Sometimes it seems to be so dark we forget that we are not alone. All it takes is the smallest flicker of light to reveal the truth. And that truth is - we are legion. Some of us were lucky to be present as Matt Johnson broadcast his Radio Cineola Election Special from his Shoreditch home - all twelve hours of it. Many more listened in throughout the day. Some contributed to the show, either dropping into the makeshift studio or talking via skype. Some interviews had been pre-recorded. The whole thing was being filmed by Johanna St Michaels for the forthcoming documentary Radio Cineola: The Inertia Variations. Over the course of the day listeners heard, Brad Lochore, and Lucy Rogers, geo-political analyst William Engdahl, Tim Pope, David Edwards from Media Lens, Zoe Hepden, Neil Clark, Denis Masi, John Kelly, Neil Sanders, Marian St. Laurent, Neil Maskell, Zeke Manyika, Stefan Dickers, Steve Pyke, and Matt himself, as well as a number of listeners who phoned in to ask questions. Artists, film directors, journalists, political analysts, writers, musicians, actors, photographers, educationalists and fans of The The. All with something interesting and heart-felt to say about the state we find ourselves in.
This wasn't just about the election in the UK. It was about the wholesale rejection of a manufactured reality that has been created by the so called elite, in an attempt to enslave the majority. As depressing as another five years of Tory despotism is, it would be a mistake to think that Labour could offer a real alternative to the right-wing shop front of the bankers and their self-serving chums. The two party system is a dog and pony show to distract the masses from the reality of the permanent unelected government. Labour's manifesto was more or less identical to the Tory one on all major issues give or take a few details. The truth of the matter is that privatisation of education and the NHS is a given no matter who pretends to be in charge. Neither party has spoken out about TTIP, and if Labour ideologically is supposed to reject Corporatism, the reality of a Labour party true to its own name that will do so is something long gone. Britain has been sold-off to the highest bidder, something successive governments have overseen. Whilst talking about immigration in a bid to instill a jingoistic outlook in the populace, the foreigners who really have damaged our sovereignty are the mega-rich ones - corporations or individuals, who have been given tax breaks, and tax evasion loop-holes to ease the syphoning away of the wealth supplied by the citizens of this country, now more correctly termed the product. As Sun Ra once said, "It's after the end of the world, don't you know that yet?"
So three cheers for Matt Johnson for dedicating his time and energy in order to shine the light, to keep the fires burning, and bring together just a handful of voices of dissent. As the broadcast progressed towards its conclusion, there seemed to be a fitting echo of 1987, when Thatcher tightened her vice-like grip with a third term and The The released Infected - as bold and melodic a statement of political disaffection as any. We are still the 51st State, and we need now more than ever the collective response to the lunatics running the asylum.
At the end of the night Matt said, "Looking at these exit polls is filling me with depression really." And of course it is designed to do just that. To make us feel like we are alone in the dark. But then there is a flicker of light and we realise we are not alone. We are in fact legion. We are the silent majority and we have to lift up every voice.
Forgive me for the name of this post but I couldn't resist. It is one of the answers I have given when asked what I am currently working on. Just to clarify, it will be the authorised biography of Matt Johnson. Those with even a modicum of good taste in their record purchases back in the eighties and nineties will need no introduction. In fact you may be one of the many who have been wondering what happened to Matt as The The (assuming you have been following his recent soundtrack releases) since his last album - Naked Self - was way back in 2000 and his last public performance was at David Bowie's Meltdown festival of 2002? You might have bought the recent vinyl remaster of Soul Mining and be wondering if the planned remaster of Infected will include the legendary film, screened to acclaim on Channel 4 at the time of the album's initial release.* You are possibly prone to contemplating whether the almost mythical Pornography of Despair will ever see the light of day?
I can't promise answers to all these questions but can promise a great story, not just about the life and career of a musician who has managed to retain his artistic integrity and credibility while so many others have succumbed to the nostalgia circuit, but about how the music industry has changed along the way, how the London where Matt was born and currently resides has changed and, sadly, how the political climate that Matt described with such insight on Infected and Mind Bomb, remains much the same, only worse.
In covering the entire career of The The - as it is still ongoing (yes), I will be including everything of note up until the time the manuscript has to be delivered to Scott Pack at The Friday Project next year. Updates will appear here, as well as tasters and unused material, so if you are a The The fan don't touch that dial...so to speak.
* word on the street is...very possibly...