Friday, 11 May 2012

Miles Perhower's "Intertextual Preferences"

"a world-view which only just passes the test of sanity is sufficient to produce a great work of art." - from "Politics vs Literature: An Examination of Gulliver's Travels" by George Orwell, 1946.

Rowbottom made eye contact with me just after he had finished smashing the fuck out of the cymbals at the Varsity Venue in Wolverhampton. It was the final section of the final song of our set - and we were dangerously good. It was as if the band had turned into a vicious pack of giant sound wielding scorpions - sonically mutilated and mutated - possibly due to the drink and drugs - violently stinging ourselves and the heaving, frightened audience into a massive jittering wreck. It seemed like we were all trying to survive what appeared to be an apocalyptic, electric sandstorm, which was taking place inside a large, dark and feverishly hot dream corridor. I jabbed at my guitar like an insect, Balaban's brain was definitely NOT inside his skull, and Blackwell seemed like a steroid damaged Zeus. Then, for some unexplainable reason, I decided to climb on top of the guitar amps. Rowbottom had eased off, allowing for my solo to break through, he grinned a manic grin which seemed to signal his approval for some controversial theatrics from your humble narrator. My trusty old 'Leem' was perched on top of some heavy duty crates, another amp (a Marshall) was pushed up behind, which I briefly used as a sort of step - in order to climb my tower of sound. My guitar was dangling around my neck, squealing with pig-like feedback as I pulled myself up and onto the 'Leem'. Somehow I managed to find my balance quickly enough to avoid CERTAIN DEATH or at least SERIOUS INJURY. The view was magnificent from up there, I could even pick out CN Support from the crowd. I could see Balaban and Blackwell flipping out while Rowbottom kept the beat going, looking up at me with a curious mix of hilarity and fear. Fucking hell, I thought, this IS HIGH, much higher than I had expected - which could also be said for the majority of the group before we even went on stage. I managed to tear out a solo before bravely jumping off that huge, precarious tower of crates and amps, scraping my head on the ceiling after take-off because the stage is raised up high above the ground at that tragically misused venue. It was a miracle that I managed to stop myself from running off the edge of the stage at full speed with my guitar swinging around my throat. I just about fought the laws of physics enough in order to spring backwards after landing, grabbing the microphone stand with both hands, seamlessly timing the arrival of my big gob on the mic with my cue to sing "open, open, open, open, open, open, open, open, Seven, Seven, Seven, Seven, Five, Five, Five, Five, Five, Five, Five."
As the group thrashed through the final bars, I left the stage and headed for the dressing room. After bursting through the first set of doors, I entered the communal 'backstage area' and found two members of the 'headline' act sitting down and chatting miserably. Both of them stared at me for a moment, eyeing me up as I wiped the sweat from my face and packed my guitar stuff away.

"Good gig then?" one of them sniffed.
"Yeah...really fucked and crazy to be honest, it was FUN though. Just hurled myself off a massive tower of amps," I casually replied.
"Errrm, Steve's not going to be pleased about that," one of them said, "he's just spent £600 on that amp behind yours."
"Oh, never mind eh? No harm done," I asserted, "it's only rock n roll."

They gave me a look of massive disapproval, or maybe it was disgust (always hard to tell), as I left and headed for the bar. Why am I so disgusting? I experience this crazy stuff all the time but I seem to have this subconscious note-taking ability. Living life as art can be brain-shatteringly tough. It seems to be packed with dangerous metaphoric imagery. Dictionary.reference.com defines a metaphor as "a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance." Fair enough, I think it's a useful tool to use. Urban Dictionary defines the word "slag" as "an individual who cares not for relationships beyond the realm of the sexual, these people sleep with many partners not caring about anything save for the moment of climax," so if I decide to use the word "slag", in a sense which isn't literally sexual (safe, promiscuous sex being something that I'm very much not against
or judgemental of) and transfer the meaning to something more along the lines of ignorant self-gratification, disengagement, obsession with social status or being a company whore - in it only for the bonuses, then maybe it does work on some metaphorical level. If you put yourself about, using your very fortunate power to casually endorse and expose what you don't really feel anything for, and, having no real talent as a writer to be able to express, with any real sense of passion or imagination, why you have chosen to shine the spotlight on certain things while leaving others in darkness, then maybe "slag" is a good choice of word to use to describe someone like that.
There are wider connotations to this sick war of words. Believe it or not (and I don't give a flying shit either way) I don't go around trying to upset people or make enemies. Instead, perversely, I'm just trying to spread a very real and often painful form of love. 'Slack', 'condescending' and 'inaccurate' are three very depressing words, far more depressing than "slag" which is more provocative and controversial than anything else, however, "SLACK", "CONDESCENDING" and "INACCURATE" are words that best describe the literature of limp-dick student writers like that poor old sweet, innocent, Princess Sumner. I'm sorry, but there is just not enough STING in your tales...


For some juvenile and embarrassingly nerdish reason, I keep thinking about the old "blue pill / red pill" cliché. You know, I'm Morpheus, you're possibly "The One" and we're both trying to decide what on earth to do with reality. Thinking about it, I'm more of a Neo-Morpheus, which means that I would coyly recommend that you take the blue pill, enabling you to forget about these horrific revelations and continue to buy into the illusion, while I fry my brain and whiz around this sick world, dodging bullets and neutralising agents. OK, enough of this neuromanticised claptrap. Let's attempt to start putting this crazy puzzle together, don't worry about the missing pieces - we can fill in the blanks ourselves.
My arms and legs were like hairy white tubes of inflatable plastic, filled with custard and precariously attached to my body with what felt like cheap string. Maybe it was the vodka? The mix of beer and lager probably didn't help either. It was a deceptively clear Thursday afternoon in the miserable spring of 2012. I had walked from Bearwood in Smethwick to Snow Hill station in Birmingham, wearing a sparkly girls hat and two coats, armed only with a quarter bottle of what is essentially ethanol (and I was swigging it straight from the bottle), a packet of cigarettes, about 4 or 5 lighters of varying functionality, a chocolate bar, a couple of quid, and a note inside my top left pocket which said, "An endorsement from me is like an endorsement from Anders Behring Breivik," which is a line I regret not using that night, even though he is an ugly slop of human filth. I was lost in a vast universe of uncontrollable thoughts, my brain was overloaded but my enthusiasm for unpredictable fun was still going strong. I was thinking, among many other absurd things, that if the people of Birmingham decide to vote to have a directly elected Mayor, I would seriously consider trying to run for the job. But, alas, I am a fool. I live in Sandwell anyway and I'm far too honest for that line of work. What was I thinking? Perhaps I had gone temporarily psychotic? I have, after all, spent my whole life trying to escape from the Black Country, only to find out that I'm STILL FUCKING THERE - albeit on the very limits. The people of Birmingham decided they didn't want to vote for a Mayor anyway, they saw me coming. Who can blame them? Perhaps they know that the real game-changers can operate outside of this stinking system. Besides, I could never go up against TITANS of cultural politics like the legendary Philip Parkin. Phil really fucking KNOWS what the good people want. NME now has Tory approval. What the fuck is going on, huh, Brothers and Sisters? Do these rags even pay journalists for writing regional articles like the ultra enlightening "West Midlands Music Renaissance" piece, or do they just accept submissions from brown-nosing amateur student writers, who are happy to have their 'work' exposed to a larger readership? Who knows? Who cares? Who swears? Me. Maybe we are living in truly conflated times. Maybe that's not such a bad thing. Maybe it just takes the right kind of nutcase to make it work, but what kind of picture am I painting of myself here? V for Vendetta... another few bucks for Time-Warner...

"Above a quite low level, literature is an attempt to influence the viewpoint of one's contemporaries by recording experience. And so far as freedom of expression is concerned, there is not much difference between a mere journalist and the most 'unpolitical' imaginative writer. The journalist is unfree, and is conscious of unfreedom, when he is forced to write lies or suppress what seems to him important news: the imaginative writer is unfree when he has to falsify his subjective feelings, which from his point of view are facts. He may distort and caricature reality in order to make his meaning clearer, but cannot misrepresent the scenery of his own mind: he cannot say with any conviction that he likes what he dislikes, or believes what he disbelieves. If he is forced to do so, the only result is that his creative faculties dry up. Nor can he solve the problem by keeping away from controversial topics. There is no such thing as genuinely non-political literature, least of all in an age like our own, when fears, hatreds and loyalties of a directly political kind are near to the surface of everyone's consciousness. Even a single taboo can have an all-round crippling effect upon the mind, because there is always the danger that any thought which is freely followed up may lead to the forbidden thought." - from "The Prevention of Literature" by George Orwell, 1945-6.

I was in town to meet up with the currently "hotly tipped" rapturous rock outfit - Bombers. It was an eccentric and humiliating adventure with plenty of laughs along the way. I ended up playing drums like a paralytic, post-punk version of Keith Moon on bad speed, a poison riddled, uncoordinated moron with no brain. I flunked the ending, but there's already too much bad stuff with too much good press, so let's concentrate on the positives - what's wrong with wanting the best for the best? Even though their drummer, Dave Owen, began the evening by chastising me for my recent comments regarding certain music publications and journalists immediately after we were forced to move table at The Square Peg (for reasons too stupid and confusing to go into), I was really enjoying being part of the social dynamic of Bombers. Matty and Daz turned up right when I was about to scare the living shit out of the two Daves by screaming "LOOK, I'M A MISOGYNIST!" while aggressively smashing my fist down onto the table.  Luckily, the other lads had timed their entrance perfectly and we narrowly avoided causing a massive disturbance. All things considered, there was a great deal of loyalty on display from all sides.
We finished our drinks and headed for New Street station, determined to capture some great footage of the lads messing around in lifts and getting lost in the bowels of the place. The rest of the video for their upcoming new single, "Drawing", had already been filmed, so this was the final section, and, naturally, they needed the deranged expertise of Miles P to make it happen - and it certainly DID "HAPPEN". After we had finished videoing, we found ourselves in the station car park, by the taxi stand, when Dave O spotted "the drummer from The Bombergs", to everyone's obvious delight... We shuffled over to him and I was introduced, "THIS IS MILES PERHOWER". The kid wasn't impressed, "Oh yeah, like Tails from Sonic?" he quipped as I briefly shook his hand. Well, I thought, I guess so, I do sort of spin sonically related tales, but I'm not in the mood for this right now. There was something in his tone that I instinctively took a dislike to. He seemed like a cunt for some unexplainable reason, but that could prove to be a harsh judgement, considering I only knew him for fifteen or so seconds. Wellings, however, currently fronting the aforementioned "Bombergs", is someone who I've had slightly more exposure to in the past. He's a very cool looking bugger, he's hip, and he's probably reading this with the speeded up beat of his heart for accompaniment. Miss Halliwell once shared a bill with his previous outfit, "Green Gables", at the now defunct "Sound Bar" in Brum, and HOLY JESUS MPH CHRIST, it was a truly awful gig. We endured a pathetic reception, we didn't play well, and, to top it off, that sneaky old hack, Andrew Roberts, was there to review the show. Fortunately, my reputation was saved because he interviewed me before we went on stage, which sort of justified the proceeding car-crash performance. Thanks Andy. Anyway, at the end of the "Green Gables" set, later on in the night, this huge freaky bulk of a 'drum and bass' DJ came up to the stage and motioned to Wellings that his time was up - you know, pointing at his watch, saying it's time for some AWE INSPIRING drum and bass. I caught the eye of Wellings and was telepathically willing him to kick that rude cunt in the face, being up on the stage, he was at the perfect height for that kind of attack, but, he resisted my mind control techniques and just snarled at the fucker instead. It was probably for the best. Wellings spent the rest of the night cavorting with an attractive older woman.

I'd been speaking to the group's (as in BOMBERS) primary front-man, David Duell, intermittently, via email, for a while before our recent collaborations (for want of a better word). Looking back at my sent messages makes for interesting reading and can perhaps shed a little bit of light on my current situation...

"Yes, David, I am back, back to being a full time psychopath. We have returned from the ultra luxurious, high security prison. No easy escape on foot from those places, not without certain death from being impaled onto volcanic rock or being molested by gypsy nudists. I relentlessly consumed vodka "limon" but couldn't quite risk the hotel meat, gorging instead on cheese chip toasties with jalapeños, washed down with irresponsible gulps of "Tropical" lager. I have also managed to acquire a mild tan, despite numerous cloudy intervals and periods of unbearable heat. Being on an "all expenses paid holiday" may not sound like an ideal time to go crazy on current international affairs but when the only decent channels in the hotel room are CNN and Sky News you can understand the irresistible temptation of sucking up some politics. Mix that with reading the last issue of Private Eye at least three times, reluctantly enjoying Stewart Lee's 'Brechtian' autobiography, bits of "Billy" (Connolly) by his shrink Mrs and taking the inevitable doses of HST whilst trying to consume various strong alcoholic drinks in the Canarian sun. I was also surrounded by hugely distracting near-nakedness (good and bad) at all times.

Anyway, I enjoyed our meet at the Vic, even though the insanely unpleasant weather blasted my face to numbness before I got there. Thanks for the drinks and the insight. I ended up having another drink at the Wetherspoons by the library on the way back, then I walked to Bearwood, met up with Sarah, bought some chips, had a massively unexpected 'chip fight' (don't ask), bought some drugs and got in the holiday mood (which soon wore off once we remembered that we were going with family). Still, I can't complain, you appreciate these things more when you get back to harsh reality...

Both dates sound worth pursuing. When can I come down to the lock-up and invade your musical privacy? Let me know when and where."

The next message is more recent and will bring us up to speed...

"Good morning David,

I had a wild time on Thursday with you and the boys. It seems to have been a vital reminder for me, because in order to cope with the pressures of playing gigs, I need to have total faith in the musicianship of myself and my players, and at the moment my faith is running pretty low. I'm being flung into the world of words, with music as a complement - for the time being anyway. I wanted to tell you now that I doubt I will have anything technically good enough ready and fit to play shows in the summer. I was forced to have a break 12 months ago and it looks like the same break is needed now - otherwise I will possibly just self-destruct for good. Bombers is a harsh but vital inspiration - don't forget what a "band" can do with excellent musicians - compared to the sometimes makeshift world of my lifelong art project. I wanted to tell you this now so you aren't waiting around for me to get involved in the lock-up gig etc...

So that's the mildly depressing news... but, I am treating the other night like a form of participatory journalism. It will be my final piece featuring "Bombers" as one of the main characters, you have nothing to fear, it will be a revelation, a beautiful, high octane beast of convergence. I'm not retiring from music though, I just need time to heal, to train, to gain some sort of financial stability. Sarah doesn't enjoy it any more, but I know that I can't kill that part of my life off, it would be a tragic waste of time and energy. Perhower "the group" will be back, no doubt about that, but things are just too sore and loose right now to blindly continue. I'm also struggling to get a response from anyone who can capture the video footage. My advice would be to use a professional service, merely to capture the tape digitally and give you the high quality contents on a DVD or a hard-drive. A simple service like that can't be too pricey...

Hopefully you can take this as a boost, because, if anything, the other night proved that we CAN work together as soon as the situation is right. I honestly believe that if any "band" could "break-through" purely on their dynamic and rapturous tunes, it's yours. VIVA!"

We found ourselves lounging around like teenagers, locked into some kind of music based 'putting the world to rights' conversation, inside a small rehearsal room, scattered with all sorts of strange paraphernalia. It was a slow sort of chaos. I liked the place but it felt completely alien to me. That didn't matter though, I had successfully infiltrated their highly secretive musical world, but, in many ways it was a wasted opportunity, "WASTED" being the operative word. Matty had already departed from us right after we had finished fucking about in New Street station, which was a shame because I was only just starting to get to know that mysterious entity. So then, other than missing their 'mute secondary front-man' / 'anti-grunge guitarist', as well as not having a PA set up in the room at that moment, the boys treated me to a violently enjoyable new tune. The drums had this wonderfully controlled, frantic double kick-pedal action, the bass cut through like a hot knife through butter, and the vocals were screamed directly into my ear as Mr Duell thrashed his guitar. It felt like a special moment. I stood there, with a mug of booze in my hand, grinning.
Dave O, who had kindly provided me with bus fare earlier, right before having a restrained dig at me for my use of sadistic language in my work, was the first to leave. I thanked him for the fun and told him to "Stay away from those Russian bastards!" which made everyone laugh. With the drum kit now vacant, me, Dave and Daz proceeded to have one of the worst improvised drunken jams in the entire history of music. We soon called it a day, stumbled off and made our separate ways home. For some stupid reason I decided to walk back, even though it was late and I had been given the bus fare. I slogged it out in the rain, walking those few dark, torturous miles of wet concrete with blinding car lights confusing my already blurred vision. All sorts of suspicious life passed me by. It must have been around midnight, or even later, when I finally got back to my house. I couldn't unlock the door, Sarah came down to open it and I fell inside, exhausted.

"A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible." 
- from "Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell, 1946.

In the gloomy weeks that followed my tragic Bombers debacle, I found myself pushed into a new frame of mind. I needed to let go of the DIY gigs idea, for the time being, because, painfully, it seemed that a lot people, many of them students, just can't get enough of corporate product. I had, in a sense, come to terms with my own doomed fate, but there was still this nagging voice in my brain which simply refused to abandon hope. Maybe I could still reach a wider audience? Maybe I don't need a huge media conglomerate owned publication in order to attract younger, smarter and possibly more desperate human beings to my work. If the idea of a "Perhower Studio" makes you go a little bit "FAN BOY", well, who could blame you? I can feel that ugly, perverted 'Zappa' gene working its black magic. I can't escape music. In sickness and in health, till death do us part, yeah, really? Fuck you.

The idea of experimenting with different vocalists came to me, for some hideous reason, after a brief phone conversation with my old friend, Cosy. The man has had more sex and drugs than most people have had cornflakes. At one point, he was perceived by some as being an almost mystical, shamanistic male slapper, who was fuelled, for a period, by a constant supply of cocaine and relentless fornication. Those days are behind him now, but they have helped make him who he is. You're more likely to find him looking after his family commitments these days, regularly driving across the country in his huge work van, fitting factory doors and dealing with all sorts of unpredictable craziness. Occasionally, you will find him sitting at a drum kit, ready to follow whatever abstract rhythmical instructions I can throw at him.

"Miles!" Cosy boomed down the phone with enthusiasm, "I had to call you because I've just seen and smelt the loveliest thing of all time."
"Sounds ace," I replied, genuinely intrigued.
"I've just fitted a door at this refuse site in Eastbourne," he excitedly continued, "this lorry turned up and emptied tons of pizza scraps into a massive ditch."
"Nice one, this is making me hungry," I interjected.
"But then, this other truck pulled up about ten minutes later and started to empty its load directly onto the pile of pizzas."
"My stomach is rumbling now!"
"Well, anyway, this red liquid started to pour out of the chute, into the ditch, a thin, light red liquid for the first few seconds, then it got darker. It was animal blood," Cosy laughed, "It stopped for a second and then the whole load came out as one thick, red/black, congealed mess of rotten, stinking gunk, right on top of the pizza pile."
(MUCH LAUGHTER)
"I'd love to dip some bread in that and have a bite," I said, feeling sick, but still laughing.
"I'll speak to you soon, Miles..." and with that, he hung up.

I can't explain why, at that precise moment, I decided to write the following reminder down, in block capitals, in my notebook: "INTERVIEW JETT FYTER. FIND OUT WHAT THAT BASTARD KNOWS!"

"Michaela Christofi ‎~tortured soul~21 April at 04:39 Best response so far "Wow that article is actually disgusting. Slag? Really? How professional and NOT BITTER AT ALL" "Slag, metaphorically , yes. Not bitter? Bloody hell, it's possibly the most bitter thing ever written. It is disgusting. You got it. Well done. Cheers" Greg Haines GB&FF were mentioned, so does that make my music dogshit trimming? Hahah. Perhower are awesome and one of my fav midlands bands ever. That said, they've only played 2 (or 3?) gigs in Brum so far, so I think it might have been a stretch to have included them in the article, especially as the focus was on NME style bands? But I guess Bombers where in there....But still? Also, Miles wasn't even at the St Eel gig until they played at the end, so how could Amy have had a chance to talk/interview him about it? But all said, bitter vitriol is a major part of Perhower's appeal - Raging over not winning an award at the popularity contest held by the same fellow high school students you were planning on gunning down the last day of term anyway - don't ever change! ;)
Michaela Christofi like your own comment why don't you, you are literally a psycho. 20 April at 07:38 · 1 Amy Sumner hey miles, just read the blog. i really enjoyed your show at sticky toffee dance studio, for which i pitched inclusion to said magazine because i wanted to throw some material media attention your way (as to my knowledge, no one else has), not least because i think it's a great idea to put on a gig in a 'different' venue. i would have been happy to pay the door price, however do have a student card, posession (sic) of which entitled free entry to the event. i gave the night an accordingly positive write up, overlooking the very small number of people in attendance and the fact that the bar ran dry, as i am committed to raising awareness (and numbers) at local gigs. and, humblingly, all of the bands mentioned were very forthcoming in positive reactions to the review and i maintain good relations with them. aside from that though, i really just wanted to refute the eloquent metaphorical slag claims levelled at me in the highest metaphorical terms as i believe them to be metaphorically unfounded. i think the fact that you've let the issue affect you so much might hint at the fact that you do care (even if it's just a tiny little bit). just wanted to reinterate (sic) my support and admiration of the two good bands to play at your event (bombers and gb&ff), but assure you that i will not bother you with my awful journalistic ability in any birmingham (sic) (or otherwise) publication from now on. mainly because you've somewhat disturbed me! hope the attendance is up at your next event, amy xxx
Samina Rangwala Forgive me for asking, but what might be the 'metaphorical' definition of 'slag'? This particular blog suggests that a failure to appreciate the magnificently soulful beauty of Perhower automatically drops you into the category of 'metaphorical slag'. Also indicated by the blog is that this includes the majority of not only Birmingham, but also the wider UK music scene (and its long-running media giants). So, to all you 'lazy little sluts' out there, don't fret, you're not alone. In fact quite the opposite. You are the ruling majority. And to all you non-comformist, intellectual followers of 'the Perhower movement' and its associated missions, I wholeheartedly recommend staying loyal, lest you feel the wrathful hand of Perhower upon you. Amy, if you wish to improve your sloppy journalistic skills, I suggest you take a page out of the book of this self-proclaimed psychopath. Key techniques are to complain, insult, lack structure, and most importantly contradict yourself at every possible opportunity.
Joe Jones is this meant to be 'the hard stuff, the real deal...the future'? 20 April at 12:15 · 1 20 April at 09:11 ·120 April at 08:19 ·120 April at 08:24 ·1 sounds like wank to me."

The next thing I did, weirdly, was take all of the Facebook comments from underneath my provocative, one-off tactical response, copy them into an on-line randomiser, and then paste the hilariously congealed slop directly onto the draft of this piece. It seems that yet another disgusting metaphor has done the trick, but just to make sure that I'm understood here, kids, those congealed comments are not literally rotting animal blood and my piece is not pizza scraps, but maybe some of the people who posted them are, in fact, big empty ditches who are quickly filling up with putrid waste and stinking up the place. We don't need any more Jo Whiley / Lauren Laverne style cunts to continue fucking everything up now, do we? Even if I make the mistake of giving you the benefit of the doubt and believe your bullshit about you having "pitched (Perhower's) inclusion to said magazine," there still remains the problem that you can't write with any real conviction, but the terribly depressing fact is that even if you COULD write with any more zest, because of the current smoothed-over-loved-up-Nazi-brain-dead Zeitgeist, NME wouldn't publish anything with any real spark now would they? This is bigger than just one pathetic student hack, this is war.

Intelligent, challenging art, mixed in with pure entertainment, SHOULD be given a better chance in the mainstream press. This is a very powerful truth, and, guess what? I'm FEARLESS in that department. So, bring it on, you brainless, boring, bum-licking idiots. My audience is growing, have no doubt about that. I'm the bravest AND STRANGEST creative lunatic you will come across. If I have GENUINELY DISTURBED YOU, fucking hell, you must be softer and dumber than I could have ever imagined. It's time to sharpen up.

MPH