Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Cuban Boys

In 1998, the Cuban Boys record ‘Cognoscenti vs. Intelligentsia’ took the John Peel show by storm, becoming the most requested record since ‘God Save The Queen’ and Peel adopted the band almost as ‘family’. All well and good, but then daytime radio called it ‘the Hamster song’ to save pronunciation problems and, despite a Top 5 placing in the Christmas run-down, their record label EMI ceased to be interested. Sadly, a further dent on the nation’s psyche with a hi-energy take on ‘Drink Drink Drink’ hit clearance snags (Richard E. Grant objected to the ‘Withnail & I’ samples) and has yet to see the light of day. Yet the Cuban Boys still survive on independent labels and the internet. A love or hate kind of act that a lot of people didn’t appreciate came out of fanzine culture rather than merely novelty record hell, we had a quick word with Skreen to see what’s happened since they “destroyed the integrity of daytime radio”..

> Tell us a bit about the Cuban Boys phenomenon…Skreen and Ricardo met off the coast of Sicily in 1997. Ricardo was on a jetski, and Skreen was paragliding. Somehow they managed to collide, but after a frank exchange of views they met up in the hotel bar that evening, and discovered a common interest in pop agitation. When they returned to England, the theoretical brand of pop music they had devised on their holidays was turned into a selection of lo-fi demo tapes. With the help of techno guitar legend B.L.Underwood and the North's Finest Pop Diva Jenny McLaren they were on the Peel Show within a fortnight, and never looked Back.

> Are you glad, looking back, that you signed up with EMI for the release of "Cognoscenti Vs. Intelligentsia"?
Totally. They got us in the top 5 at Christmas, and we didn't have to get proper jobs for a couple of years. If we went back in time, with the knowledge we have now, I reckon we'd probably be a bit stroppier and pay more attention to the little things. At the time, we let them get on with things to a certain extent. It would have been nice to have had ‘Inertia Kicks’ and ‘Eastwood’ released properly though.

> Are any more releases planned?
Like disco, the Cubans will never die. Keep watching the skies. ‘Drink Drink Drink’ was lost in the fog somewhere.

> Do you still consider yourself part of John Peel's family?
Last time we were round he made us wash his car for 50p, so yes.

> What other tunes would you like to desecrate?
The theme music to ‘The Lampies’.

> Heroes of ironic pop or bunch of chancers.
We were never ironic, we meant everything we've ever said. So by default we're probably a bunch of chancers then. We should chance a bit more these days, to be honest.

> How would you like to be remembered?
Immortalised as Gummi Bears.

www.cubanboys.f9.co.uk

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