tasty 19 interviews
you give me a history of Pipas. How did the two of you meet?
We met in a suburban Philly hardcore-type of setting, somewhere between
Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr, both of which are very tame, collegiate locales,
maybe 8 years ago? Mark worked at a record shop and Lupe was in school but
also worked at a cool bakery in downtown Philadelphia (a crucial fact). At
some point, we met through our friend Xana, who lived like 10 blocks from
the bakery, and started a band. Mark on bass, Xana on mini accordion, and
Lupe on drums. We coulda been big, but we«ve never ! been people happy in
the rehearsal studio, so perhaps we had 2, 3 practices, then we all moved
to different cities. Until 3 years ago, when Mark and Lupe found
themselves living in the same city again and felt the time had come.
sort of musical heritage do you share? What brings you together musically?
No name dropping now, but we like funky stuff, a lot of heroin rock, as
well as a nice dose of folklore etc. hip hop glam; psychodelia will be a
palpable reference point in what's to come of pipas. Mark's never owned a
record by the Smiths and is proud of it! Lupe'd never heard of Talulah
Gosh until she moved to New Cross Gate in 2000. Of course, no pride
intentional to use both a more synth based and guitar sound when you
started Pipas, or has this happened more 'organically?'
Actually a lot of the time the guitar is placed as a base track to be
later deleted, but sometimes it just insists on hanging on, or proves
indelible (in the quieter more melancholy songs). We write songs and
record them pretty much at the same time, perhaps that's organic by
definition? Maybe cause sessions are fuelled by organic dark chocolate
with black currants, the good stuff. As technology progresses so has Pipas,
but then again we've regressed and progressed at the same time.
you explain the inspiration behind the songs on 'A Cat Escaped'?
The title refers rather blatantly to a film by Robert Bresson called 'Un
condamn mort s'est chapp', best known to English audiences as 'A man
escaped', which we've sort of been obsessed with at times, along with his
entire filmography. A Cat Escaped is... a 'celebration' of those who
leave, those who are left behind, and, foremost, of stationary. And of
leaving the extra luggage back at home. btw Bouncer was a nice cat we
befriended during that time. Or did he befriend us???
else makes music as enjoyable as Pipas at the moment would you say?
We are humbled in the presence of: Lali Puna, Aerospace, Harper Lee, Out
Hud, Free Loan Investments, The Scientist, Milkyway, Buck65, Airliner, the
Ultra Chick kru of course esp. France Gall, Funday Mornings, Paco de
Lucia, Dwight Twilley (yes, even now), the all girl summer fun band (live
- particularly awesome drummer!), the Pines, Sun Ra, Sage Francis, et al.
make music? And why does Pipas exist?
For the peeps. Pipas has no raison d'etre other than changing the world.
think that the sort of music that Pipas produce is valued enough in the
UK? Do you get a better response from abroad? What frustrates you about
We've had nice emails from very sweet people! Some of whom live in the
U.K., so the country as a whole hasn't been cruel to us, No. All great. We
had an amazing time in Spain and Sweden and the States last summer and
autumn, met amazing people, fell in love with it all. U.K. frustrations:
carpet in the bathroom, plus no caffs open after 8pm. oh man, don't get us
started... It's the little things that matter most you know?
next for Pipas?
Finishing a new album for Annika in Spain, playing some louder gigs with
Rudee, our new live drummer/button pusher, and possibly some more friends,
eating lots of olives, going to the north pole before we die.
Direct Action Man
Can you tell me a bit more about your new stage show/venture/thingy - from
the caliban to the taliban? How did it come about?
I was reading about when the British army burnt the White House to the
ground in 1812 and was wondering whether this might have been justified at
the time as a humanitarian intervention. That was the first little spark.
The full title of the show is "From Caliban to the Taliban - 500 Years of
Humanitarian Intervention". The title borrows from Eduardo Galleano's
'Open Veins of Latin America - 500 Years of The Pillage Of A Continent'.
By any objective, honest standard of recording of the sum of human
misery on this planet, Britain, the US were and are the axis of evil. And
it's upon the irony that it's these two powers that now shamelessly
present themselves as humanitarian that the show is hooked. That and the
corporate media's dogmatic obedience to the official line.
Do you miss the exposure you enjoyed in the early 90s?
I have painted a cardboard box and cut an oblong out of the front panel
so that it looks like a television. Every day I put the box on my head
and take photographs of myself in the mirror so that I can still pretend
to myself that i'm on the telly. Some days when I'm 'on the telly' like
this I photograph myself wearing a number of different 'comedy' disguises.
Other times, it's more sober attire so that I can pretend that I've been
asked onto a serious panel discussion show and I talk knowledgeably about
world affairs and impress everyone.
What do you think of the rest of
the mary whitehouse people these days? Where you thrown together, or was
it a conscious choice to work together?
I don't own a telly so I don't know. When that show transferred from
radio to telly the producer made a decision (which I should've resisted)
to get rid of most of the cast members who'd made it a hit on radio. In
their wisdom the BBC Tv bosses decided that Mark Thomas and Jack Dee had
no TV careers in front of them, that Jo Brand wouldn't appeal to women,
and that the rest of us would be able to match the excellent Skint Video
for tapping a rich, seemingly inexhaustible seam of comedy songs.
Ben Elton - how much of a wanker
The fact that this question merits no reply is its answer. It's somehow
rude even to mention him, isn't it? Like ghoulish voyeurs at a train
crash. The humane and decent thing is just to avert one's eyes. Some
people get a kick out of others losing their last scrap of dignity. But
not me. Because it's bad for humanity as a whole.
Music-wise - what do you listen to
these days? Still imitating the Cure?
I listen to dub reggae and The Clash same as ever.
Are you a member of any political party/group? If so why? If not, why
All political parties disempower people. Why should we hand over the
control of our own lives over to self-appointed, know-nothing 'experts'
whose only expertise is in looking after their own careers. Nor are we
allowed to vote out of office the political parties who really have power
such as the International Chamber of Commerce, The CBI, the WTO.
I'm interested in direct action groups ad grassroots organising.
Voting won't do it. if you look at history rights are never granted they
are taken they are won.
Do you think that ordinary working
class people can stop or influence Bush and Blair's war on Iraq?
They are the only power on earth which can. Direct action can stop this
war. This is a war being fought for the transnational oil corporations, a
war to maintain the corporate status quo and to keep the public subsidies
to the arms trade and high-tech industries a-coming.
On March 21 there's big non-violent action against US listening post at
USAF air base on Menwith Hill, England. It should be really big. And we
may if we succeed save actual lives of the odd Iraqi twelve year old
travelling from their homes to the see if any leukaemia drugs have arrived
in the paediatric clinic before the Oil Air Force's bombs land on her bald
Does the North Korea situation
scare you as much as the cold war stand off in the 80s?
The US situation, the RAF situation, the Israeli nuclear build-up (for
blowing the whistle on which Mordechai Vanunu is still incarcerated in
Israel) all these things are scarey situations. Why are the U'wa indians
and West Papuans routinely killed by hired guns of London-based oil and
copper companies not a scarey situation? It is for them, of course, but
not for us. The reason for this, of course is because Britain shares a
common border with North Korea. The fact that Pnon Yang is only a thirty
minute bus-ride away is why we're not talking about the Israeli situation
- which scares me more.
What do you hope to achieve with
Presenting my own prime-time quiz show, ideally with a pets/ babies theme.
I've did a pilot version of the how last night with the cardboard box on
my head and I thought it made all the other quiz shows on telly look shit!