In an era where noise releases appear with all the regularity of sliced salami, its refreshing to have a new Smell & Quim release around. Powerfuck is seminal Smell & Quim and a massive return to form. Original and surviving member Milovan Srdenovic has put together a band that has already caused controversy by getting the 2007 Deaf Forever all day noise festival in Leeds abandoned after complaints about misuse of a pigs head [this in a venue only a couple of hundred yards away from a mosque] they were the first and last act.
I’ve been a fan ever since I saw them play the Bradford 1 in 12 Club back in the mid 90’s. An epiphany for me and a loss of hearing for many. Couple the noise with a sense of humour that is British postcard surreal dipped in shit and you have one of THE great English noise bands and one that I hope is around for a while longer yet.
Tracking Srdenovic down to his West Yorks bolt hole I asked him about what inspired Powerfuck and to how big a debt it owed to an ancient 72 year old mad cap English comic called Ken Dodd.
IT WAS THE COMING TOGETHER OF THE CURRENT SMELL & QUIM LINE-UP IN 2007, AND THE SUBSEQUENT LIVE OUTINGS IN THAT YEAR THAT PLANTED THE SEEDS OF DESIRE TO RECORD NEW MATERIAL. THE ENSUING NOISE THAT WE MADE WHEN WE CAME TOGETHER IS "POWERFUCK" THE CULMINATION OF OUR UNION THUS FAR.
THE FIRST TRACK ON THE ALBUM IS TITLED "DODDY'S COCK" AND IT WAS INDEED INSPIRED BY A DREAM I HAD, WHEREIN I REALISED THE TRUE MEANING OF THE KEN DODD HIT FROM THE 1960's "HAPPINESS". DODD (HE IS ACTUALLY 81 YEARS OLD) IS PROBABLY OUR ONLY REMAINING LIVING CONNECTION TO THE BRITISH MUSIC-HALL TRADITION, AND THE USE OF THE DOUBLE ENTENDRE IS LEGENDARY IN THAT TRADITION.
The recent Smell & Quim live shows have been pretty spectacular, even by Smell & Quim standards. Everybody goes on about the pigs head at Deaf Forever but for me the sight of Gillham swinging a ten pound lump hammer in a confined space was equally as disquieting. Then there was the fish incident supporting Citizen Fish and the last time I saw you Gillham cut himself quite badly and managed to spray blood everywhere via his drums. Is the live craft still important to Smell & Quim and how hard is it to get gigs with the reputation Smell & Quim have - I’m reminded of the time you were booked to play in Belgium as a duo and about twelve people turned up.
INDEED. I COULDNT SEE WHAT ALL THE HOOHAR WAS ABOUT THE FUCKING PIGS HEAD.
WE JUST HAD A PIG THEME GOING ON. WE WERE WEARING PIG MASKS AND WE HAD A PIGS HEAD THERE.
GILLHAM WITH A SLEDGE-HAMMER IS FAR MORE DANGEROUS THAN ANY DEAD PIG-PART THAT YOURE GONNA ENCOUNTER, BUT HIS BLOOD IS GOOD.
WE ARE ENTERTAINERS FOR GODS SAKE.
THE PERFORMANCE ASPECT OF A SMELL & QUIM GIG IS INTRINSIC TO THE WHOLE. HOW LONG CAN PEOPLE ACCEPT SOME GADGER SAT INPUTTING DATA INTO A LAPTOP AS PERFORMANCE. PEDALS AND LAPTOPS ARE USEFUL TOOLS, BUT TWIDDLING ALONE DOESNT MAKE A SHOW. COME ON. WE ALL KNOW THIS!
IT IS TRUE THAT IN THE PAST PEOPLE BOOKING SMELL AND QUIM LIVE HAVE EXPECTED A DUO TO TURN UP, ONLY TO FIND 15 PEOPLE ON THEIR DOORSTEP. THIS IS NO LONGER THE CASE. S&Q ARE CURRENTLY A MERE 5 PIECE OUTFIT, AND WE COME CHEAP. WE SEEK ONLY EXPENSES AND A BIT OF HOSPITALITY FOR THE MOST PART. WE ARE FRIENDLY AND EASY TO GET ON WITH. ENTERTAINING TO HAVE AROUND EVEN. PROBABLY BETTER THAN YOUR REGULAR MATES.
BUT YES, PEOPLE SEEM RETICENT TO BOOK US.
IT IS A BIG WORRY. WE REALLY WANT TO PLAY SOME FUCKING GIGS, BECAUSE WE'RE DOING THE BEST SHIT THAT WE'VE EVER DONE, AND THERES CRAP LOADS OF NEW STUFF IN THE PIPELINE MAN.
Along with Whitehouse, Smell & Quim are creating work which is instantly recognisable and has song like structure to it. Would it be fair to say you draw inspiration from Whitehouse and would that explain the appearance of Sweet Tooth and Fuckseed on the new album?
EMBARKING ON THE NEW RECORDINGS WE DECIDED THAT WE WANTED TO REALLY GET BACK TO SMELL & QUIM BASICS. WE WANTED FULL-ON BRUTAL NOISE, POWER-ELECTRONICS, AND THE ELEMENTS OF VARIATION AND HUMOUR THAT ARE UNIQUE TO OUR BEST WORK. YOU ARE CORRECT TO PERCEIVE SONG-LIKE STRUCTURES, AND EVEN IN THE TRACKS WITHOUT WORDS, THERE IS ALWAYS A DYNAMIC AND A DEVELOPMENT ALONG THESE LINES. OFTEN A THEME, OR A BEGINNING, MIDDLE, AND AN END.
I THINK PRETTY MUCH EVERY BAND WORKING IN THE NOISE AREA HAS GAINED AT LEAST SOME INSPIRATION FROM WHITEHOUSE. THEIR BEST STUFF IS SO ARCHETYPAL. IN RECORDING "POWERFUCK" AND THE MATERIAL THAT IS TO FOLLOW WE JUST SET OUT TO PRODUCE THE BEST THAT WE COULD COME UP WITH, AND WE'RE VERY PLEASED WITH THE RESULTS.
Do you draw any inspiration from the current noise scene?
I DO PERCEIVE A RESURGENCE IN THE NOISE GENRE, AND THIS IN ITSELF IS INSPIRATIONAL, BUT I'D HAVE TO ADMIT QUITE A LEVEL OF IGNORANCE AS TO WHAT EXACTLY IS OUT THERE, AND WHY IT IS RISING AGAIN. THERES A WHOLE NEW GENERATION OF ACTS THAT I KNOW NEXT TO NOTHING ABOUT.
NOISE IS A THING BEST EXPERIENCED IN THE LIVE ARENA, AND ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT PLAYING ON A LIVE NOISE BILL IS THAT YOU GET TO SEE OTHER PROJECTS, AND I GUESS S&Q DONT REALLY GET TO PLAY ENOUGH SHOWS, SO OUR INSPIRATION IS LARGELY SELF GENERATED.
There seems to be a lot of interest in re-issuing cassette material from the mid 90’s and beyond. I have here Goldenrod; a collaboration between Smell & Quim and Streicher which has appeared on the Freak Animal spin off Industrial Recollections and captures perfectly that fertile mid 90’s industrial noise period. Is there any other S&Q back catalogue material destined for re-issue?
INDEED THERE IS, AND UNDERSTANDABLY SO. IT WAS REFRESHING TO LEARN THAT THE THREE GOLDENROD CASSETTES WERE GOING TO BE RE-ISSUED ON INDUSTRIAL RECOLLECTIONS. I MUST SAY THAT I LIKED THE STREICHER/MACRONYMPHA ONE BEST OUT OF THE THREE.
THERE ISNT ANYTHING FIRMLY ARRANGED AS REGARDS S&Q RE-ISSUES, BUT I THINK IT COULD WELL BE OVERDUE. IF NOT RE-ISSUES OF WHOLE ALBUMS, THEN MAYBE AT LEAST SOME KIND OF BEST OF COMPENDIUM, AS A SORT OF RETROSPECTIVE. MEANWHILE WE ARE REALLY CONCENTRATING ON THE NEW STUFF.
When relaxing in my Shackletons high seat chair on a night, I like to slip on a Smell & Quim platter and pour myself a drink. I find digestifs such as Unicum or Jagermiester a fine post prandial snifter when soaking up the vibes and if its earlier in the day then a fine Belgian ale such as Westmalle or Kwak always hits the spot. I wondered if you favoured any particular form of John Barleycorn and whether alcohol plays a major part in the recording or live Smell & Quim situation?
I'VE TRIED THE SHACKLETON MYSELF, BUT FOUND THAT IT GAVE ME KNOTS IN THE TRAPESIUS, SO NOWADAYS I FAVOUR A CHAISE LONGUE WHILST QUAFFING DIGESTIFS IN MY NEGLIGEE.
ALCOHOL HAS INDEED PLAYED AN INTRINSIC PART IN THE SMELL & QUIM HISTORY. INFACT BOTH LIVE, AND RECORDING ASPECTS OF THE BAND ONCE VERITABLY SWAM IN THE STUFF. NOWADAYS JOHN BARLEYCORN STILL PLAYS AN IMPORTANT PART IN ACTIVITIES, BUT IS USUALLY ADMINISTERED IN A MORE CONTROLLED MANNER. I MYSELF FOR EXAMPLE, WHEN PLAYING LIVE, LIKE TO GET MY MISE EN PLACE FULLY ORGANISED BEFORE HITTING THE STAGE, SO WILL ONLY HAVE A FEW GRAILFULS OF ESSENCE WHILST ACHIEVING THIS. WHEN THE SHOW HAS BEGUN, THE PROCEEDINGS CAN BE URGED ALONG FURTHER BY VARIOUS OTHER STIFFENERS AND REFRESHMENTS. AFTERWARDS IT IS ALWAYS NICE TO RELAX WITH A FEW POST-GIG WIND-DOWN BEVERAGES WHILST SOCIALISING AND SCHMOOZING WITH WHOEVER IS AVAILABLE FOR THIS PURPOSE.
THESE DAYS IT IS A MUCH MORE GENTEEL PROCESS, WITH ONLY CIVILISED LIBATION BEING EMPLOYED AT THE CAPTURE STAGES, AND COMPLETE SOBRIETY AT THE MIXING STAGE.
RECENTLY I WAS INFORMED THAT THERE EXISTS SOME KIND OF FORUM ON THE INTERNET WHERE A FEW TALES OF MY DRINKING ESCAPADES HAVE BEEN POSTED. IF I MANAGE TO FIND THIS RESOURCE I MAY AT LAST MANAGE TO PIECE TOGETHER SOME MISSING CHUNKS OF MY PAST.
ANYONE WHO KNOWS ME WILL CONFIRM MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH TEQUILA AND MEZCAL. AS APERTIFS I FAVOUR ANY PASTIS, ABSINTHE, OR BECHEROVKA. GOOD RED WINE IS AN EVERYDAY STAPLE, AND WILD TURKEY, AND WRAY AND NEPHEWS RUM ARE FINE POST PRANDIALS. AS TO BEER, MY PREFERENCE IS FOR THE FINE BELGIAN ALES, ESPECIALLY THE TRAPPIST ONES. IN MY ESTIMATION WESTMALLE TRIPEL IS THE FINEST BEER IN THE WORLD. RECENTLY I HAVE ALSO BEEN ENJOYING LA TRAPPE DUBBEL
(NETHERLANDS TRAPPIST ALE) ON DRAUGHT.
There are rumoured sightings of you having been spotted propping the bar up in the Grove at Huddersfield. Has The Duncan [once favoured haunt of Smell & Quim in nearby Leeds] been shut down or has the smell of stale ale and pie farts driven you away?
IN RECENT YEARS PUBS IN THE UK HAVE BEEN CLOSING AT A RAPID RATE. THE GROVE IS A PRIME EXAMPLE OF HOW TO MAKE A PUB A SUCCESS. THAT IS, HAVE LOTS OF DIFFERENT DRINK. YOU COULD GO IN THERE EVERY DAY FOR A YEAR AND HAVE A DIFFERENT BEER EACH TIME WITHOUT EXHAUSTING THE MENU. THERES NOTHING SPECIAL ABOUT THE AMBIENCE OF THE PLACE, INFACT ITS QUITE NAFF IN MANY RESPECTS, ITS JUST THE QUALITY AND RANGE OF GOODS ON OFFER THAT PUT IT IN SPOT NUMERO UNO (PERHAPS IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY) FOR A SWALLY. THE RANGE OF BEERS MEANS THAT YOU GET BORING CAMRA FUCKERS TALKING INCESSANT SHITE ABOUT BEER TRAINSPOTTING, BUT YOU ALSO GET THE ODD INTERESTING CHARACTER IN THERE FROM TIME TO TIME.
AS FOR THE DUNCAN, I DO NOT KNOW. I SELDOM GET TO LEEDS ANYMORE AS IT SEEMS TO BE A PLACE DEVOID OF ANY SOUL AT ALL. IN GENERAL SAM SMITHS (THE DUNCAN IS/WAS OF COURSE A SAM SMITHS HOUSE) PUBS ARE WORTH LOOKING OUT FOR DUE TO THE SENSIBLE PRICING. IF YOURE EVER IN LONDON CHECK OUT THE PRINCESS LOUISE IN HOLBORN WHICH IS A WONDERFULLY UNSPOILED ARCHITECTURAL GEM.
Anything else you’d like to add before I copy and paste all this into the websphere? Favourite grapes? Cities? West Yorkshire towns? [I always favour Batley due to the bat sculpture - I’m a sucker for modern gargoyles].
ALL FRUIT IS REPUGNANT UNTIL FERMENTED OR DISTILLED. ALL WEST YORKSHIRE TOWNS SHOULD ALSO BE FERMENTED OR DISTILLED. AS FOR CITIES, GENERALLY THEY ARE PRETTY GOOD IF THEY ARE, OR THEIR ORIGINS WERE, AS PORTS. A RIVER FLOWING THROUGH A CITY IS USUALLY A GOOD SIGN FOR ME, AS I HAVE A THING FOR RUNNING WATER.