The Stupids

Thanks to Scott Slimm for the article.

When you think of comedy in England, it's the madcap humor of
Monty Python's Flying Circus and Benny Hill that usually comes to mind.
You probably don't think of a humorous hardcore outfit, especially
one called The Stupids.Yet, since their creation through a cor-
respondence ad in Punk Lives (a slick and glossy punk People),
the Stupids have risen to an unexpected level of popularity for
their genre.

Originally named The Deads, The Stupids for their moniker from a
band-chosen lost of some 90 names. Their first demo, "Fat, Drunk
and Stupid" got them a second guitarist and they recorded another
demo which landed them a gig with the U.K. Subs. With their third
demo, "Leave Your Ears Behind" and the help of scenester Dig, The
Stupids got a record deal and the assault began. With "Violent Nun,"
a 7-inch EP, the "Peruvian Vacation," "Retard Picnic," "Van Stupid"
and "Jesus Meets The Stupids" LPs, success seems inevitable for The
Stupids. Their simple, harmonic hardcore punk sound blends with
a strange, sarcastic humor that gets people rocking and
still leaves them guessing.

We recently cornered Tommy Stupid at a local bait and tackle shop
(he had flown all the way from the U.K. to buy high quality American
equipment). He agreed to give us an interview if we'd publish a
list of the best worm spots in the U.D., but we lied.

You've had a few member changes since the Stupids were formed,
and you're the only original member. is that becasue you're a
difficult person to get along with?

I should think so. in the studio I don't trust anyone else's musical
judgement, really. I write all the music.

Lyrics too?
No, not the lyrics. The lyrics and image are contributed by everyone.

What is the image that's behind the Stupids?

I guess it's baseball, clowns, joking around, eating food, getting
red faced, hot and sweaty.

How has England responded to the Stupids?

Oh, wonderful. Everyone loves us.

Sarcastic mode there?

I'm scared that a lot of idiots will like us and not the right people.

Who would be the right crowd to like the Stupids?

People who interest me.

Do you want intelligent people to like the Stupids?

If I formed a band called Thug, I wouldn't expect a bunch of thugs to
turn up. We played a show and Ian MacKaye bummed a ride with us.
A bunch of rowdies ruined it for us, but after the show Ian said,
"Thanks for bringing me here, I've never seen anything like that."

Was he disappointed with the crowd?


Was that a typical Stupids crowd?

Yeah, they heckle like crazy.

What do they say?

"Tommy, go out and skate." Most of it is directed at me because I'm the
most outspoken onstage.

What do you say onstage? "More bread, more flour..."?

It depends. Sometimes I'll say "Stop heckling. We're the band; you shut up"
Satirical stuff like that. Sometimes they take it wrong. It's real hard to
tell who hates us and who likes us becasue of the way we go onstage. We
say, "You can go home now; we've got your money." They think if we do
it to them they can do it to us.

That would be a double standard then?

Well, basically, they do like us and they do come to see the show, but
they still heckle us. That's when it's really hard for us.

So they're harmless jabs, but you're working real hard and they're
making fun of it.

Yeah. It's kind of hypocritical becasue we do it to them, but it's like
a natural reaction.

So what's happeneing in England is that they're giving you the abuse
back and you can't handle it?

We can take the heckling but we have so much shit directed at us by
people who don't like us, we can't tell who's who.

What's a good sized show for the Stupids in England?

Five or six hundred.

How much did you have to pay the tabloids to print stuff on you?

Is that a serious question?



They did it with open arms?

They're into ego trips, I guess...All the press wants is to be the ones
who are the first to discover something. They want to be in on the new rad
thing. Then, when it goes a bit too far, they want to be the first to put
it down, the first to find out that Morissey isn't really what he says he is.
They want you to be hurt by what they say. If they really knew what they were
talking about, they'd be in the clubs playing. But since they can't get into
it they want to create and destroy it. I hate the press. They've gotten us
into trouble. They want to print smut. Basically they're they most
unimportant people in music. We just got back from Australia. When we
were there, the record company said, "Call up this journalist; he says he
wants to do a little bit on you." At first I said, "No, no, no," but I was
really bored in the day, so I called him up. He says(impersonation of
speech impediment), "Oh yeah, is there anything you want to tell me about
Australia?" I mean, I called this guy because he was interested and he wasn't
even prepared. Then he says he'll pass me on to another journalist who had
written a muck story on us, so I just hung up on him. I really hate the guy.
The press wants you to be affected by what they're saying.

You seem to be vulnerable to the English press, though?

Well, bad reviews from people who don't know anything about it really make me

But in the beginning did you want press?

Sure, we've never been into punk rock ethics. People say we changed,
we're not a hardcore band anymore. We haven't changed. We're not out there
to rip people off. We still want to talk to people. We want to put records
out cheaply.

What about being on the cover of Sounds and NME? It doesn't seem to be
the Stupids' image.

We got on the cover of NME becasue the skateboard thing was a trend.
Sounds did it becasue they like us. The only journalist I have
respect for did it. He was in the Barracudas.

Do you want to mention his name so he can pay you money?

I don't remember what his name is. The record company paid for the Sounds
people to go to Paris and review the show. The cover was shot there.

Is that how the press works? The record company pays for them to go so you
can get in a magazine?

Yeah, it really surprises me, but that's how you can get front cover. It's
not exactly paying the press. The label has another band, a French band called
Le Thugs. They played the night after us to get publicity for them, too.
It's just to make it more interesting than the Stupids in the
Sounds office doing an interview.

How do you feel about that?

I'm for it becasue I want to be on the cover. That is the extent of my feelings.

Do you want to get on other covers?


You record label will go broke.

It would mean more to me to be on the cover of Thrasher than Sounds
or NME.

Was there a backlash of animosity from fans?

People said, "We're sick of hype." But it's not hype. Our product is not
a dishonest one, it's what we'd do even if nobody liked it. I think a lot
of people are jealous becasue we're the first punk band that's come along
with an acceptable image.

Wouldn't you say that The Stupids play more of an American brand of hardcore?

Yes, that's also a point in our favor. It's very trendy in England to be American.


It's just the current style. Like flannel shirts, rolled up 501's and baseball

Is there animosity then that you have an American sound and you're not
sticking with your home roots?

That's always been there from the beginning. Sounding American, dressing
American, but we don't do anything to pose at all. I get clothes that I like.
The only label that I go for is Converse. I just know it's a good quality shoe.

You were put on the cover not because of your music but because you're geared
towards skatebaords. Did that bother you?

Yeah, we got into trouble with that. We did a whole photo session and
refused to put boards in the cover...we just did a session of us standing
around. Then we were on tour and we got a phone call from the editors.
They were really angry because there wasn't a skateboard in the picture.
It was our first front cover, and we didn't want to turn it down, so we
re-shot. Luckily, we did it in a Stupid way.

So they wanted to jump on the skateboard bandwagon. What led them to
know the Stupids were a skatebaord band?

Because our press release is like that.

Is it true, or is this jumping on the bandwagon, too?

We skateboard, we like to sing about it, but we don't want to be in a
situation that if skateboarding dies out we die with it. Obviously
bands like Suicidal Tendencies realized that.

If you're a skater, can you do nine-foot McTwists?


That's what the kids expect from the Stupids, right? That you can
ollie to the top of a pick-up truck?

Yeah, uh-huh. That kind of pisses me off. All the cool skaters don't
like me because I'm not a very good skater, so I'm obviously not
a real person.

Why are you expected to be a good skater?

I dunno. They feel that they're into it so much, they're pretty good,
then why aren't I?

Do you fell that the band comes before skateboarding so you
can't concentrate all your energy on skating?

Yeah. We wouldn't be good skaters anyhow. I got to a point where I was
improving but then I stopped.

Why did you stop at the time you were improving?

Becasue I switched boards and I couldn't handle it. I had one board that
was like a magic pair of dancing shoes. It felt so comfortable. I was
doing things I couldn't do before. Then I wore that board out and got a
new deck that was bigger and heavier. Suddenly it was really cumbersome
to ride and it pissed me off. There's a place in London called Meanwhile,
a purposely made skate ditch. If you're into banks, it's one of the best
places in the world to skate. I just burnt out skating there. I'd skate
all day, it would be bitter cold, and I wouldn't be getting new tricks.
Everyone else was progressing really fast. I turned sour. I wanted
to be good within myself.

When I skate, instead of doing a sketchy, rad, new, in trick, I'd rather
pull off a stylish and well ridden through grind. That means a lot more to me
than being able to pull off a sketchy varial beanplant to lip to headcrush.

I wasn't improving and no one was particularly behind me. I like to skate
with a partner and I didn't have one and everyone was saying, "Yeah
that's good, rad." I got bored with it.

was it because you were competing within yourself with what
the other kids were doing?

No. I really didn't care.

Then why did you let it get to you that much?

Because I didn't feel good.

So what brought you back to skating?

Being away from it for so long.

How long were you away form it?

About five months. I picked it up again in Austrlia, because it was new terrain.

Where else has your band taken you beside America and Australia?

We've done a few gigs around Europe. We've done Paris, we've done Vienna. Vienna
was a total fluke. We were booked in this brand new nightclub on the idea that
we were a Beastie Boys type band, a rap band. It would be kind of like Christ
on Parade playing at the ritziest club in San Francisco. We turned up and they
were really nice to us until we sound-checked. Then they were like, "Please,
could you play slower. I liked that song, could you play that once more?"
We happened to bump into the guys from Extrem (an Austrian punk band) and
they brought all of their friends down so it turned out to be a great show.
The owner of the club still hated us, he didn't even say goodbye to us. The
crowd reaction was terrific though. When we finished a song the whole crowd
would whistle and yell.

Your American tour with Ludichrist was very small, how did that go?

It was fun. We toured for ten days. The response was not bad, considering we
were both unknown bands at that time. The best response we got was in Omaha,
How do you feel about the rumor that Michael Jackson wanted to buy
the remains of John Merrick?

I couldn't give a shit.

Well, because in the Stupids you've expressed such an infatuation
with John Merrick, the Elephant Man...

The subject bores me because Michael calls me up at all times, in
the middle of the night, when I'm out in the car and stuff like that.
I don't care. I just don't know why.I guess it's kind of boredom. he's
got money and he buys everything in sight. He wants to buy the Beatles
songs, he wants to buy...

How do you feel about someone buying someone like that?

Well, if he wants to do it. I guess he bought it becasue he's sort of looney
and thought John Merrick was cute, he talked really funny. I don't know,
Michael Jackson's a weird guy. He wants to be white. I wonder if he'll regret it.

What made you and the Stupids have a fascination with John Merrick?
You have him on the cover, you have songs about him...

We saw the movie and I really liked it. I cried. Have you seen the movie?


Did you cry?

No. Did you cry when Old Yeller did?


You don't know who Old Yeller is.

No. I'm young. Did you see ET?

Did you cry at ET?

Yeah, when he was dying.

What do you hope to see happen with the Stupids?

More experiences. Keep it going and progress with the music.

What about a video?

We've done a video. It's a satirical skateboard video. It's been on MTV.
The opening sequence is a whole line of people going at a jump ramp
and everyone is falling off.

What do you think of jump ramps?

I hate them. If there's ever one I just grind it or rock 'n' roll. It's
just an easy form of acrobatics.

What kind of skating do you like the best?

Bank riding.

Anything else that you need to say?

Yes. We do care. We care about how people who like us are treated. We're
a serious bunch of guys. We mean only good and we appreciate
everyone who's paid attention to us.