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>ART BRUT

Every other article I write at the moment seems to start with 'a lot has happened for Band X since I first met them...' I don't know whether that's because something genuinely exciting is happening, and all the bands I love really are starting to get noticed, or because of my limitations as a writer, but here we go again...

A lot has happened for Art Brut since I first met guitarist Chris Chinchilla at one of the excellent New Cross based Music Tourist Board get togethers and was handed a CDR labelled 'Brutlegs'. Since then, they've personified the ethos of Alternative Rock Idol, been reviewed by Will Self, signed by Rough Trade and received copious column inches in the NME as part of a new 'art wave' bursting forth from New Cross.

>FORMED A BAND, THEY FORMED A BAND
You'll be seeing this subheading a lot over the coming weeks and months as it is trotted out for every single article written about their debut single 'Formed a band',

ART BRUT ARE:
Eddie Argos - Vocals
Chris Chinchilla - Guitar
Mike - Drums
Ian Catskilkin - Guitar
Frederica - Bass

DISCOGRAPHY
Singles
Formed a Band
Brut Legs

REVIEWS
LIVE

Islington Academy
Camden Dublin Castle
Tunbridge Wells Forum
London Metro
New Cross Paradise Bar

SINGLES
Brutlegs (demo)

INTERVIEWS
Joyfest
Alternative Rock Idol

LINKS
OFFICIAL SITE
NIKKI DIDO

so I thought I'd get in there first.

Anyway, in their own words, here's how it happened:

Chris: I was waiting for a train on the Isle of Wight. They were going one way and me and Mike were going the other way, but there’s not many ways to go.
Eddie: I was going to Shankley.
CC: Then we kind of bumped in to each other & thought ‘hey something else to do’
Or at least, that's what they told me - head on to their website (recently acclaimed as one of the best on the web), and they'll tell you they met while flipping burgers at a fast food restaurant.

They came up with a name borrowed from Eddie's favourite type of art

CC: It means art for people who aren’t artists, which nicely compared to us as well – music for people who aren’t really musicians, but just do it because they like it

>MODERN ART MAKES THEM WANT TO ROCK OUT
And it's a reaction that occasionally gets them into trouble...

EA: We were banned from the Tate Modern
CC: For rocking out, yeah. And the NFT, everywhere, the Portrait Gallery...

EA: But it’s their own fault, how are you supposed to appreciate something quietly.

CC: We want people to go to galleries and enjoy themselves. They just always seem to be quiet and too conservative.
Ian: And you can’t even rent out the pictures, y’know, it’s not fucking right.
CC: I’ll tell you though, my Dad, even before us, I always used to go to exhibitions with him, there’d be this sort of art that supposedly was meant to be stuff you should interact with. And he’d always go and move stuff about, he’d turn it around & do all sorts of things. And so many times when I was with him, I’d get told off by curators and told to get my Dad out of there, I mean, this is art you’re even supposed to appreciate in a fun way, and the curators don’t want you too. I don’t get it.
IC: It’s like this place in Amsterdam, there’s a room full of
 
liquorice allsorts, and you’re meant to take them & eat them, so it’s constantly moving.
CC: I wouldn’t trust the liquorice in Amsterdam if I were you.
IC: Yeah, you’ll turn Bertie.
CC: I think that the institutions themselves need a bit of laxening.
IC: It’s part of the whole fucking elitism, isn’t it, where you have to be someone really special and surreal even to
be able to appreciate art and modern art especially. To be honest with you, I think it’s just a device for poor people to sell tat to rich people. It’s like convincing someone that’s a moron, but has a lot of money – fair play. It does make you wonder, you see some guy at an auction going “Oh yes, I love this piece” and I’m thinking, “Yeah, and I bet they love your wallet.”
I once saw an exhibition in the Tate, by someone which I can only describe as a prat – it was like a fish tank that was turned on its end, with speakers on the outside and lots of women crying – to be honest with you it was over my head.
CC: But did it make you want to rock out?
IC: No, it just made me walk out, actually.
 

Still, enough about art, what do they reckon on their inclusion, along with fellow ARI and Angular Records companions Bloc Party, in the NME's Art Wave movement?

EA: ‘Bad Weekend’, the b-side on our single, has a line it in that goes “haven’t read the NME in so long, don’t know which genre we belong”, and now we do – Art Wave! We can split up now, we were just curious. There’s all these bands dodging it “we’re not art wave”, but we are art wave, we love it.

IC: Perhaps it’s an omen, we could try with some new songs – “Haven’t watched MTV2 in so long, don’t know how we would look on it”

EA: I don’t think we are an art band really though – I think we’re just an interesting pop band. We didn’t go out of our way to be arty.
IC
: It’s more something that happened post interest from the NME, that we’re part of an art wave or art rock scene. But I think, to be fair, whether we were or we weren’t, people look at the name and that’s it. But, it’s like, I saw the Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster being called an art band, and to my mind, they’re kind of a dark, psychobilly punk thing.
CC
: Mike said that someone had told him that Weezer were art rock.
Rerecorded
EA
: And we keep being compared to the Fall, but I haven’t heard any Fall records – I own one Fall song.
CC: I don’t even know any Fall songs.
IC: I’ve heard them a couple of times.
EA: I keep getting called a Mark E Smith copyist, but I don’t really know… I think I’m just copying Jonathon Richman really badly, maybe that’s what it is.
CC: Maybe you should talk to Mark E Smith, is he still alive?

EA: He’s supposed to be right wing, arrogant, not a very nice person.
CC: But you could ask him if he likes Jonathon Richmond, and that might be the missing link.
EA: Do you know how Shane McGowan and Nick Cave became friends? Beating up Mark E Smith because he’s like a racist little fuck. Well, I heard that from my brother who likes Nick Cave.

The baffling comparisons don't stop there either
CC: I think the best one we’ve had was I heard somebody compare us to At The
Drive-In the other day, which was rather weird. And The Velvet Underground that I don’t get either – I’ve only heard the famous record with the Banana on the cover, so that might be why – I don’t even think it’s particularly good, it just sounds like dirgey blues.

IC: But we’re several shots of heroin from sounding like that.
CC: Blockheads they said too, which I can kind of see the link.
EA: We get compared to people who can’t sing, because I can’t sing, that’s what it is really.

Art Brut have played a huge part in New Cross' new position at the forefront of alternative music, so what do they reckon on the area's new found prestige?

CC: We’re not really in the best position to talk about it, because, even though we have been a part of it, we’re not necessarily… we don’t live in the area. So we’ve been talking to people who are part of it, more so than even we

 
realised. When I used to come out here when I was younger, there was nothing, and there’s a lot more happening now than there ever was then, so there’s certainly something happening. Whether it’s a scene, it’s to early to say I think.
EA: It’s my favourite place to play, it’s good fun.

CC: It’s always a good crowd. It’s not pretentious yet, it
could quite easily become pretentious, but it’s not yet.
EA: The first time here was really cool, people actually liked us
CC: And all the other bands that we’ve played with here have been good bands and they’ve all been nice people who are interested in being part of something.
EA: I think Caffy St Luce (Rocklands, ARI and Music Tourist Board promoter and general all around creative genius) should be the next Prime Minister.

Sticking with the world politics theme, how's your campaign for world peace going?

CC: It’s ok, umm I don’t know.
EA: To be honest, I forgot we were working towards world peace – we got so busy.
IC: Yeah, you can only tackle things one thing at a time.
CC: Maybe we should go & play on the wall in Israel & Palestine, to see if we can bring them together.
IC: The next thing with regards to world peace I guess is the Rock Against Racism gig –that’s a good example of what we can actually do.

CC: We’re not political, but we want a nice world.
IC: We’re not political but we’re willing to get involved in matters that need attention.
EA: Like keeping the Paradise Bar open!

Indeed, for the very institution in which this interview takes place, home to Alternative Rock Idol and the original Angular Records events is currently under threat by the whim of one local dissenter. You can do your bit to help by going to www.petitiononline.com/paradise/petition and adding your signature.

Anyway, on with the interview, one of the things that really endeared the band to me the first time I saw Art Brut was Eddie's rant about how easy and fantastic a thing it is to form a band, and how he hoped people would

leave the gig and go out and form their own band and call it Art Brut 2.

CC: I think it might have been a bit early.
EA: That kid was interested, that Alex.
CC: Aw, he’s great, he’s like 14, we had to smuggle him into the gig on Saturday.
EA: And I think he’s going to start an Art Brut. I’d love that – not in a vain way, in a fun way – We could have a whole compilation CD of bands called Art Brut.
IC: I think it’s trying to tell people, not that it’s not difficult, but that it’s not that hard to just follow something that you want to do, rather than feeling like you can’t, because of your peers or whatever.
EA: We want to make people think “Yeah, I could have a go at that, form a band.”
CC: Maybe we should make starter packs for bands – plectrums, strings, chord patterns, how to play guitar in three easy steps.
EA: And we could have a whole day of just bands called Art Brut playing, and a listings saying, Art Brut 2 & 7 are playing today.

Another little idiosyncrasy of the band is Eddie's devotion to Top of the Pops, which anyone who's seen them live will be fully aware of

EA: I watch TOTP every week, I love it.
CC: I think our chances of getting on are pretty high, we’ve had a few people

strangely hint at the fact, like the NME said “we’ll have to get you on Top of the Pops”, and we were like “ah, yeah”, but he went “no, seriously” and then our record company said something similar.
IC: I’d love that, straight on after Peter Andre.
CC: If we’re on it & we’re miming you’ve got to go on it & put on a good show, make it obvious, like Kurt Cobain did, but more so.
IC: Maybe we could change the lyrics in honour of Peter Andre – ‘Faked a tan, he faked a tan, He’s not… the man.'

It would perhaps be one of the more surreal moments in British pop history, but you never know. And you can help it come true by going out and buying Art Brut's new single 'Formed a Band' on 29th March.