Hugs and Kisses, The Outbursts of Everett True: Monster Bobby, The Pipettes
It's a return engagement from Everett True, publisher of Plan B. Last week, he blew Jon Spencer a kiss. This week, he recalls knowing who Monster Bobby and the Pipettes were way before you. He was there and you weren't. E-mail Everett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monster Bobby has no pupils.
Hugs and KissesThe Outbursts of Everett True
It reminded me of Olympia, WA.
It wasn't much. A half-dozen chairs pushed to one side, a woman behind the bar serving reasonably priced beer, a boy on stage playing sweet, plangent songs of loss and heartache on acoustic guitar, followed by a boy on stage playing coy glitchtronica, followed by two men on stage dipping into the Television Personalities songbook with just a Casio for accompaniment. . . but it felt so special. The rain teemed down outside, as it so often does in my hometown of Brighton; everyone was smiling; no call for ostentation or ceremony. It's how I like my music presented.
It was just one of the many Totally Bored nights that Brighton 'musical activist' Monster Bobby was responsible for booking and MC-ing: a handful of cheaply-copied A6 flyers would herald the next monthly event--if not that, a fanzine, or a recording session, or a get-together. And out of these DIY club nights in the North Laines, appeared (one way or another) bands like British Sea Power, the sardonic and playful electronic act Restless List, the ebullient and ever-present Electric Soft Parade, raucous Stooges revivalists Eighties Matchbox Disaster, and Brighton's own charming, post-Riot Grrrl girl group The Pipettes . . .
I first encountered The Pipettes about three years back: I received a text from my intern Jon Boy, telling me his band was playing at the Pressure Point, and that they sounded like The Ronettes. "Really?" I texted back, disbelieving. "Really." So I went down with my wife: the gig seemed to be some sort of schoolyard affair--tons of 13-year-old kids and harassed parents--but jeez, The Pipettes were wonderful. Not together at all (but that was certainly much of the appeal), and definitely fresh and harmony-laden and with a slight twinge of attitude, this at a time when FUN and POP and MATCHING DRESSES were frowned upon in The Pipettes' indie circles (when are they ever not?). We were sold, completely.
Jon was a persistent intern. He kept showing up. Introduced me to his fellow band member--Monster Bobby--as another potential intern: it was rumoured Bobby was the conceptualist behind The Pipettes, so respect was due, but the only time I journeyed back to his parents' house after a show, I broke my glasses clambering out of the car and we discussed Faust and The Wire and Stockhausen and names way too obscure and intellectual for me to remember now, and I recall thinking that, whoa, here was someone who really understood the joys of Sixties girl pop, that he could be so into 'boy-boy (Pitchfork)' music but so enjoyed creating its antithesis. The Pipettes split opinion at my Stockhausen/Battles-loving magazine Plan B when they started to attract attention from - well, me, I guess. It was seen as somewhat worrying that the front girls didn't necessarily write all the songs. And. . .?
So, the other day I was reminded of all this duality and DIY chutzpah and magazines long since departed, when Gaps, the debut solo album from Monster Bobby (released on NYC label, Hypnote) dropped through the mail: sure, it's in thrall to Delia Derbyshire's playful BBC Radiophonic Workshop experiments in the Sixties, and there's more than a tinge of the joyful naïve Japanese pop of the Pastels-championed Maher Shalal Hash Baz and Tenniscoats, and you can hear the sweet painful post-C86/Field Mice acoustic abstract tendencies of Unpopular Records (the label Bobby previously released stuff through). . .and he has the good innate sense to namecheck Lannis Xenakis, seminal US humorist Tom Lehrer and John Cage in his press release, but man. Even at its most maudlin and rudimentary electronic, it's not a thousand miles away from the joyous full-on pop of The Pipettes, and--yes, that is unequivocally A Good Thing. Damn straight.