RockStar Persona Dorian Phoenix talks about refusing to live the ‘Ritalin Life’ and nearly getting arrested for stripping in a Shoreditch bar while singing ‘wannabe’ with Lindsey Hammers
Dorian Phoenix, a delight having you back in The Sewers. We welcome and congratulate you here and now.
You’re fresh back in Camden, your tour has just ended in Reading and Leeds Festival. How are you?
I’m relaxing yeah. Ah Reading was brilliant –
Is it too soon to talk about your latest fallout with Bees Extinct?
Oh fuck off will you –
Following your previous alterview, H. Flee, drummer of Bees Extinct, mocked you on Twitter for including Mansun in some ‘punk heritage’. He said that proved what he’d known all along, that Rats at Dinner don’t know what punk is. In replay –
Of just fuck off, who the fuck is Flee, who the fuck is he, he needs to get his life sorted before he talks to me –
You told him to “go get AIDS”, which made him publicly state that he actually –
I’ve had enough of this shit, seriously, fuck, I’m not interviewing anymore –
This is an alterview. And then you tweeted about Kasabian –
Fuck off. Wha’eva. I’m off.
Alright forget it, I won’t mention it again. Last time we talked I got this feeling you were missing your “winter in Camden” life. What’s it like being back home?
Fuck, I’ve just about had it with this shit here. I forgot what it’s like in fucking Camden. It’s too tight in here. You fart in your flat and it’s on the news.
Are you hung-over?
Yeah I’ve got a five months due hangover, so wha?
You sound like you’re in a mood.
So wha? Fuck. You lot with judgments and I say fuck off.
I’m going to Epping yeah?
Fuck I said that off record, yeah?
I’m gonna relax there.
You grew up in Epping. As did Pete Margret, Rats at Dinner’s guitarist.
Yeah we went to school together, so wha?
Is that his real name?
Fuck yeah, wha’d’ya think?
So you’re going back home for a while?
I’m gonna stay at my sister’s for a while, yeah, she’s got the coolest kid in the world, he plays the drums. He’s only five yeah? What a rocker.
Can he play any Rats at Dinner songs?
He can do something that sounds like the beginning of “Vixen”, yeah. He’s genius.
What were you like as a child?
Shit I was hopeless, shoes off. I’ve been walking around being sure that I’m always wrong yeah? Just couldn’t do anything right. Fuck. Pretty sure I have hardcore ADHD but my parents were and still are against psychiatric propaganda so fuck it. I only need something like four hours of sleep at night so I get a lot done, don’t I?
Sounds difficult nonetheless.
Yeah but that’s how I got it that music focuses me. Without music it’s like I’ve dislocated my brain. Like you dislocate a shoulder yeah? It fucking hurts. It’s fucking wrong. So people thought I was thick or wha? Yeah.
Then when I grew up I was fucking clumsy, I got really fucking tall real fast yeah? It was like I’ve dislocated my body ah? Then I saw the light that was punk, classic, Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Exploited, Cockney Rejects.
You’ve shared a backstage with the two latter on festivals this May.
Yeah it’s mad innit? Wattie get well you fucking tiger! Good man ain’t he?
Ah. I check with myself everyday that this shit didn’t change me. I don’t go upstage and look down at people like I’m some fucking rock star –
But you are –
But this is what I live for alright? There’s two ways to look at it, yeah? When you finish a gig you can say “thanks for having us” or you can say “thanks for joining us”. We say thanks for joining us cos we’d’ve played our music anyway. The fact people get it and come to hear it is just a luxury. Once they stop loving us we’d still be playing cos we dunno what else to do, and we don’t want another life. I can’t imagine another life. No fucking way.
What’s this other life you can’t imagine?
The boring life where no one gets you and no one knows what you do and then you do nothing. That’s well sad.
Isn’t that the life of most people?
I dunno, y’know? I mean I was so bad at having a job. It was just like being a kid again, being wrong all the time, all the time you’re just doing it wrong. It’s shit. And it’s not that I gave a fuck yeah? But I was drowning in shit, covered in shit, no one knew what I was really about and I didn’t even fucking know anymore. Shit this cud’ve very well been my fucking life story.
In one of your earliest songs, “Knightsbridge”, you say: “shine through the shit, a diamond in the sewers, drunken homeless in a skirt, the truth is where they screw us.”
Can you elaborate?
Yeah. Shit. I think I was 19 when I wrote this. It wasn’t me against the world yeah? Nah, fuck, it was the opposite. It was the world against me. There’s a massive difference. And d’y’know wha? I knew I was gonna lose. I said to myself I’d either be a fucking conformist or I’d be a misfit and live in the shit. But then I realized that the shit is the real place. It’s the place of the truth. No hypocrisy. That’s what this song’s about. It’s hyper-punk. The thing was to not try to fit in. I stopped trying. That was the best choice I’ve made in my life.
It could have very well been the worst. You could have found yourself in some really bad places if it weren’t for Rats at Dinner, and for Rats at Dinner actually being discovered and successful.
Nah, nah, you’re wrong love, you’re wrong. You’re thinking I cud’ve ended up a drug addict or homeless or that, but I still think this is where the truth is and it’s better than being a slave to a fucking lame boring job for the rest of your life. I cud’ve been drugged up with Ritalin and shit since age 6 and then I’d get a fucking proper job, so wha? What’s that good for? Yeah? Is that better? To start with cocaine at age 6 or at 16?
Are you using cocaine since age 16?
Fuck no, so wha? It was one time and I got distracted. Shit. So wha? No one got hurt.
You’re referring to the Shoreditch incident in April 2016, when you nearly got arrested –
I’m not referring to anything, you’re fucking referring all the time –
For stripping naked while singing Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” on a bar counter.
I was fucking wankered alright? And it wasn’t just me, Lindsey Hammers from Drug Addict Python was there too.
It’s got about 150 million views on YouTube.
Don’t it? So fuck, it was that good. Haha. Mel C said it was the best thing she’s ever seen in her life yeah?
That was Mel B I believe.
Shit yeah. What I’m saying is that this shit is better than living the Ritalin life yeah? Even if I got arrested that night, it don’t matter. Being a nobody for the rest of your life is not a fucking option for me. Fuck no. no way.
What you’re saying is that you can’t imagine living the life of your fans. Most people go to your concerts one night and the next morning they’re at work or in school living the boring life you so desire to escape.
Wha? That’s fucking stupid.
Bollocks. I’m just saying it ain’t me, alright? I used to work in a pub kitchen and I was total shit, I was the worst you can imagine. What always got me through was jamming afterwards with my mates, making music.
You knew all along you deserve better that a shitty job in a pub.
Unlike your fans –
Oh fuck off –
I’m just saying –
You lot with confrontations and I say fuck off –
We can’t all be upstage, can we?
You just can’t get the concept of rock and roll. It’s never about patronizing and you can’t get it. I’ll make it simple for you alright? Trust me that no fan wakes up in the morning saying that he lives his life for a Rats gig. And even if he says so it ain’t a fucking fact of reality. For us it is. We live our lives for the gig. D’ya know what I mean? Ah?
Yes. What about your female fans? You nearly had your clothes ripped off you more than once.
Haha yeah I love our fans. We have passionate fans cos our music brings it out of people.
Have you been introduced with inappropriate suggestions by your fans?
Hah, for us rockers nothing is really inappropriate innit?
We have hardcore super fans, bands that cover our sounds. Just heard one in Dalston. They did “Nancy” better that we do! Pete gave ’em his guitar. Haha he was so pissed that night, he was still looking for it a week later.
What were they called?
Rats at Lunch. Shoes on. There’s Rats at Brunch too.
Your plans for upcoming winter.
Yeah we have lots to do. I dunno what but I think there’s a lot to do.
Hopefully Rats at Dinner would still have time to jam and further evolve your music.
Yeah we never give that up, what’s the point in giving that up?
Are you at all interested in different genres of music, other than punk and rock?
Yeah I listen to all sorts –
Opera for example.
Of fuck off I know where you’re going with this –
Are you fond of opera?
Opera is the most insane form of music there is innit? I’m into people who are very loud alright? So wha? I’m very fucking loud too –
Is it true that –
If you wanna talk about Marianna –
You are referring to Marianna Ginger of course, the Superb Opera Singer –
I’m not referring shit alright? I’m not gonna talk about Marianna –
Is it true you insisted on making a stop at Paris on your way back from Hamburg –
Wha’eva, fuck off –
You delayed the band’s return because you disappeared in Paris for two days after you went to see Madame Butterfly –
Oh fuck, there, you said yer fucking safe word. Alterview is over then innit?
Shit. No, I –
Yeah I can sign your bra if you want –
I so don’t –
Right, so congratulations and all that shit –
Right. We thank you and congratulate you, Dorian Phoenix.