As we move from being an indie rock band to a mainstream pop group Green’s answer to today’s journalist, in answer to the question, “What influenced the band’s name?” is different to a couple of years ago.
“Little Richard and Ice Cream? Don’t you mean Antonio Gramsci and Revolution?” says our somewhat bemused Smash Hits journo. He’s been doing his homework.
“No really,” protests Green. “Awop bop a luu-bop a wop bam boom,” I say, backing him up with relaxed panache.
Let me whizz you back a few years to a night in Camden Town.
“This is what you’ve been waiting for. Go on, get back out there!” Mark and the rest of The Fall are laughing at us in the wings. Green, Niall and myself have just come off stage. The stomping and clapping Electric Ballroom crowd are calling us back for more. We’ve played all our songs though and don’t know what to do. “Do your good one again,” says the irrepressibly charming Mister Mark E. Smith, “The one about Jacques Derrida.”
As the lights blind us once more Green sings, “I’m in love with the bossa-nova, He’s the one with the casha-nova”. I look to the wings and see Mark and the gang giving us the thumbs up. Pints of beer are being delivered to them by a couple of roadies. They sent us back on stage so they could get another drink in before headlining.
The Fall take their name from Albert Camus’ novel about a Paris lawyer’s fall from grace, echoing the ‘fall of people’ in the garden of Eden. The Doors take their name from ‘The Doors of Perception’, detailing Aldous Huxley’s experiments with mescaline. Scritti Politti take our name from Antonio Gramsci’s book describing the power of hegemony. He wrote it in an Italian jail and smuggled it out through the bars. Allegedly. But we like the story don’t we? The grass roots resistance and the eventual victory of good over evil.
Here’s a question. If you were forming a band what book, or film would you name your group after? That title represents what you’re willing to take a stand for. VALUES, in a word. Values you share with the author or scriptwriter.
Gramsci wrote about HEGEMONY. This is the idea that if a government can control the common sense of a nation then the people will repress themselves. No need for guns or repressive state machinery. Assisted by the press they’ve got us where they want us. Passive. For instance, “An honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. You can’t change human nature. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”.
In 2022 a keynote speaker agent calls me. “So Tom, we want someone upbeat, a bit of a maverick but nothing political. Did you used to be in a band? I’ve got Scritti Politti written down here.”
“Scritti Personali” I say. “It’s Italian for personal writings. My personal stories act as catalysts for personal change. One message, one beat. Keep it simple, let’s not overthink it. Personally I think you need someone who’s just a drummer.”