A Track-By-Track Preview Of Rock And Roll Animals By Luke Haines

Luke Haines' new album is about a trio of "furry freaks" fighting the Angel Of The North. Intrigued? We asked him to tell us more...

Reality is not a thing to be trifled with. Final demands, doctors’ appointments, Sundays and Mondays, getting older, cancer, heart attacks, exploding livers, adrift marbles. That’s before you’ve even watched the news. Reality can fucking do one.

Years ago I wrote a song called ‘Country Life’ – it was about and from the point of view of the residents of Bekonscot model village (Will Self also wrote a story about a man who, after getting divorced, goes and lives in Bekonscot model village). Reality can fucking do one.

I invented Magic Town as a place where reality comes to die. Magic Town is where the Rock N Roll Animals all live; Jimmy Pursey the fox, Nick Lowe the badger and a cat called Gene Vincent. The Quietus have asked me to give you the M/O on my new LP ‘Rock And Roll Animals’ so folks, let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of…

…’Magic Town’

It’s a scale model of the place where I was born, Walton On Thames. Jimmy Pursey hails from nearby Hersham, Nick Lowe was born there and Gene Vincent stayed in a B&B there (merely roads away from my house) during his 1969 tour of the UK. This last fact blows my mind.

My mission was to create a safe haven for all that was and is righteous in rock & roll. I imagined myself as the model maker, a rock & roll Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind crafting the woodlands and valleys of Magic Town out of Smash mashed potato…

Magic Interlude #1

This is the first narration on the album – just setting the scene. Originally the narrations were by me, but they weren’t right. I knew the voice that I wanted, and it was Julia Davis’, so Julia became the storyteller.

Rock N Roll Animals

Title track. I knew that I wanted to make a concept album about Jimmy Pursey, Nick Lowe and Gene Vincent and the Walton On Thames connection, I just didn’t know how. The answer came in a vision – if I turned them all into animals then I could do anything I wanted with them, there were no limitations. It’s rock & roll; there are no limitations, right?

A Badger Called Nick Lowe

The rock & roll animals all have characteristics of their human namesakes. So Jimmy The Fox, being based on a 1979 Jimmy Pursey is a scamp; earnest, a bit of a handful for sure, but a good sort. Gene The Cat is based on the 1969 model of Gene Vincent: in the documentary film Rock And Roll Singer that follows Gene Vincent on his UK tour, the singer announces at one point that he’s going to the pub to get drunk. His backing band The Wild Angels chip in that they would like to accompany the rock & roll legend to the boozer. Camera cuts to Gene who looks disappointed. He wanted to drink alone – this is very much the character of Gene The Cat. Nick the Badger has also seen a bit of life and he wears his heart on his sleeve. It’s a sad song.

Three Frendz

This describes a typical day for the three furry friends; it’s fun in the woods but strange stuff can happen; one minute you’re playing with a rabbit, the next minute the rabbit gets its tail clean ripped off – nature is an evil mutha.

Gene Vincent

We know that Magic Town is full of rock & roll animals but what of the grown ups? Well, this is their song. "The rock & roll mums and the rock & roll dads / Drink their wine and smoke their fags / Take their drugs get into a muddle / Have a kiss have a cuddle." Yeah! Right on. I’m a rock & roll dad. This one’s for all the rock & roll mums and dads.

Magic Interlude #2

The second narration. There are bad vibes in the air. Bird messengers are circling. Nick and Gene are twitching, and Jimmy Pursey the Fox? Well he’s up for a fucking ruck.

The Birds… The Birds

The next three songs turn into a kind of pagan freakout. Around the time of writing this song I’d seen some films of Bruce Lacey’s ritual magic(k). Lacey didn’t know what the correct rituals were so he just made them up. This of course upset the pagan purists. But Lacey’s logic was cool: the ancients must have invented their own rituals so why shouldn’t he? So yeah, call it pagan, call it pantheistic, call it what you like. A freakout is a freakout, and the birds are flying back to Magic Town, they’ve seen the enemy of righteous rock & roll and they are not happy.

Angel Of The North

The Angel is the nemesis of righteous rock & roll. Anthony Gormley’s statue has become free of its shackles and is flying towards Magic Town, where he wants to do terrible, unspeakable things. I play a sitar on this track. I may make a whole sitar album.

"Dude, you broke my sitar,” says the guy out of Brian Jonestown Massacre in the film Dig!. People laughed at that scene, not me – I cried.

…We Do

The battle has been fought. The battle of Britain in a Surrey back garden. rock & roll righteousness has been restored, but at a price. Features more sitar.

From Hersham To Heaven

This is another tearjerker. It’s partly from the point of view of an acid historian in the future – who finds evidence that a battle for rock & roll righteousness has been fought in someone’s back garden. Features a sad spoken word narration from Julia: “Are we going back to to Hersham?” said Jimmy The Fox. “No Jim, we’re going to heaven.” Gets me every time.

Rock N Roll Animals In Space

Jimmy, Nick and Gene look down from heaven. Magic Town is no more. This would be heartbreaking, but it’s not because it’s not real. Remember – reality can do one.

Rock And Roll Animals is released on July 29 via Cherry Red. Luke Haines plays London’s Borderline on July 30; get hold of tickets here

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