Interview with Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton

I recently spoke to Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton about their excellent new BBC Two series, Inside No.9 – an anthology of darkly comic tales in the vein of Armchair Thriller, Twilight Zone and Tales Of The Unexpected.

Chris T-T & The Hoodrats – The Bear

Cover of The Bear by Chris T-T & The Hoodrats

Cover of The Bear by Chris T-T & The Hoodrats

Our new album The Bear is released today on the brilliant Xtra Mile Recordings label as digital download and CD. I just wanted to post a few links to where it was available, so here goes:

From the record label website

From iTunes

From Rough Trade

From Amazon

From Chris’s website

Oh, and there’s also a rather lovely t-shirt available

I’m really proud of this one, so please do have a listen. :)

Video: The Bear – Chris T-T and the Hoodrats

Here’s the video for the title track from our new record The Bear, which is released on Xtra Mile Recordings on 7 October 2013. It is available to pre-order here.

I can honestly say being involved in the making of this record has been one of the most satisfying creative experiences of my life and am really happy with how it has turned out. So buy it!!

His new flat

In his new flat he has committed the crime he most abhors but that he finds most easy to commit. He is an idolater. He wagers on objects, knowing that he is to lose. His idea of interior design is borrowed and veers toward the kind of contemporary classicism that has become the meat and drink of the Sunday supplements. It can be summed up in two of the most chilling words in the modern lexicon: Farrow and Ball.

The bedroom is meant as a retreat from the world and is painted in a muted greyish-green. The bed is made from a dark oak, as are the chest of drawers, as is the bedside cabinet, on which resides a small, brass-based lamp (solem lucerna, quod aiunt, ostendere). The bed sheets are white. There is a map of the county of Norfolk on the wall; this is intended as a thinly veiled reference to the golden years of his university life, the inevitable passing of time and our ultimate dissolution and decay. Anyone that knows him well can see the game he’s playing here; and it’s not a particularly edifying one.

The living room is a bright white, and the walls are beginning to accrue framed pictures meant as further clues to the disposition of the occupant. There is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, an ironic juxtaposition to his staunch republicanism, and hilarious to no one else but him; there is the poster-sized front cover of Ralph Ellison’s novel, Invisible Man – intended to demonstrate the supposed empathy for the disenfranchised of a man rendered incapable of meaningful activism by a crippling sense of futility. These things are symbolic of the attempts at self-expression of an individual ensnared in a culture where everything has become an exercise in branding.

All of this is a paean to the ghost of a lost love, and is even more helpless and desperate for it. What will become of the table and chairs (bought for £40 on the Holloway Road) or the oak bookshelf (bought online for £150)? He is conscious that Proust’s parents’ furniture ended up in a male brothel.

In his new flat he is free to vacuum whilst naked. Since moving in, his body has become terrifyingly real to him. Its frailty has been unveiled. Along with the acquisition of spatulas and Le Crueset cookware it has become his most obsessive obsession. He hangs on every ache and twinge and strain – each one a certain signal of impending demise. The disjunction with mind has never felt more distinct, and yet when considered logically he can only conceive of mind as an expression of body. But the physical liver and the abstraction of liver have never felt further apart. Living life bravely becomes almost impossible when one starts to think like this. The result is a vacillation between periods of self-indulgent asceticism and periods of even more self-indulgent Bacchanalianism. Neither liver comes off well. The stock of Corona in the fridge, meant as a signifier of assumed moderation, an emblem of restraint, becomes the charmed poison that it truly is. The wager on the flesh is the same as the wager on objects.

In this flat of Usher, behind every wall a bricked up ghost ululates. He feels like he has taken advice on doing the place up from Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo. He hangs every picture, paints each door frame with an impossible vision before his eyes. The whole exercise is of preparing for the coming of a revenant – but again he knows he is to lose. That which is to come is not his Ligeia, only some terrible ‘blood-red thing‘. And no amount of John Lewis glassware can prevent it.

He doesn’t own his new flat. Of course he doesn’t. This is London, in the year 2013. He is here for a short time only, and so the question becomes, despite the horror, the self-delusion, the self-pity, can he live fully whilst he is resident? Is it possible for existential angst and nobility/courage to co-exist? One can only hope so.

In his new flat he is alone with his thoughts. The celestial jury is out on what any of this might mean. The rest is silent night mattresses, Denby dinner-sets and Laguiloe cutlery. The rent is always due.

Favourite films – update

A few years ago no, I posted a list that represented as close an approximation as I could get to my #favouritefilms at the time.

This generated a bit of debate between friends, and we decided to share our top 25s, so I thought I would share mine here (the original 10 are all included):

1. Persona – Ingmar Bergman
2. Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie – Luis Bunuel
3. La Regle du jeu – Jean Renoir
4. The Wicker Man – Robin Hardy
5. Manhattan – Woody Allen
6. The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie – John Cassavetes
7. Late Spring – Yasujiro Ozu
8. The Passenger – Michelangelo Antonioni
9. Groundhog Day – Harold Ramis
10. The Thing – John Carpenter
11. An American Werewolf In London – John Landis
12. Opening Night – John Cassavetes
13. Come And See – Elem Klimov
14. Dawn Of The Dead – George A Romero
15. Bergman’s ‘Silence of God’ trilogy: Winter Light, Through A Glass Darkly and The Silence – Ingmar Bergman
16. Don’t Look Now – Nicholas Roeg
17. The Conversation – Francis Ford Coppola
18. McCabe & Mrs Miller – Robert Altman
19. Singin’ In The Rain – Gene Kelly/Stanley Donen
20. The Exterminating Angel – Luis Bunuel
21. The 400 Blows – Francois Truffaut
22. Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia – Sam Peckinpah
23. Ordet – Carl Theodor Dreyer
24. Mulholland Dr – David Lynch
25. Husbands – John Cassavetes

Plus a few that narrowly missed out:

L’Intruse, Hidden, L’Atalante, Mirror, The Evil Dead, The Blues Brothers, Jaws, Viridiana, Blade Runner, Alien, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, Stroszek, Cries And Whispers, The Apartment, Citizen Kane, Fargo, Network, The Producers, The Fog, Herz aus Glas, The Last Waltz, Accident, The Go-Between, Gigi

A final thought from Pauline Kael: “The movies are so rarely great art, that if we can’t appreciate great trash, there is little reason for us to go.”

Liz Bonnin on Operation Snow Tiger for BBC Two

I spoke to presenter Liz Bonnin about her new two-part series for BBC Two, Operation Snow Tiger, which sees Liz and team track wild Siberian tigers in the far east of Russia. This is the first time the BBC’s Natural History Unit has filmed this beautiful animal in the wild.

Finding Wil Malone

I came to this wonderful album via a rather circuitous route. I was listening to an old edition of the always excellent Stuart Maconie’s Freakier Zone which featured Andy Votel playing a selection of music from films starring Donald Pleasence.

Pleasence is one of my favourite actors and a stalwart of the horror genre, having worked with both Carpenter and Argento. One of his great horror roles is Inspector Calhoun in the cult 70s British film, Death Line, about a family of cannibals living in the disused tunnels of the London Underground – which I first remember seeing as a very young child (too young probably!).

The film has music by Wil Malone and the main theme is a stone-cold, sleaze-funk classic. On the show Votel also talks about Malone’s eponymous 1970 psych album, which, on vinyl, is incredibly rare by all accounts. It is available to listen to via Youbiquitube however, and I’m very happy I found it. Track six, Caravan, is embedded above. The whole album is on this playlist. It’s a finely wrought, perfect piece of pastoral psych-folk that manages to feel both disconcertingly eldritch and pleasingly bucolic at one and the same time. Enjoy!

Jim Bob – Day Job EP

Here’s the latest EP from Carter USM’s Jim Bob. It’s called Day Job and it’s a cracker. Plus, I played drums on it. Enjoy.

Kate Gartside and Mark Hedgecoe on BBC Two’s The Challenger

I spoke to writer Kate Gartside and Executive Producer Mark Hedgecoe about BBC Two’s feature-length drama starring William Hurt, which tells the story of Richard Feynman’s involvement in the commission set up to discover the cause of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986.

Luke Newberry talks about In The Flesh

I spoke to actor Luke Newberry, who plays the lead in new BBC Three zombie drama, In The Flesh.

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