Phill Jupitus

Comedian/Artist — Essex

Name
Phill Jupitus

What do you do?
Comedian/Artist

Where are you from?
Essex

Describe your style in three words?
Functional, Layers, Badges.

Which sub-cultures have had an enduring effect on you? 
Punk

If you could spend an hour with anyone from history?
Dundee singer-songwriter Michael Marra

Another you? Any other career that would have appealed?
Merchant Navy

Best Gig you have ever been to?
The Specials at The Rainbow

Of all the venues you’ve played, which is your favourite, and why?
Too many brilliant ones, so I’ll pick a personal one. I once opened for The Larks at the old Marquee in Wardour Street.

It’s been 30 years since you recorded ‘Kickstarting a Backfiring Nation.’ Do you think music is still a catalyst for social change today?
I think that the misnomer there, and the misapprehension that people have about music’s role, is that music is trying to change society, and what it is changing is individuals. It’s the influence it has on YOU. Bands like The Clash, Elvis Costello playing Rock Against Racism. Things like that changed me. It’s not about them changing society. I think it’s still vital that people are still doing this. This is something that I talk about on stage in my stand-up at the minute. In 1985 there were things we were trying to change and today the world is pathetically worse than it was in 1985. You just have to look at what’s going on in America now. Globally we live in a post-internet world now. The way people communicate is different, activism is different, but I still think that artists talking about ideas and sharing ideas and making people look at things differently still happens, and is still important.

Do you think we’re due a resurgence of spoken word performance?
Yes. It’s much much broader now. Myself and Tim Wells, we started doing poetry around 83-84, we were in Edinburgh and there was a poster advertising a gig, and on it, it said "the most-watched poet in the world" - and this was off the back of Youtube hits. We were quite interested but that notion that someone can now be the most watched poet by popping up on a screen. A lot of poets are making content now, they’re doing performance poetry online. They’re filming themselves and making videos. Part of what I like about poetry is being in the room. Seeing these ideas, these words come out of someone. That’s what you can’t get online. Once you change the grammar of poetry it compromises the medium that you’re now working in. I don’t begrudge anybody the right to use all platforms to do their work, but for me part of the beauty of poetry is being in a room, seeing it happen. I think that’s true of any human activity, of any performance, plays, film, stand-up comedy - small rooms to arenas. I just found it really funny - the most watched poet in the world - to put it on a poster as well! I would’ve been less annoyed if he’d just put "five million Youtube hits".

What is your favourite memory from your time working at Go! Discs?
I think it’s the morning The Housemartins went to number one with ‘Caravan Of Love’. We just got drunk in the office that day. I remember the guvnor coming in with bottles of Prosecco Champagne or whatever it was then. I just remember us drinking all day because those four lads from Hull had got to number one. 


Phill Jupitus is currently touring the UK with dates stretching into 2018. For dates and tickets click here.

Phil has also written the sleevenotes for the 40th Anniversary Edition of Ian Dury's 1977 album 'New Boots and Panties!!' The 12x12 inch hardcover box set includes 4CDs, the original album on vinyl and a pull-out eight-page booklet. CD1 also features the original album while CD2 contains bonus tracks including the single ‘Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll’ and a BBC Peel Session. CD3 contains demo versions of the tracks and CD4 the previously unavailable Live At The Paris Theatre, London concert from July 1978.

Find out more about the release here.

First track you played on repeat?
'Hit' - The Wannadies

Song that defines the teenage you?
'Ball of Confusion' - The Temptations

What was the last piece of music you bought?
Say ‘record’. It’s ‘records’. I bought the John Betjeman LP ‘Banana Blush’.

One record you would keep forever?
'Sandinista' - The Clash

A song lyric that has inspired you?
'Mr Wendall' - Arrested Development

A song that people wouldn’t expect you to like?
'Wind It Up' - Gwen Stefani

A song you wished you had written?
'Reasons To Be Cheerful (Part 3)' - Ian Dury and the Blockheads

Any new bands you are listening to right now?
'The Duster' - Eats Everything

You’ve recently contributed to the 40th-anniversary edition of Ian Dury’s ‘New Boots and Panties!!’. For anyone who might never have listened to any of his work, what one track would you suggest they listen to first and why?
A lot of people would go for something iconic like ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll’ or ‘Rhythm Stick’, but I think what said most about Ian as a man was his song ‘My Old Man’ from ‘New Boots and Panties!!’ which is about his dad. I find that incredibly moving, but incredibly informative.

“My old man wore three-piece whistles, He was never home for long, Drove a bus for London Transport, He knew where he belonged, Number 18 up to Euston, Double-decker move along, Double-decker move along, My old man".

The language of it, the emotion of it. When he sang it live, more often than not he’d start crying, while he was talking about his dad. There’s a couple of live recordings where he’s crying his eyes out while he’s singing it.

I got to sing that with The Blockheads. It was weird doing the sleeve notes for the 40th anniversary. For the 30th anniversary ten years ago I toured with The Blockheads and I sang the whole album. It was something I never in my life imagined I’d be doing, and I only did it because Mickey Gallagher and Chaz Jankel asked me to do it. They are big shoes to fill, and I never fill them. People took umbrage that I was up there, but the reason that I did it - The Blockheads can do it on their own - but singing and playing, they couldn’t give 100 percent to playing. It was only that one tour and a few other one-off gigs. A little after that anniversary tour we did Glastonbury, and I remember Michael Eavis saying it was one of the best things he ever saw at Glastonbury. An unbelievable honour and a kind of weird high-end karaoke. These were songs I knew inside out and loved. Mickey Gallagher said to me “you know the words better then Ian did, and he f*ckin wrote em".

Name
Phill Jupitus

What do you do?
Comedian/Artist

Where are you from?
Essex

Describe your style in three words?
Functional, Layers, Badges.

Which sub-cultures have had an enduring effect on you? 
Punk

If you could spend an hour with anyone from history?
Dundee singer-songwriter Michael Marra

Another you? Any other career that would have appealed?
Merchant Navy

Best Gig you have ever been to?
The Specials at The Rainbow

Of all the venues you’ve played, which is your favourite, and why?
Too many brilliant ones, so I’ll pick a personal one. I once opened for The Larks at the old Marquee in Wardour Street.

It’s been 30 years since you recorded ‘Kickstarting a Backfiring Nation.’ Do you think music is still a catalyst for social change today?
I think that the misnomer there, and the misapprehension that people have about music’s role, is that music is trying to change society, and what it is changing is individuals. It’s the influence it has on YOU. Bands like The Clash, Elvis Costello playing Rock Against Racism. Things like that changed me. It’s not about them changing society. I think it’s still vital that people are still doing this. This is something that I talk about on stage in my stand-up at the minute. In 1985 there were things we were trying to change and today the world is pathetically worse than it was in 1985. You just have to look at what’s going on in America now. Globally we live in a post-internet world now. The way people communicate is different, activism is different, but I still think that artists talking about ideas and sharing ideas and making people look at things differently still happens, and is still important.

Do you think we’re due a resurgence of spoken word performance?
Yes. It’s much much broader now. Myself and Tim Wells, we started doing poetry around 83-84, we were in Edinburgh and there was a poster advertising a gig, and on it, it said "the most-watched poet in the world" - and this was off the back of Youtube hits. We were quite interested but that notion that someone can now be the most watched poet by popping up on a screen. A lot of poets are making content now, they’re doing performance poetry online. They’re filming themselves and making videos. Part of what I like about poetry is being in the room. Seeing these ideas, these words come out of someone. That’s what you can’t get online. Once you change the grammar of poetry it compromises the medium that you’re now working in. I don’t begrudge anybody the right to use all platforms to do their work, but for me part of the beauty of poetry is being in a room, seeing it happen. I think that’s true of any human activity, of any performance, plays, film, stand-up comedy - small rooms to arenas. I just found it really funny - the most watched poet in the world - to put it on a poster as well! I would’ve been less annoyed if he’d just put "five million Youtube hits".

What is your favourite memory from your time working at Go! Discs?
I think it’s the morning The Housemartins went to number one with ‘Caravan Of Love’. We just got drunk in the office that day. I remember the guvnor coming in with bottles of Prosecco Champagne or whatever it was then. I just remember us drinking all day because those four lads from Hull had got to number one. 


Phill Jupitus is currently touring the UK with dates stretching into 2018. For dates and tickets click here.

Phil has also written the sleevenotes for the 40th Anniversary Edition of Ian Dury's 1977 album 'New Boots and Panties!!' The 12x12 inch hardcover box set includes 4CDs, the original album on vinyl and a pull-out eight-page booklet. CD1 also features the original album while CD2 contains bonus tracks including the single ‘Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll’ and a BBC Peel Session. CD3 contains demo versions of the tracks and CD4 the previously unavailable Live At The Paris Theatre, London concert from July 1978.

Find out more about the release here.

First track you played on repeat?
'Hit' - The Wannadies

Song that defines the teenage you?
'Ball of Confusion' - The Temptations

What was the last piece of music you bought?
Say ‘record’. It’s ‘records’. I bought the John Betjeman LP ‘Banana Blush’.

One record you would keep forever?
'Sandinista' - The Clash

A song lyric that has inspired you?
'Mr Wendall' - Arrested Development

A song that people wouldn’t expect you to like?
'Wind It Up' - Gwen Stefani

A song you wished you had written?
'Reasons To Be Cheerful (Part 3)' - Ian Dury and the Blockheads

Any new bands you are listening to right now?
'The Duster' - Eats Everything

You’ve recently contributed to the 40th-anniversary edition of Ian Dury’s ‘New Boots and Panties!!’. For anyone who might never have listened to any of his work, what one track would you suggest they listen to first and why?
A lot of people would go for something iconic like ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll’ or ‘Rhythm Stick’, but I think what said most about Ian as a man was his song ‘My Old Man’ from ‘New Boots and Panties!!’ which is about his dad. I find that incredibly moving, but incredibly informative.

“My old man wore three-piece whistles, He was never home for long, Drove a bus for London Transport, He knew where he belonged, Number 18 up to Euston, Double-decker move along, Double-decker move along, My old man".

The language of it, the emotion of it. When he sang it live, more often than not he’d start crying, while he was talking about his dad. There’s a couple of live recordings where he’s crying his eyes out while he’s singing it.

I got to sing that with The Blockheads. It was weird doing the sleeve notes for the 40th anniversary. For the 30th anniversary ten years ago I toured with The Blockheads and I sang the whole album. It was something I never in my life imagined I’d be doing, and I only did it because Mickey Gallagher and Chaz Jankel asked me to do it. They are big shoes to fill, and I never fill them. People took umbrage that I was up there, but the reason that I did it - The Blockheads can do it on their own - but singing and playing, they couldn’t give 100 percent to playing. It was only that one tour and a few other one-off gigs. A little after that anniversary tour we did Glastonbury, and I remember Michael Eavis saying it was one of the best things he ever saw at Glastonbury. An unbelievable honour and a kind of weird high-end karaoke. These were songs I knew inside out and loved. Mickey Gallagher said to me “you know the words better then Ian did, and he f*ckin wrote em".

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