THE CRIMEA

Special Treats

Tragedy Rocks PosterYou still with me? I’m half-asleep now but there’s no way I could leave without these last few links. And my are they ever gonna keep you up a while longer…
Two words. Owen, and Bone. Surely one of the funniest interviews I’ve ever read, and it’s with The Crimea’s very own Davey MacManus. Thankyou Static Multimedia, thankyou very, very much.
And thankyou god, someone’s finally heard of The Crocketts. And not only heard of, it’s quite obvious they’ve also heard their songs too. If anyone’s capable of giving The Crimea a good review, it’s the Illinois Entertainer, who seem to have had a change of heart since their Vic Theatre gig review.
And I leave you with an explanation of Read Mag’s poor review of Tragedy Rocks. Reason? They weren’t reviewing the album, they were checking out the poster. And far from shoot me now, it’s seems more a case of shoot the photographer. I know you were trying to look more life-like in photos lads, but, bloody hell….

Davey MacManus of The Crimea, in his own esteemable way, took some time to answer a few of Static’s queries before heading out as support for labelmate Billy Corgan’s debut solo tour.

What’s the last song that flat-out scared you?

The Irish Eurovision song contest entry, was a hideous affair, sung by a ginger brother and sister duo, a love song no less. I shat my pants when I saw them on telly, they didnt make the final. I was ashamed to be Irish, and scared that these bog trotters came from my country.

What was the worst show you ever played, and why?

Our worst show was at the Mercury Lounge. We were unsigned and showcasing, it was carnage, everything broke and we had a full bore shouting match for 10 minutes, which is still ongoing. We ended up doing one song acoustic, and that was terrible, so we gave up, and went downstairs for a post mortem. (Ruck) Gandi almost had a seizure, and turned into a beetroot. We were all stone cold sober, and it was about 7 on a Sunday, the crowd of two A&R men were blown away.

What will you do immediately after completing this interview?

Hang myself.

Coke or Pepsi?

London tapwater.

What song are you most proud of on this album? Why?

“Losing My Hair,” because its about going bald young, and losing your confidence, and as a result losing your ability to get women, and as result calling it a day, it’s a timeless song, which came from nowhere at Christmas.

What can fans expect to get at one of your concerts that they couldn’t necessarily get on your album?

It’s completely different. Most of the album was recorded in my bedroom, which is the design of our set onstage, its just totally different. Its real, afterwards it feels like you’ve had triplets, with post gig depression. I guess its a lot stronger and more in your face. The songs are all played and sound differently as we don’t wanna replicate the album live. It’s a seperate entity.

What direction do you feel you’re headed in artistically? What’s next?

Well I’ve stolen all the good ideas from the sixties and seventies so I guess I’m gonna gave to raid the fifties. I think the major step is to take the recording out of home and make a killer studio album. We have a full band now, so we are just enjoying trying to write and work together

What other creative mediums would you ever care to dabble in? Why?

I like to write short stories and poetry, etc. Pessismistic stuff really, but lately I have put every ounce of effort into music. I tried to draw once but it was woeful. There are so many drastic lyrics out there. I identified this as an area we could kick everyone else’s ass in, and put all my talents into coming up with one liners.

Michael Jackson – pedophile or misunderstood eccentric?

Well I think he’s definitely made pedophilia known around the world. It’s unbelieveable how much coverage his trial got. So lots of kids will know now what it is, which is weird. He’s a madman. No sane person would let kids in their room. I used to be a Cub Scout leader and we weren’t even allowed to cuff them ’round the ear for fear of being sued.

What would you like to come back as in a later life?

Jesus, I hope there is no next life. If I had to come back I would like to not have a conscience and just be a bastard without worrying about it.

Whose phone number would you most like?

I’d like a few words with the Lord. Talking to God on the great white telephone. C’mon…there is nothing. It would be a pretty one-sided conversation. I might as well be talking to the wall.

What’s your favorite sandwich?

Peanut butter and custard creme.

What periodicals, if any, do you subscribe to?

I buy the Irish Independant everywhere I go, which is sad quite, but I don’t subscribe to anything. I think I would have to be quite organized to have a subscription, which is out of the question. Andy, our keyboard player, gets National Geopgrahic as a subscription, but i think his mum gets him it every Christmas.

Name something non-musical (e.g. book, person, building, animal) that has inspired or influenced you.

I have lately been influenced by J.T. Leroy, to the extent that he has made me look at my life and say it’s great compared to being analy raped when you are fucking six years old. He is life affirming, and I usually hate authors, or am jealous of them.

Do you read music criticism? Who are some of your preferred critics, if any?

This is tricky. I want to be rude, but unfortunately my conscience tells me not to say anything bad.

Name a canonical, respected, revered artist whom you think is wildly overrated.

Oasis.

Favorite recreational tour stop…?

New Orleans. Though we have yet to have a truly chaotic night out there, it has all the ingredients and we have laid anchor there several times. Our bass player’s girlfriend lives in the middle of the French Quarter, so we stop off there.

Got any pets…?

Owen, our drummer, lives here with me. As long as I give him a bone every now and then he’s happy

What’s the best thing about being a musician…?

Not having to get up in the morning, just not having to work. Work is the worst. My coal pit is an armchair. You sort of live outside the real world in a bubble and talk about how wonderful you are all the time. Your whole life and career is based around trying to get people to say you are wonderful

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing…? Dream job, etc.

I always wanted to be a soldier, but now I think I would like to be a boxer. Although, this is small man syndrome, I thought of being a paramedic for awhile, when my musical career was in less glorious surroundings.

What’s the most truly subversive piece of music you know?

Ween – “HIV Aids Song”

What was your first rock and roll record?

Michael Jackson, Bad on 12-inch. It was brilliant and still is, every song is a classic.

Do you have a day job? If so, what is it?

I usually read the papers for about two hours, rack up a few spliffs, get dressed and mince about in my studio for a while pretending I’m writing or recording. Then I watch the telly whislt sitting on a chair far away from the telly like I’m not really watching it. If it’s sunny, I go in the garden. I write down a list off things I have to do, and then read it and stress out. Then I don’t do anything on the list and blame it on someone else.

Prior to becoming a full-time musician, what did you do for a living?

I stacked shelves, and worked in the park which was my favourite except I couldnt deal with all the kids. If I touched them, they would scream and call me racist, peadophile, rapist. They were clever kids and in the end I had to leave as they locked me in my hut, and I had to call the police.

How did you come up with your name (if a band or alter ego)?

I wanted something like Wal-Mart. An international brand that thick people could understand. I had “Fat Camp Heroes,” but that was too jokey. Crimea was safe, and obviously there’s the Justin Timberlake thing.

Interview by Static Multimedia.

FEATURE

The Crimea: Kings Of The Wild Frontier

“If you want to be properly famous, you can be a film star, you can be a sports star, you can be a politician, religious . . . whatever. Music’s the only one you don’t get drugs tested.”

The Crimea’s Davey MacManus

Rising out of the dissolution of the Welsh cowpunk band The Crocketts, The Crimea — led by ex-Crockett singer/guitarist/songwriter Davey MacManus and drummer Owen Hopkin (also ex-Crockett) and including guitarist Andy Norton, Andrew Stafford, (keyboard/ vocals) and Joseph Udwin (bass/vocals) — make guitar rock that meshes the drive and passion of the earlier Crocketts’ punk with harmonies and a lighter, jangley touch. On their debut album, Tragedy Rocks, The Crimea lose the country-acoustic underpinnings, but keep the attention to melody and lyrics. It’s an evolution from the past rather than a break with it.

In part, that’s because of MacManus. The founder, with Hopkin, of The Crimea, MacManus took the demise of The Crocketts as an opportunity, albeit an uncertain one. “I thought when the Crocketts hit a bust,” MacManus recalls, “I was gonna go and study about nursing. That was my plan. And Owen was going to go and be a lawyer. But it didn’t happen because we turned back to music, obviously. And thank God it’s still providing our crust today. I certainly didn’t like it in the outside world.”

MacManus took a succession of less-than-hospitable odd-jobs and spent all the time he could in his home studio, working on songs. “I was allowed this massive amount of freedom by not having a band in terms of writing in the studio,” he says. “Just in having freedom to make things sound however I wanted them to.” Together with Hopkin, MacManus worked incessantly on songs and demos, ultimately writing upwards of 70 songs. But the lack of a band became a problem.

“We struggled initially in the U.K. because we didn’t have a live band,” admits McManus. “We started off playing as a three piece, which didn’t really work out because I just wasn’t good enough on the guitar. So we messed up playing to majors right at the start, ’cause they liked the demos, but then they came to see us. We stayed out of the scene in the U.K. and we got a band together. I really wanted to form a proper band that was a real experience that people go and see. U2, or The Grateful Dead, or The Doors or whatever — none of them could have been one person. Unfortunately, it literally took two-and-a-half years to find three people that were what we needed, but it’s so good to have an amazing band. It’s something else. All the songs are now 100 times better that we have a real band.”

With a full band, The Crimea returned to playing out. “Our return was South By Southwest,” MacManus relates. “That’s where we got found out and that’s where it all happened and we got signed. I mastered the record — an odd demo version of Tragedy Rocks, which was maybe missing three or four songs — on the day before we went to South By Southwest and gave it out to everybody at South By Southwest. We played with this new lineup where we had a keyboardist and the guitar lines in place for the first time — the interlocking Crimea sound — and we somehow managed to be the freshest thing there. I guess it’s just the luck of the draw, you know. We’re very fucking lucky.”

They are, but chalking it all up to luck undersells the music and the effort MacManus puts into it. Tragedy Rocks is a mix of musical styles. They range from the loopy pop of “Lottery Winners On Acid” (a song the late John Peel declared “the best song I’ve heard in years”) to the dark of “The Great Unknown” to the Dusty-Springfield-meets-hardcore of the graceful “The Miserabilist Tango.” By the time he wrote the songs that became Tragedy Rocks MacManus had (finally) heard — and loved — both Leonard Cohen and Dusty Springfield. More than that, he heard in them a skill with songcraft that makes their music timeless. It’s that which he was striving for on the album.

If MacManus hasn’t quite reached the level he was shooting for musically, lyrically he’s well on his way. A published poet, MacManus effectively mixes the straightforward with the metaphorical. “Poetry doesn’t reach anybody, really,” he says. “I published some volumes and I liked it and it did reach people and I did sell them and I’m still selling them, so I shouldn’t be like that. I just decided to put everything into my lyrics. And I guess it’s in response to listening to radio. There’s like 50 phrases that people use and they just multiply them and interchange them. I wanted to try to bring back some good lyric writing, you know. Good, old fashion lyric writing that was from the real heart.”

If that’s the case, then MacManus’ heart isn’t happy-go-lucky. The lyrics on Tragedy Rocks bind the album, and they are a contemplative, often cynical, lot — yet they can also be quite funny (much like MacManus himself in that regard). Or, as he explains, “It’s trying to paint what actually is rather than some mythical land of love and perfection that seems to be the current trend. I think everything is a mess and you’re left wondering what the bloody hell is going on. There can be moments of good in there, but they’re usually overpowered by moments of the bad. Reality bites. Tragedy rocks.”

The album is also a mix of production styles, with half the album recorded in MacManus’ home studio and the other Mississippi with Modest Mouse producer Dennis Herring. “We spent almost three months there. We had Thanksgiving dinner with the cheerleading team. I made more friends in one tiny village in Mississippi than I’ve found in London in the past five years,” MacManus laughs. “We always romanticized about America. I did all my life. I read all the books and saw all the pictures. And when we’ve been over there recently, it’s been very strange. It’s been amazing, but I don’t know if it is the place I thought it was when I was growing up, you know? I think the deal would be to go there as a real tourist and enjoy yourself. I tend to get pretty stressed out when I’m over there with a band trying to give our utmost every night and day.” MacManus stops and laughs. “That sounds too serious for our own good.”

In some ways, MacManus and The Crimea are too serious, but it’s likely just fine. They are driven to succeed in music — and it’s for their own good.

“We’ve been pushing and pushing and pushing because we didn’t want to be losing our hair and ancient,” says MacManus. “We wanted to use the last flush of youth before it left us and sign to a fucking major label and get out there and have a proper crack. I’d like to say it’s a calling or something but it’s not really. It’s more like a reaching out for popularity, I guess,” he laughs, and then turns serious. “I don’t know. It’s just — I had no other way. I didn’t have any other way to make money. Or to live. We’ve got to carry on.”

Article by M. S. Dodds for Illinois Entertainer.

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6 Responses to “Special Treats”

  1. Denyer says:

    I like the new colours. Hopefully the official site will get a brush-up and some spanky new content either when the album is out or before. :-)

    Really good interview there at Static.

  2. Christopher says:

    whoever it is going round taking pics of all those crimea posters, i want their job :o P you knows i would rock at it. well, that’s if i didnt get the urge to rip down all the album ones :o

  3. Christopher says:

    one day my :o face will work :o (

  4. Christopher says:

    aarggggggghhhhhhh

  5. S@j says:

    Loving the old school fat camp heroes with their peanut butter and custard creme sandwiches, hopefully sporting a yellow banana striped t-shirt. I was always a bigger fan of the packet of digestives and tub of chocolate spread… mmm…

  6. Christopher says:

    prefer some of that rast veg meself, chocolate drips in my food too much.

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