Badly Drawn Boy - It was easy to disregard
the hype that dribbled from the mouths of earnest critics about Damon Gough, but
this sleepy, dough-eyed Mancunian with an acoustic guitar and a hap hazard stage
presence, has flipped the lid of every rag in town. And then some. The Hour Of
The Bewilderbeast, the self-assured debut album by Gough's alter-ego, Badly Drawn
Boy - is quite undramitically marvellous. Cyber folk rock as intimate and well
crafted as anything by Nick Drake. Gough leads a backing band comprising Mancunian
post-folk chums Alfie, and together they provide a bracket of rock entirely without
pretention. And it's rather amusing too. Not that you'd laugh aloud mind.
"I'm dying..." Gough
announces on "Everyone's Stalking". And then, bourne up on a swell of parping
brass, he finishes the sentence with relish: "To put a little sunshine in your
And by 'eck, he does. But Damon refuses to be drawn - badly or not
- into the fray as regards the albums cheekily assured new status. But the venom
that drives the boy is nonetheless active a little deeper. Although surprisingly
still smarting over the againsts than the fors, Damon beleieves success to be
secured more over the period than the fashion:
"I don't mind if it takes
20 years for people to realise how good an album this is. I totally didn't write
it to fit in with what's going on, or is accepted, right now. I just wanted it
to be considered as a classic piece of work."
Damon was raised in Bolton,
and has always believed in the transformational soul of music. But that's easy
to say if you come from Bolton. I mean they're touched by more than their fair
share of magic, aen't they?
Working in his parents' printing business,
pedantically picking over splinters of his own material on a Walkman, and thinking
about making them actual songs with more deliberate intentions, somehow made the
whirring machinery of the industrial space around buzz with a living spirit. And
the dizzy heights of Manchester were only around the corner..
Manchester four years ago, Gough met up with Andy Votel, graphic designer and
sometime DJ. Together they set up their own record label, Twisted Nerve. It's
something that Gough puts down to fate:
"I've often tried to imagine what
would have happened if I hadn't met him. The only way I had ever been able to
see myself getting on in life was by doing something that I was really enthused
about. I had to do something that I had a passion for."
meeting, this time with Mark E Smith who had mistakenly mistook Gough's car for
a taxi outside a Manchester bar, went on to seal his fate.
As a direct
consequence of the meet, Gough, a few months later contributed a track called
Nursery Rhyme to Psyence Fiction, James Lavelle and DJ Shadow's UNKLE album. And
as a consequence of this, Badly Drawn Boy was signed to XL . And the rest they
Gough is soundly aware of his critics. His Bolton roots have
helped him there:
"There's the suggestion that some of the songs could be
bigger," he says. "But I'm happy to let them be small and fragile."
and fragile or not, he's something of a maverick talent on stage; witty, dry,
irreverent but ner trying:
"I like the idea of interacting and involving
people and I'm prepared to show myself up in the process."
But what about
the name of the album? Let us interact with that for a minute. According to Gough,
the word bewilderbeast was originally coined by a member of his band, who was
feeling a bit the worst for wear, when they were on tour in Japan. "This guy said,
'I feel like a bewilderbeast', you know, a bit bewildered. Fair do's:
it's a way of describing someone as human and vulnerable no matter how much they
come across as being confident and cocksure."
Funky little Bolton Boy.
Confident, cocksure. Bewildering. Really bewilderbeasting.
Boy Tour Dates 2001 MARCH:
Thu 8 Dublin, Olympia
Fri 9 Belfast, Limelight
Sun 11 Brussels, Botanique
Mon 12 Cologne, Prime Club Tue
15 Copenhagen, Small Vega Fri
16 Stockholm, Klubben Sat
17 Oslo, John Dee Mon
19 Berlin, Schlachthof
Tue 20 Berlin, Columbia
Thu 22 Munich, Metropolis
Fri 23 Vienna, Szene Wien
Milan, Magazzini Generali
Mon 26 Lyon, Le Tube
Wed 28 Barcelona, Bikini
Thu 29 Madrid, Arena
Sat 31 Toulouse, Bikini