Early PunkFormer Punk
The Hollywood Party: Punk and Psychorock
With rarities and unpublished documents, a new record documents the beginnings of the iconic Peter Sellers And The Hollywood Party in Milan. It' called Early Years 1985/1988 (Spittle Records, LP + CD) and contains some of the most beautiful pieces of rock ever written by the group that represented the punk side of the so-called Italian Neo-Psichedelia in the second half of the 1980s.
When he asked me if I wanted to form a group with him, we thought it was the end of the circle: Peter Sellers and The Hollywood Party, something almost didactic. Then Peter Sellers was a certain icon and, if we want, also contradictory, but a crazy character: He had made The Magic Christian with Ringo Starr, then The Pink Panther, Beyond the Garden, Dr. Strangelove of Kubrick... ".
You had an independent label, Crazy Mannequin. Can we say that there was a real art scene with groups, fanzines and reference artists? "Yes, our label Crazy Mannequin released an Nikki Sudden by Swell Maps, but also Cesare Basile's first record with Quartered Shadows, Giovanni Ferrario's Views, The Backwards, which later became Lo-fi Sucks, The Power, which was later transferred to Vox Pop and before Cesare Polenghi moved to Japan as a football commentator.
There was a reference scene that was the one in Milan with which there was a lot of exchange, for example Bad Medicine, Acid Flowers, sometimes Human Jukebox. I must say that we were also somewhat strange in the sense that we were somewhat different compared to the groups that the press had defined to simplify it, Neopsichedelici, because the psychedelia was certainly an important value, as was the punk and if we want some things from the new shaft.
Many groups were didactic, recognizable and placeable in this scene. We were different because there were up-tempo pieces that could remind us of punk, but also many dancers that we could connect with the first softs machines, with the things of Kevin Ayers...". Let's assume that Peter Sellers' first album is produced very naively, with many mistakes, so much so that Painter Man has the electronic drums because we recorded the acoustic badly.
But in my opinion, our most interesting phase in hindsight is only the first one collected in this new version, and also in the first ever small record with toast, when we did things without thinking too much about it. "Absolutely: There were the television personalities, then the Jesus and Mary chains, the things of creation, the glass itself, all these scenes, especially the English.
But they were dynamics that were very easy to develop now, because how the scene developed back then, when they were very groundbreaking back then, so we made a decision that turned out to be wrong afterwards. "Yes, we' ve got Violent Femme, but our role models have been Swell Maps, Desperate Bicycles, Television Personalities if we want alternate television: groups that use punk in new ways.
Then we loved all the bands like Live that remain unreachable, and in general the whole scene was "bad, eternally underground". Regarding the dynamics you mentioned, I have to say that the Italian independent music scene had not yet developed and would explode in the early 90s, say Marlene Kuntz.
Contempo, Phonographic Media, Toast, with whom we wanted to start working together. But the industry then developed with the first wave of "posse", which also brought important sales figures, so that interest grew and many started singing in Italian. What was your ambition if not to make a record for an English label?
There were no networks, there was nothing, there were fans moving in this area, and with a number of cooperations we also formed a Milan scene. We had places to be, places to see. Let's talk about the less conventional pieces of the record: I remember nothing annoys the Joy Division piece with the alienating effect of the acoustic guitar in the opposite direction.
Years later Nikki came to say goodbye to us in Milan and I suggested he record a record with Crazy Mannquin. With the Peter Sellers we made a faster version live, a bit banal if we want to be ruthless. "It' another punk piece, it takes a minute and fifty and the tape was made by my son Matteo.
That' s why, in my opinion, I also speak of Rhythm'n'Blues: Because we made these daring crossings between punk and pieces that might remind the kinks a little, and then with this harmonica they almost became Rhythm'n'Blues. Punk and New Winds are important, also because Tiberio was one of the first Milanese punks (Jumpers/198X) and had a record store called Tape Art in the Corso di Porta Vigentina.
About the way you sing: The influence of darkness is strongly felt in the trio of songs that close the record. Punk was important because he practically dismantled the mega-productions that didn't interest us and increased creativity. But it' s also true, if we want to broaden the discourse, that it was an important historical phase in which things had to happen, because now the Ramones would probably only find a contract for an independent label".
Here are some of Peter Sellers' finest tracks: My absolute favourites are The Devil And The Moon, Spun Out Of A Mind and Horse, but it's on their latest one. On this one are the first two, but also Stolen Letter, Love Song, Silent Clouds... These moments, which were not yet historicized, are perhaps the freshest, though cultural, moments closest to the reference scene that formed us, because the early 80s were an interesting time for Milan, where many things happened, unlike the second 80s, which instead are the years of reflux, of boredom, of Milan to drink.
We were at home listening to music and doing other things that went beyond this superficial hedonism. And I will always be grateful to Peter Sellers and Crazy Mannequin for saving me: we lived in a parallel city. All these things that were created were beyond fashion, beyond emptiness.
A parallel city, a little invisible, but with some interesting things. "There was still a music market, people still thought something could happen. I have a nice memory of the 80s, which was a reference for what happened afterwards. The hypothetical immobility of the music scene led to the contamination between music and electronics, which was one of the most important events in music and created the genres we hear today.
It was a reference point for a historical phase in Milan. Due to a space problem and the positioning of the store we decided to sell only certain things, neither straightstream nor skirt, in fact what we had was punk positives, darks, gothic, the first things ambients, technos, trip-hop, which is then a bit the way I had gone, because the parties in 90/91 went apart, and I started doing the first experiments with electronic music, with sampling, I founded the Outoff Body Experience and then Dining Rooms.
Speaking of short circuits, with the transition to the 90s much has changed: the second summer of love; the remixes that Andrew Weatherall does for Primal Scream; My Bloody Valentine that make it to the charts; Creation, that creates a label for home music; The Shamen, that leave Glasgow, become a quartet duet and make Move Any Mountain and psychedelic records that become prerave classics.
We loved Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, Ride, and so we saw the birth of another scene in the early 90s. I still had transversal listening, but I chose another way that led me to found The Dining Rooms to work with electronics, albeit in a somewhat analog way.
You were also a DJ, now you work with radios and produce with The Dining Rooms, but also with a label of libraries, Intervallo and with GDG Modern Trio with Bruno Dorella (Ronin, Bachi da Pietra, OvO) and Francesco Giampaoli (Sacri Cuori). I must say that the birth of The Dining Rooms was a little like the end of the circle.
I also really like what the Peter Sellers And The Hollywood Parties have created around them, the Crazy Mannequin label. As a side effect there were the Subterranean Dining Rooms, a very simple projekt I played with Metro Benzina, Tiberio, Bad Medicine, sometimes Cesare Polenghi from The Power.
While we tried with Peter Sellers to be popular in quotes, Subterranean Dining Rooms were almost an experimental collective. When the Sellers split up and I started doing all the other things we said, I started working with Milano 2000, the schema, the Ishtar editions of the mid-90s, and I tried to mix the songwriting with the electronics, which I then gave up to concentrate on producing film music, which we then called trip-hop.
So I decided to regain the name Dining Rooms, and I have to say that the attitude with which I approach the productions is the same one with which I approach the Subterranean Dining Rooms, very free. Now we are also working on a new record with Peter Sellers, which is now always me, Tom and Metro Benzina with Ferdinando Masi and Geppi from Casino Royale: Tom would like to make seven inches, but I think it would make more sense to make at least a small one.
With Peter Sellers we played for the occupied universities, we played a concert with Paolo Hendel at the occupied technical college, then there was the famous background event in Helter Skelter... We were not the expression of a specific political struggle, but we came from there and still belong to this world". In the case of the cover of this new record, it is a creative work that we did with a series of pictures that we loved at Crazy Mannequin.
We have always tried to do things that make political sense, although we are not a political group in the classical sense.