Day #8781

The Debbie McGees talk to Digestive Press

Brighton’s new uke heroes The Debbie McGees give an exclusive first ever interview to Digestive Press and talk about biscuits, killer plants and big pencils.

Digestive Press:  What is The Debbie McGees’ favourite biscuit?
Hilary Hotfeathers (ukulele, vocals):
That’s a very hard question. I am partial to a pink wafer myself. I generally like anything with ‘Crunch’ in the name. Fox’s Cream Crunch, Country Crunch, Crunch Bunch, etc.
Barry Allen (ukulele, vocals): Rich Tea has always been my default.
The Thomas Ferguson Band (ukulele, vocals): I think if I could only eat one type of biscuit for the rest of forever I’d choose the humble digestive. It is the biscuit equivalent of air. I’m not entirely sure if that means it’s my favourite, for sake of argument I’ll hand it to the bourbon, it’s the king of biscuits, hence the name.

DP: Please wax lyrical about three (perhaps one each) major influences on the Debbie McGees be they bands, books, films, food, places, people or items of clothing.
TTFB:
I’d like to talk about a song, which is ‘Two Of The Beatles Have Died’, written by a three-year-old girl called Olivia. She might be four years old now, I don’t know. Tracy Is Hot & The Clap did a good cover of it last year. It is possibly the perfect pop song; it’s certainly a song that informs a lot of what we do. It’s not really surprising that a child would write the perfect song as innocence in pop music is incredibly important, and the problem is that if we ever attempt to claim that, for instance, all of The Beatles were brothers, most people would know that we didn’t think that, so it would look contrived. Maybe it’s just because I like songs that mention the Beatles. Like the ones by Daniel Johnston and Devandra Banhart. And maybe songs aren’t the sort of thing to wax lyrical about in case it dampens their magic or whatever. Maybe I should have just talked about banana milkshake.
HH: My polka dot dresses. I have a collection of about ten dresses with polka dots on, ranging in colour, weight, durability, circumference…I think Thomas borrows them when I’m not in the house, I keep finding them strewn on my bed smelling of Co-Op Dutch Lager, and nobody else would drink that. They make me feel mighty real. They make me feel like being twee doesn’t have to mean being a jangly Jane.
BA:

With their painted faces and ukulele-heavy sound The Debbie McGees sound like a made up band, the kind that you could imagine featuring in a comic strip.  It’s always the best way.  Friends before they formed, they acquired some instruments and hey presto!  As Thomas describes it, “it’s like a gang mentality without any knives.”  Instead of knives they wield ukuleles at plants (see below) and play gigs to audiences of one.  “Our second gig had one person turn up, our friend Kathryn. Barry wasn’t even on the stage, he was sat next to her, we ploughed through ‘Richard Aston’ and then just decided to have a conversation instead.”

In an age where most bands don’t even have one ukulele, The Debbie McGees have three.

DP: Do your ukuleles have names?
TTFB:
Terence Trent D’arby.
HH: Mr Claude Atkins. He’s a bluey.
TTFB: My granddad used to have a habit of naming absolutely everything, so it’s put me in good practice. I think we still have his rubber plant, Colin, and his portable heater called Cedric. Or maybe George? I can’t remember which one.

DP: Would you ever consider adding different instruments or would you be more likely to add a fourth uke?
HH:
The first thing I’d add would be a xylophone or some woodblocks.
TTFB: I’d be more interested in adding more vocalists really. Maybe sticking a choir on one of our songs, that what I imagine happening to our songs in my head. I like us being a trio though. Sense of the trinity and everything.
BA: We could set up a uke or two as a drum set.

Of course, to those who follow the fortunes of bands-who-play-ukulele-and-have-‘McGee-in-their-name, The Debbie McGees may cause some confusion with twee, Brighton-via-Glasgow duo The Bobby McGees.  As Thomas explains, it is all going to be ok:  “I thought it was appropriate to call ourselves The Debbie McGees as Debbie McGee is known for being Paul Daniel’s wife, and we’re known for copying somebody else’s name. So I was worried that they would think we were taking the piss out of them, but I got a MySpace message from them saying that they saw one of our gig posters up and it’s now on the wall in their front room so we were completely flattered.”

With that sorted out lets move on to the subject of The Debbie McGees’ first single, ‘Richard Aston, keep it under your hat,’ the video for which can be seen below.

DP: In ‘Richard Aston’ you unsuccessfully battle a killer plant with a ukulele.  In retrospect is there a better way you could have tried to deal with the situation or would you do the same again?
BA:
Our demise was inevitable.
TTFB: Indeed, so, same again all the way. I have strength in my convictions. I realise my problem this time was that I grabbed the neck and tried to whack it with the body of the uke, and the leaves would just bend every time I made contact with the plant. Whereas if I’d grabbed the body of the uke and jabbed at the leafy bastard with the machine-head end then i’d be more likely to maim its scrawny green torso before it devastated me.
HH: I would use a popular weed killer or some slugs. Or a combination of the two. Maybe slugs armed with pipettes of weed killer. And a back-up army of snails with aphid ray-guns.

DP: After ‘Richard Aston’ which other interesting people do you plan to write /have you written songs about?
TTFB:
As it happens we only write about people we know as it’s the thing that inspires us most. We wrote ‘Richard Aston’ because we’d just bought our instruments and Richard was in the room, so it seemed like the natural thing to write a song about. I’m a big fan of songs where the title is just somebody’s name. My favourite at the moment is ‘Tracey Emin’ by François & The Atlas Mountains.
HH: I’d like to write about Julie Goodyear as I’ve already made a video for the song.
TTFB: But yeah at the moment we’ve got about four songs completed for the EP, one’s ‘Richard Aston’ which is about Richard Aston who, as we’ve already established, makes films about killer plants. One song called ‘Lucy Roberts’ is about our friend Lucy Roberts who is one of those people who is spectacularly lovely yet spends a lot of time worrying about things, so we wrote her a song about how, if she ever decides to become a mother, her offspring will be sunshine children. Another song, ‘Alice Kelly’, is about Alice Kelly who used to be a member of the band Tracy Is Hot & The Clap. The song fundamentally explains that she is my favourite tambourine player.
The next question is not really relevant to anything but I thought I should have one more question to round the interview off, so:
DP: Where is the most interesting place you have visited in the UK?
BA:
Hemel Hempstead in 2005 was a blast.
TTFB: The second-hand record shop I used to work at in Southampton would be a constant source of wonderment to me, in that it was a building where every room would be full of records and somehow a large number of them would be quite good. It had a certain smell about it, not quite like the musty smell you get in most charity shops, but enough that after a day of shuffling through old James Last LPs i’d come home smelling like a sock that had been wrapped in newspaper in an attic for twenty years. Plus some of the clientele would often be bottomless troves of information, in a slightly alarming way. One guy would ask you what day you were born when he met you and would proceed to immediately tell you what was number one in the charts that week, the record label, sometimes even the catalogue number. Mine was ‘Take My Breath Away’ by Berlin, which is good, as I like that song.
HH: Cumberland Pencil Museum. It’s got the biggest pencil in the world. It’s really big, its bigger than me.
Grand.  The Debbie McGees are currently working on their first EP, ‘Debbies Do Demos.’
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Day #8692

KateGoes…to Digestive Press

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Today Digestive Press offers you something completely different from our normal.  To celebrate the end of February and the release of the ‘Happy Dancing EP’ by one of Digestive Press’ favourite bands, KateGoes, we were granted an interview with head Kate, Kate Thompson. For those of you who don’t know, KateGoes are a whirling, manic entity, half rock band and half crazed dressing up box.  They hold the keys to a world full of dinosaurs, kung fu and snot in which each gig is like an episode of Mr Benn (with squeegees).

– Hello Kate, how are you today?
– I’m crap, I messed up going to Pertemps to sign on and look for *ptah yuck* work and they’ve given me one last lifeline. The lifeline is ask the audience. I already used up phone a friend and 50/50. I wonder what they’ll tell me to do?

– What is KateGoes’ favourite biscuit?  Do you all have similar taste or do you fight about biscuits a lot?
– I know a band who had a competition each practice to see who could buy the nicest biscuits. This question has reminded me to see if they want to do this in KateGoes but saying that, Baker Beth Hopkins is a remarkably good cake maker and caters for cafes, parties and band practices! Personally I like all biscuits, the bigger the selection the better, I mostly like jam and cream and pink wafers and peanut toffee ones.

It was not biscuits that made this interview possible but cakes.  I had never taken a present for a band before but KateGoes are the kind of band that make you want to make them cake.  So I did.  We missed the gig due to a temporal mix up but still delivered the cake to Kate and a few emails later she had branded me a ‘crunching munching biscuit madman’ and agreed to answer a few questions.  It should be noted at this point that some years ago I decided that writing about music was not really for me as I found I had an inability to describe music and it was far more fun to write about made up stuff.  So, sorry about that.  Still, some bands demand to be scribbled about with the same kind of barely comprehendible enthusiasm that the band themselves put into their live shows.

– My favourite KateGoes song is ‘kung fu movie.’ Which is yours? why?
– My favourite is Don’t Overanalyse because of the clarinet line. Also it is one of our best arranged songs I think and the lyrics actually make sense even though I find it very hard to not Over Analyse at least I know what I SHOULD be thinking.

– Please provide a short burst of love/enthusiasm for another contemporary artist:
– Betty and the Id and Misty’s Big Adventure.  Both from Birmingham. The most excited and happy I get at the moment is when I can see and hear these bands.
Betty and The Id (
www.myspace.com/bettyandtheid) are awesome live grungy garagy 60’s rock like Love and The Monks.  I strongly recommend the Grumpy Fun and Grumpier Fun tour CD’s by Misty’s Big Adventure (www.myspace.com/mistysbigadventure) and the Minute Melodies by Grandmaster Gareth (www.myspace.com/grandmastergareth).

The mention of Misty’s Big Adventure comes as no surprise as the two bands have often been touring partners and Grandmaster Gareth, Misty’s lead man has produced KateGoes records.  Indeed, the first time I saw KateGoes was at a Misty’s fancy dress gig which explained why the five-piece were all dressed up as Misty’s songs and why Kate, a hyperactive force behind the keyboard, was sporting a cardboard box microwave, complete with door, on her head.  It should also be explained at this point that each time KateGoes play a gig they ‘go’ somewhere.  The next time I saw them they had gone to the seaside and played in old fashioned bathing suits and fishing gear and even ‘went fishing’ midway through one of their songs.  A number of people looked somewhat confused.  Perhaps I should have asked about that.

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– Could you please explain the lyrics, “flibba dom dom flibba doopa doo, flippa doopa du flubba dubba dum dum dum, tinky tonk, tinky tum dunky dum flinky dink flukky doo flikky dee ping ping pong?”
– It is my Hi Yah! If I was in a Kung Fu Movie they are the noises I would make as I swung, limp bodied through the jungle and rustled along the ground disguised as a lump of grass on some string.

– What would be the single most useful thing about having detachable arms?
– It would reduce a large amount of tension on the shoulders.

I think the best thing about detachable arms would be being able to take them off when you go to sleep so that they wouldn’t get in the way.  But then, I just like the whole idea of detachable body parts (when I’m in a good mood and wandering around the house or to the shops I find myself singing, “it would be insanely cool if I had detachable arms, detachable arms.”  I’m singing the words wrong but they just stuck that way).  But KateGoes aren’t all detachable arms and man-killing left eyes.  ‘Heartbeat’ is their icky, sicky, snotty love song that makes you want to grin manically through the vomit which could be caused equally by the lovey-doviness of it or lines like, “breathe me in, your snot will come out when I sneeze.”  Either way it is a beautiful moment.

– If you were to dj for a room full of one type of animal which animal would you most like it to be?
– I’ve thought about this one.  I’d DJ punk to porcupines so I could see what it would have felt like in the clubs and pubs back in the day.  Porcupines look a lot like punks. Porcupunks.

– When I’ve seen you play you’ve ‘been’ to the seaside and to a milliners. if time, money and reality were no object where would you most like KateGoes to ‘go’ to do a gig?
– KateGoes….Underwater. I dream about this gig. I love thinking about it. I’m thinking about it now in fact.

That would indeed be fantastic.  Thanks Kate.

– Kate Goes new EP ‘Happy Dancing’ is out now and available from Fopp or from their own website, http://www.myspace.com/kategoes
-Misty’s Big Adventure play Manchester Academy 3 on Saturday with Betty and The Id and Abie Budgen.