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THE DARK interviewed May 81 by Mick Mercer for Zig Zag magazine

The third Dark single arrives at the ZigZag office and is wondrously received. Two days later the phone rings.

Voice: Hello.

ZZ: Hello.

Voice: Phil of The Dark here. I was thinking it was time we had another article in ZigZag. How about sending Alan Anger?

ZZ: How about me?

Phil: I’ll look up some of your work and see.

And there the matter stood for two days. Phil rings back.

Phil: Hello. I’ve looked up your stuff and it’s alright. Let’s do it then.

I mean, the cheek of the fellow! People have died for less (he lied bravely). Can’t help admiring the lad’s nerve though, what, what? The time is set, the place arranged and my girlfriend Joan and I meet The Dark and a million roadies/friends at Hampstead station. No way would a dull written précis of The Dark’s work to date be of much use but, in short, they have released three marvellous singles, growing more ebullient by the moment and are at peak form now. Who knows where the future will lead them. I give to you snatches of conversation from the night of drunken revelry to give you an insight into their lunatic world.

Phil: If it wasn’t for The New York Dolls, the Pistols wouldn’t’ve been around. They ripped off all their ideas.

Andy: (Guitar, to Phil’s bass): Who made them famous?

Phil (unaware that he’s being wound up): Good old Malcolm. The Pistols ripped off their songs. Steve Jones is a Johnny Thunders clone.

ZZ (To Andy): Don’t knock Johnny Thunders!

Andy: I haven’t said anything about Johnny Thunders!!

Phil: It’s the sort of thing you’d come out with.

Andy: No it isn’t. I’ve always liked Johnny Thunders on guitar.

Phil: Yeah, and Iggy, right…

Andy: If it wasn’t for The Pistols, all these bands you like wouldn’t be known.

Phil: Buuuuulllshittt! Fucking arsehole! The Stooges were a better band than The Pistols ever were.

Andy: Hippies, drugs and flares!

Phil (face reddened with rage): Now that’s where you’re wrong! That’s what Iggy was fighting against back in 1969. While everyone’s wearing kaftans and going ‘woooooorrghhh, more acid man!’ they were a real band.

Andy: They dressed up like birds.

Phil (falling for the bait continually): You’re an arsehole, you really are. Fucking idiot.

Andy: I only wanted it down on tape.

Phil (staring wide-eyed at spinning cassette deck): Uh-oo! Em, wouldn’t you agree though?

Andy: He ain’t got a say in this.

ZZ: I have! It’s half and half really.

Phil: The New York Dolls left a legacy.

Andy: They had tits.

Phil: Great band. Made some great records. The Lurkers covered ‘em. All the bands that played down the Roxy did Stooges and New York Dolls numbers.

Andy: We haven’t covered one.

Phil: And WHY not?

Andy: ‘Cos of you!!! You said you don’t like doing ‘em! ‘Got to reflect our ability, not theirs.’

Phil (ignoring this): The world wasn’t ready for them. They were before their time.

Andy: What, you think they were Gods then, flying saucers merchants who came down and were a bit early?

Phil: Why did Van Gogh cut his ear off?

ZZ: For a woman.

Phil: Ah…so we’re told! Iggy was a genius.

Andy: He was in an asylum. He was mad.

Phil: He was not! He perceived things differently to most people.

Jimlie (new guitarist Jim, who bears a striking resemblance to Charlie Harper): What about this Leonardo da Vinci bloke?

Phil: Van Gogh you arsehole!

ZZ: I could leave this on and go home.

Phil: What??!! Basically…

Andy: Listen to how many times he says basically. Every other sentence.

Phil: Basically (Joan explodes)…you have to understand that I’m the artist of the band.

Andy: What do you want to ask us?

ZZ: When the album comes out, will the singles be on it?

Andy: I wouldn’t want them to…it’s ripping off the public. I don’t like repeating my life. If I have to do an album I want to do an album of new material. If we’re not strong enough, or our material; isn’t, that’s down to us. We’re a band that believes anyone can say what they want. We reckon it’s better than having a leader.

Phil: We take our lead not from the Marxist dogma, more from the Trotskyist angle.
(Everyone falls asleep.)

Andy: Ask us a question. You haven’t done anything but drink!
(Obviously he doesn’t understand my pre-planned style. Let then drink, let them gabble. Let the character emerge.)
Didn’t you get into trouble when you posed outside New Scotland yard for pictures (to be found on their second single)?

Andy: Yeah.

ZZ: Well there yu are. That’s a question.

Andy: New Scotland Yard was closed, believe it or not. The doors were shut. We started taking pictures and the Old Bill came round, loads of ‘em, five or six. They came up to me and said, ‘Do you want us or what?’ and I didn’t know what to say.

Phil: If I remember, you said ‘Who Killed Liddle?’

Andy: I just said it under my breath.

ZZ (Seeing the Charlie Harper clone imbibing severely.) Why did your guitarist leave?

Phil: Because he had a violent temperament.

Joan: But you’re violent!

Andy: Me, no. It’s just an impression I like to give.

Joan: See, you even enjoy it.

Andy: What are we on about?

Phil: I don’t know, but getting back to it.

Andy: What? We haven’t said why Den left. Him (Phil) and Den had an argument. Me and Jim (the drummer) had nothing against him but it was the future of the band at stake. We had to decide.

Part Two. Different pub.

Andy: Phil’s a large, er…large proportion of the band.

ZZ: Let’s talk about Punk now. What do you think of it?

Phil: It’s more relevant now. If we’re talking about punk attitudes, there’s twice as many on the dole. The social scene that spawned Punk is still alive, in fact it’s worse than it was back then. If you’re a kid, a punter what ALTERNATIVE (bellowed) have you got if you want a good night out? Visage, er…

Andy: Talking a load of bollocks here.

ZZ: Right. Don’t you think Oi is crap?

Phil: Right.

Andy: If your Bushell’s mates you’re in and that’s that. It’s not fair on anyone else. What do you want to talk about?

Jimlie (casually interrupting): I got slung in the nick in Finland.

ZZ: What did you do?

Jimlie: I didn’t do anything really. They just didn’t like the look of me. They starved me as well. I went a bit mad ‘cos they gave me some bread and it was mouldy so I thought, ‘Right, I’m taking this back to England as evidence’, but I didn’t realise that by the time I got home it would have been mouldy anyway. Know what I mean?
(Everyone dissolves.)

Jimlie: I suppose it was a bit stupid.

Andy: Do you realise that anyone buying this to read about us will be wondering why we’ve been off the road for so long, and we haven’t said a word about it.

ZZ: Well tell us then.

Andy: I can’t if you’re talking about something else.

ZZ: Why were you off the road for so long?

Andy: Because we’ve been auditioning a new guitarist.

ZZ: You’ve already said that.

Andy: Yeah, but they won’t know unless you tell them. They’ll want to know why we were off the road for three months.

Phil: Exactly. WHY?

Andy: Because it’s all Phil’s fault. He got us into it.

Phil: I’ll tell you what really fucks me off. The music press.

Andy: That’s him!
(Rocker, the roadie, disrupted the conversation here to have a conversation about petticoats. To Joan, I hasten to add.)

Jimlie: What do you reckon to today’s tax budget?

Jim (the until now forgotten drummer): I reckon it’s really great. I think the rich should really live and the poor should be shot. I want to be asked something.

ZZ: Is this the first band you’ve been in?

Jim: Been drumming about five years but this is the first serious band. I wanted to play the guitar but I also wanted to go down the pub. To play the guitar you have to stay in and practice.

Jimlie: I have to stop in, but I’m here. A pub.

Joan: I’m ticklish there. You can’t! (Hands over the table.)

Andy: What’s going on here?

Joan: I’m keeping him happy.

Jim: I don’t practice, but I’m brilliant. Every time I pick up the sticks after a few beers I’m magic. Dunno why. I don’t do press-ups like Cozy Powell.

ZZ: Tell us about your deprived childhood.

Jim: I wanted a Porsche when I was seventeen but my mum wouldn’t buy me one. When we had Den that was the lowest form of guitar, we were really desperate then, then Jim came along.

Jimlie: That’s nice, isn’t it?!! I’m really red hot.

Phil: Continuing on this track, about Felicity Kendall’s erect nipple.

ZZ (To Jimlie): Under your calm exterior there lurks a scheming mind, isn’t that true?

Jimlie: Yeah, I agree, except it’s not necessarily a calm exterior
(He goes off and ends up pinching a girl’s behind. Joan seeks an explanation of such roguish behaviour.)

Jimlie: I bring a bit of light into their lives.

Joan: How do you know you’re putting light into their lives? You might be pissing them off.

Jimlie: You’re talking from the feminist point of view, but on the other hand…

Joan: It’s not feminist, it’s normal.

Jimlie: No…

Joan: What a pig-headed thing to say. She doesn’t love it.

Phil: The Dark, as an entity, as a force…

Jimlie: Audio-spatial temporal configuration?

Phil: Have no peers.

Jimlie: If you don’t mind me asking, what sort of bands do you interview? When I say what sort I don’t mean what sort, I mean…is, what are they sort of like, most of them?

ZZ: Bands like you.

Jimlie: I don’t like the idea of being in bands like you, know what I mean?

ZZ: What?!!!

Jimlie: When I say me, I don’t mean me, I mean us. I don’t think we should be bands like them. I don’t like the idea of bands like you.

ZZ: What is he on about?

Jimlie: I mean isn’t it a bit sad that we all fall into stereotypes? I’m not saying that we do but isn’t it bad the way they all get categorised?

ZZ: You don’t.

Jimlie: Isn’t it bad you get categorised though?

ZZ: I interview bands I like.

Jimlie: Do you? Do you like us?

ZZ: Yes.

Jimlie: Oh!


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