ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

Weve travelled too far and grown up too quick

The French Confessions of Frankie, Part One by Max Bell.

ON A SUNNY September afternoon in central Paris a long black Mercedes limousine pulled up behind a delivery van. Inside the car raucous laughter could be heard.

“Ay! Wind down the winders Nasher! Wind ‘em down la!

“Err, monsieur?”

Monsieur Sucker walks smiling to the car. Directions perhaps for the nice English boys?

“Monsieur! Avez vous un testicule?” More laughter as the car speeds off leaving one of many bewildered Parisians clutching his brow.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood have arrived for 72 hours of mayhem. As Holly Johnson said earlier in the day, “The lads havent quietened down… not really.”

THERE IS something about big cars that brings out the best and worst in the Lads and no amount of anti-terrorist sub-machine gun wielding cops can cramp their peculiar style.

Down must come those windows. “Monsieur! Champanya! Petites poids! Chocolate mousse! Manges toutes! Jacques Lafitte! Melange!”

When Lads are bored they will rage and anything might happen. A glass of Sambuca might be set alight in a smart restaurant and explode. A food fight might take place under the nose of top brass record people. A prestigious live TV show might be disrupted with the entire group mooning to camera. Holly and Nasher might answer the question: “Do you enjoy sex with animals” by riposting: “You look like you have sex with pigs.”

All this might happen and did. The French take it in good spirit. The TV executives send Frankie a congratulatory telegram. Theyve never had such a good response. Performances of ‘Rage Hard and ‘For Heavens Sake almost seem incidental. Almost. Frankie rage hard but they work harder.

Rage Hard is doing well in Europe. Frankie are Number One in Germany (the second largest market in the world), high everywhere else. Except France. “So why are we in France doing six TVs in three days?” they moan.

Still, they acquit themselves well. Frankie can mime these days and they always add a little something extra. When the motions become routine Nash flips the bird to camera during a guitar solo, middle finger in the time honoured ‘UP Yours! position.

On the first night in Paris, having shown they know their way around a fancy Chinese menu, Nash, Mark and Gilly sit down and discuss Frankie now. They are all excited about ‘Liverpool and just a little bit nervous at its reception from the fans and the dreaded media.

Theyre coming in off a backlash.

Ped: “When ‘Rage Hard got to six everyone at ZTT said itd be Number One. Frankie records are supposed to be up there. It didnt happen so yeah, were a bit paranoid.”

Nash is more circumspect. “It didnt happen because we tried to sell a rock single to a teenage audience. It wasnt 16 year olds music. It wasnt ‘Holiday Rap!

Mark is just stoical: “**** off Nash! It didnt sell as many as ‘Holiday Rap! ‘Rage Hard isnt an all time classic but its a good record. Being away for 18 months and coming back with a Number Four isnt that bad. Its better than certain bands did…”

Nasher catches the flavour: “It was time to let a Frankie single stand for itself. We needed the hyper after all.” Perhaps the low key return and low rent video didnt help, lads?

Nash: “Well the line ‘Its Frankie And Frankie Only was good. ZTT had a marketing campaign based on vacuum cleaners. You think of a vacuum cleaner you think Hoover. They wanted it to be think of a rock record and think of Frankie. They had a series of adverts ‘Pop Music Of The 80s? with Norman Tebbit at the BPI. That one fell through the floor.”

Ped: “Paul Morley wants us to be more radical… but were not.”

IF 1984 was definitely Frankies year and 1985 was Live Aid then finding the picture for 1986 isnt easy. Frankie dont want to be seen as a comeback band and wont re-run the old ‘Two Tribes rhythms.

Mark OToole says “I never want to play ‘Relax on a TV show ever again.”

Frankie admit they cant top the glamour that surrounded ‘Welcome To The Pleasuredome but see in ‘Liverpool a better representation of themselves.

Mark: “I hope people in Liverpool feel a bit proud of us. The album gives the place some recognition. It is a bit sentimental and its good for marketing but you couldnt call a record ‘Islington or ‘Bath.”

For Nasher the title conjures up “the dole if youre 16 and coming out of school. If youre 35 then it means the Cavern and the Beatles.”

Ped brings us down to earth: “Come off it lads. No one even thought about the title until now. People are gonna say, why call it that when you live in London? Wed all rather be in Liverpool but London is where we work. No one can say what it means — its more than the cliches. Its an atmosphere.”

EIGHTEEN months off has meant two things for Frankie. One, you couldnt get bored with them. Two, you might forget them.

Nash says: “What should we do? Get our Filofaxes out and reel off the past year? Ped only got his Filofax to match his Ferrari…”

Ped: “…which is second hand. Ive only got two numbers in me Filofax. Mine and one other. Ive got a portable phone I used one. I called Mark and told him I was doing 120 in the car. We get gadgets ‘cos we got bored.”

Mark interrupts: “We havent changed, even though we are sitting here in Gay Paree knocking back the rock n roll mouthwash. But then who wouldnt?” Indeed.

Ped: “The last lot of interviews were dead boring. We answered the questions and got royally stitched. They expected animals and when were the same as them they cant handle it.”

Id read somewhere that the Lads had been disowned as a Paul Mrley invention. This theory is met with massed cries of ‘*** off, la! No one could invent three yobs. Peds a maniac with a Ferrari but he doesnt wear the full medallion man kit. Is driving down Silver Street at 140mph throwing bog roll at your mates windscreen heavy pop star?”

The Lads dont get out and about on the social circuit and if they do: “We dont wait for the limo to arrive so we can be seen going home like certain groups… If Joan Collins said she liked us we wouldnt suck up to her. Paul Weller said wed become Sons of Thatcherism. What right has he to put us down? Hes talented but hes got his own company, his own label. Does he take on any YOPs?

“Well all vote Labour but we wont make a big thing out of it. Its just in your blood. Weve got money but that doesnt mean our auld fellas have.”

Nash pinpoints the area where Frankie have changed: “Its hard to impress us anymore. Weve travelled too far and grown up too quick. When we moved to London and got the Lads gaff it was great… bright lights, pretty ladies, but it got too heavy.

“We lived like dogs, smashing everything up. In the end we blew the windows out with a shotgun.” Reminiscence turns to reality. “Even a gas becomes a bore. We were 19 then, which people forget. Now were 22 and 23. Mind you, we still get endless amusement from throwing wet bog roll at passing cars.”

ALTHOUGH it is fashionable to write Frankie off — a gigantic star that exploded and left the equivalent of pops black dwarf — one listen to the next single ‘Warriors Of The Wasteland will dispel the doubters while ‘Liverpool should surprise Frankies biggest fans.

Mark OToole describes it simply as: “A good songs record with two halves. It is very moody and rocky in parts, but not like Van Halen.

“In retrospect we could justify or slag off ‘Pleasuredome for hours and it wouldnt mean anything.”

For Ped: “‘Liverpool is a hundred times better than ‘Pleasuredome, but then youre bound to be embarrassed with your own past. Its like you have a car and you love it and then you flog it and get a new one. The old car immediately gets the brush off.”

And talking of cars… “Monsieur!”