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By: Michael Lara
Tokyo, Japan

Poets, Pokemon® Curry and Comings & Goings
Tokyu Excel Hotel, Shibuya, Tokyo - March 17th, 2009

“You’ve done too much, much too young. Now you’re married with a kid when you could be having fun with me.”  Neither married nor with children and 30 years after this Jerry Dammers-penned SPECIALS classic, Aberdeen, Scotland’s Murray Macleod (vocals, guitar) and Jordan Smith (bass, vocals) alongside Exeter, England’s Tom Heron (drums, vocals) had all, just as themselves, having loads of fun at Creavtiveman’s British Anthems, Vol. 9 at Studio Coast.

Initially starting their band at 13, Brighton-based THE XCERTS have already done much, but would argue that in the past 3 years it’s not been done too young with so much more gloriously ahead.

Two days past their opening slot, these three amigos give a crow’s nest vantage point of their past, present and future, providing a palatial palette of color and contrasts on their life journeys thus far to savor:

Thirsty: Now you guys missed this, but a few weeks they had Whisky® LIVE! 2009. It’s the world’s largest 1-day whisky event and they gave all attendees this goodie bag chock full of stuff. Now, I’ve emptied it and replaced those items with all sorts of other treats inside for you three. So one by one, each of you will pull out something and the questions will run from there. Don’t worry, nothing dangerous.

Photo by Michael Lara
(click to enlarge)

Murray: Okay…
Tom: Choco Crunch (grinning wide).

Thirsty: Yes indeed and in a Band-Aid ® like tin too. Go for it if you’re hungry.

Tom: Let’s just see what they look like!
Murray: I’ve never seen them before.

Thirsty: Well, that penguin is popular for its use in the rail system’s adverts here.

Tom: (Chewing away) Huh, they’re kind of like Rice Krispies ® cakes.

Thirsty: Yeah-yeah-yeah.

Tom: Amazing.

Thirsty: So for you guys, what makes something crunchy? Whether a person or music?

Murray: Crunchy?

Thirsty: You know, what makes it hearty, believable?

Tom: What makes the music hearty?
Murray: I think passion.
Jordan: Yeah.
Murray: If someone is passionate about what they are talking about.
Jordan: Conviction.
Murray: You can see it as well. If someone is passionate… I mean it’s pretty easy to see pass the bullshit.
Jordan: Yeah.

Thirsty: Okay, the next one. Ah yes, it is St. Patrick’s Day and this is Kai Hai®. This is something I just stumbled upon. Combinations again. You have your Shandy’s and so forth and this is the Japanese version.

Photo by Michael Lara
(click to enlarge)

Murray: A Japanese Shandy?

Thirsty: Yeah, so you have sho-chu, which is like the Japanese vodka with beer.

Jordan: And that is Kai-Hai®?

Thirsty: Yeah.

Murray: Tastes alright?

Thirsty: Yeah-yeah-yeah.

Jordan: Beer with Japanese vodka. Wow…
Tom: Is it kind of like a Desperado? You ever had one?

Thirsty: I don’t know. No, no, never have.

Tom: It’s nice. It’s tequila and beer.

Thirsty: So for you guys, what’s your favorite combination?

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Jordan: Just in life, in general?

Thirsty: Yeah, in life, beverage, whatever…

Jordan: Two things that go together.

Thirsty: And brilliantly… I tried this the other day for the first time and I was impressed. So I went back to the store and interestingly, it’s half a booze shop and half a football (soccer) shop (all chuckling afterwards). It’s all filled with JFA (Japan Football Association) and the national team stuff on one side and a liquor shop on the other.

Murray: Oh, that’s good.

Thirsty: And that’s just one example.

Murray: Well then let’s go with Lennon/McCartney.
Jordan: Lennon/McCartney… I was going to say alcohol and literature. They compliment each other quite well.

Thirsty: Why do you think so?

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Jordan: Well, be it, you know, authors who are drunks.

Thirsty: Like Charles Bukowski?

Jordan: Well yeah (grinning).

Thirsty: Perhaps the most notorious…I write to drink (all laughing).

Jordan: Yeah. Or Joyce… Anyone-it spans the ages. Or the other side of it, you know, reading with booze works kind of well as well.

Thirsty: Okay, next one your turn.

Photo by Michael Lara
(click to enlarge)

Jordan: (reaching in) Ah…Grapes Of Wrath (1940)…with Japanese!

Thirsty: An epic movie from an equally epic book and kind of fitting for right now-everyone is freaking out with the world economy as such…

Jordan: Yeah (with both others nodding in agreement).

Thirsty: What for you has been the biggest conviction to do what you are doing? Was there something that you could think of when you first started off? People say, “You’re shite.”

Jordan: Well, that’s a big part of it. Like to come back against all the people that said you couldn’t do it and show them that you are actually doing it.
Murray: It’s the drive to make music. It’s what we love doing.
Jordan: Yeah and that part of it is self-centered. It’s there.

Thirsty: And something that I’d like to ask, since you started the band so young and you guys know, like the Stones said, “It’s marriage without sex.”

Jordan: Yeah.

Thirsty: Well, what made you bond and say, “We’re the Three Musketeers” and forget everyone else?

Jordan: (chuckling) I mean, association more than anything else. We went to school together. We grew up together. As friends in that sense you know. Best friends I guess.
Murray: Yeah, definitely.
Jordan: And there’s that association.

Thirsty: There was never any conflict over a girl? That’s never been a problem?

Jordan: No. It’s generally over money (cheekily grinning). Usually.

Thirsty: That’s good to know.

Jordan: No, we never had to worry about that.

Thirsty: Next! Ah you got the double bonus, nice one. Now that first one is a gift for you from Portland because that is a city that you definitely…

Photo by Michael Lara
(click to enlarge)

Jordan: Need to go too.

Thirsty: Yes.

Tom: Yeah, we do.

Thirsty: Now the next one is a movie companion book. With that said, what’s your best companion on tour?

Murray: Jack Kerouac for me.
Jordan: Alasdair Gray.
Murray: What’d you say?
Jordan: Alasdair Gray.
Murray: Oh, right… You’re laptop (looking at Tom)
Tom: Huh? Oh, maybe (grinning). Yeah, I read a bit, but it’s not normally like just one thing. It’s all sorts of stuff. I’m reading Truman Capote at the moment.

Thirsty: Which one?

Tom: In Cold Blood (1966).

Thirsty: What about when you’re back home or in the studio? Is it the same? We all have familiar habits you know.

Murray: For me, it’s my guitar back in Britain.
Jordan: My couch… Real solitude.

Thirsty: What color?

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Jordan: Brown.
Murray: (chuckling)

Thirsty: Is it a chocolate brown?

Jordan: It’s a chocolaty brown (proudly beaming). Got to get around the stains (smirking while all laugh).

Thirsty: A few throw pillows as well?

Jordan: I don’t have any. Not yet. My girlfriend has been hounding me for them.
Murray: So you have chosen your sofa over your girlfriend?
Jordan: Yeah! She’d be okay with that as well.
Murray: Yeah right.
Jordan: It’s more comfortable. Talks less (grinning as all chuckle). Let’s not list the reasons why my couch is better than my girlfriend in the actual interview. Let’s leave that out.

Thirsty: There’s always editing.

Jordan: You’re going to make it the fuckin’ headline aren’t you?

Thirsty: Oh, no-no-no-no. And you?

Tom: Ah, probably like, I like to draw, so my sketchpad or whatever. I like drawing people. I do like my contrasts in portraits.

Thirsty: Right on. Now lemme show you this before I forget… I was thinking you guys ought to play this next year (showing them the Whisky Mag LIVE! official program).

Jordan: Yeah!

Photo by Michael Lara
(click to enlarge)

Thirsty: Check out all of the sponsors.

Jordan: Scottish Development International.
Tom: How much do they give you each time?

Thirsty: Like a solid shot to a shot in a half.

Tom: Really?

Thirsty: Yeah and they make cautionary announcements every 30 or so to remind people to eat food and drink water throughout.

Jordan: Ah well, it’s just a guide. You don’t have to stick to it.

Thirsty: For sure and as I was saying, you need to play the 10th one next year.

Jordan: It would be closer to home and we do like whisky.

Thirsty: Okay, a couple more things here. Ah yes!

Jordan: Pokemon ® curry!?!
Murray: My God!
Tom: Curry for kids!

Thirsty: You know you’re going to make that when you go home.

Murray: Yeah. I’m going to cook a romantic dinner for my girlfriend and then get laid about maybe (all chuckling).
Jordan: That’s incredible! Wow.
Murray: Not too sure if it looks so good.
Tom: It’s in a box!        
Jordan: It’s made from him and her and him and her and…all the best bits-the ear, the rosy cheeks.
Tom: Yeah, chuck in a couple of those cheeks.
Jordan: Ah, that’s brutal.

Photo by Michael Lara
(click to enlarge)

Thirsty: Well now since you’re going to make this for your girl, what would be the best companion for this?

Murray: Ah, another meal (eyes rolling about with a big grin).
Jordan: Fucking cyanide capsules probably.
Murray: Ah…Um, some pineapple juice, with some rum.
Tom: It would compliment it well.
Jordan: I was going to say a merlot maybe.
Murray: I don’t know really what goes down well with this, maybe a strawberry milkshake or something.
Jordan: A Nintendo DS ® maybe…
Tom: (laughing) You can serve it on a nest!
Murray: Is it a hot curry?
Jordan: I guess so.

Thirsty: Not so hot.

Jordan: You steam the rice. You microwave the curry. You’re good to go. And then you have yourself a 4-hour session of… Well, Murray doesn’t take to curry so well.

Thirsty: Wait, wait-hold it up and imagine yourself saying, “Honey, look what I am making tonight.”

Jordan: Dinner is served (wide smile).

Thirsty: Okay, onto another food, do you guys like Mexican?

Jordan: Yeah.

Thirsty: Now this is another town you need to go to when you go to America. This is my college town of San Luis Obispo, right in the middle between LA and San Francisco and near the coast. This sticker is from the college radio station I worked at many years, KCPR, and this was our logo with cheese people sliding down a cheese grater. As you can see, some are fully shredded and others on their way.

Jordan: That’s so awesome!
Murray: That is awesome.

Photo by Michael Lara
(click to enlarge)

Thirsty: With our slogan being, “We Top Your Taco,” so what tops each of yours?

Murray: Lettuce is nice.
Jordan: I’m a balsamic vinegar kind of guy on anything. Just drizzle it carefully.

Thirsty: You better not cook with him.

Jordan: You cannot fuck about with Pokemon® curry.

Thirsty: What about you?

Tom: Uh, I like refried beans in tacos.

Thirsty: Now this is a towel a Japanese band I saw, Radio Caroline, was selling.

Tom: “Life is full of extremes. We have both.”
Jordan: That is so ace.
Murray: That is brilliant.

Thirsty: So my question to you is for your album, what would you say are the extremities of it?

Jordan: I’d guess the musical positivity versus the lyrical negativity of it you know. It’s pretty dark stuff that Murray talks about, but the music is pop music essentially. We’re playing pretty happy music.

Thirsty: With your song, “Just go home,” what makes you go home? What makes you leave home?

Murray: Go home from where? Anywhere?

Thirsty: Well, what makes you go, “Okay, that’s it. It’s time, you know.

Jordan: I think too much of something. Too much of something makes you want to go home and then when you’re there, too much of something makes you want to go back on the road because we live such fleeting lifestyles. You know, going from city to city every single night, we’re always kind of looking back somewhere. We’re never really planted in one place. So too much of one thing, you know, gives you that fidgety feeling, makes you want to move again. That’s the kind of touring lifestyle that we’ve tattooed on the back of our brains since 3 years ago.

Thirsty: Yeah, so it actually goes back to this (this towel).

Jordan: Yeah, extremes-Too much of something.
Tom: Yeah, you see, it’s like if I go home, I hardly stay a week. It always seems like a really good idea to go home, but then after a week I’m bored and want to go somewhere else and then go back to Brighton or go back on tour.
Jordan: Yeah.
Tom: We have a lot different homes. Brighton is one home and then there’s Aberdeen where these guys are from. I’ve been up there loads and loads of times.

Thirsty: But not on his couch right?

Tom: Well, I live with him and then there’s my home in Exeter which I come home to and back to Brighton.

Thirsty: And you?

Murray: I dunno… It’s really hard to explain. I just get that need to go home to see my family.

Whether you need to stay or go, THE XCERTS provide you a friendly port:

Photo by Michael Lara
(click to enlarge)émon



All opinions expressed by Michael Lara are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.

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