Introducing the Band ...

It’s a funny thing being in a band, particularly being in a band like The Real Tuesday Weld because you aren’t really sure whether it is a band at all – and sometimes, it appears that nobody else is either. Now, I like confusion and complexity and ambiguity and, of course, ambivalence but sometimes, perhaps, it’s good to set the record straight.

You see, it was never the intention to have a band at all. I was quite happy working in the studio with The Clerkenwell Kid, never seen and only heard on record. We refused every offer, bribe and prayer to play that we ever received. After all, what would be the point? It was never going to sound like the records unless we bored everybody with huge amounts of equipment on stage and really, why bother? But certain people (Tracy Lee Jackson) kept pleading and promising and badgering and bullying until, very reluctantly, it was agreed that we would have a little party, not a gig mind you but a party, at that delightful odd venue in Bloomsbury called ‘The Horse Hospital’. (By the way, if you don’t know the place, it really is worth checking out – it actually was a hospital for horses – it has a big ramp for animals with big legs, a rubberised floor with drainage channels to catch all the messy stuff and now holds remarkable film and fashion events).

So, I ‘DJ ed’. But everybody is a DJ now aren’t they? (How did that happen by the way? It’s all part of the democratisation of art I suppose – now critics, gallery owners and djs are just as important as the work of those they use.). Basically, I put a few of my favourite 1930s / 1940s / Gainsbourg / Morricone / Chanson songs clumsily on the cd players. We showed Alex Budovsky’s films, Glen Duncan did some readings and we all grooved around a bit.

But, as a surprise, in Tracy’s honour, I had secretly prepared a very short live set with my old friends Jacques Van Rhijn (Dutch aristocrat, great, great, great, great grandson of Rembrandt) and David Guez (French Algerian and James Spader look alike). Another old friend, the remarkable recluse Clive Painter did the sonics. We had decided to dispense with any attempt to sound like the records and performed quiet, sweet acoustic versions of ‘Anything but Love’, ‘La bete et la belle’ and ‘Someday (never)’.

Well, blow me down with a feather but it actually went quite well and, even more remarkably, we all quite enjoyed ourselves. But that really was meant to be that - until a week or so later, we got an invite to travel over to Athens and be wined, dined, watered and fed in luxury surroundings if we would only play a radio show and a little concert. We thought about it for a few seconds, said ‘oh, ok then’, learned a few more songs, dragged in Clive to play bass, bought some sunscreen and duly flew over to that ancient classical city.

Then, no sooner were we back in Blighty than the inestimable Ms Gail O Hara of Chickfactor fame proposed yet another live show – but this time in the insanely glamorous and monstrously mad borough of Manhattan. And so it went on: A residency in Clerkenwell, dates and tours in the US, Europe, the UK and Ireland, a host of radio sessions, David moving back to France, the peculiar and handsome Don Brosnan joining us, the wonderful classical geezer Brian Lee joining us, the live soundtrack to the Hans Richter film: ‘Dreams that money can buy’ (with the immensely gifted Cibelle and David Piper narrating), the odd funeral and Bar Mitzvah and so on and so on

What have I done to deserve this? I honestly don’t know – I mean I can’t play very well myself and I am surrounded by all these amazingly talented people who can! It’s a very, very good deal I can assure you. Rather unfairly, I tend to get most of the credit because it has mainly been me and the Clerkenwell Kid on the records so far – (with various guests including the band of course) - but if you have seen us you play live will know that that really is only half the story. It has been an evolving, collective, oscillating, ovulating thing and I am as surprised by the wonderful sounds being made as much as anyone else!

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, thank you. You really have been a wonderful audience but now I would like you to put your hands together and give a warm welcome to the band:

Jacques Van Rhijn: Clarinet
Clive Painter: Guitars
Jeremy Woodhouse: Percussion
Don Brosnan: The bass
Brian Lee: The piano and the violin

And, lest we forget, the remarkable:

Eyal Burnstein Visual Projections
Alex Budovsky Animations


Goodbye

I, Lucozade

You may have recently seen a commercial for a certain fizzy drink featuring a gang of mad cuckoos jumping around to some peculiar bouncy music (on the television and at cinemas in Europe at least). Well, the music was by The Real Tuesday Weld and the amazing animation was by a peculiar Russian friend of mine called Alex Budovsky. In fact both were developed from earlier films for tracks from the ‘I Lucifer’ album.



I am often asked how I know Alex – I mean he is an ex-pat Russian from St. Petersburg living in Brooklyn, New York and I am a pale-faced, down at heel ex-aristocrat who finds it difficult to leave my bit of London, England. Well, it all comes down to the wonders of this new fangled thing they call the Internet. You see, one day, I got an e-mail completely out of the blue which said in rather broken English: ‘Dear Mr Stephen, I am making a film to one of your tracks, do you mind?’ Very polite that ‘do you mind’ don’t you think? I like that. So, I wrote back in an equally polite manner: ‘no, of course not old sport. But you will let me see the results when it’s done won’t you?’

Now I don’t mind telling you, I fully expected to never hear anything about the matter again or, if I did, for it to be one of those computer generated affairs you can get software to do automatically plus a bit of monkeying around on top. So, you can imagine my surprise therefore, when less than a week later, I received a disc in the post from the United States of America with an absolutely remarkable animation choreographed to the track ‘(still) terminally ambivalent over you’. It had all sorts of malarkey going on between various people in strange hats, a prison, gramophones, a lavatory, a baguette and I don’t know what else. I was charmed and not a little blown away.



It turned out that Alex had discovered the track when he was round at another Russian friend’s apartment in Coney Island. This friend – Radik – had heard it himself in that peculiar and delightful shop: ‘Other Music’ in Manhattan. The very next time I visited that august and noble metropolis, we met for tea and I expressed my appreciation in no uncertain terms – I mean, after all, this was Alex’s very first film – and we discussed the possibilities of another collaboration. Well, that planning eventually bore fruit in the avian madness of the ‘Bathtime in Clerkenwell’ animation and the rest, as they say, is history – Alex went on to win a list of awards as long as both your arms – Sundance, Cannes, Krok, Aspen etc., etc., etc.. He gave up his job as an electrician at the port authority, travelled the world and ended up signing to Palm Pictures. Gosh it makes you think doesn’t it? But, you see, it could easily have been so different couldn’t it? – not just if Alex’s original e-mail had gone astray but if we had stuck to our original plan which didn’t involve birds at all.

You see, ‘I Lucifer’ is the soundtrack to the novel of the same name by Glen Duncan. The book is the story of the devil being given one last chance for salvation by having to live on earth – without sin - in the body of a failed writer in Clerkenwell. When I told Alex all about this, and particularly about the scene which has the devil waking up in the bath, we decided that this would be the story of the animation – actually it sounds quite good, no? So, I went about my business and Alex disappeared to Russia – to Siberia in fact – where he was undertaking an epic trip to a strange and mystical island in the far north. I heard from him by e-mail fairly regularly until unannounced there was a long silence. This continued for some time until one day I finally received a highly excited missive.

It turned out that, whilst our man was crossing the sea in a ramshackle boat piloted by a semi-inebriated captain, there had been a storm and the boat had suddenly and terrifyingly capsized. Plunged into almost freezing water, those on board managed to swim and drag each other to shore where they had to strip naked and light fires to dry themselves and their clothes before hypothermia set in. Fortunately, all’s well that end’s well and everybody survived unaffected – at least physically - by the experience.

But, as the e-mail went onto relate, whilst in the icy water, at this moment of existential crisis, Alex had looked up and had had what I would describe as ‘a white light’ experience as he floated there before he managed to get ashore. Things would never be the same for that Mr Budovsky:

“Stephen, there is no way, we can have the devil in this film, absolutely no way. I have seen the light. But it’s alright, everything’s going to be alright I promise you, everything all makes sense now man… I have had this idea about an army of cuckoos trying to take over London……….’

And so they did.