Saturday, October 13, 2007

The aftertaste of Britpop

There was a large piece in this week's Guardian Films & Music section which looked at the Britpop second-string comebacks. It included this gloss on Kula Shaker's downfall:

Kula Shaker's Crispian Mills found the sudden, overwhelming success particularly miserable. "I think 98% of artists at the top of their game are suicidal, or lonely and depressed, or killing themselves with drugs," Mills says. "Look at Liam and Noel, trashing their marriages and fighting all the time." He believes that the huge media interest turned everyone, including himself, into "pantomime characters" - with his band's role being "psychedelic posh twats". Mills' own career was torn apart by his interest in Indian mysticism. In 1997, he told an interviewer about his dream of "great big flaming swastikas" onstage. He wanted to reclaim what was originally a Hindu peace symbol, but the Independent accused him of dabbling in Nazism. Stunned, Mills apologised. These days, he is less bashful about the episode: "Anyone who has independent thought is going to have a rite of passage".

This isn't quite as it was - nobody thought that Mills was a Nazi; the point was that he was someone who was so stupid he didn't realise that getting excited about having swastikas on stage would cause offense; a man who - like Lydon's mob before him - didn't have the capacity to understand that symbols used in the pursuit of a great wrong can't be re-assigned fluffy new meanings.

Still, it's interesting that Mills is attempting to rewrite his part in history - suggesting he was mauled for "independent thought" rather than stupidity, and that he was turned into a pantomime character rather than gleefully clambering into the back-end of a horse's costume all by himself.

Independent thought. From a man who flogged his songs to more than one car advert and beer advert.


6 comments:

Simon said...

I'd hoped you'd have drawn attention as well to that bit at the end about bands who had "no artistic merit" (as opposed to Shed Seven, clearly). Both bands fronted by women. What an odd coincidence.

ian said...

Let's not forget that the primary reason for hating Kula Shaker was not, and is not, their misguided swastika fetish, but the fact that they are unmitigated shit.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit it didn't make much difference to me whether or not he was goose-stepping about town or not. The music was so horrible. And yet they seemed to be so popular. I even seem to recall them being on some top 100 albums ever at some point by Q magazine (or some such drivel). The whole affair was a horrible era which I had thankfully forgotten about... until recently. Life goes in cycles I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Bollocks, I was reading NME at the time and can remember that flat accusations of Neo-Nazism against Mills. And also the accusations of neo-Nazism against Mark Morriss of the Bluetones simply for saying in an interview that some of his friends and relatives had racist views, which he didn't condone. In the same post-Britpop hangover period when the NME was giving dickheads from the Bloodhound Gang a platform to spout anti-Semitism in their pages.

Phil

simon h b said...

Phil -

I don't think anyone ever flat-out called Mills a Neo-Nazi. Lending support to, using imagery borrowed from, yes. But calling him a Nazi? Not that I recall.

Certainly, though, a lot of the coverage was unclear about exactly what he was accused of.

You make a fair point about the double standards, though. During the 80s, the NME was able to defend itself by saying that its readership didn't need to have it spelled out for them that racism and sexism was bad; certainly, by the time the Inspiral Carpets swung around, relying on that assumption was somewhat dodgy.

I'm with Ian, though.

Sagar said...

erm, the swastika has been a potent hindu symbol for thousands of years. if mills wanted to celebrate his hindu inspired spirituality the swatika is the obvious symbol to do it with.

it's an active symbol, saying 'what was a hindu peace symbol' making it seem as if it's no longer widely used is simply wrong. walk around any british town during divali and you'll see it. using it as a hindu symbol is not an attempt at assigning it a fluffy new meaning, but using it for it's orginal meaning.

any one who accuses him of using nazi imagary is a complete and totally ignorant twat. especially if he contextualised his wish to use it within his spiritual beliefs.

he wasn't the stupid one.

his music is still shit though

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