Cardiacs Interview video 1990

And now for your entertainment: Watch or read this 37-minute video interview with them Cardiacs.

Here’s Tim and Bill in Rome at a local radio station called Radio Rock, just before their gig soundcheck in Rome at the Piper Club, Feb 8, 1990.

Submitted by Emanuele (Sterbus) Sterbini Enjoy!

“There is nothing wrong with the questions you’re asking at all, let’s get that clear. It’s just that we really, really, really don’t know how to answer ’em.”

And here’s a transcript, made by Chris D Butcher:

Tim Smith (TS) and William D Drake (WD)

Q: Why? (laughter)
TS: What’s so funny? Why, what?
Q: Why Cardiacs? What’s the first thing that comes to your mind.
TS: Just a big question mark really.
Q: A bit of the history of the band, when you guys started, where…
TS: …and why. (laughter) I see, why did we start?
Q: Why did you start, how and when.
WD: Are the questions going to get longer?
TS: This was a long question, that one. A longer answer though, I don’t know what to say really. It’s too long. We didn’t start for any reason, it was an accident. It was an accident, I can’t really explain it. It was just an accident, it wasn’t really our fault.
Q: And you just decided to go on?
TS: Yeah. Long time ago.
Q: How long?
WD: What about when Jim fell off that tree?
TS: That’s got nothing to do with it. It’s got nothing to do with Jim falling off of that tree. But it was when Bill was born, that’s when we started. A beautiful baby came into the world, and it was Bill.
And wasn’t he beautiful, aren’t you beautiful Bill? (cupping WD’s chin)
WD: Ow! Ow!
WD: It was my older sister that got me into the band.
TS: She gave birth to him.
WD:…but I used to listen to her records all the time, and…
TS: She gave birth to him.
WD: Not really. I just like to…
Q: Musically, she gave birth to you?
TS: It’s a story that’s not really worth going into. That’s it, that’s our history.
WD: Basically what I’m saying is that you would need to talk to Marjorie.
TS: For the history of Cardiacs you would need to talk to Bill’s sister.
(WD mumbling followed by laughter)
Q: What do you think people in Italy know about Cardiacs, and what kind of vibes are you feeling coming here and knowing that there is so much expectation for a Cardiacs show?
TS: Oooh…it’s wonderful.
WD: Very, very nice.
TS: It’s nice, yes. We don’t know yet ‘cos we haven’t played yet, but it’s just nice being here. When we was on the aeroplane we forgot we were doing a gig. We just thought ‘we’re going to Rome’, cos we haven’t been to Italy before.
Q: It’s your first time?
TS: Yeah, never been here for a holiday or nothin’. I’ve seen it on the map though.
WD: When we were at school we used to have capital contests, and we used to learn the capitals of countries, and Rome was the one of Italy. (laughter)
TS: So, if they said ‘what’s the capital of Italy?’, we’d all go, ‘it’s Rome!’, and we’d get five marks out of five, for being right.
WD: We hope to get to Madrid soon, and Athens.
Q: Only capital cities?
WD: Well, for the moment…
TS: But that’s a lie, that wasn’t true. He was lying.
Q: How would you define your music?
WD: All put together by…
TS: Ah shut up! (pause) Define it? Nah.
Q: No?
Q: The obvious question since you won’t answer that one is, what music did you listen to when you were young?
TS: We all listened to everything. Everything, and that’s a really boring answer, but I’m afraid it’s the only one. ‘Cos everything seems to be defined into some kind of bracket, but it’s quite nice to play all kinds of things that you happen to like yourself and mish-mash it into one thing which you end up doing yourself.
We only play the kind of music that we’d like to hear ourselves, and it just turns out they way it does, by accident
Q: You’ve been categorised in this neo-progressive thing that’s going on. Do you accept this definition, or if not what do you think about it?
TS: It depends what ‘progressive’ means. In England, especially ‘progressive’ always seems to mean that you’re derivative of bands like, the old progressive music from the ’70s, and things like that. And that’s how people in England interpret the word ‘progressive’.
WD: When you say ‘progressive’, which bands exactly do you mean?
Q: Bands like Marillion, new progressive, like you, other bands like Pendragon.
TS: We’re nothing like, we don’t sound anything like those groups, if you think about it, we don’t. But, they’re playing the kind of music they do, which is fair enough. We’re personally not fans of theirs, although they’re friends of ours, they’re nice chaps and all of that kind of thing.
We just play what we want to play. The music we like covers from Prince to psychedelia to anything, who cares? Who cares what anyone likes?
WD: And also the music that they’ve progressed from, is music that was truly progressive in its own way. The bands that are called progressive, I feel, aren’t as progressive as the thing, they come from something else, which is much stronger, I feel personally.
TS: ‘Cos when progressive bands were starting in the ’70s and things like that, they were playing the kind of stuff that had never been played before, whereas these days it’s hard to here stuff that you haven’t heard before. So why not just go for anything you want, with no prejudice.
Q: Is it just a matter of chance that just like in Gentle Giant there were three brothers?
TS: Yes, we watched Gentle Giant and thought ‘they’ve got three brothers in’, so we thought we’d get three brothers in our group.
Q: The use of All His Geese Are Swans, is that an ironic thing or is that true of you?
TS: No, it’s just a title. Literally, it’s just a title, I thought it sounded nice, use it as a title.
Q: It means ‘everything you do is great’?
TS: No, it’s got nothing to do with me. Everything ‘he’, whoever ‘he’ is, does, thinks that it’s good. When in actual fact it isn’t. I just got it out of a book, I did, I got it out of Roget’s Thesaurus.
(during the playing of a record an off-air question is asked regarding the fixation use of flowers and infantile imagery, were they nostalgic of Smith’s childhood?
TS: Nah, flowers are just pretty, they look nice, so we use them as decorations, why not? There’s no big symbolism behind the flower or anything like that, it just looks nice. They’re prettier than our bodies.
Q: This simplicity is also present in the lyrics of the songs.
TS: We just can’t draw very well, that’s all. We’re just not very good at drawing.)
Q: Phone in question: Cardiacs want listeners to attend that night’s concert but this caller feels that she is being made fun of by the answers given so far to what is the meaning behind Cardiacs?
TS: How long would you like the answer to be? I’m not sure, I’m confused now.
WD: It’s much better to just come along and see for themselves what’s happening, than to explain it. To put it into words spoils it. I mean we don’t know what it’s about anyway.
Q: Your weird way of playing all of these different styles, how did it come about?
TS: If I knew an answer to that, I would gladly give it. I just don’t know, and that is true.
Q: Apologising for unoriginal questions.
TS: There is nothing wrong with the questions you’re asking at all, let’s get that clear. It’s just that we really, really, really don’t know how to answer ’em.
Q: How does the British press treat you? Do they understand you?
TS: The British press don’t like us very much.
Q: Why do you think that is?
TS: Fashion? Fashion and credibility. Everyone in England is very afraid of losing face if they admit to liking something that isn’t instantly recognisable as being in fashion or credible. We would like, if we had our way, to break down any boundaries like that, so that people will just simply admit to liking the kind of music they like without worrying about losing face, or thinking that they’re out of fashion.
Q: Creating your own record label the ABC, was this the solution to the problems your incurred putting out your own music?
TS: Yeah. It was necessary to do that so that we could do exactly what we wanted to do without having to worry about a record company saying ‘no, you can’t do that, it’s not single material’ and ‘it’s not commercial’. The only way we could do what we wanted to do, what we had to do, was to do it ourself.
(not sure if this next bit is on-air or not)
WD: We did have a single that got to number 80 in the British charts. (mumbling…). It was played on Radio 1, the main sort of thing, a lot, they picked up on it.
Q: Why does Pinnacle your distribute your records rather than the [Rough Trade] Cartel which is largest in UK?
TS: We don’t know, we don’t care.
WD: Cartel are a load of shit basically, whereas Pinnacle distribute Kylie Minogue so we thought we must be on to a good thing.
(back on-air)
Q: A caller had just remarked that Cardiacs were no longer going to play in England because of the violence at their concerts.
TS: I don’t know where he heard that. There is no violence at our shows. There is no violence at our shows. We have a lovely, beautiful, peaceful audience and they’re all wonderful. And we love them very dearly.
Q: Your music is not a music that brings out any violence in people?
TS: No, if there’s any violence at are gigs it is sorted out immediately one way or another, but luckily violent people don’t come to our gigs because it’s obviously not that kind of stuff.
I can imagine [Cardiacs music] it brings out all kinds of others things, but violence isn’t one of them.
Q: Is it possible to have this sort of radio station in England?
Mr Walmesley: Pirate ones. Pirate stations, it has happened.
TS: Very, rarely. The radio system in England is pretty crap, in as much as the airwaves aren’t very free. You’ve only got a few stations, and the few stations that do exist, will play purely commercial music, because that’s what they think brings the money in for their adverts and things.
WD: Everything they do has to be very, very safe indeed. And the same old dinosaurs that have been running the programmes for the last twenty years.
TS: No one is daring in England.
Q: How did you record a John Peel Session? How does it work?
Did he call you up? Did you send him a tape?
TS: It wasn’t John Peel, he doesn’t like us at all. He won’t play us at all, he refuses, but there was a similar show, Janice Long, she quite liked us and we did it through that. John Peel refuses to play us point blank, but Janice Long has left the radio station now, so it’s just John Peel so we don’t get airplay, ‘cos the DJ doesn’t like us which I think is a bt narrow-minded really, isn’t it? Yes!
WD: There is one good radio station, GLR, which is Greater London Radio, which has only been going for about a year.
TS: But they won’t play us either.
Q: What does RES means?
TS: Nothing, it’s just a title again.
Q: What type of music do you listen to at home?
TS: Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel.
Q: Jim Foetus?
TS: Hmmm, he’s my hero.
WD: The The. A little tiny bit.
TS: Modern music? Not a lot personally. There’s not a lot of things happening at this point in time that really knock my head off, which is a shame. I tend to go back
WD: The Beatles are my favourite pop group.
TS: The Beatles, yeah.
Q: How did you come up with the idea of shooting the Seaside Treats? Who’s idea was it?
TS: All of ours really. We never sit and talk about what we’re going to do, we sort of tend to feel it’s right to do that kind of thing. We’ve got the freedom to do anything we want, and if it feels right to do that, then we do it.
Q: Did anything weird happen while you were shooting?
WD: Tim made a joke, didn’t you?
TS: I made a joke, but we can’t remember what it was. Bill shit himself.
WD: No I didn’t actually. [he’s] saying it for effect.
TS: I said that for a joke.
WD: A joke like now, like people say, ‘did you have a good time doing the radio thing?’, and you say…
TS: ‘No, I shit myself’.
WD: We recorded it…
TS: Someone died actually…(laughs)
WD: No don’t. (laughs)
TS: Nah, it’s alright.
WD: We recorded it in a Polish Refugee Centre and when they went to church in the morning, they let us use it. So we used to go in every Sunday.
Q: You shot it in an hour during Mass?
TS: No, over several weeks.
Q: How many copies of the records have sold over in England?
TS: I haven’t got a clue.
Mr Walmesley: Normally its between ten and fifteen-thousand in the UK. It’s a large cult following in England, and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger all the time.
Q: Ten to fifteen-thousand for each title?
Mr Walmesley: Yeah, it’s without the aid of airplay and television.
WD: It’s a humble business concern, which is us.
Q Can you survive?
TS: It’s difficult (Just about). We just haven’t got any money.
(Beer and cigarettes).
TS: It’s true, and the reason we laugh is because we’re happy to be in Rome.