This week, it is Wendy James’s 50th birthday. To celebrate, Rock’s Backpages brings you an interview (or ‘scratch feature’) from Melody Maker in April 1988, in which she and the band talk about sex, drugs, rock’n’roll, movies and pop art
Would you like to see more chaos in the world?
Transvision Vamp: “Yes, definitely.”
Transvision Vamp, you’re alright. Which is more important – the brain or the body?
Wendy: “Oh, the brain.”
Nick: “Oh, the body.”
Nick: “You can’t fuck with your brain.”
Wendy: “You can’t fuck without one. You have to have your brain to tell you what to do. If your brain wasn’t turned on, you wouldn’t get a hard-on.”
Nick: “But if you just had a brain and no body you’d look pretty stupid.”
Wendy: “I think the two go hand-in-hand really.”
So it’s the hands that count…?
Wendy: “Hur hur hur. The spirit.”
Tex: “What do you go for in a girl – brain or body?”
Me? Eyes. Especially if they’re in the back of her head. What’s all this about Patti Smith, you manifesto maestros?
Wendy: “My favourite female singer. A true rebel.”
So will you be reciting poetry on your next record?
Wendy: “Yeah. Then I’m gonna fall off a stage and break my neck.
Then you’ll write a play with Sam Shepard?
Wendy: “Yes, that’s it. Phwoar, Sam Shepard.”
Nick: “Patti Smith’s the sexiest woman in music history apart from Debbie Harry. No, she is. I know she’s ugly, but she’s wild. Imagine what she’d be saying to you when you fuck her.”
Wendy: “So the brain is more important?”
Excuse me … she went off to paint, didn’t she?
Tex: “Yes. And decorate.”
Wendy: “So anyway, tell me about her and Sam Shepard…”
Transvision Vamp. I am talking to Wendy James (former child opera star, of lost Norwegian parents), Nick Christian Sayer, and Tex Axile. Revolution Baby, and they were supposed to be the foamy sea that washed over us. Not quite. Never mind, let’s try again. Tell That Girl to Shut Up, as belted out by Holly and the Italians, the sort of great trashy song you thought nobody remembered but you. And soon, an album with the only name it could have; Pop Art, featuring Hanging Out With Halo Jones, Andy Warhol’s Dead, and Sex Kick. Every one a rip-off, every one a thrill.
Transvision Vamp didn’t want me to interview them. Partly because Wendy is Sinead O’Connor’s babysitter, and partly because they thought I would ask them to “justify themselves”. I have never asked a pop group to justify itself in my life. There’s no need; fools always stick their own gob in the noose.
Anyway, I may not be impressed by Transvision Vamp’s press officer, the Queen of Bloody Sheba, but if I have time right now to think about the group itself and what it’s gamely doing, I could well be as dazzled as those who’ve gone before me.
Transvision Vamp drop all the right names and all you can do, despite the nagging doubt that they’re a journalist’s dream concept rather than a human being’s pop group, is catch them like a puppy. There’s enough rain, concrete, and science. Quite enough. Vamp would like to vomit shooting stars and seduce the eye of the storm. Make of all this what you will: it’s the only way. I’d just like to add that Revolution Baby was not, as is commonly thought, Get It On. It was Telegram Sam. I know about these things. Call it a soft spot.