What music have you been listening to lately? And why haven’t you called me back?
Beth Ditto, The Gossip
Oh, sorry Beth, I wasn’t aware that I owed you a call, but I will. I was meant to sing a song called “For Keeps” on her record. But I was making my record in Chicago so it never happened. Regarding my recent listening habits, there’s a group called the Wooden Shjips from San Francisco. We got to play with them when we played there. They’re psych and drony and great. There’s another guy from Portugal called The Legendary Tiger Man, a one-man rockabilly band, with a bass drum, snare drum and guitar. He uses three mics, one normal one, one with a kazoo, and one under his neck. You can’t imagine that all that noise is coming from one person. The first time I heard him in a Paris record shop I thought it was an Alan Vega record I hadn’t heard before.
I saw you playing bass on “Big Bottom” with Spinal Tap at Glastonbury – one of the festival’s many highlights. Did you learn the bassline specially for the occasion or did you already know how to play it?
Mathew West, Edinburgh
I’m glad that my bass playing is finally being appreciated. But it was good to unleash it in such a big arena. I was at Glastonbury, and I got a message from Harry Shearer, asking if I might be able to come along to Wembley Arena and do something at Spinal Tap’s show the following week. I knew I couldn’t make that, but I was at Glastonbury, so I got in touch with them and said, I could do it today. So I ended up getting there 10 minutes before they want on stage, and offering to play on that song. It was quite a good spontaneous moment. What’s amazing is that they’re in character all the time. Even backstage, before and after the show, they’re talking in those London accents. That was pretty impressive, actually.
Do you think you’ve been sliding through life on charm?
Well, that’s the title of the song I wrote for her. She gave me the title for it. It’s a very difficult thing to work out about yourself. I was once in the Groucho Club, and Will Self was in there, moaning, as he always seemed to be. I never really got on with him. Anyway, Keith Allen sat him down and said, “Will, the reason you don’t like Jarvis is because he’s got charm and you haven’t.” So, if Keith Allen is the arbiter of charm, I guess I have.