Monday, January 19, 2009

The Music That Made... Superman Revenge Squad

Superman Revenge Squad is Ben Parker of Croydon, who with only an acoustic guitar to hand and a sharp enquiring mind and fast tongue in his head made one of our favourite albums of 2008, This Is My Own Personal Way Of Dealing With It All, which we impetuously left out of our end of year countdown as you can only buy it from him at gigs or from his Myspace, which evidently you should. (Although we did nominate and write about it for The Line Of Best Fit's Under The Radar list) With his litany of pop cultural lyrical touchstones and our love of his work we figured he'd be good value for our questions, and so it proved. "I fear they might make people question my musical history, and that I might have waffled on a bit" he forewarned us.

First single bought: Hmmm. Well, it was probably something by Iron Maiden, on cassette single in the bargain bin in Woolworths I think – possibly a song called Holy Smoke. The cardboard box it came in was quite battered if I remember rightly. I wasn’t into music at all really up until about the age of thirteen, and then suddenly I was stupidly obsessed with it. And I went into a big heavy metal phase and spent all of my time reading heavy metal magazines, playing the guitar and not doing any homework. I still have a soft spot for Iron Maiden – they get a few mentions on the songs I’ve written, along with other people I’ve really liked in the past, like Morrissey and the Smashing Pumpkins. If it sounds like I’m taking the piss I am doing it fondly. Although not, perhaps, in the case of Smashing Pumpkins, but that's a whole other story.
First album bought: I got Thriller by Michael Jackson when I was at the primary school. Maybe because I liked the video for Thriller. Certainly not because of the duet he does with Paul McCartney on it!
First gig voluntarily attended: Maybe a little embarrassingly, it was the Little Angels. I quite liked them. It was, honestly, the loudest gig I’ve ever been to – my ears were ringing for days – although I suppose they weren’t as used to that kind of noise in those days.
The record that most made you want to get into music: As soon as I started listening to music I wanted to get a guitar, and I started writing songs - I've got books and books of lyrics (really bad lyrics!). I remember liking Loco Live, a live album by the Ramones, quite a lot because I could play it fairly easily – it didn’t have fiddly guitar bits in - and it was quite exciting at the time. Other notable things I got were 1991 The Year Punk Broke – the video with Sonic Youth and a load of other good people on it and reading the Morrissey and Marr book (The Severed Alliance), because it made me realise that you could sing music and be a bit awkward!
The three headliners at a festival you were curating: If I had to pick today it would possibly Will Oldham and Alasdair Roberts and Herman Dune (with Andre back in the band!). I love all of them. But if I could (slightly geekily) populate it with people and bands from the past if would be Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, Bob Marley and the Wailers (from about 1972) and Black Sabbath (from about 1974 or so).
A song not enough people know about but everyone should hear: There’s a song called This Time Around by a band called S.O.U.L that I love. It’s on some Northern Soul compilation I’ve got and it has the best intro to a song ever. According to Last. fm I’m the only person that has ever loved the song, of the 42 listeners that it has had. So I’m gonna pick that.
A song you'd play to get people dancing: I don’t really do dancing generally, but I remember when a friend of mine was Djing a night of mainly Aphex Twin type stuff and he slipped Jackie Wilson’s (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher on and it was great. I’d do that maybe, amongst a load of truly miserable songs that no-one could dance to.
The last great thing you heard: I played with Paul Hawkins last week, and he’s got a new song called something like I’ll Take Good Care Of You and it’s brilliant.
Your key non-musical influences: Dunno really – Film makers I like are the obvious ones: Mike Leigh and David Lynch and the Coen Brothers. Books I love are: Brighton Rock by Graham Greene, Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton, Jack Maggs by Peter Carey. I read quite a bit, different things, but those are faves.
Your favourite new artist: Jack Mountain. Definitely. He recorded three albums last year and gave them out at gigs for free and they are great. For good examples check out Saturday Fuck Off from Escape From The Planet Of Rockers or My Heart's An Anchor from Battle For The Planet Of Rockers – they are free to download I think.


Superman Revenge Squad is playing assorted dates around the country; if you're in or near Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach on 27th February with Gindrinker and the aforementioned Paul Hawkins & Thee Awkward Silences looks like a three line whip for attendance to us. This is what he sounds like - Idiot Food...



...and Kevin Rowland.

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