symposium interview
(January 21st 1997)

Aboard the NME Bratbus parked-up at the back of the Junction, Woj and Hagop are relaxing before the night's sure-to-be-strenuous gig. Woj is casually sketching a scene from Peter Pan and Hagop has just returned from a spot of skating. This lull before the storm is completely necessary, in fact it's a credit to the two of them that they're up at all--the remaining three members of the band are still asleep and likely to stay that way for some time yet. Singer Ross' antics at the previous gigs are still fresh in the mind of Hagop: "He's been doing some classic stunts. Last night he jumped the 10-foot gap into the crowd and everyone thought he wouldn't make it, even the bouncers. Then in Manchester, the crowd carried him all the way to the back of the room. Cool".

I joined the pair of them for a quick jaw over the newly re-vamped Lazy Journalist machine. Still based on a Magic Robot toy, Woj and Hagop point the magic robot at one of twelve forms of transport on one side of the board and the robot magically spins round and chooses a Smash Hits question for them. In addition though, we now have the Number 8 Words and Objects Clint Eastwood? which is essentially the same thing with Clint-related questions selected by choosing a random word/object. As before, you have to guess the questions.

Woj: The robot looks like Mr. Gormaldi from School. It's much better than any other interview we've done.
Hagop: My turn...

Hagop: We already have--on TX in Ireland.
Me: Did you get to say anything?
Hagop: Yeah, we played our song then they got us on the couch giving Agony Aunt advice to kids. One phoned in and asked if they should lie and Wojtek told them that honesty is the best policy
Me: Would you go on Going Live?
Woj: I'd go on to meet Zoe Ball.

As Ross emerges from his bunk, he gets called over to choose a question..
Ross: Money, pass, Bratbus key, throat sweets and a picture somebody gave me last night.
Woj: Is that meant to be you?
Hagop: It looks like Spock!

Hagop: Plato's Symposium.
Woj: I did it in A-level Classics. It's good 'cos in Greek, Sym means "meet" and Pose means "to drink", so it's like drink together but also philosophical conversation and stuff.
Me: And do you get a lot of philosophical conversation on the bus then?
Woj: Only about the playstation. [fiddles with the robot] Why does it move like that?
Hagop: It's got a spring in it.
Woj:Is there an animal in there? It's powered by a little cockroach running round!
Hagop: It's magic.

Having completed the statutory number of crap Smash Hits questions, we moved onto the Clint board, virgin territory for all three of us. If you're question-spotting, you need to think a bit laterally now, although there's a few clues dotted around.

Me: If I squint, I sometimes think the chap on here looks like Clint Eastwood.
Hagop: Hmm.
Woj: I saw a frog sculpture in Wolverhampton the other day, so I'm choosing...
Woj: I'd buy another property. I'm already buying a house for me and my Mom and Dad. No, actually I'd just save it so I knew I had some money, I'd buy nice food and things to pamper myself with.
Me: Drugs?

Hagop: How appropriate..
Hagop: Everybody. God.

[laughter from Woj and tour manager, Matt. Hagop looks somewhat abashed.]

Me: I thought you didn't have philosophical discussion on the bus.
Hagop: I'm unforgiven, but I don't give a shit.
Woj: Kristy or Kirsten Barker from Melody Maker..
Hagop: Kirsty Baker..
Woj: ..yeah, Kirsty..
Hagop: SLAG!
Woj: ..and Dave Simpson..
Hagop: you CUNT!
Woj: ..from The Guardian.
Hagop: Metallica, they had a song called Unforgiven.
Woj: You keep interrupting my answers by shouting "cunt"..
Hagop: and "slag".
Woj: ..yeah, and "slag".
Me: I can't use this anyway, it's for radio.

Woj: Heh heh heh. I'll go for, err, moon.
Woj: More or less all of them, but Disneyland was good.
Hagop: Fairgrounds are rubbish, but themeparks are better.
Woj: Anything that goes round in a circle is bound to turn you into Pale Rider [that's a clue-Jim], but rollercoasters are good.
Me: So no childhood abuse-of-Pirate Ship stories then?
Woj: What?
Me: Err, maybe we'll move on..

Woj: That's not Clint Eastwood!
Me: Spaghetti Westerns.
Woj: Oh I see.
Hagop: Lasagne.
Woj: Tagliatelle, and the ones shaped like bow ties.

Wojtek wanted to discuss the relative merits of pasta and potato shapes but Hagop wouldn't let him, preferring insead to crack on with another question.
Hagop: What makes my day is having a laugh and meeting a nice woman.

[much laughter]

Hagop: Terminator 3.
Woj: No.
Hagop: Terminator 2.
Woj: No.
Hagop: Terminator.
Woj: No, none of the Terminators. I liked The Unforgiven, I think he was the best in Dirty Harry, he had the best suits in that as well..

Again, Hagop couldn't wait for Woj to finish contemplating his answers (you should be thankful I've edited all the pauses out of this) and rushed on to the next question.
Hagop: My narrowest escape was in Syria on the way to the Lebanon, 'cos you couldn't fly direct, you had to fly to Syria and travel by road.
Woj: ..Play Misty for me..
Hagop: Every checkpoint we got to, they saw me and my sister were kind of white-ish--'cos my Dad's quite dark--and soldiers would stick AK47s in the window and say "give us some money, or we're not letting you go on". So after about nine times, my Dad got out the car and started shouting at them and they stuck a gun to his head and we had to get out of the car and it was really scary. But in the end they thought "yeah, respect--this man's challenging us and we shouldn't really be doing it anyway."
Woj: ..and In the Line of Fire.

And there we must leave it, the two of them interrupting each other as they did for the whole of the interview, good-naturedly taking the piss and conveying a mood of youngsters having a good time, along for the ride. Behind all this though there lurks a monster, ambition: "it'll last if we want it to, if we're shrewd and'd be nice to sell out stadiums, be established and have respect and recognition." Of course, it's early days to be talking about stadiums and the cynic in us all is probably thinking "haven't heard that one before, let's see what you're doing in two years". Still, for the moment Symposium are at the front of the pack, giving a Lucozade live show which puts paid to any doubts you might have...for 35 minutes or so.

"Some people have said we're the missing link between The Monkees and The Sex Pistols...I don't mind that" -Wojtek

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