NME, 12 Oct 91
PHEW! JACK CITY
You shall go to the bowl, WORLD OF TWIST! Away from their Technicolor revolving pop world, wood-bes WOE take on the NNE posse at bowls in the ultimate battle to be green kings. I'd rather jack, says TIM SOUTHWELL. Duel on the crown green: PETER WALSH.
"If we get on Top Od The Pops, it'll never be the same again. Just watch!"
Ominous words from World Twist frontman Tony Ogden, a man who wields a crown green bowling ball by day and turns into Frank Sinatra by night. It's obvious, from the near-hit singles 'The Storm' and 'Sons Of The Stage', and the elaborate live shows, that World Of Twist are no ordinary band.
World Of Twist make a wild, unusual sound, affected by its '60s influences but still, well, unique. From the helicopter rescue shakedown of 'The Storm', through to the twangy afflictions of the new single 'Sweets', the band have proved that there is no one who remotely looks or sounds like them. Furthermore, how many pop groups do you know that dig crown green bowls?
The venue is Withington's Red Lion pub, which entertains everyone from students to the Bowls Club regulars. Today, the green is empty in preparation for our visit and World Of Twist are ready for rock 'n' roll crown green action!
END ONE, and the NME bowls team of Southwell and Walsh are psyching out the opposition of Ogden and drummer Nick 'Sandy' Sanderson. The jack is cast by Walsh and Tony follows it with an over-zealous wood that collides into the back ditch with an embarrassing crash. Played before or what? This is a good omen for Walsh and Southwell, who take advantage of the lapse by rolling two woods absolutely sex-close to the jack. Sandy's fierce attempt to smash our balls (oo-er) into next week fails and the NME crew go one up. A stroll down to inspect the damage and time to start the pop chat, beginning with WOT's cabaret image conundrum.
"I think a lot of people come to see us looking for laughs," says Tony cynically, "and they don't get them. I mean, we all have a lot of personal laughs in the band but we're never trying to get the audience into hysterics or anything. I think some people have trouble taking us seriously, which is stupid... I haven't seen that much cabaret, to be quite honest."
As we move on to the next end, Sandy attempts some gamesmanship of his own by taking his jeans off and showing us his black nylon underpants. He emerges with a determined grimace a a pair of fancy bowls trousers. As he prepares to send the jack deep down the far end, a distant voice breaks the silence. "There are two concepts of time, qualitative and quantitative... man".
The voice belongs to a young bearded chap called Ken, who has latched on to the World Of Twist posse for the day. The band thought he was with me and I though he was part of the band - possibly drafted in to replace the now-departed MC Shells. Before we knew it, Ken had appointed himself World Of Twist Religious AttachŽ. You know the kind, thick-skinned, slightly lecherous, pretty good entertainment but certainly no replacement for MC Shells... as Tony explains.
"It's absolutely final, the Shells thing..."
"We're going to have to open up a new bank account and save some money first if we replace her." adds WOT noise fiend Andy Hobson sarcastically, "we'll actually save quite a bit of money now she's gone. Shells was very good at shopping, spending the record company's money."
"Personally, I'm gonna miss her," laments Tony. "We had a bit of a fall out... all sorts of things really."
"It won't detract from the sound too much," says Sandy, "only the look. She made a lot of strange noises which we'll maintain through Adge, he'll do both jobs."
"Contemplation is received in the third eye..." adds Ken, who's now striding slowly and confidently about the beer garden like some acid-headed creature from Hector's House.
Following a brief spell of dumbfounded silence, we decide to carry on with the bowls. This time Tony and Sandy at last manage to keep the woods on the green, but are no match for Team NME, who take the end, boosting their lead to seven-nil. Changing the subject quickly, we turn to matters of great commercial and worldly import: World Of Twist's new single, a song which seems to be saying something pretty damn crazy and wild.
"It's not about anything!" laughs Tony, "it's just a pop song... we all write the lyrics... actually, he wrote them."
"Yeah, Ken wrote them." So, what's it all about, Ken? "Well, I suppose it's about an error in justice," muses Ken with ingenious conviction. "You can talk about nothing and you can talk about a concept of time and it doesn't quite articulate to time in terms of being a quality. You have a transient and an intransient verb... you know, love is an actor."
"That's it in a nutshell," roars Tony, who then indecisively begins to scratch his chin, "at least I think it is."
Anyone who's ever seen the Peter Sellers film Being There will recognise the wayward deepness of the World Of Twist Religious Attach's approach. This is a Chancey Gardener: I00 per cent right and I00 per cent wrong hypotheses, a complete analysis with no beginning and no means to an end, but one which could unwittingly save the world and be heralded as the second coming. Then again, those who've seen Hector's House will suss that Ken may be no more than a "Grrreat big rrrridiculous old Hector".
"At first there, I thought he was talking about the first chorus but now I'm getting a second verse vibe off him," muses Tony.
BY THIS time we've established two things. Firstly, World Of Twist are the worst bowls players to come out of Manchester ever, and secondly, that this band don't really like talking about themselves much. Anyone who would have thought a band with so much going on in their records would have a thousand philosophies about their work. Instead, World Of Twist appease their interview squeamishness by answering with cautious brevity and a nice line in self-effacing humour.
World Of Twist have a lot of conviction, born from a knowledge that what they're doing is cool and pretty bloody good. The fact is, this band could go all the way to the top but, incredibly, they've had no offers of TV appearances to date and have not received a lot of day-time Radio 1 support. In fact, there seems to be a widespread suspicion towards World Of Twist.
Two weeks prior to the bowls frenzy, they had to hire out the Hacienda in order to play there -
Manchester has not exactly fallen over itself to put the WOT logo up in lights.
"It's actually hard finding places to put us on round here," says Tony. "I don't know why, you'd have thought it would be easy for a band like us, ha ha ha!"
"A lot of people here seem to think we're trying to cover up something because we put on a bit of a show on stage, but I think people should regard it as a bonus. We've even been slagged off for having quite fancy record sleeves, like it's a rip-off, and the fans have to pay for it or something. The fact is, we pay for it."
"Did anyone see the Last Night Of The Proms?" enquires Ken.
"Our music stands up for itself," continues Tony. "We don't need a big live show to sell our records and I don't need the Bryan Ferry comparisons I keep getting."
"It's like the goats and the sheep, man!" adds Ken.
"We don't use a goat on stage," replies Tony, "maybe we should, though."
ERM, I think we've slightly lost track of what we're here for, lads. Hey, look at the remarkably interesting position of the jack on this next end!
Bad weather approaches, so we make this the final game. Team NME are in an unassailable 12-1 lead as Tony thinders a wood straight into my foot. Apparently this is all my fault and constitutes 'rolling a reel rake' or something, transgressing law 2.34, paragraph two, page 163 of the Chorly Window Cleaners' Bowls Club And Fish Cake Society Rule Book, which was conveniently misplaced in 1932.
World Of Twist attempt to claim the match by default. A violent on-green scuffle breaks out, during which the umpire is struck on the nose. The police are called and World Of Twist are expelled from the Bowls Club for bringing the game into disrepute
Top Of The Pops? For World Of Twist it's just one roll of the reel rake away.