Liz Kershaw Interviews Jarvis
Broadcast on BBC 6 Music, 22 November 2002

[Something Changed fades out...]

Liz: Different Class is one of my favourite albums of all time. If there were a fire, and I know it's a bad time to have one right now, I'd pick it up and it would be one of the ones that left the house with me - and I'm not just saying that cause you're here Jarvis...

Jarvis: Well, that's very kind of you to say so, but you could always get out the house, save yourself...

...and buy another one?

Yeah! That'd be even better. Although I don't want your house to burn down obviously!

What's your favourite of your albums then - have you got one? Is that your favourite or is there another one you like more, or can't you stand listening to them?

I hate them all! Well it's not that I hate them all, but I would never through choice listen to them, no. Although I like that song you just played, having to sit in a room with other people with it on in the background is mortifying to me.

I know what you mean... it's not the same, but when I get in the lift and hear my voice in the lift here I think open up the floor and let me out! That song also, I wondered if you'd made the connection with that and Abba's "The Day Before You Came"? Was it a song you knew about before you wrote it.

Well I do like that song by Abba - I remember because Blancmange did a version as well which I've got the 12" of! It's quite boring cause it's got a pretence guitar break in the middle of it, but I like songs that in some way mess around with time.

Am I right in interpreting - the two songs are both really saying my life was really really grim and monotonous and boring. And if I hadn't just done that one thing by chance at that particular time, it still would be, but you came along.

It's about a life that's going on and on and on and nothing's happening and then it changes.

Another thing I've always wanted to ask you Jarvis is Disco 2000 - was there really a girl next door - the Deborah character?

I haven't got much of a sense of imagination so a lot of our songs are just straight true stories - there was a girl called Deborah - she was born in the same hospital as me - not within an hour - I think it was like three hours - but you can't fit three hours into the song without having to really rush the singing! ("We were born within-three-hours of each other") It don't work! So I took poetic licence and cut it down to an hour. But basically you know the whole thing was the same - I fancied her for ages and then she started to become a woman and her breasts began to sprout so then all the boys fancied her then - I didn't stand a 'cat-in-hell's chance' - but then I did use to sometimes hang around outside her house and stuff like that. The only bit that isn't true is the woodchip wallpaper.

I wanted to ask you that because home decoration is very important in the North - we take pride - so she didn't have woodchip on the wall?

She didn't have woodchip - that was a girl much later who I tried to cop-off with after a concert in Leeds and I managed to get back to her flat which was very woodchippy.

It was me! [laughter]

I found you again! After all these years!

I was in Leeds and I did have woodchip wallpaper! We could have both been so drunk we didn't remember...

It didn't go that well cause if it'd have gone well I probably wouldn't have even noticed the wallpaper. But due to a certain awkwardness, it stuck in me mind.

Thank you for clearing that up after seven years! Now the other girl is quite well documented. There really was a girl that took you shopping and said 'let's nick this stuff' and you know... from Greece and all that.

Well yes, there was a girl at St. Martin's but I never knew what her name was. But yes, there was a girl on the sculpture course and all this kind of thing and I met her and she did say all the stuff about common people and all that kind of thing which I found highly amusing at the time.

Well we've got Common People in a Peel Session.

Oh Bloody Hell, that's probably awful!

No, it's good. It's different from the single but it is good. It's 1994 and I was really surprised to find out today how early your first Peel session was - it was like ten years earlier?

1981 or something.

Can you remember it still?

Oh aye I do remember it yeah! And then I had a big resentment against John Peel 'cause that was when I was about 17 and I was still at school and we went down and recorded the session and I thought, 'Yes, come on! I'm gonna be a pop star even before I've left school'. And then we had this massive ten years in the wilderness kind of thing and did this second session for him. So I kind of cursed him for while for setting me off!

But you love him now don't you?

Well I could have done something useful with my life! I could have been a doctor or something rather than just writing rubbish songs that irritate people! I could have done something that meant something!

Do you want to hear it then?

This is like double cringe innit?!

Okay - I'm sorry! Well while we're playing this, I just want to give away some of your Greatest Hits albums and I've come up with a question... Common People - one of the greatest number 2's ever - what was the record that kept it from that important number 1 spot chart position!

[sarcastically] Well, it's etched in my mind, but I won't let the listeners know that!

[Fades to Common People, (Peel Session, 1994, Maida Vale Studios). Then, two minutes into the song...]

Liz: Right, I don't want any abuse by email from listeners who say, 'how dare you fade that out Kershew!' - I'm fading it out at the request of my guest in the studio!

Jarvis: It's awful, it's right weedy!

Well the beginning was weedy but the vocal was quite authentic to the album wasn't it?

That's very kind of you. I've not heard that since we did it. I think we'd only just written it a bit before.

You were probably nervous!

Although actually that's no excuse cause there's only three chords in it so it's not like you can even say, 'oh yeah we were just learning it' - if you can't learn three chords you've had it haven't you?!

I should have kept your mic open cause it was great! Great moments in rock history - that's playing out and he's sitting here going... 'Hey this is rubbish, awful, weedy, yuk!'... So, you're moving soon - lots of stuff in the papers about why you're going to France...

Good riddance to bad rubbish - that's what they're saying!

The 'soaraway' Sun said... Did you read this one? [quoting from paper] "Jarvis Cocker is going to France because he's a coward. He knows that if it came to war, the French never join in and so he'll be safer there." Did you not read that one?

No, I didn't see that one!

It was in The 'soaraway' Sun, and so obviously it's true! So why are you going to France - I know your wife is French.

Well obviously it is safer there - first bullet and they say 'yes - we surrender!' I've been down here for 14 years and I never really intended to be here that long. And you know, me wife's French and she fancied moving back over there for a bit so I thought 'well why not? See what it's like.' Ooh la la!

It's expensive Paris, isn't it?

Non! C'est moins cher qu'ici! No, it's not that bad actually. Taxi's are cheeper! Mmmm. Baguettes are cheaper! All that business...

Coffee's cheaper.

Coffee's cheaper... wine is compulsory, which is right handy for me!

Red or white?

Red. So, you know, suit me!

But before you go, you're going up to Sheffield and you're doing some kind of film festival and we're going to be joining you...

Are you? That's good.

Well not me, Andrew Collins and Tom Robinson. And you're going to be co-presenting the show I understand? Did you know that?

No I didn't no. But it's going to be marvellous! [sarcastically] It's lovely to work with Tom and Andrew again - you know, we go back quite a long way! There's a film festival and also there's a music bit to it as well. It's mainly Steve, our bass player who's been organising it. It's in this right big old steel works on the border of Sheffield and Rotherham.

Okay, well we'll be there joining you. Thank you for coming - I'm sorry we didn't have longer with you, but you're making a video and you've left the other lads filming it?

I have yeah, so I've got to get back and put my oar in!

Thanks for coming into 6music, and we'll see you up in Sheffield.

Providing the links still work, you can hear Part 1 of the interview by clicking here, and Part 2 by clicking here.

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