mark hibbett interview
(December 2009)

As I write this we seem to be entering a new ice age which is fitting because Mark Hibbett has been around since the last one. I think he was kicking around the pub in Leicester when we interviewed John Sims back in 1997 and we were nodding acquaintances for a while when I used to be up there from time to time. The first record of his that we really went for was probably Born With the Century in 1999 but he'd been standing, guitar in hand, legs akimbo waiting for due adulation to begin for years by then. The website at www.mjhibbett.net documents the degree to which he's achieved it in the kind of microscopic detail only seen elsewhere in stalkers' diaries.

This is what we said about Born With the Century at the time: “accomplished and moving version of his Billy Bragg acoustic vingettes ... the song covers the life of a man who was born at the turn of the century, lived through both wars, loved several women and watched his kids grow up and away ... heavy stuff (with the odd gag).”

He could be singing about anything – today it's wars, tomorrow it's the ZX Spectrum, the day after it's BBC 2 – but give or take the gag/serious ratio, it's the same basic formula he's still wringing the changes from today both on his own and with his band The Validators.

On the eve of the release of the My Boss was in an Indie Band Once, when I asked him for an interview, I suggested that we should do it as a song. It seemed like a good idea. We discovered it's more difficult than you think, and it took ages. Like being MJ Hibbett.

Should I believe you when you say
Your boss was in an indie band once?

No, it's not meant literally
Though there are some elements
Of truth in it - my boss tells me
He once knew Caravan
But it's based on lots of friends of frends
Who used to be in bands

You sent me a badge with the promo
and I gave it to Ichiko who works for me.
Later, in return, she gave me some Halls mentholyptus
that she didn't want because they weren't sugar-free.

I'm glad the badge was helpful
But the ironic thing is this:
The company that made it's owned
By Manda Rin, from Bis!

Does that mean that the Validators
are on the Teen-c Tip?

Maybe many years ago
But now it's fairer said
We're at a different stage in life
It's more the Mid-C Spread

So the new song isn't about your boss
How can I believe your lyrics now?
I won't say my world has collapsed
but I had you down
as a recorder of FACT set to music
not a collector of things that just sound
like they might be true.
Should the King be uncrowned?

First of all, apologies
For any inconvenience caused
I've come across this problem
With my lyrics' truth before

They are ALL true, I wouldn't lie,
At least in their core intention
What isn't always factual
Is the source of the narration

In this song's case the person who
Is speaking's an amalgam
Of various people that I know
Who've had a boss abandon
Their post for ROCK or at least tried
To reignite careers
Last seen packed up inside drum bags
Smelling of fags and beers
So while not all not all the songs I sing
Have happened literally
They've all occurred in bits and bobs
But not all of them to me.

I saw the fans with their present requests
In the Christmas video that you made
The song's just GRATE in your usual way
But, be honest, for Christmas it's just gotta be Slade.


Thanks very much and, while Noddy's GRATE
I'll have to disagree
Surely the Christmasiest band of all
Is Rage Against The Machine?

How does it work with you being a solo artiste
And also in charge of a band?
Do you write all the songs and tell the rest what to do?
Do egos ever get out of hand?


Democracries or Dictatorships
Are the only two types of bands
Most start out thinking they're the first
But usually end up being the last

In The Validators, surprisingly
It didn't follow this plan
It started out with me writing all the songs
But these days we tend to Jam

(not all the time of course, that would
be verging upon JAZZ
and The Validators, I do not think
would ever want to do that)

The only thing we really
Disagree about is setlists
In fact, it would be easier
If we didn't have to do gigs
Because, after ten years together
The best bit's meeting up
To have a curry, take the piss
And occasionally, get drunk

Which is, I think, the main message
About bands, in the end,
If you're going to spend a decade together
Best do it with your friends!

And that's a nice sentiment to end on. Watch the Christmas videos on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-O4M2WNb7Y
and www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjRzIFtjC78 and check out www.mjhibbett.net for more Hibbett-related stuff than you could ever really need. I recommend the Curse of Voon.


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