Mike Manic Pop Thrills previously described Bobby Stickah’s solo music as being like a ‘solo Jonathan Richman meets the Ramones’ (writes Andy Wood). And there’s definitely something in that description as there’s a sweet naivety and humour to Bobby’s songs tempered with something darker and more biting as well as he attacks his acoustic with a vigour and throws out his songs about trying and failing to make conversation with a girl at a Buddy Holly tribute show, taxi journeys, trips to A & E, and the problems of drinking too much hard liquor – Whiskey Rage to in contrast to The Bucky Rage. Bobby Stickah also reminds me of acts such The Moldy Peaches – there are no ‘sensitive’ singer-songwriter moments of tedium in his performance which is pretty manic. There is however a duet with Aileen McDonald which is pretty damn cool called ‘She’s Dead’ which features the immortal lines ‘She was going to give me head / Now I keep her in the shed’.
There is a seven track mini-album available online entitled ‘Let’s Kill Music’ which is pretty damn good. Probably my favourite songs are the aforementioned ‘She’s Dead’, ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘Playing Hard To Get’ but in all honesty, there isn’t a duff song here. It’s pretty goofy stuff, slightly unhinged but great tunes and lyrics and Bobby describes the songs as ‘Either just about complete nonsense or terrible nights.’ A fair description that doesn’t quite do justice to the utter lunacy and fresh approach to the acoustic performance, which he ridicules with ‘I’m playing this chord cos it makes me sad’. Stick that in your soundholes sensitive songwriter chaps and smoke it.
Over the last few years I’ve seen Bobby perform solo on a number of occasions as well as playing with the bands Thorn In The Face MacGowan and Maxwell’s Dead and promoting shows in Dundee as well as Forfar and Kirriemuir. Bobby is possibly the only person who has ever thanked me for playing Supersuckers as part of a D.J. set and for that alone I love him.
Anyway, enough of all of this, let’s get down to the important stuff such as…
Who the hell is Bobby Stickah? Please introduce yourself.
The shamefully sticky and undesirably displeasing hull breach entity that Dundee still doesn’t want. I play guitar like I drive cars and I don’t have a license. I’ve never even driven a car. I got this stupid name after Pete Ray (The Eddies) peeled me off a bathroom floor once upon a time like a sticker after a few too many Capri Sun’s and the name just… yes… I’d like to point out as well that I have no idea why or who decided to spell it with a London accent. I suppose I’m just really conceptual and cool. I’m a real trend setter and no one likes me.
What inspired you to first start making music?
What are your influences, musical or otherwise?
Music that tickles me deep is weird, whacky, terrifying and theatrical. I suppose somewhere in between circus horns and fast blood splattering fuzz. I also enjoy cats, Harry Potter and crying on my own when no one listens.
A lot of your lyrics seem quite personal and observational. Do you spend a lot of time observing people or do you draw from your own life when writing them?
All my songs are really just about complete nonsense to be honest.
As well as playing solo you also play in a couple of bands, Maxwells Dead and Thorn In The Face MacGowan. Can you talk us through these bands and your role in them?
MacGowan was something messed up that came to me in a dream one night and took my side in reality. We regrettably never really did much but the last and only real listenable EP was entitled “Masters Of The Sea” and was released last year; it is still something that I admittedly really love. Unfortunately straight after the recording of that EP the band split in half for personal reasons. 2 amazing players initially offered their services and we played what actually ended up being the last time, for the time being.
How I came to play for veteran ska punk spanking bum boy’s Maxwell’s Dead however, is a bit of a different story. I was on the same bill as them one night at the Green Room in Perth well over a year ago- I was no stranger to playing with them, I shared the bill with them a handful of times in Arbroath and Dundee and had the pleasure of opening acoustic for them and The Creepshow in Aberdeen. Things however ended up not working out with their rhythm guitarist at the time and they were playing this night as a 3 piece. Anyway how it came about was I went into the toilet for a whiz and next minute I was cornered in there and they told to me join. They battered me. (They didn’t batter me). But join I did and it was a great decision, I’ve made some lifelong friends and played amazing gigs and festivals up and down the country and this year may just take us further. It was a great feeling being a part of their debut album as well and number 2 is coming very soon.
Other than that, I may just have one or two more cacophonous orchestrations up me sleeve this year to plague one’s eardrums with.
Does it feel a bit scary playing solo in contrast to playing in a band?
Pretty hilarious if anything.
What has been the best moment about being a musician to date?
Things working. It doesn’t get any better than that.
And the worst / most awkward?
Solo gigs are always awkward. You can never beat playing in just an average pub. It is awful but it’s also pretty hilarious. Although I think the most awkward of awkward gigs I have played recently would be first of all:
1.) I had just purchased a new f hole acoustic that I liked the look of. It had a les paul style switch on it to power a beefy humbucker pickup and it sounded alright when I tried it out. Anyway, so I tried it out for the first time through a PA at a gig at Beat Generator of all places, (before shooting off to Monikie to play in a gazebo) and it just was not happening. It wasn’t giving the sound engineer anything, it just sounded shite and no one could help it. So I stood there thinking right, what am I going to do here… I turned around and low and behold as if sent from the powers above, there was this gleaming Marshall JCM stack and I just thought “I’ve got it!” I was granted permission to use it and so I did. Everything was awful. The fact that I was playing an acoustic through a Marshall was great in theory and to be honest the amp wasn’t actually the main problem. I kept on hitting this switch on my guitar and it just kept cutting out like every 2 seconds for the entire gig.
2.) (To be honest 1. Was really just a build-up for 2.) The worst gig I have probably ever had was when Maxwell’s Dead played Doune the Rabbit Hole. That was disastrous on my part. The worst part was that they were so awesome to us when we got there “Which one of you guys wants a beer?” a nice lady said, next minute we had an opened bottle each by her fair hand and were ready to go. Although ‘go’ just didn’t really happen. I was borrowing Muzz’s spleak new f hole epiphone (it’s always fucking f hole’s.) as soon as I put the lead in the jack, the bit fell into the guitar. Aye that’s fucking magic. Next minute an eastern European jumps on stage and gets on his hands and knees to fix it, which was of course to no avail. I borrowed a green guitar from the staff and I have no idea wither it was the guitar or the amp but once again I kept cutting out. The band kept going basically as a 3-piece, I’d come in every now and again for like a second or 2 then cut out again. I even got a shot of another guitar and it just was not happening. The amp seemed to work totally fine for every band after us as well. What a great festival though. I just vaguely remember me and Muzz being topless and going absolutely mental at the front of a tent load of people dancing to Bombskare. Got to dick about at Loch Lomond before actually playing a decent show in Glasgow the next night as well.
If you could organise and play your ideal gig who would play and where would it be held? Time, mortality and money being no barriers.
First of all I think it would be fairly important to have top hat wearing gibbons ushering everyone to their seats in what would be kind of like a dungeon theatre type atmosphere (essentially a theatre in a dungeon) with the absolute works- Great big luxurious drapes, fine Victorian carved seating pews, a real classy but chilling place. After everyone was accordingly seated all the gibbons would begin to clap in synch and then progress to tap dance on the stage to Gryorgy Orban’s “Daemon Irrepit Callidus” as I slowly rise out of a smoking cauldron and use cutting edge pyrotechnics to start shooting lightning at people, PICHEW! PICHEW! Then I fly into the air and disappear into smoke as a great bang sends the curtains flying up and Bill Nighy walks out and just stares at people for a bit in silence and then says some cool shit, then I just come out and ruin everything by playing anything. That would be doss.
You’ve promoted a number of shows in Dundee and further afield. Can you tell us a bit about this and how it feels to promote gigs as well as play them?
The odd gig I’ve put on isn’t really anything to write home about. I’ll only put my pals or fun folk on really. I often help out with mate’s nights in whatever wee way I can cause’ I always get a shit load of help from good people if I’m doing anything. It’s just about having a good laugh for me, stress isn’t great.
What are your plans for the coming months?
I actually need a diary.
Anything else that you would like to add?
Abodies on Bandcamp nowadays, it’s fairly useful for pursuing ones ear apple.
Don’t throw anything at me.
Where did Igor even come from? He’s a dick. -Tell you what’s funny though… Daniel Radcliffe is actually playing him in the next Hollywood Frankenstein movie. Did you know? Pure hilariousness.
You can listen to and purchase Let’s Kill Music here.
Here’s a video of the man in action:
Bobby plays with the Cool Cat Club at Beat Generator Live in Dundee on Friday 11th April with The Edsel Furys, The Fnords, The Bucky Rage and STOOR .