Four Big Heads and a Funk

Believe it or not we have never been interviewed all together at the same time. But Evan “Funk” Davies, Wednesday night presenter on Jersey City’s WFMU (https://wfmu.org/), one of the world’s quirkiest FM radio stations with a reach over most of New York City and well into the heart of New Jersey, took this challenge on by Zoom for his June 3 2020 show.

You can hear the full, professional radio broadcast with songs from Don’t Blame Yourself cut into the interview and a very early broadcast of Nick’s new project, The Middlenight Men, and their “BA Baby” here:

https://wfmu.org/playlists/shows/93695

For the raw video footage, where we start by waiting for Sophie to arrive (Welcome to our world 😆) and eventually allow Evan to start interviewing us, have a look here:

Singing On the Table in Montevideo and Other Memories: TV Smith and Duncan have a Chinwag in Buenos Aires

In 2013 TV Smith and I toured Argentina and Uruguay, sleeping a lot less than we spent partying and sitting in the back of a car, but having a great time with great people.

I wrote a blog about it which begins here: https://duncanreidandthebigheads.com/2016/02/24/duncan-and-tims-south-american-jaunt-part-1-how-i-wowed-rio-de-janeiro/ and which continues over a few episodes.

To celebrate happy times the promoter of the tour, Mariano Asch, who now guests on the Radio Station Chico Bomba in Buenos Aires https://chicobombaradio.com/ put us together for an interview which covered the tour, wild nights singing on tables and our respective relationships with the German superstars Die Toten Hosen (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Toten_Hosen)

With extensive translations from Mariano, Spanish speakers will be beguiled and English speakers learning Spanish will be educated.

Here’s the interview:

During the chat TV Smith recommended viewers to listen to the following track by Duncan (From the album “Little Big Head”):

And Duncan’s recommendation was TV’s “Generation Y”:

Duncan and Sophie with Vive Le Rock

At the height of Lockdown Duncan & Sophie spoke on Zoom with Vive Le Rock’s (https://vivelerock.net/) Paula Frost about life, the Big Heads and “Don’t Blame Yourself”. Including clips from “Don’t Blame Yourself” here it is:

Part 1
Part 2

Don’t forget: Pre Order “Don’t Blame Yourself” here: https://duncanreidandthebigheads.com/pre-order-our-4th-album-dont-blame-yourself/

Help Us Stop this Scourge upon Humanity

I thought long and hard about how to make this vital story interesting. And the solution came: follow the technique of modern politicians. I.e. pick a segment of society and make everything their fault. So:

Youngsters: don’t they listen to a pile of shite? Justin Bieber with 5 billion YouTube views! Ed Sheeran? I mean ………Ed Sheeran!

And you know what? Their music spreads like a bland, drummer free virus. Allow me to explain how.

You see, you, my cherished and much loved listeners, you buy CDs and LPs which enables us purveyors of guitar rock to make records and play live.

But youngsters, those acne ridden, cloth eared wearers of exercise clothing in inappropriate places, when they drag themselves away from their intelligence sapping phone games, youngsters listen to Spotify. And when they listen to Spotify, they “follow” the soppy, sound the same as everyone else pillocks they like. And Spotify, just like every other form of digital media, has algorithms which think, “oh look, there’s a fuckwit getting a load of followers. I’m going to put that prick in a whole variety of playlists I present to other listeners so they can hear that Nike wearing twerp in unstylish footwear, with his hat on the wrong way round, as well”.

And so it spreads, as a virtual bacteria throughout the inter web, with a whole new generation descending into an abyss of bubonic Ariana Grande black death.

So how can you, the heros and heroines of this story, come to our rescue and put an end to this misery?

Well for a start, if you do not already have one, you can open a Spotify account. It’s free, and it doesn’t mean you must never buy a CD or LP again. You don’t even need to listen to it.

If you don’t already have one, please follow the link to do so: https://www.spotify.com/uk/select-your-country/

Once you have your Spotify account you click on the Spotify logo at the top right of the box below. This takes you to our page where you hit the “Follow” button.

If all of you do this and follow us on Spotify, there is an infinitely greater chance that, when our new album comes out, it will appear in more Spotify playlists at the expense of pillocks like Coldplay. Having heard this impending work of genius, more people will add it to their playlists and follow us. And so the robots at Spotify will think: “look at those handsome, talented Big Heads. No wonder so many people are falling in love with them. I am going to help this love spread”.

Et voila: digital penicillin!

You could, if you were so inclined, also pursue this policy with other commendable musicians. The more the merrier in the fight against those brain dead, teenage soap dodgers with their tattooed eyebrows, inflicting Little Mix on us in shopping malls with no thought for our sanity.

Come on! Collectively we can reclaim the airwaves a la Joey Ramone. Or it’s modern equivalent at least. Your generation needs you. Let’s make something or other great again!

Postscript 18 Jan 2020

I posted the above in mid Jan and shared it on Facebook and Twitter. 200 people read it. I think most chuckled and we gained a few Spotify followers. I also posted it on the US site Reddit. 4 people from Reddit read the blog which received the 4 following comments there:

So, out of 4 people who read it at least 3 hated it. My sense of humour is either too British or old or I just know nothing about promotion! Probably the latter 😂 😂 😂

In Praise of WFMU

Let’s face it. Mainstream radio is rubbish, isn’t it? Commercial radio is like an iPod on shuffle, but with only 10 songs of the same genre interspersed with ads. There are public broadcasters who are a little more interesting, certainly with the odd entertaining DJ, but they are still scared of not being “down with the kids” or of only playing well-known oldies.

The situation is saved, though, by a host of largely unpaid heroes on the internet. This is by no means an exhaustive list but those heroes include:

Keith Newman, Punky Paul and Lisa Etherton – two smutty, 50-year-old teenagers and a sex therapist, masquerading as “New Wave with Newman” on Radio Northumberland.

Newman
Two smutty 50 year old teenagers and a sex therapist

Peter Antony, Beatles and Stones fan, but also champion of many young Rock bands on Radio CarolineUnited DJs, and Q Burn.

Diego RJ, or El Sotano who has a national, drive time FM show in Spain playing punk, power pop and garage.

Stephen Doyle on Salford City Radio, Gary Crowley on BBC Radio London and Soho Radio, Paula Frost at Way Out RadioMike Rogers with his Tokyo breakfast show on acid, Dave RenegadeDanny MacThe Alternative Aycliffe Punk Radio Show ………… the list goes on and I apologise if I’ve left you off, there are so many of you. All of these presenters have a passion for music and a particular taste which makes the listener feel they are listening to a curator who loves what they play, rather than an ego with a playlist. They are, however, islands on their particular stations, isolated hours on say a Monday evening or a Tuesday afternoon.

But in Jersey City there is a whole FM radio station, funded by its listeners so it has no ads and therefore no pressure to deliver particular listener demographics and where the DJs just play whatever they like. WFMU can be heard across the whole of New York, a large part of New Jersey and online here.

And what a weird mixture it is. A bit like having a whole station of John Peels. And, like that long missed purveyor of the obscure, parts of it are unlistenable. But much of it is exciting especially if, like me, you seek good new music.

It was the saturday afternoon presenter Todd-o-phonic Todd who made our recent shows on the East Coast possible and we played a set on Evan “Funk” Davies’ Wednesday evening show. Both of these fellas have impeccable taste and are afficianados of glam, punk, garage and power pop.

Underneath the station they have a fine venue, Monty Hall,  which, like the radio station, is staffed by volunteers. It has no liquor licence so people bring their own beer and as part of the service they film the whole show, edit and mix it to a professional standard and give a copy to the band. That is worth thousands of dollars to those who play there.

Here’s a couple of excerpts from our show:

So, long may WFMU continue, a bastion of the weird and individual in this increasingly uniform and corporate media world.

PS: There is a footnote to our show at Monty Hall.

The traffic from Manhatten to Jersey City is horrific. About 10 roads converge into 2 lanes as you approach the Holland Tunnel to pass under the Hudson to New Jersey in a frustrating and nervewracking crawl, hoping against hope that you’ll move forward more in the next hour than the 400 metres you managed in the last. Cops with improbably large backsides lurk as you approach junctions, happily awarding you a $100 dollar fine if you get caught inadvertently blocking the route of cars approaching in another direction. If you need to be in Jersey City at 7pm it makes sense to go there at 3pm when the traffic isn’t quite so voluminous.

So Sophie, myself and Camille Phillips (stepping in for Karen Jones who couldn’t make the trip) arrived in Jersey City at 4pm with a few hours to spare and headed for a local bar.

Without realising the effect we would have, we entered the establishment in V formation. Myself at the apex: purple/pink suit, red shoes, floral shirt. I was flanked by Sophie to my left: leather jacket, T shirt, long black hair, hot pants, black tights and Doc Martens, and to my right, Camille: leather jacket, tatoos, boots and chains.The bar fell silent. The security fellas checked the bulges in their inside, jacket pockets. From the party of older ladies having a birthday celebration in the corner we heard:

  • “Check the pink guy!”.
  • “What is he?”.
  • “He’s a pimp!”.
  • “No, he’s a gangster, stay out of his way”
  • “He’s English”
  • “They’re the worst”

We chose a table and sat down. A very kind waitress brought over some water and placed a glass in front of Camille. As a joke I said: “She’s not allowed that!”.

“I’m so sorry, I’m really, really sorry”, said the waitress,”I promise I won’t do it again”, quickly removing the offending item. “What is she allowed to have?”, “Scotch”, I said which arrived in approximately 30 seconds flat.

So, moral of the story: if you are a shortass wimp in New Jersey and want the respect of security guards, to strike fear into the hearts of matrons and lightening quick service from terrified waitresses, dress up in pink and get yourself a posse of striking looking women.

Works every time.

It’s Testifying Time!

The internet has been both good and bad. The bad? More than ever truth is a thing of the past. Newspapers were bad enough but social media is worse. It has been shown that false, made up stories are seen by five times as many people as true ones. Facebook and Twitter algorithms make sure we tend to see things we agree with. So the chances are we see false stories which reinforce our prejudices and make us more extreme in our views. It’s like the Daily Mail (a right wing UK rag) on steroids.

Today I saw a post that said John Lydon is worth $175 million and owns a chain of UK burger bars. The article had made up his worth and a quick trip to Google shows that the burger bars don’t exist. But a huge swathe of people now think that is true.

But on the plus side the internet has bought us its radio. Programmes put together by people who love music and which don’t play the same, narrow playlist of songs, targeted to maximise listener numbers in a narrow demographic in order to make the station efficient, and therefore more valuable to advertisers.

One such show is Danny Mac’s Testifying Time. Most night’s you’ll find Danny in his cab delivering the sensible citizens of Glasgow from bar to home. On Wednesdays you’ll find him on Village FM playing music he loves and interviews he plans a year in advance, plotting questions he can intercut with particular songs from an artist’s career.

The result is well thought out, expertly edited, and, the highest praise I can give, interesting.

It was an honour and delight to be the subject of one of Danny’s labour of loves. I hope you’ll honour him and have a listen here.

My Budding Radio Career

If you haven’t caught up with it yet check out our Mixcloud page here which includes my  first radio DJ job today on Soho Radio filling in for the legendary Gary Crowley.

Many thanks to the equally legendary producer to John Peel, Danny Baker, Joe Strummer and all: Jim Lahat who guided me through it.

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