john sims interview
(3rd October 1997)

You can read the gig review elsewhere, this interview took place beforehand in the rather insalubrious front-room that purports to be a dressing room at the Physio and Firkin. John Sims are Johnny, Julie, Gary, Michael and Neil, respectively: guitar, singing, bass, keyboards and keyboards. Michael has only just joined the band taking over on keyboard duties from Julie who used to play keyboard and sing, but now only sings. Just the token girl singer then? "I'm not token! I am the band..." [much laughter] "...I just couldn't drink and sing and play the keyboard, and smoke as well. I just didn't have time to play the keyboard." Neil: "and there was all that tapestry equipment you had to operate..." "...yeah, the loom did get in the way of the keyboard." Michael: "I was originally supposed to be playing drums, but I've ended up playing keyboards." Well, if you hit them really hard...

Johnny (who is not, contrary to popular belief, John Sims) wasn't into the interview thing which left the four others to do battle with the Magic Robot, a task they approached with great aplomb. Unsurprising really when you see the array of broken-looking technological boxes they surround themselves with when they play. Eno-esque knob-twiddler and surrealist Neil takes the bonus marks for most far-out answers. As usual, all questions originated in Smash Hits or are related to Clint Eastwood (don't ask).

Favourite flavour crisps
J: At Walkers we pride ourselves in delivering unbeatable quality. We select the best potatoes and apply the finest flavours to give the best potato crisp. Since 1992 we have packed our crisps in special packs to ensure they always reach you with that just-cooked taste. Store in a cool, dry place.
All: [astonished silence]
J: I learnt it once, I was really bored in a pub.
G: I sealed concrete floors for Walkers, at their new plant about five years ago. I had to put sealant down on the floor to keep the dust from rising.
M: I worked there for one day, putting crisps into boxes. It was my worst, maybe second-worst, job ever. I rang in the next day and said "I'm not coming back!"
J: You've got a good worst job Neil.
N: Hitting two quite long rats over the head with a shovel. They were like small dogs and it was my job to poison them. We had to get this stuff out of a big safe and we had to ring the Ministry of Agriculture up every time cos it was like cyanide. It was extremely dodgy stuff, you couldn't just put it down, you had to get permission. I had this shovel as well cos basically the rats were so big they could knock you over.
M: You might want to interrupt Neil from time to time or he'll never stop.

N: Alexander Fleming, who invented Penicillin; Feranti was very under-rated, some of his early work on high voltage stuff in power stations is amazing; of course you have to say everyone in John Sims and also Jilly Goulden.
J: I quite like Rita Hayworth.
N: Sit like that, and turn your head like this [moves Julie into position perched on the edge of an upturned suitcase]. You're now well-adjusted.
J: I thought you were making me look like Rita Hayworth!

How did you get together?
N: We all used to congregate up this particular part of the graveyard. Many nights we used to kip up there and it was by a grave called John Sims which is where the band name comes from.
Me: I wanted to ask you about that, cos I heard from somewhere that it was the name on a gravestone in Mick's (from Prolapse) bedroom.
G: He does have a gravestone in his bedroom...but it's a birthday card, that's all.
N: The first time that we _all_ got together was after this car crash where Gary donated his spinal fluid to keep the rest of us alive. It was so sweet of him.
G: The first time me, Neil and Johnny got together we recorded "Scientistrock". We got the vocals by phoning up our friends who were at work on the Friday afternoon. We also phoned Mark Radcliffe, thinking he would be on for such pseudo-situationist larks as recording a vocal for our song over the phone---and he would have been more likely to play it on his (then) evening show. We asked him to say "scientist rock", but he resolutely refused to. However, he was quite happy to argue about not doing it. The bit at the end of the song is him saying "I think it's all a bit of a merry jape actually". He's probably Zoe Ball now or something. I dunno what he thought was so dodgy about "scientist rock". Maybe if you play it backwards it sounds like "I'm an ignorant fuckhead". Or something.

Would you appear on Kids TV?
G: I haven't watched kid's telly for years. Is Posh Paws still on it?
N: Television is the instrument of Satan.

Do you feel lucky?
J: Yeah, I'm quite lucky. Now and always. The first pony I ever had a riding lesson on was called Lucky, actually. I used to love ponies when I was a kid.
G: My best friend at school used to do Clint Eastwood impressions all the time, he thought I was impressed by them...I've never seen the film, but I know the quote...
N: ...We had lots of guns going off, but I lost count of how many went off, so here I am and here's you and I might shoot you, but I might not. But I can't remember how many bullets I had, so do you feel lucky? Punk.
Me: Almost word-for-word.
N: And then the bloke goes "Errr..ooheeer...waaargh" [mimes frantic arm waving] and then Clint shoots him.
J: So does he die?
N: No, he shoots him with a tin of poisoned fish.

What would you do with a few dollars more
G: Get Graham from The Family Way to answer this one.
N: I'd spread awareness of...
G: No, you're Neil, that's Graham...
N: [unperturbed] much waste heat comes out of your washing machine when you turn it on and you could recover that and use it to heat your house. That's what I'd do with a few dollars more. Also, I might buy some string.

What was your narrowest escape?
N: When I danced on the corpse of Princess Di last week and the police almost caught me.
J: Yesterday, when I was really hung-over and I was trying to cross the street and this car just screeched to a halt in front of me. That was quite scary...and I was going to sign-on as well and I started to think that imagine I was on the way _back_ from signing-on and I got killed, it'd be so depressing. I mean, the money, when they sent it, who would've got it?
N: What about when Gary sold all of our kidneys in the night and the rest of the band didn't find out? Julies got a photo of her kidney, it's brilliant.
J: Yeah, I did some medical research and they took some ultrasound pictures of my kidney and my heart and liver. Apparently I'm healthy and this kind of grey blob thing is my kidney.

Grey blob? John Sims don't have a grey organ in their collective body, it's all in glorious techno-colour. Looped drums and hefty wedges of trance-inducing synth thrum beef up the sound that's topped off with Julie's singing. Stereolab. Damn, I said it. Damn, damn, damn. It's impossible to mention John Sims without mentioning the 'Lab too, unless you're the promoter of the under-age drinking establishment in Warrington where the band recently played. Gary: "He came over to speak to us and thanked us for coming and said we looked like a cross between the Prodigy (Neil as Liam) and No Doubt (Julie as Gwen)!!!! Makes a change from Stereolab I suppose."

I suppose, but it's not a comparison any sane person would care to make...I hear Neil thinks it's alright.


"Gangster's moll" on the split 7" "Tous ar-fit" (Sorted)

"Scientistrock" on the CD compilation "Ashtray heart" (Sorted)
  (This is the first thing they ever recorded. Was it in the graveyard? 
   Gary: "No...err, yes! Yes, we recorded songs in the graveyard.")

"Spread the tikka" on split 7" "Work is a 4-letter word" (Fortuna Pop)
  (Reviewed in Issue 1 of Robots and Electronic Brains)
"Palomino" album (Sorted)
  (The album's almost finished)

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