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>MICHAEL DRACULA
HATS, CATS AND 'RELEASE THE BATS'

...Welcome to the strange and frightening world of Michael Dracula

In a badly lit basement bar, all cigarette smoke and indie kids, I had the pleasure of encountering Michael Dracula - the most electrifiying band I've had the pleasure of seeing in a long, long time... Fronted by a Hindley-esque singer in a vintage 50's party frock spitting disdainful nihilism, accompanied by searing slices of trebley guitar, the music sounded like nothing less than Public Image Limited (circa the headfuck that is 'Metal Box') mixed with the European post-punk of Kleenex and The Slits. With sinister, one-fingered proper horrorshow keyboards that worm their way into yr head; deep rumbling bass and a beat that you can dance to. Meet Emily (guitar, vocals), Laura (bass), Leyre (keyboards, smoking, screaming), and Andy

MICHAEL DRACULA ARE:
Emily - Guitar/Vox
Laura - Bass
Leyre - Keyboards
Andy - Drums

(drums).

In the micro-world of the Scottish 'scene', I never really heard much about Michael Dracula. I was quite surprised then to find out that they were the first signings to the relaunched ZE records, once home of the celebrated 'No-Wave' movement. Quite a prestigious coup that went heavily under-reported amongst the usual underachieving self-promoting gobshites that litter the internet. Surprisingly, in these times, Michael Dracula have no website...

Leyre: "We've got better things to do like make music and put more eyeliner on..."

Of course - eyeliner. I had noticed the copious use of said substance. Maybe this could explain why I've heard the band described as goth - although they didn't look or sound like goths to me..

Emily: "Well, it's funny 'cause I've always hated goths and goth music, but then now I've realised that some of our music is quite 'gothy'; we've got a sense of humour, so it's OK.."
Laura: "Most of the original goth music, before it all became like Bauhaus....... I like the dark cabaret element...."
Andy: "Cabaret Voltaire..."
Emily: "Yeah"
Laura: "But then Goth became synonomous with..
Emily: "...Mopey arses hanging out at the mall... I've alway been kinda amused by them, 'cause how can you tell if they're having a good day or a bad day?"

After sitting on the shelf at ZE for nearly a year waiting for the label to get its arse in gear, but with little actually happening, Michael Dracula decided to leave the label. Indeed, since leaving ZE, they have been busy playing the cream of the UK's current punk/electro/anything goes clubs: Trash, Club Motherfucker, Optimo, Liars amongst others. They also played a slot at Leeds' Nastyfest; and a showcase gig at this year's In The City; and are currently in talks with a couple of interested labels. I'm slightly disappointed to find out that they don't have any recorded output yet; merely an internet bootleg of the Optimo remix of 'Destroy Yourself' which has made it onto the selective playlists of those in the know. I've also read the internet rumours of an aborted session in one of London's more esoteric retro recording studios..

Emily: "I've been really fascinated by it for a few years. I find myself personally inclined to music made before 1980, and pretty much switch off after that.

We applied for a grant from the Arts Council, we had it all planned out and ...in the interim between us applying for the grant and us actually getting down there, the whole White Stripes thing happened, which I think maybe changed certain attitudes? The morning we were meant to record he phoned us up and demanded this ten thousand pound producers advance for the week of recording, which we expected to cost about eighteen hundred pounds. It was totally out of our budget, of course we couldn't afford it. It was a shame, we were all pretty devastated..I think we're cursed, actually"
Laura: "We should employ every single superstitious belief that we can in order to get better luck"

So much for the effort vs profit ethos...

All the best bands give off that 'gang' vibe..Michael Dracula all have the dark, decadent look of those who don't get out much during daytime hours. They share the same sick, off-the-wall sense of humour and finish each other sentences. Emily is sassy, Laura laid-back and cool, Leyre is a psychotic matinee-idol, and Andy is sleaze incarnate. They are all charismatic bastards. I have my suspicions of some sort of bizarre Weird Science cloning cocoons in Glasgow School of Art..so how did they meet?

Emily: "We all just came to know each other - Laura and Leyre were 2 people I met at parties and such, that liked the Birthday Party and cats and hats"
Leyre: "Well I was fucking stalked! And bribed!"
Emily: "We were looking for ages for a keyboard player - we had a gay Australian, but he got deported; we asked all our friends, and we were out one night and we thought 'what about that girl who's always screaming at the top of her lungs, let's get her!', we didn't know if she could play an instrument or anything, but we just stalked her. We got her number and phoned her for weeks, her phone was switched off but we finally got through: 'You don't know us but we want you to play in our band'"
Laura: "And as soon as she said she liked the Birthday Party, we were like..yeah!"
Emily: "We're a bit obsessed - at Christmas we made a big Christmas tree..."
Leyre: "To send to Nick Cave..."
Emily: "We were trying to make up a Christmas tree for free..we were all skint, so we just found things from around the house to make ornaments..and I had some roses, and then Laura found some tinfoil and cotton wool and started making a swastika, and as soon as it started to come together we were like "That's like the 'Mutiny In Heaven' cover!".."
Laura: "Then I made a winged skull and a coffin..."
Leyre: "We were all sitting about listening to Band Aid.."

Proving my point...you have to be psychologically disturbed to enjoy 'Do They Know It's Christmas', even in the season of goodwill. Some of Michael Dracula's earliest gigs were on bills with Franz Ferdinand (who recently tipped MD as a band to watch in the NME):

Laura: "You never expect one of your mates bands to get so big..it's just weird though, going to the newsagents and seeing Bob's face staring at you from the cover of Mojo or something"
Emily: "It's strange though, 'cause we've known them for years - I mean, Paul was the best man at my wedding, and I've known Alex for a long time too"

It must be infuriating though, having waited around at ZE for so long, only to find yourselves back at square one. Still, I've read some good things about them in the local papers..? Oops..Confusion as the band try to recall reviews that they couldn't give a shit about...

Leyre: "That was our positive press: 'drugged-up losers'!
Emily: "Our favourite bit of press wasn't positive press - we were slagged off as 'over-rated underacheivers'! At least people think we're rated, if they say we're overrated"
Leyre: "If we were on a toilet wall, that'd make me happy"
Laura: "It's like that Salvador Dali quote.. where he says he has more respect for people who slag him off intelligently than people who defend him stupidly"
Leyre: "I want a moustache like that"
Andy: "I'm gonna grow a moustache like that"
Leyre: "I said it first"
Andy: "Fuck off"
Leyre: "Well, ma mum's got a Frank Zappa, so I'm there before you are"
Emily: "You should just grow a little Hitler moustache!"
Andy: "It looks more like a Blakey moustache..."
Emily: "You can have the Hitler moustache, and I've got the Myra Hindley hairdo!"

Michael Dracula - Icons of Evil!

My prepared questions tail off, mutating into a volley of unprintable material involving Robocop impressions, tales of outlandish (and tasteless) fancy dress, vomiting in supermarkets, hospital horror stories, and unsavoury incidents involving formaldehyde and ecstacy. I'm not too sure about the libelous nature of some of this..so it's probably best to draw a discretionary veil over it. It's just rather refreshing to banter with people who don't give a fuck about conversational taboos and social convention, without giving off the vibe of trying to be shocking for the sake of it. There's definately something nightmarish about all this...

I've tried whilest writing this not to draw particular attention to the fact that Michael Dracula is fronted by 3 females..it doesn't make the slightest bit of difference to the music. But at the same time, it's compelling to watch girls make such an unholy kick-ass racket..it's the same juxtaposition that you get with Lydia Lunch - her attractiveness is compounded by the sheer boot-in-the-face content of her material. Stay sick.

Interview by Sarah Glass