John Rutledge is perhaps best known for his alter-ego of Eggsy, a principle and founding member of Goldie Lookin Chain. As one of their main voices, he’s made a name for himself as a consistently funny lyricist and, at least to my mind, incredibly underrated rapper. After years of prolific output, he and his crew show no signs of slowing down, with another new album due by the end of summer. Unique and colourful in the hip-hop scene, GLC always took a more sideways, yet realistic, look on the working-class streets of Britain.
Despite being a key part of GLC, Rutledge has managed to break out into intriguing things in his own right. Whether he’s exploring the history of cassette tapes through a radio show, or trying to understand the paranormal as one half of The Unexplainers (with Mike Bubbins), he always has something to say that’s as funny as it is interesting. While he states his main drive to be pure entertainment, I believe that even Rutledge sells his ability short. Through his music and conversation, he often brings perspective that’s remarkably fresh in its honesty.
From GLC’s first commercial release, Greatest Hits, I’ve been a dedicated fan of their output. I found much in their lyrics that spoke of things I saw every day, that still most wouldn’t dare to shine a light on. That gave them a special place for me, meaning that speaking to Rutledge personally was a somewhat surreal honour. Thankfully, Rutledge turned out to be one of the friendliest and more approachable guests we’ve had on so far, which did a lot for settling down nerves. When you’ve followed someone’s work since before the days of broadband, some trepidation is to be expected. That ebbed away in minutes, as I quickly realised how truly down-to-earth he is. Here’s the recording of our chat in full:
See below for transcripts, and all relevant links!
What’s this radio show you were doing earlier in the day, then?
I’m working on a show for BBC Radio Wales about trainers, which is quite good fun.
Yeah! I did one last year about tape cassettes, which was good, called My Analogue Romance, which was all about my minor obsession with tape cassettes. Made a really good, fun show there, where I got to go to the Science Museum; find out about the origin of cassette tapes, find a lot of people who are still into cassettes and stuff like that. It was really good fun actually! I got to speak to DJ Yoda about his mix-tape collection and stuff like that!
I’m just doing one now about trainers, which is hopefully going to go out later in the summer, which is all about the fact that I’ve been wearing them since I was a kid. I’m kind of like, “Am I past it now?”. You know, i’m forty, should I stop wearing trainers? So I’ve been speaking to quite a lot of interesting people there… A guy called Neal Heard, who’s written a book specifically about trainers; it’s quite good fun!
Well, what’s the alternative to trainers at your age though?
Well, this is the thing! That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to find out. I went up to Northampton, to the Shoe Museum, and that’s really interesting up there because they’ve got hundreds of pairs of trainers, dating right back to, you know, the glory days in the 80’s, which was really good fun.
Was the 80’s the invention of the trainer, then?
They’ve been around for a while! They’ve been around for quite a long time… They go, sort of, back about a hundred years or so. This is why it’s been fun making the show, because you find out a lot more than you start off knowing.
And it’s not something anyone would think about really!
No! And that’s why it’s been good. For me, the glory days were the 80’s, when you’re a kid. It’s like discovering music, isn’t it? That kind of thing. You’re like, “Oh wow! What’s this?! I can’t afford these things but they look amazing!”. Then you end up finding out they’re worth hundreds of pounds later.
We’ve just been finishing the edit on that, and fingers crossed that’s all ready to go. I think that will go out later in the summer. Then, getting some bits ready for… Oh god, what else is going on? New album for the band is coming out later in the summer and another series of the show we do, called The Unexplainers, which is the mystery-investigation show that I do with my buddy, Mike Bubbins (who’s an ex-PE teacher and king of comedy).
So, we’re just getting some bits ready for that. We just had a series just finished, so we’re getting some ideas together for the next one; which should be fun.
On The Unexplainers:
I’ve seen bits and pieces of that and it’s actually really entertaining!
Oh, it’s great! The last series just went out… We make it for the BBC, and it goes out on the radio, and then we get to put it out as a podcast after that. So, if anyone’s just missed the latest series, it will be on our podcast page, which is The Unexplainers Extra.
Besides putting up the shows that we do for the BBC, we put extra shows, mini-podcasts and stuff like that, on there as well. That’s doing well. That’s doing really well; people are enjoying that.
We got to investigate all sorts of things, from aliens landing behind a school in the 70’s to Bigfoot existing in Wales, and the concept of Atlantis existing just off the coast of Wales. That’s great fun because, there, you get to meet a mixture of scientists, specialists, people who have seen bizarre things, ghost hunters erm… You name it, we, sort of, end up meeting them!
You class yourself, out of the two Unexplainers crew, as the “strong believer” don’t you, right?
Yes! Yeah, without a doubt! That, kinda, goes back to when I was a kid, and watching Arthur C. Clarke‘s World of Strange Powers on TV and thinking, “My god, this is amazing! There’s a man on TV telling me these things exist. This is brilliant”.
Of course, in the 80’s, all you had was a TV show; there was no internet. You might get the occasional book, which had some information in about these weird things… So, I’ve spent my entire life thinking, “Is this stuff real?! How does it work?”.
Now, i’m actually getting a chance to go out and, you know, meet people who’ve definitely experienced things, which is amazing. Obviously, when i’m with Mike he doesn’t believe in any of it at all, so he’s quite firmly rooted in the world of science. But, again, you meet scientists and they tell you some really interesting things.
I think one of the first episodes we ever did was, y’know, “Do ghosts exist?”. We spoke to a psychology expert [and] he was explaining things, like the concept of pareidolia (which is the concept of seeing patterns in things); the way you, if you look at the clouds, you’ll see a face in the clouds because you’re pre-programmed to see these patterns.
The whole Face on Mars thing and all that.
Yeah, all that sorta stuff. One of the reasons we might think we see ghosts is ’cause we create these patterns in our minds, to give ourselves an answer to something we don’t understand. He went through this whole thing and Mike was, “There you go, that’s pretty much what a ghost is”.
Then, at the end, it was like, “So, have you ever seen anything unexplainable?”, and he said he went on one of these ghost-finding missions and ended up in this room. At the end of this night out, they sat him in this room and some guy read some kind of incantation out, to conjure up some sort of images.
He said not much happened as he was doing it; he couldn’t make much out in the room, apart from he could, sort of, see the outline of himself in the mirror in front of him. Nothing really happened, and then they turned the lights on and he realised that the mirror was, in fact, a window. I think someone had been there watching him, that shouldn’t have been there. You know, there was something incredibly bizarre that he couldn’t answer.
So, that’s what I love about it. Yeah, it’s brilliant! It’s a lot of fun, ’cause you can really just go for it and, once you’re out on the road recording stuff, you really can live in the ultimate fantasy world and it’s fantastic.
It’s interesting that you should bring up how you were reading about all this in the 80’s, and pre-internet. I grew up in the 90’s, and I remember having all these paranormal books and I loved it; I loved The X-Files and all of that. It was almost, kind of, depressing, getting older and finding out the science behind it; the internet answering those questions.
I think, sometimes, science gives us too many answers, you know? There are always things that can’t be answered, and that’s what I love about it. Every time you think you’ve got it nailed, there’s always something that comes along and totally blows the lid off.
With the Unexplainers stuff there’s a massive amount of comedy thrown into it, and I really amp up the fact that I want anything to exist. That really does take it up to the next level, because I’ll find any old explanation to make something real!
But it’s so much fun. I dunno, there are so many weird things! The Berwyn Mountain Incident was really cool, which was up in North Wales in the 70’s. Something crashed on the side of the mountain, and all the people who lived ’round the area saw these strange lights in the sky and, within a matter of minutes in this quite remote place, the military turned up, cordoned off the area and nobody was allowed up there.
A local nurse went up to the top of the mountain, to see if she could help. When she came back down, she never told anyone what she saw and has, since, moved away from the area and doesn’t like to talk about it anymore. But, a lot of the residents still live there and we spoke to some of the farmers who’d had vehicles commandeered by the military when it happened.
They remember, quite clearly, being told that these things weren’t for them to see… It’s just fascinating! I’m waiting to be abducted by a Bigfoot. That’s what I want next.
On causes of death:
By a Bigfoot specifically?
Yeah. I just love the idea of Bigfoot existing, ’cause he’s one of the last bastions of hope. Everything gets disproven by science, but I think there’s a Bigfoot out there somewhere. We did do an episode about Bigfoot existing in Wales, and that had some fantastic results.
I won’t say too much because, if you check out the podcast, you can download them all and listen to them. It’s just great. It is great, but I think Bigfoot… Yep, he’s the one. He’s the missing link and, I think, he’s out there somewhere waiting. I think, if you came across a Bigfoot, he’d probably rip your arms off.
Yeah, probably! You wouldn’t survive the encounter…
No. He’d rip your arms off and then beat you to death, with your own arms.
And then it would go down as a bear attack.
Yeah, and is it, maybe, worth it to die that way? Because, you get to experience having your arms ripped off by a Bigfoot, which not a lot of people can say have had happen to them and, if it has happened to them, they’re not alive anymore either… So, you know. Classic.
My brother always said that, if he had to choose his death, he’d gladly go in the jaws of a tiger. Because it’s, like, the experience of death at its fullest.
Yeah, it’s not a bad one! I always reckoned a caravan full of fireworks. That’s quite a good one.
It’s memorable, definitely!
Exactly. There’s so many different ways! There’s so many different ways to have a glamorous ending but, I mean, alternatively, just sorta going to bed and just gently drifting off to the other side is quite nice.
That’s the other side, i’d like that myself.
I like the idea of, maybe, if you do have to go into old age, hopefully it’s not that kind of old age where you’ve got an oxygen tank next to the bed and you’re a bit rickety and a bit ill. Maybe you’re just one of these spritely old people that keeps going and going and then, one day, you just have a cup of tea, put Bergerac on in bed, you’re nice and cosy, you fall asleep and then you just… Just go.
You just pass off, and they find you five or six weeks later ’cause the milk bottle have piled up outside the front of the house, you know? That’s quite nice, in its own way as well.
I guess that death is all about context then!
Well, yeah. It depends what sort of mood you’re in, you know? If you’ve just seen AC/DC live, you might want something a bit more raucous. You might want some sort of skydiving without a parachute.
But, alternatively, if you’ve just watched Bergerac, you might just be happy to overdose on cake, go into some sort of diabetic coma and just gently pass over.
And what if you’d just seen GLC?
Crikey! I don’t know, ’cause I’ll never get the chance to see GLC, ’cause I have to do the gigs. I’ve discussed this a lot, in the past; I’ll never get to see one of the… I mean, I can watch it on video… It’s not quite the same! There have been incidents where I’ve done gigs and I’ve, sorta, walked off-stage and watched the gig from the front, and then gone back on-stage, but you can only do that for a couple of minutes before you have to get back up there and do the words, y’know?
On Goldie Lookin Chain live:
That’s DJ Killer Tom. That’s the Legends show. So, we do the full-on show, where you have the eight-man set-up, but the Legends show… Tom has Serato, this software for his decks, which means all the stuff he cuts and scratches is accompanied by visual stuff. So, a lot of our videos!
We have the visual stuff going on in the background, and then me and Rhys doing raps over the top. So, it’s kind of like, you get to watch videos of us whilst we’re doing the tunes. It’s funny; it usually works for smaller venues that can’t afford to book the whole show… Smaller parties and stuff. It works really well for that.
Full-on festivals, and those sorts of things, we get the whole crew out. That’s where the fun really kicks in. I think everybody enjoys it. It’s always good, yeah, [and] we’ve been doing it for a while now so, I think, we’re pretty well-versed in knowing what we’re doing. I mean, saying that, it is always complete chaos.
We did a show a couple of weeks ago in Butlins, in Bognor Regis. That was pretty glamorous!
Bognor Regis, Butlins… Some sort of “Return to the 90’s” night, which was great but we didn’t actually release anything, officially through a record label, until about 2003. So we’re not, technically, a 90’s band but i’m not gonna complain! Toby Anstis was there; that was a bit of fun! I think Atomic Kitten were doing a show as well…
Really, imagine that kind of mix. Not really sure how that was gonna work but it did seem to work. Everyone had a good time and there was chaos.
I quite like the fact that, y’know… At one point, the band was, sort of, everywhere. It was a little bit chaotic. It was as little bit intense. But, what’s nice now [is], 13 [or] 14 years down the line (however long it is), there’s quite a large pocket of people who either don’t remember us or have never heard of us in the first place. I quite like that because now, when you go and do a gig, nobody’s got any expectations and it’s really great fun to see how people react to songs.
They might hear one or two and go, “Oh yeah, I remember these guys! Yeah, of course!”. But I do really enjoy doing that ’cause, obviously, we sorta turn the whole idea of hip-hop, live music and comedy… Combine it into this, sort of, ball and turn everything on its head. People really don’t know what’s going on, but they come out of it laughing, which is the idea.
I’ve only seen you guys the once, and it was well back in 2005 at Leeds Festival; when you were all on the mobility scooters.
Yes! So, Leeds Festival… Did we open that one? I can’t remember what we… I vaguely remember it!
You certainly didn’t open, but it was somewhere in the middle of the day. It was still light, I remember that much.
I mean, the festivals were always great fun, ’cause it seems to work as a festival show as well. So, everybody’s up for having a good time. You can imagine, with a massive sound-system and a load of people in a big arena, stood outside and been drinking for two days… It really does work quite well!
You talk about how you were everywhere at one point, and I remember the feeling at the time was, like, you had to go and see Goldie Lookin Chain. And the crowd was huge!
Yeah! It’s crazy really, because I’ve never been able to understand that. I love doing all this stuff, I love making The Unexplainers stuff, I love making the stuff with the band, I love doing the live shows… But, I always find it really strange, and I always kinda forget, that people are listening and interacting, which sounds weird but you just don’t… Yeah, I can’t get my head around it, still, to this day.
Not that it’s a bad thing. I just can’t comprehend what’s going on, y’know? I’m having such a good time doing it, and then you sort of finish, you’re done and you go off… You go home and you have a beer, or you do whatever you’re doing, and the fact that it stays on in people’s minds afterwards and, y’know, sometimes they wanna come up to you and chat to you, or whatever…
Because, obviously, you live a life outside of that and sometimes you meet people who, kind of, think that that’s what’s happening all the time. Sometimes you meet people who are like, “You must be mental! You must be high on drugs!”. Nope. It’s just a show. It’s good fun, but it’s just a show.
I’m glad that people come, and i’m glad they have a good time. I think, as long as you see someone sort of waving a bit, and jumping around and smiling a bit, “I’ve done what i’m supposed to do here”, which is cool.
On being a dickhead:
Well, one of the things about you guys that appealed to me was a complete lack of pretension. Like, you just do what you do and that’s that. For me, it was a matter of enjoying it on a musical level but, also, I really related to a lot of it.
So that’s why I kept coming back to it.
Yeah, which is nice! I mean, that was the idea from the start. I always wanted to do something that involves comedy. Music… I’ve always loved music but I never thought, “Oh, this’ll be a route to doing something”, you know? So I never thought, “This is the be-all and end-all”. It’s just, like, if you get the opportunity to do something you like then, I think, you’ve just gotta make the most of that and appreciate that.
I think, if you reach the point where you’re being a bit of a dick about it then you should probably stop. Saying that, I mean, if I become a multi-millionaire, y’know, like Sting or like Queen, Freddie Mercury – that kind of vibe – maybe I would have turned into a big dick? The monetary incentive just wasn’t there enough to turn me into a dick just yet.
Let’s say, if someone offers me, I dunno, fifteen million today, i’d turn into a dick straight away; just for the money. No problem. I mean, you’ve got to! Look at Justin Timberlake.
Yeah, you can’t blame them! You really can’t.
Sorry, actually not Justin Timberlake! Justin Bieber. I always get the two mixed up.
I was gonna say, where did Timberlake come from?
Yeah… Timberlake seems to keep himself to himself; I quite like Timberlake. Bieber, on the other hand, is… Well, he seems like quite an angry young man, who does a lot of wees in dustbins. Funnily enough, I’ve done a wee in a dustbin, so maybe there is something there. Maybe i’m a secret bastard! I don’t know.
Well, I’ve done a wee in a dustbin on-deck of a cruise ship, so does that make me a double-bastard?
That’s not bad. Yeah, that’s not bad. Again, you’ll have to ask close family and friends what their opinions are, because I think that’s fine. Were you drunk at the time or…?
I was very drunk, yeah.
I could put up a Twitter poll about it? To see if people think i’m a dick.
Yeah, you know, just tweet P&O Ferries in on it as well; see what their reaction is. But these are good ways of measuring your own self-worth. You’ve gotta keep yourself grounded. “Don’t be a dickhead!”, as the old caption goes.
On the creation of Goldie Lookin Chain:
That’s something that’s really come across with GLC for me as well. I’m trying not to get too deep, or too pretentious, with this but… There was a complete lack of aggression throughout all of it.
Yeah! [Rutledge coughs] Excuse me! I’m smoking one of these electronic pipes, ’cause i’m trying to ween myself off the cigarettes. I don’t endorse smoking to anyone! I’ve gotta say that…
Yeah, totally! I mean, it’s totally the opposite of everything that hip-hop is. We’re not the only ones to do it; there are loads of funny hip-hop artists out there, and loads of people that do stuff with comedy. That’s what’s nice about it; it turns it on its head. But we didn’t, sort of, have this master-plan where we said, “Right, this will be this. This will be this. We’ll do this like this, we’ll do that like that”, you know, “We’ll make this like that”.
It just was, kind of, a bit [of an] organic process. I think that’s what was interesting about it, and that’s how, I guess, it seemed to grow and work. It would be very hard to try and do that if you tried to, sort of, manufacture it, I think. But yeah, it’s about fun and, I think, you know, we just write these ridiculous songs about all sorts of crazy things and, when the songs go out there into the public domain, you’re never quite sure how people are going to react to them.
We know the reasons why we write them, but you’re never sure what people’s reactions to them are ’cause everybody interprets things in their own way. But, y’know, nine times out of ten, people understand it’s all a bit ironic and it’s all from the point-of-view of a lot of the things we saw growing up, and the things around us. Newport can be quite a funny place at times!
I can imagine! But it’s insane to me… I’m from Grimsby incidentally, as cool as that place is, and that’s, like, right on the other side of the island. The kind of things you were talking about in the tracks… It’s amazing how much they describe where i’m from as well.
Yeah, I think that’s it. There’s this, sort of, universal, y’know, everyone’s pretty much the same these days. This whole globalisation thing; everybody’s got a McDonalds, everybody’s got a Starbucks, everybody’s got the Wetherspoon’s and that whole twenty-four hour drinking culture. Britain, essentially, is just a load of people getting drunk all the time.
So, again, without sort of realising it, writing songs about things that we knew and then suddenly everyone else was like, “Oh yeah, I know about that too!”. Yeah, you go up and down the country and you meet people who are like, “Why do you come here to do a gig? It’s shit-hole!” and it’s like, “Well, it’s not a shit-hole ’cause there’s good people here who are enjoying the stuff, and it’s fun!”. That’s the thing with Britain, I think we’ve got that sort of sense of humour where we all appreciate the stranger side of life.
Yeah, absolutely! I mean, like, for example, I would have been less interested in someone if they were just rapping about smoking weed en-masse. But you guys were talking just as much about how you’d blim-burn yourself.
It is quite mad. I dunno, it’s weird! It’s weird, but it works.
On Goldie Lookin Chain’s early albums:
The first two albums, for me, were huge. I’ve listened to everything since and I like the whole catalogue but, when I was young and those first two albums came out, it really was quite amazing to me how much it sounded like my life; even though you were talking about 1983.
Yeah, it’s funny! So, what were the first two albums for you?
Okay, yeah, ’cause, I mean, before them we’d done, I guess, six or seven albums before. That’s why the first official album, released on Atlantic, was called Greatest Hits; because it was a compilation of all the best tunes we’d done on… You know, just CD-Rs that we’d burnt off and then passed ’round.
People had the internet, obviously, but it was just before it was easy to file-share, download or stream stuff. So, things were fluttering ’round on cassette and CD quite a lot. That doesn’t happen so much now. People just have some things online and you just all press a button, and it’s all there.
It was spreading virally, not in an internet sense [but], literally, y’know, physically this thing was being passed around. That was, kind of, a testimony to, “Wow, this thing works! This is cool. There’s people that, you know, live on the other side of the Severn Bridge listening to this, and there’s all these people up in Scotland who are listening to this. All these people in Australia listening…”, and it was like, “Woah. This is crazy”.
Strangely enough, I had a real close friend at the time – I was about fifteen – and, like, when Guns Don’t Kill People Rappers Do just came out… He was the one who brought me over to your site and said, “Check it out, they’ve got fucking five or six albums before this!”. I remember your site was quite expansive, like, it already had all the tour diary stuff on it.
It’s crazy to think i’m talking to someone else, who I’ve never met, who knows this stuff! I still find that really, really strange.
On Top Trumps, nostalgia and the internet:
Oh yeah, we were playing the GLC Top Trumps when I was, like, fifteen!
Yeah, the Top Trumps! Which, for anyone who’s listening who’s, y’know, got no idea what the band is or what it’s all about… Top Trumps, obviously, was that card game in the 80’s, where it would be a collection of, was it like, cars? Birds, or….
Yeah, cars is a good one.
There was loads of Top Trumps, but we just, simply, replaced all of the Top Trumps with characters of people we knew, and then made our own Top Trumps! Again, people got into it and started doing it. There’s, definitely nowadays as well, there’s a real, sort of, love for that retro thing. Everything these days is old school, and now you get fully grown adults talking about Nintendo and all that. Everyone, sort of, remembers it quite fondly.
There’s a lot of man-babies, a lot of man-children, out there! I’m one of them, for sure. Take me back to the 80’s, or the 90’s, and I’ll get lost down one of those rabbit holes on YouTube, easily.
Yeah, that’s exactly the same as me. I mean, I grew up in the 90’s but i’m trapped in there, every single day of my life.
That’s the joy of the internet!
Absolutely. Do you think it’s been a good thing?
Erm… yeah. I suppose it is.
That doesn’t sound very enthusiastic!
No, I mean, it is but, at the same time, it’s awful as well isn’t it? That’s the thing with it. It’s set out to be this really good idea and then there’s, obviously, a load of mental people on there who just insult each other loads, which can be quite funny if, sort of, reading interviews of things from afar.
You know, you go on Twitter and you can just find someone’s account, or YouTube! YouTube’s an interesting one. Someone can put up a video of, I dunno, their cat jumping over a ball of cotton wool and, within about six comments, it’ll scroll down to the most intense race hate argument you’ve ever read in your life.
It is quite funny, looking at it like, “Who are these people, and why have they bothered to go and sit there and just, sort of, slag each other out when they’re never going to meet each other?” and, if they did, they wouldn’t even look each other in the eye! Very strange world.
On being relatable:
And an element of what you guys do, or at least for me, has been in calling out a bit of the bullshit in this strange world. I mean, I know that’s probably not conscious, but it feels like you were trying to give a more true vision of things.
I think a lot of songs are just basically either love songs or, I mean, hip-hop songs are just usually about, sort of, violence or…
Yeah, but we all have nans [British slang for grandmother], and you’re the only ones bringing them up.
And doing it quite consciously, y’know. The Nan Jam, obviously, featuring Adam’s nan. She’s sadly passed on now, but it was nice to have her recorded. Out there, on the internet as we speak, you can go and source that song and go and listen to it, which is quite mental.
Yeah, I was listening to that just yesterday.
Oh, it’s crazy. Yeah, it’s mad. I mean, the shows work, the songs seem to work and people seem to enjoy them, so that’s a really nice thing I think. Yeah, it’s good.
Yeah, definitely! ‘Cause there’s so much more to GLC than just a backing track and a couple of verses. I think I was reading Rhys, talking about Grillstock coming up, that you’re trying to get a chilli-eating contest going?
They do one every year, yeah. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Grillstock...
Unfortunately not, no.
Manchester, they’ve done it. Bristol, they do it. I think they did one in London as well, a couple of years ago. Y’know, it’s a restaurant. You get some fantastic food stuff there, check out Grillstock, but they also do this festival every year. We did it a couple of years ago. We got to play with De La Soul, which was cool.
Oh yeah, that’s awesome!
Yeah, the first record I ever bought was a De La Soul record, so it was really nice to do a show with them and then meet them afterwards, have a chat and be like, “Oh,” you know, “Nice one, guys!”. The day is built up of, sort of, live music and a lot of food-eating contests, and the chilli contest is one of the main parts of the day.
People get in a right state there! There’s a lot of chilli-growers that turn up, especially to put their wares on the table and get people involved. It’s quite interesting!
It sounds pretty good to me!
Yeah, it is pretty good.
I’m annoyed it’s not been on my radar.
Check it out, yeah! I mean, if you get the chance. This one’s, obviously, in Bristol this year, so it might be a bit far away for you to get to, but, y’know, if you do end up in Bristol, check it out; it’s really good.
On voting and politics:
Oh i’ll go anywhere. In the country anyway… Speaking of the country, I don’t know if this is something you’re comfortable talking about or not, but how are you voting? [At the time of this recording, a general election was days away in the UK]
Dunno yet. I’m confused. I mean, I don’t particularly want to vote for the Tories. I’ve thought about it a bit, but… Oh god knows. It’s all really confusing, it’s just a mess isn’t it? It’s just, everything’s a bit of a mess and people just end up being disillusioned by everything, and it all ends up falling apart.
But, I am gonna vote! I’m definitely gonna vote. I don’t just wanna, sort of, sit there and be one of those people who moans, “Oh, this country is rubbish!” and then not do anything about it; but when is it? Is it tomorrow? When do we vote? I don’t know how far it is now…
I don’t even know now.
I know it’s sometime in the upcoming week, isn’t it?
Yeah… Says a lot about my mental stability, there; being unable to even know when we’ve gotta vote. But I will! I will keep an eye on it, and I suggest anyone who… I mean, I think the chance to vote has just passed, today is it? You know, to register to vote?
Yeah, I will. I will. I’ve gotta try and suss out who i’m gonna vote for, and how i’m gonna do it. Well, I know how i’m gonna do it; i’m gonna go into a small room and, sort of, tick a box on a piece of paper and put it in a bucket of some form.
Yeah, I’ve gotta sit down and, maybe, start reading a few people’s ideas of what they think is good for the country, and what I think suits what I want. But I definitely don’t, really, want this, sort of, Tory thing going on. It’s a bit of a mess.
There’s no point, sort of, bantering on about it; what’s it called? The Echo Chamber Effect, where you get online and start bantering a load of rubbish and, then, people, who think exactly the same thing as you, just retweet it and it just goes round and round in circles. Nothing really happens. Get out there and actually vote, you know? Stop moaning about it. Get out there and vote, that’s what i’ll say.
Well, an endorsement from GLC to vote! That’ll do.
Yeah! There you go. Nice.
On names and Goldie Lookin Chain’s line-up:
Where does the name “Eggsy” actually come from?
It goes back quite late… It’s a really long, convoluted story [that’s] pretty boring but, essentially, we all wanted stupid names ’cause, obviously, in the rap game you’ve gotta have a name, you know? “Eggsy” came from a Belgian guy whose name was Jean Benoit, and then there’s things you can get called Ben Wa Balls that are, let’s say, entertainment devices for young ladies. So, because he was called Jean Benoit, obviously you add the word “balls” on the end. His “Benoit” was spelled differently to the way Ben Wa Balls is spelled.
They’re also known as “love eggs”. So, “Eggsy” came about from that. Essentially, that’s what it is but it’s a lot longer than that! It’s one of those things where, when you explain to people, they just sit there for forty minutes, listening to the story then just going, “Oh. Okay”. So yeah, that was that and then we just all ended up thinking, “Right, you’ve gotta have the most bizarre name possible”. And it’s all stuck!
[NOTE: I couldn’t find any information on “Jean Benoit” so I’ve simply spelled it how I imagined it would be…]
And you guys all seem to have those interesting names like that. For some reason I remember, at this 2005 gig that I saw you, you couldn’t stop mentioning DJ Flatpress; if I remember it rightly.
MC Flatpress! AKA Dave Cocaine, yeah.
That name has just stuck in my head forever, obviously I got the “DJ” wrong but there’s just something about it that was so hilarious; that someone would choose that as a name.
Dave’s brilliant, because you never quite know when he’s going to turn up, or where he’s gonna be. But he’s involved with, obviously you must know the song Soap Bar, we did a few years ago? So, Dave’s on that and… I dunno where Dave is at the moment, but Dave would quite often get in a van and go off to somewhere like Hungary, and then end up at, sort of, a techno festival for four days in a row.
Then he’d just, sort of, give you a call and be like, “Oh, i’m in town. Can I come to the gig?”, then he’d come to the gig and do the show, you know? Yeah, he’s good, Dave! He is brilliant. If he’s out there listening now, y’know, send us a message, Dave! What’s going on?
He’s brilliant, MC Flatpress. He’s done his time as one of the official footsoldiers. Y’know, he’s dropped his lyrics and done his dancing so, yeah… Good times!
I was gonna say, it’s actually quite hard to get a grip on who’s officially in the band and who isn’t, at this point.
Yeah. I mean, I don’t really know, to tell the truth. It just seems to, sort of, be… You, sort of, sit around and, then, record some stuff. Then there’ll be a gig, and we’ll figure who can come and what we can do in the set-list. We can usually pull something together, or we can usually get a show together, and that’s kind of how it works.
I mean, that’s part of the reason why we do the Legends show; ’cause it’s a quick way of getting out there, and doing a show pretty fast and, like I said, it’s got the, sort of, scratch DJ with the video in the background, which is really cool.
So it’s more of, like, a collective then?
The rule of thumb has always been, kind of, like, whatever you wanna put in, put in! I just got sent a new track today, that Adam’s just put together, and I think we’re gonna try that on, I think, is it Sunday we’re doing that gig in somewhere? It’s called Suffolk. So, we’re gonna try that on Sunday; I just got the set-list through now.
So right now, as we speak, everybody is wherever they are, doing whatever they do, probably listening through on an iPod to the tracks to see if they can remember the words and we’re ready to go!
On the release process for Goldie Lookin Chain and his career:
You guys have been quite prolific over the years. Is that because of how many people you’ve got involved, throwing ideas out?
I guess so, I mean… Me and Rhys started doing it years ago and, sort of, putting tunes together and, then, chucking some words on the top of the tunes and it’s always been that sort of ongoing thing, you know? So, he’ll have a wadge of beats that he’s made and be like, “When we get a little bit of time, we’ll pop up, fling a few ideas ’round and chuck some words in”.
Whoever’s around will come, and then we always end up having a backlog of stuff and going, “Okay, we might as well put this [out]”. We tend to put an album out every year, so there’s always something out every year; something comes out, you know, one or two releases. This new one is, hopefully, out in September. That’s the next thing to come out. I don’t even know what the title is yet! There’s some new stuff on there that’ll come out, that’ll be fun.
Yeah, it just seems to happen. It has to stop, at some point, you know? But it seems to still be going at the moment… I’m sure at some point, it must stop. That’s the bit where you get into bed, you watch Bergerac and you just, gently, die. Lovely.
So there’ll probably be no caravans and fireworks for GLC, then?
Well, you never know! You never know. You never can tell.
Would you rather it ended in a bang or a whimper?
It probably, technically, ended in a whimper about nine years ago! But it still seems to be, sort of, limping along, you know? And, every now and then, having a little, extra spurt of life. In the meantime i’m trying to investigate the paranormal, with an ex-PE teacher, and put together radio programs about tape cassettes. So, you know, it all sort of keeps moving along, and that’s cool by me.
It’s a damn interesting way to describe your life anyway, man; that’s for sure.
Again, you don’t think about it until you stop, and then you’re like, “Oh. That’s a bit weird really, innit?”.
On The Maggot leaving the band:
I guess the last question I had, and I have left it right ’til the end ’cause I worry it might be somewhat sensitive… What’s gone on with Maggot then, John? [Previous GLC member who has since left the group] ‘Cause I can’t find any information online.
Again it’s just, like, he couldn’t be bothered doing it, from about a year or so, eighteen months, two years… Probably about two years ago, he just couldn’t be bothered to do it anymore. This is the beauty of it, though. You can, sort of, come and go, y’know? So I quite like the fact that you can [say], “I can’t be bothered to do it now…”.
Give it a year, he’ll probably be back on-stage again. That’s, kinda, the way I look at it. I mean, he may not, but there’s so many of us [that] nobody really knows what’s happening. When we get on stage, no-one really knows who anyone is anyway. Y’know, there’s a good mystery factor there.
Yeah, that’s what it is. It’s just, kind of, the mystery and intrigue continues! I know as much as you do when it comes to who’s gonna be at the next gig, and how it’s gonna work out.
I was just worried there’d been some kind of fistfight or something!
Well… There’s never been, technically, a fistfight. There’s been, sort of… I think there’s been members of the band that have, sort of, bitched at each other at three o’clock in the morning, when we’re all trying to sleep on a tour bus and it stinks of human flesh. But, I don’t think anyone’s ever reached the point of actually murdering anyone just yet but, again, see what happens! Give it another year, you never know…
So Maggot’s not sleeping with the fishes right now?
I don’t think so! I think he’s alright.
And this is all an elaborate cover story, to put me off the scent?
Yeah, yeah, that’s it. Exactly!
This is it. If anybody wants to get involved, and they feel they have the skill or ability to get involved, y’know, send us a demo tape! If it’s any good, we might get you up on stage!
On taking applications, and his philosophies:
There we go, GLC taking applications!
But it has to be good, mind you! And when I say “good”, y’know, at least some words that make sense, in time to music. That’s, kinda, the best way to do it! But, if you can’t be bothered with that, just start your own novelty pop act and take them out on the road, and give people a good time. That’s, kind of, what they want these days.
So, that’s what it’s all about for you then? Giving people a good time?
In the words of Viv Savage, from Spinal Tap, “Have a good time, all the time”.
And any social commentary, and any of that, if it’s even there, comes later?
Don’t think too hard about these things. Enjoy yourself. I think, once you’ve made something, you could spend hours trying to pick it apart. But I think it’s just, make it, move on and then make the next thing, and then move on and make the next thing. I think, if you spend too long thinking about what it is, or what it means, then you’ll end up not doing anything. It’s nice to just keep the ball rolling, and keep shoving that crap out there! See if anyone enjoys it. That’s the way to do it.