FAMOUS LAST WORDS
used to thump his bassist and wake up hugging tramps. Now
it's Disney movies, ackee with saltfish and - ah! - world
music. But what will he make of the burning question...
the devil are you?
[Pretends to mishear] How is the devil
in me? I'm a great fan of the devil. I like the colour
red, and he's red, so that's alright by me.
was the first gig you ever went to?
I went to see a musical called The Point in Camden in
about 1972. I was four. I can't remember what it was
about but there were a lot of people with pointed heads.
My first pop gig was Squeeze in Ipswich when I was 12.
were you like at school?
The first nine years of my life were spent in the East
End, and I was an average, fairly confident child. It was
a very mixed upbringing - there was a Trinidadian family
on one side and a Spanish one on the other. Then my
parents moved to a village outside Colchester and I went
to a very white school. I didn't fit in - for the rest of
my school days I was on the periphery, a show-off, but
always getting beaten up.
you weren't a rock star what would you be?
A farmer. My grandad and uncle were farmers. I used to
spend my summers in Lincolnshire on the farm. I'd get up
at 5.30am, and sit on my grandad's tractors. I loved it.
your most treasured material possession?
I'm not really into material things. But something that's
never left me is a teddy, that was first my grandad's,
then my mum's, my uncle's, then mine, and now it's my
the worst record you've ever made?
I did some really bad stuff when I was about 18. It was
never released, but you can get it now on the internet -
thanks to some cruel bastards. That was when I was in
Two's A Crowd. Dreadful.
did you last cry and why?
Last night, briefly. I cry from frustration or joy. One
of the most amazing music-related times I cried was when
I saw the Buena Vista Social Club play at the Barbican.
It was a joyous moment.
Kiwi fruits. They make my throat swell up. I had one in
Mexico once just before we went onstage and my mouth
started coming out in blisters and bleeding. I was
briefly allergic to avocados, but I relate that to my
first girlfriend. I used to make her avocado and bacon on
toast, and when we split up I developed an allergy to
avocados - I think it was a psychosomatic thing.
five words to describe yourself.
insecure, sharp, direct.
in your pockets right now?
The keys to my studio, three-quarters of a stick
of Orbit, a Lee Oscar harmonica in D, Camel Lights, an
organic biscuit wrapper, a hanky, a lighter, £50
crumpled up and credit cards.
was the last person you punched?
I haven't punched anyone for a long time. Probably
myself, accidentally. Have I ever punched anyone in the
band? Oh yeah, all of them. I used to punch Alex a lot.
He used to say really annoying things deliberately. I
almost think he liked being punched.
was the last record you bought?
A record of
'70s Angolan music. I buy a lot, about 30 to 40 every two
are you most likely to complain about in a hotel?
I don't really like hotels, period, but I rarely
complain. I hate dreary English hotels, Trusthouse
Fortes. I find them really unsettling.
characteristics have you inherited from your parents?
My mother's side were all farmers, and my
father's were all conscientious objectors and
intellectuels, so I'm an interesting balance of...
your most unpleasant characteristic?
Blimey, there's so many... [Long, long
pause]. The inability to make good cup of tea. I can
what's your culinary speciality?
I make a respectable ackee and saltfish. We spent a month
in the Caribbean earlier this year, and the cook there
taught me how to make it.
Wasting time. I'm not as much of a workaholic as I used
to be, but sometimes I'll be watching TV and get
irrationally angry with myself because I'm wasting time.
music would you have at your funeral?
Maybe a gospel choir. Something everyone could join in
with. No, I'll tell you what. I'd get some Mongolian
dual-tone singers. They sing a really resonant high note
and a low one, both at the same time.
the greatest film ever made?
The Jungle Book is pretty high up there. I
haven't watched it with Missy [his daughter]
yet, but we will do.
you recite a line of poetry?
I'm so bad at remembering words... Most of the
music I listen to now is sung in different languages - I
realised you don't really need to listen to lyrics, it's
more the feel. I'm more into sounds than actual meanings.
So, no. Sorry.
you ever been arrested?
Yes, a lot in my early twenties. Drunk and
disorderly. I once got arrested on Peckham High Street
for dismantling a belisha beacon and walking down the
middle of the road with it stuck on a scaffolding pole.
And I narrowly escaped arrest after trying to change the
clock at the top of the tower on New Cross town hall. The
worst time was at a private viewing at the Slade School
Of Fine Art. I got really pissed and was found hugging a
tramp in Euston Station. When I woke up I was sharing a
cell with a Gurkha who'd got drunk while on leave, and he
was ranting in Nepalese. I was very confused.
turns you on?
really identified it. Er... the smell of fresh cut grass.
Not that exclusively though. It doesn't take much to turn
A sense of holding time in your arms.
are you off to now?
To do Top Of The Pops for the 35th or 36th time.
It's always fun, although when I was having panic attacks
in my mid-twenties, anything like that was hell. It's
nice - sometimes you see people you know there.
Typed up by Veikko's Blur Page