interview: Meatraffle

Meatraffle, possibly the most unpretentiously, raw and genuine five-piece from South London, epitomise the spirit of community that I believe music should be about. I often find music journalism to be over-enthusiastic and false, but the music being made by Zsa Zsa Sapien, Tingle Lungfish, Fats, Cloudy Truffles, and Chris O.C. is a thing to behold. I implore you to listen for yourselves.

Photo: Luisa Le Voguer Couyet

Photo: Luisa Le Voguer Couyet

How/when did you start the band?

Zsa Zsa: The band started at a charity event in the White Lion pub in Streatham, it was an all-dayer of Beatles covers, and I think most of us detest The Beatles, so it seemed a bit of a challenge. We joined in and chose Revolution 9, I think it's called.

None of us could play any instruments, so we just played a Status Quo record backwards and told a few jokes. We went down really well. I think that was the first time we realised we are all very talented, and maybe we should give it a go.

Chris: I joined the band at a gig at the Bird’s Nest in Deptford. After finishing a set with the Pit Ponies, Zsa Zsa told me I was shit and asked if I wanted to play with them that night. I thought if I said no he'd break my fingers so I calmly nodded and put my keyboard back on the stage. I've been winging it ever since.

For those who might not know, what exactly is a ‘meat raffle’?

Zsa Zsa: A meat raffle was very popular in the 70's and 80's in and around most pubs around the country. You bought a ticket and you could win some sausages.

Chris: Meat is murder.

Tingle: A carnal lottery.

Fats: It's an excellent band.

Why did you choose this particular name?

Zsa Zsa: Me and Clams (Mutado Pintado/Paranoid London/Warmduscher) were sitting in the Streatham Wetherspoons once and saw a meat raffle sign on the wall, and one of us - I think it was Clams - said “wouldn't that be a great name for a Heavy Metal band?” MEATRAFFLE! One word!

Tingle: A FLASH OF INSPIRATION IN STREATHAM SPOONS.

Fats: Because it's amazing.

Can you explain the pseudonyms of your members?

Zsa Zsa: I think Zsa Zsa Sapien is a great name to counter-balance my looks, I like men who have girls names like Lindsay Buckingham and Shirley Crabtree (he was a famous wrestler in the 70's called Big Daddy). I have two gold teeth and look ugly-beautiful, a little threatening, nobody fucks with people with gold teeth, they think you are a hard bastard, it's a bit like the puffer fish, you skin your teeth and people cross the road. I prefer my street name to my normal name. Everyone should have a street name. Zsa Zsa Sapien really means the human race must not be square or conservative. We name Fats, Fats, because we love Jazz names, it has nothing to do with his body size index results.

Tingle: I was dubbed "Tingle" by a Svengali type figure. I chose to be "Lungfish" because I love evolution so much.

Cloudy: Cloudy Truffles is from the infamous New York City Future sounds of Chelsea social experiment of 2001.

Fats: I'm Fats because I'm a skinny cunt.

To me, Meatraffle is like a close-knit, wonderful family; who would be the mum/dad/deranged uncle/kids?

Zsa Zsa: I think I would prefer the deranged uncles, I think all of us are deranged uncles, a family of deranged uncles is a great Utopia.

Chris: Clouds is a single mother. Zsa zsa, tingle and I are her troublesome boys and Fats is our dodgy 'uncle'. He's not actually a blood relative.

Tingle: Zsa zsa is mum, Fats is dad, OC is an embryo, Tingle is uncle sleepovers and Clouds is from social services.

Fats: There's nothing wonderful about it.

Photo: Luisa Le Voguer Couyet

Photo: Luisa Le Voguer Couyet

Who is responsible for the artwork?

Zsa Zsa: I did the cover of Lenin with the iron. We were going to call the LP ‘Strike while the Iron's hot’, but decided on ‘HIFI Classics’. I based the picture on a speech by Lenin bemoaning women's forced role in society as slaves in the kitchen a hundred years ago. The artwork at the back is a collage of HIFI equipment. We adore HIFI, it is more important than even music itself.

Fats: The deranged one.

In your own words, what would you describe your ‘sound’/genre/style of music as?

Zsa Zsa: Someone said we sound like Throbbing Gristle, we are not seasoned musicians, so we rely on ideas, we love ESG. I think we sound a bit like them if squint your eyes. I love the term Bastard music, our sound is both motherless and fatherless. We hated all the Brit Pop crap, patriotic music, like calling butchers meat, British beef! As if these poor cows were proud to sacrifice theirs lives for the queen and the British state. Fucking pathetic.

Tingle: Post-op punk.

What does the process of making songs involve?

Zsa Zsa: We first start with a rhythm, the drums and the bass, start with a loop, with this machine I got, called Fats Box. If I get stuck with the bass partner to the drums, I send it off to Cloudy to fix the problem. I have lots of lyrics stored in a database, I then simply fit the lyrics to the music. It is all very modular. See the lyrics as the film and the music as the soundtrack, we just put the two together.

The vocal melody is the third part. Never start of with guitar and piano, always drums. Drums are number one.

Tingle: Beer.

Fats: Sex

Photo: Luisa Le Vouger Couyet

Photo: Luisa Le Vouger Couyet

What/who are the ideal ‘nice young couple... nice young boy/nice young girl’?

Zsa Zsa: The ideal nice young couple? This drug dealing couple we know, really lovely couple, very intellectual, never cut the blow too hard. Really nice young couple.

Tingle: I think they are trapped in Zsa Zsa's cellar. They knew too much.

Fats: I don't know anyone that fits that description.

Photo: Luisa Le Voguer Couyet

Photo: Luisa Le Voguer Couyet

With music being a very male-dominated scene, was it an intentional choice to have a "bird" on bass (although I assume gender is something which you do not consider)?

Zsa Zsa: Cloudy never played bass before, so she was perfect for Meatraffle, we didn't want anyone making trouble about chord progressions and all that crap about diminished fourth eighths and deformed semitones, Cloudy is a great artist and it is ideas that matter, we got Tingle and Fats, and Chris OC, what more can we ask for

Tingle: It was never a plan. But now it seems important and I think it makes us stronger and gives an example.

Fats: Yes we wanted some flange on the bass.

Claudia, I love your song, The Bird, can you describe what it’s like to be objectified as a woman in the street, what was the inspiration behind it?

Cloudy: I wrote ‘The Bird’ song because I always hated men calling their partners Bird. It always sounded like lowering the tone to me. I wouldn't call myself a feminist, I hate it when you get these Metrosexual men calling themselves 'feminists’, how can you possibly know what it is like to be on 'the blob' or feel second class with your sexuality? I prefer solidarity.

Tingle: It's a form of oppression. People need educating and reminding.

Zsa Zsa: This is why Cloudy takes over on it with the singing, she is great on vocals, she has this soulful Nico quality, very unique, it's going to be a vinyl-only single, recorded by a well known top quality producer. It's going to be the first ever UK Feminist hit, but I can't take the credit for that.

Fats: It feels sexy.

What do you do outside of the band?

Zsa Zsa: Outside the band is mainly for me, cleaning the house and boozing. I love boozing, I never booze in the house ever! If I go out boozing I will just have one pint and that is it, I am not a proper hard drinker. I like painting too, but not with magnolia anymore, no way! Tibetan Jasmine.

Tingle: I help destroy the planet.

Fats: As little as possible.

What are your other musical projects?

Zsa Zsa: Each of us has their own stuff going on. I have this album coming out with the great Mutado Pintado called ‘Musical Confrontation’ it is like a one-to-one sound clash, it sounds like nothing else you will hear on either 6music or Simpleton100 FM.

Chris: I play in a couple of other bands. But mostly I play in/listen to/watch/run from the aggressively sexual Fats Orchestra. Fats Orchestra is all I care about now.

Fats: Troxsky Music, check them out, they're shittingly good.

Are you all from South London?

Zsa Zsa: We are all from South London, yes. Fats was born in the ghettos of Richmond park. Me, Clouds and Tingle are from the slums of Battersea. I am quite proud of coming from Battersea. It used to be a communist stronghold in the early 1900's, voted in the first and only communist MP in England called Saklatvala! Comrade Sak! The working classes were much more politically clued up then. Battersea now is just full of Yuppy scum. I hate the place.

Chris: Yes. I learnt how to play music in South London and I started making musicin South London. And now I am part of a militia of musicians that would not exist without the pubs of South London.

Tingle: Yes. Fats tried to be from north London but they didn't want him.

Fats: I think so, although I think OC is from Buckinghamshire or something.


Has South London influenced your music/outlook, if so, how?


Zsa Zsa: If you think about it, the best places are always South. South America, southern France, south of Spain, South Australia, Argentina, South of Italy. South
Bronx. Naughty North/sexy South. There is something sexy about Meatraffle, I can't put a finger on it. There are lots of parks in South London, lots of fresh mountain air. I have to take an injection every time I cross the river, North London is a real let down, I have never had a great night out there, really unbelievably posh too, boring. Camden! £6 for a pint of Guinness in the Wetherspoons. And don't get me started about Hoxton and Dalston. I don't think there is a South London sound though, I am not really parochial and I don't like myth making.

Fats: South London is shite, we're shite.

What are your individual political beliefs?


Zsa Zsa: Me politically, I am a hard leftist, I used to be in the Socialist Workers Party until I got chucked out for drug dealing. I think my heart is Anarchist, but my mind is Marxist/Leninist, you need strategy and you need a party to lead a revolution, because the counter revolution will end your life. Strategy means rules and rules have always been the big Achilles heel of the Anarchists.

Chris: In a world where corporations and foreign investors have the power to sue a whole nation and its government, I believe that capitalism is a cannibalistic machine set to sink us all in a bastard myre of selfish greed and despair. Long live socialism.

Tingle: I believe that people should educate themselves and be ready to organise when the shit hits.

Fats: Kill all political leaders, apart from Tony Benn.


How much is your music influenced by your political views?


Zsa Zsa: Yes, politics is a big influence, but we are not Crass (the band), we like to talk in code, like Gramsci in prison, a lot of metaphor, I stole a lot from Shelly in Aurora, all that stuff about sky's cracking from mountains shouting. We don't want to sound too preachy, I don't want to force my politics on the others too much, so I sing in code. I love to sing about HIFI, it is my love, I love the smell of a speaker code and its parfum that come out of its port hole. I like to sing about these things too, not just politics.

Chris: I am a musician because of my political views.

Tingle: Everything is political.

What advice would you give to your audience in regards to living under this awful government?


Zsa Zsa: My advice concerning this dreadful government is to go to every single Demo and get it off your chest, don't sit in silence, the people can mobilise, parliamentary politics is not the divine route for change “free your ass and your mind will follow”. Look at America, who would have thought, 20 years ago the word Socialism was such anathema, now look! The people are taking to the streets, it's not just about Sanders anymore, the media have blanked Sanders stifling their anger, so now they are showing the media and its corporate backers that they are, after all, not all powerful! You need just to get out there, the librarians, the steel workers, health workers, junior doctors, make a link, that all these problems are connected to the flaws in capital and competition.

Chris: Do what you can to smash the tory scum system.

Tingle: Unite. Join unions, make music. Don't give up. Do the right thing. Don't turn to the dark side. 

Fats: Get pissed constantly.


How can we combat the rising tide of gentrification/austerity?


Zsa Zsa: The best way to change gentrification is not just to rely on politicians, take it to to the local councils, it's an utter disgrace that Blairite labour councils are participating in evictions, bulldozing of council estates, and the closure of Libraries! That is pure evil! Look at those mothers who occupied empty housing in Newham? They are an absolute inspiration, and should not be left isolated. That is what people should be aspiring to Mr Blair, not your careerist doctrine. Looking out for one another. Wanker!

Chris: Use your voice. We all have one. Make it heard.

Tingle: Same as above. And squat.


Finally, what are your plans for the future?


Zsa Zsa: We are working on a new album and more Dentist work. We are not doing a second album, we are going to skip that and go straight for the third one.
Chris: Going to try and stop making plans.

Tingle: I'm going to die. One day.

Fats: Sex.

 

Words by Luisa Le Voguer Couyet.

This interview originally appeared in Issue 2 of Hate zine, published in 2016.