The third part of a Sounds 2 page feature.
Jan 29th, 1983
Garry Bushell demands poetic justice for S.Wells, Little Brother and Garry Johnson.
Pardon me for party-pooping pardners, but I can’t believe I’m the only person who finds the current rash of ‘alternative comics’ about as funny as a dose on honeymoon. Trendy they masy be but then so’s ‘Buffalo Gals’ and that’s crap too. To be honest I’d rather be unhip but happy at Joe Maplins or buying rain-damaged swimming trunks off Del-boy’s stall.
Little Brother’s a different kettle of wit all together because he is genuinely funny. Described by the Guardian as a ‘young looking Arthur Scargill and more accurately by Seething Wells as an ‘albino ferret’, the 22 year old son of Bradford was oncve known as David Stockel, a schoolboy champion cross-country runner, and was the first of the wave of punk-poets to get gig-handed, although most people only got the chance to savour him with the recent Radical Wallpaper ‘Ranting Verse’ EP he shares with Swells.
Worth buying solely on the strength of his devastatingly accurate pastiche ‘Letter To Knave’, his side tackles everything from toilet humour to advertising and upper class twittery, and is bettered only by his live performance.
I saw him at the horrible ICA and was completely won over by his deadpan onslaught, in particular his Sun guide to the Bible called ‘The Gossip According To St Rupert’. It just seemed strange that he would play there, and when he was finally settled down over cups of disgusting Sweels-produced rosey I just had to ask him why?
“Money! Publicity! Why else?” he grins. “I’ll play any where that’s offered as long as it’s not politically dubious . . . sorry I’m not very good at long answers.” And that’s typical of Dave, walking me to the bus stop after the interview he admits to being ‘a shy boy’. It makes you wonder how he ever got involved in it all.
“I used to be in a group with Swells called the Luddites,” he explains. “I used to write lyrics and play guitar very badly. Eventually I decided just to stick to the lyrics.”
Actually the quiet exterior belies the man’s exemplary irreligious attitudes. I rolled up at Swells stories of the young Brother tying BA Nana’s shoelaces together when Crass played Bradford in their early days and similar heretical acts.
Perhaps Li’l Bruv’s biggest break came from Clash Green Beret Kosmo Vinyl (a man whose gob was once used by Evel Keneval for training jumps). “Kosmo Vinyl remembered me from the first Stiff tour when I got pushed through a plate glass window by a bouncer and gave me a Clash support.” Dave explains “After that I could have rushed a couple of EPs out and burnt out, but because I had bugger-all material I just went and wrote a load of new poems and played locally.”
“I did a tape once but it got impounded by the police before it came out. The tape-producing company reported it to the police and they stopped it cos of the rude words, they only heard ‘Sigmund Freud’.”
You’re obviously happier with this EP?
“Well I’m quite pleased with it for a first EP.
Obviously it could have been better, mostly because they were all first takes because I was late.”
This is a typical understatement. Bruv is always late, but on this particular occasion he’d been five and a half hours late because he swears blind, the train to the studio was attacked by giant black beetles. . .
Obviously you’re a lot different from Swells/Attila.
“I’m not a ranter. Look it up in the dictionary and you’ll see it means ‘talking for a long time loudly and stupidly’ (Hello Oppo – Ed). I think I’m a little bit quieter, a bit more subtl. I’d say was doing social satire and sketches in verse form with a bit of politics thrown in and a bit of word play. . .”
What motivates you?
“I’d rather do this than get a job . . . I’ve done a few things, I was on the buses and I worked in a pet food factory, but I’m afraid I haven’t got the work ethic much. I do what I do beat, string words together, entertain people . . . but make that ‘entertain’ in inverted commas. . .”
You weren’t all that keen on the Guardian ‘post Cooper Clarke’ crack?
“I hate that because I was writing stuff in a similar style to what I do now years before JCC was heard of. I don’t think he’s like me at all. All his stuff’s done to the same metre and he’s very Dylanesque with a few toilet jokes thrown in. All my toilet jokes are socially and politically sound.”
You’re a socialist obviously.
“Yes, but I’m very new to socialist politics. I was brought up on the Daily Express, my father’s a Tory and three of my uncles are in the NF . . . it wasn’t till I was in the sixth form that I got into socialism. I’m not really up on all the theory and the pamphlets but I know what I like and I like what I know.”
Are you a prolific writer?
“Fairly. But I’m doing a lot of things, I write sketches, and I’m four pages into a novel . . . three quarters of the stuff I reject.”
You ought to put a book of sketches out.
“Wel that’d be a lot like a comedian selling his own jokes . . . I’m a bit wary of too much exposure, I’ve got a lot of telly coming up and I think there’s a real danger of getting over-exposed . . . it killed of music hall, mannnnn.”
Do you relate to the other new poets?
“Oh yeah, obviously, it’s good that we’re all working together, strength in numbers and all that. But I was the first to say I’d never have anything to do with the poetry establishment and I’m the only one who hasn’t.” (Attila and Swells cower in shame).
“I’d have said poetry was in better shape than rock’n’roll for fresh young talent.
“Oh, I dunno, there’s a lot of good bands about, like the Neurotics and the Redskins, and New Model Army who are my personal faves . . . I always thought a lot of the Oi bands were too negative, they knew what they didn’t like but not what they did, whereas a band like the Redskins are saying ‘unionise, unionise’, which is a lot more positive. Personally I’m more of an old soul fan, more of an old r&b fan. Most of the stuff I buy is very old.”
Anything else you wanna talk about?
“Whelks of course. . . the reason for my bad health was I was brought up on whelks.”
And copies of Knave I’d have guessed.
“No no, I’m very embarassed about that. I don’t take it monthly at all. In fact I don’t even know if it comes out monthly . . . certainly not the second Thursday in every month. . .”