Words by Olly MacNamee
Olly MacNamee caught up with the club night’s well versed founder for a quick Birmingham Review Q&A – sharing a slightly graying love for comics, 12” acetate and the lure of the second city.
BR: What is the draw to Birmingham, given your club nights tend to run in London?
SP: It’s a bit of a second home for me because I went to Wolverhampton University, the only place outside of my hometown I’ve ever lived. With a lot of my friends at Birmingham University I spent a lot of time there around 2001.
Yeah, the people at the Hare & Hounds… every time I’ve gone there, I’ve always got on really well with them. I’ve performed at their Spoken Word nights, Speak Up, that they used to put on. I liked everyone, I liked the venue, I liked the place, so really, although I tend to do the We Are Lizards club nights exclusively in London, Birmingham tends to tempt us back. I’ve also sent artists from my label there (Speech Development Records); B Dolan went there. I’ve also done the Speech Development tour there, with Warren Peace and B Dolan.
BR: As long as you avoid Broad Street, it’s a great city.
SP: Yeah, definitely. And I’ve been in a bit of bother on Broad Street in my time, but that’s Broad Street for you.
SP: Yeah, yeah. I agree. The whole Kings Heath area was new to me. The first time I performed at the Hare & Hounds was with, amongst other people, Musa Okwonga, who is a god of the spoken word, and a guy called Ed Sheeran who’s done quite well since. It really is a good spot.
BR: So what can people expect from a Scroobius Pip/We Are Lizards club night?
SP: Simply, a really good party. And another reason we keep on coming back to Birmingham, and specifically the Hare & Hounds, is that the people seem to just get it. Although the music does tend to lean towards Hip Hop, Funk and RnB and a bit of Indie, we never actually have any set rules. As long as people are getting into it and dancing, we’re happy.
I’ve been doing it in London, monthly nights for four years now, then when we took it to the Hare & Hounds and realized it was busy enough for us to come back, we were sold. The next two times it was rammed out and people were getting into it. What I liked, and it is a bit of a Midlands thing, is that the crowd was straight onto it. They were all up for it and up for a dance. In London it can be a slower start, but in Birmingham, and after a live band maybe – offering local talent a stage – we get the DJs on, including DJ Destruction who’s a former DMC champ. People were coming up to him all night long asking who he was, when he’s back, when can they see him again. He’s our jewel in the crown.
The club night in Birmingham is a bit of a weird one for me too. I don’t often drink these days, I’ve just drifted away from it really, but in Birmingham I do always tend to drink. I don’t think I’ve even drunk in 2016 yet, so the We Are Lizard club night might well be the first time.
BR: I’ll buy you a drink if I see you on Saturday. But moving away from We Are Lizards, like your namesake (‘The Scroobius Pip’ by Edward Lear) you seem to be something of a career chimera – with your Distractions Pieces podcast, your club nights, music, and even a graphic novel. Anything else we should know about?
SP: I’ve got a couple of comic book ideas, but they’re bouncing around with a lot of other projects at the moment. But on Monday I’ve got Kieron Gillen (comic book writer) and Jamie McKelvie (comic book artist) who did the comic, The Wicked + The Divine, coming in to record a podcast that should be out sometime in February. Gillen is currently writing the Marvel Darth Vader comic, so I’m a huge fan of them and looking forward to that. Jamie is the first comic book artist I’ve interviewed, having already interviewed comic book writers like Alan Moore (Watchmen) and Garth Ennis (Preacher).
BR: And what about your tastes in music? With the way we can access music now, have you found you’ve become more eclectic? When I was younger I had just enough money to buy one album a week, and one only.
SP: Yeah. In my day at school, like you, if you were into Punk, like I was, you were into Punk and that was it. But when I worked in HMV, and before ‘free music’ over the Internet, that was the first place I found I could try out different genres of music more readily. Then people who worked in record shops knew their stuff, they were hugely knowledgeable of the particular section. They knew their shit. You could talk to the Hip Hop guy and he could tell you what was good.
I worry that, because music is a bit more disposable, we are going to see people that don’t have those (physical) albums that changed their lives, that spoke to them. I agree, in my day I could afford a couple of albums a month and that meant that those albums were played inside and out and I knew every lyric to every song, B-sides included. Now you can just grab a hundred songs in moments, skip through the bits that you like only. But I try not to focus on that ‘coz you can come off as the bitter musician asking people to, ‘stop stealing my music’. But yeah, it does sadden me.
The amount of repairs my mum used to have to do to my coats, because the CD Discman didn’t quite fit into my pocket. But again, I would only take the one CD to school, not three or four. I used to have to get the train to school and listen to Punk, Metal, whatever.
BR: Any stand out albums that mean a lot to you? One’s you go back to.
SP: Three albums that stand out for me particularly in my formative musical years was Rancid’s Out Come the Wolves, Offspring’s Smash – which was a great record, Green Day’s seminal album, Dookie. Those were my teen years and I loved them. I’ve still got nothing but love for Green Day, even though I’m not that much into their new stuff.
BR: With the clock ticking… again like your namesake, are you ‘the wisest beast’ of them all?
SP: I think I definitely am (laughs). I feel like I’m old as fuck now, and that translates for me into wisdom.
Scroobius Pip presents We Are Lizards at the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath) on Saturday 30th January – featuring Scroobius Pip, Destruction, Push Music, Redshift Rebels, Disco Stu + The Oddysee (live) For direct gig info & online tickets, visit http://hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk/new-show-scroobius-pip-presents-we-are-lizards/
For more on Scroobius Pip, visit http://www.scroobiuspip.co.uk/
For more on the Hare & Hounds, visit http://hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk/