NME July 1992
MO' WORSE BLUES
Poor old Momus! Even though he has an imagination the size of a planet and sounds like Peter Sarstedt on strange pills, everyone thinks he's a prat! DAVID QUANTICK can hardly believe it, and shares a joke about hipps and women that will save our sides...
He's got a very trendy flat, has Momus. It's all Andy Warhol cow wallpaper to make your eyes ill, clever fashion magazines and enough Serge Gainsbourg videos to make Jane Birkin wonder if she's been burgled.
Momus sits on the bed with an inflatable animal and has his photo taken.
Momus - real name Nick Currie - is himself not very trendy at all. Though Scottish and on Creation, his records eschew screaming feedback and cheerful post-modern lyrics. He is loathed by many who see the extraordinary Peter-Sarstedt-on-strange-pills lyricism of records like 'The Poison Boyfriend' and 'Tender Pervert' as the product of a sick, sexually warped mind, even though said records are extraordinary, unique and powerful. Not untroubled by a large ego - he one re-recorded Jacques Brel's self-tribute 'Jacky' with new lyrics as 'Nicky' - Momus also has an imagination the size of a planet.
Now he is back with two records. One is all old stuff on Cherry Red, and called 'The Ultraconformist' ("It's kind of an embarrassment," says Momus in his soft-cheese Scottish voice, "all the songs are sung in this kind of Cockney accent like Lionel Bart" ). And one is new, brilliant, on Creation, and called 'Voyager'; a sort of ambient Pet Shop Boys space disco, all drifting melodies and songs called stuff like 'Virtual Reality' and 'Trans Siberian Express'.
So we do avocado toasties in the Italian cafe near Momus' flat and ask why pop's number one strange balladeer has gone ambient Pet Shop Boys disco.
"The Pet Shop Boys connection is a bit of an albatross around my neck," says Momus through avocado-laden teeth. "They got in touch with me originally and picked me up in a small way... I was like the Cicero of the day in 1989. Suddenly teenage girls were ringing me up all the time. I think we just have common roots."
Later I phone up Parlophone and they say this is bollocks. But it doesn't matter. What is important is that you have this fey indie star, all Brel and acoustic ballads, moving into the pop age. Momus has moved into the Lion pop arena.
He used to defy convention by writing great f- you songs like 'The Homosexual', which is all about being a bloke who the lads think is gay but really - HO! HO! - he's shagging their girlfriends. Now he avoids the obvious by making non-Nirvana-esque spooky pop. He moves on.
"There are some people who are just bound to f- up, like my cousin in Del Amitri, who has to be consistent for the next 12 albums and do this kind of guitar rock," he says - for Justin Currie of the rock balladeers is that cousin - and shakes his sad old head.
The Momus brand for the longest time was being the man who wrote musical short stories about odd people. There's 'The Bishonen' about being raised by a scoutmaster to commit hara-kiri at 13. There's 'The Sanatorium', about a man who keeps his girlfriend ill because he likes her best that way. And 'Sex For The Disabled' is about a Hell's Angel in a wheelchair who blames Thatcher for everything. Strange stories all.
"That was my formula, if I had one, for a couple of years," says Momus. "To me it was always important to be subversive and to be original and aggressive, and being specific in a little story which contravenes someone's moral code was a way of doing that. And I didn't want there to be any escape from the lesson I was drawing. In a Scottish and puritanical way, I wanted to get up people's noses in their own moral um... um..."
Um is right. A lot of people - particularily after the absurd, self-indulgent and mad 'Hippopotamomus' - derided Momus as a genuine sicko whose ambition was to go so far up his own bottom that he would be able to look out through his mouth.
"I went to a screening of this documentary made about me by some art students about the reception 'Hippopotamomus' got, and in the film I was saying all these outrageous things and people were laughing, but they were also saying 'My God, I don't believe it! What a twat!' in the row behind me, not knowing I was there, obviously," says Momus in wonder.
"It's a very strange feeling to be hated in that way. I was trying to make good soundbites, saying 'There's nothing sacred in the songs. I'm writing about sex with hippopotamuses. The only difference between women and hippopotamuses is that women have pressure groups and hippos don't.' And everyone laughs at that and then says, what a prat."
What a prat, eh readers? But there is more to this than meets the eye. Momus' songs make people a bit... worried, basically.
"There are people more perverted than me who take their feelings out on me. You do become a whipping post for people's doubts about their own sexual morality."
He destroys the remains of his toastie with one bite. He is a wise and future pop star.
"What else are you in the public space for if you're not raising difficult questions in people's minds? What else is teenage angst all about other than how to cope with your sexuality and whether you're normal or not?" he points out, a spokesman for the Strange Generation. "Pop music and teenage angst have always gone hand in hand, and I'm surprised more people aren't doing what I do. I'm on the frontline of those questions."
Momus, readers. He will cure you.