Copyright © 2005 Martin Newell
Pepys 0.1 Blogware © Steve Dix
I've been reading about the High Llamas. Words on their website said pretty much that they don't expect to make a living from their albums, which have become a sort of occasional project. In one form or another I have pretty much everything that the Llamas have ever done. It's such utterly listenable music -- to my ears, anyway -- that I don't understand why they're not used by more film-makers, advertisers... or supermarkets for that matter. Of course, I understand really. Going by my old maxim that "Being brilliant is simply not enough" I have to take into consideration that Sean O'Hagan may simply want to get on with what he's doing un-encumbered by record company edicts or touring schedules. Good luck to the bloke, whatever he's doing. High Llamas music is one of the few musics that I can have running on the speakers, while I'm writing.
I feel in good company with the Llamas. I get the impression that their music is done simply because they want to do it. No-one's thinking."I hear a single."
I'm beginning to think that the only truly revolutionary gesture left to artists, musicians and writers now that the big companies have such a huge say in what gets heard, read or looked at is to deliberately to stay local and small.
Not to say. "We're not selling out." in a loud voice so much as to simply not bring yourself to the attention of such people in the first place. This attitude was the spirit in which the Cleaners from Venus began in 1980. I've come full circle and then some.
What we found in the old days was that the kind of people who agreed with what we were doing usually managed to find us with not too much trouble. Staying at home was the new going out even then. Being small was the new global for Lol Elliott and me. I sometimes don't believe what I'm seeing, reading and hearing when I happen upon what the famous are doing. It's like a pantomime. A cavalcade of the empty, the untalented, the bewildered and the burned out being wheeled on and off for the cameras and microphones of the machine. A promo blitz usually runs for about two weeks. You do the mags, the TV, the radio, the podcast and a couple of showcases. Then you go off to another country and do the same thing there, while they wheel someone else in.
Meanwhile, some boy or girl genius is playing in a local pub or club somewhere being completely ignored. Not that I see any injustice in this, I just think:"Why not just support your local artists in the first place?" Similarly, when recording or filming you should make things slightly-imperfectly and very cheaply and quickly. This helps to put a bunch of producers, image-makers , media-fluffers and other parasites out of a job and hopefully back in the boardroom or car-salesroom where they should have been in the first place. You can't buy the imperfect, like you can't buy poverty. You can't manufacture imperfection. You genuinely have to be flawed--to never have let anyone smooth out all the creases in the first place.
I have to laugh when I see the talent shows on TV...which I rarely do. Here is a multi-million pound industry dedicated to the mundane, the mediocre and the unadventurous. Perversely it has a perfection of its own. A cartel of business people have actually created something which takes ordinary people and makes them sound....ordinary. Loads of other ordinary people applaud it. It even spawns its own soap opera for the media. No artists were hurt in the making of this programme. The more I think about it, the more healthy I think it is...for creative people that is. It means they can all get on with what they were doing. There used to be a show called Opportunity Knocks, run by a notoriously right-wing old Canadian guy called Hughie Green. But it wasn't perfect because it occasionally un-earthed genuine talent, like Les Dawson and Pam Ayres. Its modern equivalents have managed to excise all that.
Can you imagine what would happen if the High Lllamas turned up for an audition on Britain or America's Got Talent and played say, Winter's Day from Can Cladders? Simon Cowell would buzz them off in the first 10 seconds. Things are exactly as they should be. They've not been as bright as this since the mid 1960s. The machine is finally ignoring all art completely. We should all be celebrating.
The Great Les Dawson : "Eee.. It were that cold, flashers were jumping out of the bushes and describing themselves."