RockStar Persona 1st Alterview, where Dorian Phoenix talks about what Rats at Dinner are about and denies passing out off stage at Wembley
Rock star Dorian Phoenix, frontman of Rats at Dinner, we’re so excited to have you here. We welcome and congratulate you here and now!
So much I want to talk to you about, but first, have you familiarized yourself with our protocol?
Wha? Nah, I don’t think so.
Well, it’s just – before we begin, you need to come up with a Safe Word –
Safe word ah?
To be used in case our alterview turns too uncomfortable or distressing for you.
Nah it’s alright, I’m alright.
Yeah but you have to –
I just told you. It’s a shame you didn’t read the protocol, it’s quite self-explanatory.
I’ve got a safe word for other things yeah? Haha! Shoes on.
What have you got a Safe Word for?
Hah it’s that kind of interview ah? Don’t have my leathers on today love, so sorry.
What? Would you just say what your other Safe Word is?
Yeah it’s rotten. In case I think about Johnny Rotten. It means I should stop right?
Right. Fine. Mine is Butterfly, please be aware.
My Safe Word.
You coming on to me? ah?
I’m not, I’m just following the protocol.
Y’know we wanted to call our band Rotten Pistols. Or Vicious Pistols. There was a massive fight about it with Jake Mate –
The bassist –
Is that his real name?
Fuck yeah, wha’d’you think?
I think that roughly a million and half bands thought about calling themselves Vicious or Rotten Pistols.
Yeah but we didn’t did we? Don’t patronize, ah?
Have I offended you?
Fuck no, wha’d’you think?
In case I have, you should have said your Safe Word, rotten.
Yeah I got it already, for fucks sake.
Have you thought about naming your band Vivacious Pistols?
Wha? Hahaha! That’s genius. Cheers!
Thanks. So how did you come up with your name?
Yeah, we came up with Rats at Dinner cos it came to Nick Grease –
The drummer –
In a dream, yeah. We also thought about Good Luck George but that’s a bit too Baptist innit?
What? Why? Wait, what did he dream?
I tell it in every interview –
This is an alterview –
You lot with definitions and I say fuck off.
This is a line from your song “Asphalt”. Are you drunk?
Yeah, we’re on tour now, it’s summer innit?
Your third album, Lick the Porcupine, came out April this year.
It’s our forth, you should know.
Is it? I’ve heard about three, o’clock being the first, then Liechtenstein –
Our first album was never really released. We were 17 or something so it’s pretty useless, but sometimes on gigs we still do songs from it, like “Knightsbridge”. We called it Alien Hand Right? With a question mark yea? And then people talk about maybe it’s new songs but it’s really old useless songs we still love.
So our current album is more kinda industrial-electro-punk-melody, I mean it’s not melodic but it’s some more complicated tunes. Hardcore complicated. It’s electro-melody with punk. And the electro is like industrial. Shit I hate interviewing like this without the band. Wha? Let’s call Nick –
Alright, I do want to hear about his dream.
Wha? You coming on to him? Ah?
No, I mean the dream he had, that made you name your band.
Oh yeah, yeah I can tell you. D’y’know the famous painting with the dogs playing pool?
Yes, I think they’re playing poker.
Shit. Fuck. Haha! Fucking twat. Yeah they’re playing poker for fucks sake. So Nick he absolutely loves this painting, for years he was obsessed with it, Nick. So he had this dream where he was painting it but he painted rats having dinner. A fucking stylish dinner, yeah? With three forks and everything.
You have a song called “Three Forks”.
Yeah that’s Nick, that’s his drumming philosophy: three forks.
So did he actually paint it? There’s a drawing of the rats having a fancy dinner in your first album.
Yeah that’s his ex’s drawing. He can’t paint can he, he’s a drummer.
Right. What’s life on tour like?
Shit it’s mental. I don’t know where I am half the time. Glastonbury was fucking genius but feels like it was ten years ago. With the Corbyn song haha! Then we did Wembley twice and O2, shit, I don’t remember the order. We were in Spain and Italy and it was totally shoes-on. Oh yeah we did Wembley a month before Glastonbury –
You did Wembley last week.
Was it? Yeah?
Yes, Jake Mate passed out on stage –
Haha, fuck, yeah, Jake, haha. Shit. He got right up tough didn’t he?
Took him a few minutes.
Jake’s a mate, yeah.
You passed out getting off stage.
Nah, nah. That’s rumours innit? We’re going to Berlin next week, I think. Then Reading, no? Gotta love ’em festivals. That’s the summer innit? I mean in the winter I’ll have time to think if I’m hungry or not and stuff like that.
It’s that intense.
It’s just that you’re never alone. It confuses people to never be alone. But fuck this is the best time ever. I’ll be alone when I’m fucking old.
You’re very young.
I’m almost 27. Yeah! Risky year for me innit?
Do you feel it might be risky, given the life style you’re currently leading?
No, calm down, we’re on tour. I have two lives. This is life on tour. The other life is winter in Camden. I’m a fucking respectable geezer in winter.
Perhaps there’s a part of you wishing it was winter already.
Nah. Maybe. I live for this.
For this, for this life, it was different when we started with the massive tours. It was three years ago, when Liechtenstein came out, when we exploded. Then the tours they were really consuming. I mean you fucking forget where yer flat is and coming back after a long tour was like a shock. It was like three years of shock. I loved it but I couldn’t appreciate it. The tour life was so consuming we didn’t have enough air in our lungs or cells in our brains to write new music. But now it’s less of a shock. Now I can say that I live for it and mean it when I say it. I actually live not only when I’m on it, I can also live before and after, and also for it.
Sounds like you’re sobering up. And perhaps also growing into what you’ve become.
Yeah it’s growing on us. It takes time to understand how music affects your crowd and vice versa. Cos the people who listen to your music also make your music. I don’t mean it in the simple stupid way that fucked up sellout bands start making music they think their crowd would like. Fuck no. I mean it that in gigs we hear our music differently and it affects us. I think you can really hear it in Lick the Porcupine. I absolutely love our crowd. Shit, it’s the best crowd in the world.
Your newest album, as you said, brings something new into your music. Were you at all worried about how it’d be accepted?
No, that’s what I told you. When you worry about how it’ll be accepted you’re already making music for your crowd and not with them, and I think you need to make music even despite of them. We do what we love to do like we’ve always done. That’s why I love our crowd, they get it cos they just do.
What is it that they get? What are Rats at Dinner about?
Fuck, it’s about rock and roll, it’s about present time, and it’s about our punk heritage. I think what they get when they see us and hear us is just what we were and still are: four mates driving a car with full volume on Mansun’s “Six” or The Exploited’s “I Hate Cop Cars” on a Saturday night. That’s who we are.
Two legends, but far apart in spirit, don’t you think?
I don’t think so, that’s the thing about heritage. I grew up in London and obviously Camden was the centre of the music universe for me. And at some point everyone wants to do hyper-punk all the way. That’s the basis of everything but as a band you build from it. And you can’t be influenced only by bands that hit their peak 15 years before you were born. We’re influenced by the 90’s and our present time too.
You said once that your first or second album, o’clock, was pure punk. Liechtenstein obviously isn’t, and that’s the album that made you famous.
Yeah so wha? It was just our time. We do songs from o’clock all the time and people get it.
Of course, but you couldn’t break through with it. It was very “Oi!” and it seems that’s not what current rock crowds are into.
Nah we’re always really upfront and we’ll never give that up. It’s true we’ve evolved. We’ve been playing together for seven years before Liechtenstein so obviously we evolve together.
Some music critics say you sound like a lot of other bands combined.
Yeah fuck ’em, they’d always say this when they have nothing to say. We sound like Rats at Dinner. Ask our fans what we sound like and they’d say we sound like fucking Rats at Dinner.
You said about a year ago, on your previous summer tour, that you can’t stand these rock bands that have one or two quiet melodic songs in an album. You called them “fake-rockers and emo-wankers” and said Rats at Dinner would never go for that “sentimental track for losers at the end of an album” –
Right, yeah –
The final track of Lick the Porcupine, “Laden”, is a really quiet melodic track –
Fuck it isn’t –
A really touching song –
Oh fuck off –
Even your roughest critics loved it –
They’re fu –
Some of them said it’s been years since they’ve heard something so fresh, tight and precise.
Just shut up for one second would you? “Laden” starts quiet but it exploded at the end. That’s the whole fucking point, and we didn’t invent that obviously.
It’s quiet for about three minutes.
Yeah, the first three minutes.
It’s a 3:40 minutes song.
So it’s a quiet “sentimental track”. And even the critics who gave you hell during the past five years are praising it. Maybe it’s a new direction for you.
Wha’eva, it ain’t. It’s fucking authentic, all of it. I mean what we do and what we write. Yeah this song’s about looking back but not having a hysterical fit about it. If we write something that’s authentic we’ll play it no matter what it is. But we’re not into it becoming some fucking sentimental song when people light their fucking lighters for it. That’s not what Rats are about.
What if someone does light a lighter for it?
Then I hope they burn their fucking pants, alright?
Right. Can you explain some of “Laden’s lyrics?
No, it’s not fucking poetry lesson innit? And it’s not “lyrics” alright? It’s words, that’s what it is.
“Red and scared attacked by panic, Cyanide with Gin and Tonic, Lose yer way or go home now darling, Don’t let ’em see you’re slowly dying”.
My interpretation of it is that it’s about you having some sort of breakdown.
Well that’s fucking hilarious cos some people say it’s about communist skinheads.
Like I said it’s about looking back and thinking back and it’s about wha’eva you hear in it. I know our crowd gets it, that’s all I need to know. We done yeah? I need to get something to eat.
Yes, you probably should. It was a pleasure having you here in The Sewers.
Cheers. You want me to sign your T-shirt? Yeah?
No, it’s alright. Good luck in Berlin. We congratulate you here and now.
Cheers, yeah. Bye.