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The Indelicates Interview

The mission to end all boring interviews



Große Worte, große Gesten

Es gibt bestimmt nicht viele Musiker, die im Jahr 2005 einen Song namens „Waiting For Pete Doherty To Die“ ins Netz gestellt hätten. Julia und Simon Indelicate schon. Die beiden scheinen großen Spaß dabei zu haben, wagemutige Statements von sich zu geben – danach lehnen sie sich zurück und beobachten erst einmal die empörten Reaktionen. Wenn sich dann alles wieder beruhigt hat, beginnen sie zu erklären. Dass sie Pete Doherty sehr schätzen und ihm natürlich alles andere als den Tod wünschen, dass ihr Song eine Kritik am Voyeurismus der Gesellschaft und der Medien sei.

Die Indelicates aus Brighton sind Meister des Zynismus und der Provokation – Songtitel wie „We Hate The Kids“, die Selbstbeschreibung auf ihrer Homepage („despicable folk-rock cabaret with a mission to end all music“) oder der Titel ihrer kürzlich erschienenen EP „The Last Significant Statement To Be Made In Rock’n’Roll“ beweisen das. Und auch die Rolling-Stone-Beschreibung ihrer Musik als Neo-Brecht/Weill kommt nicht von ungefähr: Julia (übrigens vorher viertes Mitglied der Pipettes) kommt aus der Cabaret-Richtung, sie spielt Klavier und tanzt. Simon hingegen veröffentlichte kürzlich im tazblog unter „Monarchie und Alltag“ einen Aufsatz über Dandyismus, Aufklärung und Nationalismus, der genauso gut einer Doktorarbeit der Kulturwissenschaften entnommen sein könnte. Dank ihrer doppelbödigen Texte, abwechselndem Männer- und Frauengesangs und dramatischer Pianoklänge werden die Indelicates nicht nur als größte Indiepophoffnung Englands, sondern auch als britische Antwort auf die Dresden Dolls gehandelt.

Im Hamburger Grünen Jäger sitzen uns Julia und Simon freundlich gegenüber, beantworten äußerst geduldig unsere tief schürfenden Fragen und weisen den jungen Mann, der inzwischen die fünfzehnte Pizza auf den Tisch stellt, höflich darauf hin, dass sie beim Sprechen nicht essen können. Die beiden haben soviel Interessantes zu erzählen, dass es nachfolgende Bands verdammt schwer haben werden. Und hoffentlich war das mit der „mission to end all music“ nur ironisch gemeint – wie so vieles. Es folgt ein kleiner Diskurs zu den Texten der Indiepopdandies.

Simon, in your essay for tazblog you talk about dandyism. You say that there are two sorts of the Dandy: the original one and the rational one. What’s the difference?
Simon: There are people in pop music embodying this dandy figure running around saying high cultural things. On the whole, most people would say that there is one kind of person who does that, but I think actually there's two. There are people who talk about romantic notions without backing them up. In England there are a lot of people who talk about Albion and King Arthur, and using the watchwords of romanticism they fulfill the stereotype that most people have of this person who runs around being terribly intellectual, but actually all they do is using the words and the hallmarks of it rather than expressing anything intellectual - or good. And I think there are other people who also do this, but think about it and express things that are actually intellectual, and that puts you into someone who is pro-intelligence and pro-thinking as opposed to someone who is pro-hallmarks and anti-intelligence - which I think is a bad thing. So I suppose I'm a rational Dandy. I think I'm on their side. I think intelligence and individual liberty is a good thing. And I think quite often romanticism in its reliance on hallmarks and symbols can end up being anti-intelligence and anti-liberty, in that it can believe in nations more than in people.

One of your songs is called “New Art For The People”. What kind of art are you talking about?
Simon: It's an ironic thing. That song in particular is the story of people in this very degraded state - people that I met - who say they make a new art that'll be for the people, but actually they're just damaging themselves. It's not so much that we're gonna make a new art, but this song is about that kind of urge and how destructive it can be.
Julia: And you can come across it in different ways. It's a nice song to sing, a lot of people find it very romantic - and it is, because it's romantic to watch people who do that. Just like fascism is romantic, you can watch it romantically and think: This is amazing, it will solve everything. But it doesn't. And we witness that in small circles where we live. It's quite ugly to watch.
Simon: And the thing why I used that words in particular is that you can't make a new art when people don't necessarily want it. And when you say 'I shall make this new art and it will be for everyone', you're really doing it for yourself, you're being selfish and mythologizing your own endeavours and your own art in this idea that what you do is terribly important to everybody, but actually it's not. And what you're really doing by saying that is mythologizing yourself to the point that you're exploiting people.


Warten auf Doherty

In “Fun Is For The Feeble Minded” you sing the words “You can’t have the moment, ‘cause the moment isn’t yours.” What does that mean?
Simon: That song is about the responsibility you need to take for being retro. When you're writing songs that express the idea that you want to live in the past, you have to take the baggage of the past with it. So, if you want to form a band that does glam-rock songs you will have to appreciate that there were bad things about the seventies. You can't look through rose tinted glasses, and if you do that, you can't have the moment, because you're betraying the moment and it's not yours.

Do you believe in what you say in “The British Left in Wartime”: “There’ll never ever be a better world”?
Julia: That line comes from the perspective of someone on the Left, it's that post-modern argument where you say there can't be anything new or good anymore, there can't be anything that we haven't done before. There can't be a better world because we tried everything and it doesn't work. It's a very bleak opinion, it's not ours. I think we're quite positive, even though we're a bit grumpy.

Your music sounds quite positive while the lyrics often are very depressing.

Simon: Our criticism is very optimistic. To attack something means you care whether it's good or not. If you think something's bad and you don't say it, that's negative. If you say ‘It's fine, I have a great time’, that seems to me a more negative position than saying 'stop it' - because 'stop it' suggests that you believe it can be solved.
Julia: It's the same arguments that people claim in English newspapers very often: that politics and music shouldn't mix. This is crazy!

In “Julia We Don't Live In The Sixties” you complain about the fact that
people don't know why they're going to demonstrations anymore.
Should people stop going to demonstrations?

Julia: I think hey should go but they should have the right reasons to go. I go to a lot of demonstrations to take pictures, because I'm a photographer. Any of the big ones in London, some of the small ones too - I went to a Dads one recently, fathers protesting that they can get to see their children. The smaller ones can be okay, but at the very big ones you get a lot of people who really don't know why they're there at all - they're just there because it's kind of retro to go to a demonstration, like, aww, this is just like Vietnam, it's brilliant!
Simon: On my university people occupied the secretary's office to protest against paying money. Ha! We don't want to pay for anything, so we're going to occupy the secretary's office and stop them from doing their jobs. Oooh! Rocking the system there!And also particularly recently, when this anti-war-demonstration- thing has been the thing to do, you find yourself standing next to some very very unpleasant people. You'd suddenly go 'Hang on, you're a fascist! You want to kill me and my children!' There's someone next to you who genuinely believes that the west should be ended. I think you get into bed with fascists, I think at a lot of demonstrations they're willing to do that to buy their luck of thought.
Julia: I think you have also the kind of protest that you witness abroad, like I've seen ones in Austria when Haider got some power a few years ago. The protests were amazing! They actually had something to fight for, they were very clear about what they thought about, from this 80-year-old granny to teenagers. This never happens in London!

“We hate the kids” is about being fooled by Rock'n'Roll stars. Julia, was this your reason for leaving the pipettes?
Julia: I left for a number of reasons, it wasn't particularly Rock'n'Roll. I think the music is very different that I make now, but I was always influenced by cabaret. The only sixties band I really really liked were the Shangri-Las. They were really interesting, because they have a male writer who was gay but couldn't talk about it - so most of the songs performed by an all-female band are written from the perspective of a man who's in love with a man. And also, the general tone is so weird, the music is much darker than any of the fun stuff that you heard.

Did you get any hate mails after “Waiting For Pete Doherty To Die”?

Simon: I got a few emails saying 'Quite a lot of people that I know hate you - can you explain to me why they're wrong so I can tell them?' I think what I said is: It's not just the fault of the media. It's also the fault of ghoulish people who aren't necessarily in the media. Rock'n'Roll seemed to do this sort of thing, while with Kurt Cobain it reached the point where he was forced to selling something which he didn't want to sell, and this killed him. It was ugly and horrible. I lived through that as a teenager and it was really upsetting. And then you see people trying to do the same thing with Pete Doherty. You go to magazine shops and see autobiographies of him with a tragic picture on the front, saying "Peter Doherty. A life in pieces". It looks like it has been designed with a space for the date. It's just hideous! It's a horrible, horrible thing to do, to basically wish for someone's death in order to sell records. And also wish for someone's death in order to experience the death of a rock star. It's not just the media, it's not just the companies. It's
people who want to vicariously experience his death. It's a nasty, nasty thing. I think people deserve better than that. You know, the man's a drug addict. I don't want to watch a drug addict die on television for pleasure. It's sick. And it seems like what was tragedy with Kurt Cobain is even worse here, because there's this bloke who is supposed to die - everybody knows. And the fact that he hasn't is almost funny. It's this farce, this completely ludicrous drama. And I think that's why people were pissed off or intrigued by the title of the song.
Julia: We also got a lot of mails from people who hate Pete Doherty saying 'Oh, I agree with you, I want him to die too'. You get just as angry with those people as you get with the people who didn't listen to the lyrics properly. I don't want someone to die! That's not a funny song! Some industry fellow called me up and kept making jokes about Pete Doherty, and I was like 'I quite like Babyshambles, I don't know what you think', and I never got a call back. But that's okay, I don't
really want to know someone who supports it on the basis of that.


...Amazon-Suche bleibt erfolglos. Indie or what?

Eddie Argos calls The Indelicates his most favourite band. Do you like Art Brut?
Julia: They aren't recognized as the best band in Britain, but I think they are. The music scene in England doesn't really appreciate them. It's a shame that they're appreciated more abroad, especially in America and Germany. It's not the marketing, people are just getting it wrong. They're starting getting it right, there's going to be a big spread in the NME, I think. But it's taken ages! What they get in
America is extraordinary compared to what they get in England. They never have any money.
Simon: Of current people I think Eddie's the best person I've seen on stage out there with Jarvis Cocker and Morrissey. He's absolutely brilliant. He can do in a gesture what it takes the whole song for me to express.

You’ve always offered your songs for free in the internet. Is the message more important for you than selling CDs?
Julia: Yeah, we gave away loads of stuff to begin with, and I got told in Brighton by people in bands 'You shouldn't do it, you should them make pay for it', but Jesus, it was a demo. I mean, from a business perspective, the internet is amazing, because it's free publicity. But it's not just publicity, it goes all over the world! I can never quite get over that. I wouldn't ever have a problem with people sharing stuff without me wanting them to. As long as you get something out of it, it's fine.
Simon: It's very strange to drive a thousand miles to Germany, to somewhere where people wouldn't have the faintest idea of who I was, if it wasn't for the internet.

What is the last significant statement to be made in Rock'n'Roll?

Simon: Well, I think people view Rock'n'Roll as an eternal thing, because most people who like it aren't that old, but it didn't exist before the fifties. It has a course which will be run - I don't think music is going to stop, but in order to shock anyone with Rock'n'Roll, you really have to be like that guy who pretty much does perform scatological acts on stage, which is not very nice too...
Julia: It's about shitting on people - oh no, other people shitting on him. Which is quite shocking to watch. I think he's been taken off stage a couple of times and banned from the venues.
Simon: You need to go that far in order to shock anyone in Rock'n'Roll - and in an art form which is almost entirely based on shock, where do you go once you reached that point? I mean, if it was started off being shocking to see Elvis' crotch... now you really do have to push it ridiculously far.

Do you have any ideas how to shock people nowadays?
Simon: Well, I'm quite boring there... I think it's more that this whole pushing thing that has happened in Rock'n'Roll probably comes to an end. And so maybe we just can let go of the whole idea that something has to be like Rock'n'Roll. Because it's not remotely impressive or shocking for someone to throw TVs out of a window and take so many drugs until they die.
Julia: Possibly, if you think about it in terms of Art Brut, Art Brut's Music is generally just like punk music, but what he's saying is actually genuinely new. It genuinely applies to our generation, which no-one else has done - well, we've done it, simultaneously, but in a different way. No-one's really doing that, it ought to be the thing that is controversial, but because of the way it works it's like: controversial is a style, retro is a style.
Simon: I just think of something else - it doesn't need to be Rock'n'Roll in order to be worth doing it.
Julia: You can be something new, absolutely. There's always something to protest against or criticize.
Simon: That particular incarnation of youthful rebellion that began in the fifties is kind of self-mocking now. The reason why it's called 'the last significant statement to be made in rock'n'roll' is to state its end. The last thing that Rock'n'Roll is to do is to kill it. It ought to come from itself. I don't really claim to be the one who's doing it... you try, though.

So the mission to end all music is actually a mission to end

Simon: Well, literally, when you're asked the question 'What sort of music do you play', which is the second question after 'What do you do', I have no idea what to answer. So I think we just put that on the internet to end that sort of questions. Thank you for not asking what kind of music we play!

Well, that would have been our next question, actually.

Simon: Oh, I think we're on a mission to end all music!

Les Carter produced your single. Are you fans of Carter USM?
Julia: Eddie knows him. I just called and asked him.
Simon: I've been a massive Carter fan.
Julia: I'm quite a Carter fan now, I didn't hear about their stuff until about a year ago. I was really impressed! I just kind of wished I'd been there. I didn't really listen to stuff like that - I used to listen to dance music when I was a teenager, because that was kind of the only way to rebel in Brighton. Everyone listens to indie music there, so the only way to do something different I guess was listening to dance music. Lots of very cheesy dance music as well. I had a great time!

Interview: Mawe und Silvia Weber
Text: Silvia Weber
Fotos: Offizielle Pressefreigaben

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