Living Next Door To Jarvis
Words: Clark Collis
Taken from Select Magazine, July 1995

Since 1988, various Pulp people have lived with Mr. Cocker. Even then, he was too famous to do the hoovering.

Russell: 1988

Having been friends and band members for years, it seemed a good idea when Jarvis Cocker (vocals) and Russell Senior (guitar / violin) moved in together. The year: 1988. The location: a sub-zero flat above a butcher's shop in Sheffield.

Russell: "The thing about Jarvis is that he tends to go to jumble sales and buy a load of useless old clutter. The mantlepiece would be covered with little pottery mice and those birds that dip into glasses. At first I had this hardline policy - I'd bung stuff into a carrier bag and stick it under his bed. But he just wouldn't stop getting stuff. How many people do you know who own five full-length mirrors? And moving house with him's a nightmare. He'll remember the elephant's foot umbrella stand but forget the cooker."

"Also, I don't rate him as a chef. Jarvis brought his girlfriend round for dinner once. He bought this chicken, which was black. And he's saying, Are chickens generally this colour raw? And I'm like, Well no, Jarvis, they're more generally pink. Anyway we sat down to eat and Jarvis brought in these potatoes and lettuce. So we're waiting for the rest of the food to arrive. But it never came. That was it."

"I say all this with the greatest affection. I ought to have known better, really. I'm a fastidious person. I like to keep things tidy. And Jarvis is just the opposite. That's why I left, because things were just sinking into squalor. Are you letting Jarvis give the case for the defence? Well, let me tell you... there isn't one."

"Would I live with him again? No."

Nick: 1989

Nick Banks (drummer) was living in a shared house in Sheffield. There was a spare room. Jarvis needed somewhere to live...

Nick: "Jarvis turned up with this Transit van crammed with rubbish ... a cardboard house ... a little doll made out of plastic fruit. So I started helping out with all these bags and boxes. Then this car pulls up and Jarvis goes, Oh it's me driving lesson. He gets in and the car hops off like a kangaroo. We had to cart all the stuff by ourselves. At first we managed to keep the living room fairly bare, but every so often you'd find a fluffy gonk on the table and you'd think, Now whose might this be?"

"We lived together for about a year and then he went to London. I moved to London in '91 and lived with Steve. It was a 14th floor squat in Camberwell, at a place called Crossmount House. I think it's been featured in a few episodes of The Bill. It was quite orderly, though. We didn't have any dogs on strings. I can imagine living with other band members could be a problem with certain groups. But we were never the kind of outfit where people would suddenly bring out acoustic guitars and singing 'Cwm-by-a' at 5am."

"Would I live with him again? In an ideal world I'd have to say... No."

Steve: 1990

After Jarvis moved to London, Steve Mackey (bass) flogged him the keys to a squat for £75. But the singer was evicted soon afterwards. Steve had heard the stories, of course, but thought the others were exaggerating. He told Jarvis he could move into his Camberwell abode.

Steve: "Have you spoken to Russell? I'm sure he didn't have many good Jarvis stories. Russell was very into efficiency. Some sort of Nietzschean phase. I've heard that before I joined he'd turn up at rehearsals with a check-list of jobs which had to be done before music could commence."

The main thing about Jarvis is his clutter. He is the skip king. It was a bad time, because I was at college and I was tired all the time. I'd come home just wanting to watch the TV and the front room would look like Andy Warhol's Factory. You couldn't move for Joe 90 annuals... My best memory of Jarvis was when we moved to Peckham, by which time the band was beginning to get a bit more popular. Jarvis started to get paranoid about signing on, so every second Tuesday he'd get dressed up in his grunge outfit - one of those hats which pull down right over your ears and a really scruffy jumper. I used to stay in and miss college just to see him. He never pulls his weight on the domestic front. He's not lazy, he'd just rather be doing other things. But you kind of trade those things for having someone who's fun to live with."

"Would I live with him again? Well, I've nowhere to stay at moment so I wouldn't rule it out. I always enjoy living with Jarvis. On the other hand, maybe I do see enough of him as it is."

Jarvis Cocker: The case for the defence

Jarvis: "I suppose I do have a lot of stuff. But most of the time I was living with Nick and Russell I was on the dole and there was nothing to do during the day. To satisfy my hunter-gatherer instincts I would go round to jumble sales and collect stuff. I've never really been a person to live with, just you and one other person. It puts too much strain on the relationship. So the time I lived with Russell probably wasn't so great. It was also really cold. It was above a butcher's shop. And my bed was above the butcher's fridge, which made it even worse."

"I can't remember turning up with a black chicken. On the other hand, it's only been the last three or four years that I've started to learn about cooking. I did my first soufflé the other day. It was a success. It rose. It's true that Russell would turn up to rehearsals with a list of domestic chores. But I could never concentrate on that kind of domestic thing. It used to depress me. I'd think, God, I want to be a famous person in a band. I shouldn't have to deal with things like pots and hoovers."

"I did find things out about people by living with them. Russell's got a fondness for walking about without many clothes on. That can be a bit unsettling early in the morning. The thing I found most distaseful about Nick was the his tea. He's one of those people who just shows the cup the teabag. It always used to make me feel ill seeing him drink a pint-sized mug of this milky water. Steve... Well, Steve just made me feel dirty because he was always having baths. He'd have a bath at least once a day. Sometimes twice. I used to wonder what he got up to in there. The main thing that probably got on Steve's nerves about me was that when I have a shave I do tend to leave all the bits of hair in the sink. But my excuse for that is that I haven't got me glasses on so I can't see that it's there. I know that that really got on his nerves. He even told me off about it once.

"Would I do it again? Yeah, I don't see why not. They're not too bad."

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