from the bay of thumbs to the gulf of crumbs
I was very happy to learn, a few days ago, that Ben Goldberg's Ba Da Bing! label is going to be reissuing a bunch of records by the Yummy Fur. (Here's a pretty comprehensive site about them.) They played around Glasgow for most of the '90s--initially recording 10- or 12-song 7-inch singles with exploding-note-theory guitar parts and an energy level that has to have come from seeing the Stretchheads a million times at an impressionable age (and actually Richie from the Stretchheads played with them for a while). (Actually, a whole lot of people played with them for a while; two others were Paul Thomson and Alex Kapranos, later of Franz Ferdinand. In further indie footnote action, they apparently came up with the phrase "Le Pastie de la Bourgeoisie.") Later on, the Yummy Fur's songs stretched out considerably, and got much more keyboard-based--their last few singles, especially "Shoot the Ridiculant," sound almost like another band entirely. And they were, of course, named after Chester Brown's comics.
The main force behind every incarnation of the Yummy Fur, though, was John McKeown--thanks to him for permission to post both of today's songs. "Policeman" (MP3) was a short and salty single from, I think, 1997. I interviewed him late that year, and here's what he had to say about "Policeman": “It’s a pro-police song. It’s about indie kids and how they always complain about the police force. But when they get their video nicked by some junkie, these are the same people that turn into fawning idiots when the police come around. It’s also about how people who are into indie music tend to think what they’re doing is somehow important. I tried to get into the head of a policeman and what he’d think of them... and then there’s just some strange stuff about the Residents and cocaine and all that.” He also mentioned at the time that the Yummy Fur had re-recorded "Policeman" for a single for "Calvin Johnson's new dubplate label"... no idea whatever happened to that version, although I'm mighty curious.
My favorite Yummy Fur lyric ever (and I've quoted it before, I know) is their 40-second-long song "Liliput." (Incidentally, if you haven't heard Liliput the band before, follow the link in this parenthesis and go listen to "Ain't You" right now.) The song goes, in its entirety: "Why don't you listen to Liliput/Where punk rock starts and ends?/Maybe if you listened to Liliput/Your songs would find more friends."
McKeown is now in a new band called Mars Hotel, about which I know very little; here's a song from their recent demo, "Kids in Guernica" (MP3).
Speaking of geniuses from Glasgow: the final issue of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's comic We3 came out today--this was the miniseries hyped as "The Incredible Journey meets The Terminator." (A Morrison quote about it from this intriguing interview: "This is a story from a kind of animal perspective... it's about meat and motion, hunger and fear and survival.") It's actually sort of Morrison's saving grace that he's a total sentimentalist at heart--this one has a low-key, heartstring-tugger ending, which is a welcome thing after 60-plus pages of science fiction ultraviolence. And the cover concept for the whole miniseries is wonderful. It's a really unusual project, executed with perfect pitch.