13 Questions with Chris Wade

by HST UK on November 27, 2011

After featuring on Horror Sleaze Trash’s maiden communiqué to the World Wide Web, surrealist writer and trailblazing publishing innovator Chris Wade returns to run the gauntlet of our 13 Questions.

HST: Hello, Chris! We at HST are big fans of your work, as you are no doubt already aware. So, it’s great to finally reconvene after you kindly spoke to us during our infancy. Wisdom Twins Books is growing from strength to strength, would you recommend more writers to forget about finding a publisher, and follow your model by doing it for themselves?

Yes I would definitely recommend it. In my experience it has been great giving the outside publisher a miss, being in control of my material and the whole artistic side of things. I can’t imagine it in any other way, so I would say go for it because you never know what might be round the corner.

HST: You’ve written a book about the life and career of Malcolm McDowell. I’d be interested to hear more about his relationship with the director Lindsay Anderson, with whom McDowell worked with on numerous films. I’ve only seen if… and O Lucky Man! But I’d like to know why it is worth my time to check out films such as Britannia Hospital and Look Back in Anger?

The relationship between Malcolm and Lindsay is complex, as when you hear Malcolm’s side (notably in McDowell’s one man show Never Apologize) he recalls a harsh yet lovable guy who had tons of respect for Malcolm. When you read Anderson’s diaries, it’s not quite as clear, but you still get the idea that Malcolm was important to him. As for the films, If and O Lucky Man! are just two of the best films of their time, and while Britannia Hospital is interesting, it doesn’t come near the brilliance of its predecessors.

HST: Are you surprised that nobody has ever tried to remake, or reinterpret A Clockwork Orange, with an Alex-like figure representing Britain’s likely lost generation aka the ‘victims’ of the recession?

I am surprised yes, but glad as well. Maybe people know its untouchable, the way Kubrick perfected the whole thing. Mind you, there have been some stage adaptions of it.

HST: I’d like to know how close you came to tracking down Lou Reed when you devoted an issue of your magazine Hound Dawg to the Velvet Underground. I have two further parts to this question. If you had some sit down time with Lou Reed would the convo fall to pieces like his epic exchanges with Lester Bangs, most of which occurred in Bang’s cough medicine afflicted brain; and secondly have you heard Reed’s recent collaboration with Metallica?

I got in contact with Lou’s agent and he told me Lou was thinking about being in the issue. I have to admit I was terribly nervous as I am well read on Lou and have read many turbulent interviews with him. I can’t imagine the interview going too well to be honest, as he did describe British journalists as pigs, not to mention the lowest form of life. But then again, you never know. I might have got on with him. l still admire his early work, but I think the mix of him and Metallica is just so ill fitting. The words Lou has written are great, they remind me of Berlin, so I think they would have fit better with one of his meditation type soundtracks or even something similar to his Raven album.

HST: The audiobook version of Cutey and the Sofaguard is read by Rik Mayall; how did Mayall climb on board the project?

I wrote the book while I was working in a shop and never really imagined I’d release it. It was more like a bit of fun. One day I just thought, kind of out of nowhere to be honest, wouldn’t it be fantastic to get Rik Mayall to read it? I never once thought of a deal, paying him or making money. I thought directly of the work coming out great. So when his agent got back to me and said he will read it and to expect a reply in a couple of months, I kind of shrugged it off. But then they got back in a week saying he’d read it twice and HAD to do it. It was one of the most amazing feelings of my life. Not afraid to say I wept like a baby. Then going down to meet him at his agency on the coach on my own was really exciting, going through the script and seeing all the work he had put into his notes for the characters. I’m telling you, it was just unreal. He has always been my favourite comedy actor. Getting him involved was one of those high points in life. At the time I was just starting out, literally a few months into writing in a more serious kind of way and there I was. Weird the way you can do something out of the blue like that and see it come together.

HST: After listening to a chapter of the book that you posted on YouTube, the surreal wordplay reminded me of Chris Morris’ Blue Jam monologues. Are you a fan of Morris?

I love The Day Today and the stuff he did with Peter Cook, but I haven’t heard Blue Jam. I’ll have to check that out! But the comparison is really flattering in itself.

HST: Another cult comic figure Charlie Chuck read You Only Live Once (Thank Goodness). Chuck is a fine character based comedian. When you flick on TV, and see showcases such as BBC’s Live at the Apollo you see numerous observational stand-up comics that trot out the same ol’ shit. Is character based comedy a dying art on television?

I think it is dying out. I recently saw a comedian called Paddy McGuiness on TV promoting his live DVD and he was shouting ‘Oggy oggy oggy’ at the crowd and playing bingo with them. It struck me then that something had gone wrong in British comedy. Then you get all this moaning about current affairs rubbish, with people like David Mitchell, who I can’t stand, and it makes you wish you were back when comedy was great and had depth. Charlie Chuck for me is a surreal comic genius, so he was another child hood hero who really shows up these modern comics for the amateurs they are.

HST: What comedians are currently making you laugh heartily; I’m exceedingly fond of Limmy’s Show, and Brian Limond’s innovative webcasts and twitter baiting, are you aware of Limmy’s work?

I’m not aware of Limmy but I’ll check it out. I don’t know really about modern stuff. I’m only 26 but I seem to be stuck in the past. I love Python, Comic Strip Presents and Bottom, wildly comic stuff. I think Steve Coogan is a big inspiration and he is still coming up with some great stuff all these years on. He’s a genius. I never tire of his work.

HST: Speak of the Dead delves deep into George Romero’s Living Dead ‘franchise’. I’m curious as to what zombie related films and shows you rate aside from Romero’s work?

I always loved Romero the most but I’ve seen some interesting stuff; Charlie Brooker did a great TV zombie series called Dead Set, which really combined proper horror with humour superbly. I also love Shaun of the Dead. I need to give The Walking Dead a try as I missed it when it was on.

HST: Romero wanted to pass on a message about rabid consumption, human greed and alienation. Hordes of people will invade Apple Stores for the midnight launch of the latest gizmo at the same time groups of hungry shivering withdrawn looking characters are hanging around outside banks moaning angry gibberish, nothing much has changed, has it?

No it hasn’t. People, well a lot of them, are mindless, controlled it seems by the narrow media that invades their living rooms and tells them they need to buy some certain piece of electronic tat or the latest celeb autobiography. The celeb in question has probably been famous for three years for winning X factor. It makes you sick and I think Romero nailed that side of society. It’s a kind of laziness. There’s got to be more to life than that.

HST: You previously stated that “people aren’t saying enough in their films”, looking specifically at the horror genre. Do you see the escapist, depraved films that have been released in the last few years aren’t really holding a mirror at society, but actually clumsily reflecting real life through broken glass?

Exactly. What does Saw really tell us for example? – That the writer probably needs “therapy.” What does it say about us? Not too much I’m sure. It’s all titillation for no real reason. I think horror aside; modern films are about selling tickets and popcorn. The 70s were an amazing time for movies, when a major studio would make a film like Taxi Driver that really spoke to certain people.

HST: Talk to us about ‘Cat Quarterly’. Does it bother you that cats are inferior to dogs?

Haha. That’s not true. Cats have become the most popular household pet in the UK and the US, dogs second. As the saying goes, Dogs think they’re human, cats think they’re gods. The Cat Quarterly is my way of helping raise money for Cat Chat, a feline rehoming service that finds homes for 5000 cats a year. I love cats and thought it would be great to start a magazine that brought a fresh and funny slant to helping animals in need – Looking forward to doing it. A weird idea, but I seem to be full of them at the moment.

HST: We usually end with a rather ordinary question – what is your favourite High Steet shop? (Mine, is Savers. Last week I brought sixty capsules of zinc and a pumice stone, thus far I’ve used neither. I tend to visit the store at least twice a week).

HMV. It sells dvds, cds, vinyl and clothing. They have decent sales on quite a lot too, so you can pick up a decent film for a couple of quid if you’re lucky.


If you are interested in answering HST’s 13 Questions then email: aprilmaymarch777@yahoo.co.uk

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