Feature: Another Nappy Ending
|Rock-stars keep getting younger and younger. In this exclusive interview, the Goldfish speaks to Alexander, the lead performer in the upcoming Indie outfit Tinker and the Taylors about life, birth and the universe. Photographs by Daddy.|
I meet Alexander in his New Forest residence, which he shares with his eccentric musician parents. The house is a modest bungalow, only given away by the trademark John Cooper Mini on the driveway. Alex’s mother shows me into the nursery, a well-lit room with kitsch, brightly coloured toys piled onto the shelf such as Octotunes and Tiny the Elephant.
Alexander seems much smaller in real life than he does in the publicity photographs; much smaller than you might imagine from his music; a blood-curdling cacophony interspersed with passages of monotonous gurgling, described by one critic as Death Metal meets Light Jazz, that has taken the world by storm. I ask Alex how he would define his unique sound.
“It’s a sort of plaintive wailing,” he says, “although there’s a lot of rage in there to; a lot of frustration. I think I say what so many babies have said or tried to say in the past. We’re hungry, sometimes we have a wet nappy, and sometimes we don’t know where Mummy is. We have all this to contend with and we have no real means of communicating that to other people. Most people forget what that’s like; they learn to speak and become complacent. As I see it, I am here to remind them."
There has been widespread speculation about the deeply political subtext of his work. For example, when listeners hear the track Daddy, my nappy is full, in which Alexander cries 'Aagh, Waagh, Aagh!', few can deny the oblique reference to the erosion of civil liberties under the Blair administration. But Alexander prefers his work to remain equivocal.
"People may take what they like from it," he says, "but as far as I was concerned, my nappy was full and I was a bit uncomfortable. I was merely trying to inform Daddy of the fact."
Until just a week ago, Alexander was living quite comfortably in the womb. This halcyon period came to an end when he was propelled out through the birth canal and into the world. Along with independent existence came instant stardom. I ask him what this experience was like.
“It was pretty bewildering, I can tell you,” he says “but I think it has had a big influence on me as an artist. I mean, I was so tired after – I’m still sleeping almost all the time and it’s been a whole week. But you have to remember that until I came out into the air, my vocal cords just didn’t make a noise. One could say that I had to go through that trauma in order to find some means of self-expression.”
Alex is very relaxed here in his home environment, and burps and passes wind without inhibition. In the other rooms of the house, there are dozens of pale blue cards sent from adoring fans, a clue to the flood of attention this young man has been subject to during his short career so far. Alexander isn’t afraid to speak candidly about the impact of this fame.
“It’s pretty strange to have to listen to people discussing the intimate details of your life – like how often you’ve had a poo and stuff. The female attention also gets a bit much sometimes. Lots of women I meet want to fuss over me, hold me and talk to me in high-pitched voices. Perhaps it’s a novelty for a rock star, but I am firmly a one-woman-man.”
So is there someone special in his life right now? Alex gurgles at the question. “Yes,” he says, “my Mummy.”
Indeed, despite the ferocity he expresses artistically, Alexander seems to live up to his paradoxical reputation for clean-living. He doesn’t smoke or drink and lives on an exclusive diet of breast milk, which is claimed to be good for a healthy immune system. “I’ve never had a cold,” claims Alex, “Not a single cold in my entire life.”
As for the future, Alexander is ambitious to build on his early success. He hopes to learn to walk and talk out loud.
“I think it will make my message clear,” he says “Right now, my work leaves a lot open to interpretation. If I had a few words, I could perhaps tell them what I want and thus get the things that I want a whole lot easier.
“I also would like to understand a lot more about the world. I’m hoping that pretty soon my eyes will be able to focus on objects for more than a few seconds and I’ll begin to work out, you know, what it’s all about.”
Alexander wouldn’t be the first rock-star to attempt to unravel the meaning of life, but no New Age Guru or fashionable retreat for young Alex.
“I don’t need to travel a long way in order to find myself,” he says, “I just need to work on my co-ordination and wait for my senses to fully develop.” He waves an arm about in a characteristically nonchalant manner. “I think I am roughly over here, somewhere.”