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The Face (Chris interview)

The vitriol. The loathing. Pet Shop Boy Chris Lowe is angry. ‘I blame the public,’ pop’s leading grump tells Sylvia Patterson.

Street style: do people look good to you, on the streets?
I liked it when it was really tribal. Now it’s merged into one mushiness, hasn’t it? Get your bloody vintage jeans out. I don’t know. Fashion; it’s all over, isn’t it? D’you know what it is? You just see the same old things going round and round and round. Unless it’s just me, moaning. No? Oh good, I thought I was the only person

Who looks good in music?
D’you know what? A lot of it’s to do with your bloody stomach. Like Janet Jackson. The idea for her last video is ‘you’ve got a great stomach’. Similarly, Kylie’s bottom. The clothes aren’t the issue. And I hate the idea that some stylist goes out and buys all these labels that you then can’t wear ’cause they’ve been ruined by Hear’Say

You were the world’s foremost ‘paninaro’ pioneer, of course
That was a very exciting time in clothes, wasn’t it? We’d just discovered Armani then, and Armani was only available in Milan and a few other places in Italy. I’ve always liked things you can’t get readily (guffaws loudly)

So everything’s a giant swizz ’cause everyone can get hold of everything?
That’s the problem with society in general. Everything’s too readily available. There’s no underground anymore. There’s no elite! That’s what the Pet Shop Boys are all about, for God’s sake, elitism. ANd you can’t find it anymore. Someone brings out a great underground tune, it’s on Radio 1 the next day, it’s ruined! Life has just been ruined by it all!

You have it in for career-pop, don’t you?
Oh yes. I really do. It’s just gone beyond a joke now, hasn’t it? It was bad enough before punk. Even dance music is bordering on progressive rock. It’s become such trainspottery, laddish, heterosexual nonsense, a lot of it. I go to some clubs and think ‘hands up who’s enjoying this please?’

The Stepford Popstars…
What really annoys me is they don’t care where they end up. They do their training and then could be on a West End stage, in a pop group, in The Bill. The whole thing is just entertainment. They don’t care about the music

Who do you blame?
The public. Hahaha! I dono’t know, it must be what we all want. Musn’t it really? It’s the whole culture. That’s used to this now, that’s used to being sold it all, used to accepting it. It can’t go on like this forever, can it? That’s why we’re hoping for the world to end, isn’t it? We’re accelerating to a point which must end in oblivion, so that something new can emerge.

Do you think anything’s any good?
The only thing I truly loved last year was the video for ‘Crying At The Discoteque’, by Alcazar. It was very discoey and trashy. They’re wearing sequinned hot-pants with these mad people dressed as chickens and this brilliant roller skating dance, just hilarious and uplifting. Whenever I’m getting ready to go out, I put that record on

Do you adhere to Tony Wilson’s ’13 Year Rule’ and The Revolution is on for this year?
Well I can’t wait. I think The Strokes are refreshing. I went to their gig at Heaven and I thought the tunes were really great. And they look rockstarry

How about Fischerspooner?
Electro-rock, features a loud bisexual man in tons of make-up. We need more of that don’t we? Everyone’s so bloody normal.

Eminem’s film is coming out this year. Excited about that?
In which he plays…himself? Not really. He should do more cross-dressing. I think that’s his forte: Eminem as Britney in the The Britney Spears Story, that’d be great. Britney doesn’t do it for me I’m afraid. She doesn’t seem terribly good looking. And her voice! Unbelieveable

You’ve got your new album coming out and it has an ‘indie’ element, we hear?
I didn’t use the word indie, did I? We just didn’t use dance elements. We went to this shop in Newcastle and Neil bought half a dozen guitars

And Johnny Marr, he plays guitar?
On almost every one. He’s so funny. Like everyone I know from Manchester, just naturally hilarious, he could be a comedian. He does great impersonations of Manc scallies. He does one of Neil – but Neil doesn’t let me see it – and Marti Pellow

Crap pop on one side, potential nuclear war on the other. How do you stop from losing faith in the human race?
This tosser Bin Laden wants to drag us back to a time of total intolerance, the sad bastard. You think we’ve come a long way, where everyone’s got rights and freedom of speech, blah de blah, and then you get some nutter who wants to actually take all that away. Whoever invented God is an idiot. God is absolutely man’s worst invention

What will be the Pet Shop Boys legacy?
I would want it to be that we’ve written some great songs that meant something to people. We’ve got fans around the world. Not like these manufactured pop acts. They’re only popular in England. It’s so parochial!

Does hate, as someone once said, keep a man alive?
D’you know what? I think I’ll have that on my tombstone: ‘Hate Kept Him Alive’. Nyeheheh!