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phone in show
some anonymous us radio station, 1992
"thank you, aidan, for transcribing all this crap"
N.B. I don't know who this DJ: is, but his catchphrase appears to be "How are you? Good."
N.B. (2) As usual, I've taken out all Robyn's "You know"s to save space.
Show opens with band playing 'Allright Yeah'
DJ: Allright Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians, on Modern Rock Live. Thank you, welcome. How're you guys doing?
Robyn We're here. How are you.
DJ: I'm fine, thank you. Where did you guys just come from?
DJ: How'd the show go?
Robyn It was packed and they turned people away, which was great.
DJ: Really? That's very important.
Robyn Not great for the people who got turned away.
DJ: That's very important. We're here with Andy, Morris and of course Robyn Hitchcock, and we're going to take your phone calls on 1-800-223-ROCK. Can you OK?
Robyn I can hear, yeah.
DJ: OK, let's go to Brian in Toledo, Ohio, listening to us on 89X, the home of the mudhens. Hi Brian.
Brian: How're you doing?
DJ: Good. You're on with Robyn and the Egyptians.
Brian: OK, I'm particularly interested in the way you write and record songs. I was wondering if you have a certain process for writing them? Do you do the lyrics first? Do you always write on the guitar, or piano?
Robyn On no. Many years ago, Brian, I used to write the words first, and I'd pick up the guitar and try to play different chords. I didn't know how they stuck together, so I'd be playing, sort of (plays chords at random), or something like that, trying to sing over the top of it, and it didn't work, and then as time goes by I realised you can do more and more with fewer and fewer chords, and just make it simpler. I don't think words are very important. Words aren't as important as music.
DJ: All right! Let's go to Jack in Fort Collins, Colorado, listening to us on KTCL. 1-800-223-ROCK's the number. Hi Jack.
Jack: Hi, how're you doing?
Jack: Robyn, I was wondering. Your music excites me so much, and I get so up when I listen to it, that I run out and I grab a guitar and I start writing. I was wondering, when you were younger, what influenced you? And also, I was wondering what your favourite fish was?
Robyn I don't have a favourite fish. Do you?
DJ: He's gone.
Robyn Oh, hell. I hope you're still alive, Jack, and it was nice to have you in the middle of my head for three seconds. And as for --
Andy: What influenced you.
Robyn What influenced me, I can't remember. It was all so long ago. We all used to listen to the Beatles. This is years back.
Andy: I did. The Beatles.
Robyn Years back. But you've got a Smiths CD, haven't you?
Andy: I have. I've got two Smiths CDs, in fact.
DJ: Andy, which ones do you have?
Andy: I've got a big compilation of stuff which was released after they broke up.
DJ: You don't have the ones where Morrissey's whining? You don't have any of those ones?
Andy: The early ones?
DJ: The early whiny ones.
Andy: I don't actually, but having said that, I thought that the Smiths were awfully whiny when they first started, and I got into it later on, and I've gone back and discovered the delights of the early Smiths.
DJ: What's your favourite Smiths song? I always like to ask that.
Morris: I liked 'How Soon Is Now'.
Andy: What's that one, 'What Difference Does It Make?'
Robyn 'How Soon Is Now' is brilliant.
DJ: Great, great record. Robyn, were you a Smiths fan at all?
Robyn No, but I liked them after they were dead.
DJ: OK, let's go to Lynn, listening to us in Minneapolis on KJ104. Hi Lynn.
DJ: You're on with Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians.
Lynn: First, Robyn, I'd just like to say "thank you" for writing and producing music, because it's so beautiful, and it makes everybody's life a little better, and secondly, I'd like to know what's your favourite author?
Robyn Favourite author?
Lynn: Uh huh.
Robyn Right now, probably, nobody, because I can't read. But I used to read a lot. But it was so long ago I can't remember. It depends what mood you're in. Andy & I both like a man called Mervyn Peake. Have you ever heard of him?
Robyn Well, Mervyn Peake wrote a brilliant thing called the Gormenghast Trilogy. He was actually a draughtsman, an artist, a very good line-drawer, he did lots of cartoons, and write this three part story about an imaginary English castle with all professors and stuff in it. And then he went into premature senility and he died at the age of 59 looking like he was 93, which was an awful, tragic end for him. He's the most exotic writer that I can think of. I know we both liked him. Read him if you haven't read him yet.
Lynn: All right.
DJ: Thank you for your phone call. I appreciate it. Let's go to Dave in Denver, Colorado. Hi, Dave. You're on with Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians.
Dave: Hey, Robyn, this time, when you're in Boulder, are you going to tell all those wild stories again, in concert?
Robyn No, we're going to try to keep all that down to a minimum, actually. We're just going to try to play, this time.
Dave: They're interesting stories.
Robyn, Yeah, but, you know, we just have a lot of business trying to play, and it's very hard to concentrate. When I'm on my own, all there is is playing guitar and talking, but there's three of us. There's an awful lot of music to play, and you have to focus on that. So, if you only want to hear stories, don't bother to come this time.
DJ: It's not a storyteller show, right?
Robyn No, it's music (break)
DJ: Let's go to Eric.
Eric: I saw you last night at the Trocadero, and I thought you guys were great.
Robyn Thank you very much. We were really tired.
DJ: What was your favourite part of the show?
Eric: The whole thing. I just had such a great time.
Robyn Did you?
Robyn You didn't notice that we were getting sleepy?
Eric: No, not at all.
DJ: Did you miss
Robyn A credit to us.
Andy: We all fell asleep almost immediately afterwards
DJ: Did you miss the storytelling, Eric?
Eric: Oh, that was brilliant.
Morris: He's given the game away.
Robyn Oh dear.
DJ: What's your question, Eric?
Eric: Oh God. I just wanted to know what kind of music you listen to now? Did you ever really eat chicken with Joan Baez?
Robyn Did I ever eat cooked chicken with Joan Baez?
Morris: In his fantasies.
Andy: In my father's fantasies, more like. He had a Joan Baez album, and she had some stuff spilled on her shirt.
Morris: I actually had a Joan Baez record. A single.
Andy: What, you knowingly bought it?
Morris: Yeah, There But For Fortune. Remember that one?
Andy: Yeah, I do. Why did you buy it?
Morris: 'Cause it was a pop record. It's like old Donovan records. They weren't really folk music, they were pop records in those days.
Andy: Yes, but you must have liked it.
Robyn Morris is very eclectic.
Andy: I know, but have certain parameters.
Morris: I was a sensitive nine year old.
Robyn I would never have thought of you as verging on the folkie!
Andy: That was before you had the moustache which you don't have any more.
Robyn Oh, he had a moustache a long time before that.
DJ: Thank you for your phone call
Robyn Morris, dear listeners, is the rocker of the group. Andy & I listen to all sorts of pansy acoustic stuff. Morris used to listen to groups like the Hard Groins.
Andy: Blue Oyster Cult.
Morris: On your feet or on your knees
Robyn Shag Vermin. And the Spongeruckers.
DJ: Oh, we love them. We'll play some in a little while for you so you can feel right at home.
Robyn All right. One, two three, (Band plays 'Dark Green Energy, with excruciating vocals from Andy)
DJ: Green Energy. Now that's not on the new record, right? That's actually a CD a CD5 thing they have now. A little marketing thing. Right?
Robyn Well, it just didn't go on the record, and now it's out on the radio, so it's confusing.
DJ: Do you think you ever want to People can, can't buy it in the stores?
Robyn No, it has to be surgically implanted onto the CD if you buy it. But there's so many millions of ways of hyping this thing.
Andy: If enough radio stations were playing it I'm sure they'd put it into the shops.
Robyn It'll be coming through your mailbox.
Andy: We're counting on you.
DJ: OK, everyone go call your radio stations after the show's over and say "I want this in the stores immediately, otherwise Robyn will be mad".
DJ: Let's go to Dennis.
Dennis: Yes. It's a song that, like, inspires my life a lot.
Andy: Does it?
Dennis: Yes, it's truly special to me, and I, like, what exactly inspired you to write 'Swirling'?
Robyn Well, I'll tell you, I was sitting cross legged upstairs in a room I don't usually write songs in. I normally write them all downstairs around one table, unless I'm overseas, and I started playing a particular chord, and, probably because of the angle of the light in the room, or something, it became 'Swirling'. It was meant to be a good song, about being detached, but in a kind of happy way, if you like. But it never came out right. I don't know, we didn't really quite finish it properly. We could have done something with the harmonies or something and made it reasonable. You know, it's nice of you to like it, but don't like it too much because it's not very good. Mentally it was going to be fantastic, Dennis.
DJ: Let's go to Jessica in Andover, Michigan. You're on the air with Robyn Hitchcock, Jessica.
Jessica: I just have to say "I'm not worthy".
Robyn Aren't you --
Jessica: No I'm not. I'm going to see you next week in Ann Arbor and I can hardly wait. I'm going to go crazy.
Robyn So you're both unworthy and potentially insane?
Morris: Do you think you'll flip before you get to the show?
Andy: I know a very good therapist in Ann Arbor.
Jessica: OK, I was just wondering. I've been, like, really inspired by, um, your work, like once I made this shrine for the Madonna of the Wasps. I was just wondering, since I know you do a lot of painting like on album covers, do you ever incorporate any ideas from your visual art into your songwriting, or vice versa?
DJ: You're not going to shoot the president, are you, Jessica, for Robyn? You're not that obsessive a fan are you?
Jessica: If he asked me to. I'd do anything.
Andy: Oh Jesus, one of those.
Robyn Well, let's work out which president it is and discuss this off the air. It's a bit of a give-away if you plan an assassination on air. Although, you know, the best place to hide is in the spotlight. Maybe there was a similar radio programme before JFK went, you never know. No, Jessica, the two don't work together. I don't sit there looking at a painting and say "Oh boy, I must sing about this". That's a bit like waking up, looking at the mirror and thinking "What an intense specimen of beauty we have here". If you're that narcissistic you have to go into showbusiness or something stupid. But, if I paint, it helps me think. I sometimes work out lyrics while I'm painting. I think it's all the same part of the brain, that's why we tend to doodle and things on phone calls. There's some link between actually drawing and thinking in some way. That's a neurological thing, he said sagely.
DJ: Would we see any of your stuff, any of your paintings, on display?
Robyn Well, you certainly won't see them if they're not.
DJ: I asked a stupid question, so what? It's our show, I can ask a stupid question if I want.
Robyn I saw an elephant today in Pennsylvania and it was exactly the same colour as the zoo it was in. I thought it was a fake elephant, it was dust and stone coloured.
DJ: Is that the one that went through the bleachers?
Robyn A real elephant. It had its back to the train. It was a real elephant.
Andy: The train pulls out slowly past the zoo in Philadelphia.
Robyn We didn't realise there was a zoo.
Andy: You go past the museum of art, and past the zoo.
DJ: There was actually an elephant that trampled a bunch of people. I can't remember what town it was in.
Robyn I don't suppose they were in a train.
DJ: No. No, they weren't.
Andy: It's hard to trample people in a train.
Morris: Travel by Amtrak and you don't get trampled by elephants.
DJ: You never know. Dave in Philly. Hi Dave.
Dave: Hi, how're you doing?
DJ: Good. You're on with Robyn and the boys.
Dave: Hi, Robyn, I'd like to ask you one question. A lot of your songs seem very ethereal, and that seems to counterpoint against certain other songs such as 'Uncorrected Personality Traits' and another song, which I believe is entitled 'Tell Us About Your Drugs'. I was wondering about the seeming directness of those songs compared to the other, seemingly more ethereal songs.
Robyn Well, that's very simple. You cross a date-line, like people who are totally miserable about life suddenly become really funny. It's like the extreme left suddenly turns into the right because everything's circular. If you get very ethereal for long enough you have to come back to the most basic things you can, so as not to drift off and disappear.
Dave: I always thought that 'Uncorrected Personality Traits' was like every long-winded psychology book put down into about a minute and a half.
Robyn I've never read any psychology books, personally. But good! It's saved time.
Morris: And paper.
Andy: And paper.
DJ: Saved a tree. Thank you Dave. Lets go to Chris in (hiss of static), New Jersey, listening to us on WPST. Hi Chris.
Chris (very squeaky voiced girl): Hi Robyn, how're you doing?
Robyn Oh, fine.
Andy: We were all mildly confused there, because I think we all thought that Chris was going to be a chap.
Robyn I thought you were going to be a bloke.
Andy: Everybody's eyebrows raised slightly.
Robyn Hi Chris.
Chris: I just want to tell you how much I love your music and how upset I am that I did not get to see your show last night.
Robyn Did you try and go?
Chris: Yes I did.
Robyn And there was no room?
Chris: I couldn't get any tickets, and I wasn't allowed to go.
Robyn You mean you weren't allowed anyway?
Chris: Right, but I really wanted to go.
Robyn Who didn't let you?
Chris: My parents.
Robyn I wouldn't let my daughter see us either.
Andy: I wouldn't let my parents come.
Robyn I wouldn't let your parents come either. Well, never mind. It wasn't that good. It wasn't as good as the one you couldn't come to in DC. That would have been great. Last night we were just feeling a little bit tired.
DJ: Maybe you could do a show at her house for her an her family?
Chris: Yes, that's a good idea.
Robyn No is probably the short answer.
DJ: Thank you Chris, and I'm sure Robyn will come back around again.
Andy: I'm sure that if her parents wouldn't let her go to see us they certainly wouldn't let us go to see her.
(band plays 'Madonna Of The Wasps' (particularly good take on it, too)
DJ: Very nice, very nice. Good job. Lets go to some more phone calls on 1-800-223-ROCK with Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians. Let's go to Barb in Minneapolis (ha ha ha ha ha), listening to us on KJ104. Hi Barb.
DJ: You're on the air with Robyn Hitchcock.
Barb: Great. I just wanted to ask about a song of his that I've heard, but was never on an album, called 'September Cones'. I want to know when it was written, why it wasn't on Eye and if it's going to be on any future album?
Robyn 'September Cones' was written in 1987 in September. It just missed the boat really. Some songs don't last. (break)
DJ: Lets go to Jim in Minneapolis. You're on the air.
Jim: Hi Robyn, Andy, Morris, how you guys doin'
Robyn All right. You're not Jim Walsh, are you?
Robyn Just wondered.
Andy: We know someone called Jim in Minneapolis. But it's not you. Hi Jim.
Jim: Well, you have met me a couple of times. One time in particular at the Fineline (?) when you played an acoustic set.
Jim: I chatted to you and Cynthia after the show, and that's one of my questions. Are you still dating Cynthia?
Andy: Why, do you want to?
Morris: I'm not.
Robyn Yes and no. I am, but you can't necessarily say the same for Andy and Morris.
Jim: Well, that's good. My next question is, on the Letterman show you broke a chord. You played it wonderfully. You covered nicely.
Robyn That was in 1989. You mean, when we did 'Madonna Of The Bees'.
Robyn I broke a guitar string. That was what happened.
DJ: Robyn, Andy, Morris, thank you very much for coming.
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