Cash For Questions
Words: Andrew Collins, Photographer: Hugo Dixon
Location: Pavilion Hotel, Paddington, London. 20 February 1998
Taken from Q Magazine 140, May 1998

You dredged up the anti-Jacko rump-wigglage. You enquired after his "toilet parts". You asked if he ever felt like a fraud. He countered with revealing stuff about fame, fags and turnips. Meet the people, Jarvis Cocker.

There is something of the Marx Brothers about the scene. Jarvis Cocker, the photographer, the stylist, the fretting PR, the journalist and a lot of lighting equipment, all shoe-horned into a fun size hotel room, the sort that's called a single because you couldn't fit a whole LP into it. There's not even room for a mini-minibar.

It is a certifiably rum venue, all ornate frills and a bordello drapes ("A bit fussy," is Cocker's art-school verdict), with a beaded canopy round the bed designed to jingle if the room's occupant attempts a hand shandy after lights-out. We're all here because the world's sexiest lanky streak of piss will soon be having his photo taken downstairs by a top women's fashion magazine, surrounded by super models and Regency tat. As such, he considers a barrage of Q readers' questions a welcome respite.

On the eve of the release of Pulp's follow-up to the Mercury Prize-winning Different Class album, entitled This Is Hardcore, Cocker is chuffed that the title track's been played on London indie radio station Xfm and people haven't instantly recognised it as Pulp. No such luck for the gangly frontman, who looks every inch both Jarvisian and Cockeresque.

When it's all over, and he squeezes out of the room to venture downstairs for some overlit bulimia-girl action, he will confess, "I imagined we were going to have questions like, Why are you shit now?" Ah, that, like this silly hotel, would be too obvious.

Do you really despise the middle classes?: Rebecca Deeprose, Bexhill-on-Sea

The thing that I despise about the middle classes is that they seem very loveless and lifeless. The aristocracy are well-known for their eccentricity, and if you meet a real toff, they're a good laugh. But the middle classes don't seem to know how to enjoy themselves. Their aspirations are built around a desire to die a bit quicker. Having said that, I don't subscribe to Class War.

Ever thought of growing a moustache?: Mat Koenen, Hampton, Iowa

I've had one. We even played one concert with it, at the Venue in New Cross (circa 1991). I had it for about a month. It wasn't a pencil moustache, it was quite decent, right down to the corners here, half an inch long. My mother was horrified because I reminded her of my dad.

Are you comfortable with the fact that our mothers like you?: Peter Somerville, Scarborough

They'll probably go off us when they hear this record. I'd say it was a compliment really, but it probably puts the kids off. If my mother liked the music that I liked I would've definitely found something else. Luckily, my mother liked Focus and Blood, Sweat And Tears.

Was there an incident in childhood adolescence that made you realise it was OK to be different?: Nichole Graham, New York

Punk rock. Because up to then I used to hate the fact that I stuck out. But when I was about 13, it became an advantage not to be the same as everyone else. That's when I started going to jumble sales and buying my own clothes.

How many times did you play Rotherham Arts Centre?: Gavin Harrison, Lancs

We played our first ever concert there in 1980. It was the first and only time we ever played Rotherham. We were supporting a group called The Process and it was very exciting. We were taken there in a mobile grocer's van. We turned up stinking of turnips.

Do you feel threatened by Girl Power?: Mark Blake, Lincs

Girl Power in terms of the Spice Girls seems to be more like, We can get our tits out when we want - which is basically what blokes want anyway. Before they sacked their manager, I thought it was joke: they had a male manager, it was blokes writing the songs, and it was like a 45-year-old bloke's masturbation fantasy of girls - "Naughty girls, I'd like to take you across my knee and spank you."

What do you miss about Russell, if anything?: Charlie Franks, London W4

Lots of things. I saw him in Sheffield at Christmas. My sister's got a 75ft deep well at the back of her house, it's really old, and Russell got quite excited about it. He's into adventures, he's very knowledgeable about fungus, he would always have a different take on things, and he's a very good cook. When we go on tour, I'll miss him even more.

Chumbawamba's Brits protest: point well made or outrageous publicity stunt?: Sheryl Stimpson, Lincoln

I thought all the shirts with LABEL WHORE and SHIFT UNITS on were trying a bit too hard. I can't remember any of them individually, but I'm pretty sure Pulp stayed at Chumbawamba's house in Leeds years and years and years ago. It was a concert in a brothel. They seemed nice. I don't want to slag them off. I think the Labour government have let people down because there was so much goodwill when they got in, and you couldn't help getting carried away with it. I'm eternally grateful to Chumbawamba because Pulp are no longer the band that existed for ages before they had a hit - they've beaten our record. We don't get asked that anymore.

How long have you smoked, how many do you smoke a day, and does it worry you?: Neil Stuart, Northants

I didn't start till I was about 21. I used to slag my mother off. She'd say, Go and get us a packet of fags. I'd say, No, you're killing yourself. Me smoking all came about in a really stupid way. I was going out with this girl at the time and we were bored, so we thought of the most out-of-character thing we could do, and bought a packet of Consulate cigarettes and smoked them. I really disliked them. And I'm not proud of the fact that I smoke. My intake varies, but it's between 10 and 20 a day. Do I worry about it? Yeah, but not as much as I do about some other things.

Do you ever wish you'd been born a woman?: Lisa Carroll, Cardiff

I used to think it when I was an adolescent, but that's because I was so shit scared of asking girls out, I thought it'd be fantastic to be the one who got asked. I wouldn't mind being a girl, but I'm not considering a sex-change.

Do you want to be a legend? Joe Cushnan, Worksop

I used to want to be. When you think about being famous, you imagine yourself dead, and the streets being lined with people as your coffin is taken through in a state funeral. Maybe that's what drives you to become famous - everybody being upset when you die. Trouble is, legends don't last long these days. They've only been dead for a few years and there's a warts-and-all biography digging all the crap up. In the end, it's not up to me. I don't feel particularly legendary today.

Do you wonder where the other ex-members of Pulp are?: Peter Urquhart, Wirral

I don't know where they are. There's a bloke researching a Pulp book who claims to have tracked down all but three of the ex-members. I'd be interested to know what they're doing. One of them was running an off-licence.

United or Wednesday?: Bramall Bob, Sheffield

Wednesday. I've always supported Wednesday because I prefer blue to red.

Are you rich?: Ruth Caul, Taunton

Compared to what I used to be, yes. But I imagine that compared to how much people assume, not as rich as that - due to bad business deals in the past. I was having my photo taken the other day in a park in the Elephant & Castle (London), and these two kids of about 12 followed me. One of them was going (adopts a voice of Cockney urchin) "All that money you've got, and you dress like that! You should be wearing Armani, mate!" And the other one pipes up, "Yeah, and he drives that old banger an' all!" It did me in.

Have you ever felt like a fraud?: Amy Harrison, Colwyn Bay

It does worry me a lot, more than it ought to. I wouldn't like to be pulling the wool over people's eyes. If you're in a really bad mood and you're knackered and you've got to play a concert, you have to gee yourself up. Now, hopefully, after five or ten minutes, you actually get into it - but you are putting it on a little bit. You owe it to the people who turned up to make an effort. There's not been many times that I've come off stage and thought, That was a fucking sham. You have to live with yourself. When I was writing this album, I didn't want to write about the same things I've written about before because I'm not living in that situation anymore. But on the other hand, I didn't want to go the Whining Rock Star In A Hotel Room route, burdening people with all this crap about being on the road, but I didn't want to write about being on the street, because I'm not anymore. Where am I? On the mezzanine level.

When did you last have a fight? And did you win?: Mark Dyer, Bury St. Edmunds

I kicked a photographer once, about three years ago. His mate was taking pictures of me doing it! I don't know if I should mention that, the pictures never came out. It takes a lot for me to want to punch someone's lights out. I get my own back in other ways.

Who's the best out of Kenneth Williams and Sid James?: Mark McKay, Hove

I find Kenneth Williams more intriguing. He kept his persona going until the end. Sid James just had a good laugh and a funny face.

Do you feel comfortable in Sheffield?: Gary Charles, London

I don't go out much when I'm there, but I feel comfortable at my sister's house. Because there are less celebrities living in Sheffield, you're more of a target. Me and my sister had been to a funeral, and she wanted to go to this place called Meadow Hall, a shopping centre on the outskirts, and as soon as we got there, we had a chain of five kids behind us going, "Cocker knocker! Cocker knocker!" I felt like the Pied Piper, we even started running in Marks & Spencer's. It's embarrassing. But I don't want to be a bloody recluse.

Have there ever been any sexual tensions within Pulp?: Wayne Johnson, London

Candida would be very embarrassed about that question. She goes out with Pete, our former bass player, and I don't think anybody would like to cross him. As far as I know there's never been any sexual tension between the male members of the band - but what they get up to once they're at home and the door's shut, I don't know.

Are you a cat person or a dog person?: Tommy Parlsow, London

I always used to be a cat person, because I grew up with one, it was given to me as a christening present and it lived until I was 13. It was called Nif. But I can understand the social advantages of a dog. If you want to go on a wander and take a turning down a road you've never been down, if you're on your own, people think you're a burglar, but if you're with a dog you've got an instant excuse. So it's useful for burglars! Cats are cooler, but I've gravitated towards dogs. More entertainment options. I'd love to have one but I live in a flat.

Have you ever, even for a second, regretted the Michael Jackson incident?: Ewen Gillies, Glasgow

I regretted the impact it had on my life for the eight or nine months afterwards. I became a "celebrity" and tabloid newspapers suddenly became interested in who I was having it off with or what car I drive or even if I was just buying some chips. That was the bit I found regrettable. People always ask me why I hate Michael Jackson. I don't hate him, I like quite a lot of his songs - mainly older ones - but that thing got me going. I couldn't even say exactly why. I'm not a Christian. I wasn't offended that he was impersonating our Lord! In the end it didn't make any difference.

Can you name the man who "did" you on ITV's Stars In Their Eyes? And do you exchange Christmas Cards?: Stephen Clasper, Northumberland

Is it Jason something? He started a band called Pulp 2000, I think. I should imagine it's a pretty small business, seeing as he came second to last. It was strange watching that. I resisted it during the heats, but when he made the final, I thought, I'll have to watch it. It does make you want to go and rehearse some new moves. He got it quite accurate, the moves more than the singing - but if you've become that identifiable, you're in a box; if people know what you're going to do, there's no point in doing it anymore. We saw a Japanese Jarvis in Japan, he had a packet of cigarettes instead of a microphone. He weren't too bad.

Your songs tell stories. Have you ever considered writing a book?: Greig Christie, Kirkcakdy, Fife

The thing I like about writing songs is that you can say quite a lot in two or three pages of actual text. I don't know whether I'd have the discipline to write 200 pages. I admire people who can do it. I aspire to being more disciplined. Me and a bloke who I went to St. Martin's with are doing this documentary film for Channel 4 this year, and filming's more disciplined than music. So maybe by the time I get to 60 I'll be disciplined enough.

Would you ever consider piercing your genitalia?: Sarah Baumann, San Francisco, California

Who's to know if I haven't already done it? The thought of it really goes through me. It's pretty tender around that area, and because of the toilet activities, the idea of infection and corrosion don't really appeal.

Are you a breast or bottom man?: Dean Cave, Dundee

I haven't got one particular bit I'm interested in. When we were doing the video the other day, there's a scene with all these showgirls doing a bit of a dance, all lined up in front of me, and I could see all their backs. And there was one girl that had a really beautiful back. It can be the shape of the hand that makes a girl really sexy. You have to be open to any part of the body.

Press    Home