5 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT… Kingsley Chapman | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Ever wanted to know more about the former Chapman Family frontman? Now’s your chance. Kingsley Chapman went solo last year after disbanding the Stockton post-punk stalwarts in 2013. Now fronting his new band The Murder, we caught up with him to learn some little-known facts behind the modern Teesside icon.

1.) Being called Kingsley has been both a blessing and a curse. These days it sounds rather distinguished and quirky – a conversation starter even – but in 1980s England it was nothing of the sort. I was “the posh lad”, “the poofter”, “Queensley” etc. In those days we weren’t pummelled with the wacky named offspring of famous for being famous orange celebrities or well-groomed yet averagely talented footballers. It was deemed pretty exotic to have someone called Nigel in your class, so me sitting there with my precisely gelled side spike and comedy name was akin to having an alien in the school.

I once went to Butlins with my grandparents and played in a football competition. To overcome my crippling shyness in regard to my moniker, I told all the lads in the team that I was called Lee. Unbelievably, we won the tournament and had to go and collect our trophy in front of the whole camp in the main theatre. I didn’t realise my fake name had been called out so didn’t end up claiming my prize.

2.) When I left The Chapman Family in 2013 I had a year of going to and from the doctors and hospital being prodded and poked in every orifice inside and out due to a logjam of medical conditions which had all come to a head at the same time. With everything that I’d experienced from the successes and failures of the band, I’d pretty much given up on music completely by this point and refused to go to gigs or even intentionally listen to it on my computer or radio.

I started getting back into writing songs immediately after a particularly grisly operation on my right kidney whilst clicking feverishly on a lovely morphine drip. It was a wonderful feeling and I began writing lyrics for the first time in years, all from the comfort of my hospital bed. They flowed out of me as fast as the morphine was flowing in. The plans for my new band, The Murder, were pretty much mapped out in their entirety under the shadow of a bag of blood collecting everything that was overflowing from my freshly chopped insides.

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It was deemed pretty exotic to have someone called Nigel in your class, so me sitting there with my precisely gelled side spike and comedy name was akin to having an alien in the school

3.) I’ve done a plethora of low paid jobs in order to fund my existence as a lazy indie pop star, including working as a bell boy in a luxury hotel (I once took Jason Donovan a ham and cheese toastie to his room), selling Beanie Babies and wrestling figures on a market stall, serving my time as a phone monkey for a credit card company advising people on how to handle debt despite having a mountain of debt myself from driving up and down to London every few days to play gigs or to shake hands with important people in exchange for a five minute chit chat, and working on a production line in a refrigerated factory at the height of summer packing Babybel cheeses into little net bags for twelve hours a day.

Being in a band isn’t cheap. Every aspect of it pisses money away, so unless you have a rich benefactor – either a naive generous relative or an old school record company with more money than sense – you have to work extra hard. The music industry is not a level playing field – it never has been – but the majority of people aren’t going to listen to a song and judge it on how many hours that particular band have worked in a minimum wage job in order to pay for the recording. I do though, as I’m a complete cretin and I like to hear struggle and intensity in the music I listen to. Music made from money is pretty much always terrible and passionless. There’s nothing more insipid than hearing about a multi-millionaire’s fake heartbreak or the woes of living in a New York penthouse.

4.) When I was at university doing my Fine Art degree, part of my second year course was to do a seminar to the rest of the year on a subject of my choice. Pretty much everyone in my year did their talks on fairly weighty subjects such as “British Surrealist Painting in the 1930s” or “The Influence of American Abstract Expressionism on Moustache Designs of the 1970s”. Mine was titled “Arnold Schwarzenegger is the Greatest Artist of the Twentieth Century, Discuss,” and I gave a video presentation and an impassioned speech focusing on why I thought that Arnie was far superior in every possible way to Picasso, Warhol, Rauschenberg et al. Let’s be honest, would you rather look at Demoiselles D’Avignon or watch Commando? Exactly.

You need to understand that I’ve always been a bit of a contrary arsehole. I can’t resist taking an alternative or less established viewpoint. It’s not that I like an argument – anything but – but I just love straying off the well-worn path to find more interesting outcomes and/or conflict. Unfortunately it’s probably one of the reasons as to why my old band ultimately failed to live up to its potential. I was too antagonistic and discordant with management, record labels, the rest of the band and even to some extent our own fans. Some people justify that style of behaviour by describing it as “sticking to your guns”… whereas most other people call it “being a bit of a prick.”

5.) Despite publicly presenting myself as an egotistical megalomaniac for a number of years, in reality I’m not much of a Billy Big Boots. In actual fact, I’m pretty humble and shy and only want what’s best for those around me. I have a paralyzing habit of self-deprecation to the point of stuttering apology and will gladly steer clear of situations where I have to get out of my comfort zone and perform as a sociable and friendly normal adult human. I’m impossibly moody and difficult to get along with and I’m eternally grateful to anyone who takes the time to attempt to do so. I’ve been called all the names under the sun by strangers in nightclubs and been informed that I was never deserving of any of the success and publicity that came my way by musicians and friends of other bands in my own hometown.

I had bottles of piss, shoes and sandwiches thrown at me while performing at Newcastle’s Evolution Festival in 2009 and much to the dismay of the general public I released an EP of songs denouncing the Queen on the anniversary of her Coronation. I put myself in these positions though. It was my choice. I’m not a complete innocent and I’ve lost just as many friends as I’ve gained in my years involved with these music industry types but at the end of the day I’m really just a pretty simple northern soul who puts on an elaborately staged act under the guise of a completely made up persona to appease his faithful audience. I’m a nice lad with a good heart who probably just swallowed too many pretentious pills at art school. I’m really not that much of a bad man.

Ah fuck it, I’m a monster I’ll admit it.

Kingsley Chapman and The Murder play The Cluny on Saturday 28th February.

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