Masters of mayhem [dweeb] tallk to Mike Rimmer
On a quiet, unassuming terrace in the heart of Coventry, who would know that one house contains the four members of a band whose music breathes hope into the heart of this music critic? Of course, there are some clues! I mean the poster where singer Timothy Alford is offering drum lessons is a bit of a give away and there's the poster for the tour they'd just completed with the now split up steve (RIP). But apart from that. who would guess that from the unassuming streets of Coventry would come [dweeb].
Alford lives there with bassist Matt Donald, drummer David Ashford and mysterious guitarist The Badgerman. "First name 'The', surname 'Badgerman'", he deadpans when I ask for his full name. Though I suspect he's really called Gareth. Although Tim suggests that he got the name because his dad was a badger and his mum was a man. "It's just simple genetics really," he offers.
Badgerman himself explains, "You know how Batman has two identities? It's like that because I've got quite a lot of similarities to Batman - Badgerman / Batman.erm. they sound the same.erm. they both have a 'B' at the start." Alford jumps in, "He's a superhero!" The Badgerman continues, "I wheel my amps into a telephone box, spin them round really fast." Is it just me or wasn't that Superman who used to do the telephone box trick? Shouldn't Badgerman have a cave or a set somewhere?
So, the four members of [dweeb] live in a house together or at least they do for the moment until wedding bells will sweep two members away. By day, they do a variety of part time jobs and look after the management of the band but by night they rock out! I feel a bit like American music critic John Landau who in the mid '70s saw Bruce Springsteen and declared "I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen." Because after watching [dweeb] play live, I feel like declaring, "I've seen the future of British Christian rock and its name is [dweeb]." And you can quote me on that!
The band met at Nexus Academy Of Music Ministry in Coventry and began gigging in March 2003. Originally intended only as a college project, the band felt God leading them to stay together when their time at Nexus was complete. I first heard them when they released their debut EP 'This Is Not Our Shed' and invaded Rimmerama for a rather random evening. "Fondue" became one of my favourite songs and like much of [dweeb]'s music, required a little interpreting to understand what Tim was going on about. He explains, "It's the eternal story really of how Satan defied God, got kicked out of Heaven and then the story goes on from there, of how God has the victory ultimately." So the 'cheese monster' is Satan then? "Indeed. That's right. And he tries to blind you from the truth that is God - you see? And that's the 'taking the eyes' thing." See, it all makes sense doesn't it? Wait until we get to "Pirate + Copse = Quandary" though!
After the release of 'Moose Moose Moose Chicken Moose' in 2005, the band began to make lots of friends on the tour with steve towards the end of the year. The band's website contains some very entertaining video tour diaries that seem to involve a lot of trouble with their transport. Their car is called Jabba after the Star Wars character "because it's big," explains Matt. And of course, the trailer which stores all their equipment is called Salacious Crumb, "who was the Jester of Jabba's Palace," Tim explains helpfully.
One thing you notice immediately about [dweeb] is just how talkative they are. Most bands have one or two members who could blab for England and normally the drummer and bassist sit glumly through interviews. Not [dweeb] though! They all chip in with intelligent comments and plenty of humorous asides. The band does seem to have a rather surreal Pythonesque sense of humour which is shared by all members. Badgerman observes, " We were very similar when we met and that's probably why we ended up starting a band together. We were actually friends before the band."
At this point Dave protests that because he was late arriving at Nexus, the rest of the band had another drummer originally. "He was having an operation," says Badgerman ominously. Tim stage whispers, "He just had his appendix out." Dave is clearly traumatised not from the op but the fact that they formed the band when he wasn't there. However Dave's devotion to the band meant that he soon took over the drum stool from the wonderfully named Andy Balls who, frankly, wasn't that interested in being in the band. Lucky Dave!
It's autumn 2005 and I'm the MC for a gig at Nexus featuring Quench, Kato, Replenish and [dweeb]. As the theme from Grandstand belts out through the speakers, Dave the diminutive drummer bounds onto the stage dressed in a full Superman costume. To this day, I'm not sure why, but it is entertaining! The band are on home territory in front of a partisan crowd and feed off their energy to deliver a short, sharp, blistering set.
One highlight is "Pirate + Copse = Quandary" with its Rage Against The Machine style breakdowns. I've been playing this song to death for months on Rimmerama because I cannot get the "I'm a pirate, I'm a pirate" refrain out of my head. Whenever I play the song on the radio, I will always get a few emails that immediately ask, "what's that song about?" Until now I have always said, "I have no idea! But it's good isn't it?" Now face to face with the band I have the opportunity to ask lyricist Tim Alford what is going on. "It refers to how we're all created for a relationship with God. That's our purpose in life. So we've all got a God-shaped hole. But people that don't know God, they try and satisfy their reason for being alive and fill it with all kinds of rubbish. All kinds of things. But in fact there's nothing that will satisfy you except for God. So the shrubbery represents the God-shaped hole. And the pirate ship represents all of the rubbish that you try and fill your life with. But can you fit a big boat in the shrubbery? No you can't because there's no water. And if there is it's probably just a pond. And let's be honest, could you fit a pirate ship in a pond? No."
So where does the mallard fit in? "The mallard represents God," he says simply. The Badgerman is having a moment of revelation. "Ah! So that's what it means?! Oh that's going to help a lot!"
Walking around the band's house which doubles as an office, I see the wall planner already has plenty of gigs scheduled and, after their tour with steve, there is a definite buzz about them. Tim earnestly shares about the band's vision. "We just want to see God doing more through the band. More than we've seen. We want to see miracles and we want to see God really showing up at our gigs. We want to see people saved so God's challenging us with our lifestyle. We just want to be completely set apart for him. So that's what God is doing with us at the moment. We're sold out for God. We're just desperate for incredible things to happen for his glory in our ministry. That is the point of our band. So we're just really seeking God for that at the moment. We want Christians to get excited about God. We want to see healings at our gigs. We want to see 'signs and wonders.' We just really want to see God's Kingdom come at our gigs. That's where we're going hopefully."
When the band play live, their sense of fun and the passion with which they play is certainly infectious. Whether playing in a pub or a church, they are not shy about expressing their faith. "We make it clear what we're saying in between the songs. Or just in the fact that we're worshipping on stage. That's what we're doing. The reason our performances are crazy is because we're passionate about God. And when we're singing about God and playing for God that's what comes out. That's our expression of worship because we're just so in love with Jesus." Badgerman adds, "We usually end up closing our set with a song from the first EP, "Shine-O-Matic". The chorus of that pretty much sums up what we want people to take away from our live show. The chorus says, 'You are our everything, Jesus you are our everything.' I just find it impossible to play that song and stand still!"
Matt believes that what they are doing when they play pub gigs is radical because the band are making connections with their audience. "A lot of what we do is getting into places where people don't really know anything. And whereas we get away sometimes literally screaming 'JESUS!' in these venues, if you were to start off with that then you might just lose the audience straight away. There has to be point at which you have to draw them in before you can say, 'Actually, you know what? All these songs.what we're telling you about is about Jesus.' And if you were to start with something possibly as blatant as "Shine-O-Matic", then that might start to work against you because you might see them go into that mindset of, 'Oh they're Christians. I'm not going to listen to this.' Whereas what we want to do is draw them to us and then we want to say, 'You know what? All of this is about Jesus and this is why you need him. We'd love to chat to you about it afterwards.' So the point of all these crazy lyrics and stuff, it's all a way of drawing people in."
Showing page 1 of 2