If you’ve ever arrived early at a gig to see audience members spattered in fake blood, the singer guy jumping off stage and landing on his head and a girl called Jeffrey dancing around intimidating men three times her size, you may well have gate-crashed Applicants in full swing.
Welcome, please, to their colourful world of terror pop mayhem, where Atari Teenage Riot battles with ‘Into The Groove’-era Madonna in a world-pulverising showdown, replete with space-age weaponry and the inevitable plot-twist ending to leave you reeling.
DrownedinSound meets up with the precocious trio to discuss life-changing matters such as London’s pigeon problem, the movements of ‘80s rap legend Flavor Flav and, ever so topically, climate change.
Introductions, please. How did you all find one another?
Fidel Villeneuve (vocals, guitar): I had a previous band that fell apart rather quickly. John (Brainlove label founder) asked me if we’d go on tour and I went ‘YES!’. So, I got in touch with Paul, who’s an old school friend. I met Jeffrey on a date that went horribly wrong. It was for shoe fetishists.
Jeffrey James (vocals, sampler): No, for old people.
FV: Oh yeah, that’s why Jeffrey responded to my ad, because I’m a lot older than her. It was a crazy adventure. Our first moves as a band were quite funny. There was a lot of nakedness and a lot of everything going wrong.
When did you start smearing blood on your faces at gigs?
JJ: Back in 1994. I’d had enough. It was just one of those days. I was getting hot in my corduroys and I just thought, ‘Let’s cover myself in blood’.
FV: It was a really strange coincidence that we all did it individually. When we started a group we knew we were onto a winner.
JJ: I like to smear blood on people during gigs, but sometimes they get angry. There was this big fat guy and I was trying to shove him and smeared some blood on him by mistake.
Porl Blades (vocals, guitar): By mistake?
JJ: It was an accident! And then he got mad and told me to fuck off.
FV: I remember this guy with a £200 shirt and you got it dirty…
JJ: Was this before I tackled you and you passed out?
FV: Oh yeah, when you made me do a somersault off the stage and I landed on my head? I couldn’t move for about five minutes. Everyone came in for a dance just as I was on the floor, so they had to dance around my dead corpse.
JJ: (Unconvincingly) I didn’t know the stage was that high!
Your new single is called ‘Hypochondriac’. Did you have someone specific in mind when you wrote it?
FV: I remember Jo Brand was on TV talking about antidepressants and she was saying how they sell sickness to people who aren’t always ill. That’s what inspired me. It is good to tell the truth. Well, sometimes it’s nice to tell lies as well.
I read in the paper today that more people commit suicide in summer than winter, because of the heat. Thoughts?
FV: The reason for that is that when the weather is better, people are happier to go out to a bridge and jump off.
Do you live near the Thames?
FV: No. Why do you ask?
I was just wondering, because apparently it might flood and everyone near it will die.
FV: …Or at least get wet. I think we should kill whales, because by the laws of displacement all the sea levels would go down if you got rid of about 10 whales. And stop skimming rocks – you’re just adding to the problem.
Applicants, 'Crappucino' video
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What was your favourite ever job?
PB: Jeffrey almost had a job in the morgue.
JJ: Yeah, I applied. I wanted to be one of those people who help autopsy dead bodies. I also worked in a funeral home in the Midlands. (To Fidel) I heard your mum looked like Rosemary West.
FV: No comment. I’d quite like to be a courtroom sketch artist. I would make people look really evil.
Can you draw?
FV: No, I’d have to do it all on Photoshop.
PB: I’d quite like to have a job where I’d get all the whales out of the sea and save humanity.
FV: You’re seriously suggesting killing all the whales?
PB: I wouldn’t kill them, I’d just re-house them in rich people’s swimming pools. I’m sure Elton and Sting would be accommodating.
Apparently the pigeons in Trafalgar Square are being eaten by birds of prey that were introduced to keep their numbers down. Is that more effective than pellets?
JJ: I like pigeons.
FV: Aren’t pigeons birds of prey?
PB: They prey on the elderly.
JJ: But they don’t come pecking at your face!
FV: I think they’ll turn. It will only take a moment, once they realise their own strength. You know that pigeons can only turn right?
PB: They can’t turn left. They have to go backwards and reverse right.
JJ: No, they can turn both ways.
PB: Well, I’ve yet to see that.
FV: I think we should unleash more wild animals on the streets of London. Like a huge bear!
JJ: What would happen if it got on a bus?
FV: There’d be uproar. ‘Why is there a bear on this bus?! What kind of society are we?.’ People would be saying things like that and they’d prepare tanks.
Tell us an interesting celebrity story.
FV: Okay. When I lived in Wolverhampton, I went to McDonalds with Flavor Flav. This is true. We were bored and just hung around all day. He spilt his ice cream on his clock. I remember he was wearing his own merchandise – a red t-shirt with a rubbish drum ‘n’ bass font.
And a tour story…?
FV: We played in Romania recently, that was quite fun. They would throw cats on the fire there.
JJ: (Sadly) Yeah.
FV: There were guys with their willies out and guys throwing rocks at gypsies. And dogs in packs of 20. With dreadlocks.
PB: Someone threw a bottle at us and he got punched in the face by security. We felt terrible because we were encouraging him.
FV: The foreign office gives you two pieces of advice: don’t do anything gay and don’t touch the dogs.
FV: The stray dogs. There are millions of them.
PB: This is a true fact: there are 12 dogs for every one Romanian.
At this point the conversation devolves into arguments over what would be the best paper-based product to be. The mighty paper aeroplane wins.
So, to summise: for someone who has not yet had the Applicants experience, how would you sell it to them?
FV: The best thing you can do with your trousers on… or off. It’s about getting the best out of yourself, but without being typecast completely.
The download-only single ‘Hypochondriac’ / ‘Hurt’ is out now through Brainlove Records. For more information, visit Applicants’ MySpace page here.