U.F.O. By Poppy And The Jezebels.
Age eh?, it just kind of creeps up on you in its stocking feet, one minute your pogoing along to the Clash, then suddenly the stylus scratches and rips across the vinyl, the dance floor clears, the lights go up, and you realise everyone appears to be at lot younger than you as you catch a glimpse of amused pity in their eyes “Wooooooosh” “What was that? “That was your youth mate…..” Oh Bugger! And slowly the realisation dawns on you, like Bruce Willis, you have a moment of horrible clarity as the full horror is revealed – You’ve just morphed into “embarrassing dad,” yet as Bruce discovered in “the Sixth Sense” the clues were there all along, you just failed to see them. The final nail in your credibility coffin comes on the unfortunate occasion you go shopping for clothes and you find that comfort rather than style, is now the overriding factor. When you step into the confines of a high street store, you start to get the impression it’s more likely you’ll be served a Pina Colada then find a nice comfy pair of brogues. The shops themselves seem to be choc full of gear that the likes of cheeky monkey faced hydrophobe Nick Heyward, lantern-jawed fop Tony Hadley, or council estate soul meister Martin “Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be a poor mans Bryan Ferry” Fry, might have worn when they were in their pomp. I’ve done all that 80’s stripey top nonsense and to be honest if I wanted to look like a French onion salesman, I’d buy a beret move to Paris and wax my tache. So which shops actually cater for you now? Top Man is just plain intimidating, with it’s high energy dance music, flashing lights and it also apparently employs acrobats with ADHD instead of shop assistants. It’s rather disconcerting trying to buy a pair of smart new beige underpants with chocolate brown piping when a young lass comes cart wheeling over ala Darryl Hannah in Blade Runner and asks; “ U alright mate, what can I do ya for, these pants here are wicked, my fella wears ’em but not for long, know wot I mean , innit! hahaaha” After that exchange a hasty retreat is beaten to Burtons Menswear . The staff are the polar opposite of Top Man; in fact it initially appears to be a veritable Marie Celeste, had the staff died of boredom? I almost needed to purchase an additional pair of under crackers when one of the mannequins boomed in a deep monotone “Would you like some help, siiiiirrrrrrrrr” Turns out it was a rather pallid waxy looking sales assistant, (imagine a less animated version of Lurch from the Addams family crossed with Brian Moloko and your in the right ball park) Finally upon settling for a jumper from George, a pair of slacks from Greenwoods and a nice pair of slip-ons from Clark’s you feel utterly crushed and make your way home . The question is, how do you recover from such a dispiriting experience? It’s obvious, you interview a band that are so young and fresh faced you feel like an extra from the “Night of The Living Dead”
Poppy and the Jezebels are from Birmingham , but don’t let that put you off, it’s not all Benny, Miss Diane and the Crossroads Motel in Brum these days. These lasses are indeed spring chickens and I wondered how their parents feel about them stepping into the insidious world of rock n roll, a place where wild men like Philip Schofield lurk in the shadows waiting to corrupt people with their wholesome ideals. One of their dads did say that drugs can be a big problem, as you never know if the girls will share them or not.…(He was of course joking). Indeed the old maxim if your good enough your old enough must be applied, and the band undoubtedly have great talent. They exude a sort of sullen teenage cool, as if they’ve just bunked off detention and sod the consequences and whilst their lyrics sometimes relate to “traumas from teensville” their world view is actually expressed with great eloquence and maturity. Musically they create a sound that deftly walks the line between edgy pop and danceable Indie, an intoxicating concoction that includes the pop rationale of say, The Shop Assistants, mixed with the belligerent experimentation of The Raincoats . There’s also a suggestion of what might have been if the Sugababes had signed to Rough Trade in the early “Overload” days when it looked like they might actually be good.
The press seem to love Poppy And The Jezebels “Clever, Intriguing, Funny and devastatingly cool “ said The Guardian , “the beginnings of a classic indie Pop-Band “ reports the Sunday Telegraph “You’ll be superstars” declare the NME and “Arrrgh young people, beware , beware, run for the hills, barricade your doors, call the police ! !“ scream the Daily Mail. They’ve also attracted the attention of the likes of Phil Jupitus and Marc Riley, whilst The Charlatans apparently love ’em, according to their blog which made me feel a lot less decrepit, until I interviewed them and they started to call me gramps and asked what the war was like and if I could play the spoons…..
VP : Where did you all meet, and where did the name come from?
P&TJ: We all go to the same comprehensive in Birmingham – came together as a foursome at school – but known of each other at primary ! The name comes from our drummer Poppy Twist – her name just sounds good we reckon with an « and the » !
VP: Your new single “UFO ” is to be released soon,for those new to your work what have you previously released?
P&TJ: So far we’ve had a double a-side 7-inch single of Nazi Girls and Painting New York On My Shoes, and a mini-album called ‘Follow me Down’ last year. We think our new stuff is bigger and better than ever, though !
VP: You have your own fanzine “popscene” which documents your adventures, how did that come about ?
P&TJ: We wanted a way for our myspace fans to follow what we did on the road and otherwise, and a sort of fanzine seemed the perfect, fun way to keep people in the know. We wanted it to have the same slightly tongue-in-cheek tone of some American 70’s music mags… and since the start popscene has gone through 3 very lovely aesthetic changes to go with the look of our latest singles/ album !
VP: You’ve gigged with The Wedding Present , The Horrors , The Hot Puppies been on Marc Rilley’s “Brain Surgery” met the likes Of Eddie Argos, Terry Hall, Kelly Osbourne,The Nightingales. What have been your highlights so far ?
P&TJ: Meeting all these bands was fun, but nothing yet has been better for the total surreal-ness of having the brilliant pop songwriter and producer Mike Chapman mixing our newest singles. He’s worked with Blondie, The Sweet, Suzi Quatro and Toni Basil, who we’re all massive fans of ! The people we’ve been working with at Mute have some pretty wonderful histories too… its kind of cool being advised by a guy who once managed Syd Barrett !
VP: And what’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you as a band so far
P&TJ: It probably wasn’t weird to the owners of the club, but being locked up in the attic of a London venue we were playing just for being underage felt totally bizarre. We’d never seen it as a problem before and it felt almost like we were criminals. And politicians wonder why teenagers all hang out on the streets….
VP: Which bands would you say are your heroes?
P&TJ: Amber will always say the Spice Girls… ‘cos they were just everywhere when we were very young kids… Poppy saw the Cramps and Patti Smith live in the past few years so they made a big impression – so, Poison Ivy !!… Poppy and Dom love Nick Cave too… Dom is also very fond of Joni Mitchell and Cat Power… Mollie loves Madonna and Neil Young !!
VP: What’s the music scene like in Birmingham these days?
P&TJ: It’s not that great.. most bands seem to disown the place once they get noticed… and some of the bands that have come through recently do nothing to change peoples perceptions ! Its quite a jealous and backward looking scene .. hopefully we’ll change peoples ideas of what the city CAN produce… but everyone should check out Wolves Did It !
VP: “Nazi Girls” is an interesting song title. What’s the song about ?
P&TJ: It was the first thing we ever wrote… Its about peer group pressure in our school when we were about 13… most of those girls we were writing about have come through all that now… just a fascist phase they were going through !… telling us what we should wear, how we should have our hair, where we should go…
VP: What’s the plan for the rest of 2008 ?
P&TJ: “UFO” will be released on August 4th… we play the Underage Festival on the 8th August… then more gigs, then we release our next single… ‘Rhubarb and Custard’… all on our very own label… Gumball Machine ! Hopefully start work on our first real album by the end of the year…
VP: What five things couldn’t you live without on tour ?
P&TJ: Silly string for Jezebile window sniping at unsuspecting passers by after gigs, especially men in suits, especially in Chelsea !… blankets and duvets – we always wrap up in these for early hours service station snack stops, our i pods… and Damien and Bruce our road crew !!