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

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For people of a certain age, Terminal Cheesecake are legends, flying the flag for truly fucked up psychedelic noise in the late eighties/early nineties with mind-warping albums like Angels In Pigtails and King Of All Spaceheads. For some of us, they felt like this country’s answer to the Butthole Surfers and they were magnificent. They ground to a halt more than 20 years ago, so when the first rumblings emerged of a TC reunion, our collective synapses twitched.

The band have the kind of family tree that would have foxed Pete Frame, with members who’ve also been in such notable outfits as Skullflower, Ice, Head Of David and M/A/R/R/S. The short version of the reunion was that guitarist Russ Smith was the prime mover and talked former members John Jobbagy (drums) and Gordon Watson (guitar) into giving it another shot. “Russ got in touch with everyone and talked most of the more reluctant of us into it. The Cheesecake line-up has always been so fluid that he had plenty of ex-members to choose from!” Explains Watson. They pulled in Dave Cochrane on bass, a kindred spirit from their heyday, as well as Neil Francis on vocals. “I saw Gnod for the first time in a tiny, dark, sweaty basement in East London and was blown away by them and particularly impressed with the total abandon of their singer.”

We’ve always created without compromise and continue to do so

It feels like the underground scene has rarely been healthier, and Terminal Cheesecake seem to have reappeared at just the right time in a movement that bears at least some of their DNA. “Yeah, the scene’s great, isn’t it? And it feels as though it includes more forms than the rock form. There are artists from many traditions, side-by-side, in a scene that’s not very genre-bound. People tour, meet up, get on, start to be friends, suggest collaborations, help each other out with shows. That’s how it works. What I’m seeing is a scene that’s not a clique. Every time we get on with folk and they’re a bangin’ band or artist then we include them and coalesce into a single unit.”

Watson is uncomfortable with the term ‘veterans’ however. “We wouldn’t be presumptuous enough‎ to say that we’ve been influential or that others have caught up. We’ve always created without compromise and continue to do so but I think plenty of others have always done that too. We haven’t been bothered by being ignored except by a tiny number of well-informed people – that’s always been the case. We’ve never sought approval in the past and don’t now.”

For a long-term fan like myself, seeing TC play to large, receptive audiences is positively life-affirming, but this is no cash-cow reunion trip, as their first ‘comeback’ album Dandelion Sauce Of The Ancients made very clear. “One of our guiding principles is that our new music shouldn’t be an exercise in nostalgia. We’ve finished another album that’s darker than the last one. It’s a hare-themed album that’s coming out on Box Records, probably in March 2019.”

Terminal Cheesecake play Brave Exhibitions festival at The Cluny, Newcastle on Saturday 17th November.


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