How do you favourite musicians spend Christmas? We took the liberty of asking them. From Biffy Clyro man Simon Neil getting his baubles out to Drenge’s penchant for spliffs and Scrabble, via debauched tales of yuletime mayhem from The National, Manics and more, here’s 24 acts on how they spend the festive period.
Naturally, Alice Cooper likes to spend Christmas Eve taking his pet snake for a stroll down his local high street. “We had a bunch of snakes in the ’70s,” he told NME. “We had Boa Derek, we had Julias Squeezer and we had Yvonne. Yvonne was the big one. She went Christmas shopping with me and we caused absolute chaos.” So next time you see a python wriggling about Argos…
“We used to go to the pub all night and then have terrible hangovers all of Christmas Day but now we sit in watching telly and wait till midnight to open presents,” Biffy Clyro‘s Simon Neil told us, urging readers to join him in having “a naked Christmas! No-one does that enough. There’s nothing like getting to know friends and family when everyone’s dongs are swinging.” Put it away, Simon.
“We give a present away and get drunk on eggnog,” says Brody Dalle of her typical Christmas. “We’re usually in the desert for Christmas, which is nice. So there’s a cactus with fairy lights on it. There’s nothing quite like being in the high desert in Joshua Tree when it snows – it’s so surreal.”
What does Liam Gallagher get up to at this most wonderful time of the year? Simple. “I’ll be sitting there all day, getting wankered,” he told NME of his Christmas Day plans. “Probably eating loads of fucking food and all. Same as ever.” Can’t say fairer than that.
Shout out to Fuck Buttons‘ Andrew Hung for one of the strangest Christmas Day traditions we’ve heard. “We take a metal bin and a cooked chicken to our loved ones’ graves, place incense candles around it and burn of effigies of money. If I have a girlfriend with me, she’s not allowed to come with us – she has to stay in the car. I’d probably stay in the car too if I could, to be honest.”
Foals‘ Yannis Philippakis’ weirdest Christmas memory is a belter. “I’ve done drugs in a church on Christmas Eve off a present that was meant for someone else. I was probably about 17, so I can just about put it down to being young and stupid,” he told NME. Presumably his Christmas Days are a bit more chilled nowadays.
All The Vaccines‘ Justin Young wants for Christmas is to avoid accidentally feeding his dog his families’ Christmas dinner. “You know when you’re a kid you’re told not to put your elbows on the table? I once did and the table collapsed,” he says of one harrowing Christmas Day. “All the food fell on the floor and our dogs ate it all. I was only five. It was very traumatic.”
“I get real drunk with my friends, then go to church,” says Merchandise man Carson Cox. “My mum goes to church every Christmas Eve, and as a sign of solidarity I always join her. As a kid I remember thinking we were all here to hear stories, lessons, genuinely reflect on life. But no, it’s just people afraid to die, grasping onto the past in a way that’s really unhealthy.”
Mackenzie Scott, or cult US growler Torres as she’s best known, is a bit of a prankster around her native Nashville, it turns out. She’s been known to ‘deer hump’ at Christmas, a prank that involves “rearranging the reindeer statues in people’s yards into vulgar positions,” she told NME. A proper neighbourhood menace.
What makes the perfect Christmas Day? For Nicky Wire from Manic Street Preachers, that’s pretty simple. “Closing the doors, closing the windows, no visitors, Quality Street, Roses, After Eights, pomagne – which is a really cheap champagne from the ’70s – Top of the Pops Christmas special, Doctor Who. Lots of presents, lots of tacky trimmings.”
A typical Christmas for Jon Hopkins means two things: boozing and board games. “We play a spirited game of Pictionary,” the electronic maverick told NME. “My and my brother drink beer heavily in the afternoon, so the course of the game is set.”
Dutch Uncles‘ Duncan Wallis says the band tend to go out on Christmas Eve eve before heading home for the holidays. It didn’t work out so well for drummer Robin Richards last year: “He got himself a kebab and some fried chicken after a heavy night and it destroyed him. He couldn’t keep anything down for three days. It ruined his Christmas.”
Peace‘s Harry Koisser has a firearm-obsessed mosher uncle he loves catching up with at Christmas: “We have Uncle Ray and he’s a total legend. He’s the uncle who’s really into AC/DC and had an electric guitar and would be rude at the dinner party. He has guns as well – there’s been a lot of situations with guns. We won’t go into them.”
Don’t expect the traditional turkey trimmings if La Roux ever invites you round hers for Christmas. “I hate Christmas dinner, so I’ve decided this year to make burgers instead… My mum thought it was weird when she found out. But she can have some too if she wants.”
Now here’s two guys who know how to take it eez-eh over Christmas. “Pure family, mate,” says Kasabian‘s Tom Meighan of his normal Christmas Day fare. “My missus’ mum and dad live round the corner so it’s a real family zone.” The riotous Serge probably has something more rock’n’roll up his sleeve, right? “I’ve got a two-year-old. For me to see it through her eyes will be really nice.” Ah.
He may front one of 2014’s biggest selling bands but this time last year, Royal Blood‘s Mike Kerr was still working as a chef. Taking a well-earned break over Christmas, he told NME he’ll be dusting off those culinary skills while he’s back home: “I’ll be doing the Christmas dinner. I always do. I make it on my own every year, normally for about 10 people.”
The National‘s Aaron Dessner tries to spend his festive periods “by the fire on my brother’s farm in New York” taking it easy following one disastrous Christmas Day: “We were in Florida fishing. My brother Bryce kicked a catfish and a poisonous barb got stuck in his foot. We had to go to hospital. He needed surgery to get this thing out.” Needless to say, there was alcohol involved.
Liars‘ Angus Andrew will be back to traditional Christmas dinner trimmings this year after a woeful attempt at a “turkey barbecue” last year. “The end result is that you shouldn’t. I ruined that turkey. Never again. It kind of deflated. Which is a really awkward part of the process and not ever attractive.” Lesson learned.
Christmas at the Loveless family household can get pretty strange for the brothers in Drenge: “We had a Christmas meal [in 2012] with our auntie’s mate. Afterwards, he thought it’d be appropriate to have a cheeky Christmas spliff. It was fucking weird. We didn’t have turkey, we had lamb rogan josh,” said Eoin Loveless. “He toked away while we played Scrabble.”
For Hurts‘ Theo Hutchcraft, Christmas is a chance to revert to his teenage years. “I’m from a very small town in Yorkshire with a ridiculous amount of pubs. I go back there and pretend I’m 17 again,” he told NME. “I once woke up so rough that I forgot where and who I was and screamed ‘fuck off’ at my brother when he came in the room to say Merry Christmas. A touching moment of kinship.”
Arcade Fire‘s Will Butler’s typical Christmas is full of “eating cheese and crackers” with his Glastonbury headliner bandmates. “We’ll all go to my mum’s: Win, Regine and the kids… Everyone comes around and sings carols and drinks eggnog.” How very civilised.
“When I was growing up, my mother was freaked out by Christmas, so we would tend to go away to least Christmassy places ever, such as the beach,” says Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars. “So my idea of Christmas is very much not like everyone else’s.”
Enter Shikari frontman Rou Reynolds will be wanting to avoid a repeat of what he told NME is his worst Christmas memory: watching his dad run his mum over on a long drive up to Scotland before witnessing his brother break his arm on the same day. “The bone protruding out his elbow is burned into my brain. At the hospital, my mum got an X-Ray too. She’d broken her foot.” Woah.
Nowadays, Pixies‘ Dave Lovering’s main festive ritual is to “take my two boys to see Santa” in a nearby LA shopping mall, but he hasn’t always been so well behaved. “It involved 20 ounces of eggnog and a female elf,” he says of the most inappropriate thing he’s ever done at Christmas. “Santa erased me from his list for a good five years after that incident.”