Material World
Words: Roger Morton, Photographer: Steve Double
Taken from Vox Magazine, April 1996

Owning up to a major shoe fetish, bawling in the cinema and fancying Marina out of Stingray, Jarvis gets sorted for a tease and quiz...

Where are you and what are the vibes like?

I'm in an International office at Island Records and the vibes are, er, a bit too businesslike for my liking.

Are you fetishistic about anything?

Shoes. Yeah. I mean, I don't look at a shoe and get a hard-on; I'm talking about shoes on girls. The combination of leg and shoe, I like.

What are your worst habits?

I do pick me nose, and not always very surreptitiously. I don't change me socks as often as I ought to. That's not too bad, is it? it's not like I'm a heroin addict.

When was the last time you cried?

It was probably when they showed Kes at the NFT. It was bad. I thought: 'Oh, I won't cry this time, because I've seen it too many times,' but I think it gets worse every time you see that film. There's something about the inevitability of knowing it's got a sad ending.

Bit like Tarka The Otter?

Well, yeah. I find it worrying that I'll cry at films, but I won't cry at actual real events in me own life,

Presumably, it has to be a major event; you think you're not capable, then you are?

It takes a lot to make it happen, though. Whereas all you need in a film is a bit of violin music and the bloody bird dies, and you're off. Which worries me.

Who was your first crush?

Marina out of Stingray, I'm afraid. I got me mother to buy a doll and she made a costume for it, like a kind of green-netting costume. I used to carry it with me everywhere.

Who's the most desirable person on the planet?

I don't know. Whoever you happen to be going out with that night, I guess. Fantasy people don't do much for me. Being involved in showbiz, I know the reality of things doesn't often match up. Like, Claudia Schiffer recently got voted The Most Fanciable Woman In The World in the Daily Star, but she's just dumb. Did you see that David Copperfield special? She's supposed to go out with him, isn't she? I reckon she's that dumb, she thinks his magic tricks are real. And that for me, is a real big turn-off. In fact, it makes me angry almost, if somebody's good-looking and then they're just thick, because it produces a strange clash of feelings within you. On one hand, you're getting that twinge that you fancy them, but you don't like yourself for getting even vaguely turned on by them, because they're crap.

So that's what's missing in life: the violin music. When was the last time you completely lost the plot?

It would have been at the Brit Awards, last year. I just got so hammered, and there's about three hours missing from when I was there. I was in this dodgem car with this girl, who I'd never met before, and suddenly I regained consciousness. Obviously, I was conscious, but suddenly I realised who I was and what I was, in this dodgem car. That was weird.

And I lost Eddi Reader's award, 'cos she had to sing this song, so me and me mate walked off to the bar, and the next thing, somebody ran in and said: 'Have you got Eddi's award?' and we had no idea where we'd put it. So she'll probably never talk to me again.

If you could rub one person off the planet, without any consequences, who would it be?

Clive Solomon. He's the head of Fire Records. I can't really go into it, because I'll get all angry and me blood pressure goes up, and I'll say something libellous.

Five records that turn you on?

I like that 'Shake Your Money' song on the Black Grape record; we've been playing that a lot before we go on stage. I like that Coolio song, 'Gangsta's Paradise', it reminds me of that Lovebug Starski song 'Amityville', remember that? And I even like that last Outhere Brothers' song, the one that was the least successful - 'La la la heh heh...' There's also a track on the Cast album, called 'Walk Away' - that's a really nice song.

Five that turn you off? Anything you really hate?

Janet Jackson I don't like. It's more her persona that drives you mad. She's so nicey-nicey. Somehow she manages to make even things like showing your breasts seem really pukey: 'Oooh, look at my lovely little titties, tit-tit-titty.' She's the most unsexy kind of person ever.

If you had to chat somebody up at a disco, what approach would you go for?

I'm not very good at chatting up; I've never really done it very well. The best thing to do is be very direct and just say 'I fancy you', rather than come up with something like 'Did you know that... ?' or some other witty repartee.

What is/was your favourite television programme?

I liked that early '70s documentary series, The Family. It just followed this family and the kind of thing it led up to was this bloke getting married. He was so bad, he's from Sheffield, actually. It was one of those things where you can't believe somebody managed to get to film it, because they really got under the skin of people doing things.

What would you instruct an American tourist to do in order to best experience the British working classes?

I'd tell them not to bother. Because it's like the thing with the girl in 'Common People' - you can't do it as a tourist. I could say: 'Well, get yourself down Moss Side, go have a look at that,' but within two minutes, his Camcorder would be off, he'd be trussed up, he'd have had all his money nicked, so there's not much point in telling him to do that. I don't agree with cultural tourism. I go to places where there aren't many inhabitants. I went to Iceland for me holiday this year. That's the kind of place I like to go, somewhere where it looks like man's never existed.

If you were to become Prime Minister, what would be the first thing you'd do?

The main thing I'd try and sort out would be education. There are a lot of other problems with what the Tory government's done to this country, but the most insidious, and in a way, slightly invisible, is what they've done to the education system. If you deny people the right to a decent education, it's a way of keeping them in their place. The area I grew up in wasn't particularly great, and I was lucky that I went to a school that wasn't too bad. That gave me the necessary ammunition to escape from my background. With the way schools are going now, people don't end up with that. Basically, they get stuck in the environment they were born in. No matter whether they've got a bit of intelligence or not, it's of no use to them. In fact, if anything, being intelligent is a disability, because you see through the shithole you live in, but you can't do anything about getting away from it.

Why didn't you go to college straight from school, instead of waiting until you'd formed Pulp?

Because I wanted to do the group. I'm glad I didn't go then. People just regard it as an automatic thing: you finish school, then go to university. The thing is, if you do go straight from school, unfortunately you turn into a student, and you go on pyjama jumps and talk in that student voice: 'Yeah, right, I had two pints of cider, I was absolutely smashed...' It's always driven me mad, that.

Did you ever win any prizes at school?

Yeah, I won a reading prize; I had the highest reading age of the year. That was a joke, though, because the prize they gave you was a Ladybird book, which was designed for remedial kind of readers. Seemed a bit ironic.

What was your most humiliating teenage experience?

Erm dunno. Might have to come back to that one. I can't think at the moment. I'm sure there were some.

Do you think it was better to be a teenager in the '70s, as you were, with punk and disco, than it is now, with Britpop and techno?

Well, it's all crack now, innit? It's all crack and bloody Es and all that business. I don't know. This is why it's been surprising to me on this tour that lots of teenage girls and boys have been coming to see us, because I don't sit there and think: 'Oh, how can I appeal to the teenagers?' I suppose I'm addressing what I perceive as my peer group, so I'm pleased when they come, because it must be connecting with them, but it's by accident, not design. I've no idea what kids nowadays like, so I don't know if it's better or worse.

But you do draw on that period of your own life quite a lot, don't you?

I do, yeah. People get this sensationalism. It was the same when I was at school, people were saying: 'Oh, kids nowadays, they're all bloody hooligans' and stuff. And they're not; they're alright. There's always a few idiots, isn't there? Like, they go on about video nasties; you watch a video nasty and you're going to go and chop somebody's head off in the playground. When I was at school, everyone was into Bruce Lee, so you used to get idiots coming in with them pointed star things and sticking 'em in t'back of people's heads. Most kids didn't do that, but you always get some nobheads.

Is a zebra a white animal with black stripes or a black animal with white stripes?

A black animal with white stripes. Because when I think of a zebra, I think of a zebra crossing, and a zebra crossing's on a road, and a road's black. They're just white stripes on a road, so I suppose that's why.

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