(part 1 of 5)
"Good morning there readers, and here we are in sunny Soho on a Saturday afternoon. It's 1:22 and I think - who's that coming to the club right now? My God it looks like - it's not like - looks like Marco! Oh my God, it IS Marco! You ready Marco? (yeah!) Who's that next to you? Chris Carty! You ready Chris? (yay!) Cartographer, you ready? (ready!) Well I hope she's ready...)"
Can you burn off a few and flog them for me Carty?
Carty has been to London. Not looking for love or for fame but to catch up with the man behind the most exciting releases to hit the Ant world in years. Marco Pirroni agreed to meet for an interview at a club in Soho's Greek St. on Saturday, June 12th 2004. Marco arrived by taxi as Carty and his kidnapped Cartographer (Jackie) waited outside the wrong building. So much for arriving an hour early to find the right place.
It's around here somewhere - but not this place!
Carty calls Marco. "I'll be there in ten minutes, I'm leaving now!" Sure enough, ten minutes later the cab shoots past them. As they ran down the street to where Marco exited the cab, Carty shouts, "Oi!" (Shouting out "Marco" didn't seem right somehow). As he turned around, he looked at Jackie in a surprised way (he didn't expect Carty to bring her!). After climbing three flights of steps and finding an empty table, Marco lies down on the huge seats. "Ready to start Marco?" "Let me fucking eat first!"
That's more like it!
Luckily for Marco's wallet, Carty and his aide had eaten in Soho Square's Coffee Republic. But it was cappuccinos all round. While Marco tucked into his fish cake and fries (he offered), they chatted about manic depression. Not Adam's though, and exchange some CDs. With so much going on in this man's world, questions needed to be asked. We take up the conversation as Carty turns on his digital Dictaphone (a second analogue one failed to work).
Can I have your coffee Carty?
Carty: When touring, how do you go about pulling a sickie?
Marco: How do you get out of doing a gig?
C: If you're doing a gig and you wanna pull a sickie if you're not feeling well, you just can't phone up and say "I'm not feeling too good today, I'll be in tomorrow" - Or can you?
M: Well it's not quite that easy, no. They sort of have to prop you up while you're really bad. They have to prop you up to get you through the night. In the end a decision has to be made. You have to go to the doctor, coz you have to be insured before you go on tour.
C: Against illness?
M: Yeah. So if anyone gets ill, the tour gets pulled.
C: Is that what happens? If only one person gets ill?
M: If it's me or Adam, the whole thing is cancelled.
C: They wouldn't get someone to stand in for you?
M: Yeah, they can get someone to stand in, but they can't just fly out and do the gig can they? They have to rehearse and stuff.
C: They could mime.
M: They could mime, it depends on what they...
C: Have you ever mimed? Live?
C: I knew you'd say that. That wasn't supposed to be part of this interview. I don't really want to go over anything in the past, coz there's enough out there already. It's more what you're doing at the moment. The first thing I wanna talk about is the new Digital Tenderness DVD. You've been very busy lately.
M: Yes I have.
Digital Tenderness DVD
C: How long have you been busy with all these projects coming out, with the DVD and...?
M: Six months.
C: So whose idea was it? How did it come about?
M: I thought it was time to put the stuff back together. We'd done the SEX album and I'd been working with Mark Alleyne, the designer. I thought I'd do something really nice with the packaging. So I just went to Sony and said, "if you let me do it, stick them out there and put them nice packages, and find the photos and remasters". We talked about it for ages. They just thought that now's the time to do it.
C: With the DVD, this is something that isn't available. There's nothing on DVD Ant-wise.
C: So it appears that rather than just go out and issue the usual set of promo videos on a DVD, you've sort of made it a definitive release.
M: I want to make it a definitive release, but whether that's possible or not, I just don't know because getting the footage is really hard. You can find the footage. Like at the moment the BBC want £1,500 a minute to use our footage. Which works out, with all the Top Of The Pops appearances and the Old Grey Whistle Test, around, I don't know, about £150,000 or something as ridiculous.
C: That's a lot of dough!
M: It's a lot of dough - and I also think that 1) - Sony won't pay it. 2) - I don't think they should pay it, coz it's a piss-take price. It's about negotiating with them. You know, I've had to say to the BBC, "well alright. You won't let us use it, but YOU can't use it for anything, we're not allowed to use it for anything".
C: So is there a definite track listing? Or is it still up in the air?
M: It's totally up in the air.
C: So you're waiting in the BBC stuff. What about Jubilee?
M: Jubilee? We've got all that.
C: What have you got from Jubilee?
M: I haven't seen Jubilee.
C: You've never seen it?
M: No. I understand there's a section where the Ants are on television.
C: It's on TV in a white room.
M: We've got that footage that came from the TV, Adam singing Tabletalk in a garden. There's another of him doing Cartrouble in a garden.
C: With all the make up on.
M: Oh, you've seen that one?
C: We saw these at a convention, but with no sound. They were silent. There's also the Zerøx video, which was used for the Cartrouble sleeve.
C: So those three - can we expect to see those?
Simple Simon says put your hands on your head!
M: Yeah, we got those three. We've got that Plastic Surgery thing. There's Laurie Rae Chamberlain's film.
C: What's that?
M: That's this weird film that she made that's just got loads of footage and little bits & pieces in it. I thought I was gonna sort of cut it up and make one video out of it, but there's really not enough of it. So I'm just gonna put it on there raw.
C: Is there any sort of idea when you're looking to get this released??
M: Well I want it to get released the same time as the albums.
C: That's not long!
M: I know.
C: But realistically, you must be looking later, as nothing's finalised!
M: Nothing's finalised, no. It sort of exists. The artwork's done, all the technical stuff is done.
C: It's just the track listing.
M: It's actually getting the footage, yeah.
C: Even with the regular Ant songs, there are different versions of some of the videos: different endings to the Prince Charming video, a version of Vive Le Rock with a skeleton on a motorbike. Can we expect these?
M: Yes, I always like to put on the ones that people don't have.
C: So rather than have two versions, you're gonna give us the alternative?
M: They're not that different. It's not really worth it.
C: Well it is to the die-hard Ant fans
M: It is to the die-hards, but in this sequence it's only a little bit different.
C: And they probably wouldn't notice anyway?
C: So if not July 5th 2004, when can we expect to see this?
M: Hopefully for Christmas (2004), maybe for September, if we've sorted things out.
C: The cover says, "A video history...to 1996". Is that referring to the Wonderful singles that were released up to that date??
M: All promotional videos, all the promos, all the little kinds of interviews and documentaries that were made for that.
C: Have you thought about getting a loan to pay for the BBC footage?
M: You want me to borrow some money?
C: Yeah. We'll have a whip round. You have a motorbike don't you?
C: How long have you had it?
M: About six months.
C: Do you use it?
C: I asked that coz you came by taxi today. Why don't you use it?
M: Because I can't park it anywhere!
C: Is it too difficult to manoeuvre?
M: It's difficult for me to manoeuvre coz I can't really ride it.
C: What bike is it?
M: A BMW. No it's not, it's like a BMW.
C: What's it worth?
M: As in terms of what?
C: BBC video footage.
M: I might get one video out of it I suppose.
Dirk Wears White Søx 2004
C: That's one less to worry about then! I want to move on to Dirk Wears White Søx. When the initial Sony Rewind CD was planned, I remember quickly talking to Adam after the Wonderful gigs about it, and he told me they were struggling to lay their hands on a couple of the tracks. Day I Met God, Catholic Day - which he managed to get hold of in time for the release. But he couldn't get hold of the original LP version of Cartrouble Parts 1 & 2. You've got those. How did you manage to find all this stuff that Adam couldn't find back then?
M: How did I find it and he didn't find it?
M: There's a big difference in me finding and Adam finding it. 1) - I look for it. 2) - (Marco thinks) I don't know why he didn't find it! It was there in the box with everything else!
C: So he didn't look far enough?
M: No, he didn't look at all!
C: There always has been something wrong with his eyesight. Maybe that's what it was!
M: What it is, you have to find this stuff. Sony have got a big tape store in Aylesbury and there's millions of tapes by everybody. If you wanna find something, you can't phone someone up in Aylesbury and say, "look, there's a box from 25 years ago, that's got my writing on it". You have to go and find it yourself. They don't know what they're looking for. How are they supposed to know what they're looking for? All these tapes are really not very well marked.
C: What's all this about Andi Vaughan and a bin liner you've told me about?
M: I just gave Andi a load of stuff and told him to go and listen to it all coz I can't be bothered.
C: Who's Andi Vaughan then?
M: He was the bloke who did Slapdash Eden and I've been in touch with him over the years, coz he did an interview with me. I found him to be knowledgeable without being vain. Basically, he knows everything, but it isn't his entire life.
C: I know where you're coming from on that one.
M: If I said "Andi, do you know what happened on this?", he'll say, "no I don't", and I'll say, "any chance you could find out?" He'll go and find out.
C: He's straight down the line.
C: You've taken it upon yourself to give Dirk Wears White Søx the release it deserves. But you're not gonna gain anything financially from it all, so...
M: Yes, I knew that.
C: Why do it?
M: Why not really? I just thought, while we were doing everything else, we might as well do this as well. I said to Mark and Andi, who were big Dirk fans, "look, I don't know anything about this album. I don't know what's supposed to be on it or what it's supposed to sound like or look like." And they said, "Leave it to us and we'll kind of put it together and just oversee it".
C: So they brought this to you. Has Adam been brought in at all, as a sort of consultant role?
C: No input at all?
M: No. I've shown him everything. He just sort of said, "fine, get on with it"..
C: You were happy with that.
M: Oh yeah! Totally.
C: You wouldn't change anything on Dirk?
M: No I wouldn't because I didn't know where Dirk started and ended. I didn't know what to put anywhere...if I should put on the old demos...make it a double album. Then I think it was Mark and Andi who said, "just do the Do It stuff". Everything that was recorded for Do It.
C: There's no demos on there.
M: No, there were no demos for the stuff, I don't think.
C: Not that I know of. There are the Decca Demos, but I'll come to those later.
Can we go to page 2 now please?