Kicking off eight pages of T in the Park action, Pulp claim they‘re no
longer interested in fame, money and hot groupie sex. But might go to bed with your gran. Words: Arezu Weitholz and Peter Ross
SCRAP THE OLD age pension, stick VAT on heating bills, shove your granny off the bus. Caring for our old folk has been nothing but a waste. We thought they were weak, we thought they were frail, we thought they needed looking after. A good shag would have sorted them out.
‘It might sound indelicate,‘ ventures Jarvis Cocker, ‘but I think that allowing old people to have sex with young people would help them much more than a bowl of stew. I guarantee it.’
Jarvis Cocker, 34-year-old musical philosopher, has thought a lot about this getting old lark. It's all there on ‘Help The Aged‘, 1997’s deliberately low key comeback single, which suggests that when it comes to slowing down the ageing process, a steamy sack session sure beats Oil of Ulay.
The fixation with the onslaught of time continues on the album. This Is Hardcore doesn‘t have grooves, it has wrinklesplt may have gone in at Number One, but this record has none of Different Class‘s populism. It‘s about porn and paranoia and death. It's not catchy. Today, Pulp would rather strive for some kind of art than worry about shifting units or soundtracking hedonism.
‘Britpop was a party you had to leave at the right time or risk waking up the next morning amidst empty bottles and squashed cigarette butts,’ Cocker muses. ‘lt‘s impossible to be in a pop band in your mid 305 and still maintain your dignity. The Stones are a prime example of undignified behaviour. Mick Jagger‘s face looks like an unironed pair of pyjamas.
‘It confuses me when people in their mid 305 show up at our concerts. When will they grow up? Why can't these people stop hopping around the dancefloor like a bunch of teenagers?’
When not waggling his Zimmer frame menacingly at the young folk, Jarvis and his band still turn out astonishing music. This Is Hardcore may not contain anything as rabble- rousingly anthemic as ‘Common People', but it has its fair share of excellence. ‘The Fear' is a great blast of operatic paranoia, the jitters made grandiose; the epic sneer of ‘This Is Hardcore' builds around a looped horn sample; and
'Dishes‘ sees pop‘s lankiest lothario denying his Messianic qualities.
‘I was at a party one week before my 33rd birthday,‘ he says, explaining the song's genesis. ‘Someone told me an incredible story that Jesus Christ was crucified when he was 33 and ever since then there‘s been a curse on every man that age. I couldn‘t get it out of my head. I mean, I have the same initials as Jesus: J.C. What can I say? It was a nightmare.’
Pulp's headlining T in the Park appearance, one of only a handful of live dates this year, should be triumphant. But you‘d better enjoy the gig while it lasts, because Pulp, it seems, have one foot in the grave.
‘Maybe I‘ll throw the towel in soon,’ admits Jarvis. ‘Of course I‘ll continue songwriting, but recently it occurred to me that I‘ve spent half my
‘It might sound indelicate, but I think allowing old people to have sex with young people would help them much more than a bowl of stew.’ Jarvis Cocker
life in this band. That’s seventeen years. It‘s time to take stock.‘
Split the band you‘ve led since the early 805, and what do you do with the rest of your life?
‘I'd have to take care of my plastic bags,‘ he replies. ‘When I was unemployed, I used to go to flea markets for cheap things: clothes, records, cups and plates. I stored it in my place and never bothered to open it.
'The bags are very special to me. Materialised past. If I unpacked them, they‘d lose their magic, just like memories that you recall too often. They‘re best left unopened.‘
Jarvis‘s desire to end the band comes as a direct result of seeing fame crumble into a handful of dust. Ask what it was that made 1997 so terrible for him and he replies ‘I was successful‘.
But early Pulp interviews were dreams of stardom, Cocker coming across like a man born to be spotlit.
IN THE PARK
'I know, success is what everybody strives for.‘ he concedes. ‘Pulp had gotten used to the fact that we‘d never be on the front page of a magazine. Then quite suddenly it all started in a massive way and I kept thinking, "Now you‘ve got what you always wanted, but actually you could die tomorrow".'
So again it comes back to this obsession with mortality. Jarvis even puts his anorexic whippet frame down to fear of The Reaper.
‘It gave me stomach pains and I lost even more weight,‘ he grimaces. ‘I think I only weigh thirty kilos now, or fifty, something like that. Much too little.
‘Last year, I had to take six different pills, each at a different time of the day. One for burping, another for farting and a few to thin my blood. My bathroom looked like an old persbn‘s.
‘When I was young, I thought that by the year 2000 I wouldn‘t be living on Earth anymore, but on Mars. When I reached adolescence, I had to accept that that was just a dream. I was really depressed. But now there‘s a plane that leaves Earth‘s atmosphere and takes you from London to Tokyo in two hours. You even become weightless when you‘re up in the thing. I‘ve got to try it out before I die. That‘s my only wish.‘
And when you're in Tokyo, how would you like to die?
'Most of all, I don‘t want to be old anymore. If I die, then quickly. And I‘d like to be buried the way the Vikings used to bury their dead: put me and all my possessions in a boat, shove off to sea and set everything on fire.’
Would those precious plastic bags be on board too?
‘Sure,’ Jarvis nods. ‘Only then I'd need a tanken'
Pulp play the main stage at T in the Park on Sunday 12 July.
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