July 25th 1991
I moved to London in August 1984. Lived at first with Edinburgh musician friends on Queenstown Road, Battersea. Then lodged in Streatham for nine months and felt like Napoleon in Elba. In 1985 1 inherited my French girlfriend's little Quentin Crisp bedsit behind the King's Road. Loved the cosmopolitan glamour, the nympholepsy, and the ghost of Thomas Carlyle. Stayed in Chelsea five years. When the developers moved in I took a flat in Fitzrovia in the shadow of the Telecom Tower. Live there to this day, dodging the couriers, watching Japanese TV on cable and getting next week's papers last week.
What do you dread as you open your eyes in the morning?
I so rarely do.
What would be your typical working day?
Sleeping, then sitting in cafes being utterly pretentious.
Who would you most like to perform a sketch with?
What other occupation would you most like to have?
Director, British Board Of Film Censors.
What has been your strangest experience at work?
Being less famous than Dave Gedge.
Who or what has been your greatest influence?
Yves Saint Laurent.
Who is the worst advertisement for your profession?
Me, I hope.
What do you look forward to at the end of the day?
A good night's work.
Where would you live out your exile?
The frozen steppes of Outer Mongolia.
Who would be your ideal flatmate?
What's your idea of perfect bliss?
A passionate argument about post-modernism which can only be
resolved by mutual oral sex.
Are you now, or have you ever been, banned from anywhere?
The features pages of NME.
Where do you get your hair cut?
The reviews pages of NME.
What political metaphor do you think is most overused?
If you could introduce one piece of legislation, what would it be?
A worldwide ban on dullness.
Who do you think should be Prime Minister?
Mikhail Gorbachev. The English badly need glasnost.
Which part of London would you never want to live in and why?
Any part where English people are the majority. English people don't know how to live in cities.
Your favourite view?
Up the mysterious purple vents on the Telecom Tower.
Which London feature would you most like to demolish?
Outdoor sex in London - when and where?
High summer in the high grass at Richmond Park amongst the deer. No, not with the deer.
If you had to describe London to an alien in three words what would they be?
'Time is money.' And without further ado I'd jump into a cab and get stuck in a traffic jam.
If you were banished from London, what would you miss most?
Being able to get Libération and The Village Voice at the kiosks.
Whose private diary would you most like to read?
Mine, out loud, on the top deck of a bus.
If you had to lose a part of your body, what would it be?
My penis. I'd live fifteen years longer and feminists would stop giving me stick.
How would you word a lonely hearts ad?
'Do you come here often?'
Do you have any phobias?
People who think they're normal.
If you were a pigeon what would you crap on?
Loo paper. I'd be a very bourgeois pigeon.
What will you have written on your gravestone?
'Still available: Lusts of A Moron, the collected lyrics 1982-91.'
Compiled by Kate Norbury
The new LP from MOMUS
There now follows a short documentary.
1. Stuart Maconie, NME: 'Momus is probably the most original voice operating in pop today.'
2. Music plays, we see the Michelin Man with a hippo's head. Momus murmurs 'Then a team of boring scientists shoved us in a crate, packed it up with straw and then conveyed me and my mate to the Museum of Natural History, where between two stuffed camels they stuck us in this case labelled 'copulating artiodactyl mammals'.
3. A fat nursery-maid in a Czech animation of 'Alice in Wonderland' jiggles a grotesque baby and sings 'He only does it to annoy because he knows it teases'.
4. A Simon Frith review getting edited for a press release: 'Nick Currie, seductive song titles, seductive songs, an old bohemian project: delightful form, loathsome content.'
5. Bret Easton Ellis reading from his new best-seller, 'American Psycho': 'In the kitchen I try to make meatloaf out of the girl but it becomes too frustrating a task and instead I spend the afternoon smearing her meat all over the walls chewing on strips of skin I ripped from her body, then I rest by watching a tape of last week's new age sitcom, 'Murphy Brown'.
6, R. Masud Khan, a psychoanalyst recently defrocked and stripped of his credentials for having sex with his own patients: 'The newborn child is polymorphously perverse, it gets pleasure from stimulation of any part of its body. But experience leads it to focus pleasure on specific activities. The first stage it goes through is the Oral. The child puts everything in its mouth. Remember the Christian doctrine of Original Sin - mankind was cast out of paradise for putting an apple in his mouth! The second stage is the anal. The child learns voluntary control of its bowels. Holding on or letting go are deeply pleasurable. By shitting, the child is 'making' the world. But this 'gift' is rejected and the child is blamed for giving it.'
7. The ghost of Michel Leiris, the surrealist anthropologist, drifts through the wall of a club called the Syndrome on Oxford Street. Bobby Gillespie and members of Lush blink. 'Prometheus the Titan made a man out of damp, smelly mud. The gods couldn't stand his audacity, so Prometheus got chained to a rock and an eagle was sent to peck out his liver. Momus, the critic of the gods, was also punished, banished from Mount Olympus for suggesting, not that Prometheus should never have made the man, but that he should have made him better, with a window in his chest so that everyone could see what he was thinking.'
8. Momus, the 'gaunt minstrel of modern angst', on stage between songs. 'I wrote some songs, and in them I tried to tell a beautiful lie about happiness, I imagined you could be happy without being trivial, I imagined Robert Johnson, not with a hell hound on his trail, but a lapdog in his lap, Sleepy John Estes with an old person's railcard, Blind Lemon Jefferson after laser surgery. I'd like if I may to sing those songs to you now.'
9. 'Small World (Chrysalis) is the most ambitious, artistically satisfying record yet produced by Huey Lewis and the News, the angry Young Man has definately been replaced by a smoothly professional musician. It took something like a hundred people to put Small World together (counting all the extra musicians, drum technicians, accountants, lawyers -- who are all thanked), but this actually adds to the CD's theme of community and it doesn't clutter the record -- it makes it a more joyous experience.' Bret Easton Ellis, 'American Psycho'.
10. R. Masud Khan again. 'The third stage is the Phallic. The child plays with itself. After that comes the Oedipus complex, the child wants to fuck its mother and kill its father. Then, fortunately for society, comes the stage of conciliation. The child joins a post-Manchester moptop indie group and is eventually integrated into society by way of the covers of weekly music publications. In this way he begins to think of himself as a saleable commodity rather than a bundle of appetites and urges.'
11. Christian Enzensberger, poet and professor of literature at the University of Munich, reads from his book 'Smut: An Anatomy of Dirt'. The film is grainy, it seems to date from the early 70s. 'Clean is well and good, Clean is cheerful proper nice, Clean is above and here, Dirty is ugly and elsewhere, Clean is obviously the answer, dirty is underneath and evil, dirty is pointless, Clean is right. Against this dirty is, clean after all is... dirty is, how can one describe it... dirty is somehow unclear, dirty is by and large, clean at least is, but dirty now that is real.'
12. Robert Chalmers is a journalist who interviewed Serge Gainsbourg before his recent death. We see a fax being evacuated from a fax machine. It reads: 'Some might say that Momus has ripped Serge off, I prefer to see it as something between symbiosis and a tribute. 'Hippopotamomus' is clearly a reference to Gainsbourg's I973 song 'L'Hippopodame', about a 'Hippopotawoman'. This appears on a curious LP revolving around the unsavoury theme of the 'popo' or shit. Hence wordplay on hipPOPOdame and POPOcatepetl -- puns which Momus steals. Even the tone of voice -- cool, deep, joky, sexy and aggressive -- owes much to Serge (who of course cultivated it with several million Gauloises -- Momus has clearly been taking short cuts with a cheap expectorant). Sex with minors was also a big theme with Serge, whose favourite books were 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Lolita' and whose motto was 'Provoke! Always provoke! But remember, stay human!'
13. Serge Gainsbourg leans towards us as if in a dream, eyes damp and drunk and soft and aggressive, nose a shocking crook, ears pure cabbage. 'Provoke! Always provoke! But remember, stay human!' he whispers.
14. Don Watson is an embittered ex-pop Journalist. He is driving along the seafront at Tynemouth. In profile: 'To make a record about pigs, hippos, monkeys and dolls at a time when all forms of rebellion seem exhausted in pop, when no-one is the least bit surprised to hear the Happy Mondays in the background of Barry Norman's trailers for Film '9l, or The Clash on the cover of NME because an ad agency is using them to flog denim, is...' -- but a commercial break cuts him off, The Beloved advertising Alpen.
16. A lawyer in a plush office. An air conditioning unit, some tomes. He has a tan. 'Pornography is a special case. When you consume pornography you can be as aroused at a description of something as you would be by doing it. So the problem of representation, of talking the private and putting it into a public space, hitherto a purely artistic problem, becomes a legal one. In law the mere representation of an illegal sexual act can carry a penalty greater than the act itself. English law almost seems to be saying 'You can do or be what you like so long as it's kept private. It's only when you represent or reproduce your act that we must suppress it and penalise you."
17. Alan McGee and Dick Green at the offices of Creation records. 'Basically Momus is on the label because he's a fuckin' genius songwriter,' says McGee. 'He is still on the label, isn't he Dick?' 'He is, Alan, this month.' The phone rings, a brother of a member of Primal Scream sticks his head round the door and says a name. 'Who? I'm in America!' says Alan. 'I'm at the bank,' says Dick.
18. Angie Somerside has managed Momus since last year. We see her on the phone, outlining his activities for l99l. 'There's the 'Hippopotamomus' LP. That's his kind of joky record for the fans. Then there's a serious LP out in the autumn with all the good songs on. That's called 'Voyager', there'll be a single off that. Then there's the Complete Lyrics to be published in book form by Black Spring Press who did Nick Cave's novel. That's called 'Lusts of a Moron' and it's out in August. And 4AD are re-releasing his first LP, recorded with a group called The Happy Family, three ex-members of Josef K, back in 1982, that's a CD-only release due in autumn. There'll be live dates for both the new LPs, and there's T-shirts and videos and stuff. So it's a bit of a Momus Jubilee.'
15. Danny Kelly, editor, NME: 'Momus is clever-clever crap. Why can't he write about football like the rest of us?'
Vogue, October 1991
Barney Hoskyns tries a new MOMUS VIVENDI-in the shape of Nicholas Currie
There is nothing quite like Momus in British pop. The alter ego of one Nicholas Currie, right, a pale Scotsman of Presbyterian origin who dwells in outer Fitzrovia, Momus sings startlingly intelligent songs about jealousy, dying, and child molestation that make most of today's other indie-pop literary contenders look irremediably gauche. Albums such as The Poison Boyfriend (1987) and Tender Pervert (1988) may be overburdened with references to Georges Bataille and "the Divine Marquis" ("I'm just someone with great heroes who tries to become symbiotically like them," he says) but the quality of both his verse and his artful musical settings testifies to an imagination which operates on a plane far higher than that of the intellectual pose. In the words of his own droll press release, 1991 is shaping up to be "a bit of a Momus jubilee" . With Hippopotamomus, "a kind of jokey record for the fans" , already out, October sees both the publication of Lusts of a Moron: the Complete Lyrics of Momus (Black Spring Press) and the release of a further album, Voyager, that partially abandons Currie's preoccupation with "polymorphous perversity" and instead concerns itself with "the qualities of yearning and sincerity" . Nevertheless Currie, like the god of mockery and satire from whom he appropriated his nom de guerre, is as intent as ever on playing "the voyeur who goes up and sticks his eye against the window... the informer of the pop world" . As he says, "you can't escape from life by listening to Momus."