down a CD of it earlier in the year. The Ghosts Of Oxford Street was a made for TV film/musical presented and written by Malcolm Mclaren about the history of Oxford Street. It features music by a whole array of peeps like Tom Jones, Kirsty MacColl, and true to form a pretty bad stab at a Stock, Aitken and Waterman techno style track by McLaren himself. To my knowledge it only aired once, in 1991. And its a great shame that it isn’t shown each and every Xmas as it would make a pleasant change from The Snowman.
The Ghosts Of Oxford Street (Sinead O Connor-Silent Night)
The final word however, with regard to the meaning of Christmas, I`ll leave to Eric Matthews who has been producing astonishing and innovative music for many years on the Sub Pop label and has worked with Tahiti 80, The Dandy Warhols, Ivy, Man of the Year, Elliott Smith, Paula Kelley, Pugwash, Volovan, and Bug 2000. 2007 has seen Eric as industrious as ever, which included working with Miki Berenyi and Christopher Sienk on the Seinking Ships album, due for relase next year .
“To me Christmas is a two fold thing. It is both a bizarre time where we I get all jazzed about spending stupid money on those closest to me and getting cool presents. But it is also an intensification of the general message of my religion. I think of Christ 300 days a year anyway but in this time it becomes more intense somehow. I surround myself in His glory and it really helps get me through.
3 songs: Christmastime Is Here, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, and (from the hymnal) It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.
Movies: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Ben Hur, Groundhog’s Day, and Jesus Of Nazareth.”
Quote Of The Year
Monster Bobby after a recent Pipettes gig in NYC discussing Mr Von Pips dancing!
(Courtesy Of Dave Cromwell)
“Christmas Lullabye” By Shane MacGowan
Happy Xmas , we’ll leave you with a special Christmas verse, from Neal Zetter
“When The Music Ran Out”
I had a horrid nightmare about
On Christmas eve the music ran out
The radio had no sound
There was silence all around
The magic that made the melody
Was just a distant memory
A buried treasure underground
Lost and never to be found
When the music ran out
iPods were idle
CDs ceased – all blank
The notes were all stolen
From the musical bank
Concert halls stood empty
Discos deserted and dead
No more songs left to write
Or to stick in people’s heads
So they read
When the music ran out
A, B, C, D, E, F, G
Were consigned to history
F-sharp, A-minor, B-flat too
All unemployed with nothing to do
Standing in a long dole queue
On that day
When there were no tunes left to play
They packed the instruments away
Coloured rainbows turned to grey
Rappers were wrecked
DJs in disarray
Buskers broken in dismay
Andy Von Pip said “I’m anything but ok”
When the music ran out
Whistlers couldn’t whistle
Dancers couldn’t dance
Hummingbirds that tried to hum
Didn’t have a chance…
But on Christmas morning I woke up from my dream
I could feel my heart beat
I began to tap my feet
I switched on my MP3
The best possible presents were waiting there for me
My ears enthralled in ecstasy
Screaming Ballerinas, Wedding Present, Clash and the Pipettes
Hot Puppies, Operator Please, Pulp, the Raveonettes
Long Blondes, Sex Pistols, Ramones, Charlotte Hatherley
Ladytron, Duke Spirit, Smiths and Morrissey,
Left me without a doubt
That there will NEVER be a day
(I’m sooooooo relieved to say)
When the music runs out
HAPPY CHRISTMAS-“It’s A Wonderful Life”
Festive Greetings !
“Everthing’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas” By Eels