INTERVIEW: Luminous Bodies | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by: Monica Staniaszek

It’s 7am on Saturday morning at Supernormal Festival – essentially the noise rock Butlins. Around the campfire you’ll see a handful of people, a mass of hair and cowboy hats and plastic lobsters. That’ll be Luminous Bodies… Anyone with even a passing interest in the trippier end of UK noise rock will recognise these people – there’s a Part Chimp, a Terminal Cheesecake, a Gum Takes Tooth, and a whole lot of debauchery. But how did such a terrifying entity come into being? Guitarist and singer Gordon Watson talks us through it

“It was me and Tracy [formerly of Ikara Colt and Part Chimp, who can be heard cackling in the background throughout the interview] to start off with, we were getting drunk, saying ,‘we wanna be in a rock ’n’ roll band, maaan’, all the usual stuff. Tracy knew Dan [Hunt] so she got him along to play drums, and then we just invented Zoo [Luca Zoo Franzoni], conjured him out of nowhere because he’s obviously not a real person. A figment of our collective imagination. Then we got Tom [Fug] in because Tom is a good mate of ours and he wanted a break from playing drums in Gum Takes Tooth so we thought we’d get him on guitar and Zoo is normally a guitarist so we got him on drums.”

Gordon almost sounds disappointed that the original plan to make caveman rock ’n’ roll didn’t quite work out. “We really wanted to make the most stupid, primitive stuff we could come up with, but I don’t know if we really succeeded. It sounds a bit sophisticated if you ask me. It’s gone a bit far.” As for the twin drummers, Gordon freely admits that’s a Butthole Surfers thing. “It was JUST because of the Butthole Surfers. It was Tracy’s idea – we just basically wanted to be in a Butthole Surfers tribute band! We actually did that at the Buttholes Barbecue [at Brixton Windmill]. We did four Buttholes numbers, got the old megaphone out for Tracy to scream down.”

We really wanted to make the most stupid, primitive stuff we could come up with, but I don’t know if we really succeeded. It sounds a bit sophisticated if you ask me. It’s gone a bit far

The debut Luminous Bodies album was released last year on local label Box Records, run by Blown Out/Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs member Matt Baty. “It was from Adam Reid, who puts on Cacophonous Sarcophagus in Bristol, he invited us and Pigs and Cosmic Dead to play together, and we’d never met before but it was love at first sight, we were all over each other. Loving each other. And then he set up a second one with the same three bands and at that one, Baty just said ‘do you wanna make a record?’ That was fucking fantastic.”

One of the highpoints of the album is Lady Graveyard, a ‘so wrong it’s right’ mash up of The Butthole Surfers’ Graveyard with Tom Jones’ egregious She’s A Lady. It all seems like a 5am acid idea that had to be seen to its conclusion. “It just seemed right, I was listening to Graveyard and sang the words to She’s A Lady over the top of it.” At this point Tracy decides the concept needs to explained properly and wrestles the phone from Gordon. “Basically, I am a very base person and I’m always swearing and burping and farting and whenever anyone goes ‘charming’, I just say (puts on throaty growl) ‘I ain’t no lady!’ so whenever I’d burp or fart, people would start singing ‘she’s a lad-ay whoah-oh-oh’ – hence Lady Graveyard. See, there’s rhyme and reason to all this stuff if you’re prepared to delve deep enough.”

Supernormal Festival back in 2014 was most people’s first exposure to Luminous Bodies. They probably expected debauched noise, but nobody expected the lobsters. “I think that was about our fourth gig, and we spent most of our time getting the whole lobster bit sorted. Because at the Supernormal previously we’d done this thing called Crab Jousting where you get smashed and then you run sideways at someone else with your hands in the air like pincers pretending to be a crab and crash into somebody and fall over. PJ [guitarist with the mighty Bad Guys] invented crab jousting so we had to get him in as a lobster. I don’t know how it changed from crabs to lobsters. Just crustaceans really. So we spent a lot of time doing the Lobster Suite, which is a couple of bits of music ending in a doom version of the B52’s Rock Lobster while the lobsters did their thing.” (Their ‘thing’ being a costumed re-enactment of a lobster mating ritual that defies description or good taste). “A lot of parents were having to explain to small children what was going on.”

Gordon firmly agrees that Supernormal is a centre-point for the UK’s thriving noise scene. “It does feel like our annual convention, we just go down there and everybody goes mental in a field for a weekend, we all know each other from gigging and it’s like a community event. But although it’s quite an incestuous scene, I don’t think it’s very closed, a lot of scenes are but I think we’re always really welcoming and bring new people into it. And then they get defiled…there is a lot defiling going on, it has to be said.”

Luminous Bodies play The Cluny, Newcastle on Friday 2nd September with Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs.


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