Sunday, 26 July 2009

Friday, 24 July 2009

Tagliatelle Tubbies

By Simon Williams, NME

*Fist of fun*

Like tabloid hypocrisy, stroppy bus conductors and careless estate agents, certain aspects of reality will never, ever let you down. And the music business -'alternative' or not - is no exception.

Take Prolapse, for example: a haphazard collective of half-a-dozen studey types seemingly drawn together by a penchant for shouting and Sonic Youth B-sides and armed with a name about as hospital radio-friendly as FrankieWank & The F----ers, surely few acts could compete with them on a thoroughly low-rent scale of Transit van-trundling, bedsit-bundling indie schmindie on-the-road nightmares.

Sure enough, ruddy-faced ranting vocalist Scotch Mick is fondly recalling some of the more glamorous moments of Prolapse's career. Like that time in Germany when they arrived in a huge squat in Hanover after spending light years on the sodding autobahn to find they were playing with the Gay City Rollers - oh yes - the majority of whom appeared to be getting intimate in the boys' toilets.

Anyway, it was really bloody cold and Prolapse were all shaking'n'quaking from a high-octane blend of on-tour psychosis and the DTs, and the larger-than-life singer of the Gay City Rollers - a chap called Elvis, natch - well, he reappeared from the bogs and he had blood, like, under his armpit. By the time Scotch Mick had seen the wall of a nearby bar burst into flames, the actual gig itself had become something of an irrelevance. Suffice it to say the show was rubbish.

'It was,' growls Mick with masterful understatement, 'f---ing horrible.'

Spending a weekend in Rome with Prolapse should therefore fill the more sophisticated among us with the sort of dread normally associated with cold concrete floors, stinking syringe-littered toilet venues and cockroach-infested lunacy. But that's enough about Camden.

And, in a very real sense, that's enough about the potential social perils of being in Prolapse, for this weekend is blissfully free from any touring traumas or tribulations - primarily because they aren't even playing any gigs! They're just here to chew the fat with NME over their new album 'The Italian Flag' - the rather piss-poor excuse for our current location -and to have the odd discreet conflab with their continental paymeisters at Warner Brothers. In fact, with the luvverly blue skies and visits to the Pantheon and the Vatican, these 48 hours could almost be described as classy.

Prolapse? Classy!???? Skankin' shrimp paste sandwiches, tomorrow Scotch Mick will be on a British Airways flight with Brian 'Queen' May. And Anita 'EastEnders' Dobson! And not only that, but he's also been pissed in Los Angeles! With Drew Barrymore!

'I pulled her ear!' he beams, ruddily. Yeah! Really! 'Yeah, I said "Cheers, Big Ears" and she went, "What? Cheers, Big Ass?" so I said, "No, ears!" and pulled one of hers to show her what I meant.'

Even better, we find Scotch Mick and co-conspirator/co-vocalist Linda Steelyard in a local backstreet restaurant, guffawing heartily at the Inglese menu and its poorly translated promises of Spaghetti on Angler's Way, A Little Walnuts by Vernaccia and, of course, the soon-to-be legendary starter, The Salmon Fill With a Smoke, because the menu reads like a Prolapse set list.

Yes indeed, 'Slash/Oblique', 'I Hate the Clicking Man', 'Return of Shoes'... you'll find all these and more stumpily-titled delights on 'The Italian Flag', the 'Lapses fine forthcoming (third) album. More Prolapse facts? The other two-thirds of the band consist of The Other Mick (Harrison, bass), Dave Jeffreys (guitar), Pat Marsden (guitar), Tim Pattison (drums) and Donal Ross-Skinner (keyboards). They all sound like they should be modelling donkey jackets in a Vic&Bob sketch, and they are all currently back in Leicester or London or wherever else it is that Prolapse have been accused of 'coming from', maaaaan.

To the average discerning punkoid punter, Prolapse have been around for blatheringly ages, whipping out such a stompingly comprehensive string of sniggles'n'sniggers for such a baffling variety of record companies that Mick and Linda struggle to remember, a) the song titles, b) the label names and c) what the hecksie becksie they're going on about.

In reality, the sextet fell into (mis)shape about three years ago in between studies in Leicester, and Mick was so shy he wore a balaclava onstage for the first, ooooh, 20 gigs. They have subsequently played a sweltering welter of maniac live shows with Pulp, Sonic Youth and Stereolab, the majority of which have dwelt upon the deranged antics of Linda and Mick. Crucially, every year Prolapse bung out a fantastic single like 'Pull Thru Barker' or 'TCR' and everyone goes 'BRILLIANT!' but nobody buys it so they slide back into saggy old oblivion; and this week Prolapse's BRILLIANT new single is called 'Autocade', which is so poptastically fantastic that Mick hates it.


'I choose not to be on it,' he says dismissively. 'I just don't like the song - it's not my cup of tea. But that's OK, we're in a band where it's not gonna cause any fuss. I just don't like our new single, that's all. It's too pop. That's the way the cookie crumbles.'

'It should be pointed out here that we didn't set out to write a pop song,' defends Linda. 'We don't want people thinking that. It just happened!'

'I still think it's crap,' mutters Mick.

'I could have shouted all over it ad then it wouldn't be a pop song,' insists Linda. 'It could've easily been someone boiling a kettle over the music or whatever. I mean, the next single could be ten minutes of Hoover noise!'

It probably will be, as well, which is precisely why Prolapse are hardly ranked alongside Fairy Liquid and Uncle Berkov's Ratcatcher Delight in the household name stakes. 'I can't write words that are about anything other than murder,' sighs Linda. 'And death. Oh, and relationships splitting up. I'm probably the nastiest person in the band, really.'

True, she has just spooned an entire mouthful of - wait for it - Parmesan cheese into her mouth, which is pretty damn nasty.

'We're somewhere between Throbbing Gristle and The Razorcuts,' leers Mick. 'Some of our album is unlistenable! A lot of it sounds on first listen like there's no structure to it. It's just the rantings of a madman and a madwoman!'

Brilliant! Of course, on the second and third and tenth listens you're convulsing along to the delirious rushes of sonic mayhem and Stereolab-in-a-madhouse grooves and understanding exactly what Linda means when she says that, 'There are a lot of people who are really fanatical about our music - they really do love us!'

Yip! Especially in America! But we digress. Anyhow, some Prolapse songs 'depress the shit' out of Linda, and that's brilliant as well, because, she says, 'I'd like people to get off on the words and I don't mean that people should go out and murder people but I'd like them to relate to it like a Smiths song: I'd like them to say, 'Oh, it's really miserable, but I know what she's going on about.'

What about the somewhat haphazard take on your career plan?

'We're not one of those bands that are really intense and go, 'Where shall we take it now?', sniffs Linda. 'Maybe that's where we're going wrong. We're quite take-us-or-leave-us, really. We're not into licking arses or anything like that.'

'If we'd put our minds to it, we could be as big as Symposium,' beams Mick. 'Or Morbid Angel.'


'I don't know what I'm doing in a band, actually. I don't really care about it. I'd be quite happy if 80,000 people bought the album - I'd be like, f---in' hell, people do appreciate us! But I'm not a wee crappy indie kid, I really don't care.'

He doesn't either - he prefers his job as an archaeologist back in Leicester to being a pop singer. But, of course, he does as well, because beneath his charmingly cantankerous Crass-rousing melody-loathing anarchist-with-a-small 'a' hollerings, one heartily suspects that Scotch Mick is as enamoured of his band's furious pop noise as the rest of the radiator-lugging Linda-hugging Prolapse fanatics are.

'I had to list my three current favourite bands the other day,'reveals Linda, blushing with the social importance of it all. Excellent! And, pray, which particular globally-renowned publication was canvassing your opinions on the likes of Tiny Too, Spraydog, and (possibly) Frankie Wank & The F---ers?

'It was for the Prolapse newsletter.' More blushing. 'Heeheehee!'

'Hurhurhurmph!' gurgles Mick.'And we wonder why we've never been big?'

Still class in a pint glass, though.

Prolapse postcard

Ghosts Of Dead Aeroplanes

"Imagine playing aeroplane Top Trumps in hell. If you ever ended up doing it, the music that'd be playing in the background would be Ghosts Of Dead Aeroplanes by Prolapse. And it would scare the fuck, living or dead, out of you.

It does not, by simple law of audio extremes, get any more freaky than the opening track, Essence Of Cessna. The low, thrumming rhythm of the modest backing music plays host to the occasional electricity noise and, more importantly, Linda's vocals. Or is it Linda? It sounds rather more like a six-year old girl who's just battered her parents to death with a claw-hammer and is now in a semi-comatose state of sheer shock and generic fucked-upness whilst subconsciously mumbling her utterly, utterly insane stream of thought.

Fair enough, Mick's vocals do feature earlier on in the track, quiet and distorted, but I don't even know when they cut out, because it's impossible to hear anything in this song aside from the completely terrifying girl's voice. There is a pleasant warmth to the background 'aaaaahhh's and the occasional emphasised bassline, but you have to listen very badly indeed not to be chilled to the bone by the unstructured, atmospheric, surreal freakiness of the thing. As an opening track, it is a long way from the obvious choice. It could scarcely be closer, though, to perfection.

By way of slapping you about a bit and delivering quite precisely what you don't expect,, the racingly harmonious and upbeat single, follows. Linda's oscillating vocal tone rides like some entirely mad but beautiful jet-ski over the pulsating wave of the music as Mick spouts his slightly whining Glaswegian in a manner not in the least bit similar to but easily as threatening as a Great White cruising beneath. The immaculate rhythm, pace and rhyming pattern to the track keep it hurtling along at a rate of knots and exemplify perfectly the sheer poetic genius Prolapse have been gradually honing all these years.

Adiabatic follows - a wavering and haunting but strangely shallow and unfulfilling melody laid down by Linda over Mick's initially uninteresting echoey vocals beneath. It is not until the chorus that you realise both these latter were nothing more than atmosphere building elements to the glorious, powerful bursts of streaming guitar, muted but shouted rage from Mick and an eerie chorus from Linda. And it's not until several days' intensive listening have passed that you fully come to terms with the idea.

By far the most abrasive of the album comes next - Cylinders V12 Beats Cylinders 8. In common with Surreal Madrid from their first album, it features a simple Mickalogue concerning someone he really doesn't like at all. Suffice to say, with regards to the lyrical content, that the chorus is no less than "He wis a septic tank ae a man." The tale appears to be about a keycutter who gets it a bit wrong once, and hence is a completely worthless bastard. Cruel, but fair as a petrified witness of the activities of the Piranha brothers would one day confide. It's hard not to feel similarly.

There is a notion in my head regarding One Illness, the next track, that I have been trying, without success, to dispel for some time. It goes along the lines of this song being quite simply the best I have heard in my life. It fades in with a wonderfully throbbing Stereolabish guitar effect leading into a tripping bassline, a harmonious 'aaaaaaaahhhh' and finally a quick succession of drum beats merges into the siren-like pulse of the main riff. But what makes the song one superior to every other I've heard is undoubtedly the vocals. It has, by some strange musical publications, been accused of pop. Perhaps the initial relative jauntiness of the sound is responsible, but by halfway this is entirely evaporated. Linda's rolling poetry races with perfect rhyme still, but Mick is reduced in parallel to shouts and screams, still with immaculate timing, but entirely free of the burdens of melody. It starts superbly and keeps on getting better for five and a half minutes.

After After is an unprecedented venture for the band. Linda's vocals have been recorded as little over a whisper and amplified massively to normal voice level. The closeness and intimacy of the sound is reminiscent of Portishead, if rather more full-bodied and rhythmic. More unusual still is Mick's vocal effect. It is distorted and echoed almost beyond recognition, and as he speaks it plummets and soars in bizarre waveforms of deep, metallic tone. It is offset perfectly by what is almost its polar opposite in Linda's vocals and creates an enthralling aural experience that holds a ceaseless fascination for any sane mind.

A call back to The Italian Flag follows in the form of The Government Of Spain. While the structure and vocal arrangement owes much to Visa For Violet And Van, the actual sound of the song is in fact far closer to Headless In A Beat Motel from the first album. The song crackles into life with Linda, as though over an intercom, chanting "Be told, retell." Her vocals from there express concern about a death on a runway and Mick's vocals burst in just before the guitars stream up to a frantic hammering that accompanies his rapid and glorious build up to the chorus: "The government of Spain is all evil!"

By the time Linda has got on to utterances about stinking hell on earth and misery, Mick's chorus has shot off into a desperate screech and rocketed by a few more octaves than one could reasonably expect the human vocal cords to cover. The song finally fades into Linda's crackly chanting and disappears. In an album consisting almost entirely of new and wildly successful experiments in sound, Government stands as a solitary monument to their previous sounds and in doing so, somehow manages to top the lot of them.

Sadly, the last nine minutes of this miserably short bundle of joy are significantly less enjoyable. Planned Obsolescence, my theory goes, is some sort of portrayal of the eloping ritual leading in and out of marriage. Since the only lyrics are "I love you", "Ah own yer" and "Ah foond yer." it's difficult to say exactly, but the point is that the music is nothing very special. It's all very nice in its atmospheric way and its whispering subtlety has a certain charm, but it simply doesn't appeal to me the way the rest of the recording does. Which is an unfortunate end to an album that otherwise quite simply tops the efforts of everyone and anyone, themselves included, who have come before.

It makes you wonder why the rest of the music world bothers, really."

Reviewed by: Tom Francis

"Must've seen this band at least a dozen times and walked away each time not discombobulated by their raucous scrabbling, not annoyed by their scatter-gun noise terrorism - always there to see someone anyhow - but just plain I-don't-get-it.

Their ramshackle records have always left me catching fish; damned if I can see what's special about Prolapse. All that eviscerating the corpse of rock, feeding off the carcass and spitting out the remains is for hardcore Peelie listeners. And so it is with Prolapse's fourth album; avant garde, left-field and off-centre. But, and this time there's some tunes and there's some direction. They've returned to the sweeter sound of 1997's "Autocade" single, a one-off song so pop for them that singer Mick Derrick hated and refused to appear in the video.

"" is Stereolab for the jilted generation: mesmerising, driving and, controversially, tuneful. "One Illness" sets up camp in the same field of hypnotic guitars and Krautrock drumming, with Linda Steelyard's warm drone complemented by Derrick's manic ranting.

Despite the greater pop sensibility shown on this outing, little has changed in the area of actually making any bloody sense. Derrick's ranting is issued from the fire-and-brimstone pulpit and is not always comprehensible. When the words do spill out in a recognisable form they're rarely better that way - "Accosted by angles at an early age and made to take the same head as the venerable sage". OK.

Don't get me wrong, difficult music is always welcome, always encouraged; rarely is it useful or groundbreaking. Prolapse are a difficult band, awkward, edgy and agitated. This is about as close to making a classic album they'll get. Perversely, it succeeds when they sound like Stereolab and it fails when they sound too much like Prolapse the difficult band."

- Ben Clancy, Melody Maker

"Track 7. "Government of Spain." Jesus Christ.

It starts with a second of electric fuzz, two words and an ultraviolent bassline that doesn't stop winding itself up and twining itself tight for the remainder of the song. Female vocalist Linda Steelyard starts listingrandom, random things in an emotionless, hard-edged voice. The drums kick in. The guitars drop down and spark all the was to the finale- hard, hard explosive guitars clanking and swooping and smashing concrete - then into the eye of the hurricane Mick Derrick screams his entry like a fucking demon and proceeds to lose his mind and tries to take yours with the angriest, nastiest, hottest rant since Mark E Smith first pissed vinegar. By the final blow-up/self-destruction of the song Derrick is wailing and shrieking in a mean and forced falsetto that "the Government of Spain is all evil!" like the future depends on you knowing this information. This is the sound and the fury of Prolapse, this is extreme conspiracy theory art-rock from one of Britian's most underappreciated bands, this is the most necessary piece of fucking music to come out this year.

Prolapse make music that snaps at your heels when you leave the room. The underbelly of blinkered British thug culture precisely assaulted with obtuse poetry, channeled chaos and strawberry-blond sex thrown in to confuse and entice. They've always been this way: 1996's Backsaturday was the sound of a hot summer snapping, last year's The Italian Flag was a magnificent hate letter, and now, album number four, Ghosts of Dead Aeroplanes, is the demented surrealism of two aesthetically opposite individuals spilling over one more time.

The trippy "Essence" swirls around a thudding bassline with talk of angels and summer dresses, straight-down the line rocker "" lets Steelyard jet beautifully into rapid-fire melody while Derrick pins the music down with his harsh speaking voice, and the Mogwai-ish "Cylinders V12" takes Prolapse to new heights of power and noisy elegance. A horrible, gorgeous album."

- From The Rocket, a Seattle free music magazine, review by Michael Hukin.

"A good album is one whose velocity you can't control. As in a schoolyeard game of crack the whip, you are compelled to move at the speed the leader chooses. And if you've got the courage to hang on to this one, you're in for some excellent kicks from Prolapse. When the band veers from the twisted guitar/dub of their large scale opener "Essence" to the mach-one fever of "" the acceleration seems like a natural pull. Even in the placid numbers, the gait of Ghost of Dead Aeroplanes is expertly planned out and executed.

Leicester, England's Prolapse is a well-regarded guitar band that has never seemed to be able to decide whether to be noise or to be pop. That uncertainty, along with the curiously mismatched vocals of Linda Steelyard and Mick Derrick, make for a reputation built upn disparate intrigues. Taking a more polished approach to its third album, Prolapse has found that you can sometimes get a more messed up vibe by straining things off. The noise that somewhat clung to the group's earlier music is now cleared away. Heavy and Cyclic, the bass and drum foundations loop around nervous, twitchy guitars. Steelyard's girlish voice bleats softly while Derrick's spoken interludes are delivered in a rakish brogue. Prolapse manages to rope all these elements of post-punk aestheticism into a focused musical opportunity. It's a ride worth hanging on for.

File under- Boy/girl noise dub. Recommended if you like Unwound, Sonic Youth, Gang of Four."

- From CMJ New Music Monthly, June 1999

"If post-rock noodling ain't your bag, baby, but you need a little bit of trippy soundtracky stuff in your life, try the fourth from Leicester's Prolapse. Rhythmic, relentless and eerie, Ghosts of Dead Aeroplanes (Cooking Vinyl) sounds like a radio picking up a myriad of late-night stations, as kingpin (and daytime archaeologist) Mick Derrick intones rambling monologues against the cascading, folky vocals of Linda Steelyard."

- Pat Gilbert, Mojo


"Uh-oh! Feeding frenzy! I type this atop the tallest filing cabinet in the office whilst witnessing scenes of stomach-turningly sickening crocodilian carnage as the cold-blooded monsters (See Ash for singles review 'concept' ­ Ed) ­ whipped into flesh-crazed frenzy by the the first five demented seconds of the Prolapse single ­ tear the rest of Team NME to screaming shreds. Read quickly, dear punter, for these may be the last words I ever write...

The medical definition of 'prolapse' is "like where you literally fart your own guts out". This is incredibly apt because Prolapse truly are the sound of rock farting its own guts out.

"I could smell skid marks, OK?... There's some inexplicable reason why legs turn orange... I've seen a huge figure with a red face, it floated towards the window... I wouldn't lie to you about a thing like that, would I?... Are you listening to me? It makes children detonate explosives... that's why flies carry communications from outer space" rants a conspiracy theory-crazed and rather peeved Home Counties female whilst a presumably Tennants Extra-slaughtered tramp rants Scottishly over the top about fucknosewotbollocks. Prolapse revel in a frenziedly nervous pop music which assaults the brain on 418 levels at once, bombarding the poor bastard listener with paranoid whispers and caustic little side-sniggers that'll probably prod the more sensitive of you over the edge into suicidal depression.

Everybody hates you, the government have bugged your dental fillings and all of Madonna's lyrics are aimed at you personally (especially where she sings, "Go get an axe and kill Bis and I'll shag you/Honest I will" on 'Material Girl'). Prolapse are the sound of your 19th nervous breakdown happening simultaneously with numbers one to 18. Have you ever wondered what the 'voices' that Mark Chapman allegedly heard before he went and de-Beatled The Dakota building sounded like? They sounded like Prolapse. Imagine the Trainspotting 'choose' monologue crossed with the deranged purple-ink diary scribblings of a public schoolgirl psycho-killer done but days before she liberates the Bren from the school armoury and turns the fifth-form gymkhana into the beach at Gallipoli. I wonder if you can.

If all the poxy little dimwit indie bands that clutter up this planet (wasting our diminishing supplies of oxygen, fresh water and fossil fuel) were but one-tenth as radical, perverse, demented, witty, sassy or sexy as Prolapse then we ­ the indie community ­ would have every right to look down our pert but blackhead-riddled little noses at the coke-crazed and corporate hosepipe sucking clown-whores of Proper Pop. But they're not, are they? Bands as whacked to fuck as Prolapse are as rare as wings on dogs. Give them all your money and drugs and attempt to emulate the spirit of their genius, you SCUM! This is an order. Over and out."

- Stevie Chick, NME

"A welcome return for one of Britain's more demented musical set-ups. Sounds like Stereolab playing mini-golf with Arab Strap. Probably. Drew Barrymore's favourite group. Apparently.

- "really strange and really appealing. The soft, hazy female vocals against the really strong 'trainspotting'-style voice, it's got a lot going for it; it sounds like real old style indie music. It'll be nice to separate the vocals so you can hear what they are both saying. But it works, it's your classic John Peel, it's a goer. Prolapse, great name, too."

- Comments by Graeme Le Saux, Melody Maker

'TFI Feisty' NME, 6 September 1997

Prolapse live at Edinburgh, Cas Rock Café by Ben Willmott

The name, of course, does not inspire confidence. The image is not a pretty one; at best it suggest Concorde-speed metal executed by brickies from Walsall, at worst a brand of 'challenging' post-rock to chisel A-roads in your forehead.

And, although our seemingly ever-multiplying friends (up to seven members and showing no sign of slowing) from Leicester have never dealt in anything other than pure, if severely skewed, pop, their most unsettling of tags always was eminently appropriate. Because Prolapse used to be a mess. A splendidly compelling street scrap, fuelled by animosity and the ever-present threat of inter-band physical violence, but a mess all the same.

But something strange has happened to their wilfully indie bedsit since the major label cleaners descended for a serious scrub earlier this year. For starters, they've learnt to play their instruments without sounding like the Grange Hill school band being conducted by Mark E Smith. Smart move.

Secondly, they've relaxed to the point where actually performing has become a distinct priority - as opposed to simply demolishing the rider, giving each other death stares and indulging in unseemly scuffles. Wonders never cease.

A few moments into tonight's opener, 'Visa', its evident their once wiry mesh of mangled power pop and Krautrock as molested by the Happy Mondays has been helping itself to steroids of late. Even without Julian Cope's right-hand man, Donald Ross Skinner, dispensing the kind of high-frequency Mooging that's been syringing the ears of Beck's audiences recently, they sound way bigger, sharper and ultimately more mischievously evil than ever.

Don't get us wrong, the playground squabbles and tantrums are still all present and correct - without them the band would be rendered all but impotent. A baby doll is produced from nowhere, promptly dismembered by tiny vocalist Linda Steelyard and then slung with ferocious force at the face of her lanky, oafish counterpart, Scotch Mick. Between verses of 'Day at Death' the pair mutter private obscenities to each other and kick the other's beers over, but tonight such acts feel like flashpoints for the whole band's collective raging instead of mere incidental distractions.

It's probably halfway through 'Killing the Bland' - imagine the Primitives on a diet of psychopathic drugs and razorblade milkshakes - that we realise precisely what damn fine pop stars they'd make. Visualise Linda, the 60s B-movie heroine with a meat cleaver in her handbag, systematically demolishing Chris Evans' ego on TFI Friday with a handful of well-chosen insults. Or Mick emptying his stomach behind a breakfast TV sofa.

A year ago, such a scenario would've seemed about as likely as Noel Gallagher having a drink with a Labour Prime Minister at Number 10. Or Chumbawamba shifting 100,000 singles and gatecrashing the Top Five. Stranger things have indeed happened - and often to bands displaying a fraction of Prolapse's bruising class.

YouTube - Prolapse Stage Invasion

Abbey Park Festival, Leicester, August 1996

Random pics

The Inside ov a Butcher's Shop

Banking On Death (Carnage)

"THANK GOD PEOPLE STILL have the time, energy and resources to make records like this in the 1990s. And thank God we hardly ever have to hear them.

The Inside Ov A Butcher's Shop is Mick the shouty Scotsman out of Prolapse, and apparently three other grown men who have to do this to avoid getting their dole stopped.

To think they probably listened to this over and over while recording it, chills the blood. "Carnage, carnage, every fucking day of my life", they chant, for a full 31-and-a-half minutes. Then again for another five minutes on the other track on the CD.

If there is a message, aside from hilariously in-jokey Dadaist mischief, it appears to be on the sleeve, where they claim they 'utilised their now famous cardboard tube as a phallic symbol to humiliate the butchers', who, they also claim, are mostly impotent. Laugh? I nearly listened to it the whole way through.

While I admire their persistence, familiarity breeds contempt. You can imagine this being played to torture Third World dictators from their homes. Alas, most of us pampered Westerners will lack the same mental fortitude. And they say meat is murderous..."

- Johnny Cigarettes, NME

Top 10 tracks

Top 10 tracks as voted by visitors to the old website between 1997 and 2000:

1 Tina This is Matthew Stone
2 Killing the Bland
3 Headless in a Beat Motel
4 Deanshanger
5 Flex
6 Slash/Oblique
7= T.C.R.
7= Visa for Violet and Van
9 Doorstop Rhythmic Bloc
10 Black Death Ambulance

Compare with top 10 most played tracks on

1 Serpico *
2 Autocade
3 Doorstop Rhythmic Bloc *
4 Deanshanger
4 Killing the Bland
6 Burgundy Spine *
7 Chill Blown *
8 Hungarian Suicide Song *
9= Tina This Is Matthew Stone *
9= Surreal Madrid *

* can be played online, which helps

Geordie Mick's Top 50 Irritating Things

1. Noisy eating
2. A toenail in an ashtray
3. Smell of sock when hungover
4. Holloway Road
5. Dog saliva on crotch of trousers
6. Skunk Anansie
7. Pigeon eating vomit
8. People wearing sandals, holding babies and dancing to dub reggae
9. Jeremy Beadle
10. Dandruff landing in crisps
11. The Battersby family
12. Blokes with long curly hair tied in ponytails
13. Belle and Sebastian fans
14. Robert Wyatt
15. Captain Beefheart
16. Alex Harvey
17. Rustling of bag
18. Scottish Mick's wobbly leg
19. Abbatoirs
20. Babies
21. Football
22. Charlie Chaplin
23. The X Files
24. Urine stain on white underpant
25. Fat children eating chips
26. Football fans rambling on about football
27. The big collar brigade
28. Pube stuck on sink, soap, kettle etc
29. Cat shitting during my Dinner
30. Pubs with football on the big screen
31. Snorers
32. Wankers who buy Cilla Black albums
33. Argumentative alcoholics
34. Gary Numan's lip
35. Friends (the US sitcom)
36. Our Friends in the North
37. Smell of bus driver's Armpit
38. Accidentally feeling snot wiped under tables
39. Mobile phone users
40. Blockbusters with Michael Aspel
41. A cat hair in some gravy
42. Prolapse being compared to Stereolab and The Fall
43. Hippies
44. That Carte Noir advert
45. Smell of wet dog
46. Bus driver's arse
47. Disney films
48. David Bowie
49. A wasp in an empty 'boil in the bag' fish bag
50. Garry Bushell

Prolapse in America: Tim's tour diary

"Seeing Greenland and the Arctic Ocean frozen with pack ice is not something you expect in life (unlike meeting a Newcastle United fan in Los Angeles) so flying over the top of the world was an unexpected bonus for the start of the tour...

After landing and meeting Steve - ex-Cop Shoot Cop - all American, cowboy boots, plaid shirts, tour manager, driver and a great guy, we're hit with the news that we're not staying in motels for the start of the tour but in someone's house. Oh fuck think of return to the dogshit fridge of Amsterdam...

But no, this was a wee bit different. Second from the top of Curzon Avenue in the Hollywood Hills. 'Chez Krautpunk popsters' was lifted straight from a Friday night's west coast schmaltz programme complete with natural grapefruit dispenser in the back garden. Prolapse finally find their true home (no offence Hull Blue Lamp!)...

No sooner than this hits us we're dragged out by Steve to see the Amps at the Troubador - can't get in on the guest list as it seems as though the Mean (generous) Fiddler has not reached LA. So we 'hang out' outside with Eddie Vedder, Courtney and Bush person, Trent Reznor, Greg Dulli, Chris Cornell and Dave Grohl!! Well not actually but do see Stereolab - which is weird in the fact that it didn't seem weird. The Troubador could well be the Garage if Santa Monica Boulevard was Holloway Road... which it isn't.

Go to a diner and discover American size portions... Next morning wake up at 6am (jet lag you know) and go shopping... The local shop - and this is true - is the 7-11 where Hugh Grant got arrested in Sunset Boulevard. Go to the only Russian shop in America to buy food - this is real abroad - they don't speak English. For some reason Tony buys 12 Kiwi fruits - beware of managers, strange people. Finally a gig! Fullerton University.Typical nondescript college town. The venue is non-smoking indoors - no beer on the rider - not even for Stereolab.

Suddenly US 80s 90s by The Fall makes sense. 'No beer no cigarettes no whiskey, welcome to the US 80s 90s.' The $7 each for food is quickly transformed into four crates of Bud and two bottles of vodka. As a result I dance like mad and slept for equal parts of Stereolab's set... all's well that ends well as they say... San Diego is Skegness! No two ways about it. Grey skies, grey sea and a pier. We had to paddle nevertheless. Pat met some friends of Turk at the gig which was punctuated by cries of 'Blue Army!' throughout.

We got the thumbs up from the lighting engineer - our fan tally is now three... Getting to the Troubador we finally got to see our name in lights on the Santa Monica Boulevard. Get wined and dined by Big Cat/Jet Set Shelley which is probably not such a good idea three and a half minutes before stage time. (The restaurant is where the cover of Art Garfunkel's LP Breakaway was taken!) The gig was great by the way... Second sellout night in LA and what a star-studded audience - Eric from Hole with Drew Barrymore and Beck. Scottish Mick got a request for a personal audience with her Drew-ness - who he described as a bit of a 'hippy'. Another fine gig but sadly we begin to realise our time in the Hollywood Hills is over and the tour for real is about to begin...

Prolapse are the only Brits ever to go to San Francisco and not get to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Nevertheless San Francisco is a great place even if we were only there for six hours. The venue, the Great American Music Hall, is wonderful... all gold leaf and carving. Get to see a few copies of Backsaturday in Tower Records. Wow! Go to a Scottish pub and someone asked Scottish Mick if he's the singer from Prolapse. We're almost beginning to feel like pop stars...

Flushed from the success of ad-libbing a song from scratch over the airways of Oregon in Portland we go bowling. Stereolab are there too as is Maxine, a friend from Leicester, who now lives in Portland. The score Yanks 1 Brits 0. It seems you can't both sing and bowl with Linda and Scottish Mick jointly collecting the wooden spoon - mind you who said Mick could sing... ho ho!

I want to live in Bellingham, either the one in Washington or Northumberland. I'm not fussy. The balcony of the dressing room had the most wonderful view - looking out across the harbour and that bay bit that goes up to Vancouver. You could see the mountains of Canada. Tonight also brings us the first gig with Jessamine, a Seattle band who are excellent. After the gig certain people go off to smoke mixed herbs with the 'Labs entourage in their big sleeper bus - poor things can't afford motels like us real pop stars... "



"Second for Prolapse on Radar and there's little sign of Mick's gruff vocals on the title track, Linda taking the wheel for the duration as the less-moody than normal soundtrack belts along behind her. Mick's back for the b-sides though, notably 'Testation' which is a corking return to form and well worthy of your cash dollar."

- JP, epmagazine

"Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to catchy-jangly-guitar-indie-pop by numbers... What do you mean you've heard it before? Well, whatever. This is good, but the vocals aren't powerful enough to make this track the stormer it deserves to be. Maybe try different numbers next time?"

- Barfly magazine

'They've changed - quite the Stereolab-y little things these days... '

- Mark Sheldon, XFM

Shambolic and random

Prolapse band photo

"Shambolic and random, tied to tired old ideologies that promotes idiosyncratic oddness at the expense of communicating, connecting... actually meaning anything to anyone... They should take their glorious drivel elsewhere."

- Melody Maker

Conform or Die

A cup of tea with Prolapse

from Conform or Die issue 1 by Gordon Moakes

Not in a literal sense, of course, pop stars don't do such mundane things as having a cup of tea. But, as Alan Titchmarsh would agree, our alternative rock stars deserve the slightly irreverent cosy chat treatment just as much as his two-dimensional second rate celebrities do.

Still at work on their imminent album The Italian Flag, Prolapse's Linda, Geordie Mick, Tim and Pat enter for a 'Hello' magazine-style dissection of their back catalogue and current aspirations...

'What are you currently engaged in doing?'

'We're near Wrexham,' says Pat, 'in the studio mixing the album. We're really pleased with it so far.' Geordie Mick, on the other, is listening to Bowery Electric song on John Peel. 'It's bloody amazing.'

I ask about Prolapse as a phenomenon.

'Prolapse is a collection of six unfashionable irritating gits,' Geordie Mick begins, to set the scene. 'Dave is a married geezer who is so vague it takes him 13 hours to put his socks on; Tim is a fat beast who rubs kebab grease on his lips; Linda is a complete lunatic - one minute fluffy bunny, next minute axe-wielding psychopath. I get irritated by every petty... ' he continue, but Linda finishes his sentence for him: 'by every petty insignificant murmur which nobody else with a brain would ever notice.' The sense of harmony in the group is almost tangible. 'Scottish Mick is a blinkered argumentative alcoholic and Pat is depressed 24 hours a day. Here is the delicately balanced chemistry which seems vital in securing the unique creative chemistry at work... and it's hardly as if the band are averse to letting this tension spill out onto their records.

'Me and Mick don't want to kick each other in most of the time,' explains Linda. 'I can't explain why we feel drawn to play such fraught roles in the songs. We fall into it naturally.'

I ask the usual uninspiring questions about influences. Linda's obviously been here before. 'I've tried for ages to think of influences through numerous interviews but honestly can't. I don't think I've got any.'

Guitarist Pat tries to help. 'There are so many really. From Scott Walker, to Kraftwerk, to early Fairport Convention.'

You're usually compared to The Fall, yet in one of your songs [the Volume 14 version of Move to Limit Slabs] I remember the lyric 'We're not The Fall - they're some other band.'

'Yes indeed,' says drummer Tim,' but I don't think we sound as much like them as we're supposed to.' He goes on to mention Echo and the Bunnymen, the Chameleons, Blumfeld, Stereolab and Simon and Garfunkel amongst others.

In that case, who are your true enemies?

Here the band seem to an extent to agree. 'Blatant retro ripoff shite that smacks you round the ear-lobe every time you open the fucking front door,' says Geordie Mick unreluctantly. 'The worst tendencies of Britpop and safe uninspiring guitar pop,' concurs Pat. 'Mansun make me physically vomit, as do Herman's Hermits,' continues Mick even less compromisingly. 'Oh yeah, people who think liking early Cilla Black gives them some sort of inversed esoteric credibility.' Pat's enemies seem even more wide-reaching. 'Adolf Hitler, unimaginative journalists, Man United, people who don't like weasels, stoats etc... ' I begin to worry whether I might fall into any of those categories.'

'I think it's dangerous to cite people as enemies in case I ever need to be rescued by one of them,' puts in Linda. 'You never know.' I have visions of Mansun's Paul Draper rushing to Geordie Mick's assistance when it seems he might be choking on his own vomit.

I do think the Prolapse sound is a small part of The Fall, but their clanking has never been as stripped down yet tuneful at the same time. Things like 'Move to Limit Slabs' (B side to Killing the Bland, previously appeared in the Volume CD series) shows that concrete, chunky side to your sound, but there's always been songs like 'Hungarian Suicide Song', which is minimal, but aching and emotional too.

'Some review in America described us as all the bands you missed the first time around. Which I think is quite a compliment,' says Tim. 'No matter what you do you're always going to sound a bit like someone else. The trick is to sound like people you respect - The Fall and Joy Division is certainly true.'

I thought the last album, Backsaturday, was a progression. 'Zen Nun Deb' was particularly mature and emotional, and one of the few songs I have heard that successfully conjures up that unique Joy Division mood.

'I think they key of D minor helps,' says Pat. 'The second side of 'Closer' is nearly all in this gloomy key, But yes, it was probably our attempt to sound like 'Decades' and 'Heart and Soul' in one song - although the vocals are really very different to Joy Division type vocals.'

'It was written 30 minutes before it was recorded, very late at night when things were in a very Joy Division mood,' Tim adds. 'As far as the new stuff being more of a progression - the new album certainly follows that pattern. There's not a great deal of scratchy punk - though I never thought we were at the time - and there's quite a lot of keyboards on it which helps bring in new textures.'

How about another irrelevant question - what are your favourite record sleeves?

'I love, predictably enough, the minimalist Factory stuff,' says Geordie Mick. 'I used to love the montage cut up kind of stuff that loads of American bands ripped off from The Fall, but that's getting pretty boring. My favourite of all time is 'Primitive Painters' by Felt.' Pat adds 'all three Neu! albums and every Krankies album.' Tim's favourite is "Heaven up Here' 'from the days when standing enigmatically on a beach with a big coat on was deemed acceptable.' And it's no surprise that Mick's least favourite record sleeve is 'that ridiculous pile of crap 'K' by Kula Shaker.'

Linda recalls how one of their very own record sleeves came into being at a gig. 'Our first album was on very limited vinyl and 50 of the sleeves were painted by the audience behind us as we played. We didn't have any idea how they would end up. People brought things with them to stick on the sleeves and we provided paint, I think.'

I ask what a song like Chill Blown, from the first album, is an attempt to describe.

'Paintings,' says Linda simply.

'Musically, it's having a pretty good stab at describing a track off the first New Order album - possibly 'The Him'' says Pat. So it's not just me that thinks the first New Order album is actually one of their better works.

Anyway, to change the subject... is one of the lines in 'Every Night I'm Mentally Crucified (7000 Times) 'Your parents must love you to call you Kay?' I ask because I put this on a tape for a friend called Kay - absolutely true story - but I didn't notice the lyric until later.

'Yep that is one of the lines, but in this case it's a bloke called Kay,' Linda explains. 'Like called a girl John'.

It seems that this scenario is at the core of Prolapse. An axe-wielding fluffy bunny of a band, whose lyrics, similarly to The Fall, make you laugh out loud at times, before you realise the seriousness of the situation. A prolapse, in medical terms, in no laughing matter - I won't go into details. On stage there is often mayhem - two vocalists prowling around arguing with each other - and there is quite a sense of politeness, and getting down to the facts. But I wouldn't want to be Crispian Mills bumping into the six of them down a dark alley.

All of which bodes well for the release of The Italian Flag. The suspiciously on-form catchiness of Killing the Bland ('I might have to kill you,' offers Linda during the song, 'which wouldn't be fair... on me.' And what could be more affirming of its own assuredness than that kind of sentiment?) is just a starting point for the album, along with songs like 'Flat Velocity Curve', 'Autocade,' and 'Boston' ('working title'). New Prolapse. New danger.

Morocco - New Javelins

"Continuing our walk in an indie wonderland, MOROCCO is a solo project from MICK DERRICK, the Scottish bloke from PROLAPSE.

On 'New Javelins' he witters artlessly about something or other over a backing which is remarkably similar to seminal Bristolians THE POP GROUP's laugh-along hit 'We Are All Prostitutes'.

All in all, the kind of record which sounds infinitely better in someone else's house than in your own."

- Jim Wirth, NME


"This is a characteristic effort by Prolapse in which their post-punk style - very Gang of Four - is tempered with wit, like a Chumbawumba with a sense of humour. Deanshanger is about how everything in the Eighties was awful, except one unnamed band - presumably not GoF, because they'd split up by then."


The Prolapse live tapes

In 1996 the Information Service offered a total of ten live tapes for sale...

Charlotte's Legacy
6.12.94, LEICESTER, the Charlotte
Serpico/ Headless/ Space invaders/ Doorstop/ Visa/ Psychotic/ Matthew Stone
11.7.95, LEICESTER, the Charlotte
Dirge/ TCR/ Psychotic/ Flex/ Doorstop/ Headless/ Visa/ Screws

Catatonic Abrasions
31.12.95 NEW CROSS, Venue
Space invaders/ Ten bob/ Slabs / Pull thru/ Flex/ TCR/ Headless/ Coffee Break/ Visa/ Radiator

A Ridiculous Palaver
26.5.95 BULLE (CH), Ibullition
Space invaders/ PDF/ Doorstop/ Serpico/ Kilometrica banco/ Visa/ Psychotic/ Screws/ Flex/ Headless/ Matthew Stone/ Radiator

Strange Graffiti
27.5.95 BERNE(CH), Die Reitschule
Space invaders/ Psychotic/ Headless/ Flex/ Screws/ PDF/ Chill blow/ Visa/ / Matthew Stone/ Cormorant

Biomorphic Horror
5.7.95 SOUTHAMPTON, Joiners Arms
Dirge/ Psychotic/ Serpico/ Surreal Madrid/ Doorstop/ Headless/ Visa/ Flex

Beach Fatigue
4.11.95 BEDFORD, Esquires
Dirge/ TCR/ Black death/ Framen/ Pull thru/ Visa/ Zen nun deb/ Flex/ Headless

No Bullshit, Just Play
9.12.95 DORDRECHT (NL), Zweynzicht
Headless/ Black death/ Pull thru/ Tunguska/ Visa/ TCR/ Doorstop/ Flex/ Psychotic

Melting Anathesia (sic)
12.12.95 UTRECHT (NL), Theatre Kikker
Space invaders/ Tunguska./ Doorstop/ Headlless/ Serpico/ Visa/ TCR/ Flex

Transliterated Pudenda
14.12.95 HAMBURG (D), Heinz Kramer's Tanz Palast
Black death/ Screws/ Doorstop/ Tunguska/ Pile tent/ Headless/ Testation/ Visa/ TCR/ Flex/ Matthew Stone/ 6am Jullander Shere/ Eat Yourself Fitter/ Psychotic/ PDF/ Space invaders/ Radiator

Endless Obsession (2 tapes)
15.12.95 HAMBURG (D), Heinz Kramer's Tanz Palast
Flat velocity curve/ Serpico/ Framen/ Headless/ Bruxelles/ Pull thru/ Visa/ Tunguska/ Flex/ Autobahn/ Black death/ Cormorant/ "The ruby and diamond show"/ Mein minefield/ Psychotic/ Improv I/ Akin to the weasel/ Nag nag nag/ Improv II
12.8.95 LEICESTER, Abbey Park
PDF/ Serpico/ Headless/ Flex/ Visa

Ludd Gang

The Biggest Library Yet

Interview with Tim Pattison in issue 7 of The Fall fanzine, early 97

Graham C: What is the history of your Fall covers group 'Ludd Gang'?

Tim Pattison: Ludd Gang was the fruition of about three years drunken talk around various pubs in Leicester. So far we've only played one gig, at the Pump and Tap in Leicester, supporting the Council. The line up was: me on drums, Johnny from Kooky Monster on bass, Zak from the K Stars and Neil from the Council both singing and guitars; a sort of two Marc Rileys and no MES type of Fall. If I can remember rightly the set was: Jawbone and the Air Rifle, Totally Wired, The Man Whose Head Expanded, Glam-Racket, Elves, Industrial Estate, New Face in Hell.

GC: Are there any plans for more gigs, recordings...

TP: There will definitely be another gig some time. Ludd Gang may put a track on a Leicester bands compilation CD which will also feature the bands the other members are in. Prolapse certainly don't have any plans to record Fall stuff, there are enough comparisons to start with.

GC: Come on then, favourite Fall songs.

TP: Too many to name but I will anyway. Jawbone and the Air Rifle, New Face in Hell, Hip Priest, Backdrop, Wings, Hexen Definitive/Strife Knot, Lay of the Land, What you Need, R.O.D., Gross Chapel, Australians in Europe, Athlete Cured, Big New Prinz, Sing! Harpy, War, It's a Curse.

GC: Are you an 80s Fall fan then?

TP: As you can probably tell from the list I don't like the recent stuff as much. I don't know if it's me that's changing or them. Personally I think the last great album they made was Extricate. Whether that was thanks to Mr Bramah I don't know. I think the determination to do an album every year has its price, witness four-track singles with every track being on the album following them and a worryingly high number of cover versions. Hopefully the re-arrival of Brix may stem any possible drying up, but it will take more than one album for the partnership to start producing classics again.

GC: Does the fact that Prolapse are often compared with The Fall annoy you?

TP: Any comparisons with other bands no matter who tend to get irritating after a while. I think I'm too familiar with The Fall's and Prolapse's music to judge how valid the press comparisons are. As far as it being early Fall, I'd rather be compared to Bend Sinister than Dragnet. Being compared to The Fall is much preferable however than Huggy Bear.

GC: Who else do you see as influences?

TP: Apart from The Fall, other major inspirations for Prolapse have been Stereolab, Th' Faith Healers and Joy Division, though not everyone in the band shares these. Stereolab are probably the only band we all rate.

GC: There can be a lot of tension visible on stage...

TP: We generally get on really well. Talking to other people in 'the biz' they are usually impressed at how united we are as a band. There are inevitable tensions within the band, but these are usually fairly transient and alcohol fuelled. I think everyone in the band appreciates each other's input equally, which is a very good thing. The gigs are often intense but there is a humorous side which helps to prevent things from boiling over.

GC: Is there anything that really annoys you about the music scene?

TP: I think the fickleness of the press is one of my biggest annoyances at the moment with bands like Supergrass being hailed as Britpop heroes, whilst bands like the Wonder Stuff and Kingmaker get laughed out of court. Personally I can't see the difference. Time until the Britpop backlash: two hours and counting. The other thing that really pisses me off is the lack of originality in today's bands, who generally don't possess an ounce of interest between them. Bland = successful. Interesting = obscure. I'm also pissed off that Prolapse aren't the biggest band on the planet.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

10 Reasons to Love Prolapse

Sound of Confusion: 10 Reasons to Love Prolapse

by Everett True, Melody Maker

1. They're funny

That's misleading for starters.
Frightening, moving, scary, hypnotic, totally f***ing exhilarating...yes. Funny...well, OK, but only cos singer Mick has such a laconic, self-deprecating humour on stage.

2. Live, they've got the potential to be absolutely crap

"Live would be alright," argues Tim (drums) "except there's always this big Scottish bloke jumping around at the front."
"That's the best bit," says big Scottish Mick (voice), affronted.
"It's shit," shoots back the drummer.
"We have the potential for complete disaster," mediates Dave (guitar), "cos there's no organised rhyme or reason to it. It's complete chaos, but complete chaos that everyone's totally dedicated about."
"I'd like to see us live on telly," says Pat (keyboards), "if I wasn't in the band. It'd be different - or abysmal - but at least it wouldn't be as dismal as something like Echobelly or Menswear."
"We aim to be as good as the Cranberries," sneers Mick (bass).

3. They sound like all the bands you missed out on first time round

Maybe I should explain. The reasons given here are the band's, not mine.
One Prolapse trait is to be self-deprecating. (Another is to have vans break down two miles outside the venue on the side of a motorway, get drunk on subsidised beer and end up spending the night in a creche. As happened at Brighton Uni recently.)
The first time I met Scottish Mick, he insisted on singing half my back catalogue to me (songs even I had forgotten existed) and claimed that Prolapse are "the C86 band it's OK to like." Ugh! Damned by faint praise. The second time (in a venue on Brighton seafront), he and fellow singer Linda had a truly scary argument on stage, which ended up with punches being thrown. Theatre? Possibly.
The sixth time (at Reading Festival), he made a point of buying me back an owed drink - "cos no one ever buys me drinks" - and seemed very nonplussed when Eric from Hole informed him he'd just told Danish radio Prolapse were his favourite UK band (wouldn't you be?)
Anyway, I seem to be straying off the point.
Prolapse reckon the main reason people like 'em is cos they sound like all the other bands those people like. What a refreshing, wryly honest, a degree. So, try Nurse With Wound, Savage Republic, Huggy Bear, The Legend! [sic], Prolapse, Prolapse... oh this is silly.
The reason I love Prolapse is for the way Linda screams at Mick "what's your excuse?" and asks "do you blame me?" so quite and scared. The reason I love Prolapse is for the way the guitars fade away on Every Night I'm Mentally Crucified (7000 Times) from the new album so sonorously; the way the guitars collide and collide again on the truly righteous Strain Contortion of Bag; the pounding of the drums. The reason I love Prolapse is...
"Do you want us to sing a C86 song for you?" asks Mick the bass. "Go on, name a band."

4. They're like a 'care in the community' band

"We're always willing to extend a helping hand to outcasts," explains Mick the voice. "We have nutters come up to us in Torquay, people who say we're the first band they've liked since the Sugarcubes, and then keep writing us strange letters. We take 16-year-olds to the pub and get them pissed. Well, alright, we didn't buy that boy any drinks, but we were nice to him, and we sang New Order songs to him as well, and he looked really scared."
"While all our fans will be soaring the heights with their fanzines and maagazines," he continues, "we'll be down in the gutter, drinking... piss."

5. They own cats

Yesterday, a friend lent me her copy of the video to Breakfast at Tiffany's, purchased only a few days before. Small gestures, which mean so much. Even though the ending's all wrong, and George Peppard doesn't deserve to be in the same frame as Audrey, it's till... look, you can't go to New York City and not visit Macy's, Tiffany's, run through several stop signs, fall in love with the first apartment cat you meet, and spend at least one dawn watching the sun come up over the Chrysler building.
Prolapse, you know, are people who understand this. They own cats. Prolapse, you know, are the kind of people who - if they lived in New York - would wear cut-price feather boas and get into arguments about David Gedge's parentage in bars between 7th and 8th streets.
When I was in Texas recently, I played a tape of Flex, the hypnotic lengthy opening track of Prolapse's new LP, Backsaturday, to King Coffey, drummer from Butthole Surfers. "A violent Stereolab," we all cried, delighted. It was perfect driving music for the humidity. Only problem was: the volume refused to go beyond a certain point. F*** it. We sang bawdily along anyhow.
Last night, I slipped Backsaturday into my CD-Rom player and blanked out. It felt like the world was ringing, falling through my ears. Prolapse understand the terror of solitude.

6. They're nice people

"We're a very nice, approachable, easy to work with band," says Tim. "We are."
"Ay, we are," agrees Mick the voice. "We sing nice songs, and if someone buys us a drink we're even friendlier. And our records are shite."

7. They read books

Unfortunately, I forgot to ask which ones.

8. They're romos

Oh f*** off, Mick. You're not.
Prolapse are just about the most un-stylish band I can think of. With the exception of Mick's black jumpers and Linda's boots, they have a dress sense which makes Mark E Smith look like the Fourth Earl of Argyll. Dressing down? Down and out. That's not to say they don't have their own style, however... but they're far darker than today's crop of young hedonists.
"A lot of us just like the darker side to things, musically," explains Mick the voice. "We went to Ian Curtis' grave. Tim's got mud rubbings of the inscription on a pink bit of paper, which he carries with him everywhere he goes. It was four days before the anniversary and the grave was completely boggin'. In the same graveyard is one for Edward Woodward... "
"Even though he's not dead," interrupts Mick the bass.

9. They play every last song like it's their last

"Maybe next week we won't be here," muses Dave. "Then we can sit around in a pub pissed, feeling really cynical and twisted, saying, 'I used to be in a band, you know.'"
"It's the best way to record," states Pat, "thinking that you're gonna split up afterwards."
"Every gig could be our last," says Linda.
"Every gig sounds like it's our first," Tim corrects her.

10. They argue constantly

"We're a low rent Gallagher brothers for people who can't afford the real thing," states Mick the voice, finally.

Methinks thou dost protest too much.

Planet of Sound - fanzine interview

Planet of Sound #7, interview by Duncan Illing

Two characters are sat across a table from me in the corner of a pub somewhere in North London. A bloke, a woman. I'm listening to their conversation.
'Prolapse is a medical term,' the bloke says. 'When in pregnancy you get prolapse placentas, the placenta comes away at the wrong time and causes complications.'
'Not really,' replies the woman. 'It's when your intestines fall out of your bottom. In fact I had a kitten who had one, he had little pink lumps sticking out of his... and it went back in again.'
Meet Prolapse. In fact, meet Prolapse the London contingent, Dave and Linda, because it is something of a feat to get all of Prolapse in the same place at the same time. Based in Leicester, Newcastle and London, rehearsals have been known to be only a monthly affair.
As Dave explains 'You gotta get six people from different parts of the country together. It's a bit of a crap hobby really.'

'If we'd practiced every week, by the time we get to play it live we'd be sick to death of it and we wouldn't want to do it,' remarks Linda.
This is a band who started out in Leicester playing live sets that featured a single strobe light and a vocalist who wore a snorkel parka.
'It was awful,' comments Dave. So much so that he joined on guitar, followed closely by co-vocalist Linda to complement Mick.

Prolapse are a live spectacle. Mick started dismantling the stage with a screwdriver at a recent gig. In the past they have brought props on stage and beat the shit out of them. Gigs were not only musical performance but theatre too. Eccentric theatre at that.
'Mick used to smash up tellies and throw things at the audience,' Linda explains. 'Then the press started saying those Prolapse smash up tellies. It's just that we don't like standing still on stage and we have a lot of energy. The smashing has stopped (well, it's under control).'
Watching Prolapse's Linda and Mick on stage, you will notice the way they are so intensely within their own bizarre little worlds. Unconscious of their surroundings until they are bumped into, back to reality. Dazed and confused with a bubbly energy originating from their own unique madness it would seem. Linda rubbing both eyes with her hands clenched in fists while in verse, Mick taking screws out of the stage. Not a typical vocalist's stance.
'Sometimes I totally, totally forget that Mick's there,' remarks Linda. 'He'll do the same with me. He doesn't have his voice in the monitors, so I can't hear what he's saying, so that makes it easier to forget he's there. We'll bump into each other and maybe if the mood's right we'll have a scrap of a hug or whatever. It's difficult to explain cos it happens so subconsciously, it's not like Oh I know I'll go over there and put Mick's jumper on.'

Linda is prone to reading the odd book over the fizziness of Prolapse's performance. Mid-song, out comes a book. Most recently High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.
'It changes, cos if I'm reading a book at the time it'll probably be that,' says Linda. 'But I usually take a small selection of books. One is a mini encyclopedia and another called Sex Manners for the Single Girl and it's from the late sixties and is about what you should or shouldn't do. Once, we were supporting Pulp at Essex University and of course the audience was there for Pulp and I think we were even more disjointed than we are now! This was about two years ago and I got this big text book and was ripping stuff out of it and throwing it at the audience and people were (eyes bulge), put off by it. I think from then, my pile of books shrunk.'

Prolapse are also prone to the impulsiveness of live experimentation ie. avoiding the expected and not playing what the audience has come to hear.
'When the band first started, every song was made up during the set,' says Linda. 'Of course, the years go by and you record stuff, but we try and stick to this thing about making things up. So we take advantage of sessions.'

Prolapse made up last year's twin A side, Unroadkill, live on a radio station in Portland, USA.
'It's different every time, the vocals are different. We make things up at gigs,' enthuses Linda.
Do you take into account what the audience wants to hear? This make up stuff on the spot approach may lead to inconsistencies - a 15-minute art wank experiment may not satisfy the majority of an audience.
'I think there is a certain amount of pressure for us to be a band now,' responds Dave. 'If it was an audience that had seen us a few times, we'd make stuff up. But if it's playing to a new audience in a new city, then we'd stick to stuff that's written,' Linda comments.

Prolapse have had some truly mad live experiences. As Dave comments, the emphasis is directed at the audience. 'The thing about a Prolapse gig is to get a load of energy going. Once you get that you just want to keep playing. I think it's also important for us to keep a level of tension. If everything's buzzing, you just want to keep that going. One night I always refer to is a gig in Paris that ended in carnage, a huge mound of bodies on stage. We'd never been to Paris before and we thought everybody would be sat around writing philosophy.'
'They were diving on stage and lying on it and Dave jumped on,' says Linda.
'Yeah, I was about halfway down the pile. I didn't think they would carry on.'
'It's like, your music has made people do that... that's what's good about it.'
'I've been to a lot of gigs where I've though, I love this band, but it's boring and my legs are hurting,' explains Dave. 'That's one thing I'd like people to remember us by, that you didn't feel like you were standing there and your legs are hurting and you'd want to sit down.'
So Prolapse have an ambition in that sense.
'I'm only motivated to be in a band by really negative things. I really hate so much music that's around at the moment, that's what makes we want to make music.'
'I can't write about anything positive,' adds Linda. 'I don't know why.' (Dave chuckles.) 'I can't! I just feel too tedious on stage singing about positive nice things. Anything that is negative, about death, or about relationships ending, anything like that or about people going mad. Anything along those lines.'
Dave talks of Joy Division, the Velvet Underground, Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, and the fact that Marion are definitely not the new Joy Division.

So what about life for Prolapse beyond the cliquey indie underground? 'I'm not afraid of pissing off that sort of scene cos I don't actually feel part of it,' swipes Dave. Prolapse want to head in the opposite direction to everyone's expectation, away from both the cliqueness of the underground and the potential of the mainstream. Oddballs in the middle. '
'We've got to be interested in it, that's how we are,' says Dave. 'Maybe at one point we'll get swept up by the music biz and do all these things we don't want to do. I don't think we're capable of that actually. If we all get fed up we won't want to do it.'
So where does that leave you?
'We want to be accepted to an extent, but as an interesting entity,' replies Dave. 'A creative event instead of being great musicians, as to writing great pop songs. I'm not slagging off great pop songs, it's quite hard work really.'
'Maybe we should write some pop songs and get some money,' responds Linda.
'We have,' mentions Dave, 'we've written pop songs, but by accident,'
Corking bubbly power pop, like the live fave they don't play very often, TCR.
'We don't like our pop songs though,' says Linda.

So what of the scenario of Prolapse having a hit pop song on their hands? They recently appeared on the Chart Show. 'The thought of having an accidental hit,' says Linda, 'the pressure is on - not from out point of view - but from lots of other people's point of view, for us to write a song that was at least as big a hit as the previous one. You lose a lot of respect if you have just one hit. If it's an accident you've shot it really cos you're not writing hits. Maybe we do under perform, cos we know we could be number one in the charts.'
'The fluke hit single is a possibility, but the follow on is just not possible.' Dave states.
'A flukey one hit wonder band, that's a horrible phrase,' snorts Linda.

Prolapse have a spanking new album in their sights. In their hands they have the extremes of both potential hit pop tunes up against experimental workouts that will take their own little adventures. Whatever way they go from here, that is left to fate.
'You can get really bogged down thinking about it all,' remarks Linda, who would rather remain flippant. While Dave would rather forget stardom and settle down to his PhD and bring up his two kids.
Prolapse have experienced a long hard slog to this stage of recognition. So perhaps I should mention their polar opposite, Kula bloody Shaker. Perhaps now after the slog, Prolapse really wouldn't mind a quick splash into that pond called fame.
'I have no respect for situations like that,' spits Linda at my mention of that band. 'It really irritates me! We slogged our way around the shitest clubs, when there has been no one there. We have dragged ourselves up by our bootstraps.No one has given us money to help us. We got where we are today - not very far - by playing hard, going out and playing gigs and kipping on people's floors. The thought that someone can come along from nowhere with a famous mum and get a number one really irritates me so much. It realy does,'
'It's what the people want,' remarks Dave. 'What my gripe is, these bands don't sound very good. They're not trying very hard. There are lots of bands which do and who are never going to be very big. Most of the bands we respect could only dream of being on Top of the Pops.'
That's life. But Prolapse plod on up that path to fame. Perhaps those pop songs they make mention of will carry them at greater pace. Or perhaps they'll take their eccentric experimental jamboree into history, to be discovered after they've split up. Who knows?
'That's what it probably is really. Prolapse is a crap hobby,' remarks Dave.
'We've got to enjoy it to do it,' points our Linda. Crap hobbies indeed, enjoyment is the key and Prolapse still do it.

The Italian Flag - reviews

"Prolapse are a band of people that would appear to be of the emotionally fiery and panic-stricken variety. Witness the evidence (whether fathomable or not): on stage they deliver an intense cacophony of noisy emotions - an outburst of their tentative lives put to music by way of sonik moogs and even more sonic guitar. 'I know I need my head examined' / 'He will never understand me' sings Linda. The punkoid chugging of Slash/Oblique takes up the story as twin vocalists Linda and Mick point their case: 'I feel you move away from me, you don't respond to anything' chants Linda -'they'll always be your enemy' / 'The things you do will never come back to you' spits Mick. On Deanshanger they're singing cross-purposes, unaware of each other's presence (as on stage at times). Mick 'the 80s were crap...' Linda 'my legs are strapped to the floor...' Meanwhile, their bursting from Fall melodies into Stereolab choruses. Nutty to say the least, yet so entertaining. Cacophony No. A and I Hate the Clicking Man, which run alongside the singles Killing the Bland and Autocade, come out as more superior than the prelude tasters. Autocade, although gliding fine, is just old skool indie at the end of the day. Whereas the tantalising dfarkness of I Hate the Clicking Man would have been a more sensational invitation to this album. It is bursting ith life with its roasted guitars and space age Lab grooves. Then A Day at Death Disco (sic) presents an Elastica-like feel, accompanied by a pent-up, tetchy and bewildered Linda. Bruxelles follows, floating in as soothing relief. Gentle as it is, it sounds strangely intimate; as Mick and Linda speak random single words one after another over a dream-like soundtrack. Strange concept indeed, but would anyone else find reason to do similar - and make it sound so perfect. Flat Velocity Curve, with its floating fragility and fiery rages, has all the ambience of a tense operating surgeon with a patient in near death experience. Spacey moogs vs riproaring bursts of guitar. Visa for Violet and Van acts as the final blowout of a life less ordinary - or not (?); that is bar the very final closing - the medieval chant psychedelia of Three Wooden Heads. As Mick confirms at the close of Flat Velocity Curve: 'Zurich is stained' and surely it means somrhthing to him. The strange little spinning worlds of Prolapse are indeed by most accounts unfathomable. Prolapse then. Dizzy, dazed and delightful. A band that will hopefully never be fathomable and all the better for it."

- Duncan Illing, Planet of Sound

"Their most accomplished release to date paints an angry portrait of urban and psychological isolation. Biting self-doubt and wry cynicism are expressed in a cyclical, spiralling frenzy of guitar, shouting and bagpipes! The thick Scottish brogue of MICK DERRICK and the whimsical musings of LINDA STEELYARD form layers of dual-channel vocals, more often chanted than sung. For fans of TH' FAITH HEALERS, FLAMING LIPS and STEREOLAB."

- John Woosley, 'Quaker' website

"The phone rings and I'm sitting at my desk staring at my computer. Some English or Australian accent is on the other line asking me did I get the Prolapse CD he sent me, and had I had a chance to listen to it. I vaguely remember a promo CD with a "P" on it, but you have to really see my desk to believe the mess. I promised the accent that I would find the CD and give it a listen ASAP.

One month later, the accent calls back. Had I listened to his CD yet? No. I scramble to get out my lame excuse about how I've been really busy but, and I'm so unorganized bla bla bla, but I will indeed listen to the CD just as soon as I can dig it up. So here I am.

Y'know what? I like it. Prolapse has a really big, swirling sound with lots of weird panning vocals. Mick Derrick and Linda Steelyard's vocals remind me of Johnny Rotten and Allison Statton from her Young Marble Giants period. I especially like "Cacophony No.a" and "I Hate the Clicking Man". If I had to put the CD in a pigeonhole, I'd say that it's kind of a combination between Sonic Youth circa Sister and Stereolab. I bet this is a good CD to do Xtacy to -- not that I encourage that kind of behavior."

- minxmag

"Despite a name that might suggest death metal, or at least earwax-churning improv
jazz, Prolapse make pure indie for pop people. 'Pure indie', in that this is none of your indie-dance nonsense, none of your indie-grunge noise, and most certainly none of your major-label-posing-as-indie-music heading for the top of the charts. This is the kind of indie music that used to regularly bellow from your radio when you were listening to John Peel about 15 years ago.

From floaty female vocals which echo the likes of Girls At Our Best, to shouty bloke vocals that sound like someone round here never quite got over 1976, to the juddering guitar-based rock, this is indie music that wouldn't dream of ditching the cardigans and silly titles for something more compromisingly slick.

That hasn't stopped the outfit's latest album, The Italian Flag (Radar) from garnering a whole bunch of rave reviews, probably because the music press are just old-fashioned indie boys and girls at heart, no matter what the label says on their trainers. A night for like-minded nostalgists."

- Laura Lee Davies, Time out

"Prolapse railed with incisive wit and (slash/)oblique political insight, with loaded menace against those who are obsessed with the rain, state of the youth, shifting the blame in late-twentieth century british culture." [more... from Head Heritage]

Junction 27 interview

by Sally Crewe

'Prolapse began to take themselves seriously in 1992 after John Peel described them as a "class act"... '

The press release that arrived with Prolapse's debut (the Crate EP) tells me this, although I would be happier describing Prolapse as a class accident. Shaking and stirring the senses, this Camden-Leicester-Newcastle based six-piece cover all bases at once, both musically and geographically. In Pavementesque style they live so far apart as to warrant few practises, telling me they prefer it like that anyway, and who am I to disagree? The proof's in the performance. Testing out new material on stage maintains the freshness and genuine excitement for the music that most bands lose through endless, trudging days of rehearsal. Prolapse are giving a much needed slap around the face of indie music with a big, scary (but lovable) punk-pop hand branded 'Spontaneity Rules...'

In a small room littered with coffee mugs and a generous amount of comfy sofas and armchairs, deep below the Almeda Theatre in Islington (we've just finished watching a play which Linda directed), I manage at last to gather the majority of Prolapse in the same place at once for a brief interview. Mick, Tim, Linda, Pat and 'Geordie' Mick (five out of six ain't bad), now filling the room with silence, break it to ask me what I want them to talk about. I want to see if what I've understood their band to be about is the same as how they see it. I tell them to tell me about Prolapse.

'We're not very deep, in fact we're dead shallow,' grins Scottish Mick.

'I only got asked to do it because I'm a girl,' quips Linda.

'We do it because we want to - no other reason,' says Tim, providing the first sensible thing I've heard all day. 'Everybody does just what they want to do. We don't plan anything, we've never had any big, big...'

'...overall scheme,' continues Pat. 'We just do it because we want to hear the music.'

Prolapse's live world consists of a near-constant screaming debate between Linda and Mick, their visual rows only interrupted at the chance to play with some props - sometimes smashing televisions, although often it's just Linda crouched on the floor perusing through a red bread bin full of old copies of Melody Maker. I ask them what that's all about?

'Just to make it look er...!' Mick thought he could explain.

'It's the only way we could get them to shut up, you see. As long as you give them something to hit when they're not singing,' explains Tim like he's reporting the progress of nursery kids.

'All the old songs used to be me singing non-stop, so it's just to make it more interesting to watch,' says Mick, 'because you find yourself staring into space. There's so much going on, you can watch people with different instruments and then you can forget about them for a bit and watch something else.'

'You go to a hundred and one indie gigs and they're all the same, it's just that the music's different. We just wanted to try and make it look different too, so people can remember us,' says Tim. 'Maybe they're going to hate it but they're not going to forget it.'

'It's like having a wee video on stage as well, it kinda enhances the music,' adds Mick.

'Sometimes we've had a television on at a gig, just a small black and white telly showing clips of stuff. Every gig should be different,' Pat tells me.

'In the beginning all the lyrics were made up as we went along. It's not as much now because when you keep singing it more and more you remember it and you sing the same lyrics, but at the start it was just all made up,' says Mick.

'We can't tell which song's which,' says Linda. 'We didn't know any names for them.'

'It's just so that you don't have to see the same gig,' explains Mick. 'If you went to see us a couple of times it'd be different.'

'What make sit more exciting, I think, is that me and Mick have different names for the songs to the rest of the band...' begins Linda.

'They just have: "That one that goes"...' says Pat.

'Yeah. "Which one's this then?" she continues. "That one when I go"... and then we know what it is from that. Sometimes we get it wrong - sometimes I get it wrong.'

Have you considered expanding?

'What, getting even more people in?' asks Pat.

'Aye!' laughs Mick. 'We were going to have a cello player and a keyboard player.'

'I think maybe in the future we wouldn't mind trying one-offs and stuff,' suggests Tim.

'I think it's be quite good to have about 42 people in,' states Pat.

'As long as we can get paid in multiples of 42 quid.'

'That's the problem with there being six of us,' begins Mick. 'We end up getting paid 20 quid and Tim comes up and goes "Two fifty!" and I'm like: 'Oh brilliant." Sometimes he comes up with a tenner and you're going "What - is that between us?"

Financial crises aside, it seems that Prolapse are about fun, noise and simply doing exactly what you want, when you want. That was the feeling I got from watching them live and I'm thankful to know that they hadn't planned it, it's just how they are.

Last week Scottish Mick sent me a present. Inside the brown prepaid DSS envelope that arrived were the following items: a yellow tissue, a small set of lottery-style tickets with Greek writing on the back of each), an official programme for Shawfield Stadium greyhound racing club (with dogs such as Toronto James and Barefoot Ben circled), a City of Leicester housing benefit payment reference form (dated 25 Oct 93), a reply letter to a fan from Julian Cope and a cheque for 25p. There was also a postcard from Glasgow, saying: 'Sally, yr fanzine is the word 'good' added up 3 times + multiplied by 4: I make that a round dozen. XXX - Mick Scot. Prolapse (bad name).'

Only two days before I had received a copy of Prolapse's newest EP - Pull Thru Barker - and been amused at the self-written insert stating that "The picture is our first official photo taken in the early days when we were all Scandinavian children. Our names then were too hard to spell but are now (from the top of the ladder) Tim Pattison - drums, Mick Harrison - bass, Dave Jeffries - guitar, Linda Steelyard - vocals, Mick Derrick (balaclava in pocket) - vocals and chanter and, in the blood-stained apron, Pat Marsden - guitar.'

I thought that was funny till he sent me this. (I posted him a plastic Thunderbirds figure of Lady Penelope in return: I hope he likes it.)

So, they're great. It's quite possible that a couple of them are kind of mad, but on the whole, they're all you could want from a group of shouty-witty-punk-pop type band and for now no one could really disagree with Tim:

'I think at the moment the chemistry is just right,' he says. 'To change it would be stupid.'

Killing the Bland - review

"Looks as if Prolapse have become exactly what they want to destroy. Killing... sees Linda getting a chance to rant as opposed to Mick, and it has, like TCR, a 100% legitimate chorus, but to be honest it all sounds a little limp. Far better are the B-sides. Move to Limit Slabs is a subtle, pensive, growling track, whereas Snappy Horse's Tudor-ish folk leanings bears more than a little resemblance to Long Fin Killie. All in all though it sadly appears that the experimental sonic breezeblock attack of Backsaturday was an exception for Prolapse and not a sign of progression."

Andrew Friendly, Oscar Smokes the Leftovers no. 4

VOLUME 14, Reading 95 Special

Article from the 36-track Volume 14 CD and booklet (which included Move to Limit Slabs)

Those crazy Prolapse people have just completed a storming tour with Wales' finest Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. The band are currently between labels, as they say, but will release a mini-LP this October on the Lissy's imprint. A split single is also due (shared with Gorky's) on the Love Train label. [Sadly, it never happened.]

Volume: Do you ever think you're going mad?

Geordie Mick: Only when watching freeze-framed weasels.

Does God exist? If so, what does he look like?

Dave: Sixty foot weasel with wings.

Are you a good friend?

Pat: Not to people I don't like.

Do you drink red wine with fish?

Linda: I don't know any fish.

Can money buy you love?

Geordie Mick: Yes, also stoats, bags and shoes.

Do you know a good cure for hiccups?

Dave: Try breathing backwards.

Have you been or could you ever be corrupted?

Dave: No, but arrange a time and a place and I'll meet you.

Are you lonesome tonight?

Linda: What me? Don't you know who I am?

Whose language do you speak?

Geordie Mick: The Queen's English with a hint of Frog.

Do you think you'd recognise an alien if you saw one?

Dave: Yes they're noisy little metal things with four wheels.

Where are you now (at home, on tour, in a new band, a plumber?)

Pat: At home, on tour, in a new band at a plumber's house.

Did the West really win the Cold War?

Pat: Obviously, the former Eastern Bloc now has organised crime, McDonalds and ethnic cleansing.

Would you fight for your country?

Linda: No.

Is it better to smoke it or bong it?

Linda: I like the sound of a bong, it makes me think of dinner time.

Are jokers more interesting than winners?

Geordie Mick: Brian Conley is.

Do you believe in putting subliminals in your music?

Dave: We try to put subliminal messages in to attract completely, mad fans, and it normally works.

Do you believe in life after death?

Linda: I believe in death during life.

What is the happiest event you have ever witnessed?

Pat: 1995 FA Cup Final - Everton triumphant.

If your life could be something fictional, what would it be?

Geordie Mick: Withnail and I.

Pat: Are You Being Served (feature film).

Dave: Billy Liar.

How does it feel to be back in Memphis?

Geordie Mick: Like rubbing crab juice on Reg Varney.

Peel Sessions

The band recorded two Peel sessions:

1. Recorded 17 July 1994. Broadcast date 20 August 1994
Doorstop Rhythmic Bloc
When Space Invaders Were Big (this version was later released as a single)
Broken Cormorant

2. Recorded 16 March 1994. Broadcast date 8 April 1997
Outside of it
Place Called Clock

In addition, Peel broadcast four tracks from the band's appearance at the Reading Festival 1995, and five from Oxford Sound City in October 1997:

Reading (recorded 25 August 1995, broadcast 8 September 1995):
Psychotic Now
Headless in a Beat Motel
Tina This is Matthew Stone

I Hate the Clicking Man
Killing the Bland

The Breezeblock sessions

They recorded two sessions for Mary Anne Hobbs' Radio One show. She said they were 'the most important British punks of the 90s,' and used the phrase 'serious sonic terrorism'. All right!

The first one was broadcast on 17 December 1997:
Return of Shoes
Golfer's Elbow
Government of Spain

And the second on 24 March 1998:
Killing The Bland
XA14 1997
1 Illness, 74 Tablets

Links: Prolapse Peel Sessions - All Breezeblock listings

Totally Wired fanzine interview

by Andy Wired

When the phrase 'cash from chaos' was coined in the heady days of punk, seemingly nobody was listening. Prolapse, the best band around, both live and on record (and that's not even debatable) thrive on chaos. They rub against the grain of accepted normality with a gleeful glint in their collective eye and a razorblade stashed down their socks for when the going gets tough. There is no order, the music is just as likely to become like a heated argument involving the couple next door tearing each other apart, physically and verbally, over an incessant barrage of early Fall and Kraftwerk albums as its take on a Stereolab-like ambient blitz through stark, repetitive riffs and crazed collages of sound. Y'see, Prolapse are far from being one-dimensional and equally at home with dark, moody experimentations and demented amphetamine-addled stare punk blitz. Yet, as I conduct this interview, unbelievably, they have no record label. A damning indictment on the cosy safeness of blanket boredom we are being force fed. For fuck's sake, somebody must have enough suss to realise that Prolapse are never gonna be Top of the Pops/ Smash Hits one-hit wonders yet will undoubtedly rarely fail to pull the crowds. Totally Wired spoke to Linda Steelyard (L), Mick Derrick (M), and Dave Jeffreys (D).

The best band around, both live and on record...

First of all, what happened to the deal you had with Cherry Red?

L: As far as we know what happened was, you know they closed down their whole A&R department and then reopened it again cos they wanted to get back into modern music and they found a few bands - us, Blind Mr Jones and Tse Tse Fly - and then just completely out of the blue, after a year or so, we got a letter saying our contract wasn't gonna be renewed because they decided to close down the A&R department again. God knows why. I think they just panicked and I think they'd forgotten that you actually have to put money into bands before you got any back. It's daft really, even from a business point of view, but they can make enough money out of their back catalogue really, so they might as well do that.

D: They basically dropped everybody and felt it was safer to just go with their back catalogue. It was very last minute and I'm not sure if they're gonna regret it or not. It could be a blessing in disguise.

M: I think they were more interested in raising the status of the label and we just kinda did our job, so they got rid of us. We owed them £8000, so that's all been written off.

We're not gonna be on Top of the Pops overnight

There's been rumours circulating about a couple of major labels showing interest - are you about to sign to another label?

L: Oh blimey. There's been quite a few labels interested but we're not interested in going with any major label, just because it's not us. We've been offered a couple of deals, one's for a decent amount of money but we've decided we'd rather go for the one with less money simply because we think they'll be behind the music more and it's the enthusiasm and genuine interest in the music you need more than the empty promises and a bit of cash, that's rubbish. Plus, if we took the massive deal we're not gonna be on Top of the Pops overnight unless the attitude of the British public changes drastically and we're not gonna be able to put back massive advances quickly and we don't want some accountant sitting in his or her office, totting up the figures and saying oh dear, this is a bit of a deficit with Prolapse, they'll have to go because then we're just back in the same situation. So it's best for everybody if we take the smaller deal. It's with Flying Nun anyway.

D: It's still in negotiation at the moment, but it looks likely to be Flying Nun. We've had a bit of interest from America. I don't think that many people know what to do with us. A&R people come to our gigs but even though they like the band they don't wanna sign us, there's a climate within the industry that's quite conservative. It's an interesting development because both Urusei Yatsura and Bis used to write to the Prolapse Information Service and now our fans are becoming more sought-after than us.

M: We're gonna be releasing Backsaturday with PCP I think, but it's gonna have TCR on it too, just to add a bit of a poppy slant for those American underground ears. There's also talk of a singles compilation being released in America too. We're wrangling with Flying Nun here, and that looks hopeful too, but you never know. It's just one of those things that takes ages with all the contracts and shite like that, one of the most boring things in the world to do with music.

You've recorded with a couple of labels since you left Cherry Red: Lissy's and Love Train. There seems to be a lot of label-hopping and one-off records going on in the alternative scene at the moment, almost echoing what's been happening in the American underground for a while now. Is that a healthy thing?

L: I don't wanna use a phrase invented by the papers, but this British underground thing which is what's going on even though NME has trademarked it, I think bands in that category are having a bit of a problem finding deals because, like us, they're not gonna be on TOTP overnight but they wanna be, perhaps, with labels that have got a little money behind them. In the meantime, when you're trying to find that illusive deal, you wanna put stuff out and you go onto maybe some friend's label or something, but also it's kinda keeping the real indie ethic alive of small labels and DIY. It is happening loads with labels like Kitty Kitty, Love Train and Fierce Panda and the likes. A lot of people are doing it, and it's partly to bridge that gap and also it's making for something very exciting, however loosely linked.

D: I thought that maybe at the beginning of 95 there were all the majors looking for their token indie band and that was really unhealthy, but some of the indie labels were more interested in finding the next Blur or Oasis and not mush else. The thing about record labels is that you have to get everyone from the label to your gig because one person can't make a decision on their own. I think the major music press have been really bad recently. It's always Oasis, Blur, Pulp and that kind of 'we want stars' shit that's still going on. They're not interested in the music. There is a certain way to sound to get you into the music press and it's so conservative. All the bands sound like Freddie and the Dreamers, rather than the Beatles and they're all exactly the same. I hope we're not destined to be one of those bands that everybody likes but never get anywhere.

I've got friends who are into dance music and the word indie is a swear word.

We do actually write pop music and it is catchy but it's not bland enough for these times. I've got friends who are into dance music and the word indie is a swear word. No offence to Lush but that's what everyone thinks when you say indie. I do like the word because there's a plethora of really good music out there every bit as exciting and inventive as dance music. I do think, since the dance revolution, that bands really have to try harder to be special. People are used to having a really good time at the weekend and perhaps gigs aren't that exciting anymore, but they can be. The gig is getting close to being obsolete, there are places where people actually don't like going to gigs anymore. Leeds is awful, I've had so many really shitty times there. I think that everything is still too centred in London and all that Camden shit only perpetuates that. Thankfully Glasgow is getting written about but they do still have to make that London connection to get the seal of approval.

M: We're thinking of doing more one-off singles. We wanna do one for Guided Missile with Donkey, basically cos it's a pal. But I think it's got more exciting during the past year with loads of really cool small labels and hundreds of great 7" singles. People are being less and less tied to the big labels and in turn the major labels are more out of touch and less sussed about what's happening in the indie world. They're getting a lot more cautious as well, which is a great thing for smaller labels. There seems to be a really big marketplace for alternative music again and one that's not really elitist, but something that's kept smaller scale with 7" singles and limited editions simply because of the nature of the bands and the majors' unwillingness to take risks. The majors go for the obvious because they need to make the money back. They use the indies as a breeding ground - kind of like non-league football and the professional leagues. 1995 was such a good year musically, especially singles. There's so much going on now. It's no good, businesswise, for bands like us cos there's so much competition, but it's so exciting.

Your two most recent releases, TCR and Backsaturday, have shown the very contrasting sides of the band - is that something you like to play around with?

L: Yeah, we've got so many different sides to the band that are all equally as important and it's nice to be able to show all those aspects. Do you know about Backsaturday, the story behind it? Jamie from Lissy's gave us £300 and he told us to record something for him. That bought us three days in a friend's studio and so we went in with no ideas apart from five minutes of Flex. So we just started at the very beginning, bought in some extra instruments and bits of equipment and just all farted about and didn't really do much, and then somebody would just start playing guitar or banging something and the rest would join in and the results were recorded, and that's Backsaturday. We started on Friday morning and by Sunday night it was mixed. I really like it, it was nice to do something other than just vocals, I played keyboards and recorder and even though we know TCR is more poppy, we thought it was a good idea to let them both come out at the same time so that people didn't think we'd gone in any certain direction. We knew that TCR would set the balance straight.

M: It's been a bit of an experimental stage, if I can say that without sounding something poncey like Steve Hillage, because we're in between labels so we wanted to use this time to try out things. Backsaturday has sold really well too. I think it's one of those records that you couldn't get into right away.

So you still record things in that spontaneous way, making things up in the studio?

M: Aye. The last thing we recorded was Backsaturday. Most of the tracks didn't have any vocals until I went in and shouted a load of nonsense but yeah, a lot of that spontaneity is still there. You get the odd one where we've practised. We practice a lot of the stuff live, that's when we do all the new ones. You get the odd disaster, like when we were in Amsterdam and we had to do a live broadcast and we were saying to the guy, oh we're dead cool we'll just make things up as we go along. And we did a few songs that we knew and thought we'd make a few up and we did this song that was the most crap thing you've ever heard in your whole life. So it doesnae always work. It was complete mince!

So what happens when you play the songs live, because you've recorded them, do you feel limited in what you can do with them because the audience expects to hear them as they are on record?

M: Not really, even old songs we change them al the time. Also, I've got a really bad memory and I forget the words and the stuff I make up usually turns out better than the stuff we've recorded. It stops it getting boring.

L: Once it's recorded it still doesn't always feel right and we often add things and take bits away and we might even record things again at another stage.

We've not actually recorded anything yet but there are a couple of things now that we'd like to rearrange and redo for a new album, whenever that gets done, so it's quite possible the lyrics will change again and certainly on stage they're always changing. The only thing I'm quite conscious of, though, is that people do like to get to know the words and sing along at gigs and if the person on stage is doing different things in the song, it loses the familiarity, and that's important. But I do feel it's important to change things that don't feel right cos otherwise I'd just get bored with doing that song.

Because you're all living in different parts of Britain, does that make rehearsals a nightmare?

L: We don't get together as much as we should but I don't think we're reluctant to rehearse. It's kinda difficult to organise. Also, we're not really about, y'know, this song always has five chords and this is how it always sounds. That's not us at all. Some bands like to practise every couple of days so they're really tight but we find that boring. We do play gigs where we come off and say we were really tight, but our tight is everybody else's all over the place!

Each instrument is doing its utmost to be heard above the others and the result is a brutal cacophony of freeform anarchy

D: I think we'd be a different band if we practised a lot. You can overdo things. Someone at our old record label said something really strange along the lines of 'you have to work at improvisation'. That's really paraphrasing it, but it's difficult to see that when you've not practised in ages and then the first thing you do when you get together is bloody amazing.

M: I don't really find it exciting. It's like, if I'm gonna make something up, there's no audience to get into it, but if you're doing it in a recording studio or live onstage, it's like your mind ticks over faster and you get more into it.

Prolapse live are an unbelievable experience. No two gigs are the same and you're just as likely to see Linda and Mick fighting one another in an extremely real, completely unrehearsed bout of hysterical anger release as you are to watch them perform a rigidly tight set. The thing you are guaranteed, though, is huge excitement. It's not just the well-publicized occasional rucks between the two vocalists. Each instrument is doing its utmost to be heard above the others and the result is a brutal cacophony of freeform anarchy that will have you twisting and turning, like watching a tennis match on fast forward, to keep up with the myriad of onstage happenings.

How hard is it to keep that air of surprise in the live shows now that the onstage fighting has been well documented?

M: Not very. Every time something gets a bit static or expected, we make subtle changes. Like the way everyone expects me and Linda to have fist sights. We had one in Germany and we hadn't had one in ages and it seemed really fresh again. Things are always twisting and turning and there's always a lot of exuberance, so while we've still got that then it's exciting. I don't think we have it in us just to do nothing, so we're always twisting things. Who knows, maybe we'll start pushing each other around in prams or something. I'm sure it'll keep changing and hopefully there's always gonna be that air of surprise in it. You've always got to make an effort and be different without forcing it.

Who knows, maybe we'll start pushing each other around in prams or something.

L: The gigs are just naturally different, that's just the way we play, probably because we don't have this tightness or whatever that others aim for. A far as the way me and Mick move about onstage, when we first started we had a lot of different props onstage and we'd smash things up, or throw things at one another and the audience, and that was great. But then the press started going 'go and see Prolapse, they throw things' so we just thought no, that's completely not that it's about at all, so we stopped doing it. Now the press say 'go and see Prolapse, they fight onstage' and that's completely irritating. What they should say is 'Go and see Prolapse, they do whatever they wanna do' because we never rehearse or plan any outbursts but to some it probably seems as though we do.

The stage is a massive playground and we use it

D: I think maybe it's time to move on. It's been a natural thing to change things when they become expected. If it doesn't look forced, that's all right. The one thing that a lot of journalists miss is that the whole band are arguing within the music. It is very repetitive and we like to build things up into a real cacophony live. There is a lot of discipline, the messy bits are just superficial. There's definitely two lines of attack to Prolapse.

Does it ever feel like you're going through the motions?

L: I think some people do go along with the specific idea of seeing us fight. There's nothing more boring than thinking oh no, it's that song, here comes the fight, from my point of view. It would be so crass and boring if it was staged. It's not put on and shouldn't be perceived as such. Sometimes we do irritate each other and it'll kick off. We don't really care what we do onstage and we use that. The stage is a massive playground and we use it depending on how we feel at the time.

M: Every now and then you feel like you're going through the motions. A really important thing about our live shows is that it all depends on how you're feeling on the night. You're always playing a part really, I don't ever really feel like I'm me when I'm on stage and you can get into your characters and you don't have to be the same pissed off person who was wandering around drinking beer five minutes ago. I feel like I'm a serial killer onstage.

Despite the frequent onstage arguments, tantrums and general disintegration into physical violence, Prolapse seemingly get along very well offstage. The band recently went on a lengthy European tour, and the question had to be asked, were the band as amenable after being stuck in a van for hours on end? Despite having formed when some of the band were at poly/uni/college in Leicester and were all close friends, the fact that they now live scattered around the country and self-admittedly rarely meet up for rehearsals, was bound to take its toll, wasn't it?

L: Well, we're all very different people and we're a strange group in that we've got together in Leicester on the basis that we were all friends, but I don't think we'd all be friends now if it wasn't for the band really because we're all very different people with different ideas and strong personalities and I've been around other bands and it made me realise what a strange concoction of people Prolapse are. One minute we'll be absolute best of friends, a really tight group, and the next minute everybody hates each other. There's been a couple of fights between various members of the band, not including the ones between me and Scots MIck and it can go up and down from one day to the next. There's a couple of people in the band whose moods swing quite a lot.

I feel like I'm a serial killer onstage

M: Most of the time, if we can get away from each other, it's probably a good idea. When we're in the van, it's quite tolerable, everybody does get on, but you have the inevitable arguments that are fuelled more when the van breaks down in the middle of nowhere on the continent and somebody on the other end of the phone is telling you that you're not actually in the AA.

D: We do get on amazingly well. We didn't pace ourselves very well with two heavy nights in Hamburg, but it was really the van that caused the most problems.