All about the bling

Lucy Peden and Jenni Marsh travel to the darkest depths of Hull to catch up with Newport’s premier band, Goldie Lookin’ Chain, as they talk about life, love and, of course, their pudding preference

Goldie Lookin’ Chain are something of an enigma. Does one treat them as a novelty band who got lucky, a musical comedy collective, or, dare I say it, the true future of British Rap? Their image is every bit as famous as their music, the Chain being some of the first purveyors of Chav Chic. The band can count David Blunkett as a celebrity fan, speculating to NME that this is because Blunkett can appreciate them by feeling their velour leisurewear. And where better to interview the kings of Argos bling than Hull, where KFC passes for haute cuisine? The Chain were surprisingly vocal on the subject of food, and spent the duration of the interview piling their plates from a carefully stocked buffet table – as Billy explained “When we’re working hard, our management lets us eat”. The band’s exhaustive work schedule seemed to have given them a rather ferocious appetite, unless their insatiable hunger was a result of the many “jazz cigarettes” they chuffed their way through….

If the hallmark of US gangster rap is aggressive arrogance, then the ethos of Welsh rap appears to be somewhat gentler; as The Chain begin our interview by modestly stating ‘You have to remember, right, we are a band of little or no musical talent’ we realise quickly that Goldie Lookin’ Chain are much more than a comic So Solid Crew trubute act. They strenuously deny authorship of their socially astute lyrics and promise whole heartedly to lip sync through the impending gig. For Goldie Lookin Chain its all about the food and friends. Throughout the interview, the band made regular reference to the other people on the Newport music scene, explaining “The chain aren’t all here. The Chain is massive.” We enquired about the meaning of the Chain, suggesting that it might be an endless series of links, developing the music of Newport. “Nahhhh!” they responded, “nothing that deep or intellectual!” Despite claiming to be this devoid of thought, the band state that they see themselves as the Marilyn Monroes and Andy Warhols of their era. When asked to elaborate on how this comparison works imagining it might be a comment on the value of the currency of celebrity, “we just are really, that’s what I reckon”, is Billy’s enlightened offering.

As ambassadors for Newport, Wales, we wondered if the Chain would consider following in the footsteps of many other musicians and doing a guest spot in Newport Beach, California. Billy mused, “The O.C.? What’s that? Never heard of it. But we’d do it, yeah.” They’re undoubtedly proud of their roots, although they didn’t seem particularly enthused by the idea of collaborating with other Welsh artists. Billy revealed the origin of the Charlotte Church guest vocal rumour, explaining “Heat magazine called us up and asked who was working on our new single. We mentioned it might be a friend of a friend from Cardiff, lovely girl, just learned to drive, and they said “It’s Charlotte Church” and hung up. So it was nothing to do with us. It was good though, being in Heat.” The band did confess to enjoy a bit of celebrity schmoozing. They revealed that Prince Phillip is a fan and popped by their recent London Astoria show to commend the Chain on their wonderful public service. When asked if a royal endorsement was possibly on the cards a cheeky grin emerged as Billy Web informed us that it might just be in the pipeline but “We don’t wanna jeopardise it by talking about it”. Their celebrity status also found them working in Japan, where “The toilets were amazing. There’s a little jet of water that shoots up to clean you after you’ve done your business, and it never catches your buttocks, it always ends up in just the right place.” The other band members agree that this could be the pinnacle of their travel experience so far, although there was a downside. “Sometimes the air jet afterwards didn’t dry you off completely, so there was some chafing.”

Despite their fame, the private lives of the Chain are rarely the subject of tabloid speculation, and so we were impelled to ask about the subject of relationships. Did any of them follow their own lyrical suggestion (in You Knows I Loves You) and give a girl a packet of Space Raiders on Valentine’s Day? “No” replied Billy sadly, explaining that he spent the day “on the bus, with a load of men.” However, he admits “I did buy two packs last time I was in Newport. It was great.” Although hardly romantic, the band gets some interesting fan mail. “One woman sent us a video of her having sex with a dog. We think the dog’s name is Bruce – that was the name she was calling out, anyway.” On the subject of contrived questions based on their album tracks, would they ever open up a Goldie Lookin’ Chain of Roller Discos? “No, not a chain, just a big one in a city”, reveals Billy. “The kids wouldn’t all go, that’s the thing. Chip shops, that’s what the kids are into these days, innit?!” “Yeah, that’s right,” replied band mate Maggot. “That’s what the kids are into. Dicks and fannies.” Absolutely and utterly bewildered, and quite frankly more than a little scared, we focused the questioning back to the band’s musical future. With an album entitled “Greatest Hits”, how can any new material improve upon what they have already produced? Billy reveals “we’ve already done loads of albums, but this was the first to be commercially released. But those songs are our greatest hits. You can probably get the other albums off ebay”. We persisted, asking what the new album will sound like. “What new album? We’re knackered from all this touring. Maybe if our management can get us some pudding….I like lemon sorbet. Maybe lemon ice cream as well. Would I be allowed to have them both lemon? That would be controversial.” The band are secretive about their new disc, but did reveal a desire to produce a covers album, smurf-style, reasoning that “it would be easier – we’d already know the lyrics” and a devious ploy to attach discount tokens for Minstrels with every copy.

As the band finish their fine feast and we sadly prepare to leave Hull, Billy Webb writes us a note asking us to stay. Our hearts melt…although not quite enough to persuade us to remain in Hull. Goldie Lookin Chain are a friendly bunch of iconoclastic rappers…and as we see them prepare with their sound check, there is certainly no evidence of a lip sync. Having consumed what was possibly their own body weight in food, they translated it into pure energy, leaping about the stage and clearly having a wonderful time. If Billy had only given us a packet of Space Raiders, we would have followed the Newport Massive to the ends of the earth.