Written by: Alex Green
Although it’s been over twenty years since they played together, Flesh For Lulu are back.
Equal parts goth, glam, rockabilly and punk, the Brixton outfit wrote one of the catchiest songs of the ’80s (“Postcards From Paradise”), were labelmates with Bauhaus on Beggars Banquet Records and toured the U.S. in 1987. But it was the infectious pop of “I Go Crazy” which helped the band reach a widespread commercial audience, thanks to its inclusion on the Some Kind Of Wonderful soundtrack. Singer/guitarist Nick Marsh’s delivery, which combined a lippy sneer with a seemingly endless supply of soaring pop hooks, made Flesh For Lulu’s songbook one of the more interesting collections of the era. From the dark swing of “Baby Hurricane” to the trashy New York Dolls howl of “1970 Feel Alright” Flesh For Lulu’s back catalog remains a timeless and compelling collection.
Flanked by a new lineup, a voice that sounds better than ever and some brand new material, Nick Marsh talked to Stereo Embers about reforming the band, writing new material and his most surreal rock and roll experience.
“A lot of shit’s gone down since the ’80s!” he laughs.
Long live the new flesh, indeed
Stereo Embers: First of all, welcome back!
Nick Marsh: Thanks, wow!
SE: Was the idea of reforming the band something you thought about for a while?
NM: I never thought about it ’till about a year ago when I was approached by someone from the USA who said we still get played on the radio a lot and they thought it would be fun to see us live.
SE: What can you tell us about the new lineup?
NM: Well, it’s hardly new, apart from Will Crewdson, who’s been with us about six months, Keith McAndrew (bass) and Bish (drums) have been around about 15 years from when we tried to get something going before, which never got off the ground due to my solo commitments.
SE: A lot of bands reform but, for a myriad of reasons, they’re hesitant to write new material. Are there a lot of ideas for new songs?
NM: There are so many ideas kicking around, stuff from way back and stuff that could never fit in with my solo material. The thing is, the chemistry’s right since Will completed the line-up.
SE: Hard question–how would you describe the new songs?
NM: Oh, that’s not a hard question at–all; unapologetically glam and all in the worst possible taste, Daahling!
SE: Flesh For Lulu were difficult to categorize–there were elements of goth, pop, glam and punk. Was this ability to reach a diverse fan-base something you were aware of?
NM: I’ve always worn my heart and my influences on my sleeve, especially now that I’m older and care not for ‘demographics’ and ‘markets’ and all that shit. It’s only rock’n’roll!
SE: At a party years ago, I declared that “Postcards From Paradise” was one of the most perfect songs ever written. Did you feel it stood out from the rest of your material?
NM: Kevin Mills came up with that tune and I recall thinking ‘This IS a perfect pop-song’ at the time. I got that same feeling doing it at Hammersmith 25 years later!
SE: You’ve played with the Urban Voodoo Machine for a while now–will any of that band’s elements show up in the new compositions?
NM: I’ve been playing/ writing/ recording with TUVM for 10 years now so that would probably go both ways–that’s what musicians do, morphing into each other and soaking up each others’ vibe.
SE: As a writer, do you find you have the same thematic impulses as you did when you were 25? Or do you feel a shift in your lyrical interests?
NM: Mmm, I can’t really remember what my creative impulses were but I’m sure my view of the world must have shifted–a lot of shit’s gone down since the 80’s!
SE: Tricky question–and a two parter: When Flesh For Lulu got going, you were young guys. Along the way, what was the best decision you made and what was the worst?
NM: It was the best and the worst decision to split with the old line-up; I might own my big house in the country if we’d stuck together, but I wouldn’t have done Gigantic (with Rocco ’97) or my solo record, which is the best work to date.
SE: How does it feel to step back in the ring? You must be terribly excited!
NM: Well, I never really stepped out of the ring, ’cause I’ve been up the with TUVM, but yeah, being center stage again is a fuckin’ blast. I really forgot the buzz of singing live with loud guitars–that’s the one right there!
SE: Any U.S. plans?
NM: We are talking to people who want to fly us out, but it’s really spendy touring there these days, so here’s hoping!
SE: What’s been your most surreal rock and roll experience?
NM: I could write a Fear and Loathing In Rock’n’Roll odyssey one day–there’s too many surreal fucked up stories. We’d have to sit and do stimulants or something for a couple of weeks to even touch the sides. Recollections are so random aren’t they?
SE: It’s late, maybe you’re up looking at old music clips on YouTube–what clip do you come back to the most?
NM: . I love watching old clips of Alex Harvey, Captain Beefheart–anything, just not my own stuff, not after walking into a hotel room and seeing yourself on MTV…Why would you ever need to see it again? I’d sooner just go out there and play it. Just for kicks…