SMASH HITS July-August 1982 issue
Interview by Dave Rimmer
Weird name, eh? Weird group too. For a start there's three of 'em
but one doesn't care to have his picture taken. Their costumes aren't
exactly conventional either (nor is their hair) and their single,
well, their single's called "John Wayne Is Big Leggy"
and they go in for all sorts of biza- oh, let Dave Rimmer tell you
"The last thing we want," considers Haysi Fantayzee person
Paul Caplan, "is people taking us seriously."
Precious little chance of that, I'll be bound.
These people may already be known to you by courtesy of their extremely
daft debut, "John Wayne Is Big Leggy". This sounds like
a Wild West shoot-out between Madness, BowWowWow and Altered Images.
Unlikely, but appealing. And if you haven't heard that, you'll almost
certainly have clocked pictures like the one on the facing page,
featuring Fantayzists Kate and Jeremiah clad in what can only be
described as cowboy/rasta/Artful Dodger outfits, all dreadlocks,
stove-pipe hats and ragged waistcoats. Jeremiah claims the look
is based on "Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and all those books
I read as a kid. They're my heroes, if you like."
"An amalgam of cultural archetypes," is how Paul, Haysi
intellectual and the one who tends to dress most normally and steers
clear of the camera, sums it up: "But it was really just the
way Kate and Jeremy looked when I met them."
It was about two years ago when he first ran into Kate. Paul, now
27, had been at university "for a long time". He'd ended
up at Cambridge getting his kicks from an obscure branch of maths
called "algebraic topology," but found himself getting
"fed up with maths and more and more excited by music".
He ditched his studies, and work with "a collection of bands"
followed. He and Kate Garner, also 27, an ex-photographer and model
who hails from Wigan, began writing music together. "It was
more of a hobby then," he says.
While Paul was also working with dodgy "futurist" combo
Animal Magnet, the pair carried on playing together with a loose
bunch of about eight to twelve others, including three percussionists
and four vocalists.
One day Jeremiah Healey, now 20, turned up at one of their sessions.
Paul remembers: "He just grabbed hold of the mike and began
sort of snarling into it." Paul was impressed.
That was about eight months ago. At the time Jeremiah (Paul and
Kate call him Jeremy) was "in a wheelchair". He'd bleached
his hair grey, he'd matted it with candle wax, and would just wheel
himself around his flat all day in this huge bathchair he'd nicked
from the out-patients department of a local hospital. Jeremiah claims
there was nothing wrong with him - "I just enjoyed it"
- but I'm not too sure.
The group of 12 proved impossibly unwieldy. Soon our threesome
forgot the others and just began writing together.
"We thought we'd write songs," Paul explains "and
then find musicians to play them. All sorts of things: hillbilly,
African high-life, rock and roll: it depended what the last record
we'd heard was."
Some tentative interest from EMI, to whom Paul was signed at the
time through Animal Magnet, led them to spending a feverish three
days and nights locked in a rehearsal studio trying to put these
songs "in concrete form". It worked, and "John Wayne"
was one of the products from that mammoth session.
Several months of touting demo tapes round record companies followed.
Haysi were offered lots of deals, but eventually found a "wonderful"
one with Regard - a new label formed by former CBS managing director
As to the Haysi approach: "The one thing we all had in common,"
says Paul, "was a dislike of doom-laden electronics."
Them and several million others. "Well", Kate adds, "we
also didn't like the attitude that you can't dance and sweat because
you might spoil your make-up."
"And I don't think," Paul continues, "there are
any answers to any of the world's major problems that can be encapsulated
in a pop song."
Jeremiah explains how, contrary to popular belief, "Big Leggy"
is an anti-John Wayne song. They don't like the man. Meanwhile,
further consideration leads Paul to decide what their music is about:
"Sex. Different types of music say different things about
sex. A heavy metal musician obviously feels differently about it
from a funk musician. If we play calypso or high-life then that's
because we like what those types of music say about sex."
He shrugs. Their intentions are simple enough.
"Well, we enjoy it. Why else do you do anything?"
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