The Urban Voodoo Machine play Bourbon Soaked Gypsy Blues Bop’N’Stroll, Big Boy Bloater is a guitarist, singer, songwriter, radio presenter who plays roots, blues and R&B with his band, The Limits. They are both appearing at Camden Rocks Music Festival on June 3rd here’s what they think about Camden and the festival. Spoiler alert: contains references to robot girlfriends, swamp monsters and both pigeon and horse shit.
When did your relationship with Camden start?
(UVM) I moved to London in 1992 in search for the Rock’n’Roll Dream with a guitar, a suitcase full of cheap suits and around £300 in traveller cheques in my sock. The money ran out very quick of course, so I soon found myself squatting in Camden and selling the Big Issue! Being a homeless hustler I got to know the streets of Camden very quick and although I live in a different part of town now I still love going there. I do wish those tourist would learn to stand on the right and walk on the left in the tube escalators though!
(BBB) I first heard about Camden Rocks when I was the DJ on The Blues Magazine Radio Show for Team Rock. There was always a big buzz around the place when it was coming up and I thought to myself I need to find out what this is all about!
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Have you played in Camden before?
(UVM) When we started in 2003 we didn’t really wanna play the standard Camden indie haunts with the attitude of ‘you might get discovered by some A&R man and get paid 50 pence for the honour’ so we avoided that and started our own club night instead called Gypsy Hotel to make our own scene.
We’ve branched out since then though and had sell out shows at the Jazz Cafe and the Underworld but we have never played the Electric Ballroom (the venue we are doing for Camden Rocks) This will be very special for me as my first ever job in London (after being a Big Issue seller) was being a glass collector at the Electric Ballroom!! I was paid £25 for TWO nights to collect glasses and I was so good at my job they offered me the position of being a bar man for £30 for 2 nights – I politely declined as as the bounty I found on the floor was worth more than the pay-rise!!
(BBB) I’ve played in Camden many, many times before but the biggest show I did there was supporting Imelda May at The Roundhouse. That’s an amazing venue and it was such a cool gig!
What was your reaction when you knew you would be playing there this year?
(BBB) I was really knocked out when we were asked to play! It’s nice to be in demand. The whole band is really pumped about the show so I think it’s gonna be quite an explosion when we get on the stage!
(UVM) Well I was glad the diary was open for a start!
Chris McCormack and I have been talking for a couple of years now about us playing Camden Rocks but we have always been busy on that date so he actually booked us almost a year in advance – good things come to those who wait eh!
From the initial announcement of bands who are you looking forward to seeing?
(BBB) It’ll be great to see my old mates from the Urban Voodoo Machine again and Broken Witt Rebels too. I played both of them on my old radio show quite a bit. And of course The Damned headlining – that’ll be a show not to miss!
(UVM) I’m personally hoping to be able to catch Ruts DC – big fan of their dub-punk. Big Boy Bloater always puts on a good show – he’s guested with us loads of times so might ask him to jump up again if time allows! The Damned are always a good laugh and whatever Ginger Wildheart does is guaranteed not to be boring and run of the mill! Don’t know too much about the rest of them I’m afraid – you’re talking to someone who mainly listens to Louis Armstrong and Hank Williams here – I genuinely think the Smiths is a plumbing company and that indie is Indian music!
Have you been to Camden Market, what did you buy?
(BBB) Haha yes I’ve been to the market many times! Last time I went I bought a burger!
(UVM) I bought a piece of the finest Afghan hashish which turned out to be a dried up piece of horse manure. Said piece of rip-off reefer is now framed on my wall with a note saying – Don’t Ever Buy Drugs Off The Streets – Especially Camden Market!
Which Camden venue is the best to play at? (only relevant if you’ve played there)
(BBB) The last time I played in Camden was at Dingwalls for Vintage TV. I really like that venue. I’ve had some great nights there both on stage and in the audience (although I’ve had a few nights there that I just couldn’t remember!) but I think The Roundhouse wins just because it’s such an iconic venue. Nice dressing rooms too!
(UVM) I must say I have a soft spot for Koko – why the fuck did they have to rename it from Camden Palace (yes, OK I know it was called the Music Machine even before that!:) Anyway, I do like that joint with it’s several floors and I always feel the spirit of my first English teacher Mr Bon Scott when I’m there as that’s the last place he hung out before he died.
Do you know any Camden trivia?
I once had a job giving out fliers for a night club and I was standing outside the Worlds End in the fucking freezing cold in February when a pigeon shat on me from above (well it would have to be from above really, never met a sideways shitting pigeon before!)
I was in total shock and dropped all of the fliers on the ground and then all of a sudden a bunch of hippy types appeared and started to chant around me ‘he is the chosen one, the pigeon has chosen him’!
They were really manic and kept shouting ‘you’re blessed mate, the pigeon has chosen you’.
I didn’t feel so blessed though and quickly ran into the pub to scrape the crap of my leather jacket! Might not be Camden trivia, but a true story – maybe they were possessed by the witch who died at the World’s End?
Why should the gig-going public make an effort to see you guys at Camden Rocks this year?
(BBB) I think if you come along and see Big Boy Bloater and the LiMiTs you’ll get a refreshing show of tunes about robot girlfriends, serial killers and swamp monsters all delivered in a upbeat R&B package! It’ll be half an hour of energy, dark humor, hooky riffs and probably quite a lot of beer drinking! Who wants to miss that eh!
(UVM) We are The Urban Voodoo Machine and we play Bourbon Soaked Gypsy Blues Bop’N’Stroll!
Oh, you want me to try to explain that? Well, we’re a rather larger spectacle for a start – I can’t tell you now if we’ll be an 8 piece or a 12 piece for this show – it varies you see, depending who’s alive and out of rehab that week!
Anyway, what you are guaranteed is ONE HELL OF A SHOW! So we’ll hope you’ll join us in a sing-a-long, a drink-a-long good time. Our influences are probably a bit different from most other bands at the festival as we’re into gypsy music, delta blues, rockabilly, jazz, ska, latin, cajun and many other genres far removed from the indie and rock world. We do ROCK though, actually – we Rock And Fucking Roll! See you down the front Brothers & Sisters and the bar after of course – did I say the bar? Well, let’s meet at the merchandise stall before the bar shall we – by the way, I’m not the glass collector anymore!!
Camden Rocks Music Festival is on June 3rd 2017