An Interview With A Lobster: Andrew Burnett
Some of the questions are from your emails!
You wanted me to ask Andrew these questions, so I did.
He gave a great email interview during Summer 2000.- Todd E.Jones
EB: On a scale of 1 to 10 , what is the probability of the Close Lobsters
EVER getting together? (1 being no chance, 10 = it’s about to happen!)
Andrew: about 3.5
EB: Have you written any solo songs since the Lobsters broke up?
Do you think you could become a solo artist or would you rather find a
new band and be apart of a band… If you chose the band, what would the
EB: Where would you like to live besides Glasgow?
Andrew: Beside the seaside
EB: What are the 3 main reasons you stay in Glasgow?
Andrew: Apathy, kinship, and chance.
EB: Do you EVER listen to hip-hop?
Andrew :Why certainly. That is if you count Public Enemy He got Game as Hip-Hop. A splendid song. Nothing remotely contemporary or underground or whatever.
EB: I’m going to name some bands, please say the first singular
word that comes into your head about them:
Andrew : …and lie on that couch over there Dr Freud?
The Beautiful South bad minging
The Verve good
George Clinton mad
Julian Cope fruitcake
Massive Attack kamikaze
Stone Roses rolling
Happy Mondays oasis
The Fall white trash
The Jesus And Mary Chain e.k.
Momus sex for the disabled
Felt / Denim (Lawrence) elegant
Galaxie 500 Terrific
Nick Cave The Secret Life of the Love Song
EB: In the song “My Days Are Numbered”, the music is hard yet poppy….
Though the lyrics seem to be about death, debasement and pain, the lyrics
and music are sung in a very happy way.. Was this irony intended or did
it just come out that way? What is that song about?
Andrew: The song is about Angst-ridden carefree aimlessness. What is your reality ? The irony I suppose was second nature. It just came out that way. Quite a lot of the ‘pain’ stuff was written in such a way that it wasn’t meant to be taken in a deadly serious manner. It was a consequence of being a particular age living through particular moments in time. A kind of siren call to likeminded souls who just don’t feel or want to ‘fit’ or are plain ‘anti-social’, y’know they don’t particularly enjoy ‘role-playing’. My elastic arms are stretched across oceans. Nick Cave forewarns of mistaking hate songs which pervade the pop charts to a large extent for real love songs.
[The CS gas in the song isn’t really CS gas but CS ‘aura’ if you like. I’m too ashamed to say what the CS really is but I’m sure any interested parties can work that one out if you get my drift. It involves total infatuation from the male perspective.]
EB:: Are there any interesting stories behind any of the songs? Please
Andrew: Don’t know about interesting. But… ‘A Prophecy’ started off life as a pastiche of U2 in their over the top stadium rock stage (some may say that stage is constant, others that they have relinquished all the white flag of surrender bullshit and became very good in bits. Specifically these others might mention some stuff from Zooropa and the one before which escapes me at the moment. Me ? I now like the Hedge and Bongo - as they are affectionately known. Anyhow, so ‘A Prophecy’ started off as a mock stadium rock track but we didn’t have sufficient means for the Chelsea boots & audience so we developed the song which subsequently became of our greatest moments and has a few obligatory nods in the direction of the almighty Holden Caulfield.
“I have a crystal ball head” indeed.
EB: What recorded CL song are you most disappointed by?
Andrew: Just too Bloody Stupid and Knee Trembler because they never captured the scratchy ‘funk’ of the live versions and other things like the vocal which is not that good to put it mildly.
EB: In “From This Day On”, there’s a line that sounds like: “There
was never a better man than Jack”. If that is the correct line. Who is
Jack? If it is not the correct line, what IS the correct line?
Andrew: Yes this is indeed correct. Jack represents Mr. Jones or Mr. Ordinary man. The man in the street. Possibly one of the great moments in rock. Written in 1987 it correctly predicted - “I have a crystal ball head” - the downfall of the Evil (!) Soviet Empire and the sharp move to the political right (albeit hugely underway at the time) “From this day on, the spectre haunting Europe will be gone, from this day on, the crooked cross of the south will reign…” Terrific. Shouldve been a single. Clairvoyance. The vocal sound was an attempt at the John Lennon ‘Mother’ sound or on ‘God’ - that album anyway which is called John Lennon I think - Anyway you’d never know how successful or obtuse that was by just listening to it. If fact probably the best thing about the group and probably a contributing factor in our demise was that contrary to the popular invocation of today to ‘All pull in the same direction’, we were most definitely pulling in opposite directions. Not looking at the same beast made for strange songs with eclectic roots. Sometimes there may be an argument for benign dictatorship. In pop groups at least.
EB: A couple of years ago, “Foxheads” and “Headache Rhetoric” were released
on the same CD? Were you aware of this? Did you make this happen?
Andrew: Our anti-marketing department were not exactly on the ball so to speak with global currents. When our first album came out in the UK it was succeeded rather than preceded by a single. Weird. On the plus side it was a bargain. The actuality of all this escapes me unfortunately. Not beyond the realms of possibility that we were rather naïve ‘artists’ and the marketing of the records was split between our pimp owners in London and soon to be dead Californian renters.
EB: If the Lobsters were to get back together again, what label
would you like to go to? What changes to the band would you make? What
changes would you make to the sound? The lyrics?
Andrew: Mp3’s via the internet would be a way forward maybe. Except the capital for the production of music would be fairly problematic to say the least. If it means music will be truly released from the mainstream circus then good. It seems record companies will now specialize in marketing and thus have even more time to concoct and peddle the same old tired mainsteam bullshit to current and future generations of younger and younger consumers. Soon music will perhaps be marketed to pregnant mothers to play to their unborn offspring and have a suitably revolting name for these unsuspecting consumers. Foeties, or something. Already happening ? When I see the plethora of manufactured pop acts currently doing the rounds my mind fondly and in desperation remembers the words of the late great Bill Hicks on the current rash of boy bands; “Suckers of Satan’s’ cock each and every one”.
EB: The sound of “Foxheads” and “Headache Rhetoric” are so different…. Though Howard Turner claims responsibility for this, was there any other conscious decision for this change, who else was responsible, and why?
Andrew: Don’t know that Howard’s Influence was even slightly as marked as is inferred here. We decided we wanted a harder sound and met Phil Vinall as proposed by Fire Records. Quite where Howard comes in here I don’t know. Maybe so but I remember him and the producer not exactly as bosom buddies. If he wants to claim responsibility great. I’m fed up shouldering the blame.
EB: In “Pathetique”, you sing “There are 97 sides to everything”???
…huh? What do you mean by that?
Andrew: Complexity. Things are not what they may at first seem in this Fantastic world.
EB: Do you think we will be living in a NEW WORLD ORDER where our freedom
will somehow change?
Andrew: We are. Put into place by the neo-George Bush thing. Splendid continuity.
EB: What’s your opinion on the Queen mum?
Andrew: Don’t ask. There’s a traditional Scottish/Glasgow song which recommends that you really shouldn’t and therefore can’t throw your grandmother off a bus because she is, after all, your mother’s mother. It ryhmes I think. Anyway in some cases this ‘law’ could feasibly be relaxed.
EB:What was John A. Rivers like??? What did you like about him? As a
person? As a producer? What did you think of his production with Lawrence’s
Andrew: A gentleman of the highest order and a very good producer who managed to bring out sides of the music which we didn’t even know existed. In fact they didn’t exist, he brought them out. Would’ve went back to his studio subsequently if it all hadn’t fallen apart - for sure.
EB: What about Phil Vinall ? What did you like about him? As a
person? As a producer? How do you like his other production work
with bands like The Autuers?
Andrew: A rogue. Too much like us at the time i.e. uncouth drunkards. Don’t know any other things which he did subsequently. Good bloke and pool player. Don’t know The Auters unfortunately .
EB: Who was the most famous person you ever met?
Andrew: Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore about ten years ago in NYC when they were still quite young (!). Anyway, the goddamed photograph didn’t come out. In the main famous is not something that I’m particularly impressed by. And you could suggest that neither are those ‘famous’ people who could be termed cool. I read a good story recently where Noel Gallagher from Oasis tells of a young fan who is so star struck on meeting him he is actually shaking. At this point he tells the lad that they all shit in the same toilet so to speak. I think Noel Gallagher seems like is a cool famous person pretty down to earth about it. On the other hand the people who genuinely get carried away with fame are sometimes the most entertaining in a bizarre kind of way as they’re the one’s who make the greatest assholes of themselves. Famous, like love, is in the eye of the beholder.
EB: I noticed in the previous interview, you mentioned you toured with
STUMP…I love their album “A Fierce Pancake”! How were they live and what
were like as people? Why do you suppose they are no where to be found nowadays
on both the music scene and the web?
Andrew: They were mentally deranged. Probably ended up murdering one another with sticks. I think we only played a couple of gigs with them but they seemed like a good laugh. “Buffalo” and “Everything in its Place” are a bit special as tracks.
EB: What’s your opinion on The NME?
Andrew: When I was young - to my eternal shame - I used to buy the goddamed thing religiously and take account of what was said in reviews and features etc. Then when some of their journalists questioned our limitless talent I took a new perspective (surprise, surprise !) on their by now hideously diseased influence on the music scene in the UK and beyond. I’m sure some of the people who sell their souls in such an industry are/were alright really but generally speaking music journalists are just petit-bourgeois bastard bandits. Apologies to actual bastrard bandits by way of association.
EB: In “Got Apprehension”, your lyrics deal with the chopping block?
What does it symbolize? Why do you sing the song like EVERYBODY should
put their head on the chopping block and why do you say “Decapitation is
nothing to be scared of”?
Andrew: It’s a kind of warped seize the day appeal. Don’t be apprehensive sort of thing. Even in an age of the Virus etc With hindsight the chopping block is probably a bit extreme but even now I still quite like the imagery. The catchy chorus of “I think I’ve got something” perhaps proved too terribly suggestive in the current climate when it was supposed to represent the more optimistic “I think I’m on to something” sort of thing
EB: “I’m so happy I could slit my wrists.. “ Did you ever want to or
try to kill yourself ?
Andrew: Actually this line was an unconscious special contribution by a Californian friend called Leah who wrote me a letter once with these immortal words…”…I’m so happy I could slit my wrists”. I thought it as hilarious as intended. Unfortunately a lot of people took it too literally. People should have the right to kill themselves but I wouldn’t recommend it. It might be painful.
EB: What is a “Headache Rhetoric” exactly? (besides the title of your
third and last album)
Andrew: Its similar to “noise” I think. Babble. Which originates from the babble of voices after the tower was destroyed by Charton Heston or God or whoever it was and those who challenged Gods’ infinite wisdom were banished to the four corners of the globe. This of course may be completely off track as I am and have always been an infidel. Anyway they - the people - can’t speak to one another now as its just a babble of voices. Alternative title - ‘A Yarn of Disorientation’. Probably better. Also we were initially going to title the album after these immortal words uttered by a conservative Member of Parliament in the UK House of commons; “These Scottish Pigs should have No Human Rights”. Wish we had now.
EB: In “Skyscrapers”, there’s a line “I never listened to a coo-coo
vicar”.. (If that’s the correct line), what’s your view on organized religion?
Andrew: All organised religion is extremely boring pure and simple. They always think they know best. More realistic that Man created God not the other way round. More accurately religion itself is very very interesting. Its just that those who actually believe it literally are something stronger than boring. Usually thick.
EB: What is the song “Gulp” about ?
Andrew: Taking a charge from the cup of love. Reluctantly and easily falling.
EB: What was the weirdest thing that someone ever asked you to do ?
Andrew: Our erstwhile manager requested that we as a band should enter a tigers cage for a photo shoot. And yes we did it. Bizarre because the photos looked doctored anyway
EB: What’s your favorite current song ?
Andrew: Nick Cave ‘Far from Me’. Mogwai ‘Nick’.
EB: Many people (young kids especially) think that once
you get a record deal, the money just rolls in.. (Lawrence of Denim writes
about Cherry Red “They’ll sign you up for 50 quid, you’ll be making records
in a shed”) Were you disappointed with the amount of money the Lobsters
made or was it what you expected? Did the record companies swindle you
Andrew: Emphatically Yes. My advice to a young band is to do themselves for as long as possible.
EB: You said that money and fatigue was a major reason the band
broke up, was there one or two major incidents that caused the break up?
Andrew: First incident was not getting signed in the US through whatever reason and secondly the sacking of the noble Tom.
EB: What video do you like better and why? “Nature Thing” or “Let’s
Make Some Plans”?
Andrew: The latter. Its better.
EB: Tell me about Mags in “Nature Thing”…
Andrew: Haven’t see her in about two years. Bumped into her in the street in Glasgow. And from there we went to bar with some friends. Since then nothing.
EB: Any other videos besides those two? If not, what song do you think
deserved a video and what would it be like?
Andrew: There is a truly dreadful video of ‘Smile’ where we are running around the hills surrounding Paisley with flags. Its very similar to something Spinal Tap would/ve done and is truly appalling. Also various shots of us running after a severed leg. Painful.
EB: What made you choose the art for the cover of “Headache Rhetoric”?
Andrew: Tom had a girlfriend called Ashley who was an artist. She kindly drew the stuff for us.
EB: Do you still keep in touch with your brother? What’s he doing now?
What was it like recording, touring, and writing with him? Did sibling
rivalry ever come into the band?
Andrew: We had a infamous confrontation on the Dutch-German border one night. I ended up with two black eyes. Guess who won ? This was on the way to a tour of Germany. Whilst there an interviewer inquired as to the source of these offending scars. Tom told them it was Stephen Pastel. Just for a laugh like.
EB: What did you think of The Wedding Present’s cover version of “Let’s
Make Some Plans”???
Andrew: Pretty good I think.
EB: If you could remix ONE Close Lobsters song, which one would it be
and what would you do to it? Add a dance beat? Add horns? Add percussion?
Add bass? Add vocal effects? Take out anything?
Andrew: Prophecy. And others.
EB: Was “Lovely Little Swan” about any one person?
Andrew: Yes someone with several personalities.
EB: What is your favorite play?
Andrew: The Picture of Dorian Gray or something. Shakespeare stuff. Not too big on plays.
EB: I noticed you wrote something about Andreas Baader in the previous
interview? I’ve been obsessed with him too for a while.. Have you heard
the Luke Haines project “Baader Meinhof”? What is your opinion or
outlook on the Baader Meinhof group? Do you think they died of suicide
or were they murdered?
Andrew: I read a rather good account of the RAF and then saw a movie called Mannheim about them. I was just fascinated with this kind of thing. I suppose it was that time in history when things were crumbling.
EB: What do you think of these African-Americans in the U.S. getting
shot down by police and then, the police being let go free?
Andrew: It certainly received huge coverage in the news over here as it should. However, these things are always presented in the condescending British tone of aren’t-Americans-just-barbarians kind of way which is unhelpful. Racism is vile.
EB: What kind of women do your prefer? Blondes, Brunettes? Tall?
Short? Outgoing? Shy?
Andrew: We once recorded a shameful version of the Floaters ‘Float On’. Where the preferences are clearly laid out.
EB: What part of the female body do you focus on the most when you meet
a beautiful woman?
Andrew: The beautiful bits
EB: Would you say you are liberal or conservative?
Andrew: A liberal modernist.
EB: When you decided to be in Close Lobsters as a full time gig, what
were your parents reaction and how do they look back upon your musical
Andrew: In US parlance they went ‘Huh ?’
EB: Did drugs or drinking ever seriously get in the way of the performances
live or in the studio? Which lobster was more into drinking or drugs than
the others? Which lobster was opposed to it?
Andrew: Now that would be telling. I can safely say that had the other members of the group at least demonstrated a modicum of discipline and responsibility we would each have our own health farms by now.
EB: Is heroin a major problem in Scotland? Do you think the film (and/or
book) Trainspotting was a realistic depiction of Scotland’s heroin scene?
Andrew: Yes. Specifically Edinburgh in the mid 1980s I think. However, Glasgow, not wishing to be outdone by its east coast rival has now caught up and indeed surpassed Edinburgh in this particular form of degradation. Something we are all immensely proud of in the west. Sorry no need for that. The problem I believe in Scotland as a whole is one of the worst in Europe. Its tragic. People need real jobs and real houses.
EB: What the meaning behind the lyrics of “Let’s Make Some Plans”,
“12 million good reasons against…The mountain, lightbulb and the lake”???
Andrew: The European Union famously developed surplus butter ‘mountains’ and wine ‘lakes’ through its Common Agricultural Policy. The lightbulb refers to planned obsolescence in general. 12 million was the estimated amount of folks (children ?) living below the poverty line in the UK in the late 1980s. Progress eh ?
EB: What do you think of The Official Close Lobsters Home Page? What
would you like to add or change?
Andrew: I like the content and the forum parts but don’t like the more superficial parts such as reasons to like the CLs. I think you’ve done a splendid job and really its your site but ideally it would be nice if it became a live site in relation to current bands in the same vein - incorporated stuff that’s alive maybe - as the CLs or dare I presume were slightly influenced by the CLS.
EB: What would you do if you had 24 hours to live? What tape or CD would
you have? What kind of alcohol would you drink? Where would you go? What
would you do?
Andrew: Look up.
EB: Since some people don’t even know who you are while others think
you and the Lobsters are simply amazing, do you consider you and the Lobsters
to have a somewhat cult status?
Andrew: Afraid so. A bunch of cults it has been said.
EB: You’ve been a great sport dealing with ALL of these crazy questions…
Your fans and myself (Todd E. Jones) truly appreciates this… What would
you like to say to all your fans out there that visit The Official Close
Lobsters Home Page on a regular basis?
Andrew: Form a group and play some music because you are obviously fairly captivated.
Anyone like to arrange a festival somewhere warm in the summer ?
EB: What will your epitaph say?
Andrew: All in all I’d rather be in Portugal (Apologies to …….)
Interview With A Lobster: PART ONE