Jarvis: 16 November 2008 - The Andrew Marr Show (TV)


  • Broadcast: 16 November 2008
  • Channel: BBC1

Interview with Andrew Marr.


ANDREW MARR: Now Pulp was one of the most popular and successful bands of the 1990s and its front man, Jarvis Cocker, was perhaps the most original writer and singer of what we call the Britpop era with hit songs like this.


ANDREW MARR: Well Jarvis Cocker's railed against careerist musicians obsessed with their record sales.

He says he just wants to know whether they've got anything to say and whether they are interesting. Well Jarvis Cocker still producing albums...

JARVIS COCKER: I've dug myself a hole there, haven't I?

ANDREW MARR: You've dug yourself a hole, Jarvis.


ANDREW MARR: You've got another, you're working on another solo album at the moment. The last one went very well indeed.


ANDREW MARR: When you're writing songs, you're looking for material and stuff, where is the material coming from because you know you're a bit older...

JARVIS COCKER: Oh, I'll take it from anywhere. I'm not fussy. (laughs) I think it has to come from your life. That's the thing. There's a Leonard Cohen quote, which, if I can remember it, is something like you know the art that you produce is like the ash that's left when the fire of your life is burning as it should. And I think that's it. I think any kind of creation has to be a by-product of what you do in your everyday life, you know.

ANDREW MARR: You've always been politically interested in the world around.

JARVIS COCKER: I'm very political.

ANDREW MARR: You've been up to the Arctic. It's a sort of strange system of taking writers and artists up to the Arctic to show them at first hand what global warming is really all about, is it?

JARVIS COCKER: Yeah, it's this organisation called Cape Farewell and I think they've been going for about five or six years. And, like you say, they take a mixture of writers, painters, musicians and stuff - take them up on the voyages around the Arctic Circle and kind of hope that in some way that's going to produce some work or whatever, which in turn will raise awareness of climate change. And I went on the last one, which was about a month ago.

ANDREW MARR: Did it have any effect on you?

JARVIS COCKER: Well, yeah. I mean whether I'm going to write you know my climate change symphony, I don't know, but it certainly...

ANDREW MARR: Because it is one of those issues that you know everyone's aware of. It's such a huge issue that people basically shrink from it. It's too big, it's too difficult.

JARVIS COCKER: Yeah, I know. Well this is why I wanted to go - because it's something that I've read about in papers or whatever, but I didn't really know that much about it and so I wanted some personal experience to identify with that thing. Because if you are going to write something, I think it has to be based on personal experience.

So I went. And also there were scientists on board, so I could speak to them. There were also people who live in Greenland. And for them, it's not... You know for us, climate change is still kind of an abstract concept, but for them... You know for instance in the winter now, they used to kind of you know go hunting on their dogs and sledges on sea ice. Well they can't do that now because the sea doesn't freeze, so you know global warming is actually having an effect on, has really changed their lives.

ANDREW MARR: What about the condition of Britain question? We were talking about the Baby P stuff earlier on. You've written lots of songs about urban life in Britain in the new album, the last album as well - a murder in Tottenham and so on. You're based in Paris these days. How much do you think you're really in touch with what's going on?

JARVIS COCKER: How could I have the temerity to pass judgement on Britain? Yeah, it's a good question. Well you know in a similar way to when I moved from Sheffield to London at the end of the 80s, in some way that made me write more explicitly about Sheffield because suddenly I had something to compare it to.

ANDREW MARR: You had a perspective.

JARVIS COCKER: Yeah. And so there's a little bit of that; that by moving to France and seeing their culture and the way that society works there is different, which you know even though geographically we're very near, the way they live is really different - so I guess that kind of just pointed certain things out to me.

ANDREW MARR: You mentioned Leonard Cohen and there seems to be something that's been happening in music over the last maybe ten years or so. There's a whole generation, yourself and others who've grown up writing more complicated... I mean pop music has now become quite complicated, quite dense.

JARVIS COCKER: Well, yeah, and we older performers...


JARVIS COCKER: ...are allowed to live on, which obviously I'm very happy about. (laughs)

ANDREW MARR: Yeah, yeah.

JARVIS COCKER: I don't know why that is. I mean as an art form, pop music is kind of middle-aged anyway, isn't it, because it's been around for fifty odd years...

ANDREW MARR: Absolutely.

JARVIS COCKER: ...so maybe it's natural that then it would start to deal with maturer subjects and stuff like that.

ANDREW MARR: And trying to sort of mix things up and keep it fresh. You're doing a new tour where you're going to try and talk. You're going to give little bits of lectures in the middle of a concert, which is high risk, is it?

JARVIS COCKER: I know. Yeah again I'm digging myself a hole with that, I think. The thing is I did a couple of lectures earlier this year and I kind of enjoyed it. I learnt how to use Power Point. Because we're doing a tour and I thought I've always spoken in between songs anyway and I just well maybe this would be a way to expand that in a way.

ANDREW MARR: What do you want to talk about?

JARVIS COCKER: Well, that's... Well the tour is partly you know me playing new songs, but also it's to celebrate thirty years of the Rough Trade record label, which is you know...

ANDREW MARR: One of the great record labels, yeah.

JARVIS COCKER: Well basically the first independent record label in this country, you know. So I think that's something worth kind of marking. So some of this stuff may refer to that, but I also hope to kind of maybe take photos in the various cities that we're playing in and maybe you know tailor something that's you know exclusive to that town. But I must point out that I haven't tried it yet. The first time I will try it will be when we're actually doing it, so it could all fall flat on its face.

ANDREW MARR: You've had a go at some of the sort of more commercial bands around at the moment, but it's still a music scene in this country where people can kind of rise you know the old way with a big, big fan base despite the Internet and people saying how do we sell music and so on. We had Elbow on the other day, the front singer of Elbow, and there was a band who'd struggled and had fights with their record label and still they can have a breakthrough moment.

JARVIS COCKER: Yeah and I think that it's you know very impressive how people seem to be genuinely very pleased you know the fact that they won the Mercury Prize. It's like people kind of almost take a personal pride in it; that you know something real got through, you know.

ANDREW MARR: Yeah, it's like John Sergeant on 'Strictly Come Dancing'. Almost. (laughter) Jarvis Cocker, thank you very much indeed. We're going to end now with one of the songs from the last album, 'Don't Let Him Waste Your Time'.

MUSIC CLIP: PULP - 'Don't Let Him Waste Your Time'

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/andrew_marr_show/7731968.stm

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