Vicious Cabaret – Sid’s Way?
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Vicious Cabaret – Sid’s Way?

Steve Maloney – Vocals, guitar.
Phil Laycock – Guitar, vocals.
Rachel Evans – Bass, vocals.
Pete Devine – Drums, vocals.

Vicious Cabaret hail from Leeds & play glamorous rock n roll from the underbelly of the darkside. Their debut demo collection has been spinning away loudly (often on repeat) in the tMx bunker for a couple of months now & is picking up praise with every new pair of ears.

‘It’s guitar music – beyond that, we’ll leave it up to the journalists & music geeks to decide what sub-genre we fall into’, says frontman Steve Maloney.

Journailsts? Don’t see many of them around these parts. Music geeks? Who could they possibly be referring to?

The Katestar was duly awarded the mission, & susequently wasted no time in tracking Vicious Cabaret down to their home base to interrupt their plans for world domination with a few poorly though out & ultimately tedious questions. To their eternal credit, Vicious Cabaret answered them all very well indeed:

trakMARX - Vicious Cabaret is a fucking great name - what's the implied significance behind it?

Steve Maloney - Apart from it being a hat-nod to the great Bard Of Northampton, Alan Moore - it being 'borrowed' from his V For Vendetta – we liked it because it seemed to sum up the confrontational aesthetic that all the people we like share. If pop music is modern cabaret, vaudeville for the masses, then what we do is vicious cabaret - snide, spiteful, and malicious. We like art that challenges people's preconceptions, that gets in their faces, as opposed to bland 'entertainment', which is designed to pacify the slaves. As Kafka said: 'I believe that we should only read those books that bite and sting us.'

trakMARX - How would you describe that Vicious Cabaret sound (he asked, blatantly ignoring the press release instructions)?

Steve - Well, if you're going to ignore the press release I'm going to ignore the fact that I know you've read it, and repeat what it says!

Some of it's quite abrasive, some of it's a little smoother - we try to present as wide a range of musical textures as possible! The corporate mentality is to say 'this is what this band does, this is their sound', and tell them to go away and write another ten songs that sound like the one the company has decided is going to be their 'hit'. It's a bit like being typecast as an actor - sure, you can make a career out of it, but it's pretty fucking dull playing the same role for forty years.

The 'rock noir' thing came about because, despite what we may have said in the past about not wanting to deny people the pleasure of sticking a label on us, we figured if anybody was going to do it, it should be us!

Clearly, we are a rock band; this is guitar music, and whether or not that's still hip by the time people read this isn't really of any concern to us. It's what we like. But we wanted a term that set us apart from some kitsch party band like The Darkness, and 'rock noir' seemed to encapsulate the general vibe of what we do. Whatever the musical backdrop, the tone lyrically is usually cynical, sarcastic, with a generous dollop of black humour.

trakMARX - Who did each group member pretend to be when posing about in front of the mirror with a tennis racket as a youth?

Steve - Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols. I particularly enjoyed ‘pretending’ to get sucked off behind my amp.

Pete Devine – Naturally, it would be ‘air drums’ as far as I'm concerned. In which case there can be only one: Animal.

Phil Laycock – I never really pretended to be anybody else - I was always happy being myself. However, I did used to play guitar in front of the mirror, because I’m vain!

trakMARX - Vicious Cabaret formed a brief 12 months ago 'via the miracle of the internet'. How else has the world wide web changed the way a modern rock n roll band operates?

Steve - I'm not sure how it's changed the way bands on major labels operate, but I think it's been an enormous help to underground bands. Anything you might possibly want people to know about you can be uploaded onto a website, accessible to anyone, whereas before you had to rely on other people writing stuff about you. You can keep in regular contact with people via online newsletters for next to nothing, whereas before you'd have had to spend time and money printing up newsletters, stuffing them into envelopes, etc. We've been able to reach people via the Internet who probably would never have heard of us otherwise; and similarly, we've all discovered great bands who have never appeared in print.

As regards distributing recordings, the Internet has got a way to go before it completely undermines the conventional music business. But all good things come to those who wait.

trakMARX - What publications do Vicious Cabaret employ to 'keep up' with developments on 'the street'?

Steve - Well, apart from your good selves, there are various web 'zines we read - and are good for new bands, and has a healthy sense of irreverence, to name a few.

As far as print magazines go, personally speaking there aren't any I read religiously - RockSound is one of the better mainstream magazines, but that's not saying much. The Wire's good for more avant-garde stuff, but it costs a lot so I always read it in the shop.

To be honest with you, I don't read that many music-orientated 'zines any more, because frankly most of them just ape the style and tastes of the mainstream. Rather than trying to establish a true alternative scene, the people writing for them seem like they're just waiting for that call from NME or Kerrang! The same as independent labels - whereas the original idea was to circumvent the mainstream, now the indie sector seems like little more than a test bed for the majors.

Plus, there is more important shit going on in the world. I spend more time reading stuff like,, and They might not say an awful lot about music, but then most music doesn't say much about the world right now. Right-wing lunatics trying to take my rights away are of slightly more concern to me than some showbiz ligger's Top Ten Records Of The Year.

trakMARX - Your press release hints at a dark sense of self depreciating humour running through the middle of Vicious Cabaret. What/who makes you laugh - & why?

Steve - As you might guess, I like satire - well-aimed, venomous barbs of pure spite! Jello Biafra's lyrics I've always found hilarious. And I still think one of the funniest writers I've ever read is Hunter S. Thompson – no one captures the 'bad craziness' of our epoch with more malignant humour.

As to why - well, a lot of the time, if you didn't laugh you'd fucking cry, right?

Phil – Bill Hicks – way ahead of his time.

Pete - Things that you’re not really supposed to laugh at. Black humour. I like to see how far I can push people before they say ‘You're not allowed to say that!’ That's like dangling the carrot before the horse.

trakMARX - As the guitar group frenzy of the 'Great Garage Scare of 2001 (copyright Mike Stax @ Ugly Things)' begins to subside, how do Vicious Cabaret interpret the contemporary rock n roll landscape & their own chances of success?

Steve - Well, if you haven't been invited to the party it doesn't really matter whether they're jiving to rock, techno, or Bavarian Oompah bands. But the question is, would you even want to go? The reality of the music business is so repellent, its sensibilities so at odds with the values that made you want to be in a band in the first place, it's hard not to question your sanity for even wanting to be a part of it.

The reason we all continue to do it is because, if you can ignore all the shit about market trends and units and demographics, there's still something innately inspiring and uplifting in creating and listening to music. It's the middle men - all these fucking parasites who make their living off the surplus value generated by the simple act of a bunch of people making music and another bunch of people listening to it - that have made it such an unpleasant, skin-crawling experience. Unfortunately, unlike in Douglas Adams' imagination, these worthless turds have yet to be blasted off into space.

As far as success goes, it might sound like some kind of dubious new age platitude, but success is just enjoying what you do. And I get inordinate pleasure out of telling people how fucked they are, whether they want to hear it or not! I guess I'm just not a very nice person.

trakMARX - You appear to have a healthy disgust for all things DJ. Do you apportion any blame to 'deck-sterility' for the piss poor state of the UK rock n roll scene?

Steve - I don't deny there is a skill involved in DJing, but it does seem absurd that you get these 'superstar DJs' making more in one night than the people whose records they play probably make in a year.

I'm not down on dance music either, per se - fifteen years ago the rave scene was the just about the most rebellious thing going on. But its claims to subversion are long past their sell-by-date. Now, with the return to dominance of the Great British Town Centre Meat Market, the utopian new psychedelia of the Ecstasy evangelists is but a fading memory; and the drug itself is starting to look more and more like Soma.

And before all those dewy-eyed Hacienda casualties chirp in - yeah, I know rock music isn't really offering much in the way of subversion at the moment, either. Everyone is too worried about getting blackballed by Clear Channel, or whoever. But in both cases, it's the content, not the style, which is at fault.

trakMARX - Your excellent debut recording are available via your website, are there any plans afoot for a traditional debut 45?

Steve - Yeah. Regardless of who actually makes it, or how it's distributed, it's still nice to have a physical thing with your music on, rather than a bit-stream.

We've been talking to a few labels, but we're keeping our options open for the time being. We may just release it on our own imprint, unless someone bribes us with hard drugs and promises they know they can't keep. We are all prostitutes, and we all have our price… (hey, hey – evrything’s for sale, baby! – Sub Kid Ed)

trakMARX - What are Vicious Cabaret planning next in their quest for world recognition?

Steve - Maybe a high profile political assassination. Even fucking Max Clifford couldn't beat that in terms of press coverage. We'd never get to enjoy the money our records would make from that kind of notoriety, of course. But by the time all the middle-men have taken their slice, how would that be any different from being on a major label?

The Katestar – tMx 14 – 04/04

contact - Punk Rock …and Roll