Pussy Galore – Melody Maker: Insanity Claws [1700 Word Article] (PRESS, UK)

12 November 1988 Melody Maker
Pussy Galore - Melody Maker: Insanity Claws [1700 Word Article] (PRESS, UK)
NOTES:
This is taken from a from a photocopied document sent out to press to promote the reissues of Sugarshit Sharp, Right Now! and Dial ‘M’ For Motherfucker. The press pack included a whole selection of reviews and features taken from various publications and the cover is the Pussy Galore logo.

This interview/article appeared in an issue of the now defunct UK weekly music paper Melody Maker dated November 12, 1988. It refers to the release and problems with the artwork of Sugarshit Sharp, the attitude of the band and the audience/press attitude towards them, Groovy Hate Fuck and Exile on Main St..

ARTICLE TEXT:
“Here’s Kurt, the new guitarist, reluctantly sipping a Bud. It’s too early for him too early for him too. And here’s Julia, who can only play what Jon taught her, keeping her distance because she’s got “flu or something”. Bob’s out of town until Monday.

The Mets are involved in a play-off on TV and there’s a scrawny crowd occasionally baying at the other end of the bar. So this is what the songs are about? So this is why they are…

“Uh…Sure there are songs that are reflections of everyday life but I don’t get any kinda kick outta living where I do. Hell, I’d like to live some place nice. This around us doesn’t have much to do with it.”

LOOK, just in case you’re wondering, I’ve given up on writing an intro. I’ve tried, Lord knows I’ve tried. But Pussy Galore, more out of habit than spite, have thwarted me at every turn. So please, just accept that, with their new Albini-co-produced EP, “Sugarshit Sharp”, just as they were with “Groovy Hate F***”, Pussy Galore are in the business of putting backs up and noses out of joint. They don’t know whose and they don’t care why.

“I’m sure it would be really great to be very clever and play off the whole thing and work the press machine and do all sorts of clever stunts.” says Jon, his frustration turning to scorn. “But we’re just not clever enough, y’know? Ha!”

“We just wanna come out and make a whole lotta noise.” says Kurt.

Thanks, Kurt.

“SUGARSHIT Sharp” sounds, at best, like the Stooges playing in a corrugated iron hut and contains six tracks – “Handshake”, “Adolescent Wet Dream”, “Sweet Little Hi-Fi”, “Brick”, “Renegade” and on the A-side, “Yu Gung”, a cover version of an Einsturzenden Neubauten song.

“Because it’s a good song, I really like it,” is Jon’s inevitable answer to the inevitable question.

Mercifully, two beers later, we stumble full circle: “There’s no melody…there’s sorta a bassline…it’s just percussion, dance song, sort of…It’s a really cool song, that’s why we did it. And also, I don’t know if I should say this, but part of the reason we did it has to do with a lot of people like, uh, Sonic Youth and Swans and World Domination doing stoopid cover songs and getting a whole lotta mileage out of it. So, it was just taking the Neubauten song and making it into a guitar rock song, y’know.

“It wasn’t so much to do a joke cover as we liked the song…”

PUSSY Galore want it both ways. They revel in inarticulation, bury Jon’s vocals six feet deep in the mix and mumble inanities in interviews and yet they’re ??????? when the press piles into them. They reckon their irony is totally overlooked, bemoan how literally “Groovy Hate F***” was taken.

“We were up against a lotta…a lot of shit was written about the band since the album, a lotta negative press. So a small backlash occurred of sorts.

“I probably shouldn’t but I take a lot of that stuff to hear. Since that last record, we because sort of a standard. Every single week in the f***ing Village Voice, if it wasn’t Chuck Eddy, it would be someone else reviewing another band, dropping out name as a reference point. Everybody had to throw it in… not that it’s that much of a big f***in’ deal, but it does have something to do with there being a year between the last record and this one.

Deciding whether to live up to your reputation or to live it down?

“Not exactly. It’s just that, in the beginning, the band was fun, there was instinct, it was very simple, you got right out and did it. And then, once you’ve got a certain amount of press and notoriety, it becomes a drag because there are people telling you what’s about, telling you what’s going on. It’s just a lot harder, dealing with that. It troubled me a lot…”

And there will be more trouble…and more. From their name on down, Pussy Galore are…not exactly calculated, more inclined to offend and they attract trouble because, blindly, they court it, I mean, calling a record “Sugarshit Sharp” is hardly likely to result in huge posters all over Tower Records is it?

“What the f***? We don’t really think about that…I mean, it’s not like we were looking to out the word ‘shit’ in the title, it’s just a cool phrase…

“There was some talk about the name when we picked it, but I think it’s a lot less offensive than a title like ‘Groovy Hate F***’ because shit isn’t half as bad as f*** – I mean, it’s printed all the time, ‘Sugarshit Sharp’ just means…well…a better form of cool…I don’t think it’s that bad.”

THEN there’s the Stones fixation. Round at Jon’s apartment, before our sodden trek through the pits of New York, we watched a bit of “Sympathy For The Devil” on video – a new and treasured acquisition in the Spencer household. And, way back when Pussy Galore recorded their own version of “Exile On Main Street” in its entirety.

For ‘Sugarshit’, they wanted the Rolling Stones lips logo on the cover but Caroline Records got cold feet, permission was sought and, after a month or two, “Prince Rupert or someone or other sent a message – ‘Mr Jagger says no’, ‘So the cover’s now a carve-up inferno between the lips and Neubauten’s symbol so “we won’t get sued for it…But, if we did get sued, it would be great!”

What is it with the Stones? Are they baiting them or paying them a cack-handed compliment?

“I wouldn’t say it’s really baiting them – we are all, I guess, fans ‘n’ stuff, it’s just, uh, I dunno…we’re into the Stones, what the f***?”

What, the Stones now or the way they were?

“What they were. It’s something we grew up…”

There’s no deeper implication than that?

“Nah.”

Do you feel that what you’re doing is as exciting and revolutionary as what the Stones were doing at their peak?

“Yeah, certainly we think it’s as exciting but I don’t think there’s much you can do that’ll be revolutionary now. Certainly I don’t have any pretensions that we’re breaking a whole lotta new ground.”

So rock hasn’t the power to be a social phenomenon anymore?

“No.”

What about Public Enemy?

“That’s the new shit – we’re more and more steeped in tradition.”

Is it just entertainment then?

“Yeah! It’s a band, it’s fun y’know?”

That’s the reason for being in Pussy Galore is it – fun?

“Hell, yeah! Y’know, it’s a kick in the ass. This is what gets us off.”

How much of your music comes from your distilled listening of other records?

“A lot of it…well over half…probably almost all of it…”

Do you think about longevity, about a career?

“I don’t, no, it’s gonna stop tomorrow…”

PUSSY Galore are undeniably and unenviably individual at present, not art enough to be considered alongside Sonic Youth, no dumb enough to be deemed metal and too trad to be elevated alongside The Young Gods, they remind me of The Birthday Party when they first started out – there’s the same monochrome dimension, but they lack the melodrama and the menace. In many ways they’re a wanton, cubic mess, less like a car put through a crusher than nails dragged down a blackboard.

If they just had something to say about what they do, even if that something was nuthin’, like The Ramones or an exaggerated nothing, like Dinosaur Jr they could be very 1988. As it is, they’re kind of nowhere – neither ahead, nor behind. Perhaps they don’t matter…And perhaps that doesn’t matter, but I can’t settle for this sampling stuff. I can’t appreciate the bassline because it’s big and bulbous and brawny if there’s no intention behind it, I’ll keep saying this until I’m blue in the face – Black Sabbath were dumb shit and just because someone reckons they got a good guitar sound going on one track won’t redeem anything for me. I demand motive. What’s yours?

“I dunno.”

Jon suggests that calling a song “Renegade” is a “deliberately stoopid” act but can’t see why anyone would want to know why. He seems unable rather than unwilling to delve any deeper.

“We’re a f**in’ rock band, y’know…I dunno it’s just refined and distilled. I dunno…it’s stoopid to talk…”

Is your reluctance a euphemism for being f***ed up?

“I dunno…”

THERE will be a new Pussy Galore album early next year. In the meantime, they will be playing live because “we all feel that live is the way a band should be. A band is a live thing and that’s where it should really work, where it should really be happening.

“I mean, the ideal would be if you came off stage and some said ‘Wow! I kicked ass!’ y’know? The best thing to hear is people say ‘You guys rocked”

“When it’s live, the easiest stuff to play is just songs that don’t mean anything, just flat out aggression y’know, bam bam bam! a whole set that says F*** you!, y’know, or Let’s kick ass’, or Let’s get f***ed up th best thing. Doing 20 songs of F*** YOU!’ is the ideal but after doing that for two years, some nights you just can’t pull it off”

“It’s a rare phenomenon if we start playing a bad song and it comes around,” says Julia, “We can’t re-adjust ourselves and make it rock out. We set the course with the set list and we’re just kinda doomed to that, I mean if it goes poorly, it just continues to go poorly.”

And if it goes well, it continues to go well?

“Yeah…usually…”

ASK Pussy Galore what it’s all about and really it’s all there in the answer:

“It’s just having a good time I mean, I don’t…ah…I don’t…give a f***…!…I don’t feel a…I’m not like…Y’know, it’s just like I think people know what’s going on.”

Enough.”

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