A Genuine Freakshow

Messed Up

Oh na-na, what’s my name?

DISCLAIMER: I have no problem with Rihanna, in fact I’m quite a fan.

Last week we had the honour of opening up for the legendary Wilko Johnson at The Lexington in Islington, London, as part of Word Magazine’s ‘A Word in Your Ear’ shows. It was a great night and we really enjoyed playing to a packed-out room.

This is one of a handful of London shows we are playing in advance of the next single from our album (‘Hopscotch Machine Gun Madness’, out 14th March!) and one of the aims of these shows is to invite some press and radio people to try and stir up some interest for its release.

Afterwards I had a slightly drunken conversation with our radio plugger  which basically went something like this:

Me: So how did it go, any chance of us moving beyond 6 Music with ‘Hopscotch’?

Him: Not if you keep writing singles with the word “fuck” in them!

Me: But we gave you a radio edit, which we had redone twice because the first attempt was still too sweary?!

Him: Yeah, but it’s implied.

Me: I think I need another drink…

(And for those of you who don’t know what a radio plugger is, it’s a PR person we employ to take our single physically into radio stations and put into the hands of DJs and show producers, talking us up about how great we are and why they should play it. Pluggers know the ins and outs of this nation’s radio stations probably better than the station bosses, so if you want to hit the big time, that personal touch and recommendation is crucial. It’s not unheard of, but it’s increasingly rare that DJ’s themselves just “discover” tracks these days…)

Anyway, after more chat, we were essentially told that BBC Radio 1 and 2 aren’t going to play anything that has even a hint of a swear word in it during the daytime. Now I know I don’t listen to Radio 1 and 2 that much, especially during the day, but I also don’t live with my head in the sand – doesn’t that song by Mumford and Sons have a nice big “fucked” in it? But they’re on a major label and they’ve sold a million records, so apparently it’s ok for them.

Anyway, our hands were tied, so cue massive panic and calling-in of favours that we are not really owed (big thanks to Ben and Mike!) and a hasty re-recording of what is now being called the ‘Messed-Up Edit’.

So we’ve been feeling a bit hard done by… until now that is! I have to say this article has just put a really big smile on my face: www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/feb/09/rihanna-bbc-radio-edit

Rihanna’s label, Island Def Jam, have sent a daytime radio edit of her new single to Radio 1, apparently without her knowledge. Brilliant. What’s even better is that they haven’t just edited out the expletives, they’ve also edited out any references to sex and whips. Fantastic!

She’s going to sell an obscene amount of records anyway, so I’m sure it won’t have to much of a detrimental effect on her, but it’s nice to think that she faces similar battles to us, albeit on a much different scale. I imagine she found out whilst eating canapés and holding her jewel-encrusted sceptre. I was drinking a pint of Carling and smoking a rolley outside the Lexington in the freezing cold.

Equilibrium? Perhaps not. Encouraging? Definitely.