Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Q&A 2000ce — Cope Music

When are you going to release new material & will you be doing any tours with a full backing band to promote it? Please play some gigs up north, Newcastle or Glasgow. (Marc)

I've been talking about Citizen Cain'd for years now, but I'm no closer to releasing it. Several songs have been recorded and won't change, including "Everything Blows Me Away", "Well Hung at Dawn" and "The Glam Dicenn", but I can imagine the demos of the others being re-recorded at some stage. I may release the version of "The Glam Dicenn" on an EP for the forthcoming October British tour.

In 1986, you said that you hadn't done Top of the Pops for a while as a protest against not getting in the charts anymore. You say in Repossessed that doing "World Shut You Mouth" in 1986 was a letdown. You did Top of the Pops in 1995 with "Try Try Try", was this still a letdown? (Holly)

It wasn't a letdown, because I just kinda found myself there. But doing 'I Gotta Walk" on Toppy the previous year was a true kick, because I got to wear a dress, no undies and a mohican. Also, seeing Mooneye with his Hess gasoline hat over his face and Thighpaulsandra pouting over his ARP2600 was a stone groove!

We all know you can write a classic, killer pop song. Have you ever been tempted? (Rob M)

Not recently. No.

1) I would like to know if you have any plans to release a CD of new songs (the Citizen Cain'd project or something else) soon. (Rafa from Madrid)

2) What's happening with Citizen Cain'd? (Anthony)

I don't want to think about Citizen Cain'd until after the Brain Donor album. One track, 'The Glam Dicenn', is likely to be featured on an EP I'm releasing later this year, probably in October.

Do you no longer have the intention to release Skellington 3D? (Toshiki)

Skellington 3D will be released eventually, but all in good time. I first mentioned Droolian is 1986 and it took 4 years to get it done. I'm waiting for the right packaging to be made available.

On the Island Records Introduction to Julian Cope, I noticed you played all the instruments on Upwards at 45 Degrees except drums. Do you do this on lots of the albums, as it always comes across as a group effort? (Frank Cannon)

Yes, I end up playing everything sometimes. But I never wanna give that vibe over.

What do you think of the current spate of re-issues of your old material? (Carl)

Oh man, I can't stand that shit. How many times can they re-issue the same crap? My old manager recently told me Mercury were pestering him to do a Julian Cope boxed set. Of what? 2 LPs that they fucking hated and didn't promote at the time? I just told him they should do a Scott Walker box like all the other dead artists and leave the living alone to do their own thing.

Any chance of, or plans for, a reissue of COPEULATION? or perhaps a companion piece (video and/or DVD) covering the 90s? (Vernon)

I don't know of any re-issue plans for Copeulation. They pretty much used up all the videos I ever did in that first release. The Peggy Suicide videos had their moments, but they were mainly attempts to reconcile my new loves with old style video techniques. The vid for "Beautiful Love" was a lot of fun but the finished thing was disappointing. For "East Easy Rider", the Americans totally rejected it because Andy Eastwood was wearing a crash helmet as he rode past Callanish. They love symbols of freedom even if it inspires future generations to kill themselves on the road. Easty and I had just lost our brother Pete De Freitas to a head-on motorbike collision so we weren't exactly trying to add to the motorbike's mystique - we really just wanted a free ride up to Callanish to see the stones and fly a helicopter over the place. For the "Head" video, I arrived in Britain at 6 a.m. directly from New York and was driven straight to Wayland's Smithy, where the film crew had already started. Then the lighting guy tried to stick a pointed support directly into the long mound and I nearly fucking beat him up. So I don't have recollections of the actual film itself. Chris from Island video department also took it upon himself to make a film for "Hanging Out & Hung Upon the Line", which I actually quite liked. So I guess there would be other things to trawl through, that is if the current Island staff even know who Julian Cope is. I was in contact with my ex-manager, Cally Callomon, during his making of the Leperskin compilation and he told me that the head of marketing had said to him earlier: "Why should we do a Sandy Denny compilation? No one even knows who he is."

Are you going to release the synthesizer album (The Realistic Synthesizer) you mentioned in Repossessed? (Holly)

I have no plans at the moment, though people have suggested it to me. But no record company has wished to release it and I don't think it's the type of thing Head Heritage should put out, as it isn't instructive, nor is it in control enough to be of real use, other than as an interesting novelty.

I've been listening to Rite a lot recently and would like to know if Julian has any plans to do any more work in this direction, or was this just a one off? This is probably old but I've been wanting to ask this for ages and have only just found your site. (Michael)

I'd say that Rite was a bit of a one-off. I still listen to it and find "Cherhill Down" the most appealing track of all, but the whole thing works as a piece. "Amythesteria" features a drum sample from the Count Five's "Pretty Big Mouth". "In Search of Ancient Astronomies" was inspired by "Death of an Analogue" by Klaus Schultze (from his album Dig It AKA Electronic Impression). Concerning this kind of progressive/experimental music, it is specifically designed to cause a change in the listener - if it doesn't do this properly, then it is obsolete. When Rite 2 is obsolete, a compilation of Rites 1, 2 & the unreleased Rite 3 will be released.

Which is your favourite album and what do you think of Saint Julian which is pure distilled pop brilliance. I love all your stuff but another great flashy pop album would be fab! (Nathan Wiseman)

I'd never rule out a 'flashy pop album' as you term it. But probably not in the next few years. Saint Julian is not one of my favourites but it has its moments.

I've been into your stuff since WSYM when I was about 15 years old and it's been fun. So cheers for keeping it cool, and cheers for reminding me of the stones and our common heritage, which has brought me to some very special sacred sites. I didn't think I could feel passionate about the Island of Britain!!! I spoke to you in Edinburgh a few years ago, during your promotion of 'Planetary Sit In', and you said that you hoped to keep releasing music on vinyl due to your love of the stuff. What is your present position, and does vinyl have any future on Head Heritage? (Cammy)

The stuff I've done these past years is inherently CD orientated, mainly because of the lengthy trips and the drag of hearing crackles during bliss. I noticed in the Head Heritage offices that there is still a lot of vinyl there, but they say they don't advertise it as there's not enough to justify putting adverts up. Try emailing or faxing a wants list, they may have copies. Personally, I listen to lots of vinyl because the stuff is not available on CD, but I'd only go for a vinyl release if the music needed a big package in order to get the vibe across. Some musicians say you can't get the same yawp on CD, but methinks they just ain't forward-thinking enough and must still be deferring to the engineer.

I'm sitting in the living room with acoustic guitar primed and loaded. The goldfish are staring in anticipation. I'm all folked out and am in dire need of some Julian guitar chords and lyrics so I can give it to the orange ones big time. Is there any chance of said chords being published or being made available on the site - my release needs signing - any chance of something to keep me going? (Marc)

Most of my chords are very simple and lots of the songs have the same sequences. I use lots of bar E chords with droning/ringing high E and B notes, and play them through my old Morley wa-wa pedal, which Pete Cornish built into my fluorescent pedalboard years ago. My phase, boost, drive and turbo settings are always the same, which gives me a consistently similar sound. There are no lyric books because I don't have the time, and it's probably better for people to work them out themselves anyway - rock'n'roll songs just ain't poetry.

It's an idea that in the future, except for concept albums, musicians will put their new songs on website directly one after another without making CD, on the other hand listeners may pick up only their favourite ones from site and make their original album. Do you agree with it? Do you too intend to release your new songs directly by internet, and stop making CD? (Toshiki)

I think that first we'd have to break the human desire to own things, and since the capitalist way is to fuel that desire from an early age, with TV adverts and billboards around the streets, the end of the desire to own a CD is a long way off.


Don't get me wrong, I love where you are at right now and I really appreciate it all. But how I would love to see that Jehovahkill tour again. Any chance? (Summer)

Lots of people hate the idea of Brain Donor, but not nearly as much as they hated Queen Elizabeth at the time. When I did that Jehovahkill tour, everyone was saying 'do we have to sit through this' to the Krautrock stuff like "The Subtle Energies Commission" and "Necropolis" - yeah, they had to. They don't know what's good for them so I have to have faith in myself and give 'em what I feel like is true to myself. Good honest rock played by Travis or other knobbies with flat white asses? That is real dishonesty. Some thought Skellington was crap and some thought Rite was crap, and now some yearn for those days because it's not what I do now. Sod 'em all. I've always said that this is a slow-burning trip and I'm in it for the duration. The Forward-thinking Motherfucker will prevail!!!

Which is your favourite ones among all your own songs? (Toshiki)

My own favourite is probably still 'Upwards at 45 Degrees', though I don't listen to it much anymore.

Would you ever do another Teardrop Explodes gig? (Jakey)

Would you ever return to having your mother wipe your asshole?

It says that the backwards guitar maestro Alan Gill is in chokey - how come? Nosey I know, but just interested... (Paul & Eileen)

He was in jail for selling pot, though he argued that he'd given most of it away. This argument was not considered valid. Alan is out of jail now, so I've heard.

I just finished Head On/Repossessed a couple of weeks ago and a friend has started loaning me The Teardrop Explodes' discs and JC discs to get me educated. My question is: Is there a particular reason that the index to Head-On/Repossessed does not index song or album titles? I wondered if this was a conscious decision and indicated how you would want people to read the book. I read it through like a bulldozer and had to make myself stop reading at night I LOVED it so much. Unfortunately, I wasn't familiar with many of the songs as I read, so now I want to go back and look at particular passages commenting on songs or albums. This is one of the best books I've read in years. It really combined the best aspects of Catcher in the Rye (a book I love) and parts of On the Road (a book that gets on my nerves). Thanks for writing it! (Janet DeForrest)

I'm glad you enjoyed the book so much. The index was more important as a reference for the people and places involved and it never occurred to me that non-fans would be reading it, so I never gave the indexing of songs much thought.

In July 1994 on the Highlands and Islands tour, at the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen to be exact, you took some photos of the crowd and mentioned that you were working on a complete book of lyrics or something like that. I know you've been pretty prolific since then (you'll have to start selling your own custom CD & book towers soon) but wondered if this is ever coming out or not? If not, would you mind doing me the honour of reciting part of one lyric from the monumental Jehovahkill that's been bugging me for years. And that is the 'poem' in the middle of Poet is Priest..."In the beginning before the planets formed..." (Paul James)

In the beginning, all the planets formed,
Earth was a burning globe,
Spinning in chaos round a star called the Sun,
It was like all the other burning globes.
Except for one difference:
Boobies on the side,
A huge spirit moving through and onward through the burning wastes,
Of all intention the spirit was the soul:
Loving and beyond and indefinable.

This may be a very personal question but since you've bared your soul a few times in Head-On & Repossessed......do you remember the Nottingham Rock City gig in Nov 1995? Late in the show around Land of Fear I think, you appeared to be channelling some very bad vibes while writhing on your back on the organ. I've seen you live a fair few times but that was bloody weird even for you. What the hell was that all about? (Paul James)

That was all about a backstage scene which was made difficult for us combined with the fact that Mike Mooneye was behaving like an arrogant asshole who hadn't learned his guitar parts and was having to be reminded by all my musicians and myself, as though we didn't have enough to worry about ourselves. Then, he joined Spiritualized and did the same thing. Sorry for the negative vibes I put out that night but I'd never before heard so much garbage played by one musician.

Has Julian had a listen to the "Interpreter Vols. 1 & 2" Cope tribute CDs? If so, does he think they're awful? (Chris)

I've never heard of these CDs and didn't know they exist.

I seem to recall seeing in the sleeve-notes of one LP (I can't remember which) some reference to an incident involving a very expensive car in a London street like Charing Cross Road or the Haymarket. What was all that about? (Roger)

A yellow Ferrari valued at 370,000 was crossing our path as the lights changed on Charing Cross Road. The driver very nearly killed Dorian and even accelerated to give us a fright, so I followed him into the one way system and dumped a bag of industrial refuse all over the bonnet of his piece-of-shit car.

Whatever happened to "Suffocate" from the U.S. Mercury Kilimanjaro? Why was it switched for "Second Head" in the first place? (Jerry Buchanan)

"Suffocate" was written just after the release of the British Kilimanjaro, and was intended for the second album. But the album sold so many on import in the States that Mercury wanted an extra track to give the LP impetus on the U.S. version. They took "Suffocate" and the unfinished "Reward" without us really knowing what was going on. Why they took "Second Head" off I've no idea. Then "Suffocate" was dropped from Wilder as I had too many new songs ready, only to be resurrected by Balfey and our orchestrator Nicky Holland, when no-one liked my songs for the third album. The orchestral version was finally released on the "You Disappear from View" E.P. When Everybody Want to Shag The Teardrop Explodes was released in 1990 as the supposed lost third album, no-one at Mercury realised that "Suffocate" should have been on. They also forgot to include "Logcabin" as well.

Reading/hearing the poem 'Socrates Mine Enemy', I was wondering why you curse The Age of Reason. Are you referring to the book by Thomas Paine? What do you have against this? (Chris)

When Socrates stood on the Agora all day denying the truth of the myths he really pissed me off. He just liked to gas, and loved the sound of his own voice. Fuck him.

In Repossessed, you wrote: "the sessions for the China Doll ep were the greatest breath of fresh air in the studio since the Rabbi Joseph Gordan 45". This is the first and only reference to that single in the book. Can you shed some light on the origins and nature of the Rabbi project? (Vernon)

The Rabbi single began as a proper project and we recorded a follow-up single called "Yeah" which never got released. I would have put it on Floored Genius 3, but it had no legend and is one over-recorded Motherfucker too far. We conceived it as a lost American garage single recorded by a musical Rabbi who decided to use his schoolboy charges as his backing band, but I put a Guitar Tuner solo on it, which blew the 'lost '60s' vibe right out of the window.

In "Battle for the Trees" (the song not book), what are you putting a little ice on and feeling where it's red hot? (Jonathan)

We're applying a spiritual plaster to the burning wounds of Pen Wood, after the fucking tree-cutters and Insecurity men had ridden roughshod over her.

"Port of Saints" was a particularly personal and biting song which minced no words; have you ever received, directly or indirectly, any reaction to that song from Balfe or Drummond? (Vernon)

No reactions at all have come my way from either of them.

What was it like working with Clive Langer & Alan Winstanley? Would you ever work with them again? (Chris)

Clive and Alan were excellent during the Teardrop time, as they helped me to get deep into the arranging of songs, without feeling that they were pushing too far into my actual art. But when I tried to work with them for the "World Shut Your Mouth" single, I realised that those days were gone and Clive had taught me most of his best shots. That said, I'm sure they are a team who will run and run. Half the songwriters in the world need to learn the art of arrangement - it's part of the process and part of the fun is editing and distilling.

Did anybody do any moshing at your Teardrops or solo concerts? What do you think of moshing? (Chris)

If by moshing you mean rushing headlong into the audience from the edge of the stage, then the answer is no. Teardrop shows were full of girls with wet undies/no undies and static, stellar-looking guys.

The one thing I can think of from all your work over the last decade that I've always been a bit at odds with is the way that on Autogeddon, you made several references to killing people as a way forward. I always totally related to the sheer anger on that record, but would you really wish death upon another human being for any crime? Do you really believe that there comes a point when a man or woman is so hopelessly beyond help that their life should be taken away? Don't worry - I'm not looking for encouragement to go round shooting people or anything - I'm just interested to know your viewpoint... honest! (Markybov)

Sure, I believe that death is the only way for some people. Gimme a gun and a paedophile and I'll show you.

Have you reached the point now where you truly have no inclination to ever trouble the Top 40 singles charts again, or do you still intend to prance about on Toppy a good few more times yet? (Markybov)

Top of the Pops would probably have to change a lot in order to let me on nowadays. But my sense of Utopianism means that I always believe I may return to Toppy given the right tune.

My 8 year old son (a nascent Cope fan) wanted to ask "How does Julian manage to sing in so many completely different voices". I guess he means styles. I told him you listen to a lot of different types of music, are a bit of a magpie and are just damn talented - agreed? (Alistair)

I would actually agree with your son that they are different voices. As an Odinist artist I appear in disguise much of the time, and am only interested in using the correct voice with which to make my point and evoke the right atmosphere. Just as a guitarist may employ fuzz and overdrive for his intense music, yet may reduce his sound to a watery wa-wa for a more pastoral effect, the rock'n'roll singer has many effects at his grasp. One of the reasons which I've always disliked opera is because male singers appear to employ only one voice. I speak in all kinds of accents and with so many different tones that reducing my singing voice to one effect would limit me to making very monophonic music.

Over the years Julian must have amassed a fair few instruments. What's his favourite and why? (Dave-id)

This is a hard one because I only keep instruments in my collection if I use them a lot. But if my favourites were defined as those instruments used on the most records, they would be the following:

  1. My Gibson guitar/bass doubleneck has been used for all the bass since I got it in 1990, during the recording of Peggy Suicide (though I did use my Les Paul bass on "Greedhead Detector" and K-R Frost played it on "I Gotta Walk"). The doubleneck was made in California, in 1971, by a famous guitar customiser called Valdez. He took a 1968 Gibson Thunderbird 4 and a 1967 Gibson Firebird and melded the two together. The guitar is also a great recording instrument and has been featured on all my albums. (I've got two other doublenecks which people may have seen: my sparkle Danelectro was used at Cornucopea and Doggen used my Shergold Duosonic for the Brain Donor show.)
  2. My 1968 Fender Electric-12 has been used loads as a nine string rhythm guitar (I never use all 12 strings), and even as a lead guitar strung as a six-string. It looks like a Fender Jazzmaster, but those guitars were only made between 1965-69, and has a hockey stick neck and a great sound through my FX pedalboard.
  3. My Ovation 12-string is the sound most people associate with my '90s sound. It's an electro-acoustic guitar played through my fluorescent Pete Cornish pedalboard; which has an in-built Morley wa-wa, plus phase, boost, drive, and turbo pedals.
  4. My two Mellotron 400s are in constant use because I have a bunch of tapes which no one else has. I bought three tape-frames from Tangerine Dream in 1995 (3 sounds per frame) and they will keep me going forever. The Mellotrons need a lot of servicing, but they're far more roadworthy than rock'n'roll legend makes you think.
Obviously I've got a lot of other guitars and keyboards, etc. as I have been doing this for so many years, but these are the most constant instruments in my life. I still have the same Fender Jazz bass, which played on all the Teardrop albums and up to Saint Julian, and my 1968 Gibson 335 electric 12-string, which also featured throughout that same period. The only synthesizer I use is an old Moog Rogue. I had an ARP 2600 which I sold to Thighpaulsandra, and an original VCS3 (Putney) which I gave to him as a gift after the Interpreter album.

What inspires you to write the great tunes / songs/ riffs/ drones that you do? (Dave-id)

Everything inspires me, from the mishearing of conversations, to the walking into a room and hearing the riff of a song the wrong way around. There's even a bird outside my bedroom window who trills a bluesy riff which I've tried copping a coupla times.

When I first got a copy of 20 Mothers and lifted the cd from the case, the photo beneath the disc seamed strangely familiar? Then tonight I saw it! Eric Andersen's More Hits From Tin Can Alley. The album cover IS that same shot! (The obvious difference being Eric & some late 60's face painters were in the shot as opposed to Saint JC & all those mothers & such). Julian, where you spoofing that LP cover? If so, what are your thoughts on Eric Anderson? Thanx! (Julian Starr)

I've never heard of Eric Anderson so I don't know what the sleeve looks like. I was actually trying to get the same vibe found on the inside sleeve of the Allman Brothers LP Brothers and Sisters, and trying to restore female dignity in the wake of that disgustingly ugly LP sleeve for Electric Ladyland.

I'm trying to track down an extended remix of "World Shut Your Mouth" from the mid-'80s. I heard it live, taped it from a live radio broadcast (tape now sadly mangled), and think it was released as an Adrian Sherwood mix. Is this true? If so, should I look at 2nd hand stores for a copy? (Toby Fox)

It was remixed by the Washigton DC band Troublefunk. Donneye and I were going to see them a lot through 1986, and we were hanging out with them at Island studios. The remix is a 12" called Julian Cope versus Troublefunk, and Head Heritage may even have an address for one. Email JoAnne Wilder.

Who did the re-mix of "Soldier Blue" that got played on the radio, and was it released? (Frank Cannon)

That was by the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, and featured a very cool Michael Franti rap. However, it was never released and has been forgotten along with the instrumental re-mixes that accompanied it.