Stay to the End – from Senseless Things to Loup GarouX via Gorillaz, Delakota and Deadcuts, with Cass Browne

Considered Senseless Things’ classic album, The First of Too Many has received the triple CD and double 12-inch coloured vinyl LP expansion and revision treatment, three decades after its initial release. And it serves as a fitting tribute to lead vocalist/songwriter, Mark Keds, who died in early 2021.

This delayed 30th anniversary edition of a second album hailed by AllMusic for its blend of ‘bubblegum pop’ and ‘gob-stopping hard rock’ – likening the band’s sound to The Who, Buzzcocks, and The Replacements – has been a work in progress for some time now, drummer Cass Browne and bassist Morgan Nicholls proud of the finished product.

Remembered for their intense and passionate approach to touring, this South-West London four-piece – with Mark, Cass and Morgan joined by Ben Harding on guitar and vocals – played relentlessly across the UK, mainland Europe, and beyond. At the time of the release of this, their second of four albums, they were supporting Blur in the States and visiting Japan for the first time, the latter trip including an appearance on talent show Ika-Ten.

Forming in 1986 and calling it a day in 1995 (albeit briefly returning in 2017 for reunion shows), the cover art for the band’s first two albums and single releases around that period was provided by comic artist Jamie Hewlett, creator of Tank Girl, the cult comic strip later adapted for an American movie in 1995, and co-founder of Gorillaz with Blur frontman Damon Albarn, with both Cass and Morgan  going on to play substantial roles in that major multimedia success.

And it was Cass and Morgan who returned to the original master tapes of The First of Too Many for this project, the resultant Cherry Red Records package including not only the revised LP but also the original 1991 mix and a never-before released blistering June ’91 live show from the tie-in tour at the Camden Palace, recorded on a 24-track mobile recording unit, the tapes rescued, restored and given a full new mix again by Morgan.

I was lucky enough to catch Senseless Things three times in 1989, each time supporting close friends and North Hampshire favourites Mega City Four. In fact, it’s difficult for me to separate those bands, not least with both releasing cracking debut LPs in 1989, the year Mega City Four frontman, Wiz did a piece for the third edition of my London and South-East based fanzine, Captains Log.

Around the time he died, I dug out correspondence from Mark, hand-written in his particular scrawl, complete with full address – his flat in Twickenham – and phone number, while requesting a copy of my fanzine and asking if I’d be interested in a feature. He added a tape of Senseless Things’ explosive current double-A-side single ‘Girlfriend’/’Standing in the Rain’ and a demo recorded at the same time. I’m hoping that cassette’s still around. He added, ‘By the way, are there any venues anywhere near you?’

I’d seen them already by then, twice within a week in early January ’89 at Brixton’s Canterbury Arms and Fulham’s Greyhound. They were young and raw, punky, infectious, and refreshingly explosive live, your scribe at the time only half-joking that they might be the Buzzcocks’ kid brothers.

I also recall a chat at the bar with them the next time I saw them, closer to my patch at the University of Surrey in Guildford in early December that year, by which time they were already on their way. But above all else – and the first two LPs got lots of spins from me – I loved the singles they did for Way Cool Records that year, the afore-mentioned ‘Girlfriend’ and ‘Too Much Kissing’, the latter also closing quickfire classic debut album Postcard CV, on that same indie label, another long player that received the revision treatment through Cherry Red, in that case in 2010.

They were definitely in the frame for the ill-fated Captains Log IV. A few interviews were done (including The Beautiful South, BOB, The Chesterfields), but events overtook, and I was soon planning long weekends away and world travels instead. Around then, Mega City Four also started a fairly meteoric rise, Senseless Things thriving in their slipstream, arguably surpassing their success in the long run.

And hearing Mega City Four’s ‘Miles Apart’ and ‘Clear Blue Sky’ from ’88, Senseless Things’ 7″s from ’89, and each outfit’s debut albums takes me right back to two bands full of energy and promise, properly going places.

As it turned out, Senseless Things recorded the first of two sessions for John Peel in late February 1990, and by 1991 were with Epic Records. The following year they scored two UK top-20 hit singles, with ‘Easy to Smile’ and ‘Hold It Down’, the latter Morgan Nicholls song appearing on third LP, Empire of the Senseless the following year, their sole UK top-40 album. Like Mega City Four (two top-40 hits) they deserved more, but what they achieved at such a young age, and the adulation with which fans held them tells its own story.

As it turned out, we lost Wiz from Mega City Four far too young, aged just 44 in 2006, and then came Mark’s departure, 15 years later, at just 50.

I’d just had my first listens back to The First of Too Many for quite some time in the days before my interview with Cass. At that point, I hadn’t gone back to the original LP to play ‘spot the difference’, but the revised edition certainly sounded fresh. How did Cass the difference between the record then and now – the recalibrated version – with regard to sound and feel?

“With the original, I think all the performances are really good, with the kind of energy we wanted to catch. But – and we always felt that, it wasn’t a kind of slow revelation, we knew at the time – It seemed thinner when it was mixed and mastered. In our memory and as a live band in terms of the records we made before and after, the whole weight of it seemed to be kind of missing. So it was always in the back of our minds to revisit it, and the process.

“It was something we’d been thinking about for quite a while, even before the {2017} reunion show. The process of these things, of revisiting and finding the original tapes, getting everything digitised in order to look at a mix, let alone sourcing them, making sure that was a faithful thing … it was a long process, but within that process we found varying takes we didn’t know were on there, a lot of us talking between, and found so much colour and light in there, so much humour.

“The tapes were digitised then sent over to Morgan, and he’s a great mixer – myself and him have another band, Circle 60, a very psychedelic, Dukes of Stratosphear type band, and he mixed all that. Nothing was replayed and nothing else was touched, it was literally about making the whole thing more faithful to the vision we had when we first made it. And I’m really pleased with the energy, everything’s still there but it sounds wider and huger.

“{for example} we found a lot of conflicting frequencies, like with the acoustic guitar. We were still really young and didn’t really know everything. We were still finding our feet. A lot of the frequencies for Mark’s original chord guitar was really piercing, and drenched everything, and we’ve spent a lot more time with this version of the record than we did originally.”

I get all that, but I’m also a fan of debut LP, Postcard CV, although perhaps that’s as a bit of a romantic looking back on how I remember you back in the late ‘80s, this energetic live band I first saw around that time. And as it was very much a live recording in comparison, it seems. I wonder if perhaps this second LP was more of a debut album in a proper studio environment.

“Err, well … Postcard CV was done at a studio, in Southern Studios {London N22}, but …”

I get that, but it definitely had a proper live energy to it.

“Well, it had to be. We recorded that in one day, all 10 songs … unbelievably fast! And I have to add that we haven’t just digitalised The First of Too Many {this time}, we found a lot of things we recorded, one of which is coming out with this release, a live show from that tour, which I’d forgotten about. We spoke to Harvey {Birrell}, our studio engineer and live sound guy, who recorded Postcard CV, and he remembered having recorded it with a mobile recording unit. He said we played great on the whole tour, but for some reason we came off the stage that night and Mark said, ‘Lose that – bin it!’ But the difference between a good and bad concert back then would have been very much how we were feeling about it on the night. And there was probably quite a small difference between those performances. Looking back, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as we remembered.”

Thankfully, Harvey had the presence of mind to actually put it aside for later, despite that request.

“Yeah, and when we spoke to Sony {the owner of Epic Records} and they gave us access to their archives, that includes recordings from when we first went into a proper studio, because we used to go to a lot of demo places – I mean, we did some recording when we were about 15. We tried to record five songs and the engineer said there’s only room for four. Apparently, you can hear us going into a corner and talking, coming back and going, ‘We’ll do five – we’ll do the last one much faster!

“And with Postcard CV, it was essentially live with no overdubs, but it had to be with songs like ‘Too Much Kissing’.”

A discussion followed – mostly from me, gushing, no doubt – about my love for that song and ‘Girlfriend’ from those days, songs that will always take me right back. In fact, as I put this together, I’ve just had a look back at the 1993 live footage for ‘Too Much Kissing’ at a packed Finsbury Park in North London in 1993 for the XFM concert, and also the rendition for the finale of that highly emotional (and that’s not just in retrospect, contemplating Mark’s passing) Shepherd’s Bush Empire show in West London in March 2017. Not a dry house in the sea, or something like that. Anyway, carry on Cass.

“I think The First of Too Many was the first time we’d gone in with the idea of making an album, so to speak. There’s a lot of fondness for Postcard CV, but I think The First of Too Many was probably us going, ‘This is our first proper album.’”

Thinking about it, that album title was perhaps somewhat confusing for those who didn’t fully know their way around your song catalogue.

“We definitely had a history of screwing the names around! The First of Too Many was originally titled Should Have Signed to Geffen. I think Mark came up with that, but it turned out that Sony really loved the title and said, ‘Yeah, go with that!’ At which point, Mark went off the idea!”

Going back to the very start, am I right in thinking Mark and Morgan went to the same school?

“Me and Mark went to school together, and Morgan we met locally. I met Mark when I was five and he was six. His Mum used to drive me into school. We met Morgan down at the adventure playground when we were 10, I think.”

That was in Twickenham, and from there I told Cass more about my own introduction to the band, and that past correspondence from Mark, a feature with Wiz of Mega City Four proving the catalyst. I also mentioned that line about them being like the Buzzcocks’ kid brothers back then.

“I’ll take that! And we supported the Buzzcocks when they reformed in 1989. We were lucky enough to get that tour, but we’d been together quite a while before. We were playing together in 1985, but I would have been 13 then.”

Funny you should say that. I recall chatting to a couple or maybe three of you at the bar at the University of Surrey in my hometown, Guildford, in late ‘89, and it struck me then that you were only kids. I was only 20 or 21, but you were 17 or 18, which seemed a big difference at that age.

“Well, we never quite got over the fact that Ben, our guitarist, was six years older! But yeah, the Buzzcocks. Our first single’s cover was actually done by Steve Diggle’s brother. Mark and I tracked him down and went to see him. I was only 14, Mark was 15, but we used to play down at the Clarendon in Hammersmith. You started off downstairs, and when you were big enough, you would reach the glorious shrine of the Klubfoot upstairs, where everyone we knew went.

“We played so much there, there are gaps where we didn’t recall if we’d seen a band or supported them, like with Soul Asylum and The Lemonheads. Only later did we find flyers that told us we played. Mainly because it was actually cheaper and better for us – instead of buying tickets to see a band – if we asked to play. That way we could see the band for free. 

“With the Buzzcocks we were playing downstairs at the Clarendon. Steve Diggle had his band, Flag of Convenience, and we booked the venue under our own name then got Steve’s band to headline instead of us so we could support them, and say we’d played with Steve Diggle from the Buzzcocks. We were only about 14 then.

“Mark was so autonomous, so driven, and he would hustle. He’d book all those early gigs himself. And he set up the PO Box and the first self-release we made for this label, Way Cool, but that was because Mark and myself were selling bootleg tapes on Pete’s stall in Camden {the owner of the label}, selling bootlegs of live bands. I think we were 12 then, but Mark got it together for us to go and record and put this record out. He was really industrious with booking all the gigs, making sure we could play up and down the country. He was quite relentless with that.”

Am I right in thinking Mark and Morgan were in earlier version of the band, Wild Division, before you were on board – the in-between band called The Psychotics – though? How come you weren’t involved then?

“Because I didn’t know how to play anything. Mark was my best mate and got himself a guitar, started writing songs. Morgan originally was the drummer of Wild Division, then moved to guitar, and I joined on drums. I only learned drums in order to play with my friends. It was the only vacant opportunity, and I didn’t know how to play guitar or bass. My dad bought me a drum kit from a junk shop up the road. I kind of learned that, then joined their band, Morgan switching to guitar before his dad said he couldn’t be in the band, he had to do his O-levels.

“And when Morgan returned, we already had a guitarist, so Morgan returned on bass, which is why a lot of his bass style is kind of John Entwistle guitar style.”

Ah, that makes sense, thinking about it. And talking of styles, listening back to ‘Everybody’s Gone’, the first single off the second LP, there’s Beatles-style bass on the chorus in particular, as well as that kind of Buzzcocks-like guitar.

And I was taken back to the thrill of those guitars on ‘Best Friend’ and (second single) ‘Got it at the Delmar’ in particular. But there are different elements throughout this album, and ‘Radio Spiteful’ … that’s probably the closest you came to being The Clash, right?

“Well, it’s not! I found a song from very early on called ‘I’m Moving’, which came out on a flexi-disc, I listened to it the other day, and can’t believe no one picked up on the fact that’s just a straight rip of ‘What’s My Name?’!”

“But musically, everything went into it. And Mark loved classic songwriters and was a massive fan of Squeeze, as we all were – the Difford/Tilbrook thing he really loved – and was very focused on lyrics. He didn’t write stuff that was throwaway. But sound-wise, when we were really young it was very kind of The Cure, Magazine, Wire, Buzzcocks. Then gradually a lot of American hardcore stuff – Minor Threat and Dag Nasty, Descendents, The Replacements. Fugazi … I was very into Sonic Youth, and that got thrown in too.

“If you listen to something like ‘Homophobic Arsehole’, I was buying £30 guitars from Record and Tape Exchange, using them to just smash up and make weird noises with, get a 4-track and distort stuff, then sample and put it over it. So the American stuff came in, but again, Mark was still very kind of … he loved Paul Westerberg {ex-Replacements}, and Dave Pirner from Soul Asylum. He still leant towards the ‘singer-songwriter with band’ aesthetic.”

What also strikes me listening back, and maybe I just didn’t think about it so much then, are the harmonies, like on ‘Lip Radio’. Come to think of it, ‘Wrong Number’ is almost more Beach Boys than Ramones.

“Ha! Well, I don’t know, but The Beach Boys were an absolute go-to after gigs in the van. We’ve got endless recordings and video footage of us singing along, picking a different harmony. We’d do all The Beach Boys’ stuff.”

Well, there you go. Maybe it rubbed off in a subliminal sense.

“Ben was very good with his harmonies. I remember Mark and Ben would that work out, and if they struck gold with one harmony, Mark would get really excited. I don’t know about The Beatles, but we were very into The Rutles. Ha!”

Another break-out discussion followed as to our mutual love of The Rutles, and the music of late great, Neil Innes. But moving on …

“With The First of Too Many, we were so young, and it was before that kind of disaffected melancholy came into guitar music. But there was still a lot of that in the stuff we listened to a lot – Yearning and stuff like The Replacements and Husker Du, and of course we toured with the Megas {Mega City Four) a lot. I think Wiz and Mark found a real kinship in the fact that they were they were both singer-songwriters genuinely swerving the more negative aspects of the music industry, just touring and taking stuff straight to bands and fans.

“Which is why Mark was so positive with connecting with people who came. He would listen to tapes, send stuff back out, personally run off tapes for people he’d made connections with and rough demos to people. I still got a lot of messages and emails from people who received these little packages from Mark.”

That’s the mark of the man, I guess. He certainly came over as totally genuine.

“He genuinely was. Coming from the backgrounds myself Mark came from, to have found a kind of really good, personal way out that could own – our band – where we didn’t have to pay lip service to anyone else in order to do what we needed to do, was completely autonomous. And for that being our kind of ticket to other countries and ticket to making records, it was the way we communicated and the way that we played. Also, we were so steeped in it – all we talked about was music, all we watched was music. We absorbed it all and then we had our own thing.

“And Mark really was relentlessly prolific with songs. When I look back at the dates we played, there were so many, but we were writing between them, then recording and rehearsing and whatever else we had to do. One year we had just one day off, and that wasn’t Christmas … which is the kind of regime a little boy band would have.”

Was Mark a galvanising force in making sure that commitment was there, for that out of the way date or whatever? Or was it across the board enthusiasm?

“I know that we never cancelled any gig in all that time apart from one, which was my doing – it was a gig in Inverness in ‘93 or ’94, when I’d bought tickets to see Prince and just went, ‘No, I’m not doing that one.’ That’s one of one and a half thousand shows. We would play if we were ill. Mark was relentless with booking gigs and tours and stuff, but I can’t remember there being any resistance from any of us. I think most of the pushing came between myself and Mark.

“I would oversee a lot the artwork and stuff to do with prints, posters and merchandise, and Mark would be more on the live side. But we were definitely rehearsing if we weren’t playing. And that would be Mark. I’d be like, ‘Why do we need to? We’ve just played this four times over?’

“The other marked difference then was that … nowadays and with every band I’ve been in since, we record an album and make the album how we want it to sound first, then go and play. Whereas with Senseless Things, the cycle was very much write, rehearse, go on tour for a couple of months, then when we know how to play the songs, record. Back then, making the albums seemed like a document of what we had done once we had toured. But playing songs live just changes their nature anyway.”

Seeing as you mentioned overseeing record covers, am I right in thinking Jamie Hewlett used to come and see you?

“Jamie did come to a couple of gigs, but there was a TV show called Transmission, and they showed the ‘Girlfriend’ video. Jamie and Alan Martin used to do Tank Girl in a magazine, Deadline, and at the bottom of each episode, would say they were listening to when they drew it, and one time they said that week’s soundtrack was Senseless Things. I think Mark contacted Jamie and asked if he would do a cover. He ended up letting us use a segment from one of his strips for ‘Too Much Kissing’.

“After that I used to travel down to Worthing where Jamie lived with Glyn Dillon, Alan Martin, Mat Wakeham, Philip Bond … there was this whole kind of little comic industry there. I totally loved all those people, would go down and we’d chat about stuff, Jamie ending up drawing lots and lots of stuff for our covers, up until The Empire of the Senseless. I think by that stage we were … ah, taking ourselves very serious, and thought maybe it was time to move on from the cartoon thing.”

You went on to tour with Blur. Was your route into Gorillaz through that earlier link with Damon Albarn, or through your friendship with Jamie?

“Er … myself and Jamie would phone each other at night, have ridiculously surreal and stupid conversations. But Senseless Things did tour with Blur in 1992. There was the Deadline connection, but both of our bands used to drink in London, usually a place called Syndrome, and we were always running into each other. The route into Gorillaz actually came, I think, when Jamie phoned me, he was working with Mat {Wakeham}, part of the Worthing group, and they were just beginning to do Gorillaz. Jamie asked me to pop into the studio and say hi, I had a look around, and they asked me to do the voice of one of the characters. But the actual call came from Damon when he was putting the live band together. Nothing had been released at that stage, but because Jamie’s and Damian’s studios were in the same block {West London}. I would go and rehearse, then go to Jamie’s.

“Really early on, there was this problem of how these fictitious characters were going to be able to do interviews. It didn’t really work with Jamie when they were trying to pretend to be the characters. So things were conducted by email, but then they didn’t really want to write the thing, so one evening I said, ‘Give them to me, I’ll do them.’ I’d done a million interviews and knew how a fucking obnoxious band would sound!

“That led to myself and Mat doing animation scripts for Gorilla Bites. And then we made a documentary. When Mat left, I took over doing the interviews and radio stuff, and if they were doing any DJing stuff or award ceremonies, I’d write the scripts, then we’d get in voice actors.”

There was more to it than that too, Cass also penning 2006 band autobiography, Rise of the Ogre. Some ride, all in all. And it was clearly meant to be.

“Yeah, it was … until it changed. But there you go.”

Was it rather surreal working with Clash icons, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon at one point?

“Well, I love Paul, and we kind of knew him before Plastic Beach. He came to a couple of Gorillaz shows and we kind of started hanging out really. He’s a really cool guy. Mick, I’d met a couple of times, bumping into him around Portobello Road. I actually played with Paul first, I think in 2006. He asked me to play drums with Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye, who were doing a covers album at the time. It was a track called ‘Satta Massagana’ by The Abyssinians. I worked with Paul then, and that was real fun. As a rhythm section we lock in very easily.

“And when he came to join in the Plastic Beach thing, there was definitely a different kind of … being a huge fan anyway, it went from it being nice playing with Paul, and ‘I fucking love The Clash’ to ‘Oh look, it’s half The Clash!’ There were definitely a couple of bits where I felt, ‘Fucking hell. That’s mysterious!’

“Mick’s a lovely guy too. They both are. And the Plastic Beach tour with Gorillaz was fantastic, because there was Bobby Womack on there, Lou Reed made a couple of appearances, there was the National Orchestra of Syria, Hypnotic Brass {Ensemble}…”

To name but a few. You can add Snoop Dogg, Neneh Cherry, De La Soul, Mark E. Smith, Little Dragon, Shaun Ryder, and Gruff Rhys to that impressive list, the tour opening at Coachella in Palm Springs, California, and also including memorable headlining spots at Glastonbury, Roskilde, and Benicassim.

Outside many landmark moments with Gorillaz and his first band, 51-year-old Merton-born Cass formed new band Delakota when Senseless Things split in 1995, touring with them for a couple of years, also featuring as Damon Albarn’s drummer on 2002’s Mali Music, and briefly for Urge Overkill. He then rejoined Mark Keds in 2016 in East London outfit Deadcuts, and there was the afore-mentioned Circle 60 alongside Morgan Nicholls.

Then in 2019 he co-formed ‘alternative rock supergroup’ Loup GarouX wth Mercury-nominated Ed Harcourt and The Feeling’s Richard Jones, the trio delivering debut LP Strangerlands late last year, Cass clearly remaining on a creative high with that ensemble. In short, it’s been a mighty journey so far. But Senseless Things was his way in, big as Gorillaz were. Is that how he sees it?

“I dunno … it goes in and out. I don’t get stopped very often, but when people do, it’s usually because of Senseless Things. But of course, Gorillaz is something recognisable from the cartoons. You didn’t see the band for a long time. And that was one of the absolute joys in the beginning.

“I did Senseless Things, then my own band, Delakota after that, I don’t know if I was burned out, but the thing is to start and dream up a band, trying to kind of get something together that feels exciting and new. There’s a certain amount of naïve petrol behind it that propels you forward. And then the reality of kind of coming out of the dream state, actually executing some of this is quite draining, and at the end of each cycle you kind of feel a little burnt out.”

Well, you did nine years or so as Senseless Things, which seems to be the maximum for many fine bands.

“Yeah, I mean, I look back on the pivotal span of The Clash, or the pivotal span of the Bunnymen, one of my favourite bands, and with them that killer run from 1980 to 1985. And this was a band that’s apparently lackadaisical. In actual fact, they put out four or five masterpieces.

“And going back to the Buzzcocks, when they reformed it felt like that was an event that would never have happened. They’d been gone so long that it was unthinkable that they would ever reform. In actual fact, between them splitting up and reforming was something like seven or eight years. And for Massive Attack, that’s tuning up a hi-hat!

“When they reformed, age-wise they would have been early 30s, and by our reckoning – being 18 – it was like, ‘Fuck! These guys! They’re back from the dead. What are they doing?’ But now, it’s like, ‘That’s nothing!’ Especially coming from where I am now. But with my current band, Loup GarouX – with Ed Harcourt and Richard Jones – it’s amazing. I wish I’d found them earlier. I’m so pleased and proud of the album we’ve just done, and that’s the most substantial piece of lyric writing and production I’ve done in quite a while.”

Agreed, on the basis of what I’ve heard so far. Admittedly, a catch-up exercise for this scribe, but yes, another special entry on the Cass Browne far-bigger-than-a-postcard CV. Anyway, where were we?

“The thing about Senseless Things … you go through those seismic life-defining changes or events. When we started, we were 10. I joined when I was 12 but Morgan and Mark had played together for two years, which at the time I thought there’s no way I’m ever going to be able to catch up or join this band because they’ve been going for so long, and I’ve only just learned how to play drums!

“But, you know, you go through puberty, you go through your first girlfriends, your first gigs, your first drinks, your first drugs, moving out, and in my case my father passed away … and all these things are so defining and resonant. And that goes for the audience as well, because, you know, it’s not just us going through those things. It’s also that audience’s first gigs, their first girlfriends, their first drinks, their first out of town experiences … and the sound of the records and the look of it – everything gets literally entwined into your synapses. It’s those evocations of early music.

“For me, this is why I still listen to the Buzzcocks, The Who, The Stranglers, because they’re ingrained. And while most of the bands I’ve done since have in some way been bigger, Senseless Things is probably still the most powerful in terms of those early memories.”

There was that four-song return at Islington Academy for Wiz, but then another 10-year gap before the proper return. Was 2007 a bit too early for any reunion?

“Well, the 2007 thing was … I hadn’t seen Mark for a long time. He did duck out, and for a lot of different reasons. So I hadn’t seen him, but he phoned me and said he was doing this thing for Wiz, billed as Mark Keds, although I think the other bands playing were billed as their bands. Mark said, ‘Would you want to do it?’ I said I would, and it would be great to play with him. Then he said, ‘Should we ask Ben?’ I said yeah, but Morgan I think was away in Japan, otherwise he would have done it. But we had one rehearsal and despite the fact that even then it’d been 10 or 12 years, everything was note-perfect. We’d played those songs to death, so we knew them.

“After that, me and Mark talked for a while about not necessarily playing again together but how he had some tracks, and I said, ‘Maybe I can produce them.’ I remember saying, ‘Do you remember Pete Shelley’s Homosapien album?’ It was a lot more like a Luxuria, or Wire when they went a little more digital. I said, ‘Maybe you should do a solo thing, and I should produce it.’ He seemed like he was up for the idea. We made a date to get together, but he never turned up, and I didn’t see him again until …”

The Deadcuts project?

“Well, it was a little before then. We hadn’t spoken for a while, but I saw The Replacements had reformed, and Senseless Things supported them on their last tour in 1991. We played at The Marquee under the name, The Stand-ins, because we weren’t allowed to use our own name. But then they reformed for this tour, and I got Mark a ticket to go and see them at The Roundhouse. That’s when myself and him started talking again. He asked me reasonably quickly to kind of join Deadcuts, and I was like, ‘Mate, we’re just talking again!’

“But the Deadcuts stuff, I also really liked, and it was very different to Senseless Things. Funnily enough, it was a lot more like what me and him were listening to right at the beginning, kind of The Psychedelic Furs and The Only Ones. He asked me to play one gig because their drummer dropped out. Then he said, ‘Can you do this other one?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do that, but that’s it.’ Then it was like, ‘Sebadoh are playing, and I really want to do this tour …’ While we were doing that, we started writing in the soundcheck, then suddenly, it’s like, ‘Can you record drums?’ Then, fucking hell, that’s how it happens! You’ve got to be very careful, and alert, unless you end up in another band! Ha!’

I won’t dwell too much on Mark’s passing. You’ve probably been asked a few times. But I’m guessing you were in touch quite late on. When you look back now, I’m guessing you’re proud of everything you achieved with Senseless Things, but at the same time, when you think of Mark, do any particular memories jump out at you, live or in the studio, such as recording this album we’re talking about?

“Erm … I’ve said this somewhere else, but the thing is, the guy I grew up with, and the guy I recorded with and toured with, was different to the guy I ended up playing with in Deadcuts. And there was a lot of difficulty in Deadcuts. There was still a lot of fun, but the thing is, a lot of time had gone past and certain neurological pathways had changed, you know.

“I do like that Deadcuts album we made. It’s good. It’s different. But you can’t listen to more than one side at a time.”

Maybe there are too many memories wrapped up in that for you right now.

“Maybe it’s too soon, yeah. But my thing with the Senseless Things is … it was fucking really good fun. We’ve got films of us touring – Morgan had 30 hours of this footage, cut down to about two hours, and it might come at some point. And the thing is, in every single shot, we’re laughing … or usually smoking. But it was really positive, really furious, really confident, really silly, and just visceral … and the guy I would rather remember is that one.

“He was really sweet and charming, possibly too shy for his own good. And he was the guy I grew up with, and we were friends. He left home at 15 and came to live with me and my dad, but within the same week I left home, so Mark was living with my dad and I was living in a bedsit in Kingston! We were still rehearsing and playing, and we had a lot of kind of entwinements, but overall, the guy I remember and love and think is honoured by this record for his songwriting, his charm, and his ability to encapsulate moods, that’s the guy I want to remember.”

The triple-CD and double 12-inch coloured vinyl LP anniversary edition of Senseless Things’ second album, The First Of Too Many – expanded and revisited – is out on Friday, October 21st, with more details and pre-sale links at https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/senseless-things-the-first-of-too-many-3cd-expanded-edition/.

And for more on Loup GarouX, head here.

About writewyattuk

A freelance writer and family man being swept along on a wave of advanced technology, but somehow clinging on to reality. It's only a matter of time ... A highly-motivated scribbler with a background in journalism, business and life itself. Away from the features, interviews and reviews you see here, I tackle novels, short stories, copywriting, ghost-writing, plus TV, radio and film scripts for adults and children. I'm also available for assignments and write/research for magazines, newspapers, press releases and webpages on a vast range of subjects. You can also follow me on Facebook via https://www.facebook.com/writewyattuk/ and on Twitter via @writewyattuk. Legally speaking, all content of this blog (unless otherwise stated) is the intellectual property of Malcolm Wyatt and may only be reproduced with permission.
This entry was posted in Books Films, TV & Radio, Music, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.