Gaye Bykers On Acid - Hail Mary
By Paul Narvaez and Jackie Zahn
On the eve of Gaye Bykers On Acid's first tour of the United States (Gaye Bykers over America) we asked singer Mary about his "trip" so far and discussed the ideas that none of these guys are necessarily gay or bikers. What scam are they trying to pull? To find out read on...
B-Side: I see Gaye Bykers on Acid as different than most of the other rock bands in England right now. There is a lot of humor in your music and you seem to almost be parodying rock-n- roll "excess." Do you see yourselves as separate from most of what's going on in England at the moment?
Mary: Actually, I was just thinking about that. I wouldn't say entirely separate musically, but I would like to think we were different or else we may as well turn into another AC/DC or something. I think, in the end, if you have originality it makes what you do more endearing.
B-Side: How long have you been together?
Mary: Two years, just two.
B-Side: You've done a lot in two years.
Mary: Yes, we have done quite a lot. It's as much a surprise to us as it is to our fans.
B-Side: You've had two releases on In Tape (Everything's Groovy (sic), Nosedive Karma) and then signed to Virgin UK. I suppose you're the virgin Mary.
Mary: Well, only from behind.
B-Side: In many instances bands lose some of their freedom in signing with a major label - but in your case I think you've gained some in the sense of money, etc. Can you talk about that?
Mary: Well, that's the way it should be, or else what's the point of signing to one. But there comes a point where the record company wants you to do something and see some return, I mean, let's be honest, they want to see us do well.
B-Side: Is it true that the original copies of Drill Your Own Hole where made without holes in the center so that the buyer had to literally "drill their own hole?"
Mary: Yes, there was about a thousand of them. There was a sticker on the front saying that it was a limited edition. I don't even have a copy; I wish I did! We could see the headlines:
"KID GOES CRAZY WITH POWER DRILL TO PLAY RECORD." Well, that's what we were hoping, anyway!
B-Side: Are you happy with the new LP? If there's something you could change what would that be?
Mary: The drums. They're not at all like how he plays live. We had to put them down on an electric click track machine because they're in the movie. Having said that though, I listened to it the other day and it really didn't sound that bad. When I'm here, it sounds like a section is of it is different. American people seem to like it because the album is more popular here than it was in England.
B-Side: That's interesting. "Drive-In Salvation" sounds almost electronic.
Mary: Yeah, that's our anti-Jimmy Swagget song. It's phenomenal, just what's happening to him, we got a glimpse of that when we were first over here on an evangelist TV station. We couldn't fuckin' believe it.
B-Side: I was in an antique shop the other day and they had all these Jimmy Swaggert albums on the wall with titles like, Holy.
Mary: Jimmy Swaggert is the anti-christ, you knew that, didn't you?
B-Side: You're kidding. I thought it was Ronald Reagan.
Mary: There's this English game show host called Bob Monkhouse. His eyes were so evil that at one point the band was under the illusion that he was the anti-christ and was talking to us!
B-Side: What is "Zen Express" about?
Mary: It's about the nihilism of punk and the idealism of the hippie generation meeting head on. These people were saying the same things, both wanted some kind of change. In our movie it's represented by a punk bus full of "postcard" punks and a hippie bus and they collide into one another.
B-Side: Can you talk about the movie Drill You Own Hole?
Mary: The album is the soundtrack. It's a parody of us, the music industry and what we've let ourselves in for. We had the money at the time so we decided to go for it.
B-Side: Is that available here?
Mary: No, that's something I'm pissed about. We're trying to get the "Git Down" video over here at least.
B-Side: That's the one with the cucumbers and what you do with them.
Mary: Yeah. They censored out the "on acid' part of our name like it promoted drugs or something in the video. Funny how the "Gaye Bykers" part was alright. You know, I was thinking about what you said us being a "ROCK band." We have friends like That Petrol Emotion that aren't what you'd call a hard rock band and also we have friends who are in "metally" bands. So I see it in three sensibilities. I mean, The Petrols probably wouldn't talk to the metally band because they wouldn't see eye-to-eye with them. We're the gap between the heavy rock sound and the pop sound. The whole LP is supposed to as poppy as it can be. If you see the film it will all fit into place much better.
B-Side: Who originally did "Call Me A Liar"?
Mary: It's from a British band that we really respect and admire who didn't really get anywhere. They were really underground and one of John Peel's favorite bands. They were anarchists and on Harvest-EMI records. Their name is the Edgar Broughton Band from, like, 1969. Pink Floyd used to rip them off.
B-Side: With Syd or after Syd?
Mary: After Syd. Syd didn't rip them off, Syd was Syd.
B-Side: Is image important to the band?
Mary: To one or two members of the band it might be, but to me it isn't. I don't make any effort at all. It's something we don't really think about. We behave as we are. Since the music is stylized and we "take" from so many different sources people will assume we look really outrageous. I mean, a couple of the other members of the band might look pretty weird but I wouldn't say I look outrageous. With us, it's been each to their own. I mean, when you live together and you're bored you just decorate your clothes. There's no band policy that says "you've got to look this way." We don't have a band stylist like certain bands I could mention. That's the difference with a lot of these bands today in America.
B-Side: What do you mean?
Mary: I mean if you see AC/DC they've just got denims and long hair and just dressed how they dressed. But if you see the bands that wish to sound like them, they're all grossly into the imagery. The leather jackets, spandex trousers, chains and their hair trying to look a woman's. When all the bands that they think are God had nothing to do with that. We are ourselves. We came from punk and punk's kind of fashion thing anyway. Before I was in a band, I was more conscious of what I wore, but now I'm not. You should've seen me. I was a high fashion victim. I had to buy something just because it was trendy to wear. If I did that today I couldn't take myself seriously. We do take what we do seriously, in a sense, but not that seriously.
B-Side: Well, that's a good sign. You opened up for Motorhead a while back and recently played a double bill with the Butthole Surfers...
Mary: Well, the Butthole Surfers thing didn't come off. The college and the record company wanted it to, though. It's a bit of a strange thing. We have this new song called, "Fairway to Heaven," it's all about golf. But there was this big thing in the British press, I don't know if you say it, The Butthole Surfers were slagging us saying the Gaye Bykers On Acid ripped off their title. [The Butthole Surfers released a new album, Hairway To Steven] That's total bullshit ‘cause we wrote that song in December. It's probably going to be the next single. We sorted it out with them.
What influences Gaye Bykers? I noticed the reference to Beefheart in the opening line of "Git Down."
Mary: Personally, when I'm at home just listening to music I listen to Captain Beefheart and lots of stuff really. Tony the guitarist likes Hendryx (sic) and Zappa mainly. The bass player likes The Ramones and the drummer likes speed metal thrash bands. We all bring different influences into the band, this is why its so difficult to work sometimes. I mean, you can't put all those things together, it takes a long time to make it fit.
B-Side: Some times the mish-mash is interesting.
Mary: Yeah, that's what we try to do. Hopefully you can listen to the album and hear different things each time.
B-Side: Who is Ray Lowry?
Mary: Have you seen The Clash's London Calling LP? He did that cover. He's a political rock cartoonist who worked for NME, The Face, Smash, and a porn mag called Mayfair. We got our name from one of his cartoons. He did the lyric sheet inside our album as well as all our record sleeves, except the first. The lyric sheet wasn't included in the American copies, unfortunately.
B-Side: What's the idea behind PFX [Purple Fluid Exchange]?
Mary: That was our Public Image Ltd (PiL) or BEF (Heaven 17) if were going into corporate business, we decided we'd have our own corporate identity. We have it on our records. We wanted to do toothbrushes, wash and brush-up kits and lunch boxes. I'm taking the piss our of American marketing, that was the idea.
B-Side: Tell me about the tour.
Mary: We do a mix of everything, including new songs. Since we never toured here before, we figure we'll go across the board and hit a point on what we've done so far.
B-Side: Are you moving away from the psychedelic angle of your music?
Mary: I don't really know. There's a few paths we can take; we could take the heavy metal path
and try to make lots of money, or we could go the real nihilistic path and make no money at all and make real noise music, or country sounding R.E.M. kind of stuff...I think the tour will decide by audience reaction and how we play together on stage.
B-Side: Is that causing tension in the band?
Mary: No, because that's the way it's always been with us. Like I said, about having different influences, we listen to new things all the time. Recently I've been listening to things like Husker Du ‘cause that's as heavy as heavy music can get.
B-Side: Do you fear Gaye Bykers On Acid will become known as a novelty band due to the over the top campiness you use?
Mary: I wouldn't like to think of it that way, but if that's the way it's going to be, then that's the way it's going to be. We do what we do when we do it. It's not so clear cut, which is good because I guess it shows our fallability as human beings. We're just normal people, man. It does create tension though, since we haven't really got a set direction, which I think a lot of bands do have. We're just consolidating and learning and hopefully in the future I think we're going to write really good songs.
B-Side: Do Gaye Bykers On Acid believe in safe sex?
Mary: Of course, but we're all celibate!