I first met the rock n roll writer, and inter-planetory bass scaler, and transitory bed taker, Will Carruthers outside The Social after a Faber Social night – they published his book: Playing the Bass with Three Left Hands. I hadn’t read it fully, only the first few pages – which I didn’t like. I thought it was preamble, and uncomfortable, as it probably was, given the time he wrote it in. Or maybe I wasn’t in the right mood. Which is likely.
Carruthers swaggered up on stage, the pro, the showman, the bassist from Spacemen 3, my fave band, growing up, in acid. And did a killer recital.
I read the whole book, by page 16 I was addicted to his natural and beautiful voice, perhaps that is the privilege of notoriety, that it allows the other art to pull the consumer a little further through the lines … Playing the Bass with Three Left Hands is a beautifully told yarn. I finished it with total pleasure, will likely return to it – the problem, it is my problem, I thought, with labels, and categories, and divides. It’s a great book, and he’s brilliant at performing it. That is other level shit.
What became of this acceptance of talent is THE MOST ABSTRACT INTERVIEW CONDUCTED BY EITHER Kirsty Allison or EVER held by Will Carruthers … and the problem with doing an interview in Rough Trade East is the music is so fucking loud you can’t hear it when you listen back to the recording … so this is double-fragment – consider it cut and pasted in the best of Burroughs & Bowie-styles.
CL: I’ve had some of the best nights of my life listening to Spaceman 3…
WC: They didn’t get a Spaceman 3 book, though, did they?
CL: I’ve got Pat Cleveland in this issue – interviewed her the other day, she’s been a muse to Dali, all sorts, she’s a poet, I think she’s hung around so many famous talented people, it’s allowed her to be so creative.
WC: Does it rub off, hanging around famous people? [He looks at me, in doubt.]
CL: Yeah, in a sense, because it allows you to think at their creative heights, but that can be a restriction too, no?
WC: What, on the subconscious?
CL: Yeah, certainly in my experience. What about yours?
WC: The subconscious – can you catch it like herpes? Can you? Let’s let the reader decide…I don’t know about it, if you read a book, their subconscious, does it become yours? Does hanging around with poets make you a poet? I’m a good builder, hanging around with builders most of my life, that’s how I learnt to plaster, the subconsciousness of plastering…
CL: But if you’re working with the best in their field.
WC: You work in a house…
We diss journalism, the form. We pick up The 1975 interview from NME.
WC: Try interviewing me with these questions:
We do so: it’s trite (and inaudible).
CL *gets bored with the pop process*: How we gonna do this, abstract – or excerpt?
WC: ’ere have a look at her notes…they are abstract…
CL: You should see the editorial. It’s hard to know what to say, and what not to.
WC: You’ve got to be selective, you’re not going to take down the corporations, love them or hate them, how are you gonna take them, you’re gonna work for them…I like that the Super Furry Animals story about their song, Hello Sunshine, they turned down £1m from Coca Cola. I went into their dressing room, asked them about it, and the room went psycho. It wasn’t a unified decision.
CL: You like bookbinding.
WC: Yeah – I spend hours on it. It’s a pursuit of an ageing gentleman, it used to be all cocaine and bondage – but now I make books and then sell them on the internet – Japanese stab binding – that’s stitching. There’s a embroidery shop in Berlin, by Stargarder Straße, it’s run by two old ladies, and they have very good yarn.
CL: I like a good yarn
WC:You need good yarn for your yarnings. Wonderful words for writers: binding, spelling, yarns – it almost sounds like a magical pursuit, even prosaic…
CL: A beautiful mosaic
WC: Writing prose is dull, poetry is fun, because it taps into your subconscious. I don’t know about famous people though, whether they tap into your subconscious by hanging around them. […]
CL: What about singers and writers, the labels, how do we divide between them?
WC: I’m not keen on distinctions, because I am terrible dabbler, I like a dabble here and there, for the first thirty minutes of the day I’m a singer, in the morning, plasterer for a few hours, book-binder in the basement with the gimps, I’m into genre-hopping – if I just thought of myself as a plasterer, not a bass player…
WC offers snuff. We do that through our meeting. Questions arise, such as: which level of consciousness is acid on? He tells me: Most adults suck. I agree. There’s a period of gibberish.
WC: So it’s the intention of creation that creates it…
CL: I’m always looking for clarification, that’s what I do as a journalist, I ask questions, it’s a very insecure pursuit.
WC: I think, phonetically, you get the grasp… I make books in a cellar, I work with the gimps. The winters are long in Berlin…
CL: Your previous collections: Spoon for the Air, and Book of Jobs, what is it you like about poetry?
WC: There’s no expectation. It’s so open to interpretation, that’s why I love it. The intention of poetry is like homeopathy, it’s like you take the slightest sense and it gets magnified. Does homeopathy work? Is poetry a placebo? Does it work if you think it’s gonna? I think poetry grabs me in ways I don’t understand. I don’t know what makes a thing poetry, I can tell you it’s poetic, but it’s not neither rhyme, nor rhythm, nor reason. I’m into Pessoa at the moment – the most revered poet in Portugal, and they found suitcases of his work in different personalities, and gave them different names – and he did it from a child – and did it with different voices – speaking through him, and I like that about him. He writes about suicide as Alvarro De Campos, that’s my favourite – he was this funny guy, had a friendship with Crowley, very strange guy…I was at William Blake’s grave before I came here.
CL: My warehouse in the 90s was around the corner from there, in Old Street. I often stop at that little altar.
WC: But it’s not where he’s buried is it? They were stacked graves. Rich people on top… Unsurprisingly buried beneath the weight of his failed ambitions – it was his failing, like us all, to want to live forever.
WC: It all begins and ends with poetry. I love Annie Dillard [her collection:] Teaching A Stone To Talk, and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.
CL: What are you going to do next?
WC: My next book is on flowers… serious…I’ve had the best nights of my life on flowers…Mexican…flowers.
[Also – it’s Carr-others, not Carroooooouthers…]
This is an excerpt of ‘Will Carruthers, or the weirdest interview ever’, an article published exclusively in Cold Lips II. To read the full article, you can get hold of a full, limited edition copy in select shops or in our online store.