Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Clive Continuum

(see also: "Festivals" "Demos" "Respect" "Side Projects"  "Lyrics"  "Touring")

Clive Smith Is The Savoir Of Rock & Roll.

So, I was on holiday recently. I went for a trip around one of my favourite parts of the country - the North East. Beautiful place. From the Blast Furnaces of Redcar to the long dead port-town of Sunderland, it is a trail of glorious decline, and a strong lesson in how quickly this crazy world can change.

I'll happily tell you the whole road trip story down the boozer some time, but something else happened on that trip which changed my life. No, actually, it reaffirmed what I already knew, but showed me a new way to know it, if you catch what old Clive is saying.

Like God coming down to visit a priest and saying "Hey Priest, all this stuff you are saying is dead good. You know it's true. But maybe you shouldn’t just be talking about it. You should be doing something too, pal."

Which could lead to missions to Africa or mass murder, but at least it gets him out of the Church.

The moment came to me in Washington Motorway Services, the most northerly in England. I'd been snowed in for four days. I'd setup camp in an easily defendable corner of WHSmiths (should my co-trappees turn cannibalistic) and had become fat on salty, pre-packaged sandwiches and family sized packs of 'Fiery' Doritos.

The biggest tragedy was that the KFC wasn't open; no staff had made it in that morning. The second day was mainly spent trying to master the intricacies of their cooking machines, which was harder than you'd think. And I just couldn't find the balance of spice combinations to make it worthwhile. My time at the Subway counter was equally fruitless. I made a sandwich but it just looked shit; I didn't want to touch it. I have a new appreciation for the calling of the 'Sandwich Artist'.

Anyway, four days in I was starting to go a bit loopy. I needed some mental stimulation. And have you been in a WHSmiths? It was like that proverb "Water, water all around but not a drop to drink". There was Zoo magazine and What Car? magazine and "Bake a Cake" magazine. There was nothing about Darts. So, I did something I didn't think I would ever do; I picked up a copy of NME.

Bono Is A Massive Idiot Face

It was everything I feared it would be, and worse. Like a Jennifer Anniston film. I'm with it enough to have learnt the word hipster and this 'rag' was full of what I had thought they would look like. All the hair, and makeup, and moodiness, and the empty headed daydreaming. I don't think there was a person in there over 50, except maybe Liam Gallagher whose craggy face and mind are given an unnatural gleam of youth due to the immaturity spouted by his mouth hole.

It dawned on me that the truth is obsolete. Things like the NME supposedly report on what is happening, the facts of the story, but instead are just chugging out their own polluted version of the world. I always thought they were plain stupid in the early '80s when they panned my albums. Now I see I didn't fit in with their world view, just as I don't fit in now with the world view of other publications, like Wakefield’s Rhubarb Bomb.

The fact they have a 'world view' is the first clue to the overarching arrogance of the tiny, insignificant magazine. But to someone like me, who has always strived to tell the whole truth, whether it be a declaration that "It's time to party like we're on drugs" (New Rave Sound from House Party, 1996) or "this government has some serious questions to answer" (City Centre Art Project from Public Money, Stupid!, 1986), it is a cruel ethos to swallow.

The NME revelation brought into focus something that had been a source of mire for me since New Year; Rhubarb Bomb's 'Best Of The Year' awards. As an artist who had released two impressive, sell-out records and a seminal best of collection, I was sure I'd be up for something. Short listings were announced and I was noticeable to all by my absence.

But then I noticed an extra award, the 'Tru DIY' trophy given out to a special, one-off performer. I did a quite smile on my face and thought "I bet that's me int it?"

It's not often I'm both shocked and wrong, but on this occasion I was. Runaround Kids won it, for releasing just seven tracks in an overly complicated way. Seems they were instead spending their time making their hair and makeup and moody faces fit the NME demographic. And for this they get an award and a big pat on the back.

Runaround Kids: Like The Beatles being buggered by the Bay City Rollers in the back of a big blue bus.

I read that copy of NME over and over again. I took in its hyperbole, its sibilance and its bathetic declension, halting only to occasionally consult a dictionary. I realised journalism isn't about truth. It's about making your own bed and then leeching off the genuine talent of others in order to make a quick bit of pounds.

I'm not that man. And I felt dirty that I had been involved with Rhubarb Bomb and its evil intentions. But I knew my intentions were pure. To educate. To inform. To share. Those dark January days, after the award snub, I questioned whether I should perhaps tone down the 'truth' aspect of my work. Maybe I should be more like they want me to be. If I started sucking up to people, doing favours for 'friends' and what not, perhaps I could work my way up to Assistant Editor at Rhubarb Bomb and get some real power.

But after Washington, I know I am right. At least, I know I was always right, like that Priest man thinks he is, but I was perhaps doing it the wrong way. I am still about the music. I couldn't stop it spurting out of me if I tried. But I now believe the word is mightier than the chord. My truth has reached an event horizon - can I pull through to the other side?

So here are my awards. People might not like them, but I'm sure Rhubarb Bomb will still print it, as they perceive themselves as some kind of alternative to the alternative. Yeah yeah yeah. Grow up.

Album Of The Year: Life Is A Motorway by Clive Smith
Telling It Like It Is Award: @jonezcrusher on Twitter
Best Session Musician: Bulky Thompson (from Pontefract)
Best New Band: The Pills
Best new Genre: JapRap
Best Gig: The Killers, in one of those big stadiums.
Most Overhyped Thing: Wakefield
Best Sax Solo - Schindler Cartwright
Best Solo Sax - Holly H Hindelburg
Best Metaphor - Gravity by Euphoria Audio
Best Motorway - M6
Best Dressed Man - Bob Dylan
Surprise Of The Year - Paul McCartney replaces Kurt Cobain and Nirvana actually become listenable.
Most Spherical Song - Nakkas by Retarded Fish
Lost Up its Own Bottom (Award) : Rhubarb Bomb
Big Hope for 2013: Long Division (a chance to redeem yourself)
Beacon Of Truth: You. (yes, you!)

So be warned; the truth in its ugliest, truest form is here and if the world can't deal with it, then the world can go away right now.

Oh, I got out of the services on day 10. It was quite fun in the end. I also recommend Sunderland Glass Museum if you are in that part of the country.

Clive Smith

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