Incendiary share a pint with Bow Mods

They've asked me back to judge for the semi-finals. An all expenses trip to Scarborough. Sinead Quinn, who came second in pop idol a couple of years ago, is another one of the judges and Lil Chris is performing. What a plethora of talent.




Incendiary share a pint with Bow Mods


I was taken to my first Bow Mods gig at the back end of 2006. I briefly reviewed it in my 'Letter from London' article at the time. Since then I've been to see them at almost every opportunity, and their performances are getting better and better. They're far more entertaining than any band with a handful of gigs under their belt has a right to be, and PCS, the fantastic front man, has any audience in the palm of his hand within a couple of songs. They've just released a four track EP, Country Girls, on their own Drunken Records label, which impressed the folks at Incendiary Towers so much that I was told by my editor to track them down and interview them. ('Tis true – ed)


A few emails later and it's all arranged. I arrive at Liverpool Street with a good hour before the arranged meeting time so, instead of getting the tube just one stop to the pub, I decide to walk through the east London streets. I strike out for Bethnal Green, and soon leave the suited bank workers of the city behind. As I walk through Spitalfields, they're gradually replaced by the terrible fashion victims of Shoreditch, who themselves disappear quickly as soon as I'm east of Brick Lane.


Now, instead of boutique clothes shops or coffee shops, there's lots of social housing and light industrial units. If you happen to own a black cab and need to have it repaired, you could do a lot worse than brining it to the back streets of around here.


Eventually I find myself in familiar territory, and quickly locate the venue for tonight: a pub with the rather charming name of The Camel. I'm the first to arrive. I order a beer and make myself comfortable.


Soon "Ne'er-do-well" turns up. He writes all the music for the band, but has decided not to appear on stage any more. More of that later.


I congratulate him on his choice of venue. "Nice pies" I'm told, and NDW and I discuss some of the great pub names that existed (and sometimes still exist) around these parts: The Needle Gun, The Blade Bone, The Flying Scud, The Grave Maurice.


NDW: We've been meeting designers and things in here, trying sort out our CD, which is ready now. And each time that we've met them Phil has turned up absolutely plastered. To the point of being still drunk from the night before. These designers are architects, one of them works for Norman Foster, and they're looking at Phil like he's some kind of circus creature. It is really good.


IN: If you're getting a Norman Foster architect to design your CD does that mean we can look forward to some really elaborate packaging? Kind of like PiL's Metal Box?


NDW: Yeah. A huge gherkin. You can't get better than that.   


Just then PCS turns up. I'm more than a little disappointed that he's not dangerously drunk. In fact he's totally charming, although his opening anecdote does involve one of his relatives nicking a brandy from him.


IN: We were just talking about the potential for elaborate packaging on your new CD.


PCS: Extremely elaborate packaging. Like origami. Each one will be self made, by me... in my room.


IN: In an attempt to do some research I looked at your myspace page. The first thing I noticed is that you say is 'Bow is rhymes with Oh', are people thinking it's pronounced like 'bow down before me'?


NDW: Only the occasional person.


PCS: When people ask you "what's the name of the band" they ask me to spell it. If you haven't been anywhere near the East End you probably haven't heard of Bow. 


NDW: Dizzee Rascal is about the only other famous person from Bow. Although he doesn't live in Bow anymore, I've checked it. Dermot O'Leary (TV presenter), he lives around there too. 




IN: Damon Albarn used to trade on his east London roots when Blur first appeared, while in the same breath saying he supported (west London) Chelsea.


NDW: He grew up in Leytonstone didn't he? When you listen back to some of those records, around Park Life, you just think "that's such an affected accent". He doesn't do it now and he sounds really good. His voice on the recent one is quite straight, and I quite like it.


IN: The new EP: it's really good. I notice that it's stocked in Rough Trade. How did you manage that?


NDW: My very good contacts. I have a friend who used to go on tour with Primal Scream at the time of Screamadelica and for some reason she knows the owner of the shop. I like the fact that they put new bands in the shop and recommend them. A lot of DJs go in and say "What have you got that's new that I haven't heard of?" That's our target. It's also being sold at this place in Derby called 'Reveal Records'. We're going for the decent indie shops throughout Britain. In the shops that matter you can get our EP. Actually the EP thing isn't the done thing anymore. People either want a 7" or an album. 


PCS: We do have enough material for an album now.


NDW: We've enough for 2 pretty much. We've discarded a lot.


PCS: We have discarded a lot, but I think we've enough material for a good, solid album that we're both happy with; because we don't necessarily like the same songs.


NDW: We've got at least two things going on. One of which is quite poppy, which is more electronic.


PCS: Which all of my gay friends love, whilst hating the rest. They love Country Girls and I Feel Emotional but they won't even take on board the other stuff. I don't know why.


NDW:  We're also thinking about a PCS solo album which will have more electronic stuff.


IN: A little bit like the Scissor Sisters?


PCS: No no no no


IN: A little bit more Divine?


PCS: I'd prefer that. You Think You're A Man is on my iPod...


NDW: That's a great song.


PCS: ...and So Beautiful which was a lesser hit. I loathe and detest the Scissor Sisters, because I think they're derivative of Elton John and the Bee Gees. It's some puffs singing falsetto. I'm not interested. In my mind now the Scissor Sisters have now crashed and burned. As have the Darkness. I remember when the Darkness came out, and the Scissor Sisters came out, they were two bands that seemed to be quite interesting and fresh, with both of them singing in this high pitched shriek. And they've both died on their arse because they didn't have any musical integrity, it was all derivative. People got bored. It was like a novelty act. You might as well file under Eurovision as far I'm concerned.



IN: Did you see any of this year's Eurovision?


PCS: No. I was judging 'Guiding Star'. Crushing dreams. My sister is the district commissioner of the guiding association. I was a huge hit, but there was a controversial winner. These kids, they all assume it's about the best singing voice. It was between two girls basically. One had an amazing singing voice, the kind of voice you normally only get with training. Lots of nuance, lots of control, perfect pitch. It sounded lovely, but she was like a plank of wood on stage. We were judging them on 'star quality' as well. Then this little thing bounded on, she was the final girl. She had this jaunty little outfit on, it was all silver sequins, little silver sequin hat, little bolero jacket, shorts and little pumps...


NDW: and you were like, "I'm nicking that"


PCS: ... absolutely. Anyway, she shouted her way through this song with such a force of personality that we all fell in love with her. We decided it was between the two of them. The plank didn't win, but everyone thought that she would've won because she sung like a young Mariah Carey.


NDW: I hate that muso singing.


PCS: If that's all it was about then I wouldn't even bother because I can't sing like fucking Mariah Carey and I don't want to. All those kids think you should. They think that's what makes you talented. No, it doesn't. You've got to have something else. We put many, many parental noses out of joints. They thought it was a fix: I don't even know any of these girls. They've asked me back to judge for the semi-finals. An all expenses trip to Scarborough. Sinead Quinn, who came second in pop idol a couple of years ago, is another one of the judges and Lil Chris is performing. What a plethora of talent.


for part two and Phil's body secrets, click here