Mark and Lards outspoken views on Craig David, Steven Spielbergs thieving antics and the reasons they are the heroes of the student generation.
Birmingham University, Sunday 8th October 2000
Its 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 Im already 10 minutes late and security have NO knowledge of me being there or my free pass into the gig, it doesnt look too promising until Im 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. Mustnt Grrrrrrrrrumble!
Elkie: So, hows the tour going?
Lard: Yeah, its goin very well innit? I mean, you know, every nights been sold out, every night without exception...int that right?
Mark: Yeah, every single nights 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 theyve sort of put up a few posters and that, but in our books this is a secret gig. Its 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 were 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 its a weird place to hang out in the dressing room but were perverse like that. We just like turn into gases dont we and disappear.
E: Is this a warm up for the big gig at the NEC in a couple of weeks time? Youre doing the Music Live thing arent you?
M: We are yeah. Were on at the peak rock n roll time of twenty past two in the afternoon on a Sunday for that you know, its gonna be a big rock n rollin time you know.
L: I mean were off at three o clock, its 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 thats why were only doing forty minutes but...Yeah, I know it might be a bit daunting to think of that but its a club gig once again. I mean were used to dealing with turf and, you know, stadii rather than indoor arenas like the NEC, its alright, we dont 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 its more nerve-racking...
M: It is. Youve 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 shed gone home. But she didnt.
E: On the tour youre playing mostly student unions; why do you think you appeal to students so much?
L: Were role models I think, cos were you know, intelligent and sexy which doesnt normally happen.
M: I think you shouldnt underestimate the sexual potency of The Shirehorses. I think that thats the big thing, you know, and a lot of people, particularly freshers, are perhaps away from home for the first time and theres 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 whats he called? Roddy Doodlebug is it out of Idlewild? Whats he called?
M: Oh...Roddy Woomble.
L: Thats the one. Some people see him as a kind of archetypal student hero but hes not; hes an arse. I mean, thats no offence to him, hes an arse compared to us. Then again so is everybody. You know, no offence, sorry Im probably causing offence here but I dont mean to.
E: Will there be another Shirehorses album? Were eagerly awaiting it...but we know it's that difficult second album.
M: Funnily enough we were talking about that today werent we?
L: Well, youve got that wrong, it was a difficult first album. It took us ages rooting through the cupboards to find all the tapes didnt 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, were not gonna make any more phone calls. Weve done our bit, dyou 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 wont be. But there might be
E: What have been the highest and lowest points of your career so far?
L: Well its been filled with loads really just because of the sort of, robbery and skulduggery thats 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 dont 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 dont mind admitting that, and then ten years later like, that Fran gimp from Travesty gets hold of it...is it Travis is it?
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 theyre the low points pretty much every day of the year is a low point.
M: I mean, were going through an emotional mangle every day, people dont realise it you know. They think were just shit kickin' rock n rollers and they dont understand that, you know, every day we climb an emotional mountain.
L: Its like we invented the musical and we got no credit for it. Jesus Christ Superstar, we wrote Jesus Christ Fuck in Hell didnt 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 werent it?
L: Well that was the original concept but were just, you know, jaded to it all now, were just...you know its ridiculous really.
E: Youve conquered the airwaves, the live circuit, TV and print; will we ever see Mark and Lard; The Movie?
L: You know I mean (Complete silence)
L: Weve not thought about an answer to this one have we?
M: Not really. Well theres a rarely a day goes by that Spielbergs not on the answer phone in the DJ Castle, you know, hes a pain in the arse that lad. Every bloody day, you know, we say Christ you know, were 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 didnt really have like a budget for make up so hes 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 its his holiday home that but he does live there yeah.
L: He wanted to come tonight, we said Piss off Spielbo. You know, we havent got time for him. Hes not treated us with the respect we deserve.
M: Hes a bit of an hanger-on, you know
M: hes 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. Thats greedy, dyou 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; theyre just wankers.
E: Would you like to be remembered as Comedians, Musicians or DJs?
L: Comedians? Sorry, I dont, I dont understand what you mean?
M: I mean, I dont see, Ive never seen any humour in our act. At all.
L: Are you taking the mickey?
L: I know we are a bit po-faced. I mean Radiohead took that po-faced thing off us and thats another thing that irks us but
M: Theyre a bit off though arent they?
L: a bit off, but no we get the irony of what youre 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 wed just like to be remembered for having made a lasting musical contribution, you know, to the cultural heritage of the world really.
L: Yeah. Were 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, dont 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 its a beacon of culture innit?
E: Bearing in mind that I write for the University of Wolverhampton student magazine
L: Oh youre from Wolverhampton? Ah
L: Well thats a good point you know, cos we see, we see the whole of the Midlands as one big cultural thingamabob
M: I dont think thatll wash
L: Never. Well just put, just put Wolverhampton where weve said Birmingham.
M: Stick that in yeah.
E: We know youre not entirely enthusiastic about the Radio One playlist; what artists and records would you like to play?
L: Well I think The Shirehorses obviously dont get much of an outing
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 thats galling that. That was eight quid, I mean we didnt 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 dont get the rewards from it. I rung Bo Diddley and apologised, you know. I mean, yeah its 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: Its criminal really, but its a paid job, you know, I mean, weve sold our souls to the men in suits, you know. Thats the short and long of it.
E: Do you ever see The Shirehorses going garage?
L: We do, er, we do windows and stuff dont 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.
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 wed 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 wouldnt want to disillusion the readers!
L: Well no, you can take that how you like cos thats 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 cant remember what its called. Its 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, Ill give him that, he smoothed that out into chillin.
L: Yeah. No, hes got talent the lad, yeah.
M: Yeah, but the rest of it was ours.
E: Youve said youd 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 thats one hour and four minutes long and just play Tubular Bells form start to finish every day. Thats the goal eventually innit?
M: (Looking pensive) Mmm. Yeah.
L: No talking at all. In fact we wont even put Tubular Bells on but well still get paid for it. Quite clever but nobodys gone for it yet.
M: Its ultimate minimalism really
M: You know theres 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 its very important, but some of the shit they come out with particularly on Radio Five and Radio Four, its beggars belief. They just waffle away dont they with no records. Its 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 thats 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 its 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. Hes 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 hes 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. Weve never really discussed it so its very nice of him to say that.
M: It didnt 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 hes forgotten as well cos hes 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, hes alright.
M: Yeah, hes alright Chris.
L: Hes a good laugh.
M: We see him quite a lot, yeah. He is, hes alright. Hes sort of square.
E: Well, he says hes the saviour of afternoon radio so, what does that make you guys?
L: Well, I mean, again, irony. You know, hes being ironic, you know. Hes just sort of like picking up all our listeners in the at the end of the day and
E: Hes riding on your coat tails then?
M: Well, youre putting words in our mouths now.
L: Im sorry but I would agree with you, cos I mean, if you look at it, its called a clock in radio, I mean its called a clock elsewhere cos its a clock right, but theres 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 Whileys 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. Its just the way of the world, you know. And thats why we prop Radio One up like we do and why well 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 cant hit him back, he was a little bully, you know, he only weighs six stone so its 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 didnt help.
M: I mean if youve seen him disco dance youll understand why. I mean, I was with Smithy on that one.
L: I would dance here for you now but youd run up and slap me. I dont want to get into all that again. Ive been there, done that.
E: Finally, Would you like to come to Dudley for a drink after the show?
M: Oh er
L: Were going actually, arent we? Were all going to Dudley. Weve got a lock in and were 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. Its decadent but thats a long way of saying Thanks, but no Thanks. Were 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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