Here’s the third in a series of blogs written by acts performing at UTI and the final one to mark our PULP tribute on Mon 18th August. Today Robert Rotifer talks about what PULP mean to him.
Rotifer is the vehicle for the songwriting of Robert Rotifer who has released six albums under this moniker. He has in the past collaborated with Darren Hayman (Hefner) and Paul Rains (Allo Darlin’) among others. The current line up includes Ian Button (Papernut Cambridge, Ex-Death In Vegas and many more). In 2013 he released “The Cavalry Never Showed Up” which was one of Under The Influence’s absolute favourite albums of that year!
If, like me, you spent your twenties in the 1990s, you can’t pretend Britpop never played a part in your life, even if only because you hated it (or indeed some of it, one was allowed to be selective even in the mad-for-it nineties, though in retrospect I have to admit to a few dodgy judgement calls, let’s not go there now).
I started working in music journalism then, and I still have a shelf full of old cassette tapes of interviews with British bands, who were naturally perceived as Britpop in my then home country of Austria, while outspokenly professing their own disdain towards that very phenomenon. Either way Britpop was impossible to ignore, and Pulp were clearly lumped in with it, mainly due to Jarvis Cocker’s ill-advised tendency to jump on the Anti-American bandwagon wherever he could. And yet even the staunchest of Britpop haters always had a soft spot for Pulp.
This had to do with their music, which was clearly retro, but never so rock as to put off those who were into dance and saw all guitar bands as musically reactionary (a popular nineties hang-up), but carried enough drama and darkness to keep all of those stories of awkward teenage sex from descending into the kind of farcical “ironic” banality that was so much part of the flavour of the era.
Most obviously though, Pulp’s appeal lay in Jarvis’s championing of the oddball against the conventions of the mainstream. Here was someone who was Northern, working class, heterosexual and generally viewed as a “man of the people”, but still managed to come across as the polar opposite of the ‘avin’-it-large Oasis crowd. It’s hard to imagine now what a godsend that felt among the unbearable cult of laddishness that was poisoning the media at the time.
Okay, so maybe going to a Pulp gig wasn’t quite the same communal statement of otherness through pop as going to a Bowie show in the early Seventies while the skinheads were lurking in the streets outside, but it’s possibly the closest my generation ever got to that kind of feeling. And for that I’ll be forever grateful.
Robert Rotifer (Aug 2014)
Find out more about Rotifer here: http://rotiferband.tumblr.com/