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Article, Select, mid 1996: (Click to enlarge.)
Interview with Julian from the (now defunct)
"Good Stuff" website, from 1996 or 7
It has been said that one of the true exciting things about rock
& roll is watching a band, who at any minute, looks like they
will fall to pieces. It is this uncertainty of not knowing if the
band will make it through, which makes it all the more interesting.
Each show, each album, is looked upon with anxiousness and nervousness.
Admittedly, there aren't many bands around these days which have
this combustibility. There is one ramshackled mob though, who did.
They were a farce of themselves and at times their fans. They were
at their peak when at one of their most important gigs of their
careers, their equipment broke down, and all hell broke loose on-stage.
Their guitarist, prancing and preening, defied all the madness by
proclaiming that they still looked so cool and none of this mattered.
It did though, and These Animal Men stood up in the face of adversity
lost control and disappeared. It was a monumental act and they will
forever be remembered of their last stand in front of thousands
at that festival.
Things change. Their guitarist ''Hooligan'' dropped that monicker
and now leads his life with his real name Julian. The Men looked
great, and finally got their music to match. They wised up, but
they were still the same bunch of disorganised loons they relished
being. These Animal Men were a very misunderstood bunch. This look
back may help you to understand one of the most under-rated and
overlooked bands of the 90's.
"Maybe we could take the fuzz off that, or turn this
down..., and then maybe it would be easier for people to like it,
but that isn't the person I want to sell records to!"
Can I be honest?
(Nervous) Yeah, sure...
I thought taxi For These Animal Men'' sucked.
Oh… well, what about the first album?
I liked it. I thought the ''Taxi...'' e.p. would be something
new and interesting, but...
Ahhh, well...yeah (laughs) that was a confusing time for us.
Well, you in particular, were seen as a spokesperson for the
New Wave of the New Wave a few years back. Was being involved in
that movement detrimental to These Animal Men?
I think that some of the people were detrimental, not necessarily
the other bands. The bands were pretty much together, it was really
a self contained movement, with the exception of Elastica and SMASH,
the others were a bit more ‘charty’. I don't regret
anything that happened.
I like bands with definite not social but selfish politics.
Well, you know... rock & roll in England was really into charity
work and saving the rainforests and stuff... just generally more
caring. NWONW was a community of one, with very selfish politics.
We had nothing, so we had nothing to give.
It was sort of a return to the drugs and rock & roll, like
what rock & roll meant in the 50’s, a bit of the 60’s
and in the late 70’s when it went all over the top. You know,
just in general, all the squandering and the wasting of money (laughs).
I like my rock stars to be rock stars. NWONW was a kind of return
to that, it took the guitar away from the universities and gave
it back to the people. It came back again though, some of the indie
bands changed their names, cut their hair... we were powerless against
that, but for a while it was great. We just seemed to confuse and
annoy everyone… which was great!
You can't live off past glories though.
Oh no... I know… (laughs).
"I like my rock stars to be rock stars. NWOTNW
was a kind of return to that, it took the guitar away from the universities
and gave it back to the people"
So, where does that put These Animal Men now?
Well, like you had mentioned earlier about “Life Support
Machine”. That is such a refreshing and original, fucked up
glam rock sound. Maybe some of the other stuff won't be so mad,
which is a shame. We're somewhere between, (squirms a bit, twists
his hair, smiles and continues)… sound-wise, the Clash, the
Only Ones and Marc Bolan. That is where we are now,… which
is pretty original really. Most bands are still sounding the same,
like Cast, Supergrass to Oasis,… it's the same 'matchedness'.
Isn't that a bit tired and dangerous ground, comparing yourself
to Marc Bolan? Doesn't that make it easier for you to be written
off with that tag? It has happened to others before too.
The record is hard to listen to. (He takes a minute to think about
it, and laughs nervously) You know, when you buy a record these
days, it is all organised for you. You know, 12 songs, each one
a possible single,… there is no effort on the listener’s
part. It is all too easy to like. The way we are... there is like
this edge of embarrassment... almost being too real. Especially
in the beginning, there wasn't all this typically English way of
pretending, so that everyone can be comfortable. With us, it is
real. You have to be a fan,… not necessarily of us, but of
rock & roll. It is not simple enough for us to ride any sort
of wave, or cash in on it. In fact, we wouldn't be allowed to! We've
never cashed in on anything in our lives. I mean, we've tried! (laughs
loudly) Everyone else is a millionaire, except us!
Do you feel left out?
No, no, no-, it is an honor for us to be that sort of band,
you know, where people say ''What a mess!''. That is the way I like
Are you content then, to accept the fact that maybe nothing
Maybe. But that is the way it is. You can be in the studio and
have a song, and know that if you go that way, it could be massive
and sell loads of records, but you would be unhappy. Or, you can
put what you want into it, you know… really fuck it up, and
get the big sound you want, and know immediately that it won't appeal
to the masses. You make that decision with the beginning of every
song you write. Maybe we could take the fuzz off that, or turn this
down… and then maybe it would be easier for people to like
it, but that isn't the person I want to sell records to!
Doesn't that frighten people, and lose fans, being 'elitist'?
Aaah, well elitist is cool (laughs). Whatever you are into, you
buy a record and if the record makes you feel good, you feel like
you've discovered something no one else knows.
Do you think I am busting your balls?
No, no no… it's cool. There is something definitely commercially
wrong with us (laughing)
How do you keep Virgin interested?
I don't know. It was a band in the beginning-.and I guess they
thought it would all explode! (bursts out laughing ) I don't think
anyone took into account the ‘middle of the roadness’
of peoples' tastes. I know I was stunned! From about 1994 onwards,
it seems that most bands were excelling in the average. There seems
to be this critical acclaim in shifting units. It's disgusting!
It makes you wonder if maybe the people who like that stuff really
are more interested in their first-class flight and cocaine at the
end of it. Bands that are successful can offer you those kind of
things, and it does happen, you know “Fly out and see us,
give us a good review… here's some drugs.” and you start
to think maybe people are more into that than the music. (He sits
pensively, twitches and then looks around and bursts out laughing)
One change that The Men have done, is put out remixes of their
two new singles. A stupid thing to do really, especially for a rock
& roll band. The experience wasn't necessarily to their liking
though, but Julian admits that they thought they could at least
make some money out of it, by trying their hand at remixing a track
What about these remixes on the singles?
Everyone is remixing stuff and getting paid for it... so we decided
to try it out, you know… cash in on this thing (laughs), but
they said, “Nope, you're the band, you don't get paid anything.”
(Shrugs his shoulders and laughs)
Really though, remixing isn't really necessary or fitting to
These Animal Men.
We're a bit uncomfortable with it really, all of this ‘formatting’
stuff. We had to put a song out there and no-one did anything, but
those who did must have read too many Aphex Twin interviews.
You give them a song and they don't do anything with it, but in
return, give you one of their own songs! In the end, we got back
some of this' house stuff… and we know absolutely nothing
about house, so we were like asking people, “Is this any good?”
You know, we're really not as on the ball as people may think. We
know nothing about the business side of things, we're ok on the
rock & roll side. All this house, hand-bag, hard-bag stuff laughs....
We just gave it some wide boy and off he goes in his tracksuit and
woolly hat, “Oh well, he must know what he’s doing...''
Julian admits that all this remixing can be shady business,
and we get on to other things. Music, those who make it and why.
What constitutes a real rock star, and why? Sid Vicious wins, based
on the simple fact that, “...he was so stupid. It was as natural
as falling out of bed. He was a cartoon, nobody could touch him”,
Julian said. It is understood that being a rock star means not being
afraid to show your influences, and doing a good job at imitating
them, but with the personalised touch. This doesn't always work
though, and this alone can be the reason for a band's demise.
What can you do that hasn't already been done? What keeps interesting
I think it is the unexpectancy of a band, you know? Not conciously
following someone else down the same path, like being in a school
play, “Oh he's only doing it Cruz Johnny Thunders did...”,
what a wanker.
Ok, if that is your natural destiny, that is the beauty of it.
Well, like AC/DC said, ...(he laughs, not even completing his sentence),
rock & roll ain't gonna' die. It's prime-evil isn't it? There
is just something in it.
Something inside our brains that turns on when it is done right.
So when in the spotlight, is it important to be well versed
in what you want to say, or is it just the attitude?
Yeah, well it is a bit more intangible than that. It is sort of
like getting all the people within 100 yards of you to feel something
special... it's almost unattainable isn't it? Of, (he squirms and
sighs) it is so cliched isn't it? They have to feel special and
included. It's the fact that every atom in you, everything you do
is right. People have a sixth sense, and they know when it is right.
It's nothing to do with how you play guitar. It is a feeling.
The authenticity of it becomes a heated topic. It also leads
into the sensitive issue of heroes and being a hero to others. Being
seen as someone special, a real pop star is something that Julian
doesn't exactly enjoy. He can't seem to understand the whole reasoning
behind it, because he is just a normal guy, why should people want
to meet them? It is rude, he says, to go up to those in the spotlight
and fawn over them. He admits that as soon as fans come up to him
backstage or wherever, he gets uneasy. He doesn't want to disappoint
them with the image they have of the band, but doesn't want to act
just to please. The pressure of those situations are immense, he
"Sid Vicious was the ultimate rock star, without
a doubt, he was so stupid. It was as natural as falling out of bed.
He was a cartoon, nobody could touch him"
Is meeting fans harder than performing?
Well, (he smiles), that's sort of an agreement isn't it? We're
gonna play, and you are going to watch. When you meet people outside
of that situation, it is so uncontrolled. I know I have disappointed
people before because they expect you to be so much tike this image
they have built up of you. And if you aren't like that, they get
angry. “Oh, he was nice… what an arsehole” (as
he mimmicks a disappointed fan).
We used to always get people when we first started out, who would
be disappointed in us if we weren't stoned out of our heads, just
absolutely fucked-up! They would get so angry when they would see
us walking down the street, totally normal!
So... have you cleaned up your act then?
I don't think it was ever that bad to begin with. We did become
an icon for the disorganised, drug taking kinda thing. We were no
worse than anyone else. It is a very delicate thing... just writing
about whatever you do, whether it be drinking or whatever. We never
wanted people to think whatever it is that they thought about us
Being a rock star is very unnerving then?
I do have a tremendous insecurity about it ail. I mean, I don't
want to pretend. Alot of people lie and make up stories, I want
to be what I say I am. When people come up to you, then you realise,
“Oh, you are famous…”,
which is very alienating, because you weren't famous before. All
of a sudden reality starts to set in and you realise there is a
lot of responsibility there. People are going to look at you, and
maybe they will do the same things you do, and that pushes the panic
button! I don't want to be responsible for that! I get this constant
fear, and I wish I had a gas which would make everyone... forget
about me for one week! (He laughs and then quiets down) I'm a very
Well then...how does a nervous wreck like you end up in rock
It was just for the love of rock & roll, and that there was
no one out there with the exception of the Manic Street Preachers,
who had a grasp on what it was about. When I learned how to play
guitar, and got into a band, it was the most natural thing to be
larger than life, to be a cartoon. That's what it was, everyone
looking the same, looking like a band you would see on a Saturday
morning cartoon! It just started to perpetuate itself. I don't understand
what it is people think of us, so I can't be what they want me to
be, and I know I disappoint them. You see some bad things going
on, and they give you a hard time, like, “you bastards! You
are supposed to stand up for this stuff!”… it is way
out of control. You know... just too much, it's really ugly. It
worries me to think that we're going to sink into that gutter, the
worst end of rock & roll. We don't like getting this shit all
the time! Still, at the same time, it is attractive. I know it is
contradictory. It is like, “I don't want to see this”,
but at the same time, I don't want to be anywhere else. It is a
constant worry not to get sucked into it. It's like a tightrope,
the opportunities are there! It's a matter of saving each other.
We don't trust anyone, except each other in the band.
The 'Men have gone full circle. Are you happy with where you
are at again?
Looking back, there were several times it was like, “Did
I really do that???” Yep. “Oh NO...!” It was pretty
embarrassing. It must have been fascinating for an outsider to watch,
but it wasn't fun being on the inside! With this record now... it's
good! I wouldn't be in any other band in in the world for anything!
Biography from Yahoo's
Essential but nevertheless relatively aged participants in the
media-led New Wave Of The New Wave movement, These Animal Men's
debut single was 'Speeed King', a tribute to the power of amphetamines.
It arrived in a cover with a bowl of white powder and four straws,
prompting Brighton MP Andrew Bowden to criticize their attitude
to drugs as 'appalling'. The local council of Plymouth banned them
full stop. Like an even more ill-mannered Manic Street Preachers,
elsewhere their ten commandments included such errant nonsense as
'Get A Catholic Education' and 'Love's Good, But Not As Good As
Wanking'. The latter statement caused trouble when they offered
to demonstrate its advantages live on a youth television show.
The band was formed in Brighton by Hooligan (b. Julian;
guitar) and bass player Patrick (b. Liverpool, Merseyside, England),
who knew each other from nursery school. They added additional members
Boag (vocals) and Stevie (drums), following 'Speeed King' with 'You're
Not My Babylon'. A stopgap release compiled both with a live version
of the title track 'Too Sussed', recorded live for the last ever
edition of BBC Radio 5's Vibe programme. Breaking the UK Top 40,
it also brought the band to the Top Of The Pops stage. A full album,
produced by Dave Eringa, was available before the end of the year,
and replicated the punk-pop approach of the debut with some particularly
virulent lyrics ('Flawed Is Beautiful' and 'Sitting Tenant', in
particular). Following the stop-gap Taxi mini-album and the loss
of Stevie, the band released the frenetic Accident And Emergency,
which showed no signs of bowing to either fashion or musical conformity.
Biography from Artist
The British band These Animal Men were quickly tossed into the
"new wave of new wave" revolution, a music scene created
mainly by the U.K. press to help publicize a number of young pop-punk
revivalists in England circa 1994. Formed in 1993 in Brighton, England,
These Animal Men wasted no time in shocking the masses. The group's
first single, "Speeed King," was a high-octane tribute
to amphetamines; the cover even showed a bowl of suspicious white
powder and a couple of straws. Comprised of Julian Hewings (vocals,
guitar), Patrick Murray (bass), Boag (guitar, vocals), and Stevie
Hussey (drums), These Animal Men capitalized on widespread tabloid
rumors of the band consisting of drug-addicted bad boys. The banned
"Speeed King" even landed them on the legendary Top of
the Pops show. However, when These Animal Men released their debut
album, (Come on Join) The High Society, Oasis had just unleashed
Definitely Maybe into a stagnant rock & roll market searching
for the Next Big Thing after the death of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain.
Oasis brought guitar pop back onto the British charts and showed
the world that England was worth listening to again. The "new
wave of new wave" movement was left in the dust, taking These
Animal Men and their sordid tales of drugs, booze, and masturbation
with them. The group recorded another full-length, Accident &
Emergency, and then split up quietly in 1997. Hewings and Boag reunited
in Mo Solid Gold.
Mo Solid Gold interview:
There's also a great interview with the TAM members that went on
to make up some of Mo Solid Gold here
(mirrored on this site here
if that link doesn't work).
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