The Unicorns are undoubtedly a very special band. Unscrupulous, flamboyant and superbly talented. They are quite possibly the greatest band you have never heard of or have heard of, depending solely on whether you have heard of them or not. They recently nipped over the pond (they are from Canada) for a brief yet traumatic tour of Britain (by Britain I mean London and a day trip to Manchester). Vice parties, melted keyboards and just plain rude English crowds brought the band to the brink of destruction, perhaps if it wasn’t for an emergency counselling session from Yeah Yeah Yeahs then this piece would have been an epitaph.

It all started on Thursday the 11th of November at The Vice’s birthday bash, an unmitigated disaster for all concerned. Abuzz with spitting and cushion throwing, even Dominic Masters found it a little too much. Lost in the middle of this melee were The Unicorns who had the unfortunate task of opening the night’s festivities. Of course no one paid them the slightest bit of attention, their Keyboard died and they were later chased off by security. The following night things went from bad to dismal. The Camden Barfly was the venue and a substitute keyboard the culprit. For all intents and purposes it might as well of been dead also. The gig consisted mainly of Nick displaying his extraordinary phatic abilities while Alden franticly fiddled with the Casio. After four songs and a lot of ‘in between time’ the three marched off. Heartbreaking.

On Sunday they played the first of two support slots with The Decemberists at Manchester’s Night And Day Club. The gig appeared to have done them good, for the following night, backstage at The London School of Economics the gang seem relatively jaunty and only too happy to share a few words as they tucked into their alcohol and Starburst based rider.

I: Who came up with the name The Unicorns and why?
NICK: God, because the ark…
JAMIE: For the same reason God comes up with everything, which we don’t understand that reason cause we’re mortal beings
NICK: I pray a lot, I pray that one day I will know that answer
JAMIE: I pray that one day we’ll be, you know, a band called The Unicorns and we’ll be great

Alden Ginger
Nicholas 'neil' Diamonds
J'aime Tambeur

Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?

Unicorns Are People Too

Emasculate the Masculine

Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?

Official Site
Canadian Fan Site
Irish Fan Site
Japanese Fan Site

I: What are the central Unicorn philosophies?

Note: Large burp from Nick

I: is that it…
JAMIE: Pragmatism mixed with stoicism.
ALDEN: Fucking rad partying.
JAMIE: Yeah that’s pragmatism for me.

Grabbing of rather large bottle of Jack Daniels

NICK: Hello Jack.

I: Is their anything your average Joe Bloggs could do to be a Unicorn?
NICK: Joe Bloggs?
I: Yeah.
JAMIE: Like a guy who writes a blog.
I: No.
JAMIE: Quit writing all your life down on these shitty things on the Internet, nobody cares. I don’t do that and my life’s kind of interesting.

An inaudible rant belittling the blog of Joe Bloggs ensues. Nick adding that, only Joe’s mother reads it.

ALDEN: Well there is that one guy who was documenting his life when Iraq was first getting bombed and that was kinda cool.
NICK: Oh yeah, did you hear that on As It Happens?
JAMIE: But that’s not Joe Bloggs, that’s like…
NICK: Kenneth Bloggs or Ally Mama Zabera Bloggs.
JAMIE: Yeah, which is awesome.
NICK: Yeah, Awesome.

I: Your website states that you have a strict Fruitarian lifestyle, what does the average Unicorns supper consist of?
NICK: Fruit like uh…
ALDEN: Stake.
JAMIE: I Like Fruitary.
NICK: I like free animals like joosters, jellybeans, juicy gums…
JAMIE: I believe that Wine is a fruit…
NICK: Well it comes from fruit.
JAMIE: And Whiskey is a grain.

Opening of the rather large bottle of Jack Daniels

NICK: I’m opening it for the other band.
JAMIE: Yeah.
ALDEN: I really like Granola myself.
NICK: But that’s not a fresh fruit.
JAMIE: Do you know what my favourite meal is actually? Or my favourite thing I think right now or the thing I’m missing the most…
NICK: bangers and mash.
JAMIE: No. A thing called a chana samosa from a restaurant in Montreal called Bombay Mahal.
NICK: We love you Bombay Mahal.
JAMIE: Yeah keep on rockin in the free world.
NICK: We love your yoghurt chana masala.

I: Are You Vain?
ALDEN: Vain, yes, my penis is veiny.
JAMIE: I’m vain enough to think that question is about me.

Nick finally gets the Jack Daniels open

ALDEN: Don’t drink from the bottle man… that’s the best part.
NICK: No! There's no cup, there's no cup.


JAMIE: Pour it into the beer bottle man.
NICK: Classy, Classy!

Much laughter

I: Are your lyrics autobiographical?
ALDEN: Huh, that’s very acute.
NICK: No one really asks us that.
ALDEN: Yes they are, not entirely but yeah, largely.

I: Ghosts are a running theme in the Unicorn world

JAMIE: Theirs more of a floating theme because they don’t have…


I: Is it a group fascination or does it stem from an individual's obsession
NICK: Hm, I was eating peanuts sorry what?


We’re a cult; I think you should know that. We’re a very small cult.
JAMIE: We’ll talk to you more about that later.

I: Is it all going to end in suicide?
JAMIE: No, not unless you consider becoming a ghost suicide, by slitting your writs.
NICK: It ends in a space ship ride, to a nice cloudy planet.
ALDEN: I guess if it were to end, it would be an internally motivated thing, so I guess it would be, but I guess the real question would have to be would it be violent or calm, would it be pills or razorblades.
NICK: Or orange juice… I want to swim into the ocean and never come back, that’s how I’m going to do it.

I: Your last LP was called Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?
NICK: No it wasn’t, no it wasn’t!

I: What? 2014 are you talking about
ALDEN: What?
NICK: What? 2004?

I: …teen
NICK: Have you seen 'Flight of the Navigator'?

I: No
NICK: No! Well this is kind of spooky, this kind of reminds me of 'Flight of the Navigator'. Do you know what year it is?

I: I’m not sure, no.
NICK: Its 2013 man.

I: Right, its been a long interview… Your new one is called 'The Hair Album'
NICK: Who’s calling it that?

I: It’s on your website
JAMIE: No it isn’t.
NICK: Oh you know what I think it might be.
JAMIE: According to who?
JAMIE: You! When did you start posting stuff up on our website. We had a strict nothing to do with our website policy.
NICK: Well Jeff Travis called it that and it sounded kinda cool and then the guy on the BBC called it that. It’s a British thing.
JAMIE: You guys need a fancy name for everything, you can’t just call it what its called.

I: What is it called?
JAMIE: You can’t just call it a pickle, you got to call it a gherkin.
NICK: Eggplant has to be aubergine.
JAMIE: You have to call your apple juice naturally cloudy instead of not mentioning that at all.


NICK: Orange juice has to be smooth instead of pulp free.
JAMIE: But who will cut our hair and the hair album are the same thing right.

I: Sorry?
JAMIE: They're the same album, you know that right? 'The Hair Album' and 'Who Will Cut Our Hair...' that’s the same thing.

I: Oh I see, right
JAMIE: Jeff Travis is just this marketing wiz.

I: So they’re re-releasing it then and their calling it The Hair Album?

NICK: they're calling it Who Will Cut Our Hair... but if you’re cool you refer to it as “The Hair LP”.
JAMIE: We have just proven that we are not cool.
NICK: And if you’re cool you’ll buy it on vinyl not CD.
JAMIE: If your really cool you’ll by the piano rolls we’re gunna put out.
NICK: The sheet music.

I: You’ve just signed to rough trade, any particular reason you chose them, or were they the only ones who would have you?
JAMIE: Jeff Travis.
NICK: Smiley.
JAMIE: He has a very nice smile, warm endearing smile.
ALDEN: And its often as well, the smile is often.


NICK: He has an often smile.
JAMIE: He can smile like seven times in the amount of time it would take you to smile once.
ALDEN: he interrupts his sentences with these smiles constantly, which is kind of charming but creepy. Which is the mixture we look for when we want to sign paper.
JAMIE: I don’t write my name on anything without being simultaneously charmed and creeped out.
NICK: And we don’t make music that isn’t charming and creepy too, that’s part of our mandate.

I: that wasn’t the question.


NICK: But I’m expanding on your question.

I: Do you like The Libertines?
NICK: I like their drug policy.


I like the Thai Libertines.

Much Laughter

JAMIE: I like The Libertines. That. Like the people many many years ago, who weren’t in Iraq then, but who just approached life from this liberated standpoint. I think that’s great.

I: In the video for 'Jellybones' Alden has a hook for a hand, is this symbolism?
JAMIE: We'd just seen that movie 'Hook' which is a Peter Pan remake that has Dustin Hoffman in it.
NICK: Yes it is symbolism.
JAMIE: Symbolism to say that.
NICK: Hook is an awesome movie.
JAMIE: If you listen closely to our record you will we steal a lot from the John Williams score to that. Errh Thanks John.
NICK: Thanks Mr Williams.

I: Tell us something about Canada.
NICK: Polar Bears
ALDEN: The hook is just good for fucking whaling on the guitar.


NICK: By whaling he means going out on a big ship in Canada and catching whales.

I: What do you think of the British?
NICK: I think they are funny.

I: You said they were weird on Friday.

JAMIE: They don’t seem to like paying bands that much.
NICK: Oh yeah you were at that show, sorry about that. I just thought they were rude at that show.

I: I don’t know, I think you underestimated them because in all fairness, it wasn’t the best show you’ve done.


NICK: Have you seen us before?
JAMIE: Ok this interview is over, I don’t stand for that kind of insolence.

More Laughter

NICK: That was the worst show we’ve ever done.

I: Yeah I saw you when you came last time to London.
ALDEN: At Needles?

I: No I saw you at Plastic People, I didn’t make it to Needles… Anyway. Moving on.
JAMIE: Sorry folks.
NICK: Sorry British people.
JAMIE: We’ll do a good show here one of these days.

I: What’s the worst thing about Britain?
JAMIE: Double Decker buses.
NICK: What? I love double Decker buses.
JAMIE: No dude they're dangerous.
ALDEN: Too many sandwiches.

A collective cheer from the other members

NICK: And your definition of a pickle, it don’t jive with me.
JAMIE: Honestly, every country has its own idea of what a pickle is, I’ve had Indian pickles and Japanese pickles and American pickles and whatever but that’s not even anything, that’s just brown sauce, you guys have got to get your act together on that, otherwise you are fantastic people.
NICK: Otherwise you’re never going to rule this world, like if you want to be a real empire.

I: Is this coming from Canada?
JAMIE: Yeah well why do you think we decided to separate from you guys. We decided the American pickle was the preferable pickle.
NICK: And look where it’s gotten us.

I: The Barfly, what went wrong?
ALDEN: That’s a good question, you’re decisive.
NICK: Very British.
ALDEN: Trenchant maybe.
NICK: A little gossipy you might say. Do you really want to know?

I: I asked.
NICK: All you need to know is that The Yeah Yeah Yeahs saved us.

I: Was that their keyboard?
JAMIE: No, the keyboard sunk us and they threw us a life raft in the form of…
NICK: Therapy.
JAMIE: Really really pushy at the beginning and then being really endearing and being the sweetest people we’ve ever met.

I: Where will The Unicorns be in 2014?

NICK: In heaven I hope.
JAMIE: Cause the worlds going to end in 2012.
NICK: Yeah, according to the mind calendar.
JAMIE: So we’re figuring that by 2014 we should be able to sort out our sins in purgatory and be in heaven.
NICK: And jam with Jimmy Hendrix, that’s always been a dream of mine. Last night actually I had that dream. It was pretty awesome. Expect he was out of tune a little bit and I was kind of embarrassed. He was a little flat.


JAMIE: Apparently his ear was in his body…
ALDEN: He had a little nugget of coke hanging from his nose.

They finally played their “good show” later that night, though Jamie’s kick drum pedal broke off and Alden’s amp stopped working. It didn’t matter; The Unicorns as always encapsulated a joy, a love, an absurd happiness, which not even Cliff Richard could hold a candle to. No. For you see the joyous emotions experienced at a Unicorns gig are built with an intelligence and a knowing that happiness here is not a trick, a guise, a face that everyone is wearing because they spent fifty quid on a ticket and swore to themselves that they would have a good time. No. The Unicorns serve real magic.

Interview by Daniel Taylor