Back in July 2009 there was an early interview with The Big Pink by Alexis Petrides in The Guardian in which they complained about people assuming they were gay. Here’s a taster:
“…most striking of all was a backstage shot of Furze completely naked, with a fully clothed Cordell draped over him, gently cupping his genitals. The theme carried over onto the sleeve of their acclaimed debut single Too Young to Love: “I’ve never seen anything so brilliant,” Furze enthuses. “Someone buggering someone who’s licking another guy’s bum, up against a sunset! Brilliant! I couldn’t believe we were allowed to put that out.” …Yet, says Furze, there has been a notable downside. ‘Sometimes,’ he notes sagely, ‘people thought we were gay’.”
Alexis was clearly being his usual deadpan, laconic self by reporting all this nonsense verbatim. But at the time I couldn’t resist taking the bait – and went through the article, substituting “Jewish” for “gay” to see how it would read…
Yes, nods The Big Yid’s Roddy Gorse, it is not usual in indie circles to drum up interest in your music by pretending to be Jewish. He says he and the other half of the duo, Nico Kimsey, came up with the idea out of sheer frustration: “Photographers just tell you to do the same thing every time. The first photoshoot we ever did, the photographer told us to stand against a brick wall. We said, we’re not doing that, we’ve seen it a million times. Then he told us to climb a tree and we said no, we’re not doing that either. We’d been reading a lot about Diane Arbus, this Jewish photographer, so we thought let’s just be Jewish for a joke. It’s about putting that little bit more thought into things.”
The results were certainly pretty striking, and clearly had a role to play in propelling the band to their current hotly tipped status: winners of the NME’s Philip Hall Radar Award for best new act, resident in New York recording their eagerly anticipated debut album at Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady studios. The Big Yid aren’t the only band currently plying a brand of My Bloody Valentine-influenced noise-pop, but they’re certainly the only ones to have been photographed in full Hassidic attire sporting sidelocks (“I had to wear a wig under my fedora for that one because my hair’s definitely not long enough” says Gorse). Perhaps most striking of all was a shot in a synagogue of Gorse in yamulke and prayer shawl, as Kimsey struck a reverential pose with Teffillin scrolls strapped to his arm and forehead.
The theme carried over onto the sleeve of their acclaimed debut single Too Young to Cut: “I’ve never seen anything so brilliant,” Gorse enthuses. “A rabbi performing a circumcision with his wife feeding him gefilte fish up against a sunset! Brilliant! I couldn’t believe we were allowed to put that out.”
In the image stakes, this certainly makes dressing a bit like Pete Doherty look rather wan, and yet, says Gorse, there has been a notable downside. “Sometimes,” he notes sagely, “people thought we were Jewish”
Kimsey nods. “We did an interview for this fanzine called Enough Already So Soon. It was quite a long interview, but then I went, ‘Oh, I’m not actually Jewish.’ The conversation ended pretty quickly after that.”
Then there was their recent dinner with 60s American photographer Annie Liebowitz. “She was interested in shooting us, but she kept trying to push the whole Jewish-American thing,” says Kimsey. “She kept asking if we’d dress up in full Shabat costume wearing kipah and tallit holding these seven-branch candelabra.” “I told her I wasn’t wearing Judaic clothing any more,” adds Furze, a little ruefully, “and she didn’t really like that much.”
Well just fancy that.
Read the original article by Alexis Petrides.