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Dead Kids’ Songs

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Adelle Stripe interviews Dead Kids‘ frontman Mike Title.

Described as “A Battle cry from Essex”, “Blur at Altamont” or even “Sham 69 on ecstasy”, the reality is that Dead Kids kick out more energy, front, and genuine danger than the rest of Whitechapel’s drainpipers combined. Dead Kids are the dawn of the dead for the repossessed.

An original East End trouble maker, Jewish, half Morroccan, and mercurial entertainer Mike Frankel is a man of the people, and unbeknown to many a brilliant prose writer. Today is the anniversary of Diana’s death, so let’s talk about her then…?

“Diana was just like every other member of the royal family, fucked who she wanted when she wanted. You’re a royal – that’s what you do. Men go around rogering whoever they want – that’s what power is. That’s what they like to bestow upon themselves. But why knock them for that – that’s their culture. You wouldn’t knock Muslims for going to Mecca or Jews for hanging up chickens and cutting their throats. If people have certain things they want do as part of their culture then let them do it. I drink Christian babies blood at Passover. That’s my culture – my blood right.”

3:AM: Is Freddie Mercury the best fancy dress costume ever? Discuss.

MT: There is a picture of me dressed as Freddie Mercury. But it’s not the best fancy dress costume. The best one is where you put your legs into the bird. It’s humiliating. Not very practical. You have the fake legs flapping on the side. But you don’t do a costume twice. Once I went on Halloween and I dressed as a dead man. All white all over my body and white make up and fake blood everywhere and I ripped up all of my clothes. I looked like a zombie corpse. I was bored at the party in Hackney so I ran across a roof and the roof was burnt out. So I fell through it into a warehouse, about 25ft and landed on my face on a derelict concrete floor. I broke my wrists. The fire engines and the ambulance had to break into this building and take me to hospital, I was completely off my head. They were saying to me “don’t move” – there was blood everywhere. I told them I was pretty wasted. They said I wouldn’t be able to tell if I had burst my spleen for example. You wouldn’t know. So they tied me up and constricted me which was horrible. They brought me into A&E – straight off the ramp into this brightly lit room where there were loads of Australian people hanging around the bed. When they were moving me in all of the Australians freaked out – then they realised that it was just make up. They thought I was dying. I was lucky not to end up in a wheelchair.

3:AM: The first gig I saw you play you tore down the ceiling in the Buffalo Bar.

MT: They are overrated are ceilings though, aren’t they? Maybe it was a poetic thing, maybe I just wanted to stare at the stars.

3:AM: And a 25ft speaker stack at last year’s Brick Lane Festival… destroying 200 gold helium balloons. Then having sex with a woman’s face as she was eating a burger.

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MT: That’s no mean feat. If it was my sister I would have bought her a drink.

3:AM: You are the cat with nine lives.

MT: I’ve always managed to get myself out of trouble. You know how that all ends though? It all ends very badly. When you’re lying on the hospital bed going ‘oh my god I’ve really done it this time – all my life had lead up to this one moment. I’m smashed up I can’t move my neck, my face is all smashed in. My wrists are broken, my arm looks wonky, will it ever be straight again? When your girlfriend walks in and she’s crying her eyes out saying ‘ I can’t be with you anymore because you’re a fucking idiot’ – it’s very hard to argue it out.

3:AM: It’s never gonna stop thought Mike is it? You’re going to keep on doing these things. Trying to topple the last escapade. You are the court jester.

MT: That’s an insult.

3:AM: It’s not an insult. It’s like you have this role in the medieval court, to say what you want and get away with it.

MT: I’m sure the jester ended up getting murdered. It was bullshit that he got away with it.

3:AM: The jester would dare to say the things that nobody else would say because he would charm them.

MT: Well, I don’t like to break down my personality too much.

3:AM: I’m not trying to put you into an archetype or anything.

MT: Well anyone who doesn’t know me would think I’m a fucking guy with bells on their feet. With a stupid hat. Like something out of Glastonbury. I’m not a juggler. Or a mime artist. Or a unicyclist. There are a lot of front men that remind me of mime artists. But I can never mention them… Unicorns – they’re my favourite.

3:AM: Are there any East London bands you would like to stick the knife into?

MT: There is nobody out there who makes me absolutely sick. Oh – they’re a bunch of public schoolboys from Hackney… I don’t really care. I’m from Ilford and I pretend to be a public schoolboy… from Hackney! I’m the ultimate social climber. Cos I’m from Ilford – no class issues, I can mix with the hoi polloi, royalty, pedophiles, I’ve met the prince of Ethiopia, had a laugh with him. Met him in a pub. I’ve met people traveling who ran the whole of the Sahara region in Morocco who have murdered people, sat with them at a dinner table saying that if I didn’t shut up and sort out my attitude then I would ‘disappear’.

3:AM: Obviously that didn’t scare you?

MT: For a moment. What happens is you don’t actually get scared until you’re on the bus leaving. Then you think ‘fucking hell’. It’s a delayed reaction.

3:AM: I saw you at Lovebox last year, with four hats on your head, you went around the crowd and picked off everyone who was wearing a hat…

MT: It was awful, there was not one decent act there.

3:AM: What I’m trying to say is… you have this ability to push people to the edge. And you see the guys in the audience saying ‘Give me my fucking straw hat back!’ You see them getting really worked up.

MT: You’re encouraging people to cross the line now aren’t you. If you write ‘He gets away with it’ someone’s gonna read this and come out and try and smash my face in. You’re fucking ridiculous.

3:AM: The point I’m trying to make is that you’re very charming, despite your theatrics, your pantomime…

MT: How dare you! I’m a fucking serious artist. I live through my music. That will look good in print.

3:AM: I saw you at New Cross falling into everybody’s equipment. Wearing a pair of silver spandex sequined leggings.

MT: They were my mum’s.

3:AM: Haven’t the band lost their rag with you a bit? Do they still love you?

MT: I’m not allowed to touch anything – they, we are, a gang. Nowadays it seems that bands should just all dress up the same and have the same haircuts. And wear leather jackets and smoke cigarettes and lean against the wall. Or bands should almost smile knowingly at the camera in the leather jackets in a disused warehouse in Hackney. We are just bombarded with over bland music from bands that look the same. From record labels that are more like banks than record labels. I don’t know but I imagine that labels used to sign bands that turned them on – but I don’t know if bands stand for anything anymore.

3:AM: It’s become a lifestyle choice

MT: I was told the other day, ‘that’s what you’re selling’. I was taping up my hand the other day and they said ‘you are selling a lifestyle’. And I thought ‘I wouldn’t wish my life on anyone’…no… that’s not true. There are people who like to go to the Proud Gallery on a Sunday and listen to an indie band while they are sitting around in a t-shirt they bought in Covent Garden or Brick Lane in a deckchair, and then Monday morning they’re back in the office. They are living vicariously through a few sweaty blokes screaming and shouting. Doing ketamine in the toilets.

3:AM: It’s like schadenfreude in the media, building up stars and wanting them to fail, oh lets follow Babyshambles because they do the things we wished we could do if only we had the balls. If we didn’t care about the future we’d be fucked up on drugs like they are too. You want them to fail so you feel better about yourself.

MT: The biggest mistake people make is that if they take drugs it will make them interesting. But it makes people even more boring. And the biggest joke of all is if you turn up at a party, sober, as you walk into the room you trip over a step then right yourself, people will get great pleasure at laughing about how socially inept you are. Because it makes them feel as though you have no social balance. Whereas if you turn up at a party wearing a stupid hat and fall through the door, and are sick on the floor then some fucking awful groupie picks you up and falls into the bathroom, that makes you really fucking cool. Unfortunately I suffer from both of those things. I am everything. Sometimes I laugh at the guy who trips, sometimes I am the guy who trips embarrassingly, and sometimes I fall into the room, drunk and puke everywhere. But I can’t knock any of those people because I am all of them. I am every man.

3:AM: Shall we just end it here then? You know, that you are everyone in your dreams. Billy Childish wrote a great poem about being Fyodor, Hamsun, Van Gogh and Munch, all wrapped up into one man. Being every one of his idols. But if all else fails will you return to your career as a professional Santa Claus?

MT: I mean you move to New York at Xmas time, try and get a job in a bar, you ask me would I rather get a job in a mall in New Jersey as a Jewish Santa or get a job in a cool bar getting tips? I would tell you straight away what I would have preferred. Nodding off in a fucking Santa Claus outfit getting screamed at, by your boss, for showing your real eyebrows – is not my idea of a great job, or a career. You can live just about on $60 a day, obviously you have to blag a lot of drinks and free drugs, but the rest pays your rent. In the middle of the mall was a massive great platform, with a big spongey throne, then I had a Santa’s little helper, and she took photos of the kids. I had to wear fat padding, the beard was itchy. You know something – the funny thing is you start seeing the positives, and people really took it so seriously. There are a lot of immigrants in America – Sikhs, Muslims, Israelis, a lot of people from the third world, not matter what religion they came from, they would give to you their baby, then they take that photo and they are like ‘We are here – we have made it.’ It’s a responsibility of sorts. You’re in this mall, the symbol of America, smack bang in the heart of the American dream, almost dressed up as God, and they were handing me their babies.”

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3:AM: Let’s talk about your new song, ‘Fear and Fluoride’.

MT: It’s about people that you meet, some of them are my friends. That use hands free on their mobiles because they think it’s bad for you to use the phone like a normal person. Then they spend the weekend putting bad London coke up their nose and buying food from Fresh and Wild.

3:AM: Yeah, the London Lifestylers strike again

MT: It’s this fear of cancer and fear of ‘Ooh I’m doing something unhealthy’, while you live in this hypocritical world, people’s fear about conspiracy theories that people would rather believe in rather than the mundane. They would rather believe that an alien lives in Buckingham Palace, because the very idea that there is someone just there scratching their arse with a crown on their head is far too mundane for them. So, it’s taking the piss out of people just phoning you up with their problems, in the middle of the night – which I’m guilty of too.”

3:AM: It’s spiraling out of control, the fear. Did you read the headlines of the Evening Standard, around the time of the floods a few months back? And the headlines were ‘LONDON – PREPARE TO FLEE”. What’s that all about, as if we were gonna get fucking flooded because a river burst it’s bank in Gloucestershire…

MT: You look in the papers and every day there’s a picture of someone looking really sad, alright little Johnny…can you look sad? Look like your Daddy has really upset you, he’s betrayed you, won the pools and ran off to Spain with a girl with big tits…now you and your Mum look really sad, then click! And it’s the same faces the same expressions, the same stories every day. With just the names changed.

3:AM: I suppose there’s only one thing worth reading regularly and that’s Pick Me Up

MT: No, I’ve gone off it now…

3:AM: You can’t say that Mike. You were obsessed the last time I spoke to you.

MT: I was in it.

3:AM: You were ringing them up daily.

MT: You’re not telling people that. So ‘Fear and Fluoride’, it’s the very idea that the Flouride that is put into people’s drinking water to make the teeth stronger and better, and to prevent decay, is in fact, a mind control drug that keeps people in their place. The scariest thing about it is that I was contacted by a man called Mr Pocock from Ireland, who runs a website about the fluoridisation of water, and asked us to be the poster boys of his campaign.

3:AM: So did you check out his website?

MT: Yeah, he’s all over the place. He will probably read this. If Fluoride is mentioned, he will find out about it. He’s taken it upon himself. He doesn’t like even using the phone. He’s like Bin Laden. He’s an anti government agent which probably means he’s a government agent, you realise I will be executed, the government will execute me for unveiling this fact? My life is over. If you never hear from us again it’s only because my life has been taken out my MI5, or touring with MIA or reading El Cid. If you think about it, on a level, in the army they put stuff in your food, Bromide, so you don’t get an erection, so you don’t think about sex, you just think about killing.

3:AM: But does that just stop the erection or does it kill the testosterone too?

MT: It probably just stops you getting it up. The government put fluoride in our water, is it just because they want us to have nice teeth? The English are renowned for having horrible fucking teeth. So it hasn’t worked. Therefore, why do they have it in the water? Because, it suppresses joy, instinct, and your desire to say ‘ I don’t agree, I don’t accept it, I’m not going to work tomorrow until you sort this out’. I wish that is what Fluoride did, but it doesn’t – the truth is that we are apathetic, spoiled, pampered, useless, human beings who sit around and whine a lot. And I am no different.

Dead Kids’ new single ‘Fear and Fluoride’ will be released on XL Recordings in November.

The first part of this interview appeared in this month’s Stool Pigeon.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adelle Stripe is Music Editor of 3:AM. Her work has appeared in Full Moon Empty Sports Bag, Laura Hird, Vomit In The Mainstream, Rising Poetry, Scarecrow, and Savage Kick. She edits the definitive Brutalist weblog, Straight From The Fridge and will one day release her secrets to the world in paperback under the banner “Things I Never Told Anyone”. Adelle hopes to retire to the country and become the only female professional rat catcher in the north, sometime before her 35th birthday.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Sunday, September 23rd, 2007.