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
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.."
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..
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,
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"
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"
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
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