Radio 1 Webchat with Jarvis
Transcription of webchat on bbc.co.uk on 10 October 2001

Oisin: What was the weirdest thing Scott Walker asked you to do over the making of the LP?

There were no weird rituals or anything - it was quite normal really.

Howie: How do you work when you write songs - what comes first the music or the lyrics?

I wish I could say the lyrics come first but that's not true, it's always the music then I kind of hum along or sing in made up words until I get a tune. Once I get a tune I can make words fit in to the tune. We've always done it that way. I don't know if that's a really efficient way but it's the way I've grown up with it. Our old producer worked with Elton John and he writes the music to go with the words which is completely different to me. I like to make some music and then think in my head what these sounds suggest in terms of words. It's probably down to laziness as well. Until I'm backed into a corner and told that I need lyrics tomorrow, until then I won't write. I guess I've got a school mentality.

Christian Furr: If there's one song on the album that captures your collaboration with Scott best which one is it?

Probably Wickerman because it's the longest song on the record and from the offset he was really into doing that song and I think he did a really good job with bringing out the story. It's a long rambling story of things that happened to me in Sheffield and he managed to bring it alive a bit.

David: Why did you feel the need to change producers after the last one did a reasonable job producing the last two amazing records?

A reasonable job is damning with faint praise anyway isn't it?! We did try to do this record with the previous producer but it just didn't seem to work out. I think for this record all the people in the band had a stronger idea of what we wanted. If you have a really strong defined idea of what you want you would probably produce it yourselves. We all had a very strong yet vague idea that we wanted to do something a bit different. It didn't seem to be working out right and we were flailing around in an air of uncertainty for a while. Finally Scott said he'd like to produce it and he brought it together for us. Any time you do a record the band has to have an idea of what they want to do and where you want to get to. You always know you need somebody else to help you get there. You can't abnegate all the responsibility, you have a feeling and this person helps you get it in focus. We all had similar ideas which was good. We all knew that we wanted to record in a more natural way, just get into a room and play. We used to record like that at the start of our career because we didn't have any money and then in the interim years you go through lots of processes. I think in this day and age if you're a band where you all play together you should try and record like that because you have a chance of getting some human feeling in what you're doing. Don't be too hung up if bits might be a bit faster or slower, at least you may get some atmosphere, feeling or emotion from it. A drum machine doesn't give you that feeling. I'm not a Luddite though! I'm very modern!

Max: Seeing as nu-metal and dance music have taken over the world why do you think Pulp are even relevant anymore? What can you bring to the party?

Every party needs its pooper!

Jen: What role do you think music plays in times of crisis such as we're experiencing now with the attacks on America and the war in Afghanistan? Has music helped you get through rough times?

I think that's the great thing about music. It's not usually songs that try and do stuff like that. The great thing about music is that you can't put your finger on why it affects you. The fact that you can put a record on and if you're really into that record it can actually make you forget all the problems and take you to a different place, that's the magical thing about it I think. I think Kylie's record at the moment is good. If you can put a song on and it makes you feel happy for two minutes or whatever, that's amazing isn't it. Just an arrangement of notes in a certain order can make you forget your immediate surroundings. It can provide a bit of an escape. It sends you off into a different kind of world and that's what I think is good about it.

David Spencer: Does having grown up in Sheffield matter to you these days? Would you say your background and upbringing reveals itself in what you do?

I've lived in London for 13 years now. Unfortunately on the web you can't tell I'm still talking in a very broad Yorkshire accent. For better or worse the environment you are brought up in has an effect on you. Even if I was on the highest peak of the Andes, I would still be from Sheffield! You can't get rid of it so it does kind of reflect on what I do. I don't regret being born in Sheffield and stuff like that. I know lots of people from there and they're really great. It's weird how you can't really escape the environment you were born into. It's one of those things you don't have any control over. I get lost when I go to Sheffield now! I go back a lot because my sister lives there. It's a bit like a dream. Because I've been away for so long now but I still know the general layout of the city. It's quite weird going back. I imagine it's improved a lot since I left. It really seemed in the doldrums when I left in the 80's, all the steel industry had closed down. I think it's got over that now and people are just having a laugh, which is much more healthy.

Sammy: What have been the best and worst parts of your fame?

The best part of us getting known was (going back to the Sheffield thing about growing up in the early 80s) with Margaret Thatcher ruling the roost at that time there was quite a large part of society that felt they didn't count for anything. You had a feeling that you weren't proper people so coming from that background of thinking I'm a scumbag but getting some recognition gave me a real feeling of satisfaction. The worst part was probably my own fault, me thinking it would change me in some way, or expecting something from it which it couldn't give. Anyone who wants to be famous wants it for a reason. I think you can look at the history of rock and roll, films or anything, when people become famous they tend to go crackers. I've not gone crackers though...all my faculties are still intact!

Felix: How do you feel about the whole Britpop thing now in retrospect - not just Pulp but Blur, Oasis etc?

I hate the word Britpop. It was a weird thing for us personally because we'd been around for ages. Everything that had been in the indie charts was then in the proper charts. I thought at the time that this was it, let's take over, let's have a revolution and it seemed like there was a chance for it to happen. I'm glad that I lived through that time and we were considered a part of it. I never considered us that sort of band but I guess we benefited from it. The charts are probably more conservative now than it was at that time. It was an exciting period to live through and I don't regret it, no.

Peter: Damon and the Gallagher brothers are all pretty blokey and you're different. How would you describe yourself?

Going downhill daily I would imagine! I shop at H&M - this jumper was only 14!

lady smith76: So, Jarv, are we presently single?

Yes I'm single at the moment, not that that's any of your business!

Domonic: Are you still involved with a Touch of Glass, or was that just something to experiment with?

That was when we met Scott for the first time. I apologise for everyone who witnessed it as it was a bit of a shambles. The guy who was playing the glass harmonica played on the record. I would quite like to do it again. It was a one-off daft thing we did but I thought it was quite atmospheric. The Glass Harmonica is an instrument - if you can imagine lots of glass bowls from 10" in diameter to 3" in diameter. Turn them all on their side and drill a hole through the middle of them. Put a spindle through those holes, attach it to a pedal mechanism and the bowls spin around. We've all had fun with rubbing the rim of a wine glass. The Glass Harmonica does that sound, but musically. The person wets their fingers and puts their fingers on the bowls - it's a really nice sound. It's an old instrument, it was very popular in the 18th century. All the people who used to play this instrument went mad so people thought it was the devil's instrument. On the glass bowls they used to paint stripes to tell the different notes. The paint they used was lead paint and the people licked their fingers which is what caused them to go mad! A German scientific instrument maker had to make these bowls for our instrument. Sorry for the long story!

Michael: Would you ever work with Barry Adamson again?

If he asked me nicely! I enjoyed the song I did with Barry. That must have been about 5 years ago. He sent me a copy of that album. I thought the song I did with him was the worst track on it. I think he's very talented. I'll work with anybody if they send me a song that's good. If they send me a pile of crap I won't do it. You should never do a collaboration if you think it's going to be cool.

Emmett: Are you into the whole ragga vibe at the moment as the All Seeing Eye used 'Lock the City' on their version of the Clapping Song. Are Pulp planning some collaborations with Capleton?

It's funny you should ask that because the best record I've bought recently is a compilation of ragga and dance stuff from Jamaica. It's called Now Thing, it's got a yellow cover with multiple pictures of books and a blonde woman with a very pink bottom! It's really electronic and quite hard-line but really good music. Pulp would never do that, I doubt. We've got a club called Desperate and we play that kind of stuff. You occasionally hear records and haven't got a clue where that music would come from. I like it when something comes out of the blue that's great.

Helen: Are you planning to do any more of the Desperate Sound System nights? Any chance of you taking it up North?

Yeah. We're hoping to do one in Sheffield if possible, just because a lot of the people that started off with us are in Sheffield. We're going to do another one in London, then one near Christmas in a working men's club. I think it's important to move it around, it's exciting. People will be wondering where we'll do it next. When clubs are every week it settles down into a boring thing! Hopefully the next one will have Princess Superstar doing a performance.

Pippa: Did your dancing on stage happen automatically when you first performed, or did it evolve over a period of time?

The first time I was ever on stage I was absolutely still because I was petrified. Nothing can prepare you for how you're going to react when you get on stage. I think the first time I really jumped around was in a pub in Sheffield and the gig was going really badly and I got frustrated and started chucking myself all over the place, then everybody clapped. It made me realise I could move on stage. The trouble is then people insist on filming things. If I ever see tapes of us playing I'm always embarrassed by it. If you saw me going to the supermarket, you wouldn't see me flinging my arms around, it's not the way I normally conduct myself. I definitely act in a slightly more amplified way to how I normally am. It's quite good in a way, it's a bit of a release. It's fun to show off on stage, it's a nice feeling. You have to make sure you're not doing it as a reflex action or something you're expected to. You don't have to use your conscious mind, your instinct takes over. In normal life I spend most of my time over-analysing things. To be in a situation where you act instinctively it's really good.

Sally: Which was more daunting - Homelands or the Peel party?

That's a good question. They were both daunting. Homelands was daunting because we were playing to an audience who I didn't know if they would appreciate what we were doing. The Peel thing was an audience of people in the know, people who had been invited to celebrate a certain event, they might not have even known we were playing. That was daunting because I knew the main impetus of the event wasn't us so I felt that a bit intimidating in so much as I had a bit of difficulty in my mind of how to play it. We were there to help the celebrations go along in a certain way. But both events passed off without incident and seemed to work. They were probably equally intimidating.

Scoobit: Could you pick out a favourite Pulp lyric and tell us the idea behind it?

A line from The Wickerman, that starts, "and the river flows on under two 15 year olds..."

Louie: Have you ever felt compelled to punch the annoying people who accost you at gigs and clubs?

No because I'm really lucky. Generally people who come up and talk to me are nice to me. Sometimes it can get a bit much if loads of people are trying to talk to you at once but generally they are alright. I'm sure there must be instances when it would annoy me but I can't name any major awful things. And I think that's quite amazing seeing as I've been in this business so long.

Anon: What is your favourite bird?

Would you like to see it? I'll draw it for you (draws)...Long tail feathers...it's a Jay. For a bird you can find in the British Isles, you can't beat a Jay. It's mainly a dusty pink colour with little bits of blue and black colouring on it. The first time I saw it was in Norfolk when I was walking in a field. I thought it was some exotic bird that got lost but apparently Jays are quite common in this country. You can generally see them in open countryside, so look out for the Jay.

Wes: I really like the visuals you use when you play live - who chooses them and puts them together? And have you ever messed up your timing with the visuals for 'A Little Soul'?

I'm proud to say I put all the visuals together. I studied film and I just think it's often a thing I miss at a concert. You can throw anything at people that you have in a room and I think you should make the most of that opportunity. Try and make it an event. At Little Soul one, the video featured small versions of the band and one is me, Little Jarv. I try to get it so that when we play it live he sings the words at the same time as I do. He was only 9 or 10 so I think he had a bit of difficulty learning the words. People get the idea.

Tim Harding: You've said this record was about capturing the band's live performance, rather than having things precision done. If so, is this album the most representative of what you want the band to sound like?

Well at this particular time yes but next week I might go on holiday to Dusseldorf and I just got into German techno big style and I suddenly decided that sequences are the way forward! It seems right for this record and what we do in the future, I don't know. Just make sure you do things that seem right at the time.

Richard Cutler: What would you title your autobiography?

My autobiography ... hmmm. First of all I've done my autobiography because songs for me are the only way for me to keep track of what has happened to me in my life. I'm really bad at taking photos. If I become senile in later life, if I'm not already, it would be very hard to piece my life together. I've never kept a diary so songs are the nearest thing I've got that remind me of certain bits of my life. I guess the best title would be "Please Don't Fall Asleep".

Radio1 Hostess: That is all we have time for. Here's Jarvis with a final word.

Please don't have any nightmares! I'm glad to have been virtually with you at this time. Happy logging on in the future. May your boot up always be strong and who knows, we may meet again on the worldwide web. Goodnight.
 

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