Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! – Dodgy

In Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz an artist on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. This week: the Britpop band's Mathew Priest

1
Performing with you onstage at 1997’s Glastonbury, which comedy act did The Kinks’ lead singer Ray Davies compare Dodgy to?

The Three Stooges.”

CORRECT.

“And I don’t blame him! We were playing the main stage, and saw that Ray Davies was playing the same day. We’re massive Kinks fans and asked if he wanted to come onstage. I think Ray, being quite the opportunist, thought: well, I’m not on the main stage and I could be if I play with these. And he was a grumpy bastard! [Laughs] Maybe I should have made more of an effort to try and speak to a man who’d clearly been through trauma with The Kinks and his brother in a more therapy-based way, but we were young, fun, full of spunk and loving life and laughing. He had a separate Portacabin and didn’t want to speak to us.

“1997’s Glastonbury was a mudbath. We got some mud thrown at us and Andy [Miller, guitarist] threw some back, and a mud-fight happened over on that side of the stage, and we started taking the piss. The song we were doing with Ray was The Kinks’ ‘Tired of Waiting for You’. I shouted: ‘I bet you’re tired for waiting for us, aren’t you Ray?’. With as much weariness as he could muster, he approached microphone and said: ‘God, it’s like being onstage with the fucking Three Stooges!’ [Laughs] We took it as a compliment!”

2
In 1996, Dodgy took part in an all-day charity football tournament against bands including Blur, Oasis and Pulp. Who won the Britpop derby?

“Was it Reef?”

CORRECT.

“There you go! I think they got ringers from Exeter City F.C. or something. They were fit as well ‘cause of all that surfing!  When you’ve been in the studio and touring, you’re not match-fit to run around a field for 90 minutes. That was a mad one – with Liam [Gallagher] squaring up to Damon [Albarn], and us trying to find somewhere to have a little drink in the corner and watch the proceedings!”

“Talking of Pulp: there’s a great story that I’m the reason Jarvis Cocker gave up drugs. In Mark Sturdy’s biography Truth and Beauty: The Story of Pulp, Jarvis is quoted as saying: ‘The defining moment of thinking maybe I should calm down a bit now and try to get my life together was one night I was in a club on Oxford Street doing some drugs in a toilet and the drummer out of Dodgy shouts: ‘Have you been larging it a lot recently?’ No disrespect to Dodgy’s drummer, but that made me think: ‘No, you’ve taken a wrong turn here – calm down a bit.’ If the little fat feller from Dodgy says you’ve been larging it a bit, you’ve got to take stock of your life!’ From that point onwards, he stopped doing as many drugs. And subsequently, Pulp got shit and split up. So that’s my fault as well, I think! [Laughs] I ruined Pulp for everyone!”

3
Name the three extra B-sides on the Japanese edition of Dodgy’s 1996 single ‘Good Enough’.

“Oh, God… is it our cover of Small Faces’  ‘I Can’t Make It’ and….’Grateful Moon’?”

WRONG. Apart from ‘I Can’t Make It’, the other two were: your covers of Jackie Wilson’s ‘(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” and Oscar Brown/Al Wilson’s ‘The Snake’.

“We did a full melange of covers! It must be said we didn’t have much say over what went on the B-sides in Japan!”

‘Good Enough’ was the most-played song on UK radio in 1996…

“I remember going to hire a car and ‘Good Enough’ came on the radio and from the back of the garage, you heard all the mechanics banging their spanners and singing along to it. I took the car back a week later and it came on again, and they were banging their tools and singing along to it again. That was my ‘Paul McCartney milkman moment’ – when he heard the milkman whistling ‘Yesterday’. Though the ‘Hertz Rent a Car Mechanic Moment’ probably doesn’t have the same ring! [Laughs].”

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4
Which famous nickname did you coin for Ian Brown?

“King Monkey.”

CORRECT.

“I coined that and the great thing is he called his debut solo album [1998’s] ‘Unfinished Monkey Business’ off the back of it. We were recording next to The Stone Roses in Rockfield and I was a massive fan. We were invited into their studio, and I couldn’t deal with it. I was too stoned and tongue-tied. We later went onto another studio in Lincolnshire and a Guardian journalist called me and said she heard we’d been with The Stone Roses.

“I was pissed off she didn’t want to talk to us about Dodgy, so I concocted a whole story about how the drummer [Reni] really did all the songs – he did the singing and the guitar, and that their album had the working title of ‘That’s the Way Ah-ha Ah-Aha I Like It’ because they’re big fans of KC and the Sunshine Band, and they were doing a cover of ‘Desperado’ by the Eagles. I looked on the wall and saw the classic picture of the chimp smoking the joint and said: ‘Yeah, you can’t call him Ian. He only answers to King Monkey.’ Everybody’s laughing their tits off and I thought she’d know it was a wind-up, but she printed it word-for-word!”

“I got nervous thinking: are The Stone Roses’ going to be pissed off with me?! But a couple of years later when Mani was with Primal Scream, I went to see them. At the after-show, Mani gave me a big hug and said: ‘Mate, that was the funniest thing ever! We weren’t getting on and were shouting at each other and then we read about King Monkey and that was it! We started taking the piss out of Ian and Ian loved it!’. So maybe I brought them together a bit. I certainly gave him the title of his first solo album. That’ll be on my gravestone!”

5
In a feature titled ‘If Pop Was World War 2’ in Select magazine in 1996 comparing Britpop to historical figures, who was Dodgy frontman Nigel Clark likened to?

“Oof! Mountbatten?”

WRONG. It was Clement Attlee, Britain’s Labour Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951!

[Laughs] I can see that when Nigel goes bald! I can’t wait. Strangely enough, I missed that article.”

*Among many other comparisons, Noel Gallagher was Stalin, Damon Albarn was Churchill, Eddie Vedder was Hitler, Suede were the Home Guard and Perry Farrell was Japan’s Emperor Hirohito.

6
In 2008, you offered to sign fans’ memorabilia as which other drummer?

“[Adopts Scouse accent] Peace and love – Ringo Starr!

CORRECT. In response to the Beatle posting a video message on his website in 2008 saying he would no longer sign memorabilia after a certain date, you jokingly offered to sign it for them on his behalf instead.

“You’ve done some serious research! [Laughs] I thought he was being a twat, but I do have some sympathy because I know he literally can’t go anywhere in public without being mobbed. A few people did send their Beatles merchandise to me to be signed!”

7
Dodgy became the second ever UK act to play to play in Sarajevo, Bosnia after the lifting of the siege, performing a concert at Kuk club in August 1996. Who were the first?

“Hang on! Not 60 Ft. Dolls, but they were a political, slightly punky band? I give up!”

WRONG. It was China Drum.

“That’s it! If I’d sat here for another hour, I’d have got it! Going over to Bosnia, I worried: what the fuck are we doing here? How is a band from England helping? You’re more overwhelmed by the whole situation and disgusted by what they’d gone through. But we got reassured by the kids over there that us coming over to play a little gig and just to show we cared meant the world.

“We did a gig in a basement in Sarajevo and we couldn’t take our gear or PA over, so the stuff we were using was falling apart, and Nige [Clark] loved it ‘cause he said it reminded him of the punk gigs he used to go to by Crass. The kids were leaping about all over the place, and it was this wild and crazy transference of energy. When you see kids with tears in their eyes jumping around, that validates why you’re there.”

Talking of potentially dangerous situations, didn’t Dodgy once end up partying with bikers in a Hells Angels bar once?

“That was in Norway in 1994,. We were off our tits on acid and the only place we could get a drink was a Hells Angels bar. They used to drive their hogs up the stairs and then they would dance to Kylie Minogue. If you’re on acid, it’s the best place in the world to be!”

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8
Which band headlined the Unsigned Stage of your 1996 Big Top gig in Exeter?

Muse.

CORRECT.

“We had some great bands playing with us on that tour, like Catatonia and The Supernaturals. We were known for being a festival band, so the idea was to take a tent around with us, and it would be a real event. We were one of the first paying gigs held at Sefton Park, Liverpool, and there were loads of kids around trying to get in for free. We had Space supporting us and [Space guitarist] Jamie [Murphy] was walking around the perimeter of the fence with his bulldog – the dog had a Triple-AAA pass around his neck – and [someone] put his hand under the fence and was dragging the dog underneath it! There was this fight between Jamie, the dog and the person trying to steal the pass – it was like Escape from New York or something!”

Did you know at the time Muse would be massive?

“I didn’t see them! We got given tapes to listen to and liked what we heard so put them on. I mean, Oasis supported us back in 1994 and I knew they’d go massive. Route 1 Rock ‘N Roll: a beautiful, good-looking John Lennon. Liam was a pussycat and would come into our dressing room to hang out. He was humble and we liked him.”

9
Who were your two teammates when you appeared on the first ever episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks in 1996?

“The Right Said Fred chap [Richard Fairbrass] and comedian Sean Hughes, who has sadly since died.”

CORRECT.

“Back then, they just wanted to find  someone who was prepared to make an arse of themselves – which I was! [Laughs] I was hanging out with comedians like The Fast Show guys back then, so it was fun. I did a Christmas special with Noddy Holder, and afterwards, he invited me to lunch with him. He’s great value.”

Who’s been the most unexpected person who’s turned out to be a Dodgy fan?

“I didn’t expect the [former] Southampton footballer Graeme Le Saux to be a fan – but he is. In the ‘90s, we were at a party and Ronan Keating came up to me with a massive spliff and said: ‘[Imitates Irish accent] How are you doing Dodgy feller?! I love your fucking band!’ I responded: ‘Ronan mate, I don’t hear this in your music’ [Laughs]. You don’t expect Ronan Keating to be sharing a bifta with Dodgy.”

10
A reviews round. Can you guess either:

Which actor made Dodgy’s 1997 song ‘Found You’ his ‘Single of the Month’, describing  you as reminding him of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham?

Or: reviewing ‘Good Enough’ in 1996, which fellow musician described Dodgy as: ‘Can’t sing, can’t play, look awful and they write dire, infuriating songs’?

“[Laughs] I’d love to know who the second one is! Is it Martin Clunes who said the first quote?”

CORRECT. The Doc Martin actor was effuse in his praise of ‘Found You’. And Neil Hannon from The Divine Comedy reviewed ‘Good Enough’.

“Cheeky bastard! [Laughs] I thought Neil Hannon was more polite then. Perhaps I should have ended his career rather than Pulp’s by telling him he looked large. I picked the wrong guy! Sorry people!”

The verdict: 7/10

“I’m happy with that score.”

– The first-ever Dodgy box set, ‘The A&M Years’, an eight-CD collection of 128 tracks, including the albums ‘The Dodgy Album’, ‘Homegrown’ and ‘Free Peace Sweet’ is released on February 25. On the same day, a 4LP vinyl boxset featuring those three studio albums will be released, as well as a Dodgy Best-Of album ‘Ace A’s and Killer B’s;  pressed on vinyl for the first time, featuring all eight of the band’s UK Top 40 hits. All are available via Demon Music

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