I, Ludicrous

Fall, football and frustration

150% british product. Dave Rippingale (aka as Will Hung) answering. Dimitris Patsonis asking.

- Hello Dave, I hope this interview finds you well.

Yes thanks, I got thru January OK, I tend to hibernate around New Year, but have been writing a bit.

- How did you decide to start I, Ludicrous, back in the 80s? What are your current members?

John and I worked together in a London office around 1982-3, we became friends and found we were both Fall and Palace fans and we’d always wanted to be in a band. We started writing songs together, not expecting that anything would come of it. We were a duo until 2008, when Marin joined the band, without whom I don’t think the last two albums would have happened

- So, to be completely honest with you, I don’t think there are more than 100-150 people here in Greece that are I, Ludicrous fans. Yet, we all are fans in the football sense of the word - borderline hooligans, one might say. These are the perks of being the support band, I suppose...

I would put our Greece fanbase at about 5! Football had a role in our early days. At that time we started in 1985 it was very unfashionable in England to be a football fan in the pre-Premiership days, I remember going to see Chelsea v Palace in Division Two (Championship) and there was only 10,000 there.

- Speaking of which, why there are no songs about football anymore in the UK?

 A lot of the romance and fun has gone out of the game especially at the top level, the billionaires are trying to steal the game and turn it into some massive ego fest, look at the money Chelsea are spending for example. That’s why John, Martin and I now watch low league football.

- It’s already been five years since MES’s death. And you are one of the most heavily Fall- influenced bands around. I find High Fidelity quite childish but I really want to ask: Does someone listen to The Fall because he is cantankerous, or the opposite?

John knows more about post 1990 Fall than I do. I love the 1980s Fall most, particularly 'Dragnet' to 'Hex Induction Hour'. I’ve always been cantankerous but I love the humor in those early songs, and those wonderful thruway lines that Mark came up with eg “Male Slag knocks over drink pays for exact amount spilt”.

 -Not only you’ve never been hit by MES but he seemed to really like you. You supported The Fall several times and even toured with them, until he found out about the Guardian blog, which, by the way, I found amazing. Any unknown story you want to share with us?

Nor really, I do regret doing that blog but I was working for the Guardian at the time and was persuaded by a couple of colleagues. But the last tour we did for them I found Mark had changed a bit, he wasn’t as funny and friendly as he was and I don’t think Eleni liked us - not sure why. I’m actually older than MES and yet he didn’t seem to like it when I spoke to him as an equal. Almost like he wanted us to be in awe of him. Remember we were never professionals, John and I both had pretty good careers away from music. When I spoke to Mark we agreed an amount per gig, which was a lot more than we’d ever earned, but we never got anything like that. Of course we weren’t told we’d been thrown off the tour until I phoned the road manager a few hours before the London show. We had no contact with him after that, it was a shame because it soured my opinion of him as a person.

- 'Preposterous Tales' was ranked 11th in 1987 John Peel’s Festive Fifty and he quite often played your songs. What’s your relationship with him? Is it possible to have a John Peel nowadays?

 Never met him, I think John handed him our first cassette outside the BBC. Peel was a one-off, a brilliant DJ and many great bands (and us) owe him a huge debt. I don’t think its possible to have a Peel nowadays. He was there at the very start of rock and had a great ear for good music.

-After the early nineties, you seem to have large hiatuses, but always come back in (un)fashionable ways. I mean, you still focus on the mundane, on your clerking jobs, on the - not so very - important work meetings etc.. And of course football. I can totally relate, but I think college kids may not find you hip.

That’s true, we were extremely creative between 1984-1993 making 4 albums and many singles despite having full time jobs. I think for a time we ran out of ideas and I lost the enthusiasm for writing and performing. John was married with three children whilst I suffered a bit from depression when I was demotivated. It was really when the internet started and I realised that there were a lot more fans of ours than I had thought that we started back playing. As for college kids, you’re probably right but when we did some shows with the Fat White Family we were well received.

-'Dull is the New Interesting' and 'Songs from the sides of Lorries' are among my top albums of the decade - flattery aside. What should we expect for the future?

Thanks, I’m pleased with them, we had a creative surge around the time Martin joined the band, he’s a great motivator and has lots of song ideas, plus a garden shed at the end of his garden in which we wrote a number of songs. As for the future, I’m not sure, I am about to move to Seattle in the US. I think we will do something in the future, I have a number of song ideas - its just a matter of getting three old gits in the same place at the same time, that is the problem.

-Do you still attend football games? How’s UK’s football scene nowadays?

Yes I go to football games regularly but not Palace anymore. I’ve been watching Sutton United in League 2 and I also go to semi-professional games sometimes with Martin, we support Raynes Park Vale in the Combined Counties League. John supports and watches Salisbury FC. Martin is also an AFC Wimbledon fan. As I said earlier although I still follow Palace, I don’t like the PL much - too much money and hype, too many yellow cards and penalties, too much diving.

-Crystal Palace’s doing quite well recently. I can’t remember CP scoring 4 goals away from home, but you’ve beaten Man. City away two times. A win against Man. City is a win for any football fan, don’t you agree?

The match was Wrexham 2 Palace 4 in 1977!. - see it on YouTube - In those days I was a regular fan, traveling on trains and coaches around the country, trying not to get beaten up by the home fans. We Stand Around is about that, inspired by a depressing away match against Birmingham City played in freezing rain. I actually used to like the old Man City before the money men moved in, but beating them is a great feeling, one in the eye for the Gulf owners. Palace are doing well given our history as a lower league club, I’m hoping they can bring some academy players through soon as I like to see local lads in the team. Its getting more difficult each season to stay in the PL due to the tsunami of money splashing around. I always support the small teams against the big ones, I think its an English thing, we prefer a plucky loser over a more skillful winner, something Americans can’t understand. -Did

-Carter USM actually nick your sound?

No, some people misunderstand the song we wrote about them, We were not slagging them off or accusing them of nicking our ideas. Its a song about jealously really and being miffed that a band like us from the same area was having more success than we were, also we thought it was amusing to write a song about another band. Anyway we met Les Carter a few years ago and we got on fine.