Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Sugar [Bob Mould, David Barbe, Malcolm Travis]


In 1992, while visiting the offices of the rock magazine "Riff Raff," I was suddenly asked to do an interview with the band Sugar, regarding their forthcoming album "Copper Blue." I agreed to help out, even though I knew zilch about the band. (I later found out that they were quite critically acclaimed.) This is how Riff Raff used to operate and perhaps is one reason it is no longer in business.

The interview was at a hotel near Madame Tussaud's in London. I spoke to Bob Mould, David Barbe, and Malcolm Travis for around 50 minutes in an astounding interview performance that generated a veritable tsunami of 'y'knows' and other verbal tics.


CBL: I'm the Fly from Riff Raff. What's your name?

DB: David.

CBL: David and…

BM: Bob

CBL: Bob…and

MT: Malcolm.

CBL: Malcolm? You said Michael and Paul.

MT: No, I think you’ve been wearing your jacket too long, today. George and Paul.

CBL: Anyway, I'll sort the names out later. So, how long are you over here for?

MT: David and I are over here till Sunday. Bob's staying on a little longer to do press.

CBL: Yeh. It's quite a short trip then?

BM: Yeh, we'll be back over for a proper UK tour sometime in September.

CBL: You're playing on Friday night, aren't you?

BM: Friday and Saturday night. We'll be at the Grand on Friday, 'Yugo' on Saturday's.

CBL: OK.

BM: Should be good.

CBL: So, how long have you been together as a band, because I don't know anything about you. They didn't, I didn't get any press releases at all.

BM: We started working together as a band in February. We’d all bin friends for a while and involved in other projects, so we thought it’d be fun to just get together and start a band, so we went… David lives in Athens which is a much cheaper place to work on music I've a [garbled] in New York, so we went down there to work. Learned about 25 songs and went in the studio…

CBL: Is this your first album?

BM: Yeh, first album for Creation.

CBL: Yeh.

BM: Yeh, first album for Sugar.

CBL: Yup, so, what do you play?

BM: Guitarist and vocalist. Main songwriter.

CBL: So you're the main man in other words.

BM: The main third.

CBL: You need these guys, anyway.

BM: It's not a band unless we're all here. David is the bassist and also sings quite a bit and writes.

DB: I write.

MT: And I play drums.

CBL: You’re the drummer [pointing to the drumsticks] gave it away, eh. So, what do you think of Britain, then? Is it the first time you've been here?

MT: It's expensive.

CBL: Yeh, I know I used to live in Tokyo. It's cheaper than London.

BM: Tokyo is cheaper than London?

CBL: Yeh, Tokyo is cheaper. Beer's a lot cheaper. Rent's usually a bit cheaper.

BM: That's interesting. I was under the impression that Tokyo was double New York, which would have made it a little more than London.

CBL: It all depends what sort of things that you buy, though. Some things are really marked up and other things… The basic necessities are quite cheap because Japanese people aren’t very rich anyway.

BM: Uhu.

CBL: So, em, what sort of influences have you had on your music, or is it completely original?

BM: It's as original as we can make it.

CBL: Yeh, yeh, obviously. You're not doing cover versions, anyway, yeh.

BM: No, no. I don't know. Influenced a lot by early, early punk rock, I guess; a lot by, uh, sixties pop music, y'know, Beatles, the Byrds, y'know, the Who, stuff like that…

CBL: Yeh, well, I was listening to the tape. It sounded, like, kind of very upbeat music, quite mellow, as well, I mean it wasn't giving off, it wasn’t punkish in a way. I mean, it wasn't very, really aggressive or, like, em, dark and malevolent, etc.

BM: It's sort of… It's really heavily influenced by folk music. Really into Fairport Convention, some of it relates to Fleetwood Mac. Um, early Bob Dylan, stuff like that.

DB: Mines been left along the same lines. It's probably why Bob and I wound up desiring to play with one another because we… I don't know anything about Fairport Convention. I too am heavily influenced by, or have been, coming up, by punk rock, sixties rock n' roll...

CBL: Yeh.

DB: The Byrds, etc. And, lyrically, certainly, too.

CBL: Yeh, I was, um, trying to listen to the lyrics on the tape but I couldn't really make out too many of them.

BM: Some of them over there on a sheet.

CBL: Let's have a look. So what are the songs mainly about? What do you like writing about?

BM: Uh…

CBL: Do you like kind of open-ended lyrics that let people, y'know, read in their own meaning and feeling, or…?

BM: I get inspired by everything from fortune cookies to freak shows on Coney Island…

CBL: You're not sort of trying to push some message or something?

BM: No, not at all. Not at all. We don't want this to be a deep thing at all. It's should just be… It's very entertainment, I mean...I'm curious, I missed earlier. What paper is this for?

CBL: Riff Raff. Have you heard of Riff Raff?

BM: No, I haven't. Is this a London paper?

CBL: It's a magazine. It's a sort of national magazine.

BM: Is it for music and culture.

CBL: It's music. It's, ah, basically, like, rock, hard rock, a bit of heavy rock. It's sort of… We're sort of actually trying to redefine the magazine a little bit, so we're…

BM: Who's on the current cover?

CBL: Er, Iron Maiden. So that'll give you…And also Faith No More, as well. What do you think of bands like Faith No More and… well, Faith No More – one at a time?

BM: They sell a lot of beer in the US. There's a lot of bands like them that sell a lot of beer.

CBL: What, you mean, they do commercials?

BM: Exactly. Beer commercials.

DB: I don’t know, do Faith No More do beer commercials?

BM: They're like that band, that 'Cairo,' all them cats with their shorts off, wearing those Bermuda shorts and mohawks…

DB: I'm sure those funk metallers do sell a load of beer, both directly and indirectly.

BM: They're OK. They seem to be doing well.

CBL: At the moment, at least in this country, anyway, we seem to have a hell of a lot of American bands coming over here, and, like the music scene in Britain is really going through a depression, y’know, to coincide with the economic depression…

BM: Uhuh. There’s been a lot of good stuff coming out of England lately.

CBL: So, what British bands do you like, because I’m not English, I’m Scottish.

BM: Boo Radleys, who I guess are Scottish actually.

CBL: I’m not too sure. I’ve heard their music but I haven’t gone into their ethnic origins.

BM: [garbled], My Bloody Valentine, I [mumbled] them.

CBL: All these bands get sort of lumped together as shoegazing bands.

BM: Yeh, that’s what I’ve heard. There are… That’s quite… They seem to all be coming to America and doing quite well.

CBL: Actually from the other side of the Atlantic, it looks the other way round. So, there’s a lot of sort of to-ing and fro-ing, really?

BM; Yeh, so like I’m imagining, like, that Nirvana and Pearl Jam are real popular over here right now as well…

CBL: What about in America? Are people sort of moving onto other things, after Nirvana and Pearl Jam’s success? Has that sort of died down?

DB: Yeh, well, in one sense it’s sort of dying down. I mean in the real underground creative sense it’s dying down, but in what’s perceived as the alternative underground, there’s a slew of bands that are doing the Nirvana thing.

CBL: So, it’s sparked off a lot of…?

DB: Yeh, the thing it’s not… That’s a by-product of the Seattle scene, though, before, I mean, there… That Seattle scene as it is purported to be now, probably hasn’t existed… [to Bob] You’ve been to Seattle, for several years ?

BM: Probably three or four years.

DB: Sure.

CBL: So that’s sort of moved out of Seattle, and, yeh?

DB: Yeh, but that’s how it goes, I mean that’s why it’s funny to me, y’know, a lot of the supposed shoegazing British bands, um, y’know, that seems to be getting dissed a lot more over here. Y’know in the states it’s just starting to catch on.

CBL: Yeh. We kind of think that kind of music is, like, introverted, very English. That it’s catching on in America, so obviously it appeals to something American.

DB: [garbled] those other two are probably not far behind, but…

BM: It’s interesting that it all seems to be really influenced by, like, early and mid-eighties American guitar stuff, as well, y’know Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Junior [mumbled] produced…

CBL: Quite a family tree of rock bands now.

BM: Yeh.

CBL: So just speaking about your impression of coming to Britain. What sort of vibe do you get from Britain? What do you feel about it at a gut level?

BM: Well, generally, the British are known for being somewhat reserved. I never really get that impression every time I play London. It doesn’t…

CBL: Well, London’s a bit different, yeh?

BM: Yeh, well you get up to Midlands and there in North and people are still pretty crazy about stuff, y’know…

CBL: Yeh, I think maybe a concert situation, but, y’know, day-to-day life they probably approximate more to the stereotype, but in the concert situation it probably, y’know, they let it out a lot more, and maybe it’s something like that.

BM: Yeh, would be curious, I really like… Actually, I was up in Glasgow last year, playing some shows. It was quite…

CBL: Did you notice the difference between Scotland and England at all?

BM: Slight differences. Unfortunately it seems like, well, Glasgow’s been very Americanized, which is sad. Y’know downtown is very…

CBL: I think it’s always been a bit like that. It’s always, y’know, had that kind of feel of an American city.

BM: Yeh. More so than London.

CBL: It feels a bit like New York, I think. Well, I’ve only been to New York, y’know.

BM: I tend to like, in the UK, places like Sheffield or Newcastle, Liverpool which is a little, very odd.

CBL: So, you seem to like the Northern towns?

BM: Yeh. The town, Manchester, which it seems to be quite a violent town.

CBL: Oh yeh, yeh, the…

BM: Like a lot of council housing, just a lot of, like, general, y’know, total unemployment going on, which is not that dissimilar to a lot of US cities – like Detroit. I can see why Manchester would have, would be such a great music town just because of that, within reason.

CBL: It’s also very kind of Irish town. A lot of Irish people… Liverpool’s the same. Even Glasgow’s quite a few Irish, y’know.

CBL [to other band members]: What do you guys get from this country?

DB: I enjoy being in Britain. I find everybody, I mean… I’ve never played over here. I’ve been a couple of times, but I’ve never played. I’ll get to Friday night, but I’ve never played in Britain, but the one thing that strikes me. You mention that the music scene used to be weak because the economy is depressed. Usually it seems like the opposite effect in our civilization. Economic bad times is a creative thing, y’know.

CBL: It’s just that it’s a relative thing as well, though, because, like, if you look at the sixties and the seventies, most big bands in the world, really, were just British bands, y’know. There was almost a monopoly at times, y’know, and if you compare the 80s and the 90s, it’s y’know, completely, y’know, there’s not that many really massive bands who come out of this country anymore. I mean, quite a lot of, y’know, smaller very good bands, but nobody, like, actually, who can sort of take over and really dominate, like, y’know, used to.

DB: We had MTV first, which probably dominates, I mean the mass American consuming teenage culture more than anything else.

CBL: Do you have to sort of, like, adapt yourself to the MTV culture in any way?

DB: Hell, no.

MT: Try not to.

CBL: Nobody twists your arm, or…?

DB: No, man.

MT: No. It’s not my goal to be anything…

DB: We’d probably have a lot more people twisting us back.

CBL: Like what the f**k are you doing on MTV?

BM: A lot of people twisting the knobs to another channel.

CBL: So, do you do videos?

BM: We got two done for this record. Y’know, they’re very inexpensive improvisations. They’re just more… Creation can use them in other ways beyond the normal music video, uh…

CBL: You wouldn’t really expect to see them flashing up on MTV?

BM: Well, I would assume that the one that we’ve done for American

MTV will get a lot of airplay, just because the song is good.

CBL: Which song is that?

BM: “Helpless” will be the single in the US, and I think, y’know, as I’ve been told by people that it should do well, so I’m guardedly optimistic that something might come of it.

CBL: Uhm.

BM: But you can never, you can’t guess, you can’t second guess what should or shouldn’t, good or bad… There’s no point in doing it. Too many people do it. Too many people fail miserably.

CBL: So what are your sort of long term aims, if you have any?

BM: To enjoy playing music, y’know. All of us have been playing in bands for a long time, and have sort of come to this point just to make music for music’s sake, y’know. If… I’m not interested in political revolution through music. It’s not a concern of mine. Personal change through music would be nice. Um, y’know, this record has, has quite a few humorous moments on it, which is something I think is something that has been missing from music in general. I think the ability to craft a decent song is something that’s been missing for a long time.

CBL: Yeh, I mean I quite like the album, and it’s kinda, y’know, has a nice feel to it, and you can sort of play it really loudly or play it as background music even, y’know. It feels good. It’s got lovely textures.

DB: It sounds pretty good wild too, though.

CBL: Yeh, I’d like to see you live.

BM: Yeh, you should. You should come down and check it out.

CBL: Give me tickets.

BM: Talk to ‘Lawrence.’

CBL: OK. So, you guys seem to be very experienced musicians. I mean, how old are you?

BM: 31.

DB: 28.

MT: 39.

CBL: Ah, you’re the oldest one.

MT: The eldest.

CBL: Yeh, I thought you were one of the younger ones.

MT: I was going to lie, but no.

CBL: So, is it a good living at the moment? Are you getting the money and everything?

BM: To pay rent? Yeh.

CBL: Well, you’re not going to become multi-millionaires or anything, but…

BM: Who really needs that.

CBL: So, if you weren’t making money out of music would you do something else though?

BM: I’d still be involved in music.

CBL: Yeh, but you’d have to obviously do something else then…reluctantly.

BM: Outside of music? I’ve been making my living off of music for 15 years. I’ll do it for another 15.

CBL: Does it get easier as you get more experienced?

BM: You become much more confident.

CBL: So, what have you been doing in London with your free time?

MT: Sitting in this room.

BM: Sitting in this room, doing absolutely…

CBL: I don’t believe you. You’ve been down the road to Madame Tussauds.

MT: We actually escaped for a couple of hours.

BM: We actually got out for an hour an a half to buy some…

CBL: So, you’re sort of sitting here waiting for journalists to pop up every now and then.

BM: Well, that’s our job. We’re always interested if people are interested in us. If they’re knowledgeable about the band and are interested in discussing the band.

CBL: Well, I’m not knowledgeable about the band, but I’m willing to find out it

MT: That’s OK.

CBL: So, you haven’t had time to do anything else, really?

DB: No, that’s not what we came over for.

CBL: Well it’s really a straight working tour.

DB: We love our work. I don’t have any problem with that.

CBL: But you must get a bit sick of the room, though?

BM: It could be worse.

DB: As long as we don’t get sick of each other. That’s all that matters. That’s all that matters. It’s been enjoyable, y’know…

CBL: When do you clock off, tonight, y’know?

BM: About 11 o’clock.

CBL: So, it’s like journalist after journalist after journalist.

BM: Yeh, finish about 11 then get some sleep and go over to BBC world service in the morning.

CBL: Oh yeh.

BM: Do some photo shoots.

CBL: Are you going to be on the radio then, BBC world service?

BM: Um, we’re doing an interview for them. As far as like things like that, we’re doing the Mark Goodier sessions, which I’m not sure if you’re familiar with.

CBL: Is that…? That’s Radio One, yeh.

BM: So, we’ll be doing that on Saturday morning.

CBL: But you’re also doing the World Service as well?

BM: Yeh, I’ve done stuff with them before, but this will be the first time the band has been on.

CBL: That’ll get your records sold in all sorts of various places.

BM: Yeh, it’ll be nice to have people driving home to the suburbs at 6:30 at night, will be able to listen to it.

CBL: People in bloody Bangladesh will be hearing your stuff.

BM: Oh yes, on World Service. I listen to World Service every night at home in New York. We pick it up on a sub audio channel on public television, so it’s quite a good, very familiar…

CBL: It’s a good mix on things they have on, y’know. Yes.

BM: Very similar to national public radio, which I don’t know if you’re familiar with in America. It’s a, it’s a sat…basically satellite syndicated radio nationwide that…

CBL: Do you have to pay for it?

BM: No, no – free radio. But they, y’know, also have a lot of news programming, a lot of world affairs programming. They also do a lot of, y’know… They have a show called “Mountain Stage,” which is recorded in West Virginia and they have all kind of world music and folk music and rock music, so it’s, a, y’know, comparable, y’know…

CBL: So you like listening to a wide selection of stuff?

BM: Um, I listen to anything from, y’know, any kind of classical music…

CBL: And you try and adapt pieces of it and learn from it, perhaps.

BM: I hear an interesting sound, whether it’s a truck backing up or, y’know, an animal in the woods, I’ll try and incorporate it. Environmental sounds as well as musical…

CBL: So, you’ve a very eclectic approach?

BM: Uh, very aware of what’s going on around me and how it effects me.

CBL: What sort of effect do you want to create with your music, though?

BM: I think, y’know, recording is documentation, y’know. You’re trying to pin down a specific idea, y’know, verbally short story, fictional or non-fictional. You create an atmosphere with music to surround it and you try to portray the story in the best light possible on a record. Live presentation – anything goes! You have absolutely no control over what’s happening to you at the time, what’s happened to you 2 hours before you go on stage. All you can do is approximate and summarize your day.

CBL: So, when you do a gig, you go on and you sort of sense what the place is like and or how you feel that day and you play accordingly? So what things do you actually, sort of, like, respond to in a concert situation? What sort of things do you bounce your feelings off?

DB: People.

MT: Yeh, the audience counts for a lot.

CBL: Really. So, if the audience was like really, uh, hostile or really positive – I mean two completely different shows…?

BM: There’s a lot of shades in between.

DB: A positive reception to what we do can range so greatly from, y’know, a really physical crowd to a crowd that’s, y’know, just paying strict attention, but not really outwardly reacting. It doesn’t mean that they don’t like the show, it just means that…

CBL: Yeh, they’re just sort of taking it at a different level, rigt?

DB: Just relating to it in a different way.

CBL: So, if a crowd’s, like, really hostile, does that fire you up or…?

BM: I haven’t experienced that yet.

CBL: Some people, y’know, it actually benefits them when they encounter that kind of resistance. One example I can think of is PiL, y’know Johnny Lydon, coz’ if the crowd are just sitting there quite happily watching him, y’know, his performance will go down. If someone starts gobbing at him or throwing something at him or hurling abuse, y’know, you see that it sort of sparks off some sort of fire.

MT: It used to, yeh.

CBL: Yeh, but it still does. It still does.

MT: It makes your skin a little thicker the next time.

CBL: Yeh, so you just toughen up to it?

MT: You get to the point where you just don’t pay any attention.

CBL: Yeh?

MT: Y’know. At least I try not to.

BM: If the crowd is really into what you’re doing and you’re getting it across to them, everybody’s sort of in the same position, y’know. Everybody’s having a good time. Everybody’s taking it, y’know, as they should be.

CBL: Yeh.

BM: Y’know, people get a little stand offish. People get a little tentative about their reaction. That’s fine. I can play for myself too. I’m not a, not a total combative, like I’m gonna shake you up, y’know. It’s, like, I have my ways – ways that have worked in the past and will work in the future to handle situations like that.

CBL: So, how often have you playing live before coming here?

BM: We’ve been playing all month. This is the first tour that we’ve done.

CBL: Yeh, every night almost?

BM: Yeh, 13 in 15 days is the schedule [mumbled]. It’ll be good. These are dates… We’re coming over to, sort of, sort of, a thank you to the people that are buying the single this week to let them get [garbled] then we’ll be back in September when the album’s out and do a proper tour of the UK, North America, then we’ll be back in Europe in December, Australia and Japan in February, then we’ll have a second album for you to ask us about.

CBL: So, you’re getting to travel now. With this band, are you actually starting to travel a lot now, more than before?

BM: With this band it’s a new thing, but I’ve done my share of travelling. Before, I’ve been...

DB: I’ve travelled around the states quite a bit. Never played overseas. It’s a different kind of travel. It’s, y’know…

CBL: Greyhound buses and all that…

DB: In the past it was vans, and stay in the van, eat in the van, sleep in the van, sleep on someone’s floors. Now I get a little time to sleep in a bed.

BM: It does wonders for your playing.

DB: It sure does.

CBL: Which countries are you really looking forward to visiting?

BM: Um, well, it’s always fun to come and play in London. We’d always like to burn every f**king club that I play in this goddam town to the ground.

MT: I’d like to go to Thailand, but I don’t think they’d like our music.

CBL: You could adapt it.

BM: Actually Japan is the only place that I haven’t been, so I’d be very curious to see what Japan’s like. I’ve heard all kinds of stories about...

CBL: Where are you going to play…?

BM: Well, y’know, you’ve lived there; you’ve seen how, y’know, most the new American bands have to do a television sponsor. Y’know, you work with Panasonic or JCB and you do a television taping for them.

CBL: Yeh, there’s a lot of that.

BM: Yeh, and then you can, they can sort of underwrite the rest of your tour by that. I would guess that we go to Tokyo, Osaka, probably a number of shows in Tokyo, I would imagine.

CBL: I remember when the Red Hot Chili Peppers went over they and they were on TV shows, and they seemed to be really freaked out.

BM: Really?

CBL: And the Japanese people seemed to be really freaked out by them – like this mutual freaking out.

BM: Well, I heard stories of, y’know, the things, y’know, now I’m sure it’s different. Years ago people would sit very politely…

CBL: Aw, this is different. This was like a late night, quite a sleazy show, and they had all these porno actresses on, and they were sort of cavorting around and that.

BM: They must have felt right at home.

CBL: I mean, they didn’t really believe it was happening, though, because they had that idea of Japan as a very kind of, y’know…

BM: Great. The more the merrier.

CBL: Maybe Japan’s changing a little bit, y’know.

BM: Throw it around. I’ll be very curious. Australia, I think, will be very exciting for this band. Australia, I think, is probably the toughest market in the world to get a band over. as far as live performance, because they’re very demanding.

CBL: Well, I mean, my own impression is that I think Australian people would like your kind of music, y’know. I mean there’s something that appeal…

[short gap]

BM: The reaction amongst the media for this record has been fairly excited, so I guess…

CBL: Has anybody been mentioning figures, or…?

BM: A little premature for that. I think I have a pretty good idea of what it will do. I will jinx it by saying that we will do quite well and [whispers] it will be a smashing success.

CBL: You’re a bit superstitious about things like that? You don’t want to tempt fate or be guilty of hubris, or…?

BM: No, not at this point in my life. [mumble] other things.

MT: One thing I’ve learned is you never expect anything in rock and roll, so when you don’t get it you don’t feel bad about it.

CBL: And if you get it it’s a bonus.

MT: Exactly.

CBL: Yeh, I know, you can have the best sound in the world and nobody can be interested.

MT: You might think you’re the best band in the world. People might slag your head off.

CBL: Yeh, I know. There’s probably been thousands of really, really talented people that are more talented than Bob Dylan and John Lennon all together and just nobody paid any attention.

MT: Yeh, Look at Emily Dickison, y’know, she died and no one even knew she was writing.

CBL: Yeh, yeh. I studied her at university.

BM: It also took a long time for people to figure out what Alex Chilton was really about.

CBL: So, when you’ve got something… When you’ve got something and you actually want to make people actually take notice, what do you actually have to do to get that point through, y’know, that this is something that people should pay attention to, just like persistence, relentlessness…?

MT: That helps.

BM: That’s the start. Aligning yourself with people who can help promote you properly, who really care about your work, in this instance Creation. Um…

DB: Create a quality product for starters.

BM: On a consistent basis.

CBL: Just stick to your guns and decide to do this is the rest of my life – I don’t care what happens?

DB: That’s the one thing that this experience, I mean, the people treating us well in this venture, has taught is that persistence does pay off, and if you do stick to your guns, which you do if you think it’s a good thing, there’s other people who think that too [mumble] stand by you.

CBL: Maybe you decide to do something for itself rather than for the. y’know, the success, etc., like…

DB: Yes, only sh*ts do things purely for success.

CBL: Businessmen.

BM: Exactly. And they exist in this world too.

DB: [mumbles] advertising.

BM: The only difference between the guys in the suits and the guys with their sister’s blouses on, is the guys with their sisters blouses don’t have to hide their crack pips when they are at work. Sorry, that’s real sick.

MT: Where did that come from?

CBL: You’re talking about drugs, eh.

BM: You want me to tell you about this. He was in that restaurant and that, like, powerbroker dude with the f**king crack pipe in his pocket. Some restaurant, in Cincinnati or something, or Detroit. Maybe Greektown. This guy pulls it out, and says, “This is my edge. I used to have hair like yours and I used to be in an alternative lifestyle,” he says. “Now I’m working I’m a big old bank broker. This is my edge.”

CBL: Do you guys sometimes, y’know, use drugs, y’know, for your own…?

DB: No.

BM: Not any more.

CBL: Not any more – that’s a more honest answer. Sorry about that.

BM: Well, I live to tell. I don’t bother with it anymore. I think, y’know, I think marijuana should be decriminalized, y’know, people can vote. Look at where that’s got us. Being stoned on pot can’t be any worse than… Which is worse, pot or George Bush?

CBL: So, you’re all going to vote for Clinton, them?

BM : Yeh, if anybody can remember to vote. Yeh, you have the same sh*t… You have a parallel reality here.

CBL: Yeh, I know, I know. Our politics are aping each other, aren’t they?

BM: It was just all that about, y’know, whose nose was browner – Bush’s or Thatcher’s, and they couldn’t… Just like a pack of dogs sniffing each other’s butts.

CBL: What do you think about things like the Gulf, though, y’know, what’s going on there?

MT: The Gulf?

CBL: The sort of Saddam Hussein versus George Bush thing. What do you think about that?

MT: Y’know, we financed Saddam’s reign for a long time. Now we’re just paying for it.

BM: We’re just paying for financing that country.

CBL: Yeh, so, it’s a problem America created for itself?

BM: It's a war of attrition. That's all it is. They have no money, but they have a resource that will pay for it. We fight, we kill, they keep, they die, y'know, whatever, it's a war of attrition it's entropy, y'know, at a massive advanced stage.

CBL: Yeh?

BM: It’s happened so many times before in history.

CBL: It gets boring after the first few thousand times, eh?

BM: It's just the beginning of another Armageddon. It really is. Except this time, y'know, this time you have to pay $17 a month to get it on this thing here [gestures to TV].

CBL: What do you think is the worst trends in America, like the most negative trends? Because, I mean, a lot of people, internationally, think America's going down hill – things like the LA riots and America's insecurity about its position in the world…

DB: I think a lot of times because of the, um, because of the media focus, um, America is not accurately represented as a whole outside of its borders at all. I mean, of course, the things that make the news are the LA riots and the homeless and what a sh*thead George Bush is, and those things are certainly very real, and have very serious problems as the root, I mean, there’s a bad economic situation that’s getting worse, but, um, I think that's a worldwide trend, the number of homeless people, y'know…

CBL: Like in London. When I first came here there were no homeless people that you could see anyway, just the odd one every three months.

DB: It's a new economy, it's a different economy than it was 40 or 50 years ago, and I think that's the problem that Americans having, struggling, like, with a lot of working people who are losing their jobs, because they, um, just, if all the manufacturing is going to be done overseas, people are going to lose their jobs, then new kinds of industry are going to need to happen, and that's not something anybody can make happen. It's not really a question about the trends. I just think that, like, certainly there are a lot of problems, but like the thing in LA is not the result of a trend, y'know. That's the result of… Surely the riots are, I mean, they're the result of economic problems, y'know.

CBL: Yeh.

DB: Y'know.

CBL: Also, it was a very emotional thing.

DB: The thing with the Rodney King trial, I mean, that's totally wrong. Everybody knows that but, I mean, the verdict in that trial I mean I hope it does not a turn into certainly bullshit, getting a lot more…

CBL: Y'know over here they had like pictures of the Rodney King incident with speech bubbles, like "Have a nice Day," kicking him, y'know.

BM: The LA police have been notorious for their… as long as I can remember.

CBL: They've sort of changed, though, they've got a sort of Black guy who's running the police now in LA.

MT: Yeh.

CBL: And he's like into community policing, whatever that means, y'know.

BM: Right.

DB: Who knows?

BM: To retake control, probably, for the here and now. Be great if it was more than that.

CBL: Do you think that some places in America need that sort of strong arm, kind of SWAT team approach to law and order, though?

BM: America has to offer affordable housing for every citizen of the United States to start with, and stop, y'know, stop, y'know, overcrowding the less fortunate into squalor and bankruptcy, and the Middle Class is not far behind, y'know.

CBL: So, in your point of view, what do you perceive as the main difference between British people and American people?

MT: The accent. I don't think there’s a hell of a lot of difference, y'know.

CBL: But we do have a lot of class structures in this society, y'know. [garbled] It's a subtle, kind of invisible force. If you live in it, though, you soon become aware of it.

BM: Well in the United Kingdom as a whole, there is some discrimination against non-Brits, most certainly.

CBL: There's also a south of England snobbery against Northerners and people from the Celtic areas, y'know. And in London there is a lot of snobbery there – Middle Class Working Class, etc.

BM: It's a shame, y'know, people are people. People are not bad unless they prove themselves to be that way. It's just…

MT: You see that's not a difference. We have the same sort of things in America, too…

CBL: You have a lot of snobbery as well?

MT: Regionalism.

CBL: Regionalism? They look down on certain areas, like…Arkansas.

MT: Exactly.

CBL: Or Appalachia.

MT: You got it. So that's not a difference. That's something we share.

BM: And a lot of it's disguised as just being proud of your state or proud of your region. A lot of it's disguised in professional sports, y'know. A lot of it's disguised in many different ways.

CBL: Yeh, you’ve got the Olympics now. You can see what Europe’s like.

BM: Sitting here with your little bow. Same thing. A lot of it's very similar. And the uniforms are a little different. The accents are a little different, and generally…

CBL: So, it's human nature then? Which means it can’t change. Unless you change human nature.

BM: Probably the biggest difference overall is that I think, by and large, the major American cities are much more multiracial in makeup than the major cities in England, y'know, that's a, y'know, encompassing Pacific Rim, y'know, the Middle East, y'know Hispanic communities, y'know things like that. I think that might be the only differences that America is still…

CBL: Yeh, America, you've got these big cities, with, like you say, all mixed up with Hispanics and Blacks and everything, and, then, you've got all these vast areas of, like, sparsely populated small towns – it's just, like, mainly White people. So that's where you have your Rednecks type of thing, yeh?

BM: Yeh, people who are less tolerant. But I think…

CBL: Yeh, I notice that you all have short hair.

BM: Wash and wear.

MT: It's a fashion statement.

CBL: Now if you go to some small towns with long hair it can be asking for trouble, I heard, because my brother, he's got really long hair and he went over there. Nothing serious happened to him, but he, y'know, sort of got off the bus a couple of times and y'know, it was tense.

MT: I think it was like 10, 20 years ago.

CBL: Yeh, Easy Rider sort of thing.

BM: I think now we would tend to get more shit for having short hair, than for long hair. The best way get out of getting your ass kicked by a pack of Rednecks in pick up trucks is to say you're in the service.

CBL: Yeh. Looking at you, I'd believe you.

DB: "Just got out of the Gulf buddy."

BM: "Just got out of the Gulf. Get out of my face."

CBL: Actually, you do have that kind of GI Joe look.

MT: We're a lean fighting machine.

CBL: I can see you guys pumping lead into writhing bodies on desert sands, with napalm…

MT: We can give Iron Maiden a run for their money…

CBL: Anyway, I think I've got enough there.

BM: Oh great.

MT: Thanks a lot.

CBL: I don't want to wade too...wade through too much, so I'll call it a day now, right.

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