Main Page Scrawn and Lard Interview

‘STRAIGHT FROM THE ‘HORSES MOUTH’

by Elkie Wilde

Mark and Lard’s outspoken views on Craig David, Steven Spielberg’s thieving antics and the reasons they are the heroes of the student generation.

Birmingham University, Sunday 8th October 2000

It’s a surprisingly warm evening in Birmingham as I wander round aimlessly trying to locate The Shirehorses dressing room for a pre-gig interview during their ‘freshers’ tour of UK Universities. As I’m already 10 minutes late and security have NO knowledge of me being there or my free pass into the gig, it doesn’t look too promising until I’m shunted into a room containing numerous comedy wigs and suspect pairs of white towelling socks (and just a few cans of beer). Sure enough, The Shirehorses (although only Mark and Lard elect to talk) enter the room post-sound check and temporarily place their lives into the ‘very capable’ journalistic hands of moi. Mustn’t Grrrrrrrrrumble!

Elkie: So, how’s the tour going?

Lard: Yeah, it’s goin very well innit? I mean, you know, every night’s been sold out, every night without exception...in’t that right?

Mark: Yeah, every single night’s been sold out. Some of them have been ten, twelve thousand seaters; this is just a one off small venue.

Lard: This is a secret gig. I mean, I know they’ve sort of put up a few posters and that, but in our books this is a secret gig. It’s like a warm up gig near the end of the tour which is where we got it wrong, you know, we should have had the warm up just before but we’re not very good at things like that, you know.

E: We did have difficulty tracking you down tonight; it was that secret…

L: Well, yeah I know, I mean it’s a weird place to hang out…in the dressing room…but we’re perverse like that. We just like turn into gases don’t we and disappear.

M: Yeah.

E: Is this a warm up for the big gig at the NEC in a couple of week’s time? You’re doing the ‘Music Live’ thing aren’t you?

M: We are yeah. We’re on at the peak rock n’ roll time of twenty past two in the afternoon on a Sunday for that you know, it’s gonna be a big rock n’ rollin time you know.

L: I mean we’re off at three o’ clock, it’s quite a short set but that is obviously due to the licensing laws cos obviously everything shuts at three o’ clock on a Sunday so that’s why we’re only doing forty minutes but...Yeah, I know it might be a bit daunting to think of that but it’s a club gig once again. I mean we’re used to dealing with turf and, you know, stadii rather than indoor arenas like the NEC, it’s alright, we don’t mind doing the club gigs and that but, you know, we like playing to a lot of people cos when you play to a little place like that it’s more nerve-racking...

M: It is. You’ve got to remember that we played to a hundred and twenty thousand in Rio…so erm…

L: Yeah. Tina Turner broke the record on the Friday night and we played there on the Saturday night and we got exactly the same amount of people in but Tina Turner stayed as well so that made it one more than the night before so she was pissed off about that...she wished she’d gone home. But she didn’t.

E: On the tour you’re playing mostly student unions; why do you think you appeal to students so much?

L: We’re role models I think, cos we’re you know, intelligent and sexy which doesn’t normally happen.

M: I think you shouldn’t underestimate the sexual potency of The Shirehorses. I think that that’s the big thing, you know, and a lot of people, particularly freshers, are perhaps away from home for the first time and there’s a great feeling of sexual awakening and I think The Shirehorses personify that...in a very potent way.

L: I mean some people see that…what’s he called? Roddy Doodlebug is it…out of Idlewild? What’s he called?

M: Oh...Roddy Woomble.

L: That’s the one. Some people see him as a kind of archetypal student hero but he’s not; he’s an arse. I mean, that’s no offence to him, he’s an arse compared to us. Then again…so is everybody. You know, no offence, sorry I’m probably causing offence here but I don’t mean to.

E: Will there be another Shirehorses album? We’re eagerly awaiting it...but we know it's that ‘difficult’ second album.

M: Funnily enough we were talking about that today weren’t we?

L: Well, you’ve got that wrong, it was a difficult first album. It took us ages rooting through the cupboards to find all the tapes didn’t it?

M: It did yeah.

L: …on the night-time show...it took us till the afternoon. So it will be the probably ‘almost bloody impossible’ second album. But we did, I mean, we had a chat with somebody. We made one phone call so far, we’re not gonna make any more phone calls. We’ve done our bit, d’you know what I mean? So, I mean, they should be knocking on our door, in fact I expect someone to knock on the door shortly.

M: So there might be…

L: Yeah, there might well be…

M: ...but there probably won’t be. But there might be…

E: What have been the highest and lowest points of your career so far?

L: Well it’s been filled with loads really just because of the sort of, robbery and skulduggery that’s gone on from all the other bands stealing our material. I mean, the highs…the personal joy we get from writing songs is a high; we usually cry don’t we?

M: And playing Birmingham…

L: Playing Birmingham definitely. But we normally write a song and cry for a few days, you know? And then we try and release it and we struggle, you know, we don’t mind admitting that, and then ten years later like, that Fran gimp from Travesty gets hold of it...is it Travis is it?

M: Yeah…

L: He gets the tapes, rips it off, makes a million pounds out of it and that happens pretty much every day of our career. So they’re the low points…pretty much every day of the year is a low point.

M: I mean, we’re going through an emotional mangle every day, people don’t realise it you know. They think we’re just shit kickin' rock n’ rollers and they don’t understand that, you know, every day we climb an emotional mountain.

L: It’s like we invented the musical and we got no credit for it. Jesus Christ Superstar, we wrote Jesus Christ Fuck in Hell didn’t we? About ten years before they came up with that claptrap and you know…Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Underpants…we started all them...

M: It was Dick Scruttock and his Technicolour Buttocks weren’t it?

L: Well that was the original concept but we’re just, you know, jaded to it all now, we’re just...you know…its ridiculous really.

E: You’ve conquered the airwaves, the live circuit, TV and print; will we ever see ‘Mark and Lard; The Movie’?

M: Well…

L: You know…I mean… (Complete silence)

L: We’ve not thought about an answer to this one have we?

M: Not really. Well there’s a rarely a day goes by that Spielberg’s not on the answer phone in the DJ Castle, you know, he’s a pain in the arse that lad. Every bloody day, you know, we say “Christ…” you know, “…we’re doing rock n’ roll at the moment Spielbo’”…

L: “Back off”.

M: …as we call him, you know.

L: The reason he wanted us, cards on the table, is because he wants to do a horror film, a bit like E.T but older, and he wanted some, like, monsters in it but he didn’t really have like a budget for make up so he’s been onto me and him, so we took that as a bit of an insult and told him to piss off. And then he said, you know, he asked if he could come to the gig tonight cos he, you know, he obviously live just outside Birmingham…

M: Balsall Heath he lives…

L: …Balsall Heath.

M: Well I think it’s his holiday home that but he does live there yeah.

L: He wanted to come tonight, we said “Piss off Spielbo’”. You know, we haven’t got time for him. He’s not treated us with the respect we deserve.

M: He’s a bit of an ‘hanger-on’, you know…

L: Yeah…

M: …he’s always in the dressing room, him and Stephen King saying “Ooh…” you know, “…have you got any Pimms? Have you got any Anusol”? You know, just robbing.

L: I think he came on the last tour and all the Anusol was gone at the end of the night; four tubes. That’s greedy, d’you know what I mean? I think he must have been snorting it.

M: Yeah, he just comes with a little rucksack, you know, to steal sandwiches, you know so…

L: Him and Stephen King and Martin Scorsese; they’re just wankers.

E: Would you like to be remembered as Comedians, Musicians or DJs?

L: Comedians? Sorry, I don’t, I don’t understand what you mean?

M: I mean, I don’t see, I’ve never seen any humour in our act. At all.

L: Are you taking the mickey?

E: No…

L: I know we are a bit ‘po-faced’. I mean Radiohead took that ‘po-faced’ thing off us and that’s another thing that irks us but…

M: They’re a bit off though aren’t they?

L: …a bit off, but no…we get the irony of what you’re saying. I mean yeah, like we say, we cry when we come off stage sometimes for a week, you know, and so do the audience. So I mean, yeah, I appreciate the irony.

M: I think we’d just like to be remembered for having made a lasting musical contribution, you know, to the cultural heritage of the world really.

L: Yeah. We’re only really bothered about being remembered in Birmingham as well, you know, we go to Leeds and Sheffield and all these places and we just come and go and they worship us, don’t get me wrong, but its when we come to Birmingham we want to make a mark on the youth because we respect and love them so much.

M: And it’s a beacon of culture innit?

L: Yeah.

E: Bearing in mind that I write for the University of Wolverhampton student magazine…

L: Oh you’re from Wolverhampton? Ah…

M: Ah.

L: Well…that’s a good point you know, cos we see, we see the whole of the Midlands as one big cultural…thingamabob…

M: I don’t think that’ll wash…

L: Never. Well just put, just put ‘Wolverhampton’ where we’ve said ‘Birmingham’.

M: Stick that in yeah.

E: We know you’re not entirely enthusiastic about the Radio One playlist; what artists and records would you like to play?

L: Well I think The Shirehorses obviously don’t get much of an outing…

M: No.

L:Bo Diddley is criminally underused, I mean we, you know, we bought a Bo Diddley CD and its never been used, you know what I mean? And that’s galling that. That was eight quid, I mean we didn’t pay for it obviously; we got it out the licence payers’ money, but, you know, you put that kind of investment into music and you don’t get the rewards from it. I rung Bo Diddley and apologised, you know. I mean, yeah it’s very poor, the Radio One playlist, I mean, you know, The Shirehorses and a bit of Bo Diddley.

E: And The Family Mahone? (Radcliffes’ other band)

L: Oh yeah.

M: I mean, all the greats who are currently overlooked by Radio One.

L: It’s criminal really, but it’s a paid job, you know, I mean, we’ve sold our souls to the men in suits, you know. That’s the short and long of it.

E: Do you ever see The Shirehorses going ‘garage’?

L: We do, er, we do windows and stuff don’t we? Conservatories.

M: I mean, we invented that UK garage.

L: Oh, the music?

M: The music. I mean, you know, it was our idea that, you know, that Craig David. He used to come round our house all the time; he used to work for Dynarod. He used to come round and unblock the drains, you know, and he always used to sing a bit, we thought he had a good voice but he had a terrible image.

L: Yeah.

M: So we said what you wanna do is like, get some pigeon droppings and work it in your hair and screw it all up into little knobs like that…

L: And a few Maltesers too…

M: …And then when we’d seen it we knew we were wrong, it looked diabolical. And so we said, no what you wanna do, and at that time Last of the Summer Wine was very big, we said you wanna base your image more on Compo with a woolly hat on, you know, so he started doing that then and that worked for him.

L: The ridiculous thing was he was a virgin when he met us and he sat there every night knitting and stuff in the house…

E: You could take that the wrong way ‘He was a virgin until he met you’. I wouldn’t want to disillusion the readers!

L: Well no, you can take that how you like ‘cos that’s what I said to him. And I said “No, listen Davo babe…” I said, “…Get out there, meet a lass, have a chat with her on the Monday and shag her senseless for the rest of the week”. And he did and he cleverly turned that round into that song, I can’t remember what it’s called. It’s crap innit.

M: He only changed one word ‘cos our song said, you know, ‘Met her, took her for a drink on Tuesday, made love on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday…Went to a Harvester restaurant to take advantage of their carvery offers on Sunday’ and he just, I’ll give him that, he smoothed that out into ‘chillin’.

L: Yeah. No, he’s got talent the lad, yeah.

M: Yeah, but the rest of it was ours.

E: You’ve said you’d like to return to a purely music show. When your contract ends with Radio One is that still a possibility?

L: Well when we said ‘purely music’ that was, like, with no talking at all. So what we wanted to do was get a show that’s one hour and four minutes long and just play Tubular Bells form start to finish every day. That’s the goal eventually innit?

M: (Looking pensive) Mmm. Yeah.

L: No talking at all. In fact we won’t even put Tubular Bells on but we’ll still get paid for it. Quite clever but nobody’s gone for it yet.

M: It’s ultimate minimalism really…

L: Yeah.

M: …You know there’s far too much talking on radio. So er…

L: I mean a lot of people talk bollocks, I mean, obviously people hang on our every word, think it’s very important, but some of the shit they come out with…particularly on Radio Five and Radio Four, it’s beggars belief. They just waffle away don’t they with no records. It’s unbelievable.

E: What advice would you give to budding Radio One DJs?

M: Well, I mean, really, you know, seek out your role model really. And, I mean with us it was all Mark Goodier, and Gary Davies a bit, but Mark Goodier mainly, you know. I mean, really, we saw him do a gig at a disco in Stockport and we were really impressed with the way he dropped all his promotional cards, in his shell suit whilst holding the mike, you know. And we thought, you know, we thought he looked a bit of a wanker but we thought that’s a realistic aspiration for us.

L: We could manage that.

M: We could be wankers in front of people and earn a living, you know, so I think that it’s important.

L: He was at a low point in his career cos he was on with this band, there was five ugly gets, what were they called?

M: Take These?

L: Take That they were called, in a little club, they were bloody awful, we thought how low can he get? Even for Goodacre. He’s been there; right down at the bottom, in a shell suit with Take That in a little club and that give us the inspiration…

M: And now he’s back up at the top cos the other night he was at Birmingham University Guild of Students.

L: Rammed ‘em in.

E: Which of you would really win in a fight?

M: Him! Without a shadow of a doubt.

L: Violence is immoral. We’ve never really discussed it so it’s very nice of him to say that.

M: It didn’t stop you chinning someone when we came to do our first ever gig at Birmingham University did it? Do you remember that? Someone threw a glass…

L: Oh yeah…

M: …and he did dive off the stage and beat someone senseless. We were on Radio Five at the time so no one knew who the hell we were, hopefully people have forgotten about that, but it was him.

L: Hopefully he’s forgotten as well cos he’s probably put about four stone on now and got twelve rugby playing mates.

E: Have you ever been out for a beer with Chris Moyles? And if so how did you get on?

L: Yeah, he’s alright.

M: Yeah, he’s alright Chris.

L: He’s a good laugh.

M: We see him quite a lot, yeah. He is, he’s alright. He’s sort of…square.

E: Shaped?

M: Yeah.

E: Well, he says he’s the saviour of afternoon radio so, what does that make you guys?

L: Well, I mean, again, irony. You know, he’s being ironic, you know. He’s just sort of like picking up all our listeners in the at the end of the day and…

E: He’s ‘riding on your coat tails then’?

M: Well, you’re putting words in our mouths now.

L: I’m sorry but I would agree with you, cos I mean, if you look at it, it’s called a ‘clock’ in radio, I mean it’s called a clock elsewhere cos it’s a clock right, but there’s us from two ‘til four and then right the way round the clock, f***ing twice, is people just hanging on our coat tails for all that time, when we come back on again and their grips going and everything by the time we get on. Jo Whiley’s knuckles are white and her fingers are going and we come on and she can let go of our coat tails ‘til the same process happens again at four o’ clock with Chris. It’s just the way of the world, you know. And that’s why we prop Radio One up like we do…and why we’ll probably get the sack…for talking shit like that.

E: Lard, Did you really get kicked out of The Fall for disco dancing in Australia? (Lard played guitar with Mark E. Smiths’ band The Fall from the late 70s – early 80s)

L: Well no, lets say it helped. We were all dancing then Mark Smith got up and slapped everybody so I belted him, and that is pretty much handing the P45 in with The Fall you know? Like, he can hit you…but you can’t hit him back, he was a little…bully, you know, he only weighs six stone so it’s not a very good position to be a bully.

E: So it was nothing to do with the disco dancing itself then?

L: Well, it triggered it; it was a pivotal moment I would say. It didn’t help.

M: I mean if you’ve seen him disco dance you’ll understand why. I mean, I was with Smithy on that one.

L: I would dance here for you now but you’d run up and slap me. I don’t want to get into all that again. I’ve been there, done that.

E: Finally, Would you like to come to Dudley for a drink after the show?

M: Oh…er…

L: We’re going actually, aren’t we? We’re all going to Dudley. We’ve got a lock in and we’re staying there ‘til seven in the morning then going straight to work.

M: Yeah. Every night, wherever we are in the country, every night we get back to Dudley.

L: We were in Aberystwyth last night and we got Noel Edmonds to pick us up in the helicopter to take us to Dudley. It’s decadent but that’s a long way of saying ‘Thanks, but no Thanks’. We’re old and knackered, be a great show tonight though, full of energy.

And there I leave the band to don their stage gear (and very interesting stage gear it is too…watch out for a new craze of arseless Y-fronts) and do what many drunken freshers have paid to see them do. Me? Well I gathered my mates, got my ‘With the Band’ sticker that caused so much envy and jumped around like an adrenalin-pumped loon as you would after meeting your comedy heroes. Then I headed casually to the bar and waited for the ‘show of the decade’ to start. ‘Fancy a Brew’ anyone?

Thanks very much to Elkie Wilde for letting me put her interview on this site.


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