Hoovers + Spraycans

All that graffiti reminiscing got me all misty eyed about other characters from back in the day and while I don’t in any way want to turn this into a retro archiving sesh (…too many quality sites already doing that job on a far more impressive scale!) I couldn’t resist another follow up. And this segues nicely out of Fume.


The first proper rave nights I went to were the Tonka Sound System nights at the Zap in Brighton (circa 1991?) Harvey & Choci… what a line up! Can never forget the decks set up right in the middle of the dance floor below the stage, Choci with his shirt off, girls massaging him mid-set, everyone down to the last wo/man totally off their nut. Sweat, Vicks, Amyl and uninhibited dancing. Wildly eclectic sets right across the spectrum (and if you were lucky an after party on the beach down at Shoreham or wherever). And God’s honest truth, I cannot remember a single tune from those days, except (for some bizarre reason) Naz aka Naz’s “Organised Crime” !?! – the Godfather trumpet intro. “Just when I thought I was out…They pulled me back in.” I remember Choci dropping that at the peak of collective euphoria and the whole place going OFF!!!


“Your name’s not down…you’re not comin’ in”

Whatever happened to old Choci I started thinking?? He had a pretty wild run, from his Choci-Roc graffiti days in NYC, the first British writer to get up on the trains, to his DJ/producing/studio and record shops in Soho. The first record shops where I made weekly trips to and started buying and collecting vinyl obsessively from in fact (and where I discovered many an early Industrial Strength/Magnetic North/Drop Bass Network/Praxis hard techno gem and their like). Heady days. He went all Acid later and my visits tailed off but it was definitely a seed of my musical turn on and tune in.



I’d forgotten, or probably didn’t even register at the time, that one of his first tunes (if not the first?) was Mark One “Hoovers and Spraycans” from 1991 – featuring a pneumatic drill sample no less (Nomex would have been proud!) in a ’91 stylee – 4/4 kicks AND old school breakbeats. Solid ‘ardcore tune. Anyway, from what I can tell he’s back at the walls and spraycans now with the Team Robbo crew (who had that old school v new school spat with Banksy), some mention of him going into carpentry and not involved in music anymore theses days.

Fume DDS – The Bane of British Transport Police



Stoked to be the proud owner of one of these first official prints, still available here, from one of the kings of the London graffiti scene (although it feels like something of an oxymoron to have actually paid for a ‘print’, to have it framed and now have it hanging on my wall. All a bit art gallery and coming in from the cold? But that’s my problem for forking out the money like the middle class twat I am, not his).

Anyone living in London in the early 90s could surely not have missed his name and tag even if only filtered peripherally. He was simply part of the landscape, literally everywhere and absolutely destroyed the underground, particularly the Hammersmith & City line!

No two ways about it, Fume and his crew were seriously hardcore and lived and breathed paint well into the late 90s. There still doesn’t seem to be too much out there on him – to his credit! but I dug up this archived Bomb Alert Magazine interview with 2Kold that gives a snapshot of the kind of lifestyle they were all leading and it all sounds pretty full on and out there ‘on the perimeter’. Amped and angry and totally dedicated to their results. “It’s no use painting the odd wall with pretty colours. You’ve got to smash every depot. It’s a war and no-one can control us”. Seems there was a lot of quite violent rivalry and hate later on which makes it all sound even murkier. See the 1997 Big Issue feature.

This got me reminiscing about that certain period of London sub/culture. Fuck, there was a lot of hardcore business going on then! from the graffiti, the music, the raves, Spiral Tribe, right through to Damien Hirst’s shark & Marc Quinn’s ‘Self’ in the hi-art world, you name it. John Peel & Andy Kershaw on the airwaves. And still no www! – Pre-Starbucks, pre-Pret a (fuckin’) Manger, pre-Sainsbury’s Local virus, pre-fixies (except Buffalo Bill maybe heh?), pre-Flat (fuckin’) Whites, smokey boozers, Mutoid Waste squat still down Portobello Road (props to Tom Vogue’s exhaustive ‘Getting it Straight in Notting Hill Gate: A West London Psychogeography Report’ for making my mind run back in that particular hood).

My internal tape rewind is unspooling now like one of Krapp’s Last Tapes! But that’s why I bought the print and have it on my wall – every time I sit on the sofa with a cup of tea and look at it I think of all of the above and more. Dem days.

Tim Maughan: Paintwork


Sometimes it’s great to be out of the loop (and aren’t we all by degrees most of the time anyway?). You suddenly find there’s a ton of material out there making waves or bubbling away that you can have a full-on blow out on. Case in point, I’d barely only recently just discovered Michael Faber (The Book of Strange New Things, Under The Skin etc.) before my old pal I-S added to my ‘To Read’ pile and passed on a copy of Tim Maughan’s Paintwork during my last trip to NYC. The lesson: I should try and read more print!

Even if you don’t normally read Sci-Fi, you need to read this! It’s very on point thematically, streetwise but not at all ‘cyberpunk’ (as it was inevitably labelled), and like Jeff Noon’s recurring settings in a not too distant future Manchester, finally tuned to the under currents and forces at play in his Bristol. Nothing he predicts or describes seems preposterous or outlandish but feels firmly developed from careful mulling over of contemporary shifts. Conversely by comparison, I must admit I struggled with William Gibson’s latest ‘The Peripheral’. The anorexic, fast jump-cut chapters, the ‘stub’ time travel proposition, the bored dialogue of the detached characters – I didn’t really understand what the hell was going on until about a third of the way in!? Paintwork is far less alienating, accessibly near-future, short and sweet and most importantly leaves you wanting more.

As you can read from the various interviews out there already (see below), there’s particular exploration of not only ‘authenticity’, (which should resonate with any creative individual) but also as Maughan himself says, “male pride, and the role of young men in urban society; how they struggle with having significance and standing out and making their mark on things”. Needless to say, these are keenly relevant and ever present (but rarely spoken about, often skirted around) tensions within music/genre tribes…

Struggling to find out who is dissing his art with stunningly on-point and beautiful two-dimensional paint-overs, one of my favourite exchanges sees the 3D street artist protagonist 3Cube face off with an arch rival at a virtual rave:

“…You stuck up a painfully fucking clichéd toy, and someone came by and saw it for exactly what it was, and reckoned they could do a whole lot better. That sound ‘bout right to you, ‘Cube?”
“Clichéd, yeah?”
“Yeah. Clichéd. Played out. You wanna know the truth? Yeah, I am getting back into 2D. 3D is dead. Augmented is over. It’s just fucking background noise. It’s just fucking TV and Twitter and all… this – ” He waves a dismissive shadowy hand at the rave behind them. “It’s all this shit. Disposable, infinitely fucking copyable digital noise. Mass-produced and instantly forgotten. 3D is over.”

The scene ends with this wonderfully precient and utterly believable snapshot, as paired down and hopeless as a death bed haiku.

“The music stops. The sound waves disappear. The crowd vanishes, leaving just a group of ketamine-heads in one corner and a handful of dancers, shuffling in puddles of piss and vomit to a beat only they can hear. Everything is gone, and instantly forgotten.”

Shattering, bleak stuff. Looking forward to his first full length novel.

Philip Bates’s Interview

Imperica interview discussing the short film of Paintwork