Jared of Vomitface picks some choice cuts [first published 2015 on the Dukla Prague Away Kit blog] here
Justin Watson of the Front & Follow label [first published 2015 on the Dukla Prague Away Kit blog] here
Below find an interview word-for-word that was first published in 2013 (or was it 2014?) on the editor’s previous blog
Writing for Dukla Prague Away Kit is a pleasure. There are rarely deadlines, and our editor is quite open-minded when it comes to content. It occasionally springs up surprises, too. Take for instance the day about three weeks ago, when I learned through social media that the blog’s next – nay, only remaining challenge – was for an interview to be conducted with our favourite band Half Man Half Biscuit, and that the person who should be conducting that interview would be myself.
Now, I am not a proper journalist. Not by any stretch of the imagination. My little black book is not full of phone numbers or email addresses of indiepop royalty. Indeed, my little black book is not even in existence. So what to do?
Well, I wrote a letter, and enclosed some questions and an SAE, posted it care of somebody care of somebody else, and kept my fingers crossed.
‘Dear Mr. Blackwell,’ I wrote, before introducing myself and the point of the letter. I then continued: ‘I appreciate that this is perhaps not the most conventional means of conducting an interview, but then I reckon HMHB aren’t the most conventional of bands.’
And very politely Mr. Blackwell duly obliged, even apologising for a ‘late response’. I mean, it’s not as if there were gigs or a new album to be thinking about now…
Half Man Half Biscuit have been a going concern since the mid-1980s. What has been the highlight?
Nigel Blackwell: Without doubt, the opening of the M6 Toll Road.
One of the joys an HMHB gig is the between-song ‘banter’ and stories. What has been the most surreal moment of your gigging career?
NB: Probably when we played a gig in Southampton years ago where we joined onstage by an astonishingly pissed Francis Benali who insisted on taking the lead vocal during our cover version of ‘Tempo House’ by The Fall. Great fun I recall.
HMHB gig sporadically. Have you ever been tempted to do a tour that puts Lenny Henry’s Premier Inn promise of a good night’s sleep to the test?
It may be clichéd to be cycnical at Christmas, but a healthy cynicism pervades the rest of your work. What fills you with joie de vivre?
Nothing at all in the world.
(Alright then, Soluble Solpadeine)
My favourite lyric is ‘even my imaginary friend went and changed his mind’. What is yours?
NB: ‘Some girls will, some girls won’t.
Some girls need a lot of loving
And some girls don’t.’
Keats would’ve loved Racey.
The fake album covers adorning HMHB inner sleeves are great. Have you ever contemplated bringing one of them to life?
NB: Ha ha! –yes.
One old chap did actually ring Geoff Davies at Probe Plus once enquiring about the ‘Crunchy the Donkey brays Elgar’ – CD. (I’d kill to have heard that conversation!)
Which current music enthuses you?
NB: I thoroughly enjoyed both Future Islands and Slaves on Later recently.
By The Sea I like also.
I’m always worried that the most recent HMHB release might be the last. Can you allay my fears this time?
NB: Not really I’m afraid as that’s what I’m often worried about as well!
Did you ever get that ‘proper transformer’?
NB: Didn’t even have Scalextric, or indeed Subbuteo come to that! I preferred Striker and I’ll tell you something John, I’m not usually one for patting myself on the back but I WAS FUCKING GOOD AT IT.
Finally, some one word questions: Eno or Bono?
St. Ives (Cornwall) or St. Ives (Cambs)?
ELO or ELP?
NB: Radio Times Question! Both.
(Andy) Townsend or (Clive) Tyldesley?
Honved or Dukla Prague?
And with that, Nigel thanks me for getting in touch and says he’ll understand if I simply wish to bin the answers. Thank you, Nigel; actually, I think I want to frame them.
Half Man Half Biscuit’s new album ‘Urge For Offal’ can be picked up via the Probe Plus store here.
Words, Johny Nocash