WELL BLOW ME DOWN – it’s the Blow Jobs Interview!

The BlowJobs - photo by Barry Hobbs 2007

By day, they are but a happily married couple. By night however, Felix and Charlie Camfield-Walker prefer to be known as the Blow Jobs – Hitchin’s number one recorder-punk outfit.

Exploding onto the MySpace music scene in 2006, with their freak-hit rendition of the ska classic, ‘Rudy (A Message To You)’, and more recently with their stunning reinvention of Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring Of Fire’, the Blow Jobs have gone from strength to strength. RogueMag caught up with these woodwind wonders for a chat in front of the fire of their lush suburban pad.

How many recorders do you own?
Felix: About eight.

The people want to know the exact amount.
Felix: Well I’m terribly sorry.

Charlie: We’ve also got a swanee whistle and a funk flute made of a piece of bamboo, so they’re not strictly recorders.

Tin Whistles – the recorder’s robot companion, or just mad gay?

Charlie: We don’t have one but we wouldn’t rule it out.

Felix: Tin whistles are definitely beardy-mad gay.

Charlie: If we owned a tin whistle we’d have used it by now.

Felix: No, mad gay. Beardy, folky, old school, mad gay.

Charlie: But your dad owns one!

Felix: Yep, mad gay. I am Felix Camfield-Walker, son of Mad Gay. We have four descant recorders, a tenor recorder, a bass recorder, two kazoos, a swanee whistle and a funk flute.

Can you play them all at the same time?
Felix: Only through more than one windy exit point.

Charlie: One in each nostril, there’s no way you could play more than that.

Felix: The problem is you’ve only got so many fingers.

What is your favourite recorder?
Charlie: Mine is the bass.

Felix: Mine is the tenor. Halfway between the standard school recorder and the big, posh ‘I wish I had a clarinet’ recorder.

Would you ever consider moving up to the clarinet or is that just selling out?
Charlie: No I want a clarinet. They’re fifty pounds in Netto at the moment but we bought a chainsaw instead because a clarinet won’t keep us warm in winter.

Felix: Not unless you burn it. It’s the chainsaw that’s made tonight’s fire possible. I want a trombone so I can go “beeeerooowwwueee”.

So are you still a recorder-punk band?
Felix: We’re still recorder-punk, but like the Beatles we’re open to musical evolvement.

Charlie: Evolvement? You mean ‘evolution’?

Felix: That’s what I’m conversating about.

Charlie: This is why he can’t play Scrabulous.

Many people withdrew from BlowJobMania after your last recording featured acoustic guitar…

Charlie: Who withdrew from the BlowJobs?

Felix: There are a number of BlowJobs purists. Just as when Dylan went electric, we too could hear the cries of ‘Judas’ as we first broadcast our new offerings to our fan group. So it’s been hard ‘going electric’, or ‘going acoustic’, involving drum machines and shaky eggs and the Punjabi tumba as well.
Charlie: It hasn’t been that hard. I think if there are fans that left us because we went electric, they didn’t get us in the beginning.

Felix: They should evolve with us, as our evolvement takes place.

Charlie: We’re just experimenting and having fun.

Felix: Our musical intelligence is almost boundless.

Who are your heroes?
Charlie: Harold Lloyd. He used to do terribly dangerous stunts on silent films. Straw boater and glasses. He had a theme tune too…

Felix: (Sings) Harold Lloyd/Bada bada bada bada/Harold Lloyd/Hangs off clocks/What a cock.

Charlie: He makes falling over funny.

Felix: And we believe that our music is a basically a musical falling over, a drunken stumble into the gutter while glancing off of a lamp post on the way down.

What other punk recorder acts do you like?
Felix: There’s only one other recorder outfit that we know of who follow in a similar vein.

Charlie: Only they’re better than us.

Felix: They’re too good to be good. They’re called Zoltan Kodaly’s School For Girls. Four girls with recorders backed by some Shoreditch producer type surrounded by Casios. They’re good fun. They’ve done some good covers.

Charlie: They did ‘Hounds Of Love’.

Felix: It was haunting. They’re our favourites because they have to be. I’ve done exhaustive research on the MySpace and they’re the only other ones.

Charlie: I think Zoltan went on our site and copied our pictures. You know that picture we have called ‘Sex Drugs & Recorders’ with the recorders and the drink and the ashtray? They’ve done something very very similar.

Felix: I write to them every so often.

Charlie: They wouldn’t become our friends would they?

Felix: I write ‘Hey we do the same thing as you only not as well, and we’ve done this, and we’ve done that and how are you?’. They never reply though.

What are your worst vices?
Felix: Laziness.

Charlie: Speak for yourself!

Felix: Well, we’re not the most prolific band.

Charlie: I didn’t realise it had to be a BlowJobs-related question. I don’t have any vices – I’m perfect.

Felix: There’s that crappy vice in the shed where the thread’s gone. As soon as you get anything tight enough to saw it, it slips back off the thread.

Charlie: My worst vice is that now and again I will knowingly put something recyclable in the grey bin. I admit it. It’s not a lazy thing, it’s a ‘fuck-you’ thing. I get overwhelmed by the disappointment that every effort I make doesn’t make any fucking difference in the greater scheme of things. I’ll go to my car, get a plastic bottle out and think “I can’t be bothered to take this upstairs, rinse it, take the top off and take it to recycling”. I just dump it in the grey bin. It doesn’t happen a lot but I do, so that’s the worst one.

Felix: This is my new special Blowjobs shirt. We went to do some recycling and whatnot. We were halfway there and I had my sunglasses on and Charlie told me I’d come dressed as Roy Orbison.

Charlie: And by the time we’d got to the dump, Felix said I’d made him so self conscious he wouldn’t get out of the car.

Felix: I did in the end but all I could imagine was that the bin men were laughing at me.

What do you fear the most?The Blow Jobs (Photo by Barry Hobbs 2007)
Charlie: Slugs. They make me sick to the stomach. If I’m gardening on a beautiful summer day and I see a slug, I down tools, go inside and don’t go out there again for a month. I can deal with spiders though.

Felix: I found a lovely blue one today.

Charlie: A blue slug?!

Felix: No a blue spider.

Charlie: Phew!

Felix: There was an orange slug and a blue spider. I think the slug was too close to the fire.

Charlie: Urh… When Felix was younger, he ate a baby slug by accident. He thought it was a seed on a bit of lettuce.

What is the music you’re most proud of so far?
Felix: I really like ‘Ring Of Fire’ cos it shows the amazing divergent… diversif… diversant… dive… all the different skills we possess.

What is your favourite word?
Charlie: ‘Canker’ and ‘nematode’.

Felix: It’s amazing how many times Charlie can fit the words ‘canker’ and ‘nematode’ into a conversation. Every time anyone says ‘worm’ she shouts ‘NEMATODE!”, either as an insult or an exclamation.

Charlie: It would make quite a good insult.

Felix: Yeah. Shut up, ya nematode. You SWAN! You fuckin’ HAND! Those are my two favourite words, my favourite insults. They’re pretty versatile: “Oh my weekend was fucked and I was just a complete hand on Friday night – I was a total swan”.

What advice can you give to young musicians who also want to get out and form a successful recorder-punk combo?
Charlie: You’ve got to give it some time. You do get better the more you play. Use it or lose it.

Felix: I don’t want people to get better though. My advice to all young recorder-punk-would-bes is DO NOT PRACTICE. Practice makes perfect and perfection is boring. So make it up as you go along.

Charlie: That’s what you do.

Felix: That’s exactly what I do and it’s what I was doing there and what I do when I play the recorder and what I’ve been doing for the past 36 years. I’ve been playing since I was in primary school and I was very jealous of Mary Clear who had already, at the age of 7, upgraded to a tenor recorder.

Charlie: How big were her hands? Was she Pat fucking Jennings’s daughter?

Felix: Actually she quite simply had Pat Jennings’s hands, which is why he doesn’t play football any more.

Charlie: Because he’s a recorder now.

Felix: He’s a sad, crying into his pillow, handless former goalie.

Some have gone so far as to call you a novelty act. What do you say to that?

Felix: Fuck ‘em. If they go so far as to call us a novelty act then they are missing the point of the BlowJobs.

Charlie: I for one completely agree with them. That’s exactly what we are.

Felix: I differ. To admit it is to kill it.

Charlie: You’ve admitted it now though.

Felix: Yeah. A novelty though? No, I think we reflect society’s need to return to the basics in this age of technology. Paring down from the home-produced, computer generated music that we have to put up with these days. Taking it back to basics. That, or we’re just silly arses.

Charlie: We’re about as novelty as a Rubik’s Cube.

Felix: Do you reckon people could do us in under three minutes?

Charlie: I don’t think we’re as novelty as a Christmas cracker or a paper hat. We’re something that is liked and enjoyed and then forgotten about. We’d get put back in the cupboard, but never thrown away.

What can we expect from the Blow Jobs in the future?
Felix: Very little… very little. But what there will be, will be a bit crap.

Charlie: I very much doubt we’ll do anything at all.

Felix: Ah, but I’ve been thinking about some songs. I’d very much like to return to our musical beginnings and get back to the ska. Working on our most popular hit so far, ‘Rudy (A Message To You)’ which has had nearly 20,000 plays on MySpace. I think the way forward is covering ska classics. Following the path of our recent amalgam of two punk classics ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ by the Ramones and ‘White Riot’ by the Clash, I think we should do a ska mashup.

Charlie: Right. So our fans can expect to hear some ska from us. We’re still getting played to a huge audience every week because we do the recorded intro and outro for Punky! Radio.

Felix: The award-winning Punky! Radio.

Charlie: So we are getting played every week even if we never do anything. That’s what I mean about being put in a cupboard but not thrown away.

——————-

Get blown away: www.myspace.com/wearetheblowjobs

Words: Charlie Frame
Photos:
Barry Hobbs

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