Six Inch Killaz: Shoot to Kill #7

Nux Vomica @ 333, 19 Feb 1998
↑ Mona's flyer for Nux Vomica at 333, Feb 19th 1998. My favourite Killaz flyer.

Miss K says

Here we are then. The previous instalment is where I'd got to when I pulled the plug on my previous blog. So from now till the end of the story it's all new stuff. As such it hasn't been through the fact checking filter of having been read by the likes of Luis and Mona. If I get shouts from them or anyone else with corrections or disagreements, I will, as in past instalments, add them. So email me if you have stuff to add!

Updated 2nd May 09 with some comments from Luis

Part 7: Another day in which to get lost

Wayne had almost finished us off.

He'd come in, promised us the world and all its riches and delivered next to nothing useful - in the first three months, he said he'd do the following:

  1. Stickers, posters and other promotional material (immediately)
  2. Launch single (a double-A 7" of P.I.G. and Trashola with an edition of 500 individual artwork sleeves in September 97)
  3. The single to be launched at a premiere of the Trashola film at The Scala with us headlining a gig afterwards
  4. A programme of high profile gigs starting in September alongside the launch campaign on radio, TV, press.

In fact, our association had pretty much ended by the end of August 1997. He was supposed to show us the final cut of the film in September but that never happened. He arranged some more filming with us in September too, but cancelled at the last minute. We never saw him again, the final small pieces of "business" in October (the belated Trashola screening at the tiny Rheingold club in Soho and the Ritual photoshoot and interview) being handled by his lackey Dave Edmunds.

Luis says

I didn't think The Rheingold was SO tiny; it was the venue for the WayOut club for a while, remember! Not a patch on the Scala, though... I did meet Wayne once or twice by myself, and he admitted to me he didn't have the cash to do the stuff he'd planned! I offered to put up £1300 I had saved, so that we could release the single etc., but I couldn't seem to get him inarrested... :p

Miss K says

Fair point on The Rheingold. I had it mixed up in my head with the St. Moritz. Which really *is* bijou.

The end result of Wayne's period as manager saw the band in tatters and the cracks that led us to fall apart firmly in place. Jasmine was in the grip of the early stages of heroin addiction, with Luis increasingly in tow. This was alienating her closest friend, Holly, with whom only two years before, she'd shared an almost spookily symbiotic relationship. Mona was almost permanently in a state of anger, the Wayne betrayals affecting her the worst.

Meanwhile I was becoming increasingly distant from the band, outwardly due to external commitments, but perhaps in reality somehow trying to shield myself from the increasing chaos.

Ironically then, but perhaps inevitably given the random veerings of five drag queens on the verge of rock n roll chaos, we immediately swung into the busiest time of our collective life. After half a year of aimless wandering, Six Inch Killaz were about to become a working band again.

How, you ask?

What I remember is that we'd spent the autumn and winter of 1997 doing almost bugger all. As you recall, the gigs had dried up due to Wayne taking over the 'booking' role and then not delivering any bookings. Since then, aside from the Ritual shoot and the photoshoot and screening at the Rheingold, I had hardly seen any of the others for months. I couldn't even stay for the screening as I had to be somewhere else.

Towards the end of the year though, I think we began to miss it. I seem to recall that we had a string of phone conversations discussing getting together again, almost in terms of 'reforming'.

Mona was reluctant, feeling that the thing had run its course. Luis was typically insistent in the opposite direction. Of Jasmine and Holly's motives I'm less sure though access to money to buy drugs was probably somewhere on the thoughts of the former while perhaps Holly harboured hopes, still, of reuniting with the Jasmine of old, with whom she'd been so close. I dunno, it's all conjecture. I just missed it and was happy to try afresh.

The Season of the Bitch

Whatever the reason, we found ourselves getting together again in December, first at a nostalgic band night out at The Way Out, which had changed too, like us, now occupying its new, hard, shiny businesslike surroundings in the Minories, an almost featureless conduit of a street linking Aldgate with Tower Hill. It remains there today.

Luis says

Re: the WayOut - I remember we did a second gig at a fetish night the WayOut held in late 97 - can't remember exactly when, though...

The new beginning was also marked by an increasingly strong association with a group of people with whom we'd started to get closer and closer over the past year or two.

Mona and I would have conversations later where we'd agree that the support and love we got from the people who formed the band The Cheetahs and their tight circle of friends pretty much insulated us from falling apart. They probably gave us back the extra year of life that Wayne had tried to take away from us.

We met them at clubs like Alcohol at Charlie Wrights in Shoreditch and Club Kitten in Whitechapel, but our lives centred around a club night called Kitsch Bitch, which started off at PoNaNa on Highbury Corner, under the Famous Cock (now the Buffalo Bar and still a regular haunt of mine) then moved to Madam JoJos in Soho and a semi-legal, unlicensed space called "Pluto's Underworld" in Hoxton.

Kitsch Bitch
↑ Kitsch Bitch. Show your tits.

Kitsch Bitch was founded and run by Rob Mune, guitarist and frontman of The Cheetahs, and his partner at the time, Wendy. Remember, this is back in the late nineties, when musically, London was in a big shitheap of a doldrums; no one knew if Britpop had finally died a smelly, unloved death and we weren't to know that we'd have to wait a couple of years for a bunch of American bands from Detroit and New York to bring back guitar based rock n roll, so Rob and Wendy and a bunch of others just went ahead and created their own scene, centred around the club, which lurched unsteadily around London creating a stink wherever it went.

Kitsch Bitch was great. Amid a freewheeling sonic backdrop of the best rock and roll, soul, cabaret, hard rock, punk, whatever, a bunch of people who just didn't give a fuck gathered to have fun and make of themselves whatever they wished. Rob used to say that Kitsch Bitch was never planned. It just happened. It was inevitable. There was a looseness about the place. The slogan was "Kitsch Bitch. You won't like it".

In a very true sense, it could be said that the Kitsch Bitch scene invented the "style" of today's Hoxton and Shoreditch. The DIY fashion that the Bitchers wore, with the clashing colours, artificial fabrics, assymetric haircuts and drainpipes and skinny jeans is now a familiar sight on high streets around Britain. There were a couple of skinny bi girls, Billy and Jessica, who used to ride Chopper bikes to (and in) the club and would shambolically DJ and swear at people (they were known, of course, as "The Chopper Girls"). I reckon they invented that whole electroclash look.

But there was none of the related irony about the place. The Shoreditch scene of today is depressing because of its archness. It's an unpleasant, sneering, ironic nihilism, epitomised by the likes of Vice Magazine and their boozer, The Old Blue Last. The Kitsch Bitch scene was the opposite. It was real, genunine, passionate and enthusiastic. When DJ Danny Dogfood put our anthem, Joan Jett's I Love Rock 'n' Roll on at the club, the place would go mad. It was as heartfelt and authentic an experience as the posturing of today's Hoxton crowd is shallow, pretentious and crass.

Kitch Bitch promo shoot, 1998Kitsch Bitch - You won't like it
↑ (l) Kitsch Bitch promo photo feat. Jasmine, Gavin Cheetah and friend. (r) "you won't like it"

It was the most influential musical and social scene in town for a while. Sadly the style survived but the substance leaked away. Rob once wrote a great page about the Bitch on his band's website. It's gone now but can be found through the wonders of the Wayback Machine. I advise you to read it.

The Cheetahs (now based in LA as The King Cheetah) were the "house band". This three piece was the angriest, sexiest, most incendiary sound you'll ever hear in a small room full of drugged, drunken people. If they were around in the UK now, I reckon they'd be huge, but London just wasn't ready back then, when fucking Toploader was the most 'exciting new band' around. Songs like "No No No", "Business is Business" and "Cruel Britannia" were like anthems to us.

These friends of ours rescued Six Inch Killaz, reeling from Wayne induced disappointment, and made us feel welcomed and re-energised. We found a happy home in the Kitsch Bitch family and played some great gigs to people who weren't frightened of us. If the Cheetahs were the house band, we were the outhouse band. Our course over the next year and a bit was closely twined, from many many joint gigs to recordings and other plans, none of which would quite gain fruition.

But I think it's fair to say that our loose association with The Cheetahs and Kitsch Bitch was far more effective in moving us forward than Wayne's incompetent fuckups ever could have been.

From a horse to a tiger to a crocodile

Having decided to get together again, it became important to mark the reboot by writing some new stuff.

Mona wrote relatively little in this period. It's probable that she was the most fatigued of us all with the conflicts and infighting and this must have dented her creative output.

Nevertheless I remember a couple of great songs. Schizoid, co-written with Jasmine, is possibly my favourite Six Inch Killaz song. It's a simple and brutal beat and riff driven piece which sees the band reduced pretty much to a duo of Mona and Jasmine. It was so perfect that there certainly wasn't any room for a second guitar. I was happy to take off my ax and contribute some weird wah-wah backing vocals inspired, no surprise, by Mark E. Smith.

Jasmine's lyrics bludgeon the listener with the idea of the multiplicity of identities worn by rootless people like ourselves. The imagery of the central refrain is memorable.

Schizoid personality

Just a different side to me

For a moment for a while

From a horse to a tiger to a crocodile

Schizoid survives as a (particularly fine) four track recording.

Meanwhile, the prophetically titled End Times was a paradoxically uplifting piece of punked up gloom with a Cramps-esque bottom-E lead line which I added after a few rehearsal run-throughs. It was, along with the Manson Family inspired White Is the Fear, which I wrote with Jasmine a few months later, one of a duo of millennial apocalyptic usherings that gave a dark feel to our later sets. Sadly, it's one of a few Killaz songs which don't survive in any form whatsoever.

In the absence of Mona's writing, I took on more of a responsibilty in that department. A lot of late songs were mine, either co-written with Jasmine, or on my own.

Having had a near miss with oblivion, I considered it particularly important that we didn't squander this second lease of life, so I think I put particular effort into the songwriting. Looking back at the batch of songs I wrote at the time, I think it's clear that I was, at least subconsciously, trying to write 'hits'. Songs with pop hooks that were a bit more crafted and commercial than those I'd written to date.

There were misfires. Legend of Love (and Kisses) was a meandering Northern Soul inspired mess and The Beauty Pages had a great chunky main riff but again failed to go anywhere. Neither of these survive as recordings, but unlike End Times, they're not missed.

One evening at York Way Court, probably in December, I think, I was leafing through Jasmine's latest A4 pad of lyrics and some words caught my eye. The song was called "In a Velvet Underground" and featured some rather lovely imagery of the doomed life and times of Warhol Factory Superstar Edie Sedgwick. I particularly liked the opening verse, with its bleary invocation of a morning after the excess before, and on the whole it's a beautiful set of words. Jasmine's best:

Rock n Roll soundtrack playing in her head
Opens her eyelashes to a dirty-stained bed
Another day in which to get lost
Stole a kiss from the sun 'cause the moonbeams are gone

She's moving to the pop art sound
Superstar of the year
In a velvet underground

Poor little rich girl hitting the scene
Baby faced charmer, a cameraman's dream
Leopardskin fur coat over trackmarks and glitter
Loves to be loved, it's an oncoming pleasure

She's moving to the pop art sound
Superstar of the year
In a velvet underground

Party to party she is never coming down
Cover to cover, she's the hottest news in town

Socialite, debutante, breathing glamour and fame
A walking time bomb, mascara in the rain
She's shaking she's twisting, she's electric tonight
Beauty that blinds, femme fatale of the moonlight

She's moving to the pop art sound
Superstar of the year
In a velvet underground

"I'm having that", I thought, and went away and wrote some music to play to the others the following week.

The resulting song, Superstar, is unusually midtempo, melodic and romantic for Six Inch Killaz. Like I said, I think I was trying to write a hit and I was inspired by Jasmine's words of fatalistic romance. Pitched somewhere between the lyrically namechecked Velvet Underground and Ziggy / Mott the Hoople era glam rock, it was immediately taken to by the rest of the band and we started to rehearse it a lot. Along with Schizoid and my later composition Seventeen, these were a trio of songs that formed the core of the final year's setlists, along with standards like P.I.G., Trashola and Jackie.

LISTEN: Superstar / Schizoid / Velcro

These are all rough four track cassette tape recordings made at our rehearsals. This is the only surviving recording of Schizoid, so it's a good thing it's a cracker. Superstar was recorded many times and these two self-recorded demos are probably the best. The first is an early demo and its rough and spirited with a belting vocal by Jasmine in Mick Jagger mode. We gradually bevelled the rough edges off the song to its detriment. The second arrangement was an improvised attempt at a Velvet Underground third album "closet mix" style version. It goes a bit off the rails half way through but I think it's rather nice. Velcro is a short song we all enjoyed playing because it was so stupid and quick. Any similarities to "Psychomafia" by The Fall are purely, er, coincidental...

  • Play Schizoid (Jasmine / Mona) 1.52 4 track demo recorded at Essex Road, Sept 1998
  • Play Superstar (4-track version) (Jasmine / Miss K) 3.56 4 track demo recorded at York Way Court, Feb 1998
  • Play Superstar (quiet version) (Jasmine / Miss K) 4.30 4 track demo recorded at Essex Road, July 1998
  • Play Velcro (Miss K) 1.38 4 track demo recorded at Essex Road, Sept 1998

All songs Copyright Control © 1994 - 2009 Six Inch Killaz.

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Where's me fookin' money!

Rivoli Ballroom, 18 Mar 98
↑ Awwww! Holly and Luis at the Rivoli Ballroom, March 18 1998.

As 1998 rolled round, we started finally looking for live bookings again. The Hoxton scene, willed into life by the Kitsch Bitch / Alcohol crowd and various wastrels, vagabonds, music scene outsiders and artists, was really starting to hit its stride back then and Shoreditch was full of new semi-legal warehouse venues in the shells of empty clothes factories and the like.

It was far from the vapid new media "Soho East" that it is today. More like East Berlin post reunification. It was great!

So two of our next three gigs were in Hoxton. The first, in February was at 333, a vast, multifloor squatted space on Old Street (now a legit music and club venue, where Deathline are playing next on 6th May, fact fans!) which was known back then as the venue for random, ecletctic nights of artistic violence. We were invited to play there at Nux Vomica, a night of burlesque, cabaret, performance art, music and movies that, I recall, seemed to go on for about a fortnight. Mona's lovely "comeback" flyer for this night, which you can see at the top of this piece, still makes me smile.

Luis says

Nux Vomica was run by Martin Jacques' (of The Tiger Lillies) wife Sophie Seashell. Martin was a big Killaz fan.

333, was the last time we played the old, 1997 set, I think, and the next gig, an art student's birthday party at the ridiculously beautiful and huge Rivoli Ballroom in Brockley, South London was where we started introducing the new material. Jasmine and Holly weren't too hot on Superstar yet so I remember having to sing it myself. It was actually quite busy, but the Rivoli, a stunning turn of the 20th Century dancehall beloved of pop video and commercials producers, is so big that the event seemed swamped by its grandeur. Great to play there though.

We'd rehearsed a lot more by the time we played a night back at Alcohol in Hoxton, where we hooked up again with the Kitsch Bitch crowd. This was a really fun gig I remember, and Superstar was done proud by Jasmine belting it out for the first time live.

Alcohol @ Charlie Wright's - May 98Alcohol @ Charlie Wright's, 3 May 98 Alcohol @ Charlie Wright's, 3 May 98Alcohol @ Charlie Wright's, 3 May 98
↑ Alcohol at Charlie Wright's Shoreditch, May 3 1998.

After the gig, I recall being amused by a blind drunk Jasmine tottering around in a furious rage, demanding "where's me fookin' money!" in the broad Lancashire accent which booze and anger brought out. Having got paid, she promptly vanished into the night to score. We didn't see her for days.

Things were changing. And the changes were about to pour in, thick and fast.

Miss K says

NEXT TIME: Another TV appearance, Six Inch Killaz' only gig outside London, and finally, a single release? Things move quickly as the End Times Roll...

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