‘Mostly Guitar-based Rock with Melodic Aspects’, a mixtape by David Shrigley for The Lifted Brow: Digital.
This interview was conducted by The Lifted Brow: Digital at the National Gallery of Victoria, as David Shrigley installed works for his new show, David Shrigley: Life and Life Drawing. The following is an edited commentary.
1. Simon Bookish – Prince of Wales
I guess we inevitably have to have one from Worried Noodles. The German record company Tomlab invited me to make album artwork for one of their bands – I never got round to it, and then I did a T-shirt and then they said, “Well, why don’t you do an album that’s this concept? Let’s do a record cover with no record.” So I did that, but I thought it wasn’t enough. I wrote a songbook to go in it, not thinking this would be actually performed. And then, inevitably I suppose, they were like, “Yeah, we could get lots of bands to do it.” It formed this album, which is called Worried Noodles.
It’s a song about the Prince of Wales. It’s really funny, or at least, I think it’s funny anyway.
2. Cate Le Bon – Cyrk
She’s from Wales. She’s got no relation to Simon Le Bon … But she’s fantastic actually. A brilliant songwriter.
3. Thee Oh Sees – AA Warm Breeze
I just really like Thee Oh Sees. My favourite genre of music is garage rock and they hit that spot. I actually did a split single with Thee Oh Sees, maybe four years ago? I just did a couple of spoken word tracks. It was a super limited edition thing, which was really cool.
4. The Mountain Goats – High Hawk Season
I’ve seen them play twice in Glasgow. The first time, probably quite a few years ago, there were fifteen people. Then I went again and it was a big venue, so I was thinking, 'I don’t need to buy a ticket,’ but they sold out. I managed to get in for free through some sneaky way. There was one guy at the ticket desk and he was like, “I’ve got one ticket left.” But there were two of us. Then he was just like, “I’ll leave it anyway, just have it”. So one of us went in, then came back out again, gave him the other ticket, and went back in. Sweet, I got in for nothing.
5. The Fall – Futures and Pasts
I was really obsessed with the cover of Live at the Witch Trials. I think it came out when I was about eleven or twelve and I just really liked the cover. I thought it was like, surrealist. It’s a tree in a landscape—really badly drawn—a pencil drawing. But it really impressed me as an eleven or twelve-year-old.
Last time I saw them play, [Mark E. Smith] appeared to shit himself on stage and then just disappeared and never came back after fifteen minutes. He was just like kind of *makes constipated face* and then just went off. And everybody was just like, “Where did he go? It look like he shat himself.”
6. Parquet Courts – Black and White
“The new Pavement”, according to Steve Malkmus. I’ll put a Steve Malkmus song on as well because he needs the money.
7. Malcom Middleton and David Shrigley – Help
We inevitably must have a song from my current record. Malcolm Middleton and I did this album together, Music and Words. My friend Andy who does the drums on this used to be the drummer for Franz Ferdinand, and for what’s-his-name who used to be in The Smiths. Who am I thinking of? Johnny Marr, that’s who I’m thinking of. Anyway, it turns out that Johnny Marr is a bit of an arsehole and didn’t pay Andy and he left the band. And then they recorded an album, and just out of spite, [Johnny] re-recorded the drum bits. Apparently that’s just the way it is, so there you go. ‘Help’.
It’s about somebody who’s in distress and has various bad things that are happening to them. “I’m being attacked by bats! I’m being attacked by bats!” That’s the best line in it.
8. Veronica Falls – The Fountain
9. Teenage Fanclub – About You
I love Teenage Fanclub so much. They’re one of my favourite bands from when I was at art school, kind of late eighties, early nineties. And they’re from Glasgow, which is sort of my adopted hometown. They’re just really talented.
10. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Senator
"I know what the senator wants, what the senator wants is a blow job.” That’s funny.
11. Spacin’ – Empty Minds
12. Smog – Bathysphere
13. Sleep – Dragonaut
There’s two schools of thought. One says that Holy Mountain is the quintessential Sleep album, and the other says that Dopesmoker is. I’d say Dopesmoker but it’s kind of difficult for a radio edit, so we’ll go with the first track fromHoly Mountain, which is good.
14. David Shrigley – Our Children
15. Adam and the Ants – Car Trouble (part 2)
16. Bauhaus – Bela Lugosi’s Dead
I went to see Bauhaus in 1992. They were good. Really, really, really pretentious, but because I was thirteen, I didn’t really know.
17. Dinosaur Jr. – Start Choppin’
I think they’re the best rock band in the world. It’s contentious.
18. Blondie – Heart of Glass
Dear Tony Blackburn,
We have been undertaking a letter-writing project at our school. We would be most gratified if you would play us ‘Heart of Glass’ by Blondie on your Saturday morning program.
David Shrigley is an internationally renowned artist and Turner Prize finalist whose work is held in major public collections including the Tate Gallery, London, and MoMA, New York. The Glasgow-based practitioner has developed a cult following for his stripped back, darkly humourous and deliberately simple drawings that explore existential dramas, human dysfunction and anxiety. His first major survey in Australia, David Shrigley: Life and Life Drawing, opened 14 November at the National Gallery of Victoria.