turned the sound off halfway through their set. Perfect. Above all. SOD love being hated by those they despise.
‘Those days were mad. yeah. That was when we penned the name as well. because we were playing to people in clttbs like that and they were all just out of their heads anyway. Just these sheep. out of their heads on drugs. And we‘d get up and do our thing and they wouldn‘t have a clue. By virtue of us being there. we should have been this great trendy thing. We really posed a problem for them.‘
‘l’d like them to go really mad and tattoo our logo on their foreheads.’
lf ‘them’ is the self-righteous. silent but deadly threatening moral majority. the Sheepies still pose a problem. For all that their album. Greatest Hits (more irony — five singles. not one Top 40 to date). is an end-of—the-millenium cyberpunk industrial techno-goth mutant hybrid. their lyrical obsessions trace an unwavering lineage from Chuck Berry to The Rolling Stones to the Sex Pistols. Sixteen years ago. the latter proudly boasted. ‘I don’t work. I just speed. that’s all I need' (‘chenteen‘ ). On Greatest Hits. Sheep On Drugs take every cliche you‘ve ever heard about sex. drugs. fast cars. motorbikes, death. love and hate and subvert them into the sound of the insatiable impulses. illnesses and addictions of the 2 l st century on the run from themselves.
‘Yeah. well. it's rock 'n' roll. innit‘?‘ says Duncan in uncanny Jagger-ish
parlance. ‘We‘re a rock 'n' roll band
and they sing about things like that.
Sheep on Drugs: love to he hated rock ‘n‘ roll bands. We're rock ’n' roll “)3.‘
That might not be good enough. At times on Greatest Hits. the sex ’n‘ drugs ‘n' fame frequently veers from tittering tawdry double entendres (all the classics like ‘do it again. in and out‘ and car=phallus stuff like ‘Push the pedal to the metal/I'm gonna make you scream‘) to a more insidious flirting with the Burroughsian glamour of the twilight world of the addict. About which Duncan knows plenty.
‘What was I doing before Sheep On Drugs? 1 was ajunkie.’ Simple as that. And Lee‘.’ ‘He was a bad acid casualty.‘
Has being on stage and in ‘rock 'n‘ roll showbiz‘ helped Duncan exorcise his past‘.’
‘Yeah. it‘s totally changed me as a person. I feel really happy these days. I feel like someone. And part of what Sheep On Drugs is about is sorting yourself out. being as good as you can be and getting what you want.’
But don‘t tracks like ‘Fifteen Minutes Of Fame‘ and ‘Track X' tacitly encourage people to extremes of behaviour beyond which. for their own safety. they ought not to go?
‘Well. I think they've to see it as entertainment as well. And hopefully. if they're a fan of ours. then they’ll be reading into it. and looking at other things too.’ And as for the easily swayed. psychotically unstable one or two per cent‘.’ ‘Oh. I‘m not worried about them. I'd like them to go really mad and tattoo our logo on their foreheads.‘
Sheep On Drugs. Pop‘s glorious self- glorifying anti-Christs. Now is the time. the time for reaction.
Sheep On Drugs play The Venue. Edinburgh on Sat 24 and King Tats. Glasgow on Sun 25.
More usually known for choosing familiar works for their annual production - Verdi’s ‘llabucco’ and Puccini’s ‘Turandot’ come to mind as recent examples — Edinburgh Grand Opera are heading off the beaten track this year. Their committee’s selection of Vaughan Williams’s rarely performed ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ is now in the last stages of rehearsal. Not so much an opera as a morality play in four acts, ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ is based on Bunyan’s allegory and tells of the Pilgrim’s journey towards the Celestial City through a series of scenes depicting his best known encounters.
Although the company is an amateur one, for the past few years it has engaged the professional services of conductor Christopher Bell - said to have been a persuasive force in this year’s choice - and for the second year running, actor and Communicado director Gerry Mulgrew is back as producer. For Mulgrew, opera is still a fairly new experience.
‘I can’t really claim to know opera,’ he says, ‘and it’s taken me a while to appreciate just how wonderful the music in “Pilgrim” is and the enormous spiritual power it has.’ Enthusiastic though he now is about the piece, Mulgrew admits that the lack of a conventional storyline makes for difficulties in staging. ‘The journey is conveyed in a ritualist mythical way
Berry Mulgrew and co-producer James Bryce and l have tried to express it with quite a simple production using a mobile set which changes between each scene. The chorus is used in a choreographic
way and generally the production style
is not static.’
Moralistic fervour seems to be at the forefront of much press comment at the moment, but whatever one may think it is certainly worth remembering that it was a postcard of Bunyan in Bedford iail which helped Terry Waite retain his courage and sanity while imprisoned in Beirut. (Carol Main)
‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ is at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh from Wed 28.
Hard core ceilidh
The World Ceilidh Band Competition will be held in a couple of months in Bothesay’s Wintergardens as a centrepiece of the Bute Folk Festival, and in Edinburgh 3 new series of Assembly Rooms dances kicks off next week. Guitarist and caller Dave Francis of The Ceilidh Collective talks about a new initiative by the band.
‘I suppose we’re doing it to help raise the standard of dancing at ceilidh dances. A lot of people we see when we’re playing are either first- time or casual ceilidh-goers, so we’re hoping to attract people to the workshops before the dances, either to raise their existing standard, learn new dances or to learn from scratch.’
An unusual feature of the initiative is that children are very welcome — both at the workshop and in the hall and bar at the later ceilidh dance, which will also feature singers and
The new wave of bands like Dave’s previous outfit, The Desperate llanz Band, has over the last few years breathed life into a moribund Scottish dance scene, and Dave fearlessly reveals his early influences.
‘Paradoxically, I got into music for Scottish dancing through hearing England’s Albion Band. All the bands round Aberdeen were bog-standard Scottish Country Dance Bands, so some friends and I got together and started to play - really basic but with a lot of enthusiasm. We called ourselves The Reel Aliens. It’s a bit galling to think how rough we were! But people liked us. It struck a chord somehow.
‘The World Championship Band Competition, l instinctively don’t like, in the sense that competition doesn’t feature in my idea of a ceilidh dance, but I can see that it raises the profile of the scene, and it’s good to get all these players together because the new wave can certainly learn from the old style bands in terms of instrumental technique, and conversely show them how to play with more wallop, balls, whatever — and fun. I applaud it . . . but will probably not enter!’ (Norman Chalmers)
The Ceilidh Collective play in Edinburgh on Thurs 6, 13, 20 and 27 May. See Folk listings.
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