Volume interview with Jarvis Cocker
Words: Paul Mathur, Photographer: Alastair Indge
Taken from Volume Two, November 1991

In the early '80s, a deeply disturbed Sheffield pop group called Pulp crafted a brace of lovably awkward pop classics, most notably the 'controversial' 'Little Girl (With Blue Eyes)'. Their singer Jarvis Cocker also fell out of a window while trying to impress a girlfriend - as you do - and continued to use his wheelchair as a stage prop long after he'd regained the use of his legs.

These days the group members are distributed between Sheffield, Manchester and London (where Jarvis has been a film student). Undaunted, they've returned to make their third album, aptly titled 'Separations', and a newly revitalised desire to be the most famous people in the world. No one knows what happened to the wheelchair. Jarvis Cocker wants the songs to speak for themselves. He'd rather talk about space.

"I think space is something that a lot of people our age are fascinated with. I'm not a sci-fi buff or anything, don't get me wrong. It's just that I remember when I was young watching the first man on the moon. We were allowed to stay up late. And at the same time there were all these Space Annuals and Star Trek on the telly. I suppose it all sort of blurred together, so you weren't sure what was real and what was fantasy. The people at NASA were saying that by 1984 or something, we'd all be living on different planets or whirring around in Space Stations, and we believed them completely. There didn't seem to be any reason why we wouldn't."

"All that happened when I was young affected my life and the way that I grew up. It's like, just the other week I finally got a bike. I never got a bike when I was young because I was thinking to myself, I'm not going to need one in a few years. I was convinced that I'd be whizzing down the shops with my personal jetpack. I didn't think you'd need a bike if you were living on the moon. It would float away."

"I suppose I finally realised that it was all a fantasy when I was 22. I didn't have any money and there wasn't much coming in from the band so I was selling off my belongings. I distinctively remember tromping around Sheffield with a yellow portable washing machine, trying to sell it to get the money for some food. It was pissing down and I thought to myself, Jarvis, you were supposed to be living in space by now. It was pretty obvious by then that it wasn't going to happen. You have to stop living your life for the future."

"I wrote this song on the new LP about how you leave school and you treat the rest of your life like a big countdown for something big that's going to happen - and the years go by with you thinking, well, when am I going to get to the 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 bit? It just never comes along."

"The thing about all that space stuff is that it was a complete fantasy on TV. Everyone in Star Trek was so clean and healthy. No one ever farted or had beer bellies. If people end up going to Mars, they're going to have to do something about the smell of all the farts. And lots of space travel gives you really brittle bones as well. If you spent all those years in space, going to Mars and back, when you got to earth you'd probably crumble. That wouldn't be much good would it?"

"The first British woman in space was from Sheffield you know. I think it sent her a bit weird though, because when she got back she was the guest of honour at the World Student games which Sheffield was hosting. They'd brought the Olympic flame all the way from Japan or somewhere and she had to run with it for the last 100 yards along a red carpet. Anyway, she got hold of it, ran for a bit, then fell over and it went out. They still lit the big flame though, but only for 10 minutes at the beginning and the end, because British Gas wouldn't sponsor it all. That's the sort of thing that happened in Sheffield."

"I'd still like to believe that one day we'll all be able to go to space and live there. I see that John Denver tried to get out on one of the shuttles. Can you imaging being stuck in a rocket with him while he played 'Annie's Song' over and over again? I reckon they should get Pulp to go along with them. We'd write songs like 'Space Station Blues'. They'd love us. If they're going to colonise other planets they're going to need entertainers, not just scientists and things."

"I don't think I'm really fit enough to get invited as things stand at the moment. I haven't had any trouble with the legs recently though - even though the doctor, who was a bit of a miserable bastard, told me I'd probably have to have bone replacement and never be able to move my feet again. Space makes people go a bit strange I think. The sixth man on the moon, who obviously doesn't get remembered very much, was a bloke called Ed Mitchell. He claimed that when he was standing on the moon, he sent out all these telepathic thoughts that people on earth were supposed to be able to pick up. I didn't get anything coming through myself though."

Pulp album reviews by Robert Gibson

'It' (Red Rhino RED LP 29)

Ignored by the public but revered by the critics. Pulp's quiet debut contained little of the severity or dark humour that marks their later material. It's a collection of plaintive, mainly acoustic ballads likelier (discounting the quintessentially English vocals) to have originated on America's West Coast than Sheffield. A patchy first side is illuminated by the gently swaying 'My Lighthouse' but the second features two certified classics: the lengthy crooner 'Blue Girls', and the sublimely ridiculous ersatz steamboat jazz of 'Love Love'. Goth fanciers should note that Pulp guitarist here was Simon Hinkler, later to crop up as Mission axeman. (1983)

'Freaks' (Fire FIRE LP5)

The going gets weird. 'Freaks' was the long-playing debut of Russell Senior (violin/guitar) and Candida Doyle (keyboards) who still form the musical core of the group. A schizoid affair in keeping with its title, the album took Pulp closer to their 90's sound, lurching evilly between blackly humourous, lush ballads like 'They Suffocate At Night' and 'There's No Emotion', and genuine horrowshow narratives such as 'Fairground' and 'Being Followed Home', each of which conjured fully the scariest aspects of it's title. Also notable for the near-HM delusions of 'Master Of The Universe' and a classic Cocker love song, 'I Want You.' (1986)

'Separations' (Fire FIRE 33026)

After yet another lay-off, Pulp return, having dallied with dance and emerged unscathed from their late '80s fixation with Balkan disco (?). Their first consistently brilliant album, 'Separations' finds Cocker's paranoid pokings reaching darker corners than ever. As he has intimated, all of his songs are about girls - but Bryan Adams would have trouble with the likes of 'She's Dead' 'Death II' and the hysterical 'Death III'. Violin soaked ballads like 'Don't You Want Me Anymore' grapple for space with the thumping, deformed dance of 'My Legendary Girlfriend' and the aforementioned 'Death III'. Even more fun than falling out of a window. (1992)

The Pulp track included on the Volume 2 CD (V2CD) was She's Dead. The track was taken from the then forthcoming album, Separations, which was eventually released in June 1992.

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