Paul Guided Missile founded his independent label of the same name in 1994. His bands included The Yummy Fur, Bis and Mogwai. Here, in the first ever River’s Edge self-interview, he sets the questions – and answers them, recounting his experiences as a DIY pioneer.
SO, FROM WHAT I CAN TELL ABOUT YOU, YOU’RE A SELF PROCLAIMED “ALL ROUND ENTERTAINER”, LIKE SOME SORT OF BRUCE FORSYTH / BARRYMORE PRICK, ONLY NOT AS GOOD?
Well, I’ve been in a few different kinds of bands, I do a radio show and I host a weekly pop quiz. And I’m not a prick. You’re the prick.
WHATEVER. GUIDED MISSILE RECORD LABEL STARTED IN THE NINETIES. HOW MANY RELEASES DID YOU DO AND WERE ANY OF THEM ANY GOOD?
Err. yes they all were good. I ran the label for exactly 10 years, to the day. That was always the plan. 10 Year Project. During that time we did around 60 releases. The label started in 1994 when a mate of mine, Ajay, who had been in a band I really liked called Dandelion Adventure, was looking for a label for his new band, Donkey. After asking around a few label owners I knew, with no success, I thought, ‘fuck it, I’ll set up a label myself. How hard can it be?’
We ended up being one of the best underground indie labels of the decade. Donkey was our first release. We went on to release bands like The Karelia and The Yummy Fur [both featured Alex from Franz Ferdinand – Paul was also in The Yummy Fur], Country Teasers, Mogwai, Bis, The Male Nurse, Lung Leg, Hefner. And some of my own projects such as The Beale and all the weird tribute records at the end.
WHAT TRIBUTE RECORDS?
Our final three releases were weird novelty hits (although, for history’s sake, let’s label them ‘outsider art’). Me and my mate, Paull Withey, were sitting in a pub one day and brand new, hip band The Strokes were playing on the jukebox. I joked to him that there should be a tribute band called Diff’rent Strokes and we laughed like drains. Within four weeks, we (the ‘Diff’rent Strokes) had made a 4 track EP called This Isn’t It. It was Perrey/Kingsley-style Casio versions with deliberately shit guitar solos.
Anyway, it wasn’t chart eligible because it had too many tracks, but we worked out it would have got to number 41. Subsequent EPs were a White Stripes tribute that got to 80-odd and a OMD/Darkness rip off that got to 66 in the Christmas day charts. Me and Paull would spread rumours about who was behind each release (the KLF, popular bands at the time, even the bands themselves tributing themselves). Many of these went into print in the likes of NME and the tabloids. When we did the Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Darkness one, I received a strongly worded message from the Darkness’s manager warning me off releasing our record on the same day. I told her to fuck off. Theirs got to number 2, ours got to 66. I got my picture in the Daily Mirror and the Liverpool Echo.
GUIDED MISSILE ENDED IN 2004?
The label ended in late 2004, yes. The next project was a night club. We’ve been running Guided MIssile Special People Club since 2004 at Buffalo Bar, N1 and will do it until late 2014. Then there’ll be the next project. Which is a secret at the moment.
SO WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH GUIDED MISSILE SPECIAL PEOPLE CLUB?
Just a fun night out, really. It’s monthly at London’s Buffalo Bar (N1). Couple of bands and then a disco. We’ve booked a lot of ‘name’ bands in the past, although mostly it was before they were well known. Art Brut, Franz Ferdinand, Klaxons, Hadouken. Mainly it’s mates of ours, though, who we book because they are top entertainment. We’re not a cool / scenester club night. We’re all about just having a nice time, We did a Frank Sidebottom comeback gig a few years ago – and after the gig, I joined his band.
AH, YES. FRANK SIDEBOTTOM. WHO IS THAT? I’VE NOT HEARD OF HIM….. TELL ME MORE?
Well, you have heard of him, because I am interviewing myself.
I AM TRYING TO GET INTO THE FEEL OF THE PIECE. CAN YOU NOT JUST GO WITH IT?
Fine. Best way I could describe Frank Sidebottom is as a real-life cartoon character . Really funny and unpredictable comedian / singer and just one of the things ever. When I moved to London in 1988 he used to do regular shows at Kennington Cricketers and I went to them all. Around the mid 2000s, he hadn’t played in a good few years and I invited him down for a gig. He did a couple of solo ones and I suggested to him the idea of me putting together a London based backing band for him, learning the songs off the CDs and using the soundcheck as our practice.
We played a dozen or so gigs together. At this time, we used to learn TV themes such as Grandstand or Terry & June, as incidental music for the shows, for the raffle, Frank walking on/off etc. At one Christmas show we played the Minder theme and Frank made up some lyrics for it on the spot and belted them out. ‘Underneath the mistletoe / If that’s where you really want to go / Oh, I‘d do anything for you, because it’s Christmas!’
Anyway, the telly themes idea was so good ,and so much fun., that it spawned its own spin-off band, Dream Themes. Frank (or, more precisely, Chris Sievey, his creator) sadly died in June 2010. Thousands of people contributed to a campaign to make a statue of him in his hometown of Timperley and, fingers crossed, it will be up by the time this is printed. There’s also a documentary film being made about him called Being Frank which is out next year . I’ve seen bits of it and it’s fascinating.
ARE DREAM THEMES STILL GOING?
Yeah. We play about four or five gigs a year. We do weddings and stuff, on top of our usual gigs. In the past year, we’ve played at working mens clubs, village halls, we played on a bandstand in a speedway arena. We’re doing a Christmas special at London’s The Lexington. We’ve just added ‘Game Of Thrones’ and ‘This Morning’ to the set.
ARE YOU IN ANY OTHER BANDS?
I started a new band this year. It’s not a novelty band. It’s a proper indie band, called McDonalds. We don’t have a Facebook page or anything so if you want to book us for a gig you jut have to find us. Like The A Team. I hand picked a bunch of people from other bands to make one big super band. I have Jeff who sang in Applicants, Leighton who drummed in Country Teasers, Jasper who played guitar in Art Brut, and Keith Top Of The Pops, who, of course, sings in his own band – and who I do the radio show with.
WHAT WILL YOU DO IF MCDONALD’S THE RESTAURANT CHAIN MAKE YOU STOP USING THE NAME MCDONALDS?
We will change the name to The Beatles. (No joke.)
WHAT HAPPENS ON YOUR RADIO SHOW THEN.. AND WHAT STATION ARE YOU ON?
It’s called ‘Paul On The Radio’. It’s me and Keith Top Of The Pops. Really we just swap funny stories, talk about burning issues, such as whether wooden spoons are hygienic or not, we play some records and we usually have a guest in. We’ve had Eddie Argos from Art Brut, Charley Stone from Gay Dad, Mikey from David Devant.. Next guest is Jasper from McDonalds. We used to do it on a community radio station, who I won’t name, because they were absolutely terrible. We had to walk away from them. So, currently, the radio show is recorded at Keith’s studio and goes out on our Mixcloud. There’s a Facebook page called Paul On The Radio with all the shows on.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING RIGHT NOW, THIS MINUTE?
I’m learning how to play Independent Women Part 1 on a Casio keyboard, to play at my weekly pop quiz at the Lexington, London tonight (Monday).
AND, FINALLY, DO YOU HAVE ANY PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE?
Yes. I was amazed, recently, to discover that The Australian Pink Floyd had sold out the O2, so I came up with the idea of forming a tribute band to them. It will be called The English Australian Pink Floyd. We’re gonna do all of Pink Floyd’s biggest arena songs but play them on cheap keyboards. So far, I’ve recruited Keith to the band. He’s got a remote control flying shark thing, which we will use, and we’re getting some cheap lazers from Maplins. It will be like Floyd at Wembley, but smaller, and in the Buffalo Bar.
GUIDED MISSILE PAGE ON FACEBOOK
ROUGH TRADE QUIZ