In the first part of this interview we found Simon York in not very good health as he had a really bad touch of the man flu. There seemed to have been something bothering Simon, and it was all about to come out in this, probably the frankest chat we have had yet with him yet. Simon had just revealed that he and Luxury Stranger were the subject of some unpleasant stuff on social media, and I couldn’t really comprehend what he had just divulged...

By now I was half intrigued about what Simon was telling me and half angry that there were people out there who would do things go to such lengths to stop a bunch of talented lads getting along, I wasn't expecting this. I really didn't know how to react. Gobsmacked, I carried on,


PB: Why did they do this?

SY: Well, I can only think to un-nerve us. There was a person we knew was causing trouble a long time ago, and whether it was them or not we don't know. I don't care, to be honest. I think it's laughable that people find the time to do things like that. I've talked to friends in other bands, and they have never come across it before. It was upsetting, but when you come out of it you actually find it funny.

All of a sudden the grandfather clock started to chime in the corner of the room and it sent a spooky vibe through my consciousness. It was almost as if the clanging chimes of doom had struck up to judge us!

SY: Luckily we have a fan who is involved in working against internet crime, and he gave me a few hints and tips. Everything he said about it I could relate to, and in the end I thought, “Oh my god, I can actually relax about things.” Touch wood, we haven't had anything of like since.

To try and change the mood a little, as I was still reeling from what he had told me, I changed the focus slightly.

PB: I read on Facebook that...

SY: The whole world revolves around Facebook (Laughs.!

PB: It is something that I picked up, but you failed an anger management course?

SY: I'm probably going to offend someone now (Laughs). It's all very American where people have this utopian view of how to behave and that someone's idea of how to react naturally is considered criminally damaging or something. It's like you could have a situation where a bloke might throw a brick at my girlfriend, and I might react in kind and now I've got an ASBO. I should have let them get away with it, perhaps even said thank you. It's ridiculous. And that's probably why I didn't pass. I think my reactions were too human.

PB: I mentioned Facebook as well because we had a message conversation the other day in which you said, “Don't ask me about the local music scene.” What was that all about?

SY: What's that thing where you call the press to retract something they've said? I would like a well-known Nottingham printed publication to retract something they said about me and Luxury Stranger. Or should it be the actual person doing the interview to retract it? Somebody did an interview, supposedly about the Nottingham Goth scene. Not there is actually a scene because Goth died in 1985. They suggested that Luxury Stranger is a Goth band, along with something about us being indie but doing it a bit different.

PB: You have been involved though in gigs where there have been Goth-type bands on the same bill.

SY: Yeah. Okay. But we have never gone out and said that is what we are. I think in saying something like that in a publication that is quite influential locally at least that it is quite damaging for our career. The thing is there are people already thinking to themselves, “Oh, I'm not going to go and see them because they are a Goth band.” Have you been to see us? “Well, no because you're a Goth band.” Well, no we're not! Come and see us and make your own mind up. You might think we are indie. You might think we are rock. You might even think we are post punk. Well, no because Goth is what post punk was when it went crap. Its rubbish how people label bands without any knowing what they play.

PB: You sound like you're a bit pissed off?

SY: Well, this past year even more so. It has been said twice now about us by another Nottingham rag, because we have done free gigs at Christmas, that, “This is the gig to go to this Christmas because it is FREE.” And the another paper has said twice in two years, “I do not understand why this band has not had the local following that they deserve.”

Now perhaps people just don't like us around here, Perhaps we don't fit in the Nottingham box. But there are people that say stuff like “Well they didn't ask us for any help, so I'm not going to help them now.” I've had people say to me, “Are you sure you're not being paranoid?” Well, no. because it keeps happening. And there are folk that can't understand why certain bands get talked about but in fact they are utter shite.

That's just me being honest. If anyone wants to tell me I'm talking bollocks, then fair enough. Maybe I am. Why don't you try and prove me wrong by helping instead of talking about stuff that's got no longevity to it?

I'd love to see some of these other bands write over 250 songs in two and a half years and a good portion of them be bloody good. It's not just me saying that. It's the people that listen to them. It's not just in this town or in this country either. We've got people across Europe. Australia and other parts of the world saying we want to buy Luxury Stranger’s new stuff.

There was a long silence. Simon and I were comfortable chatting to each other now, and we could hold a silence. Simon gathered himself again and smiled. The pub was now no fuller than when we walked in, but somehow it seemed louder than before.

SY: Look, I don't want to sound as though I'm being superior or arrogant at all! I come from a certain school in terms of music and I look for certain things to impress me, and unfortunately those people are going to be dealing with people that I think are a lot worse than me in order for them to get somewhere. I've sat at a table with these people and signed pieces of paper with them, and I know what goes through their heads. I've seen bands play the one song, and then repeat the same song but with different lyrics, and people are going crazy over them. Why? It's as if they've thought, “Well, that works. We'll just keep doing that.”

PB: There are songs that you've written lately that seem destined to be played live. What sort of direction do you see Luxury Stranger going in?

SY: I think what people tend to like about our live shows is with the record you can listen to it, you can learn the lyrics and the songs whereas live it's all about the moment and the atmosphere and the passion. I know bands whose shows are exactly the same as the records. We've played with bands like that, and we don't fit with those bands anymore. Somebody once said that each of our shows is different. We even play the same set but it's different.

On one of our German/Belgian tours someone came to every show, and they said it was fantastic because it was like watching a different band each gig. It's all about what's going through the minds of the band members that day emotionally, or between the band and the audience. We feed off all sorts of things.

PB: Do you get nervous before playing gigs?

SY: I don't think I do. Bear in mind I've been playing in front of audiences since I was eight years old. I've grown up getting used to it. I do get nervous in that I worry that no-one’s going to come. Even though our last gig at The Chameleon was a freebie, I was still nervous that people weren't going to come because a lot of other bands in Nottingham had gigs of their own at that time. There was a lot of competition and bickering going on. It gets quite political and people just think of themselves. You wonder how the human race got to where it is today with all the bickering that goes on.

Religion, for example, causes most wars. People fall out with their own family members, never mind about falling out over religion. But I've totally skirted what the actual question was!

We both burst into hysterical laughter. It was very clear that Simon had managed to get a few things off his chest tonight.

SY: I was worried that folk weren't going to come out to The Chameleon even though we had this band Desperate Journalist that were coming up from London to play there, and they had had a massive amount of press and people were talking all over the place about them. I was pleased that some people came to see them, and it wasn't just about us. Some people came to see them and saw us for the first time, and said, “Crikey, we've seen two great bands tonight for free on a Saturday night!” We had folk from Stoke and the other side of Louth come over.

We did another gig at the Bodega once and we weren't the main act, and to go back to what I was touching upon earlier there was a chap there doing a review for a local paper, and Lisa overheard some people saying, “You've got to say something about the support act because they were brilliant,” and apparently he said, “I'm not here to write about the support act. I'm here to write about the main act.” They did actually write about us but they got the name wrong and said nothing about us apart from the fact that we have a good local following. That's probably down to the fact that a lot of the people there that night had come to see us, and about 40% of them had come from out of town. You think to yourself do we need someone to say that we are shit to get on so people notice us and help us?

PB: Is that how you really feel?

SY: Yes. Sometimes I think we need to be proper shit for a bit so we can get people feeling sorry for us and come and watch us.

The clock chimed again in the corner, and the noise in the bar had picked up which had filled up without either of us noticing. We were deep in conversation.

PB: What do you need to do then, Simon?

SY: Write some shit songs!

Simon broke into a round of raucous laughter. You could hear the flu/cold taking its toll on his chest/throat. I wondered if he really thought that?

SY: I don't know. I really don't know. We are aiming for a more open field in terms of people who listen to us and we are getting some of older crowd coming back, so we do reach a broader spectrum of listeners. We aren't just playing at club nights to a room full of our friends all the time.

PB: Do you think there is a lot of that takes place in Nottingham though?

SY: Oh yeah, of course. It's everywhere. The good thing is that when we do go and play other cities we don't necessarily know people because we aren't from there, but we know that if we go there a few months later those people will come again and be there next time. Unfortunately we can only play there once a year or something.

I do get very frustrated sometimes. And I get upset by stuff very easily as well. I do get times when I get very down about stuff. And luckily I've got Lisa to dig me out because she understands that and helps me out.

Now there was a silence, not for long but a silence nonetheless. We stared for a split second at each other, but when we spoke again it seemed like an hour had passed.

SY: A lot of it does stem from the fact of how hard I've worked and it's not just a case of being a spoilt child about it all, but I sometimes think where is the result?

PB: In terms of the sea of musicianship and what you can do compared to a lot people I bump into who are paddling in the shallows you are paddling right out to sea though, Simon.

SY: Ah thanks...but I can't fucking swim!

PB: You know what I mean….

SY: I know that people think I'm arrogant. I agree that. Yes, you have to have some sense of arrogance to stand up and go, "Look at what I can do." But I don't wear any of that on my sleeve. What I do wear on my sleeve is my personal feelings and thoughts, and the thought that I can't believe people can't see this, not just in terms of music but in terms of politics and such like. I don't believe that folk can allow other folk to pull the wool over their eyes. That's what I wear on my sleeve about. That's where I go, “Look at this.”

Simon coughed wildly and had another sip of beer. It was clear he is degenerating fast, so we decide to turn the recorder off. We pondered life and had a chat about other things until I finished my beer and had to be getting on my way. We wished each other a good Christmas and a Happy New Year again. I put my coat on and left the dimly lit Peacock, and headed out into the cold and the depths of the city. I will catch up with Simon again sometime. He has become more than just an interviewee. I care about Simon. He is one of life's good people. He is one of this life's proper musicians.


Photos by Dave Goodwin
www.davegoodwinimages.com









Related Links:

http://www.luxurystranger.net/index2.html
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