I should start by saying that, of course, my girlfriend and family are some of my favourite “things,” but I’m not the sort of person that would like to write that into a top ten list. That is a bit too soppy, and I have to think of my image as an angry art punk (whatever one of those is), so here is a top ten excluding those closest to me.
STEWART LEE: Stewart Lee is a comedian I have liked since I was 15, and he is the first comedian I ever saw do standup on a stage. I loved the way he acted so aloof, like he genuinely didn’t give a fuck. I just presumed that’s how you had to act onstage. So, I suppose in that way, he has been a bit of an influence on the way I perform onstage. He has always been amazing, but something happened to him over last few years that’s made him even better. Perhaps it is just that now he is in his forties, he is more believable as a grumpy curmudgeon. Stewart Lee doesn’t so much tell jokes as tell long, fiercely intelligent stories, repeat himself and bait the audience, all whilst commenting on what he is doing. Actually, that description doesn’t really do him justice. He is brilliant – seek him out, and if you don’t like him, I don’t like you.
KEITH TOP OF THE POPS: Keith produced our first single, “Formed a Band,” and our second single, “My Little Brother/Modern Art.” We ended up using him as we had to cancel a session we’d booked with someone else due to Mike, our drummer, being mugged and having to go to hospital. Now, I love Mike dearly, but I am very grateful that happened to him, as if it hadn’t we wouldn’t have met Keith. He wrote the “stay off the crack” line I sing at the end of “My Little Brother,” and has in many ways been the patron saint of Art Brut ever since. He looks after us when we go mad, offering us his shoulder to cry on, cups of tea and places to live. He is brilliant and has his own album out soon under the guise of Keith Top Of The Pops and His Minor UK Indie Celebrity All-Star Backing Band. There are millions of guitarists from other bands playing on it, and seeing it live is incredible. At each show, he has 20 or 30 people on stage with him all playing and singing along. The songs are great, though, and would work if they were performed with just one guitar or even a cappella.
VESSEL: Vessel is the lead singer from David Devant and His Spirit Wife, who are absolutely my favourite band, beyond a shadow of a doubt. All of the first lyrics I wrote came from me just emulating them, really. I didn’t realize how much I had actually borrowed from them until I recently looked through some old music magazines. If you had made a checklist to compare me with Vessel it would have looked like this: Pink shirt? Check. Silver boots? Check. Thin pencil moustache? Check. Beautiful singing voice that sounds like David Bowie? Um, he is also a lot thinner than me. I’ve since become friends with Vessel, and he is just a great person to be around because he is always involved in some sort of creative endeavor. If he’s not painting, he’s writing, making short films, or recording songs. Now being around someone who is so prolific all the time sounds like it might be annoying, but for some reason with him it’s not. It is infectious. I always come away from hanging out with him feeling fired up about writing songs or making something.
TEA: Tea is brilliant for a number of reasons. I like the fact that there is a tiny bit of effort involved. Boiling the water, waiting for the teabag to brew, throwing the teabag in the bin, adding milk. It is like making a potion. All the effort is brilliant, too, for when you fancy getting away from talking to people. You can just say, “I’m just going into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, does anyone want one?” then when you get there, you slowly boil the kettle and get some time to yourself to think, maybe write some lyrics in your head, and then at the end of it you get a delicious cup of tea.
WALKING: It’s good exercise, free, you get some time by yourself, you can write songs in your head or listen to music on your iPod and you end up in a different place when you’ve finished doing it (or the same place if you do it twice). Brilliant.
COMIC BOOKS: Comic books are mainly about dudes with super powers fighting crime (or worrying about their place in existence, if it’s a Marvel comic). What’s not to like? Plus, Batman is the greatest fictional character of all time. No argument.
PAINTING: I really enjoy painting. I realize I’m beginning to sound like an anti-social curmudgeon, but it really is a very polite way of getting some time to yourself. Without wanting to sound like a hippie, I also love the trance-like state I can fall into when I’m totally engrossed in what I’m making. I love painting great big thick black lines of acrylic paint on canvas. I don’t paint very complicated things, just simple images and words really. Nothing ever comes out the way I intend it to, probably because of my Dyspraxia, so I’m always surprised at how they turn out.
THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS: I’ve never really liked any sport before. I don’t have the attention span for it. Plus, watching any British sport just reminds me of being shouted at in the rain by sadistic PE teachers growing up. That’s why I like basketball – I have no frame of reference for it and it is a very fast game. I’m a Lakers fan, and am obviously incredibly disappointed at them losing so badly and in such a terrible way recently. But now when I say I like them, at least people won’t just think I’m saying it because they are the best team in the NBA, as at the moment they are clearly not.
SAKI: Saki is an Edwardian author. He is hilarious; just remembering stories of his I have read makes me laugh out loud. I think his description of a thief as having all the habits of a collector but none of the etiquette is just perfect. I have always liked Saki. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t. I also can’t imagine myself picking up a book by an Edwardian author. I must have been drunk. I’m very glad I did, though
CHOCOLATE: Chocolate is delicious and can either be comforting if you’re feeling a bit down, or if you need to get stuff done you can eat loads of it with a big mug of sugary tea and whiz around off your tits on sugar and caffeine and get everything done in double time. I couldn’t have written this without a Kit Kat and a couple of cups of tea.
Eddie Argos (pictured center) is the lead singer of the British post-punk band Art Brut, who just last month released their fourth album, Brilliant! Tragic! (Cooking Vinyl/The End). He also performs in a number of other bands, including Everybody Was in the French Resistance… Now!, who released Fixin’ the Charts: Volume One, their debut album, last year (Cooking Vinyl). In addition to music, Argos is a painter and writes a column about comic books.
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