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Prolapse - Interview

  by Fiona Hutchings

published: 7 / 1 / 2023

Prolapse - Interview


Despite major WiFi problems, Fiona Hutchings talks to Mick Derrick about the return of his band Prolapse and the re-release on vinyl of their 1994 debut album, ‘Pointless Walks to Dismal Places’.

Prolapse deliberately called themselves something unpleasant and undesirable, because that is the image they wanted their band to conjure up. That it would be so linked to bottoms doesn’t seem to have been part of the plan, not that they’d apologise for it. If ever a band epitomised doing what they wanted the way they wanted to then it’s Prolapse. The kind of band the category of cult was invented for, you either know them and think they’re true one offs or you are wrong. Go play ‘Deanshanger’, then ‘Tina, This Is Matthew Stone’ and then ‘Autocade’ and tell me to my face that it’s yet more mid 90’s jolly indie Britpop predictableness. Prolapse are Mick Derrick (sometimes credited as Meho Deho) on vocals and pipes. Linda Steelyard (vocals), Mick Harrison (bass), David Jefferys (guitar), Pat Marsden(guitar, mandolin), Tim Pattison (drums) and Donald Ross Skinner (keyboards). Together they played unpredictable music, often featuring male and female vocals clashing and railing against each other. The lyrics could and did change with every performance and success was never the validation they wanted. After forming in the summer of 1991 at the Leicester Polytechnic Friday night disco. they wanted to be as depressing as possible. Between 1994 and 1999 they released four albums and eleven singles/EPs plus a flexi given away with issue 4 of ‘Warped Reality’ magazine. There were two Peel Sessions, which were recently released on vinyl for the first time through Precious Recordings of London. and now the debut album, ‘Pointless Walks to Dismal Places’, is getting the full VIP treatment from Optic Nerve and being released on vinyl for the first time. It seems like as good a time as any to go and tour a few places as well. Seven years on since they performed with Mogwai the band are getting back together. For some, including singer Mick Derrick. that means coming back from a different country. A lot has happened since they first found things to shout about over thirty years ago. I wanted to chat to Mick Derrick about the re-release of ‘Pointless Walks to Dismal Places’, their upcoming tour dates and anything else that might come up. Even before Mick and I manage to connect online the day we’d scheduled our chat, I could tell the technology gods were not on my side. At the last minute my zoom account decided to blank me and claim we’d never met before. We’ve actually been in a committed relationship for over three years at this point so I don’t know what I did wrong. I emailed Mick a frantic apology while working extra hard to placate the software. My winning personality thankfully prevailed and the programme agreed to run and connect us and only a couple of minutes later than planned. “Phew!” thought I naively. “We are good to go.” Turns out we were not. There is a bit of “can you hear me?” back and forth and laughter. He seems to be outside and it doesn’t really look like the weather for it. PB: Well, that was the most stressful ten minutes of my week so far. Where are you, Mick? MICK DERRICK: We’re here in a holiday hut in Norway in the middle of nowhere. It’s so small in there and there are two wains and my girlfriend and not much room, so I thought I’d come outside. I’m wearing this all-weather thing. it’s about zero degrees and pissing it down with rain! I thought I’ll just sit here and do this. So, that’s great. This coat is good to about minus 30 and I’ve a beer so all set. Laughs) PB: Your debut album is being reissued, you’ve got some tour dates coming up and the Peel Sessions have already been released. What prompted you to reissue the debut album now? MD: It was actually Optic Nerve that got in contact and wanted to release it. We were really happy to do it because it’s only really been available on CD for so long. There was a limited-edition thing which we did at a gig with a hand-painted sleeve and they got snapped up really quicky. Then Cherry Red was Cherry Red and did the cheapest thing that made them the most money putting CDs out again and again. It meant it was never released on vinyl so when Optic Nerve came along we thought their ideas were brilliant. PB: The Peel Sessions were really high spec vinyls too. MD: Yeah, that was Precious Records and Nick Godfrey there is a really enthusiastic guy. He loves his records and, of course, his Peel Sessions. Him and his friend, the guy who did the artwork, just imagined this whole package. They feature the bands they liked which included us. We were quite surprised. That’s two people that liked us in the same year! That’s probably our whole fan base. We were amazed that out of nowhere we’d suddenly got these releases coming out. PB: Part of what I appreciated about the Peel Sessions vinyls was you could just tell that someone who really loved it had put it together. It was very well thought through and the sleeve notes were great as well MD: Yeah, it was a really nice package. Stuff like that is what I love about records, when it feels like you get free stuff. It’s the same with Optic Nerve, the packaging they did was amazing and all the stuff that they put with it, it was just like a big bag of sweeties. PB: When I reviewed it, I only had the digital download. I wrote about feeling something was missing. When an album is reissued, if you love it, you’ll already have it. With this kind of thing you want the whole package. don’t you? MD: Aye, that’s right. As with the Peel Sessions, we always want to add something. Even when performing stuff we’d done before we’d try and mix it up. ‘Doorstep Rhythmic Bloc’ was totally different for that recording. Instead of slagging off the 1980s it was slagging off the 1700s so the listener got something new. PB: What was it like doing those sessions? MD: All I can remember was the building was amazing, which was in Maida Vale. The feeling inside it was brilliant, you know the type of studio that’s dead quiet. There must be so much insulation in there. Everything is so quiet, so it is such an atmospheric building and I loved doing the stuff there. PB: There can be a certain prestige doing a Peel Session. It can convey something if Peel liked your music. MD: I don’t know if he really liked our music that much. We always said we think it was his producer that was the fan. He never really played us that much and when he did he’d just say (deadpans). “And that was Prolapse.” There was never any “Oh ,can’t wait for the next session’. The prestige was great and for me that was the high point though. After that I didn’t need to do anything else. We got signed to Radar and we said from the start we’re never going to get big and we didn’t want to be. Linda said she never wanted to get big or be on ‘Top of The Pops’, and that nearly happened with ‘Autocade’, the single. which I really hated. If it wasn’t for Lady Di dying then the track wouldn’t have been kicked off the BBC playlist. We’d already got to about number 75 so I reckon we’d have got into the Top 40 at least. Linda was ready to quit if we’d gotten any more successful. We were happy at the Sarah Records crossed with Big Flame level of success. PB: I can’t really imagine you doing ‘Tina, This Is Matthew Stone’ on ‘Top of the Pops’. I’d have totally been there for it though. MD: If that had happened. we’d probably have done something that meant we’d never be on it again! That would have been the only fun thing about it! PB: And the show no longer exists. What’s prompted you to go out touring again? At this point I run through the tour date locations and the Norwegian WiFi gods get a little bit annoyed apparently because it turns out there is a place called Oslo in London. So the connection gets a bit glitchy until Mick placates them MD: So, Oslo in London but that’s caused so much confusion over here (in Norway). People saying they want to come and then I have to explain it’s actually a place called Oslo in London. not the city. The reason we’re touring is that before Covid we’d thought we might go back to the studio, have a laugh and just record some stuff. We booked a studio up in Wales and then Covid happened. so the recording never did. Then these two record releases came up and we thought we’d just use that as an excuse to tour. We can play the places that are dear to us like Leicester. We’ve not played there since the 1990s. We are also doing Glasgow at Monorail, which is Stephen Pastel’s shop. and Leeds. We love playing Leeds and we always get a good reception in London too. For the London gig we have also got Yeah Yeah No, who I absolutely love. Their first album is probably one of my favourite albums of all time, so I am dying to see them. Then up in Glasgow we’ve got Everyday Dust who I also love. It’s just brilliant that we managed to rope these people in as well! The band have taken advantage of the record being out and used it as an excuse for us to all meet up again! PB: While a lot of bands present that they don’t really care if they’re successful or not, I have always had the impression that it’s actually true for you guys, more of a “we will do it when we want to, while it’s fun and then we will go do other stuff instead.” MD: Yeah, because we’ve got plenty of time. Even though we’ve all got glasses now and are getting on a bit, we’ve still got plenty of time and we won’t do anything we don’t want to do. We didn’t want to be successful… Well, hang on! I’m talking crap, I didn’t want to be successful. I don’t think our guitarist and certainly Linda didn’t want us to be successful either. I think the bassist and the drummer would have loved to be in the charts. Back then, it was at a time when you had bands like Bis going on about wanting to be really massive and we were still like, “Fuck, no! We don’t want that. We wanted to be like those mid 80’s bands, Terry and Gerry and bands like that. Success has always been a bit alien to us, so we just do what we want to and people still come and see us. But then we’ll all get old and we’ll all die and no one will want to see us and that’s fine! At this point it is perhaps the god of capitalism and record companies who zaps the WiFi or maybe Sheffield to a mountain side in Norway is not the most stable of connections. Either way the connection gets VERY patchy from here on out. At one point I say to Mick I will email if I need any clarifications from what I do manage to record. He laughs and tells me to just make it up. An unscrupulous writer’s dream surely but I am too well- behaved (in some areas anyway). So. instead I miss out on all the details of some fascinating tales but bring you here what I did manage to capture. PB: If you’d become more successful, you’d not have been able to make the music you made in the way you wanted to make it. MD: No, exactly and if we had been more successful, now we’d be doing these 1990’s tours with Bis and Scooter and all those terrible bands. We would be on that rota and that’s all we would be, a nostalgia band but we escaped that. I don’t think people want us to do anything differently. They don’t want me to yodel my lyrics because I can’t hit the high notes anymore. They don’t want me to do an impression of my own song. We just have to keep on performing until our voices totally crack and everything falls apart. Which is ironic because then the WiFi falls apart completely and dumps Mick out of the call. Thankfully he makes it back after a moment or two. PB: So, what are you doing in Norway? MD: I live in Oslo (the proper Norwegian one). I’m an archeologist first and foremost and as of yesterday I’ve been promoted to a researcher. I focus on researching the medieval town of Oslo, and my job is trying to lift it up from a little backwater to a big player in Europe during the medieval period. PB: Congratulations! MD: Thanks, it’s great. PB: You have two very different careers. MD: Yep, but I did archeology all the way through. I’ve been an archologist since 1988. The guitarist and I both are. We work for the same firm except he’s in Denmark. It’s different though. I am much more confident standing on stage singing than I am standing and talking to people, especially in Norwegian, about medieval Oslo! I’d rather stand up and talk off the top of my head. PB: Quite different audiences too? MD: Yeah – apart from both being full of old men usually (Laughs). PB: You often get compared to bands like The Fall, but do you have bands you see as an inspiration? MD: I’d always loved the singing against each other and the chaos of Crass. I thought it was brilliant. We also did a cover of ‘Love Like Anthrax’ in ’93 or ’94 by Gang of Four, again because of the way the vocals work. If you asked the rest of the band, I think there’s a lot of shoegazey stuff, My Bloody Valentine and a bit of a folky thing as I play the bagpipes but we are all into so many different things. It’s a big mass of influences. I think everyone who’s into The Fall ends up in an indie band – not that we are an indie band. PB: I always got the impression there was also a big pushback against the Britpop thing? MD: That wasn’t really on purpose, more that we got in our kind of groove and never went out of it. We were all into the Sarah Records stuff and The Field Mice, so more on that side of things. We liked the harder sound and were never going to be happy clappy pop. We supported a lot of terrible bands. Like that one… his mum was in the films… Hayley Mills? PB: Kula Shaker MD: Kula Shaker! We played with them and they were absolutely terrible! (I think he also mentions Bernard Butler when he recalls supporting the guy who left Suede. Whoever it was the band stole all his wine.). That was about as close as we got to Britpop, stealing people’s wine and being annoyed by all these horrible bands that were about at the time, too many to mention. I like Pulp. We toured with them but they’re not Britpop PB: No, agreed. I don’t think they are either, but they get lumped in there anyway. People forget that Pulp existed since 1978! MD: Exactly. They were such nice people, really down-to-earth. They were the only ones in that whole scene, at that time, who were famous and we had any contact with that we just really liked. Although another one would be Cast. I remember meeting them and they were such nice people. I was just walking by their dressing room. and they invited me in and said, “Come and have a beer.” They just sat and talked with me. I wasn’t even with the band, just in a pub I think! So for me Britpop was a few good people and a lot of… I am not entirely sure what as the WiFi cuts out the next few words but it does and we are left to fill in the blank. PB: So. the reissue is out, gigs soon after. Any plans for after that or just wait and see? MD: I think we will probably record something. It’ll probably be next year now but we could finally go to the studio on Wales. That’ll probably mean that we tour again too. It’ll be more of us shouting but it’ll also be good and I look forward to doing it. It’ll be interesting to see where we end up. PB: There’s enough stuff to shout about. MD: A lot more stuff to shout about! Living in Norway you’re kind of shielded from it. There’s not so much happening here. Actually, the band sent me some music about three or four years ago. I said I would listen to it and I haven’t. I pretended to them I have listened to it. They can find that out through this interview! PB: I’m sure it’ll be fine… MD: I’m also meant to be listening to our songs to try and remember them for the gigs. I tweeted something the other day about taking it so seriously and I’ve listened to the songs once and that’s it. so I’m crossing my fingers I remember. PB: Like a Pavlovian response? As soon as you’re on stage it all clicks in? MD: I am hoping so but then I never remember it all properly. Every time I sing it’s different lyrics. Some of them will stick and then I mention a load of other stuff and hope nobody notices. But it was the same when we did our gigs with Mogwai in 2015. That was the first time we’d all been together since 1999. We’d not played together or done anything, and it wasn’t until two days before the gigs that we got together and practiced. Six hours over two days and it was fine, it worked. The musicians were better than me singing but no one seemed to notice! PB: Thank you.

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Visitor Comments:-
3637 Posted By: David Jewitt, Brighton, UK. on 19 Feb 2023
"So for me Britpop was a few good people and a lot of…" Maybe just as well the mic dropped out ! (¬‿¬) ≖‿≖ Great read, enjoyed that, cheers.ッ

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Comment (2022)
Prolapse - Comment
When is a reissue worth buying? Fiona Hutchings isn’t entirely sure. as she reflects upon the new vinyl version of Prolapse's 1994 debut album 'Pointless Walks To Dismal Places'.

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In our 'Re:View' section, in which we look at albums from the past, Fiona HUtchings checks out two Peel Sessions EPs from Leicester indie band Prolapse, which have been released by Precious Recordings of London for the first time on vinyl.

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