Supercharged Soul - The These Animal Men unofficial website

HomeThe BandDiscogTabsPressPicturesTriviaMP3'sVideosMessageboardMyspaceNow?ContactShopLinks

These Animal Men documentary

Articles 94 | 96 | Reviews 94 | 96

Article, Select, mid 1996: (Click to enlarge.)

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3


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.

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 it.

Are you content then, to accept the fact that maybe nothing will change?

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 themselves.

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...'' (Laughing).

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 and worthwhile?

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 says.

"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 that way.

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 nervous person.

Well does a nervous wreck like you end up in rock & roll?

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 music section:

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 Direct:

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).

Articles 94 | 96 | Reviews 94 | 96