The angel Gabriel sent me to give you a little bit of sympathy…
THE ANTS, like my other perversion the Banshees, are what it must be like at the world’s edge when they’ve just give the four-minute warning and fallout’s imminent: everybody else in sight fornicating their way to oblivion and “these geeks in make-up and fancy threads” (Do you know what Jordan is wearing these days? Soft woolies and a tweed skirt. Oh yeah!! Does Seditionaries sell handbags yet? No, no, no) picking their way through the bones and rubble for a gig. Aw, the audience are dead anyway, fiction or non-fiction.
The Ants introduced their greatest fan, he follows them everywhere and dresses in Roxy bin liner circa January ’77 (remember 1977) style. But my heart broke when I saw the jerk banging his head against thin air… he never looked at the stage once, only waiting for the moment when he could jump up on the stage and obscure Adam Ant (bet that moniker gave you a laugh, sweetie) from view and be a marionette for five minutes.
YES, I AM SITTING on the Berlin Wall, but I believe in rock ‘n’ roll in its natural environment should be 75% visual and 25% heart-wrenching music. Clue: when I crawled into town at the beginning of the year I’d seen — count ’em — three gigs. I was into reading the music papers, album sleeves and catching the odd gem (Bowie, Roxy Music) on TV. Within a month I’d seen every “hip” punk (punk? spunk) band in existence and I was so bored I developed nasty habits just in the hope the audience would go away and let the film begin!
Then I saw the Banshees and, well, you old voyeur… logical conclusion was to check out their favourite support band, the Ants. More “obviously” manic than Sioux and boys, the Ants’ two front runners, Adam and Jordan, went to exhaustive lengths to ensure that you got that fact out of the drink and their way: Adam with his rippling muscles and tattoos was a welcome departure from the wasted punies littering the circuit.
Adam was also very good-looking and knew it. I like natural-self-love; you just got to learn how to manipulate it without ending up in a corner making pretty faces at yourself. Jordan — now, here was the original “shocker”: up in the train from Sussex to ‘Sex’ every day in fish-net stockings, black leather and beehive hair, when you were still hiding your stack heels in the wardrobe. Anyway, Jordan got me out of the drunk’s closet… er, bog at the Nashville with one ear-shattering yelp. So many goldfish in their bowls…couldn’t even hate the band. I stared then — later (the Marquee), I’d be poking the jerk’s eyes out and generally making their lives a misery. “You’re so violent!” I screamed at Adam.
Want me to stop jiving and lay the esoteric stuff on you? It’s easy but it isn’t the Ants. Articles in the music press don’t change minds — look at all the nothing bands we’ve laid on you this year along. Hardly number one with a bullet, and outside London it’s mostly “So what?” not “Who taught you to torture?” (‘Whip In My Valise’). I mean, the other side of “rock” can be dangerous, hon, if you forget it’s surrogate celluloid-and-soundtrack and attempt to live it — you won’t be walking those streets too long. Where else could a guy like Adam say:
One day, girl
I’m gonna straighten
Maybe I’ll sew up your
or let’s really get the bile flowing, uh:
Want to describe
my special punishment room
over my garage.
There’s a whipping post and a vertical beam
you have to be in charge…
(‘Whip In My Valise’)
Did that get you off? What would you do if Adam jumped out of his cage at the high school hop and demanded with bared teeth that you hit him? Go home with the boyfriend and think what you’re going to have to surrender this time — Life can be made much better for you:
…miracles do not
Gonna take you down
to Harley Street
(‘Whip In My Valise’)
Freaked out, darling? I doubt it. Would you rather hear Jordan talk about her pet subject armadilloes and how the ants will be the last remaining life force on earth? Who wants a private party?
DID I forget to tell you what the band SOUNDED like? (Wired up).
Did I forget to let them speak? Actually Adam did his definitive interview in Ripped and Torn explaining his influences and motivation (sexual of course) behind all those “nasty” little songs like ‘Deutscher Girls’:
Remember the curls
Of the Deutscher Girls
way down on the Rhine
and the neo-classic ‘Whip In My Valise’ (cut my right hand off for not thinking of a title like that — sulk):
I’m just a bundle of misery since you kicked my cheekbones in…
oh, oh, oh…love to see the vicious ‘Plastic Surgery’ as a single. But hold on, here comes Adam himself with his posters (collages of S/M photographs and juicy extracts) and ‘Meet The Ants’ — how sweet. Whip it on ’em, Jim:
WINKLEANDWATSON (BASSANT) — 5′ 7″/ dark greasy hair. Likes: Maxine/armpits/Dirk Bogarde/Velvets. Dislikes: everybody else except the Banshees.
DAVE ‘BARBE’ BRILLIANT (DRUMMERANT) — 5′ 8″/black hair. Likes: a new drumkit/The Ants/Bowie’s snare. Dislikes: everybody else except the Banshees.
JOHNNY BIVOUAC (GUITARANT) — 6′ 1″ blonde hair. Likes: Dislikes: everybody else except the banshees.
ADAMANT (ANTVOICE) — 5′ 7″/Brown hair. Likes: Dirk Bogarde/short black things/sex. Dislikes: everybody else except the Banshees.
JORDAN (MANAGER) — 5′ 2″ /silver hair 6 with brown grey/black). Likes: Glen Campbell/The Ants/rhinoes/spotty-dog/doing Aqua-Marinas on tables: Dislikes: everybody else except the Banshees and especially the new Lou Reed and his games (as can be heard on the Ants’ opus ‘Lou’).
Finally, words of encouragement for future fans: “As long as the music’s loud enough they won’t hear the world falling apart…”
© Vivien Goldman, Sounds, 10 December 1977