(3rd October 1997)
can read the gig review elsewhere, this interview took place beforehand
in the rather insalubrious front-room that purports to be a dressing room
at the Physio and Firkin. John Sims are Johnny, Julie, Gary, Michael and
Neil, respectively: guitar, singing, bass, keyboards and keyboards. Michael
has only just joined the band taking over on keyboard duties from Julie
who used to play keyboard and sing, but now only sings. Just the token
girl singer then? "I'm not token! I am the band..." [much laughter]
"...I just couldn't drink and sing and play the keyboard, and smoke as
well. I just didn't have time to play the keyboard." Neil: "and there
was all that tapestry equipment you had to operate..." "...yeah, the loom
did get in the way of the keyboard." Michael: "I was originally supposed
to be playing drums, but I've ended up playing keyboards." Well, if you
hit them really hard...
(who is not, contrary to popular belief, John Sims) wasn't into the interview
thing which left the four others to do battle with the Magic Robot, a
task they approached with great aplomb. Unsurprising really when you see
the array of broken-looking technological boxes they surround themselves
with when they play. Eno-esque knob-twiddler and surrealist Neil takes the
bonus marks for most far-out answers. As usual, all questions originated
in Smash Hits or are related to Clint Eastwood (don't ask).
J: At Walkers we pride ourselves in delivering unbeatable quality. We
select the best potatoes and apply the finest flavours to give the best
potato crisp. Since 1992 we have packed our crisps in special packs to
ensure they always reach you with that just-cooked taste. Store in a cool,
All: [astonished silence]
J: I learnt it once, I was really bored in a pub.
G: I sealed concrete floors for Walkers, at their new plant about five
years ago. I had to put sealant down on the floor to keep the dust from
M: I worked there for one day, putting crisps into boxes. It was my worst,
maybe second-worst, job ever. I rang in the next day and said "I'm not
J: You've got a good worst job Neil.
N: Hitting two quite long rats over the head with a shovel. They were
like small dogs and it was my job to poison them. We had to get this stuff
out of a big safe and we had to ring the Ministry of Agriculture up every
time cos it was like cyanide. It was extremely dodgy stuff, you couldn't
just put it down, you had to get permission. I had this shovel as well
cos basically the rats were so big they could knock you over.
M: You might want to interrupt Neil from time to time or he'll never stop.
N: Alexander Fleming, who invented Penicillin; Feranti was very under-rated,
some of his early work on high voltage stuff in power stations is amazing;
of course you have to say everyone in John Sims and also Jilly Goulden.
J: I quite like Rita Hayworth.
N: Sit like that, and turn your head like this [moves Julie into position
perched on the edge of an upturned suitcase]. You're now well-adjusted.
J: I thought you were making me look like Rita Hayworth!
did you get together?
N: We all used to congregate up this particular part of the graveyard.
Many nights we used to kip up there and it was by a grave called John
Sims which is where the band name comes from.
Me: I wanted to ask you about that, cos I heard from somewhere that it
was the name on a gravestone in Mick's (from Prolapse) bedroom.
G: He does have a gravestone in his bedroom...but it's a birthday card,
N: The first time that we _all_ got together was after this car crash
where Gary donated his spinal fluid to keep the rest of us alive. It was
so sweet of him.
G: The first time me, Neil and Johnny got together we recorded "Scientistrock".
We got the vocals by phoning up our friends who were at work on the Friday
afternoon. We also phoned Mark Radcliffe, thinking he would be on for
such pseudo-situationist larks as recording a vocal for our song over
the phone---and he would have been more likely to play it on his (then)
evening show. We asked him to say "scientist rock", but he resolutely
refused to. However, he was quite happy to argue about not doing it. The
bit at the end of the song is him saying "I think it's all a bit of a
merry jape actually". He's probably Zoe Ball now or something. I dunno
what he thought was so dodgy about "scientist rock". Maybe if you play
it backwards it sounds like "I'm an ignorant fuckhead". Or something.
you appear on Kids TV?
G: I haven't watched kid's telly for years. Is Posh Paws still on it?
N: Television is the instrument of Satan.
you feel lucky?
J: Yeah, I'm quite lucky. Now and always. The first pony I ever had a
riding lesson on was called Lucky, actually. I used to love ponies when
I was a kid.
G: My best friend at school used to do Clint Eastwood impressions all
the time, he thought I was impressed by them...I've never seen the film,
but I know the quote...
N: ...We had lots of guns going off, but I lost count of how many went
off, so here I am and here's you and I might shoot you, but I might not.
But I can't remember how many bullets I had, so do you feel lucky? Punk.
Me: Almost word-for-word.
N: And then the bloke goes "Errr..ooheeer...waaargh" [mimes frantic arm
waving] and then Clint shoots him.
J: So does he die?
N: No, he shoots him with a tin of poisoned fish.
would you do with a few dollars more
G: Get Graham from The Family Way to answer this one.
N: I'd spread awareness of...
G: No, you're Neil, that's Graham...
N: [unperturbed] ...so much waste heat comes out of your washing machine
when you turn it on and you could recover that and use it to heat your
house. That's what I'd do with a few dollars more. Also, I might buy some
was your narrowest escape?
N: When I danced on the corpse of Princess Di last week and the police
almost caught me.
J: Yesterday, when I was really hung-over and I was trying to cross the
street and this car just screeched to a halt in front of me. That was
quite scary...and I was going to sign-on as well and I started to think
that imagine I was on the way _back_ from signing-on and I got killed,
it'd be so depressing. I mean, the money, when they sent it, who would've
N: What about when Gary sold all of our kidneys in the night and the rest
of the band didn't find out? Julies got a photo of her kidney, it's brilliant.
J: Yeah, I did some medical research and they took some ultrasound pictures
of my kidney and my heart and liver. Apparently I'm healthy and this kind
of grey blob thing is my kidney.
blob? John Sims don't have a grey organ in their collective body, it's
all in glorious techno-colour. Looped drums and hefty wedges of trance-inducing
synth thrum beef up the sound that's topped off with Julie's singing.
Stereolab. Damn, I said it. Damn, damn, damn. It's impossible to mention
John Sims without mentioning the 'Lab too, unless you're the promoter
of the under-age drinking establishment in Warrington where the band recently
played. Gary: "He came over to speak to us and thanked us for coming and
said we looked like a cross between the Prodigy (Neil as Liam) and No
Doubt (Julie as Gwen)!!!! Makes a change from Stereolab I suppose."
suppose, but it's not a comparison any sane person would care to make...I
hear Neil thinks it's alright.
"Gangster's moll" on the split 7" "Tous ar-fit" (Sorted)
"Scientistrock" on the CD compilation "Ashtray heart" (Sorted)
(This is the first thing they ever recorded. Was it in the graveyard?
Gary: "No...err, yes! Yes, we recorded songs in the graveyard.")
"Spread the tikka" on split 7" "Work is a 4-letter word" (Fortuna Pop)
(Reviewed in Issue 1 of Robots and Electronic Brains)
"Palomino" album (Sorted)
(The album's almost finished)