First word - Natty Brooker interview

  • The List
  • 7 January 2010
First word - Natty Brooker interview

Natty Brooker is an artist and former member of 80s psychedelic rock band Spacemen 3. Currently battling cancer, he talks here about sacking his consultant and squeezing out two last albums

First record you ever bought
It’ll be some rubbish from the 70s. I had good exposure because I had an older brother to give me music at an early age like Pink Floyd. I was listening to that when I was like ten: Roxy Music, David Bowie and Pink Floyd. But I suppose the first record I ever bought was something like Slade. I bought it from Boots, I think. They used to have a little bag of top 40 singles on the counter.

First film you saw that really moved you
Well, it’ll be one of three. Definitely [one of] Hayley Mills’. I mean I’ve been in love with Hayley Mills all my life, ever since I was a kid. That would probably be Whistle Down the Wind, [then there’s] Hell Drivers and From the Horses Mouth, starring Alec Guinness. It’s not one of his most well known films, he plays this old ball painter, bohemian character sort of thing. It’s all set in London. He lives on a barge. I love Alec Guinness – I like all that old stuff, Ealing Studios and that.

First thing you do when you’ve got time off work
Listen to some music. Read, write, paint. Just go to the pub and have a pint.

Last great meal that you cooked
I don’t think I’ve ever cooked a great meal. Although I’m not a rubbish cook, but I don’t think I’ve ever cooked a great meal. I’ve cooked plenty of edible ones
… You’ve got to keep your head calm and just follow instructions in cookery, and not think you know any better like.

Last lie you told
Probably to the [hospital] consultant. I lied to her, to be polite, to go back to my old consultant. I wanted to say, ‘I don’t fuckin’ trust you with my life’. But no, I was quite polite about it.

Last book you read
Since I’ve had the illness and stuff I find it really hard to read books. When I lived in a caravan in the middle of nowhere I read about 20 a day it seemed like. I’m more into maps now. A map would be the last thing I read.

Last extravagant purchase you made
Probably my 16-track digital recorder thing at the start of last year. It cost me about 500 quid – with the condenser mic and headphones I probably spent about 700 quid. Which isn’t like me. I haven’t got 700 quid normally, I had to save up for it. I’m busy recording my album … although I’m getting really complicated because I’m trying to record two albums at the same time. I’m running out of time, so I have to put everything in one pot.

Last time you were star struck
I was star struck in Wales two years ago. I was in a pub and [iconic road haulier] Eddie Stobart came in with his two brothers and his childhood mate. And I’ve always respected Eddie Stobart, even though a lot of people slag him off. But he kept the country going in the strikes … Apart from a bit of gold and stuff he’s still the same person he was when he was a kid. Very simple sort of chap with a very simple approach to things. I really like him.

First thing you’d do if you ran the country
I’d probably go pretty heavy on the old cars to be honest with you. Just getting rid of the things, y’know. It would piss a lot of people off. But, someone’s got to make a move; someone’s got to be brave about it.

Last time someone criticised your work
[The artworks] have never really been seen to be criticised! The stuff that you’ll see, you’re talking early 80s, coming down off mushrooms, out of me head on speed … it’s just this stuff that Will [Carruthers, former member of Spacemen 3] has managed to get off people. It’s a bit of a hotchpotch of stuff … So far, from what I’ve gathered, the response has been quite positive, but if anybody slagged it off it wouldn’t bother me at all.

First thing you think of when you wake up in the morning
Just let the dog out in the garden, have a cup of tea, get dressed and get out.

Last thing you think of before you go to sleep
Could be fuckin’ anything!

Natty Brooker Debut Print Show, Mono, Glasgow, Sun 17 Jan. Free entry.

Natty Brooker Debut Print Show

British artist, best known for his collaboration with legendary bands Spacemen3 and Spiritualized, debuts his life's work. This show is part of a series of shows in art capitals around the world, including New York, London and Berlin, where Brooker's work will be seen as a whole for the first time in 20 years. The launch…


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