Ludicrous Lollipops
LUDICROUS LOLLIPOPS are the latest guitaring pop monsters to fill the void left by Kingmaker, Senseless Things and Megas finding success. Poppermost of the toppermost no less.
Words: Ian Watson
Photos: David Travis
All those who have a problem with the concept that there should be nothing more to a band than youth, enjoyment and stupidity are advised to turn the page now. Those unsure of their feelings on this particular issue should see how they react to 'you can't do better than lollipops dipped in lager' as a band philosophy. And those who equate pop music with the celebration of life are to read on as quickly as possible. They're crazy - and have electric guitars in their hearts. Hurrah for the Ludicrous Lollipops!
By rights you should absolutely hate Coventry's most ridiculous brand of aural confectionary. Storming out of student land with cheery smiles and cuddly pop songs, they're every teenage rebel's nightmare; four teachers' pets playing exactly the kind of music your mother wishes you'd like. The kind of guys who face life with the unswervable knowledge that everything's gonna turn out right in the end, happy go lucky airheads who epitomise the establishment's idea of a young person's pop group. Too easy and too safe. Not very cred.
You don't hate them though, do you? Not really. Maybe it's because no matter how much you despise the most popular kid at school there's always a part of you wishing you could be them. Or perhaps, as with The Frank & Walters, pure untainted effervescent fun is just too much to resist. It's certainly hard not to admire a band who have the gall to stand in their local train station holding the handwritten legend 'Coventry Welcomes Ian Watson', and anyone who says they're going to spend their first million entirely on sweets has got to be alright. Everybody loves a clown - and the Lollies can boast a handful.
"I spend so much on sweets it's appalling," groans singer Simon. "A third of your giro spent on sweets isn't a very healthy way to live. The best thing about the band though is that we have all these lollipops to give away, and you just end up eating loads of those."
And the punchline: "Still, imagine being called Ludicrous Dogshit!"
Time to meet the Lollies. Occupying lead singer heart-throb position we have sincere but lovable Simon, looking after the offbeat and chummy guitarist department there's affable Lol, weighing in heavily with the dry one liners welcome drummer Alan, and standing proudly in a corner let's hear it for the earnest yet crude cartoon figure of bassist Chris. Separately they're a fairly intriguing selection of characters, together a beer guzzling, gag mangling four headed hydra that blames goth for the stupid band name and insists that fun guitar pop betters the pseudo bedroom art of Slowdive, any day. Not that they're not art-ists themselves. Far from it.
"We're art to be enjoyed rather than art to be cherished," decides Simon, mental cogs oiled by the first of several pints of strong lager. "Our music is art but it's more something to inspire achievement really. Even to the basic level of listening to something to get you in the mood for going out."
"It's like 'Eight Legged Groove Machine', nods Lol. "When that came out I was living in a pit and the only way I could get myself to go out of the house was to put that on and then I was in the mood to go to the pub. That's the sort of record I'd like to make, the sort of thing to make you get out of bed in the morning, not to sit there thinking how depressed you are.
"Out of bed at lunchtime, sorry. Musn't forget to be rock n roll."
Lol's mention of The Wonder Stuff's classic debut LP may get you thinking that the Ludicrous Lollipops are yet another in a long line of fan dominated bands but the depth and spirit of their songs show that they're far from mere two dimensional copyists. Inspired initially by a wealth of crap music rather than a smattering of decent stuff, they're a reaction that blossomed into something more than just a contrary noise, the band's pop philosophy and Simon's bittersweet lyrics slotting in perfectly with the current popkid zeitgeist. Ask the band what influences their style most and they'll cite not musical sources but social and geographical ones. In breezy non political pop music terms then this makes them the people's poet. Swallow that, Kevin Turvey!
"What's the mood of our stuff?" asks Simon. "Inner city Coventry circa 1992. We are very much a regionalised Coventry band. We derive quite a lot of influence from Coventry's ska heritage and we're definitely a city band, reporting the mood of the city."
Which is what?
"Depressed - like everywhere else in this recession - but happy, I suppose. Coventry City supporters sum it up. They're still behind the team after twenty years of nothing. But they're still taking the piss at the same time."
Simon says that the phrase that comes closest to describing the attitude of Coventry dwellers is 'always look on the bright side of life', and has to admit that for all the drudgery of daily routine, the Lollies are still overwhelmingly optimistic.
"Definitely. To the bitter end."
"We're in the same situation as everyone round here," adds Lol, "we're on the dole and we're skint. And our way of coping with it is going and making twats of ourselves onstage so other people can go and have a laugh about it as well."
"And we are going to be the biggest pop band in the world," beams Simon. "Without a doubt. It's the idea of seeing a goal and going for it. Being a pop star, everyone laughs, but if you actually set you sights on that goal and go for it I think it'll happen. And that's the strength of optimism."
"I think 'Smile' on the EP really sums up our attitude," he eventually decides. "There are a hell of a lot of problems, everyone has problems, but if you're gonna dwell on them then you're lost. You have to make the effort to enjoy yourself. But it doesn't say go out and be happy, just stop moaning about being sad. There is a subtle difference. I mean, there's no point going round saying the world is beautiful because... we live in Coventry. But if you can put your problems into one little box and open it a few times as you can then you're a lot better off."
"You really are a poet aren't you?" deadpans Lol. "You're going to be Wiz when you grow up."
The Ludicrous Lollipops' first real step into the very adult world of popstardom comes with their forthcoming "Scrumdiddlyumptious" EP. Named after a chocolate bar in "Charlie And The Chocolate Factory", it's an exhilarating mixture of brash guitars, strident melodies and cutting lyrics, the four songs contained therein doing their best to paint a picture of an extremely hyperactive adolescence. Not that it's all effusive fun and games, bitterness and disillusionment definitely play an important role in the still awkward world of the Lollies, but what really makes this EP so endearing is the sheer passion with which it's been recorded. Don't make the mistake of thinking it's all from the heart though. As touched on briefly before these are vignettes not confessions, reports rather than testimonials. And what song better to illustrate this than the super slimy "Lies About My Life".
"It started off being from the point of view of someone pissed up in a club chatting someone up," remembers Lol, "and ended up being that lads night out thing where you're going on about how I reckon the barmaid fancies me. Which of course is total bollocks because she doesn't, she's pissed off and thinks you're a dickhead. It's ironic."
"The problem with us is that we commentate far too much and have probably too few opinions in the songs," reflects Simon. "I don't like making judgements in songs, it's not a healthy thing, so we just end up with songs that are reporting one stage of life and I quite believe that people are going to hear 'Lies' and think we're a bunch of wankers. But that's not the point at all. We don't want people to relate to it. It's just a comment."
"I think it's come out to be a song about tour managers," continues Lol. "That attitude that if you've got anything to do with the band then suddenly everyone wants to shag you. It's one of the most sickening things I've found about playing in a band, meeting people with that 'as soon as I pick up a guitar I'm a sex god' attitude. That's bullshit. I can't imagine anybody wanting to sleep with me just because I can play three chords."
"You've learnt a third?"
Alan may be alighting on a golden opportunity to take the piss here but he's also inadvertently illustrating the attitude that makes Ludicrous Lollipops songs more than just good natured thrashes. As people and as a band they're totally without pretension - not once do they suggest that they're any better than the rest of Coventry's inhabitants - and it's this fresh, almost naive, outlook that inspires them to write songs about those who try to make out they're something they're not. You hate what you don't understand, they say. And the whole art of posing has got the Lollies well and truly flummoxed.
"I don't think we're any good at lying," says Lols innocently. "That's part of the pretension thing. If any of us rose about our stations then that'd be it. You always get caught out, one of the band will come in and laugh at you."
"I think it's part of a lack of confidence or insecurity," offers Alan. "I'm sure there are people who do it from devious means and the song is an attack of that but it's also a realisation that people do go out and you've got nothing to say because you've been on the dole all week, so you say you're in the Ludicrous Lollipops or something. And people laugh at you."
"Funnily enough we've had someone doing that," laughs Simon. "I remember walking past someone in a pub and he was saying 'yeah I'm the drummer in the Ludicrous Lollipops' and I was thinking 'er, no you're not'. He didn't pull either. Of course he didn't pull, he said he was the drummer."
The point with the Ludicrous Lollipops then is that they're a source of hope, a low key alternative to the numbing familiarity of everyday existence. Certified optimists to a man, they're happy with the notion that being in a band means that one of your singles could possibly be a worldwide number one, even if the style you choose to play is about as fashionable as drinking bathwater. It's all about optimism, looking on the bright side, making the real world sparkle, and even if it's only in their dreams the Lollies will one day be the biggest band on the planet. Just imagine lads, real fame. What do you think you'll do with your millions?
"Piss it away," grins Lol "Flash cars and flash houses."
"I'm having a cellar full of sweets," decides Simon. "Every sweet you can imagine. An unlimited supply."
"It saddens me a bit," sighs Lol, "because when the bloke from London records came to see us about signing a publishing deal, he took us out for a drink, then we went back to his hotel, the DeVere in Coventry which is fairly plush. And I thought we'd be cool about it, but were we arseholes? We were strutting about and ordering cocktails and throwing tellys out of windows. It was pathetic. All the things I thought we'd never do.... and we were just gagging for it."
So fame's gonna change you then?
"Yeah. We're gonna change into right wankers."
As scrumdiddyumptious as their record title suggests. Catch them before it all goes horribly wrong.
Siren magazine, issue 9, April 1992.
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