MN: Your first band name was called The Buttfuckers â€“ Who and why?
Who? Rory Lewarne (bleached hair, vox), Steven Santacruz (soul power afro, thick glasses, gtr, vox), John Joseph Lynch (skinny waist, punk attitude, guitar, sax), Stuart Faulkner (chuckles, surreality, bass, vox) and Scott Evil X (drrrrums) playing with great enthusiasm and no competence a loud and offensive glammed up version of the Sex Pistols crossed with Happy Days â€“ simple, nasty, attitudinal rocknroll. Nick Collier (beatific gaze, homemade synthesiser)'s machine at the time had no melodic element and simply fired off threatening bursts of analogue noise. This was in the winter of 2000, and after the Buttfuckers' only gig at a local studio party we started developing ourselves, dropping the confrontational, unpleasant name and replacing it with Pink Grease & The Evil X â€“ later just Pink Grease. We wanted a name that was inclusive, multi-, ambi- and uni-sexual across meanings, genders and orientations; a name that was not aggressive, that held overtones of 50s innocence and hair-gel but also sexual fluidity and abandon. Incidentally, Scott Evil X is no longer with us; he left to make way for his good friend Marc Hoad (musicianship, discipline, drrrrrrrrrrrums).
Why? Dunno. I think we were all just sniffing around each other cos we all knew there was something here that could really happen. For me it was the band I'd been dreaming into existence since I saw a Jerry Lee Lewis impersonator do a shit version of Great Balls of Fire on a satellite TV advert when I was a kid and got all shook up â€“ also Michael Jackson I liked, too.MN: How did you enjoy the experience of writing your mini album in New York?
We didn't write it there â€“ well, maybe some parts for songs. The chance to record in New York was offered us by Barry 7 from Add (N) to X a month before we went â€“ we just said â€œsure!â€ without really believing it'd ever happen, got some more material together, did a live gig at Don Hills, a strip club in NY, and then picked some songs out of our set to bash out pretty much live. We had no time to party but it was phenomenal just being there - in that city of movement and hustle at a time when it was sweltering hot, the Empire State Building was visible out of the balcony, where every street was a landmark. It was so Gotham City! At night I expected to see Batman come swinging from the rooftops. The mini-album (â€˜All Over You') is a kind of overexcited document of us live at the time, working out our sexual frustration and problems on vinyl, all doused liberally in this strange, echo-laden, noisy sound that came to a large part from our producer Jason Buckle (Fat Truckers, All Seeing I, Relaxed Muscle). The new album (â€˜This Is For Real') we approached differently â€“ we really tried to craft it, to make a real party pop record that sounds good like an old Visconti production, that really sparkles over the airwaves rather than being swathed in noise. We wanted to apply our noise strategically this time rather than just spraying ourselves over the listener, to make a record that doesn't exclude people but welcomes them in.MN: Do you think you sound like The Cramps?
Maybe, dunno, at timesâ€¦ We never listened to â€˜em till people started saying we sounded like â€˜em â€“ I think we've just got some of the same reference points â€“ rock n'roll, baritone crooning, talking dirty, Iggy Morrison (or was that Jim Pop?). John likes them a lot, and that's his solo on Fever, so he would take that as a compliment.MN: You get up to a lot of messing around on stage, any magic moments or injuries?
Onstage for us is one big parade of immature violence, we are always on the verge of killing ourselves â€“ falling over equipment, whacking each other with instruments, slipping over spilt vodka, one time Steve leapt off the stage in Hull and the top of his afro passed through this buzzsaw fan on the ceiling, you could see his hair spray everywhere, he was lucky it wasn't blood! We also like to kick and annoy our roadie Dan while he crawls round trying to fix things â€“ it's not bullying though, we encourage him to hit us back just as hard and stick v-signs up at us in front of the crowd, it makes for good theatre. Sometimes I do the old Trent Reznor thing of knocking the mic-stand over so he comes on and picks it up, wait for him to leave the stage and then do it again. And again. Maybe as revenge he'll run off with my mike so I have to chase him, or he'll slap me round the face and kick me up the arse. One time in Aberdeen John got so pissed off at everyone for not waiting for him to do a solo that he threw his guitar into the drum kit and proceeded to tear chunks of the ceiling down. Oh yes, John's good value for money when he gets angry: I've seen him get so irate at Stu for tripping him offstage that he threw a monitor speaker at him, Stu spent the rest of the gig running away from him round and round the stage. But none of it ever hurts cos when performing you're made of rubber. It's all good fun. I get upset if an audience member gets hurt.MN: Best live gig?
Ooooh, the one we did in Cornwall at the Tapestry festival last year was pretty darned good. The festival was held in a Wild West theme town and we bought guns loaded with blanks and came out hollering on a stage of the side of a truck, shouting at the audience and firing into the air, Stuart dressed in a pair of woollen long johns like the village idiot, Steve mock-murdering the audience with his machine-gun shaped guitar. I think that's what the festival had lacked at that point, just one band to come out screaming and really lift the mood up. All the locals who live (in Wild West character) onsite were whooping and joining in, there were loads of children staring with eyes big as gimlets, the moon was shining, and halfway through the set the ceiling came down! One of our then roadies Des had to hold it up cos we refused to stop the song (â€œand a big hand for Des Atlas!â€), it was just the most amazingly wild scrumpy-and-poppers driven crazy gig.
Definitely our aesthetic when playing live is that it's more entertaining to watch a band struggling onstage, against their own limitations as musicians, against their own neuroses. The greatest bands, or, at least, the bands that really make an emotional connection, are the ones who are always pushing for something beyond their reach, who are always putting themselves at risk, always willing to rise to the occasion and transcend it. Sometimes you fail, and the gig becomes a freak show, sometimes it's wonderful, you connect with an audience, and everything just flows. Sometimes you REALLY connect with an audience and you have to hide from their groping hands (or just give in and give â€˜em some good groping back. Ain't nothing like a group grope, baby).MN: Did you enjoy playing with Eighties Matchbox?
Hell yeah, they're great guys, they're musically interesting, and their audience is pretty similar to ours, with the result that every gig we did with them just went off. We'd love to do it again â€“ there aren't many bands with that profile of quality out there.MN: What does Chamone mean?
On the lyric sheet for Michael Jackson's song Bad it says â€˜c'mon' but he says â€˜chamone', it's ridiculous, funky, fantastic invention. We demo'd our song Fever before we ever saw Bo Selector or heard Laura by the Scissor Sisters: cultural consciousness is a bugger, whenever you have a good idea you know there's someone on the other side of the world doing it at the same time. Have you noticed how everybody's doing glam rock nowadays?MN: Did you win some sort of bet for how many times you repeated it in three minutes?
Yes. It was me versus Jake from the Scissor Sisters, and I won.MN: How did the name Pink Grease come about?
I've got a New York-based independent doo-wop compilation of that name that provided much inspiration. The Chiffons, Dion & the Belmonts, the Barbarians, Randy & the Rainbows, they all had a streetwise innocence almost tangible in the traces of New York accents you can just detect within the harmonies. Steve first painted â€˜Pink Grease' in pink onto the back of a denim jacket just cos he liked it â€“ later we realised it was the only possible band name.MN: What bands are you into?
Oh, the whole history of music, like anybody else! : doo-wop, the New York Dolls, Roxy Music, Joy Division, DAF, the Shangri-Las, The Beatles, Little Richard, Depeche Mode, Peaches, Prince, Michael Jackson, T-Rex, the Glitter Band, Andre 3000's half of Outkast, the Neptunes, David Bowie, Rick James, 80s Matchbox, Nirvana, Destiny's Child etc etc etc etc. I think these days you can't just stick to music by and for your own subculture because subcultures have no meaning anymore, you're only saying something if you're speaking for yourself, from the heart. In a time of ADD you have to be able to go it alone, to surf a world of total information, picking out by instinct what's best and ignoring whatever people tell you is happening or whoever the magazines are pushing this week. True pop is timeless, and its appeal is instant and natural. You know, the great music is so good it hurts! So why listen to anything else? I haven't even mentioned Marc's love of bebop and fusion and Steve's recent descent into death metal hell!MN: What is the whole band thing about to you?
It's a gang, a family, with a brotherhood and a collective confidence and self-belief. It's a pooling of resources, a conspiracy of ideas to become more than the sum of our parts and make a once-in-a-lifetime EXPLOSION will leave a legacy of transcendence for ourselves and others long after we go our different ways. It's a larger-than-life myth we're sculpting as we go along that is rooted in ourselves and our lives but is also fantastical and divorced from the humdrum of reality. It's self-reinvention, i.e. self-exploitation. It's an expression of moments, of joy, heartbreak, anger, and impotence. It's also entertainment, and having a good time. MN: Any good rock & roll stories to tell us about?
I hate open-ended questions. There's nothing to lead with, you have to try and impress with the strength of your anecdote without any clue as to what your audience finds int'resting. Uh, well - there's the one about John getting punched by Boy George; the one about the Grace Jones-look-alike drag-queen opera singer Krylon who stripped, pulled an egg out of her bottom, cracked it into a glass and drank it in front of us in Berlin; the one about Stuart persuading Sheffield rock band Hoggboy to drink his â€˜special drink' (it was his girlfriend's piss) and getting us banned from Sheffield's main venue the Leadmill; the one about driving 1000 miles in one day so we could follow a gig in Munich with an extremely freaked-out one in Barcelona, with Utrecht in Holland the day after that; the one about Steve (who is attached) getting so harassed by a couple of Swedish groupies after the rest of the band had made swift exits that he had to hide in his own hotel room; and how about the one where Pink Grease enjoyed themselves responsibly, without any bad or indulgent behaviour at, their only stimulants being the wit of their rapier-like conversationâ€¦ Okay, now that's ridiculous.
Pink Greases' debut album 'This Is For Real' is out on Mute now, read the review here