Rik Mayall Interviews and Articles Archive

The Pan Global Phenomenon in all his verbal glory.

Category: 1987

Wallowing in Mayall Chauvinist Piggery

By Jan Etherington for TV Times, 12 – 18th september 1987

The rolling Yorkshire countryside is steaming in the summer sunshine. Rik Mayall is also perspiring gently, but that is probably because he is about to drive a London taxi at a barn door. It doesn’t seem the right time to reveal that he has failed his driving test twice before, but he mentions it anyway.

Mayall is playing Alan Beresford B’Stard in the new satirical comedy series The New Statesman, starting on ITV this Sunday. B’Stard becomes a Member of Parliament, a man so avaricious, unscrupulous and altogether wicked that he makes Vlad the Impaler look like an acupuncturist.

But, at the moment, he looks like a country squire in a striped shirt and flat cap. The cap has been appropriated from the taxi driver he has recently murdered and whose body, even now, is crumpled in the cab’s boot while the murderer attempts to dispose of the evidence.

Hence the barn door. Accelerating towards it is, Mayall admits, ‘a bit hairy’. But, because they are filming on the private roads of the Earl of Harewood’s magnificent estate in Yorkshire, at least he doesn’t have to watch out for a doubledecker bus appearing round the corner.

The scene completed, we take ourselves off to a convenient hayloft to discuss the giant leap for Mayall from the alternative-comedy humour of his creations – Kevin Turvey in A Kick Up The Eighties, Rick in The Young Ones and Richie Rich in Filthy, Rich and Catflap – to mainstream comedy.

‘The New Statesman isn’t a career move,’ Mayall says, seriously. ‘I’ve never done anything just because I felt I should do it, but because I really wanted to.

‘I know that some people will be expecting me to be Kevin Turvey or Rick from The Young Ones in this, but I’ve never really aimed at a specific audience. I’ve just done things I think are funny.

‘I’m being used more as an actor than I have before and, for me, the experimentation in this series is acting straight in order to get much funnier laughs.’

The most immediately obvious difference from Mayall’s former creations is that, in The New Statesman, he is not contorting his features, speaking in a silly voice, prancing about or breaking wind.

The first reaction from many people who see the series will be: ‘I didn’t know Rik Mayall was so handsome.’ He is, in fact, in serious danger of becoming a sex symbol.

‘A sex symbol?’ Mayall cries, incredulously. ‘But this man is a bastard!’

Sex symbols often are. Look at Rhett Butler not giving a damn about Scarlett in Gone With The Wind. ‘He was only being horrible to a girl, wasn’t he?’ Mayall responds.

Isn’t that important? ‘Yes, but this man is about to give a deadly virus to a primary school full of children,’ he says. ‘He sells faulty firearms to the police force. I don’t find that sexy!

‘That was why I wanted to make him ugly. I want to make all my characters ugly. Whenever I play someone I disapprove of, I make him ugly, but they said, “Stop pulling faces and be cool.”

‘So I’ve gone against my first instinct this time, if you like, but my instinct has been persuaded that it’s not infallible by people who know what they’re talking about. That’s something else I’ve learned – to take advice and direction from people I respect. Anyway, I’m not trying to be handsome.’

But he must be aware of his physical attractiveness? Not only does he have beautiful skin and perfect teeth, but smoky blue eyes and a disconcertingly gentle, relaxed conversational style, unlike anything we’ve seen of him on TV.

‘I’ve always had fan-mail from girls, but I just thought it was rather silly,’ he says, twisting a straw around his fingers. ‘Very flattering, but rather silly. It just happens when you’re famous…’

As a member of the anarchic The Young Ones, Mayall was part of a mould-breaking humour that was to the Eighties what Monty Python’s Flying Circus was to the Seventies. Their destructive, disgusting lifestyle was followed with glee by young viewers and with incomprehension by many others.

Mayall’s own lifestyle is traditional and surprising. He has been married for a year to Barbara, a makeup artist. They met for the first time years ago when she was applying his acne for the role of Kevin Turvey. They now have a daughter, Rosie, nearly one – ‘The most beautiful child in the world,’ says Mayall, proudly. ‘She has strawberry-blonde hair and silver eyes. Quite amazing.’

Rosie is teething now and a bit upset, so Mayall makes many phone calls home during the day, from the location. truck, to check that all is well.

Apart from The New Statesman, he’s in the middle of a crazily busy time. He has recorded a follow-up to C4’s The Bad News Tour, about the life and times of a heavy-metal band. It is called More Bad News, bringing together The Young Ones’ Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer, and Peter Richardson from C4’s The Comic Strip Presents, in which Mayall and Edmondson have featured. Mayall has also arranged his brother’s wedding and just moved to a leafy, West London suburb in which one room of the house is designated Barbara’s artist’s studio.

‘She studied at Glasgow College of Art and she’s very talented,’ says Mayall. ‘It would be nice if she could spend more time painting.’

The New Statesman is written by the successful team of Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, who wrote Shine On Harvey Moon, Roll Over Beethoven and Relative Strangers. Mayall admired their writing and approached them with the suggestion of writing something for him. It was some time before it became apparent that the subject would be politics.

‘I’m quite a political animal,’ Mayall says, ‘but, although I’m 30 next year, I still think of myself as a kid, and Laurence and Maurice are definitely grown-ups, Laurence, particularly, is like a father-figure to me. They speak with authority and have opinions that seem to carry weight – and they don’t mind what people think of them, which is a very grown-up thing as well.’

There is suddenly a crash behind us. Roy Scammell, the stuntman, has driven the taxi straight through the barn door and left it splintering on its hinges. Everyone applauds.

These days, someone else smashes things up for Rik Mayall.

Three for the Show

For Radio Times, 3rd – 9th January 1987

No, it’s not Son of Young Ones, but Rik, Adrian and Nigel are still aiming at the funny bone. John McCready hears it’s all about paternity suits, dead milkmen and TV stars.

Do you still enjoy working together? ‘No. We hate each other,’ Adrian Edmondson deadpans. ‘We never did like each other,’ offers Nigel Planer. Do you get on each other’s nerves then? ‘No, not these days,’ says Rik Mayall who is wearing a Tshirt that tells the world he is an idiot. ‘It’s not as dramatic as that. You have an argument over something and ten minutes later, it’ll be forgotten. We’re like brothers and sisters.’

They are still perhaps best known to lovers of violence and bad taste as Rick, Vyvyan and Neil, three of the four young Ones. Now for the new BBC2 series Filthy, Rich and Catflap, they are transformed into three down-at-heel celebrities, lost in the unreal world of the bow-tie and the golfing sweater. ‘They take TV-am seriously, believing it to be one of the greatest things,’ explains Rik. ‘They also think Jimmy Tarbuck is god and if you believe that then you’re off…’

Adrian says the characters arose from nicknames. ‘We’ve called Rik Richie Rich for a long time. I’m Eddie because of Edmondson and Nigel’s Filthy because he’s always smelly.’

‘Richie’s last job was doing the links on TVS in 1972,’ Rik offers. ‘Now I’m doing the occasional commercial. Eddie’s my minder and Filthy Ralph’s my agent. We just get into lots of scrapes. In one show, a paternity suit has been filed against me. Also I’ve just killed several milkmen. So we have to sort all that out.’

Director Paul Jackson, partly responsible for a string of comedy hits like The Two Ronnies, Carrott’s Lib, Three Of A Kind and Happy Families, (like Filthy, Rich, scripted by Ben Elton), admits that the new show is slightly more conventional than The Young Ones. Though ending the happy lives of several whistling milkmen doesn’t sound too conventional.

‘In a way it’s just a straight sitcom,’ Paul says. ‘A lot of it is just two or three people sitting in a room and talking. It’s a refreshing change for all of us. And yet with people like Rik and Ben involved, it isn’t going to be too straight.’

One script is based around a quiz show called Ooh er, Sounds A Bit Rude, while other episodes will make use of performers like the Nolans, Anne Diamond, Barbara Windsor and Mel Smith as Jumbo Whiffy, Head of Nice Entertainment at the television company where Richie crawls for work. A Very Famous Pop Star will also be doing something embarrassing…

‘We thought we couldn’t top the second series of  The Young Ones,’ says Adrian. ‘We would simply have repeated ourselves. But now the audience expectation is so high. There was no audience expectation before the first series of The Young Ones – so it just makes it harder.

‘The public assumes you’re supremely confident of your talent to amuse. But none of us are.’ Rik says: ‘We want the series to stand on its own rather than have it hyped as Son of Young Ones.’ ‘The aim is to make people laugh, that’s all,’ adds Adrian.

The Bad Boyz of Rock ‘N’ Roll

For Kerrang!, October 1987

They’re back – the band that make Uriah Heep look trendy, W.A.S.P. Appear namby-pamby and Snowy White seem exciting! Yeah, Bad News have returned from obscurity with a single, Bohemian Rhapsody, a forthcoming album and an imminent UK tour. Mick Wall talks to these rock fag-ends – sorry, legends – and asks the questions that need to be asked. To wit: how come the group moved from the Frilly Pink label to EMI? Why do they recommend their fans drink whooping cough vaccine? Which member is having Lemmy’s baby? And more besides…

The story so far… Four years after their ugly demise in front of the Channel 4 cameras, Bad News, those bastions of quasi-bullshit, no-hope Heavy Metal, are back in the saddle again. Moreover, this time the bastards say their here to stay.

They showed their faces at last year’s Castle Donnington Festival, of course. And very Bad News it was too, as I recall. Then, before Christmas last year, they opened for Iron Maiden at a special charity concert at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, in aid of the NSPCC, and were joined onstage at the end by no lesser personages than Jimmy Page and Brian May….

After four years lost in the wilderness, unrecognised by their peers and rejected wholesale by the fans, the original No Future band were back where they had started all those aeons ago, where a handful of visionaries say they have always belonged: propping up the bill to somebody else’s packed house.

1987 has seen the resurgence of Bad News come full circle. Recently, they have released their ‘comeback’ single on EMI, a weird and wrong-headed stab at that old Queen chestnut Bohemian Rhapsody; they have taken Reading Festival by the seat of it’s pants (or tried to, dirty bastards); and any day now the first – self-titled, natch! – Bad News album is going to be unleashed in a shopping centre near you. To back it up, there is also going to be a fully-fledged Bad News tour of Britain, their debut as headliners.

So why the sudden, unpredicted return to the limelight of the band once described, all on the same afternoon, by Ozzy Osbourne as “fucking awful”, by Phil Collen of Def Leppard as “shit”, and by Fish of Marillion as “an insult…like a Heavy Metal Sheena Easton”?

Why, just when the world had rightly forgotten that a band called Bad News ever existed, are they back to taunt us?

It began fitfully when those smart-arses at Channel 4 decided it would be a good idea to film an update of their original 1983 Bad News rockumentary. Their stated premise: ‘….to find out what happens to the boys who are sure they’ve got it right; the boys who think, hey we’re gonna make it! Then don’t.

The result, a thought-provoking, no-holds-barred, funny as shit look ‘behind the scenes’, cunningly titled More Bad News, traces the band’s rise from their reunion gig at the Flying Horse, a pub with no past in London, to the ridiculous recording contract they signed and then burned with the now-defunct Frilly Pink Records – an indie haven for Real Men with Heavy Talent, if you get my drift – and ending with the band’s, uh, unequivocal return to the big stage at Castle Donnington last year.

You may have seen More Bad News already, playing on the same bill as Gene Simmons/Ozzy Osbourne flick Trick or Treat that ran for all of 12 nights or something earlier this year. If, like most of us, you didn’t, don’t despair – Channel 4 insist they’ll be giving the bugger a screening early in the New Year. See it. I’m telling you. I am not a soul so easily amused, and I bust a gut watching it…. Laugh? I nearly shit myself.

So anyway, because of all this and more, I thought you might like to meet the band; like, hang out with the dudes from Bad News for the afternoon…

First and foremost (it says here), there is lead vocalist and lead guitarist Vim Fuego. A legend in his own mind, he has lead the band through every indifferent stage of their ill-starred career. Vim is an enigma who claims to be in touch with the spirit world and on first name terms with many famous names from recent rock history who have crossed over to the other side, and whose career has been dogged by worryingly persistent rumours to the effect that he is almost certainly bisexual. Charges Vim has always strenuously denied, but never very convincingly.

Then there is the sickly Colin Grigson, bass player, sort of, and self-confessed banker. When the band collapsed out there on the road in 1983, the story goes that Colin went running home to mummy and daddy, cut off his hair, promised to keep the music down in his bedroom and divided his time over the next four years between working in a bank and collecting a stack of Ladykillers pin-ups… A real prat in a wig, onstage or off.

The other guitarist in the band is Den Dennis. Den, wisely, never did give up his job as a self-employed painter and decorator. It’s the only really smart thing Den’s done since he joined the band. He is also a ‘Krusher’ Joule lookalike. Poor sod.

And last, but hardly least, there is drummer Spider Webb, Bad News’ very own wild man of rock. “The only person I’ve ever met who can throw up exactly half a pint into a half-pint pot with no spillage,” as Vim likes to put it. A good man who like his drugs.

Together they are Bad News, the band who, to quote the More Bad News film, always dealt in ‘delivering the excitement and escapism that so few bands do these days… violating voltage and volume, outraging parents and erecting rock dreams against the world!

We meet up with Bad News in an abandoned studio hidden in the heart of London, where Ray ‘Snakehips’ Palmer has been getting them to blow kisses and other things into the camera. ‘Krusher’ Joule, a life-long Den Dennis fan, accompanies me on the promise that he won’t start snivelling and asking for autographs.

We help ourselves to the stack of Budweisers lined up against one wall and take a hit each from the (unopened) bottle of Jack Daniels they have been posing for Ray’s pictures with. Then we make a circle of chairs, Bad News, ‘Krusher’ Joule and I, and we get down and get dirty.

Fist question. We want to iron out a couple of things straight off. Stuff the readers of Kerrang! will want to know upfront about the band. OK. Which one of you is queer, and which one of is still living with his mother?

Vim: “Well, that’s a bit of a leading question, isn’t it? Perhaps Colin should answer that one…”

Den: “Yeah, COLIN! You better answer that…”

Colin: “I live with my mother, it’s true – as a joke! A sort of rock and roll joke, which I’m sure most of the Kerrang! readers will appreciate…”

Vim: “But you’re not actually queer, are you? You just want to be.”

Colin: “I am NOT a homosexual! I have had sex. OK, it was with a magazine, but it was a girl in the picture!”

So there’s absolutely no truth in the rumour that Vim Fuego is having Lemmy’s baby?

Vim: “No, no, no! I mean, obviously me and Lemmy are big mates, we’ve both got metal in our souls, but that bulge in my belly isn’t Lemmy’s baby, it’s his beer and his Jack Daniels! I can feel it kicking around inside…”

Spider: “I know what you mean, though. I’ve come back with a sore head after a drinking session with Lemmy, and not been able to remember a thing.”

Vim: “That’s the trouble with Lemmy – he drinks so much that you end up getting completely plastered when you’re with him, and then when you wake up the next morning and feel a bit sore you’re not sure whether anything’s actually, you know, happened or not… But saying I’m having his baby is probably one of Lemmy’s practical jokes.”

Spider: “He means well though…”

Tell us about your appearance at the Reading Festival this year.

Spider: “Reading was brilliant, absolutely brilliant…”

Den: “Yeah, brilliant…”

Vim: “Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!”

Colin: “Reading was a triumph for the band; for the fans; and for the world of Heavy Metal in general… The best gig we’ve ever done. There were something like over 300 bottles thrown, which is a personal best for the band…”

Spider: “Yeah, we kept all the bottles round Vim’s house and now we never have to go to the pub again…”

Colin: “Or the toilet… We’ve still got loads of bottles filled with piss that we collected from the stage after we finished playing.”

What is it, do you think, about the band that draws such a violent reaction from people?

Vim: “When the fans throw things at us it’s not because they feel violent, it’s more like a sign from them that they’re witnessing the second wave of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal…”

Den: “Yeah, it’s a sign of deep love and appreciation, done in recognition of kindred souls, fellow travellers along the rocky road…”

Spider: “It’s like the kids just want to shower us with gifts. That’s the way I look at it.”

Tell us about the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ single. Why did you choose to cover Queen’s most famous hit?

Vim: Basically, because the original is so crap. It needed pepping up a bit…”

Spider: “EMI wanted to re-release the original, but they came to us and said it really needs somebody to do it properly this time… Cliff wouldn’t do it, so would we?”

Colin: “And we got Brian May to produce it because he’s actually the only member of Queen who can actually play… did you know he came onstage with us at Reading? It was an accident; he was actually looking for his teeth. He’d left them there the year before…”

Did Vim ‘have words’ with Brian May before he came on the stage at Reading?

Vim: “Yeah, I mean, he came on, immediately turned up his guitar too loud and tried to blow me off the stage, and the silly old bugger obviously can’t play any more and it was just embarrassing watching him try. He just gets in the way onstage; his ego’s too large for his talent…”

Spider: “We were going brilliantly, and then he came on and everything took a dip from there. People stopped throwing things and the whole mood of the crowd suddenly changed. The moment he stepped onstage he bought everything down…”

He joined you onstage at the Hammersmith Odeon before Christmas, didn’t he? He must like you…

Colin: “Yes, him and Jimmy Page just barged their way onstage in the middle of our set… They’d obviously both broken out of the old people’s home, stolen a couple of guitars, and turned up expecting to jam with us onstage…”

Den: “The truth is they were both begging to join the band, and they saw that gig at the Odeon as their sort of audition…”

Colin: “The only reason Jimmy wanted to join the band was because he’d heard about that bottle of Jim Beam on our rider, so he broke into our gig at the Hammersmith Odeon to help us drink it…”

What’s the truth behind your move from the Frilly Pink label to EMI? Is it, as rumour suggests, because you were trying to lose your gay following?

Colin: “You’re talking about that gig at Heaven we’re not allowed to talk about…”

Den: “Look, we NEVER played that gig at Heaven, ALL RIGHT?”

Colin: “Anyway, according to EMI, we were never on Frilly Pink in the first place… Never mind that we had to do three gigs at the Hippodrome wearing stain boxer shorts! We were forced by the record company because we couldn’t get work anywhere else…”

Vim: “Anyway, don’t put any of that in the piece you’re writing. We’ve already been stitched up by two documentaries that make us look like a right load of prats…”

Den: “Yeah, they cut out all the best bits…”

Colin: “If you ask me it’s all part of the global movement to stamp out Heavy Metal. You know, all those book burners that belonged to the Moral Majority… They burned Ozzy Osbourne, didn’t they…”

Den: “And Sheena Easton…”

Colin: “They tried to burn Michael Jackson as well, starting with his hair…”

What’s the best thing about being in a Heavy Metal band?

Den: “Doing interviews like this with you and reading Kerrang!

Spider: “It’s also something you can talk about seriously over dinner…”

Vim: “… But mostly, it’s the chicks!”

Colin: “One does keep having to go out to the countryside though, just to stand in a field away from the city all those dreadful working class people making a racket. And, of course, sometimes we have to go to one of those horrid recording studios and sit around all night with a bunch of dreadful drug addicts listening to people arguing. That’s the downside. Then occasionally we get a television interview, which is rather nice. I’m actually hoping to get into some sort of career in television when all this is over…”

Like a lot of great Heavy Metal bands from the past there seems to exist a certain amount of friction between you, the members of Bad News. Is that creative?

Spider: “No, there’s no friction between the members of the band…”

Vim: “That’s right. We present a totally united front to the world.”

Den: “Well, there is a bit of friction between us…”

Spider: “No there isn’t, Den…”

Den: “There is sometimes…”

Spider: “No there fucking well isn’t, Den!”

Den: “There is…”

Vim: “Look Den, I’ve just said we present a united front to the world and if you don’t shut up about there being any friction in this band I’m going to smash your face in!”

Colin: “Listen arse-nose, it says in our contract with EMI that there’s no friction in the band!”

Den: “Fucking well is… We have arguments about the band, about whose turn it is to buy the beer, about the guitars and whose going to use which amp, and we have arguments about Colin not being very good on bass…”

Vim: “And we have arguments about you talking your stupid head off to the press!”

A question for each of you individually. Firstly, Colin: that thing you do with your tongue (Colin has a very Gene Simmons-esque way with his tongue), is it a gift or did you have to practice in front of a mirror for years to perfect it?

Colin: “Well, of course I was born with the tongue, nobody gave it to me. Shall I show it to you for the readers of Kerrang!… Look, here we go: LALALALALALALAHHHHHHH! I regard it as one of my major contributions to the band.”

Your question, Vim: have you been in touch with anyone interesting in the spirit world lately?

Vim: “I’m in touch with all the rock greats that have passed on through the years. Who in particular do you want to know about?

Well, what about John Lennon: in the More Bad News documentary you claim he wrote a song for you, don’t you?

Vim: “Yeah, ‘Imogen’… it’s a girl’s name, you know? But we didn’t use it on the album because of the ridiculous claims of plagiarism… I hate it when people go around saying this band has ripped somebody off. I mean, take that Pet Shop Boys single ‘It’s A Sin’; obviously I hate the sodding Pet Shop Boys, but there’s no way you could say that their single ripped off ‘Wild World’ by Cat Stevens, although some people do say that… So it just shows you that you can’t be too careful about what you release. As John Lennon’s always the first to point out…”

Spider, your question. What drink is the best accompaniment when listening to the Bad News album?

Spider: “Anything you can get your hands on… the strongest drink possible would be my answer to that! Anything to dull the senses… There’s this rather nice whooping cough vaccine that’s come along which is quite good to listen to our stuff with. I recommend you try that.”

Den, we want to lay a word association thing on you, OK? ‘Heavy Metal’, Den!

Den: “Um, yeah! Heavy Metal is, well, Heavy Metal, innit?”

Colin: “So that’s your big statement on the subject of HM, is it?”

Den: “All right then, what about: Heavy Metal is… great! Heavy Metal is fucking great! Heavy Metal is…”

Vim, why do you cross yourself before you go onstage? You’re not a Born Again Girlie, are you?

Vim: “No, nothing like that. It’s just the new Heavy Metal sign. I mean, people used to do that (holding up hand in Ronnie Dio warding-off-the-devil-eye pose, little finger and forefinger aloft), didn’t they? But nobody really knew what the hell that meant!”

Colin: “I think it means ‘only two notes in this number’… Or perhaps, ‘these are the two fingers I’ll be using…’! God knows why the Pope does it, though!”

Why did you have such a small hospitality tent backstage at Reading?

Colin: “I don’t know. It was embarrassing for us. Everybody else had huge marquees with bars and restaurants and tables and chairs, and all EMI gave us was a two-man bivouac with a can of larger in it!”

Spider: “There wasn’t even any room for the chicks…”

Vim: “Sometimes I think those bastards at EMI treat this band as a bit of a joke…”

Tell us about your debut album. Are you pleased with it?

Colin: “Frankly, we’re not very happy with what the record company have done with it…”

Vim: “Yeah, they kept the tapes running the whole time we were in the studio, and left everything we said on the album. Stupid bastards said they thought it was all part of the deal.”

Colin: “And there was a certain amount of unpleasantness throughout the recording of the album. We spent the first three months working on one number…”

Vim: “… And then all EMI do is forget about our music and record us arguing!”

Do you ever get the feeling that people in the biz don’t take you very seriously sometimes?

Vim: “Yeah, most people treat us like shit. I put it down to jealousy.”

Last question. As this is the first time you’ve been interviewed by Kerrang!, we wondered if you would like to take this opportunity to send a message out to the vast legions of Heavy Metal fans who read the magazine?

Spider: “Just watch out for the real Bad News…”

Den: “Tell them the four horsemen of the rock apocalypse are back…”

Vim: “Yeah. Our message is this: there’s a lot of Bad News on the way…”

Colin: “Can I go now, please? I said I’d be back at the bank by five…”

Metallic K.O.

For Melody Maker, 31st October 1987

They’ve been canned at Reading, banned in Leningrad, but there’s still no stopping Bad News from destroying civilisation. Steve Sutherland Joins the metal mayhem merchants on their rampage through the comic countryside and discovers that beind their beer-swilling, chick-knobbing, bastard image, the awesome foursome are really just a bunch of drunken, over-sexed bastards.

And lo, it came to pass in the month known as October, that the mountains did shake and the dustcarts did turn upon a Monday and the rivers did run red with the blood of the Pet Shop Boys. And the witch known as Maggie was banished abroad, Buck House was declared HM HQ, strange gooey who owned the Wet Wet Wet album and Vim Fuego, known as Arthur, was crowned King of the Britons. And on his right hand — which was a bit pervy — did sit Colin Grigson known as Merlin and the land resumed to its old metal ways.

This, or thereabouts, is what Bad News proclaimed would occur when their debut album, inspired by a thousand vindaloos washed down with lager, was released. Well, I’ve got the record herein front of me and, lo, what’s happening? Bugger all. So, whatever happened to the Pendragon kingdom?

Colin: “Well, it was supposed to happen at Reading. The armies were gathered but it didn’t really spark.”

Why?

Colin: “Because the guitars were out of tune.”

Den: “I think the guitar roadie was sent by Mordreth and Morn La Faye.”

Colin: Yeah, we found out Morgan La Faye is, in fact, Lemmy. He turned up backstage at Reading, looking very jealous, and — surprise surprise — the guitars don’t work anymore. It was the same at Donington — he turned up and — surprise surprise — the equipment didn’t work there either.”

Vim: “We let him onstage at Donington but not at Reading.Our time has come, his time is finished.”

Den: I think that Lemmy has locked Merlin under a rock for a thousand years.”

Colin: “But Den, I’m supposed to be Merlin.”

Den: “Oh!”

Colin: “Um … ah … ha ha… I know.

Metaphorically! Because my guitar didn’t work, he…uh…as good as hid me under a rock, right?”

Vim: “And he hit you didn’t he? That’s a bit like a rock. That time he punched you in the nose and there was all that blood ‘n’ that”

Spider: “Because of Lemmy, someone gave me the wrong sticks — that’s why I couldn’t play in time that day.”

Colin: “You were also pissed out of your head though, weren’t you?”

Spider: “Oh yeah! But I try to do that anyway. I try to get really pissed so that I can y’know, wotsit…”

Den: “Drum?”

Spider: “Yeah, that’s it. Drum.”

Vim: “The trouble with making people aware that I am the new King Arthur has been…uh…a lot of people don’t believe it”

Colin: “You know, I think the best thing is to abandon that idea and try another publicity scam.”

Vim: “No! Shut up!”

Colin: “Come on! We thought that, because white isn’t a colour that’s used very much in heavy metal — it’s generally black — that if Vim became the Great White Prince and we prettied it up a bit, tried to glamorise it…”

Den: “You’re just trying to make the whole thing go soft. You’re always doing that Colin, you’re always trying to make it all go soft and, like, white magic…”

Colin: “I’m Not! I’m not! I’m just trying to think of a clever trick…”

Den: “You just wanna make us into a little pop band so that you can get on Top Of The Pops because you wanna make it with a Top Of The Pops make-up artist.”

Colin: “I don’t care how I make it or who with. All I care about is…”

Vim: ‘That you do it one day! Heh heh heh heh…”

Colin: “I’ve done it! I’ve done it!”

Vim: “You haven’t!”

Colin: “I have!”

Vim: “Well, what happens then!”

Colin: “Well … you get the magazine and you go into the toilet and… well, if you don’t know, I’m not gonna tell you! Look, all I’m trying to say is, if we can think of a clever scam to trick the stupid people who read the Melody Maker into buying our rotten album then we’ll all make enough money. Surely it doesn t matter if you have to Ponce about in silly clothes for a while just to make a bitof money to buy a house.”

Den: “That’s what I mean. All Colin is into it for is so he can get a mortgage. He’s not interested in the true spirit of rock’n roll.”

Which is!

Spider: “Whisky, gin, vodka, rum… heh heh heh…”

Den: “Jack Daniels!”

Colin: “And being able to get all the way through a song without stopping.”

Vim: “And being able to drink a whole bottle down without stopping. It’s a lotta things to do with not stopping. Neverstop.”

Colin: “All things in excess, non stop, forever and ever.”

Den: “Except not that Australian band, INXS. Not them! They just stole the name from us.”

Vim: “Rock ‘n’ roll rhymes with alcohol,which is significant isn’t it!”

Colin: “Symbolic!”

Den: “Just a load of symbolics if you ask me.”

Spider: “Rock’s roll is meeting alotta chicks and playing very loud isn’t it?”

Vim: “That’s part of it, yeah. Drinking comes into it somewhere too.”

Colin: “Freedom, drugs, sex… and… having a bit of a gin and tonic.”

Spider: “Without too much tonic heh heh heh.”

Den: “Hang on, hang on… is gin a spirit?”

Vim: “Well, I dunno… We drink lager really, don’t we? ‘Ere Spider you alright?”

What’s up? Is the acid taking effect that he dropped earlier?

Den: “What? In 1969?”

Spider: “This is measle vaccine what I’ve just had.”

Vim: “His mum works down the Health Care Centre and he’s into a lot of kiddies’ drugs at the minute. We don’t think he’ll ever ever get polio. He’s pretty immune to whooping cough as well aren’t you?”

Den: “He’s the most immune drummer at Reading when those bottles of piss came down. We’ve all got AIDS but I don’t think Spider has.”

Vim: “He was picking ’em up off the stage and having a swig!”

Spider: “That’s right, I drank more piss than eh… than…”

Colin: “Than what Spider?”

Spider: “I can’t remember heh heh heh.”

Den: “You drank more piss than beer didn’t you?”

Colin: “Well, it was beer really. It just had the alcohol taken out”

Vim: “It still had a head on it so, I mean, if was alright! We took it back to the caravan because, obviously, we don’t get a big rider. Itwas alright really, a bit weak but…”

Colin: “We had more bottles thrown at us at Reading than at any other gig before which is quite a record I think. What was it? Three hundred and twenty something?”

Den: “Three hundred and twenty seven thousand!”

Colin: “And we want all the fans to know that we keep every bottle that’s thrown:”

Den: “Yeah, there all at my flat”

Vim: “He’s had to move out. There’s roomfuls! It’s gonna take us years to get through them all.”

Colin: “I think people should start throwing credit cards.”

Vim: “Yeah, we’re looking forward to the point when we’ve got a number one album and they start throwing money… paper money. Just make them into little aeroplanes and, obviously, a 50 pound note makes a better aeroplane than a fiver.”

Den: “Yeah, we’ve got nowhere to put any more bottles so we want money instead. Not 50 pence pieces, paper money, folding money.”

Colin: “We’re also short of ladies’ underwear, and pictures of ladies…”

Vim: “Yeah! Polaroids!”

Colin: “And they don’t necessarily have to have clothes on-clothes aren’t essential.”

I hear that a couple of you went to see Madonna recently with your old pal Bob Geldof. What did you think of Madonna throwing her underwear into the crowd?

Colin: “Well, I missed it. I was sold a bum ticket but you were there weren’t you Vim?”

Vim: “Uh … no… no. I never managed to make it to the f**ing horrible Madonna concert. A very close friend of mine went…”

Den: “But you did go. You got up onstage with her and pretended to be her friend and you took your underpants off and threw them and shouted ‘Take me, take me Madonna, I’ve always loved you’ and got beaten up by the security guards.”

Vim: “No, tha’s what happended to my close personal friend Alan Metcalfe.”

Den: “But you’re Alan Metcalfe Vim!”

Vim: “Shut up Den. SHUT UP!”

Colin: “Well, I heard you jumped up onstage and said ‘Hello everyone, Vimto’s here, the revolution starts now! Me and Madonna — let’s f**k!’ and they smacked your face in.”

Vim: “I don’t remember that. If that did happen to me, I was probably too f**king pissed and shagged out from shagging too many chicks to notice.”

So you’re still pulling lots of chicks?

Vim: “Oh yeah, I never stop. Are you a girl?”

No.

Vim: “Alright, I’ll leave you alone then. But, like, if we run out of chicks later, are you on?”

Yeah. I’ll do anything for an interview.

Den: “Will you? Will you go and park my van then because it’s on a double yellowline outside.”

Too late. It’s been clamped on all fourwheels already.

Spider: “Oh well, that’s pretty rock ‘n’ roll isn’t it? Heh heh heh.”

Not as rock’ni roll as recording Bohemian Rhapsody.

Colin: “Ha! The reason we recorded Bohemian Rhapsody is twofold-one is because we’re trying to bring about the new bohemia…”

Den: “And the other is because we’re complete twats.”

Vim: “Shut up Den! The other is that the original version was complete crap.”

What are the band’s ambitions now?

Vim: “We wouldn’t mind seeing a bit of cash or the contract even and we’d obviously like to learn how to play. We just don’t have the time though. We’re doing so many interviews and photo-sessions that we just don’t have the time to rehearse or write.”

Vim: “We don’t really know what the album’s like at all, do we?”

Colin: “No, we haven’t been allowed to hear it yet”

Spider: “Someone said there’s a lot of talking on it which rather surprised me. But, you see, when we arrived at the studio, no one showed us how to plug in anywhere so we spent the first three months trying to learn how to plug in. Waste of money really — we spent all our advance on it.”

Vim: “We turned up and there was no engineer, no producer, no lighting even so we were in the dark mostly and we just kept on talking and, apparently, it was all taped and that makes up 10 percent of the album.”

Won’t your fans be disappointed then?

Vim: “We’re bloody disappointed mate! We didn’t really want to make an album or a single in the first place because we’ve always wanted to be a cult”

Well, you may not be any good but you’re certainly famous. It must be tricky running for the busthese days without being recognised.

Colin: “In these boots it is, yeah.”

Vim: “And we drink so much f**king lager that we’re completely pissed all the time so, when we’re running, we trip. That’s the main problem with being a rock star.”

Spider: “I find the pressures quite delightful. I like being mobbed because I can score a lot of things off the mobs. Anything I want, I just pick up thephone.”

Vim: “How many phones have you picked up now?”

Spider, “Oh, I’ve got a whole roomful actually. I just pick ’em up all the time.”

Colin: “Oh, here’s Denny, back from the lavatory.”

Vim: “What’s that brown stain down the back of your pants?”

Den: “Oh, sorry!”

Colin: “What’s that you’re drinking? Perrier! Don’t drink Perrier at a pop music interview!”

Den: “I’m not. I’m gonna bathe in it.”

Vim: “You’re not! We bathe in virgin blood mixed with lager.”

Den: “And Perrier and goat’s milk and shit”

Colin: “We were gonna call the album Blood and Lager.”

Yes, it’s been suggested you’ll have a lot of problems with the new censorship considering, when you play the album backwards, it’s full of devil worship.

Vim: “There is a lot of that, yeah but we didn’t mean those messages. We just found out by accident that, if you play ‘Hey Hey Bad News are great’ backwards it comes out as’You’re a complete f**king c**t mate, why don’t you f**k off.”

Colin: But when you sing ‘Death to everyone, let’s corrupt the world with Satanic ideas’, you meant that didn’t you?”

Vim: “I meant that forwards, yeah. But when you play it backwards it goes ‘stelenoyreveothtael’ which doesn’t really mean anything does it?”

Do you envisage difficulties getting info America like, say, New Model Army who were deemed to be of no artistic worth!

Vim: Well, I mean, Def Leppard have played America haven’t they?”

Colin: “Didn’t Cromwell start the New Model Army? I thought that was something to do with the Civil War.”

He did. These people have taken up your idea, only they look to Cromwell rather than to Arthur for inspiration.

Vim: “They’re more modern than us then?”

Colin: “Are they sort of Ironside types, do they ride horses on stage and have cavalry charges?”

Den:“Hang on, hang on — I thought Ironside was in a wheelchair.”

Colin: “Shut up Den! On our tour we’re actually all going to be on horseback and we’ll stage battles on stage. Spider’s actually going to have a team of horses carrying his drums.”

Spider: “I’ve got the biggest drum kit in the world”

Vim: “Yeah, that’s why he’s called Spider because he needs eight arms and eight legs to play it”

A bit different to Def Leppard then — their drummers only got one arm! Have you lot contemplated mutilation as a publicity stunt?

Vim: “Well, there is a plan to knock off Colin.”

Colin: “Yes, I’m supposed to die.”

Well, that’s not going to elicit much public sympathy, is it?

Colin: “it could be jolly to elicit much public sympathy, is it?

Vim: “It could be jolly newsworthy if it was spectacular. We’ve been discussing it. I could fallout of an aeroplane, or out of a window at EMI’s office. Or be hung by a gibbet in a stage tragedy.”

Den: “What, in the middle of King Lear or something like that. That’s a stage tragedy isn’t it?

Colin: “Well, we were going to do King Lear in the West End actually. Spider and I took the wrong combination of rugs the other night and thought we could stage a heavy metal version of King Lear at the Shaftesbury.”

Who would be The Fool in the band?

Colin: “Uh… don’t know. I haven’t read the play yet”

Spider: “It’s obvious innit? You’d be King and I’d be Lear.”

Colin: “Yes with Den as the Fool and Vimto as the three girls.”

Vim: “Ha ha! That’s just because I look extraordinarily pretty.”

What’s the wildest thing that hapened to each of you since you’ve achieved… well, was gonna say fame and fortune but that seems inappropriate. Notoriety’s probably the word.

Den: “The other night I had the hottest curry I’ve ever had in my life; hotter than… hotter than everything, hotter than the f**king equator and that’s what my asshole felt like the next day, the equator.”

Colin: “It must have been jolly big!”

Vim: ‘The wildest thing that’s happened to me is that I’ve met a lot of metal compadres — Lemmy being the principal one. I had a f**king wild night with him. We went out and drank a few bottles of Jack Daniels and, then, just to prove what a wild mate he was, he punched me straight in the face. It was the f**king wildest thing man! I mean, I love him, I love him for doing that. It was the most wonderful experience of my life. I was unconscious for a while after that…”

Den: “Well, you still are really, aren’t you?”

Vim: “And I woke up in the morning with my legs round my head, feeling pretty sore in the nether regions.”

Colin:“Every day for me is a wild, interesting adventure. I often come across extraordinary events in my life. Take this morning for example — I woke up with a couple of chicks in my bed, dead.”

Vim: “Chickens?”

Colin: “Chicks! Women! And they’d just managed to write a note ‘Thank you for killing us this way Colin. Death through orgasm is the best way, all twenty thousand of them’. Well, I woke up to hammering on the door and it was the Chief Policeman of South Yorkshire — God knows what he was doing in London; probably ripping about ha ha — and he said: ‘I’ve got a couple of Porsches outside, I forgive you for the deaths of those chicks, please keep these Porsches.’ Well, I drove them all, simultaneously, 40 Porsches, to a nightclub which I demanded to be opened at 10 o’clock in the morning — because I was up early that day — and inside were four hundred thousand naked virgins. I opened the door and smiled — you know my special smile — and they all simultaneously orgasmed to death. That’s just an everyday elevenses in Colin Grigson’s life.”

Is that before you went to work in the bank?

Colin: “Oh… er… um…”

What did the manager have to say?

Den: “The manager said ‘Listen, have you been orgasming girls to death again? It’s got to stop in the bank’s time. You must get here by nine o’clock in future’.”

Spider: “My wildest thing is just getting pissed out my brains, driving round all night and making people happy, leaving my seed around hotel rooms, that kind of thing. Keeping my pecker up. I’m very well hung.”

Vim: “Yes, sometimes we call him ‘Donkey.'”

Spider the Donkey?

Vim: “Yeah … Ha ha! Spider the Dank. Sometimes we call him Spider the Sheep as well but we won’t go into that”

No we certainly won’t. I shall change the subject completely and ask whether you think it strange to have starred in two films before your first record’s released?

Colin: “Well, I think the modem showbiz personality has to move in and out of various roles. I think there are obviously openings for me as a model and I’m very interested in accountancy as well — it’s so solid and reliable. Dennis, on the other hand, could probably get into brick-laying.”

Den: “I don’t mind doing some brick-laying as long as I can play music. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do and I’ve not stopped for 14 years. No sleep till I’ve learned the chord. No sleep till…”

Colin: “Bedtime…Um… We’re very careful with our image too, we keep chopping and changing and trying out ideas. I’ve had an idea just recently actually that, in fact, if we wore dresses on stage and played ABBA songs, I think we could shift units.”

Den: “I’m leaving the band.”

Colin: “Oh come on! It’s a great metal concept. We could call ourselves ‘The Heavy Guys’.”

Den: “I don’t wanna do that”

Vim: “That’s because you’ve got no imagination Den.”

Den: “If that’s imagination then I don’t want it. I don’t think Imagination are any good anyway. That sort of music — ABBA, Imagination, Shakatak — f**king shit!”

Vim: “We could heavy up Super Trooper no end couldn’t we?”

Den: “Look, I’m not wearing a dress. I don’t think it’s heavy”

Vim: “Money Money Money has better lyrics than any you’ve ever written.”

Den: “No it hasn’t. What about Bad Dreams? ‘Here comes the beast again/Bad dreams/I can’t get to sleep at night/Because I keep getting bad dreams/I think I’m gonna turn on the light/Bad dreams/Here comes the beast again/Aaaaagh!”‘

Spider: “Den does quite a bit of writing on the side don’t you Den?”

Vim: “Yeah, on the side of toilet walls!”

Den: “That’s it then, I’m leaving. You can all f**k off!”

ABBA or Arthur, the bad news is Bad News will be back. Bugger it — I’m off to the pub. Bye.
_____________________________________________________________

Colin Grigson

(Bass Guitar)
Likes: Chicks, Kafka, Freedom, Being Me!
Dislikes: conforming, pretentiousness, certain other musicians who think they own the group and use bad language because they can’t express themselves properly.
Influences: Wagner, Proust

Vim Fuego

(Lead Guitar and Lead Vocals)
Likes: Loud guitars, Leather, Maiden, Leppard, sausage, eggs, and chips, lagar
Dislikes: Judith Chalmers, clean socks, certain other musicians who are poncey gits and can’t play bass-guitar to save their lives
Influences: Clapton, Hendrix

Spider Webb

(Drums)
Likes: Trees, fire-lighters, Fruit Pastilles (orange and red only), coconut matting, candied kippers
Dislikes: Sand in your undies, Fruit Pastilles (yellow and green only), verukas, unidentified hair in Angel Delight, frowning.
Influences: Cozy Powell, Albert Schweitzer, Will Hay

Den Dennis

(Rhythm Guitar)
Likes: Heineken, Carlsberg, Special Brew, Lamot, Curry, Fosters, Swan, Heavy Metal, Hofmeister, Pils
Dislikes: Anything that isn’t above
Influences: Alcohol

 

Goodbye Yellow Rick Toad!

For Number One, September 1987

Rik Mayall talk to Karen Swayne about his new political venture — not one farty bottosn joke in earshot

John Cleese has his funny walk. Rowan Atkinson has his funnyface. And Rik Mayall has his yellow-dungareed, pain-in-the-bum radical student Rick.

Shaking off famous telly creations isn’t easy — particularly when a series like The Young Ones achieves the kind of cult status that it did. How many bores did you hear reciting entire episodes word perfect? But Rik Mayall aims to prove there’s more to him than bottom jokes with a new comedy series called The New Statesman. Set in the cut-throat world of politics, the show (described by Rik as a “sicker, less genteel Yes Minister”) sees him taking on the role of Tory politician Alan Bastard, a ruthless careerist who’s determined to make his way to the top no matter what.

“I wanted to play a character who didn’t have to shout,” says Rik, “because I can do other things. Alan is completely smooth, selfish, arrogant and horrible — across between J.R., Flashman and Goebbels — but I didn’t want to make him too grotesque. He had to be very plausible and charming too.”

Rik wrote the series with Shine On Harvey Moon authors Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, and there are no other Comic Strip members involved. Which makes a change…

“I think you have a different sense of humour depending on who you’re working with,” says Rik, “and these two are, for want of a better phrase, more grown up. Their humour is more black, and much more cynical. The New Statesman is also more acted than things I’ve done in the post. Before, the most important thing has been the joke or the moment, and this is more to do with telling a story.”

Anyone expecting the real life Rik Mayall to be like any one of his screen characters is going to be seriously disappointed. In the flesh he’s polite, well-spoken and thoughtful — and reluctant to do interviews.

“I don’t think it’s very productive if people see what a normal boring bloke I am,” he says self depreciatingly.

But Rik does reckon characters like Kevin Turvey and The Young Ones’ Rick came from his fears about himself.

“Kevin comes from some of the characteristics of people in the part of the country I used to live in — Redditch. They do like to talk and get worked up about things. I find Rick hander to do, because I am like him, but I hide it because it’s so embarrassing. If I allowed it to come out I’d get beaten up all the time! He’s a mass of all the things I repressed when I was at school, the deep feelings of inadequacy I had because I thought I was a bit of a farty wanker who couldn’t get a girl!”

Emerging from this adolescent trauma, Rik got a place at Manchester University in 1975, where he met Adrian Edmondson. It was the start of a 12 year friendship and working relationship.

“I was deeply impressed by Ade when I met him,” remembers Rik. “He was the second coolest guy there — Tom Watt (who now plays Lofty in EastEnders) was the coolest! Ade was very hip though — he had blonde hair and blue eyes and as I was Mr Farty I thought I’d be friends with Mr Cool. Then we went onstage together and all he did was punch me all night!”

Another now-famous face prowling the university halls was Ben Elton.

“Ade couldn’t stand the sight of Ben,” recalls Rik. “He’s spot him, go ‘there’s that bloody Elton’, chase him down the corridor and bop him!”

This childish pursuit soon stopped when people realised that they had a bit of a prolific author in their midst.

“Ben used to be able to write a play a day, and produce them onstage. So he soon became Mr Cool because he gave people parts in them.”

Does he feel that the Comic Strip crowd have become rather incestuous?

“We’ve spent so long together we’re all best mates,’ admits Rik. “And because we’ve known each other years it’s very cliquey.”

The team are all branching out individually, some into films like Eat The Rich (which opens soon) and Supergrass, and some into one-off music projects. There’s the Bad News album — with the single version of Bohemian Rhapsody, with a video directed by Ade Edmondson.

“I never realised that The Young Ones would have such longevity anyway. People still ask if we’re going to do another series, but we won’t because that joke’s been done. There was talk of doing a Christmas special, but I think people might be disappointed because it wouldn’t be as good as their imagination.”

So if the rest of the nation is still curled up watching their videos of The Young Ones, what makes Rik Mayall laugh?

“I tend to laugh at reality more than comedies, but I do love people like Billy Connolly, Steve Martin and Laurel and Hardy. Adrian is the funniest man I’ve everseen though he can make me laugh just by raising his eyebrows.

“Itsounds terrible, but I’ve made my living out of the rest of British comedy being crap. As long as Bobby Davro and Tardy keep working I know I can make a crust”

The New Statesman starts a seven week run on September 13. It’s screened at 10pm on ITV.

No News is Good News

By Chris Twomey for Sky, 5 – 8th November 1987

“We’ve done away with all the Heavy Metal cliches,” Vim Fuego insists. “We just write songs about war, drink, plague and death.”

His group Bad News are fooling no one. But that hasn’t deterred Comic Strip members Mayall, Edmonson, Planer and Richardson (aka: Colin Grigson, Vim Fuego, Den Dennis and Spider Webb) from perpetuating this thin disguise. Their forthcoming UK tour has been constructed on a scale normally reserved for chart-topping acts.

Since they formed three years ago especially for a Channel 4 spoof documentary, Bad News have championed the cause of rock delinquency with admirable consistency. Playing to audiences never less than 3000 (a record in itself), they finally signed to EMI early this year. They released their first single — a ruthlessly dismembered version of Queen’s perennial Bohemian Rhapsody — a few weeks ago, and a nation of music lovers wept when it hit their turntables. Freddie Mercury is reported to have walked in disgust out of the studio where they were recording it. Yet Queen guitarist Brian May is still prepared to assume full responsibility as producer.

“Brian said he was dumbfounded,” says lead singer and guitarist Fuego. “He couldn’t believe it could be done like that. What I always say is, alright, when he plays guitar Brian hits all the right notes, but he doesn’t play them fast enough. I admit I play some of them wrongly, but I play them a lot bloody faster than him.”

Their album Bad News is thrash metal at its most tasteless, punctuated with inter-song arguments and obscenities. For all their arrogant self-confidence, though, Bad News are only too aware of the transience of the music industry. When the time comes they say they’ll quit gracefully.

“EMI have got it all planned,” says Fuego. “They’ve already decided that we’re going to die in a plane crash. There’s a clause in our contract that says when our records stop selling we take off in a plane of EMI’s choice.”

 

Bad Ridden: HM Heroes Fail to Find Stage Shock!

By Mick Wall for Kerrang!, 7th November 1987

Bad News
Victoria Hall, Hanley

Like tile leather-jacketed hack out of some spoof TV rockumentary, I missed the start of the gig due to unforeseen circumstances out of my control: namely, I got lost and couldn’t find the hall. It would have been better if I’d been drunk and missed the whole thing, of course, then I could have gone the whole cliche . . . As it was, I stumbled in blind through the doors of the Victoria Hall just in time to catch Bad News hamming it up on the guitars mid-way through their first number, ‘Drink Till I Die’.

I didn’t know what to expect from seeing Bad News finally headlining at one of their own shows, it’s one thing to assault a captive audience on a festival bill quite another to go it alone and entertain that audience on their own terms. Would the average Heavy Metal fan pay money to see Bad News perform live? Would the average anybody pay money to see Bad News perform live?

Judging by the size of the crowd at the Victoria Hall, it seems the answer would be ‘Yes’ – all kinds of people are paying money to see Bad News live. It’s a real cross-section we have here tonight: in the balconies sit the ‘New Statesman’ and ‘Filthy Rich & Claptrap’ gang, happy to clap at the end of set-pieces but not keen on punching their fists in the air like they are down the front. It’s down there we get the hardboiled HM mob; just like at any other rock ‘n’ roll show, they jack-knife through the air like Zebedees on acid, stamp their feet and howl – only at this ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ show they’re allowed to laugh out loud too . . .

And at the back, straight-faced but watchful, there are the inbetweenies: the original-series ‘Young Ones’ oldsters, in on the joke all right, now waiting patiently for the punchlines to land.

Third number in,’Bohemian Rhapsody’, is the first big setpiece of the night that everybody really gets into. All of us, the straight, the crooked, the calm, the insane, we all laugh, and we all bane our heads during the 99 1/2 miles-an-hour sprint through the finale . . .

I’m not going to reel through every joke and skit in the show — you will enjoy them all much more the way Bad News tell them, anyway. Suffice it to say the ‘band’ run through pretty much every HM cliche in the book – lights, dry-ice, pyro, the occasional huge explosion, and, though he wasn’t in evidence tonight, an appearance by their own Eddie-type band mascot in the shape of Roger The Skull plus a few you don’t need to be an HM fan to recognise, then twist them around and turn them into slapstick. They look like they do in the ‘Bo Rap’ video: grotesque and caricatured, a belly laugh and close to the bone. When they play (yes, they all play, even Colin/Rik) they sound just like they do on their album, like bad Motorhead or sloppy Status Quo.

You couldn’t really call it Alternative Comedy. This is more like pantomime, only you couldn’t take the children because of all the ‘F’ words. Let’s just call it entertainment with a small ‘e’.

Crude,funny,perceptive and above all entertaining, that’s what this Bad News gig proves to be. Trundling manfully through the jokes and set-pieces, interspersed by the best material from the album like’Master Bike’ ‘Warriors Of Ghengis Khan’ and the perennial ‘Hey Hey (F**k Off) Bad News’, they never quite attain the dizzy heights of Total Outrageousness. Maybe that will come Later into this tour when they’ve worked in the Skull and a couple more gags. Instead, they are audience-friendly, warm and even quite ready to rock at times.

They close with an hilarious everybody-take-a-bow burst through The Who’s ‘My Generation’, and they encore by miming to their next single, ‘Cashing In On Christmas’, everybody prancing and preening like big red poofs in outsize Sanity Clause outfits, the audience singing along like seals.

It doesn’t matter which way your prejudices hang with Bad News. They know how to put on a show, and when they do they are something to see, unlike any other act out on the road today.