The Bodines
Melody Maker, 22nd August 1987.
Paul Mathur encounters THE BODINES in Canada and there's not an anecdote in sight.
"This doesn't look like Canada," whispers Chuck Wagon to Jack Lumber as they emerge from the squeaky clean customs room after a particularly thorough examination. "I mean, there's no Mounties and everyone's talking French."
"Perhaps we're in Paris," mumbles Jack. "Perhaps we don't belong".
The Bodines belong. Belong to a world of skittery tunes and little love stories. They belong to days of dreamy indecision and nights of wild abandon, to a peculiarly adolescent time when everything means nothing and nothing means much more. And the Bodines say: "The music will win through in the end."
Having discovered that they ARE in Canada after all, in Montreal, French speaking and, as with the rest of Quebec, fiercely independent from the rest of the country, Chuck and Jack set about finding where The World Log Rolling Contest is taking place. It's a long way from their native Chorley but this is it, The Big One, the climax of every weekend lumberjack's career. The hubcap factory can wait, the glamour's waiting.
But will the music win through, Bodines? Is authenticity and raggedy desire enough? It may have sufficed in those dim and distant Creation days, when "Paradise", "Heard It All" and "Therese" rumbled out of new found dirt. The amble slips much easier from Shamblepop when pragmatism is nearly all you need. These days the pop kids need to soak in stories and grand designs; you're going to have to say something.
"Creation was full of old hippies in leather trousers moaning about what a lot of problems they had. We were never part of that, we just wanted some way of putting our records out."
Jack and Chuck like Moosehead Beer. They like it very much. Canadians don't like Jack and Chuck singing "I'm A Lumberjack" though, and ask them to go outside. Stumbling into the dusk, wondering why it's morning already, Jack and Chuck go and find some fun.
"After Creation we needed someone with money to put behind us but most of the record companies seemed to be full of dickheads. When Magnet's name came up, we were still dead wary but the people there seemed to want to take some chances, seemed to understand what we were on about."
What are you on about?
"Listen to the records."
A lot of people are standing around the ice hockey stadium selling each other Woolworths tee-shirts and saying "It's a shame Curtis had to die". Jack and Chuck think ice hockey must be a very tough game, so they join the queue.
The Bodines are four people. Mick Ryan sings, Paul Brotherton rhythm guitars, Timothy Burwood basses and John Rowland drums. Together they make a noise that, more often than not, takes scruffpop into ravishing little side streets. It's certainly appealing, but is it fun?
"In one way we're totally serious about what we can do, but in another we're not. I don't know if we'll be doing this in 10 years time, for now, it's a good job to have. We're getting more money than we could get from a lot of other jobs."
Is it enough?
It's not an ice hockey match after all, even if 11-year-old giants are knocking seven shades of hell out of each other on the practice rink. The crowds are here to see a pop concert by a bunch of people called New Order. They're from Jack and Chuck's way so they decide to go and have a look. Maybe they've seen them down the pub or perhaps they were at Doreen's 21st that night they went into Manchester.
"You shouldn't have kicked that table over", says Jack.
"I know" says Chuck, "but you've got to do SOMETHING haven't you?"
"All those stories about us trashing Magnet's offices when we signed, that's all bollocks. I think they were trying to make us out to be the next Mary Chain or something, so they started telling the papers all these ridiculous stories.
"We don't like the sort of stories people tend to write about us because they're usually just stupid."
Can't I tell some lies?
"Of course you can't."
"They look like jessies to me". Jack's watching the support group and thinks it's all a bit of a racket. He recognises the singer, though, from when he used to go fishing in Glossop. "That lad's called Mick. He's alright. He always used to stand his round. What's the group called? The Bodines? Bloody din isn't it?"
The kids are going crazy.
The Bodines really ought to be hugely popular. They've got the sex and the hair and all those little jittery tunes that young people like to quiver to. The remixed "Therese" that marked Magnet debut was full of sneaky little surprises and hefty pop dalliances. So why did it only scuff the edges of the charts? Why haven't parents heard of The Bodines?
"Having hits isn't that important. It only matters in the sense that the record company will stick with us. I'm not hung up on the idea of being a pop star."
A six foot four American with a mohican and terrible body odour jabs Chuck in the back. "Do you guys know The Bodines", he says. "I'm their friend." He tells them that he met The Bodines a few nights earlier in Toronto when he tried to sell them a knife. They didn't want to buy one but when he told them he was on the run for stabbing two cops and showed them his knife, they said he could come on the tour with them. "I like psycho-punk", he says, "but I like The Bodines as well. My name's Moose."
"Hi Moose" say Chuck and Jack.
"The album's the most important thing at the moment. I think it's probably going to give people the best idea about what we're doing. Dire Straits were working in the studio next to us when we were doing it and they didn't like us much. The songs are good, they're not too fussy and maybe people will stop f**king comparing us with Orange Juice."
The Bodines sound nothing like Orange Juice but they do have a song called "Untitled". Why couldn't they think of a title after all that time?
"It's a good title."
Moose takes Chuck and Jack to the hotel to see The Bodines. They're all hiding behind the couch when he comes in but Moose doesn't seem to notice. "Hey, you guys, stop fooling" he says. "Let's watch TV".
In a hotel room they all watch the wrestling, laughing as people pretend to break each other's collar bones. Moose gets so excited that he drops the drummer on his head then breaks the window and throws a bit of it at the TV. "I bet that's the first time anyone's ever thrown a hotel window through a TV set", say The Bodines. "They'll be calling us rock 'n' roll animals next."
No one is ever going to call The Bodines rock 'n' roll animals. Simon Reynolds was right in his assertion that they don't slip so easily these days into an indie-pop world dripping the blood and nerves of the likes of The Young Gods, A R Kane or Skinny Puppy. The Bodines seem too polite, too rigidly adherent to a stylish messiness to ever really impinge on anything but the national charts. If that's where they belong they're going to have to soak themselves in a necessary transience, a dissolution of otherness, a will to wilt. The last single, "Skanking Queens (A Thousand Times)", and the album, "Played", skip rather too unpredictably for either camp and the time appears to be now for them to decide whether a celebration of surface sufference is in order.
"Bodines, this is Chuck and this is Jack".
The Bodines take Jack and Chuck on a tour of Montreal's more hedonistic sights. They say that they thought Canada would be creatively inspiring but that it all seems very flat to them. They miss England and they wouldn't mind a sleep. They're having a good time.
"The thing with The Bodines is that we have fun."
At the airport, Chuck buys a giant teddy bear in an ice hockey shirt.
"They were good lads those Bodines", he says. "Still got Jessie haircuts though."
Are you happy with being pop Bodines?
"Pop is vital, at the end of the day, all we can hope for is that people think we're a good pop band. We just don't want the whole thing cluttered up with anecdotes. You won't use any will you?"
Not one.
"Are you sure this isn't France?"
Melody Maker, 22nd August 1987.
Melody Maker Aug 1987
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