The Crash Mats: Pies, Panpipes and the Dizzy Heights of Rockstardom [Interview]

“We’re like a Tunnock’s tea-cake. We’re dead soft and squidgy on the top and round the middle, but we’re hardcore underneath.”

The Crash Mats are hands-down one of the most entertaining live acts I have ever seen. They’re a damn good band that blend elements of punk, ska and hardcore, but their real talent lies in 24-carat comedy.

They’ve recently put out their second album 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics on Manchester DIY label Horn & Hoof. It’s a rollicking ride through 21 classic tunes, including: Don’t Tell Mum That The Babysitter’s Dead, I Don’t Want To Go To Grandma’s House Tonight and My Girlfriend Only Has 24 Hours To Live. It’s a genuine feel-good album, reflecting the gargantuan level of fun you are guaranteed at their live shows.

Interrogating three such distinguished gentlemen as these is a rare opportunity, so I jumped at the chance to interview Oldham’s finest shortly after their set at Wotsit Called Fest.

It turns out that Danny Barrett a.k.a. Evil Bazz (vocals + bass), Dan Royales a.k.a. Seniòr Royales (guitar) and Chris ‘da beat’ Webb (drums) are even more hilarious in person than they are on stage. Huddled in a corner of the dingy backroom of The Palace in Hastings, surrounded by punks loading in instruments and beer floating in buckets of half-melted ice, we had a deeply poignant and meaningful discussion.

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You’ve just come off stage at Wotsit Called Fest. You’re rock stars. How do you feel?

  • Royales: Well, I always said to my Mum – “Just you watch.” After seeing Queen I said, “Mum, I’m gonna be a rock star.” It don’t surprise me at all.
  • Bazz: We’ve reached the dizzy heights of Freddy Mercury here, playing Wotsit Called Festival. Next we’re getting a plane to LA and playing twice in one day.
  • Shout Louder: You mean you don’t have a helicopter?
  • Royales: Not yet. The Crash Copter is out of action at the moment, it’s coming next week.

You’ve recently released a new album: 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics. What inspired your song writing?

  • Bazz: Cannabis, professional wrestling and my Grandma.
  • Royales: We watched a documentary about 14th century French art and that’s where we got our inspiration.
  • Bazz: It is pretty deep, if you scratch beneath the surface. Below the thin veneer of intelligence.

Have you considered learning the pan pipes?

  • Chris: We were going to do it for the album, but we’re just too modest. If Bazz started playing the pan pipes at a gig he’d just steal the show. He’s prevented himself from playing the pan pipes for the good of The Crash Mats, I think.

Are you called The Crash Mats because if we piled you up you can act as a crash mat?

  • Royales: [Bazz] just came out with it. We were called The Knuckleheads originally but there was another shitload of bands called that.
  • Bazz: It’s generally because we’re all fat bastards and we would make good crash mats.

Have you ever attempted to act as a crash mat?

  • Bazz: A couple of times. Mainly it’s me [accidentally] knocking people over rather than acting as a crash mat, so we fail in that regard. We have been emailed many a time asking if we sell crash mats.
  • Chris: We should definitely start selling a line of crash mats.

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You have a song about meat pies, chips and gravy —

  • Royales: I don’t even like gravy.
  • All: Boooooooooooo!
  • Royales: I mean, I like gravy, but I don’t really like gravy from the chippy.
  • Chris: Get out.

You clearly like pies. What’s your stance on quiches?

  • Bazz: No. No. It’s not a pie that. You’ve got to have a pastry top and sides. A proper thick pastry top.
  • Shout Louder: So you’re saying that if it’s just a puff pastry lid with no sides, it’s not a pie?
  • Chris: Puff pastry! Have you heard this?!
  • Bazz: It’s got to have sides on it to be a pie. You can’t just put a crust on the top and say that’s a pie.

If The Crash Mats were a biscuit, what biscuit would they be?

  • Bazz: We’re like a Gold bar. You eat the outside of it and then you’re left with the biscuit. That’s kinda like us – we get all the good stuff out the way and then you’re left with the biscuit.
  • Chris: We’re like a Tunnock’s tea-cake. We’re dead soft and squidgy on the top and round the middle, but then we’re hardcore underneath.

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Do you have any claims to fame?

Royales: We played once in front of Entombed. That’s a real fact. We’ve got a song on our first album called Heavy Metal which takes the piss out of heavy metal, because metal needs the piss taken out it. Entombed played the night after, but they got there a day early and watched us. They said we were quite good.

Do you have any hidden talents?

  • Royales: I used to be able to touch my nose with my tongue but I can’t any more.
  • Bazz: I can roll a joint in under a minute. Pretty much with one hand.
  • Chris: I can’t even really play the drums.

You’re lost in the wilderness with no choice but to eat a member of the band in order to survive. Who do you eat?

  • Royales: Chris. I think he’s got the most on him meat-wise.
  • Bazz: Royales – then we don’t have to listen to his musical choices any more. Then me and Chris would get out of the woods fine, no problem.

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You’ve written Oldham’s National Anthem. Are there any major tourist attractions in Oldham?

  • Chris: There used to be a bridge that had ‘home of the tubular bandage’ on it. It’s not there anymore.
  • Bazz: Yeah, Oldham is where the tubular bandage was first made. The first test-tube baby also came from Oldham.
  • Royales: Winston Churchill was our MP. And the first ever chippy was in Oldham.
  • Chris: There’s a blue plaque and everything. We also had the first Yates’ Winelodge. It’s a McDonalds now.

What’s your zombie get out plan?

  • Bazz: Go to Oldham. Obviously you need munitions and food, so you go to Tesco first. Then you go to the top floor of the Civic Centre – it’s 7 storeys high. You get barricaded in and that’s it.
  • Chris: Zombies don’t like stairs, so you’re fine.
  • Shout Louder: No, mate, that’s Daleks.

You are stuck in the world’s dullest conversation. What is your exit strategy?

  • Royales: I’ve got the perfect get out for any situation. All you say is: “Just one of them, innit.” And walk off. That’s what you do in any situation.

Do you have any questions for me?

  • Bazz: What did you think of the Austin vs Rock trilogy of matches in the 2001 WWF?
  • Shout Louder: I did not think it was worth watching, because I don’t watch wrestling.
  • Bazz: Oh my GOD. This interview is over!
  • Shout Louder: It’s just one of them, innit.

Make sure you catch The Crash Mats at Horn & Hoof’s New Year’s banger at The Blossoms in Stockport, along with Natterers, The Kirkz, Tio Rico and some probably quite questionable fancy dress. If you can’t wait until then, catch them at Pie Race Festival in November and on a handful of dates around The North.

You can stream or download 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics from Horn & Hoof here. Follow The Crash Mats on Facebook, and check out my review of the album while you’re at it.

Cheers to Scott Bradley/Phukin Photos for the first three snaps.

 

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