Mercer experiences masochistic delights, peanuts
and octopus with Toyah Willcox
leather to the left and right of me. Knees
investigating my buttocks and hands all over my
lapels. A horde of sweaty punks competing for the
elusive frontal position.
of them aspired to temporary greatness only to be
removed by bouncers. Some climbed physically onto
neighbours shoulders only to disappear when the
dancing started. Many were never seen again. The
more enterprising souls spent the evening
actually bouncing chaotically over the heads of
Toyah time again.
course in 1977 your humble scribe felt severely
disappointed to emerge from a gig anything less
than saturated; sweat in your clothing, sweat in
your hair, claustrophobia. Magic!
masochistic delights in the confines of Leicester
University along with a thousand others I
couldn't help but notice the peaceful atmosphere,
something as rare in London town as an Elvis
a sell out tour and a new EP all set to wreak
havoc in our loveable charts Toyah has attained
this state of glory with little help from the
music press, relying instead on massive
television exposure and it certainly hasn't done
her any harm.
this performance I couldn't help but notice the
overall improvement since I last saw them tread
the boards. Veritable sparks fly, giving the
sound an added dynamism that energizes Toyah into
spontaneous enthusiasm rather than the more
rehearsed madness of old.
gig, the autograph retinue forms, including an
addled hippy with a home-made raygun (and half a
beard), local punk luminaries Wayne and Shaun who
thrashed me mercilessly at pool and 20 Russian
students with 4 KGB overseers. What more could
still were the local security men who still
hadn't recovered from having their duties
relinquished in favour of Toyah's own team who
did a superb, unobtrusive job.
we finally arrived back at the hotel I grabbed a
quick chat with Toyah who now looked like a
about the new band then Toyah?
fistful of peanuts disappears down her throat as
apart from the fact that they're older and
they've all had god previous experience I'm just
glad they've all developed their own identities
as people. If I did a major film they could all
go off and do something rather than sit at home
moaning 'cos I'm doing a film, which is
wonderful. They're all so into what me and Joel
are doing, they'll be prepared to drop anything
and come and work with us again. I think it's
important at this stage to find musicians with
real egos rather than trying to be street level
and all that old hat."
this tour like a realisation of all you've wanted
not that easily contented. We're capturing an
audience. What I want to do is take it a step
further and fascinate them. I want to bring in
the visuals I've promised for the last two years,
even though as band we can sufficiently create
enough atmosphere, I just wanna build into
something even more special. The kids pay a lot
of money to see us and I think we should give
them everything we got to offer."
the national coverage you've received acted as a
I can say about the national coverage is, a lot
of people say it does me damage. My comment to
that is that by doing it reminds me of a lot of
things ~I forget about. You know my mind, it goes
off in so many different directions. One day I
say one thing, the next I'm contradicting it. If
it wasn't for journalists I'd probably be totally
na-na by now."
quite what I meant. Does the tv coverage actually
give you a boost?
can still afford to watch tv, not all of 'em can
afford to go to the cinema. Cinema in Britain,
from what I've seen, is dying slowly. Really
dying. It's overpriced and it's not that
exciting. (Okay, television can be pretty dull at
times but if you get the right viewing and you're
in with the right people you can show so much. My
idea with tv is to get a pirate station together,
but that takes a few million to do successfully.
That in a way is an ultimate
do you reckon you came off in the documentary on
worked better than I thought. I thought it would
be wet, total self and no guts whatsoever. My
only complaint is it had too much guts. I was
going, "I want this, slam, slam, slam'.
There was humour too, but they kept that out. I
thought it was god for ITV."
did they leave out then?
left out me having a fight with a tramp. I go
round filming characters of London. The only way
we could do this was to plonk me in a soup
kitchen full of winos. I wasn't happy at all, but
I was prepared to do it. Went in there and got
should have shown it.
think it was the language that did
about 'Friday Night, Saturday Morning'. You
looked, er, nervous.
Chris Biggins was great, a natural person, but
when Steve Strange came on...I asked really
simple questions purely 'cos I was trying to make
people understand what he was about, but I
couldn't achieve much in eight minutes. I didn't
want them to laugh at him. Not only that but he
was wetting himself, panicking, shaking like a
leaf, and was being very aggressive through his
own nerves. And that happened with Viv Stanshall
and Derek Jarman."
seemed quite stroppy.
he was a real bastard. I mean, whatever question
I gave him he wouldn't give an answer, so I
filled the eight minutes with him being stroppy.
I can't day I didn't enjoy it though."
was the audience reaction to this like because
very little came over?
Chris the reaction was great, but as soon as
Steve Strange came on the audience was stunned
because 10 other Blitz kids came on with him. The
audience didn't understand from then on, and they
hated Viv Stanshall, There was a part at the end
that they didn't show when they all came on and
played Space Invaders, and the audience was
booing him. They didn't like him at all. Whatever
happened it was still a compliment to be offered
the show And it was still a laugh to watch even
if I did fail."
back to the new band. You seemed happier
and playing-wise it's 100 per cent better. I'm
also pleased with them as individuals. They put
up more of a show. Phil the bass player tries to
upstage me which is great. It's an incentive.
With the old band I was quite content to sit back
because I knew they couldn't upstage me. Now I've
been given that extra punch that had died away in
the last year. Things like the old band splitting
up kills you a bit inside and now I've got that
drive back. I've got so much to give. I feel as
if I've been born again.
new EP sounds great. Can we have a rundown on the
'Warboys' is about boredom. It's about kids
waiting for action. I call 'em warboys 'cos
they're so aggressive, cos they're angry and
like 'Mystery' best.
I'm really pleased. It was written by the guy who
wrote 'Victims Of The Riddle', Keith Hale. It's
commercial. I find it embarrassing to sing cos
you can't quite dance to it, it's too slaw top
dance to and too fast to sway to. We did it cos
the DJs said they'd play it. We've got to the
stage where we need something to happen.
'Warboys' is more true to our fans' tastes than
anything. 'Angels And Demons' is a ballad. We
thought we'd try a slow number. 'Blue Meaning';
worked on the documentary cos it was put with the
images I saw when I wrote it. 'Revelations' is a
sort of funky number about my sense of humour. I
relate all nursery rhymes tom things yet to come.
Like Jack & Jill and ring a ring of roses are
about the plague in 1066, whenever it
was the Norman invasion.
Well, that's what 'revelations'; is about. It
relates to 1999 as well, when I think there'll be
a different plague brought by Haley's Comet.
Totally incurable but the survivors will become
animalistic like the cover of 'Diamond Dogs', yet
a saviour will come down and take these mutations
back with him as survivors of planet
really putting yourself up for knocking.
the whole thing will be knocked, even 'It's A
Mystery', but the papers are SO predictable. So I
expect it anyway. I don't give a damn anymore.
There was time when they really hurt me with
their words but now I think they're a load of
lucky though, you're in a position like Adam
that's why I don't give a damn anymore cos we're
selling out the whole time. We're strong, we're
an army, we're a family. I don't like using that
word as it's Adam's but it's what's happening. I
mean, the biggest contradiction in the music
papers where one minute they're calling Adam a
load of shit, the next minute he's a genius. I've
known him since 'Jubilee'. I'm really pleased
he's made it because he's worked harder than
anyone...even though I'm not his best friend, and
I don't want to be."
think. You might soon have Peter Powell praising
just makes me wanna laugh. One moment they're
saying, 'she'll never survive she's an actress
not a singer', and they don't believe you. The
next minute they're going, 'you're the next big
thing' and you're supposed to take them
the next acting extravaganza?
me introducing 'Tales Of The Unexpected' to
America. While I'm doing this we'll do the next
album. By May the album will be out and we'll be
on tour again. At the end of May I do Derek
Jarman's next movie, then we got off on a world
hear you like eating octopus?
I love eating octopus. tastes like muscles and
cockles. I love squid too. You can chew on it for
hours. It's like chewing an old tyre."
make it sound tremendous.
what a damn convenient ending, because so are
Toyah and there's a good deal of tread left on
them. Definitely a major contribution to road
safety. Keeps you off the street.
14th February 1981
Thanks to Mick Mercer