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Baker's Dozen

Ultimate Sad Boys: Fred Macpherson's Baker's Dozen
Patrick Clarke , January 19th, 2022 09:42

Spector's Fred Macpherson takes Patrick Clarke on a rollercoaster Baker's Dozen, taking in the similarities between Frank Sinatra and Drake, a love-hate relationship with Nick Cave, his friendship with David Tibet and more


Current 93 – Black Ships Ate The Sky

My older brother was definitely into music from a young age, and very quickly graduated through the stages of music that I’m only coming to now. He was into stuff like Coil; he was a true head, whereas I’m a pop fan and a failed pop artist. The first time I bought the NME I think The Vines were on the cover, while he was reading a copy of The Wire with Merzbow on the cover. I don’t think I got into industrial music through the front door, like when you hear Throbbing Gristle first then go from there

I was a big CD buyer, and this is an album that I think bought based on not much information while I was looking for something else. I think it might have had a list of features on the front. I wish I knew why I’d bought this album, but it definitely was as albums go, a true life-changer. It’s mad to think anyone would have the word industrial anywhere near it, because it sounds like Laura Marling! It’s very folky with atonal singing, and it has the same song, ‘Idumæa’ sung by loads of different people, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Marc Almond, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Anonhi, and Shirley Collins in what I later found out was her first vocal performance in many years. All these amazing artists, none of whom I knew at the time. It was this album that acted as a guidebook for all this esoteric music, for want of a better word. As a Nick Cave fan it was Nick Cave plus. I was like ‘I like it when Nick Caave alludes to the apocalypse,’ and this is music where you’re lucky that someone isn’t alluding to the apocalypse.

It was at a time where I was making music that sounded vaguely like Razorlight. I was in my first band Les Incompetents when I was at school and we were trying to do mainstream indie Club NME style stuff, but I was also desperately trying to attach narrative stuff, although none of it really worked. Years later, in the NME I was asked to write a list of favourite things, and my favourite lyric was from this album. “If I was unborn I would have nothing to be grateful for / I would have never seen love / I would have never held cats / I would have never buried my friends / And prayed for their souls in reddening churches.” A month or so later David Tibet got in contact with me through a DM, saying that Youth from Killing Joke had sent him a cutting, and he was touched that someone was talking about his music in NME. He said he’d tried to listen to our music but it wasn’t his thing, but then I got to meet him and spend some time with him over the years. He’s one of the few artists I’ve ever met who, you meet them and it’s almost like… what’s the opposite of disappoint?

He’s still my favourite lyricist and I think you can tell that Nick Cave has started to take a big influence from Current 93 too. And that’s a great thing, Nick Cave will look to Current 93, while David Tibet is looking to firsthand translations of pre-Christian texts. He’s looking firsthand into the universe, reading stuff that no one’s ever read before, learning languages that very few people can read, let alone write…The first time I met him he gave me a reading list of books, most of which I havent got around to. Everything from the history of child abuse in the public school system to Gef the Talking Mongoose.