IN GLORY LAND
(sic) Ingham, who's always trying to be different, talks to
the Doctors of Madness, who ARE different.
July 10, 1976)
Road's Number Three studio has received a considerable face-lift
since the Beatles last trooped through the door to lay hand
to mixing desk and guitar. The control room now accommodates
24 tracks with quad capabilities, rear speakers hidden in the
government grey walls have been banished by Habitat chic, the
double windows, between which Roy Harper's son used to play
Superchicken, have been built in. No more irate neighbours.
air conditioning finally works. Planters grow out of the walls.
A twist of the dial creates endless moods in lighting; creativity
shall not be hindered by the harsh glare of a light bulb. It
looks a plush imaginative set for a science fiction rock movie.
It is here that the Doctors of Madness are recording their second
overdub stage has been reached on the last song, 'In Camera',
which Webster's tells us is a closed meeting or a meeting in
a judge's private chambers, is in need of some camera snaps
Strange, hair a deeper, less day-glo tone of blue than in the
past, is adamant that the photographer out in the studio giving
a lecture on which angle his Hassleblad will be best recorded
in relation to the microphone is just some guy they found outside
taking snaps of the immortalised Abbey Road pedestrian crossing.
the snaps man doesn't have the benefit of a motor-drive and
must contort his camera awkwardly in order to convey the snap
of the shutter and the whirr of the next frame winding into
place in time with the music, Kid's claim seems reasonable.
snapsman wonders whether his camera is in the right key. 'Oh
God,' moans Kid. 'A dilletante.' He pronounces it 'dilletanty'.
this second opus-de-Madness is up-and-coming John Leckie, a
Harper engineering alumnus who has also produced Be-Bop Deluxe
amoung others. In contrast to the first album, this venture,
entitled 'Figments of Emancipation', which Mr Strange thinks
an accurate description of the contents - 'free to fly as far
as the lead will let you go' - is constantly twisting through
strange choral passages or harmonies or changes from song to
besides 'In Camera' are 'Out', 'Brother' (sic), 'Suicide City'
('a perfect non-fiction fantasy'), 'Perfect Past'. They're far
more listenable than the first effort. More attack, more assurance,
greater vision. Absorbing the traditions of the studios, there
are odd moments of Floyd, Beatles, Harper. 'Doctors of Madness',
though, sounds and feels remarkably similar to the Velvets's
'European Son of Delmore Schwartz'.
happy state of affairs, opines Kid, has been equal effort between
band and producer.
were mutually aware of the direction we were going in with this
one. A lot of the time we worked without discussion. With the
first album there was a lot of talking about the songs, and
the producer would put his bit in.. John is very responsible
for the quality of the sound. I got him because he likes our
stuff and he's a mate, which makes for an easier session.'
the first one,' adds Peter DiLemma, 'I think John Punter had
a different impression of what we were from us. There's the
basis of a great LP in the raw tracks. It just needs to be remixed.'
rejoins Kid, 'He only heard the songs a couple of times, and
there was a feeling of 'gotta start, gotta start', and before
you knew it the song was finished and it was a bit out of control.
There wasn't much room for contemplation.'
35 minutes of grooved vinyl will be available in September,
at which time the group will embark on a major tour. Before
that, through, is the July Midsummer Madness tour. There might
also be a Continental tour since the first album resides high
in the Belgian charts. It also happens to be the best selling
import record in Southern California. That the English public
havne't been similarly moved is of some aggravation to Kid.
thought it was misunderstood', he says in a serious, sincere
didn't get the attention it deserved!' he laughs. 'The people
of Belgium, of course...'
know more about what's going on, blah blah?
you considered that it mightn't have received more attention
because it didn't deserve it?
no. When it came out I only played it four or five times. It
receded more and more into my mind and I was thinking it must
have been awful. I played it this week and it's not. I thought
it was really different, and that there was a lot going on there.'
their present musical bliss, and you are expected to buy it
in vast quantities, the stage show has yet to reach fruition.
Due to the constantly changing sizes of clubs and stages they
must forego a backdrop - 'Some kind of urban backdrop' explains
Urban Blitz, excusing the pun - but the make-up has vanished
and hopefully stages will be large enough to allow an amp-free
trouble,' complains Urban, 'is that small stages force us to
rely on equipment like all those other bands who just stick
their amps up there - that's art as far as they're concerned.
We went to cut that out completely'
'I'd like our performance to not be a rock band playing' says
Kid. 'I'd like it to just be an experience. The more clues you
leave lying around the stage that it's a rock show the harder
it is to get people out of that frame of mind. I know the hardware
is what makes it for a lot of people, but we're very much a
70s band, whereas most other bands are playing 1960s rock.
get to thinking, who's out there? There must be a few 70s bands
in America, but over here it's so lethargic. The Who do a good
show, but it's more or less the same show they did at Woodstock.
enough assertions. Certainly no-one else in their mid-twenties
seems to be making 70s out-on-the-ledge rock.
to what genesis the Doctors of Madness, Possible Experience,
had, ol' blue hair isn't too specific.
was an immaculate conception. Virgin birth. It was Peter and
I playing about 30 percent of the songs we still do, knowing
funamentally we were right but the components outside ourselves
weren't happening. It took us about two and a half yeas to find
the other two gentlemen. By early 1975 we'd done most of the
spade work - the donkey work, I should say for our National
Front readers, but it was very much in embryo. We didn't tour
as Doctors of Madness, really, until last October.
thought it would be very uphill. We'd established a very small
core of fans - disciples - on the first tour, which is what
happened. On the Be Bop tour it grew- you know if you throw
enough shit at the fan, some of it will stick.'
beautifully mixed metaphor there. 'And a lot of it did stick.
Then on the March tour it started to happen, only two months
after the first Be-Bop concert.
didn't surprise me that people were absolutely fanatical about
us, but when people said it was okay, that surprised me. The
occasional 'You're as good as...' Fill in the dots, saying they
were accepting us as a rock band on this level with other bands.
I don't think we work on a level with any other bands. We function
as a glorious failure, which is great because we're only in
it for the glory anyway, or the most mind-shattering experience
all in all, it's exactly what I thought it would be. Probably
a bit better than I thought it would be.'
good, in fact, that Kid has made the crossover to Filmland.
'A small part in Hamlet, directed by an Italian, Sarastino.
Quentin Crisp is in it and he's very gelled off because
my hair's bluer than his. Helen Mirren's playing Ophelia and
Gertrude, identical twins are playing Hamlet and they're both
on stage all the time. It'll be shown in festivals - there won't
be a premier at the London Pavillion or anything like that.
Maybe the Picadilly Classic!'
seemed only the penultimate question to ask.
made you want to be a star?
always been different you know', he replies in his serious,
sincere tone of voice. 'You don't talk about it, you just know
that everyone else in your class is going one way and you're
nothing to do with them. It's really like being an alien, a
visitor. It never occurred to me that I would do anything else
than be in the public eye. It's really no big deal for me because
I've never considered any other possibility.'
the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane after John Cale's first concert
there in early 1975, Kid Strange, his hair a midnight blue perilously
close to black, vowed that in a year it would be him on that
stage. Damned if he wasn't, too.
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