Jody Wildgoose

words: Jack Tractor

pics: Tracey Welch

April 2003

S007

An acoustic night at The Grapes and there's a singer on the stage struggling to remain on his stool. It's not a technical fault; the stool is perfectly well balanced. The singer, on the other hand, isn't. Perfectly, comfortably, genially pissed he starts his songs, gets halfway through them and murmurs 'that's too gloomy - so's that - and that one….' After quarter of an hour or so he apologises and wanders off to the bar.

The funny thing is that the audience aren't disappointed at not getting their full 20% of a couple of quid but because the songs he was aborting were a bit better, that really important bit better than you'd expect or perhaps deserve for 40p. That's Jody Wildgoose.


Sandman's heard a few stories since - current favourite being the one where Jody turned up very early for a gig at The Broadfield, nipped off to a mate's house to pick up his guitar and blithely returns to the pub just as he's due to go on. Minus guitar. That said you won't hear a bad word said about him. The consensus seems to be that he's a nice shambles of a man with a serious talent. Sandman was looking forward to meeting him.


Go to www.knowhere.co.uk  and there's a list of Sheffield local heroes which includes buskers and this, brief, entry, ‘[go to] the Underpass going under Arundel Gate, the bloke from Various Vegetables plays there...' When we find Jody in The Brown Bear he's rolling cigarettes and his battered old classical guitar is propped up in the corner much like an old man's walking stick in this old man's pub (when we adjourn to the beer patio there's an old fella cheerfully pissing into the flower pots 'Orreight lads…')

Jody is the bloke from the Various Vegetables, the band he played bass in for a few years in the early 90s, rattling around in transit vans and supporting the likes of Ned's Atomic Dustbin and Pulp. Like Pulp they were signed to WARP’s offshoot Gift. Surprisingly he's not very old. Twenty-five.

"I've been doing this since I was 11," he says, "I was in a single parent family and Mum sent me to a Steiner school [a liberal educative system based on a mix of spirituality and creativity] but I left schooling when I was 12."

He's good company, Jody, and an interesting drinking companion. From the stories you might have wondered if he was, perhaps, a bit slow. Not so. He's bright and sharp, particularly where his talent and his future are concerned.

"Bill Drummond from the KLF said you've got to be on the dole if you want to be a rock star," he says (referring to 'The Manual: The Easy Way to Have A Number One.) "and I got run over when I was 19. I was drinking too much in the hope that women would feel sorry for me and we went to see a dub band at The Boardwalk where I'd made this enormous spliff and I got run over. I just see it as a mistake and we all make mistakes, don't we? Anyway I thought if it's a choice between dying rich or dying poor then it's got to be rich hasn't it? I just want to be rich. Does that make me sound like a knobhead?" Oddly, it doesn't. Musicians are competitive as fuck - it's what makes music great, the drive to distance yourself from your peers but they’ll often go to lengths to assure that they’re not. Jody’s the kind of bloke who’ll admit to making music because, along with all the other things “it makes me cool.” He puts it nicely when sandman suggests the music industry is a compromising business. “To not be touched by the things we have to do,” he offers.

He doesn't riddle around throwing out obscure influences to suggest credibility. He seems pretty straightforward - guilless even and admits that when his old band was interviewed the singer did all the chatting and that he’s still getting up to speed with all this kind of thing.

His conversational straightforwardness is apparent in his lyrics too. His girlfriend’s called Wendy Bell and he’s written a song to her called... Wendy Bell. “There’s a line in it that goes ‘she’s my best and only friend.’ He seems to have the knack for making the simplest things sound right. His song Morning Time contains the line ‘It’ll all be fine / In the morning time’ and the way he sings it you believe him.

Things seem to be coming together very nicely at the moment. He’s got a great band together, old mates mainly and his first EP is out in May. It's a lovely thing - crafted, highly melodic with slight acid trails just blurring the edges.

Candidly he cites his influences as "drugs - Jimi Hendrix saved me from a bad mushroom trip when I was young, and other music, The Clash, Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, John Otway, love songs that are seriously honest. At the same time he admits to a liking for "sarcasm, dry wit and rudeness. I want us to get a bit more punk rock, big guitars and get in people's faces more. I'm obsessed with Eminem at the moment. My girlfriend is into serial killers like Ed Gein (It should be noted that she studies criminology) and we first spotted him when he was getting onstage with a chainsaw. He's good as well though." A fondness for the Butthole Surfers suggests Jody won't be content with simply writing and singing songs with that deceptively lazy voice and sandman suspects a strong streak of anarchy in the man - a particularly English, soulful anarchy.

If he gets rich what’s the plan? “I think I’d like to live out in the countryside, somewhere with canals and locks. I’d wander round in battered old clothes. Like a cooler Richard Briers.”

Several hours of beer have been necked and we adjourn to The Dizzy Club at The Boardwalk - Jody decides to go via the Underpass to see if he can bless a few luck passers by with his songs and get some more beer tokens in return. Later that evening the last we see of the cheerfully sozzled singer is him heading off to Ridimtion to carry on the night.

The next morning, Joolz, Boardwalk licensee, rings Sandman. "Jody thinks he left his guitar here last night. Have you seen it?"

Jody’s Misty Morning EP will be out on May 12th on Mother Goose Records. Look out for a live Sandman session.

www.jodywildgoose.com

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