“I don’t take ketamine, but he does.” “No I don’t.“ “He loves it.” “You take smack! That’s worse!”
“That’s a lie. That’s TWO lies you’ve said in about five seconds. You don’t know anything.” “It’s rubbish, don’t listen to him.” “He takes ketamine, trust me.” “I don’t take ketamine.” “But you HAVE taken it!” “On what evidence, how do you know?” “It’s just a fact, you’ve told me.” “I have not told you, you just imagined it.”
As several yapping voices collide into one ferocious bark, I wish I’d never asked the Eighties Matchboxers about ketamine. It was a silly remark concerning a gig of theirs where singer Guy seemed surprised to find his limbs connected to his torso, and I wondered if he might be high on the old horse tranquilliser. For the record, Guy claims to have no interest in narcotics, (though his bandmates seem to), and as the inter-band squabbling kicks off, I feel like the matron of a boys’ dormitory trying to call her wards to order before the pillow fight erupts. It wasn’t me, Miss, it was HIM.
Because, dear reader, these boys are PUPPIES! With spiky hair and shiny boots and black eyes, dressed down to the nines in leather and denim and maquillage, the Eighties Matchboxers are in their early twenties and they don’t really want to talk about drugs. Nor do they want to talk about religion, though three of the five are practising Buddhists.
They’ve just come off a three month tour and what they really, really want is to play with a remote control car, eat biscuits and smoke fags. Well, not all of them want to smoke fags (“If you don’t like the smokeTom then don’t breathe.” “Oh fuck off grandad.” “Well everybody in here is smoking apart from you.” “Yes and you’re all gonna die.” “Oh it’s a revelation, we’re all going to die.” “Well you’re all going to die BEFORE ME.” Etcetera. )
Boys, boys, ahem. Your last single was called ‘Celebrate Your Mother’. It’s my mum’s birthday soon, so how do you recommend that I celebrate her?
All: “Buy her a present!”
“Something really fucking amazing,” adds Andy. “Make it yourself. Make her a guitar. Make her a bunch of flowers out of…I dunno…toilet paper.”
Guy: “Be excellent to her.” Guy admits that he wants to make his own mum an apple crumble. He’s never made one before, but he’s pretty sure he knows how.
If you’ve never been to an Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster gig, it’s not entirely unlike a car crash, which is what the band is named after. They wield their instruments like weapons, but not quite in the clichéd rock style. Guy screams into the mic like a hoarse American gunslinger, weaned on cigars and whiskey. They’re simultaneously out there and introspective, and there is a dazed sort of wanderlust in their eyes, like they’re not quite sure if you’re going to get this.
What I want to know is this: do they feel like themselves up there, or are they acting out parts? Have they created stage personas distinct from themselves?
They explain it thus: “When you’re on stage, that’s who you are, and when you’re offstage, you’re someone different. So it is who you are up there, but it’s who you are on stage. It’s quite a natural thing. “
Would it be easier to do if you were like Slipknot and put masks on?
Guy: “Yeah I think that’s a lot easier, to hide that way.”
Do you get off stage and find people expect you to be something you’re not in real life?
Marc: “People expect you to be a fucking maniac.”
Guy: “It would be a sorry state of affairs if I was like how I was on stage, normally. I don’t think I’d be able to handle anything.”
Andy: “Yeah its definitely a part of you, your character, but its not necessarily what anybody’s like offstage. I couldn’t get on stage and do what Guy does, it’s definitely not thought out. “
Your music often gets described as evil. Is wanton destruction really your game?
“No, it’s a celebration,” replies Andy.
Of what? “Of…something. Of getting through it. It’s a celebration of power, “ he emphasises, “and I realise we’re not talking about George Bush style power here, not the cowardly power of bullying and bombs. Rather the power of making something big and noisy and splendid, right here right now, just because you can. You know, all that stuff that you didn’t do when you were young. Being done by those who still are. “
Tom: “We just thought it was like, blinding rock n roll tunes, you know?”
Guy: “I think there is a definite sinister edge to our band, but it’s been…exaggerated.
Andy: “It’s not evil.”
Guy: “Yeah, it’s not like we want to make people feel so uncomfortable that they go away having experienced something rank within themselves. Just cos it’s not happy- clappy doesn’t mean it’s not positive. I think it’s a celebration of the triumph over evil.“
Are you aggressive when you come off stage? Sym says he feels devoid of any emotion, “Cos you’ve put everything into it haven’t you, every little thing inside you?” “So you’re left a bit dead and empty. Or at least I am, “ adds Tom.
The new single, ‘Psychosis Safari’ is out this week. Marc says he wrote the lyrics during a band practise. They might be about Guy getting stuck in his bedroom, or they might not. “Er, I dunno really, I just wrote it really quickly, it doesn’t mean anything,” he claims. Everybody laughs. I ask them what they think will happen when the record is released, and a simple answer is provided by Tom. “It had better sell or we’re fucked.”
And if it makes you rich, what will you spend the money on?