In 1989 at a friend's party in SF, I was introduced to two crazy British fellas named Jesse and Julius who were visiting from Oswestry, friendly and engaging lads with a heavy dose of lazyitis who were eager to perform an awkward hip hop-inspired handshake upon meeting another authentic Californian. Wide-eyed and baggy-tailed, their style was spot on in a cleverly assembled scrubby manner, outfitting themselves in the latest thrifted 60's gear with just the correct amount of Fred Perry & Adidas flourishes ...a wardrobe recipe that fit right in with our equally tuned-in yet ramshackle posse. While seemingly harmless at the time, these two gentlemen ended up crawling under my skin from that day forward like a squirrel with a box of Triscuits, a power couple that would change my life forever. The initial union at that party was crazy cool, both of them flaunted a ridiculous sense of humor, incredible taste in music, impressive drinking stamina.. and were quite proud to have assimilated 'dude' into their vocabulary so effortlessly. We instantly got on like a house on fire.. (or maybe rather like a duplex with a blown out water heater and a smoldering rubbish bin, but...) It was evident, these cats were birds of a feather. At one point toward the end of the evening they informed our crew that they were leaving for LA the next day. You're WHAT? No..no... Obviously we weren't going to let that happen. We trapped them in San Francisco for the rest of their stay, and those days we spent together were some of the craziest memories of my later teenage years. We called ourselves the Mad Hatters, never leaving the house without a hat on our heads... and, yer.. the mad part is a given. I hadn't even been to the UK yet but I was well mad for it...
The next year, Jess and Jules were at school in Manchester and we planned a visit. My brother and I were already organizing a little tour of Europe and we decided to swap out our plans for London in favor of a stint in Manchester. It was to be the final stop of our month-long tour, and up until then and all throughout Paris, Geneva, Munich & Amsterdam, me and my bro were gearing up for our visit to the musical motherland with a tape I'd made featuring the likes of The Stone Roses, The Charlatans, Ride, Happy Mondays & My Bloody Valentine.
Our arrival and subsequent week in Manchester is a complete blur, excessively quiet pubs disturbed by Scrumpy antics, sleeping on stairs, failed attempts at using a mythical 'AT&T Card', dice games and early morning mohawk-shaving sessions not withstanding... our late night visits to The Hacienda and hungover afternoons in the Northern Quarter record shopping seem like a dream now, if it weren't for the vinyl purchases to prove we were actually there, I wouldn't remember any of it. We bought so many records we had to ship them to SF, and opening the packages back home was like an extended Christmas morning, instantly turning our West Coast friends on to the new sound of England.
I've kept in touch with Jesse & Julius over the years, and with many thanks to facebook, last year I had the pleasure to visit them in London for a Mad Hatter's reunion. It was like time had stopped, we were as retarded as ever, still behaving like little juvenile delinquents in the adult world. Jesse is now an accomplished writer, most famous for his series Peep Show with partner Sam Bain, and Julius is most famous for being on another planet entirely, his tweets are crazy cool, we're bound to see him gracing the mainstream airwaves with his obtuse humor anytime soon. Both dudes are happily married with kids, they've finally achieved Dadrock status. Living the dream.
This mixtape covers everything I love about the Britpop scene... an homage to the raw emotions of freedom from those early days of '89/'90... all of the attitude, the funk, the dissonance, the grooves, the drugs, the swagger & the rock n roll in tact... I hope you enjoy it too. http://bit.ly/pophattersmix
Cheers big ears,
|Mad Hatters Reunion Tour, chilling with Jess and Jules at chez Armstrong in London last year.|
|Me in 1999 on one of my DJ nights 'Tomorrowland' at The Orbit Room SF|