Partying, Peacocks And Pizza: Not An Animal Talks

Henry Zoonka sits down - and attempts to cure hayfever - with Andy Bainbridge and Chris Stoker of Not An Animal Records, and their honorary crew member Josh Graham.

Partying, Peacocks And Pizza: Not An Animal Talks

Henry Zoonka sits down - and attempts to cure hayfever - with Andy Bainbridge and Chris Stoker of Not An Animal Records, and their honorary crew member Josh Graham.

It’s about half nine on a Saturday in Homerton. We’re immersed in a traditional British late summer evening of residual heat meeting a cool breeze, permeated by an olfaction of tobacco smoke and alcohol. Perched above the entrance of the pub a majestic golden bird observes scenes on the street. We enter, buy drinks, and head out to the garden. I’m at The Spread Eagle, sat at a table of friends and allies for a chat and catch-up; intentionally an interview of sorts with Not An Animal, ahead of their guest slot at the LATER!! all-nighter in Peckham. Andy Bainbridge is to my right, critiquing about skirting boards being paint jobs that require a certain level of skill and planning. Over the table to the left is Chris Stoker, smiling into his Margharita. Josh Graham (aka Yung Graymo) is on my left, attempting to pacify his raging hayfever with a cold pint.

How are you doing chaps?

CHRIS – Alright yeah! The summer is definitely off the blocks. Had a little bit of downtime a couple of weeks back, and it was my mate’s 40th  (pause). It’s definitely getting into the swing of things now, business as usual.

ANDY – Definitely a baptism of fire.

CHRIS – Good though. Andy got pretty far out with some peacocks. 

JOSH – Where was this?

ANDY – In Norfolk, in this massive house for our mate Wayne’s 40th,  there were peacocks flying around, they were amazing.

JOSH – Thing is peacocks can’t actually fly (laughing).

ANDY – They can though!

CHRIS – This is the thing; I think they can fly enough to elevate themselves to a higher space, but not high enough to be flying over Dalston.

ANDY – They jump don’t they. They have to be kept in a pen because they just shoot off. Apparently, they jump on cars and attack the reflections in the mirrors, they fuck everyone’s cars up, so you just get loads of complaints about the peacocks (laughter).

CHRIS – Obviously there are loads of peacocks in Sunderland so that’s why we’re quite versed in what goes on with them.

JOSH – What was the last record you bought, where did you buy it, and why?

CHRIS – So many packages turn up and about nine out of ten of them I’ve got no clue about the records inside. I buy something at a daft hour in the morning, and every one is a surprise because I’ve no idea what’s coming. But I’ve got one that rings a bell, I’ve taken a photo of it, I can never remember the names but. It’s not necessarily the most recent record I’ve bought, but it landed in the last couple of weeks and it's a record by Joe Mubare, the album’s called Private Scream. It was the recommendation of a guy I used to live with called Patrick Little who knows what I’m into, sent me a link and said: “I think you’ll be into this”. I took a leap of faith because he knows my vibe. I bought it, put it on and I was like “this is bang on my tip”. Bearing in mind I had to take a photo of it because I couldn’t remember what it’s called.

JOSH – What’s it sound like?

CHRIS – There are loads of things about jungles and monkeys, there are loads of positive messages in there about “gimme some hammer and gimme some nails”. At first glance it seems a bit bleak but it’s really really positive, I mean that’s what I think anyway, give it a listen and the proof will be in the pudding. It’s a good album, everyone should listen to it, certainly tickled my fancy.

ANDY – Bet you can’t remember the name of it again though (impersonating Chris) 'I’ve listened to it twenty times' what’s the name of it again? 'Ah dunno'.

CHRIS – Honestly though I have, I’ve listened to it on repeat. Joe Mubare, or Mubere. Potato, po-ta-to. Called Private Scream.

JOSH – Nice, I’ll give that a go.

CHRIS – Patrick Little needs to get credit for this one, he sent it my way because he thought I’d like it. This has definitely got nothing to do with me getting my hands dirty in amongst the racks and digging it out.

ANDY – The one I got was Sigi Schwab and his Percussion Academia. I bought it because there’s an amazing track on it called Kassensturtz, or Kassensturz? It’s a proper Balearic kind of folky guitar thing, it’s wicked, the production on it is great.

Which would you rather? Have access only to music that has already been recorded and released? Or only music from this moment onwards?

ANDY – It’s like kind of asking someone to choose between their parents and their kids.

CHRIS – There is enough amazing music in the world. There’s enough shit music too.

ANDY – Aye, and it’s getting shitter. I’ve been pondering this; If you got rid of all the music in the world and just start from scratch, how would it go? Would it take the same course? Would it go the same way? I often think where do you take music now, where do you take it? It’s all kind of re-hashing it. It’s all based on something else, all based on other stuff, but if you totally wiped the slate?

CHRIS – If I didn’t have access to any other music from this day forth, other than what I have now I could still go through every record I’ve got, and all this stuff I’ve got on USB memory sticks where I’m thinking “I don’t know what the fuck this is” and still find loads I haven’t heard. There’s so much stuff that’s been made I have no idea about.

ANDY – There’s loads of amazing new music, and there’s stuff that I’ve bought from a few of years ago and I’m thinking 'How have I missed this?'.

CHRIS – There’s still bits and bobs from my favourite bands which every now and then someone plays and I think 'How have I missed that?'. 

ANDY – Aye!

CHRIS – People are always going to be looking for new stuff, whatever you’re into at the minute, be it new or old, and also digging back into your collection. You can find stuff that you forgot about that might not have really fitted the bill at the time you bought it or whatever, and it’ll just lay there dormant until you discover it and it’s perfect for the moment and exactly what you’re looking for. You’ll always surprise yourself.

ANDY – When you go through your records and find something you’d thought 'oh that’s shit' and you’re listening four or five years later thinking 'this is awesome'.

An actor, a writer, a musician, an artist and a politician walk into a pub... Alive or deceased, who would you invite round for an evening of music and drinks?

ANDY – We’ve just started a new project called Latrec, after Toulouse Lautrec. I’ve only recently clicked about Lowtrax (pause). Toulose Lowtrax, and put two and two together. But yeah Lautrec the painter, not the producer Lowtrax. He was completely insane, but a genius.

CHRIS – You’ve got to have someone who’s good for a drink.

ANDY – Oliver Reed, he could drink, aye (pause). For a politician, I probably wouldn’t want any politicians round because I fucking hate them, I mean, I’m not into politics, all policticians are lying twats but I did read Saddam Hussein’s autobiography (laughter) have you read it? It’s fucking amazing.

CHRIS – Autobiography?

ANDY – Well, he didn’t write it, it was another guy. Have you read those Jon Ronson books? The one where he goes after the erm, what are they called? You know the gang of politicians and ultra rich people who control the world? What’s it called, my mind has gone totally blank.

The Bilderberg Group.

ANDY – Yeah, he investigates them, he was breaking into the meetings and in turn was being followed around. He’s a wanted man. I mean people say they are all lizards, which is bollocks, but here’s something going on there. He’d be a good craic I’d imagine.

CHRIS – Rik Mayall. I love him. As a kid I’d find stuff in my dad’s box of tricks, my dad was quite young, I’d go through all his LPs and find stuff by The Young Ones.

ANDY – I thought you meant his porn collection.

CHRIS – I mean, the imagery and the quotes, The Young Ones and Bottom, when I was growing up Rik was always just poking fun in serious situations, and having a laugh whatever was going on. It still kills me today. “Pollution all around. Sometimes up, sometimes down. But always arooound.” It just tickles me.

ANDY – It’d be a right good do!

CHRIS – To be a fly on the wall (laughter).

If you could have one superhuman, paranormal, or physics-defying ability, what would it be and what would you use it for?

CHRIS – I would definitely like to fly. So I could just fly up when he’s working on the crane and just knock on the window and make him shit himself (laughter). And also, probably catch him having a kip or something. I’d love to know what goes on up there. All these times I’m ringing him and he’s saying “Nah, I can’t, I’m busy” I know for a fact he’s sitting up there doing fuck all. 

JOSH – You’re a crane driver?

ANDY – Aye, and I’m one of the most accident prone people in the world.

CHRIS – Imagine just flying up there, you know you’d catch him up to no good. Just go up like Nosferatu with his arms crossed, rise up and tap on the window. Just to see his face (laughing) “Andy, you sorted those bits for the label?” “Not yet, proper busy at work” Tap tap on the window. I mean if I could fly that’d be my first port of call, then I’d fly off and get up to allsorts of other mischief.

JOSH – How do you get up there? Do you have to climb?

ANDY – No, I fly up. Aye, up the ladder.

JOSH – Bet you’ve been asked this a fair few times?

CHRIS – To be fair though it’s paid off, he’s got the best arse in the business. For all that KFC he’s got the peachiest arse I’ve ever seen (laughter).

ANDY – I’d probably lose my power of smell,. When he drops his guts I’d like selective ability to smell, you know? (laughter)

CHRIS – I’d fly up to the crane booth, fart in there, lock him in and fly away.

ANDY – That’d be alright, I’d just knock my sense of smell off.

JOSH – I always wanted the superpower of the ability to set my hands on fire whenever I wanted. There’d be a harsh reality of even though I’ve got the power to set my hands on fire I’ve still got my hands on fire, and every sensory pain that goes with it, screaming, running around everywhere and freaking everyone out. “He set his hands on fire!” running around everywhere causing mayhem.

ANDY – I reckon the ability to put my records back in the sleeves at the end of a night would be a good one as well.

CHRIS – Oh definitely, I’m down with that, I mean it’s not going to save the world but it’d make me happy. It’d soothe my OCD.

Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’ is playing on the pub PA and rises through a lull in the background chatter.

CHRIS – I love this song!

JOSH – You ever seen when he plays it live, and it’s all going wrong and he’s just keeps screaming and playing the piano. He just starts kicking off and wrecks the piano. (laughter) Any habits or weird ticks you see in each other that make you knowingly smile?

ANDY – Off in the distance, you can just hear “Girl I wanna make you sweat!” You just hear him singing it and I think “Oh! There he goes again”. Whilst doing his invisible lasso dance.

CHRIS – My lasso! My cowboy, yeah.

ANDY – We’re both the same when we wake up in the morning at festivals and there’s always “I just met your friend Chris” and “I just met your friend Andy and he told me this (pause)”.

CHRIS – I mean everyone knows we’re always telling stories, we know each other’s stories, I think I’ve heard them all but every now and then he pulls one out the bag, and I shit myself myself laughing. Where did that come from, and why haven’t I heard it? Andy’s storytelling ability is unparalelled, if ever it’s getting a bit grim and grizzly late at a party you just have to poke the fire. (laughter) You can always get that extra ten percent out of him, he’ll pat his belly and get up to entertain you for the rest of night. To be fair I’ve never met a single person who doesn’t like him.

Sound? Or vision?

ANDY – That’s a bit bleak. Chosing to be being deaf or blind? 

If you had to chose between these sensory experiences, which would it be? Which sense is most important in your life?

ANDY – Sound for us. But I like vision. (laughter)

CHRIS – I mean I’m sound, and I love my vision. (laughter) ANDY – It’s funny, we played last week at The Cause in Tottenham. We were doing the warm-up when there were still people outside, and I went on and it was just pitch black, which is alright if you know the club’s full, but I was thinking “is there anyone out there?” I was trying to work out if I should pick it up a bit, or tone it down? Not being able to read the crowd, not being able to see, not playing to the crowd but being able to respond and to see! When they shut the doors they started putting on the disco lights (pause) (inaudible) It sounded proper seventies that didn’t it?! They started putting the disco lights on (laughter) and the mic wasn’t working so I couldn’t wish Emily a happy birthday.

CHRIS – For me, we’re obviously very into our sounds, but I think I’d like to be able to see. Say when the parties dry up and you’ve got nowt left, if you can still appreciate natural beauty and what have you, and again making sure he puts his records back in his sleeves or nicking my drink when I’m not looking.

ANDY – I’ve heard about the records enough!

CHRIS – Being able to see smiles on people’s faces.

'The eagle eye is among the strongest in the animal kingdom, with an eyesight estimated at 4 to 8 times stronger than that of the average human. An eagle is said to be able to spot a rabbit 3.2 km away.' That’s a serious range of vision, almost seeing into the future. What were you doing ten years ago? How does life now compare to what you envisaged it’d be?

ANDY – What did we imagine ourselves doing? Oh, I thought we’d be getting picked up in limos and flying to gigs. (laughter) I don’t even think about what’s happening next week, nevermind in ten years.

CHRIS – If we’re going back ten years it was round about the time when Bad Passion was just getting started. It’d been getting off the blocks in the early years, it’s had it’s ups and downs but we’ve always done if for having a laugh and a good time, and it was getting us in some good situations. Now it’s actually starting to pay off a little bit, and we’re stil just having a giggle. ANDY – We don’t do it for wanting to be big time DJs, just for the giggles.

JOSH – Did that start in Sunderland?

CHRIS – It started down here. If you look on the Not An Animal Records website you can read about the Bad Passion project.

ANDY – I think nowadays I wouldn’t want to be a big time DJ, just travelling all the time, I’m 42 now so maybe twenty years ago I’d have been up for it, but not now.

CHRIS – Thing is we’ve been together the whole time, and even when it’s a pain in the arse dragging yourself out on a Saturday night for a gig if it’s putting money in the pot to pay for a remix or whatever, or some mastering, it’s alright because you’ve got your mate doing it with you. We just get a bit drunk, and onto the next one. If I was doing it alone I don’t think I could do it as long. Anytime I’ve had a solo gig (pause) one in particular when I was in Berlin and just wasn’t into it at all; just turning up on your own, it’s a bit of a solitary vocation really.

You’re playing an all-nighter at Voodoo Ray’s in Peckam end of next month. A party in a pizza restaurant, south of the river. Is this a first for the DJ memoirs?

ANDY – South of the river, aye! (laughter) We’ve never played a proper party south of the river.

CHRIS – We got as far as London from Sunderland so that extra hop over the river isn’t going to kill us.

ANDY – I’ll be thinking “I like this, I’m moving here next week.” I hear the streets are paved with gold, and fish guts.

CHRIS – I need to get my jabs and get my paperwork stamped, I’ll have to sort that out on Monday.

ANDY – Do I need my passport?

What’s the essential item for your summer festival survial kit?

CHRIS – Mosquito spray, and our records. I wouldn’t be surprised if we turned up without USB sticks or records. There’s been a couple of times when we’ve been changing trains and jumping on, then “Oh I left my records out there on the platform, best go and get them!”

ANDY – I always lose my USB so I bought this neck pouch and thought “I’m going to keep in there” and forgot to take it with me anyway. (laughter)

CHRIS – Every time, as soon as I jump on it’s “Where’s my USBs? Where’s my USBs? Where’s my USBs?”

ANDY – Ohhhhhhh

CHRIS – “I don’t fucking know!” and now it’ll be “Where’s my neck pouch?”

ANDY – We were playing at the Lion And Lamb and I was asking “Where’s my USB?” We get back to his and Chris says “Is this yours?” I was a bit gone by then and was saying “No, no, that’s not mine, but I’ll try it anyway.” It had all my music on it and I thought “What the hell has happened there? That’s not my USB stick.” I literally thought I was in The Matrix, there’s been a glitch and there’s this wrong USB stick, thinking “You can’t kid me” A glitch in the system, you know? About an hour later I looked at it and realised that actually, this is my USB (laughter).

Dan Beaumont, proprietor of Voodoo Ray’s and reknowned London party champion, has a couple of questions to throw into the mix.

DAN – What is your perfect dancefloor?

ANDY – For me it’s a funny one because first of all I was going to say “Proper Danny Tenaglia nights out, pitch black, me and the strobe light.” Then I was at The Cause and thought you know what? Nah, fuck that. I played at the forest party, in Hackney recently...

CHRIS – Yeah that was wicked.

ANDY – Somewhere that’s outdoors.

CHRIS – Trees!

ANDY – You’ve got loads of trees, and the sun coming up. Like Barberella’s, it’s amazing when the sun comes up.

CHRIS – We’re playing Barbarellas for the first time this year, can’t wait. The bar staff will still be cleaning and checking the floor when we’re playing, that’ll be an experience in itself. We’re inching ourselves up the pecking order.

ANDY – 'Right lads, everyone’s gone, it’s time to go now.'

DAN – Who's the most cosmic Geordie ever?

CHRIS – For my part I’ll say Brian Johnson from AC/DC, does it for me. Angus’ brother George was in Flash And The Pan too, they were cosmic, definitely not from Newcastle though, maybe a bit of a tenuous one that.

ANDY – I’ll say Trevor Horn.

CHRIS – Oh that guy on our next release, aye. I’d like this on record that we’re Mackem from Sunderland, not Geordie. There’s loads though! All Mackems are cosmic, we know some pretty far out people.

ANDY – Ginger Joe from Chester-Le-Street, he’s a mad bastard (laughing).

CHRIS –  For me it has be Brian Johnson from AC/DC.

ANDY – Brian was in a band called Geordie, my dad used to be in a band and Brian would borrow my dad’s PA whenever theirs was knackered.

JOSH – What you got lined up with Not An Animal? Any bits you can tell us about?

ANDY – We’ve got three or four in the pipeline, haven’t we? CHRIS – We’ve got more than that, I’ve lost count. We’re well ahead at the moment, got four or five ready to go. The next one is from the newly re-branded MODXI who is Sam Watts, and his dad Trevor Watts, not Trevor Horn. For the record it’s not Trevor Horn; for all those people I’ve told. Sam’s dad play sax on it, he who used to do session work with Don Cherry and The Rolling Stones. That’s got a Roman Flügel remix on it, which we’re really happy about, and Frank Butters who is one of our closest friends.

ANDY – He’s pretty cosmic isn’t he?! (laughter)

CHRIS – In terms of cosmic Mackems you don’t them much more far out. He used to be a resident at our parties, he’s a long standing friend, so to have him on the same record as Roman Flügel is great. Amazing DJ, amazing producer and just daft as a brush.  A pain in the arse, and a real handful.

ANDY – I’ve got to camp out with him at Gottwood, Jesus Christ!

CHRIS – Remember at Bestival when he was pissing in some wellies and you were laughing your head off? Turned out they were your wellies. (laughter) Anyway, after that we’ve got Que Sakamoto, that’s got an Apiento remix. Then what’s next?

ANDY – Komodo, with an Eric Duncan remix.

CHRIS – Yeah, with the mysterious Vyvyan on there. I know exactly who that is.

ANDY – I don’t think it is you know. CHRIS – I’m going to have a sneaky five pound on this on the side.

JOSH – What’s that about? Someone under a different name?

ANDY – A producer who is resetting themselves, that sort of thing.

CHRIS – I’m getting a sweepstake going on this. (laughter)

ANDY – And there’s Lautrec, which I mentioned earlier.

CHRIS – Yeah, Andy’s new project, which sounds wicked.

ANDY – We’ve got one from got Ian Blevins.

CHRIS – Actually, he’s a pretty cosmic Mackem.

ANDY – He’s a right space cadet. They are all cosmic back up there.

CHRIS – That’s got a Discodromo remix, me and Jamie Blanco doing an Ess O Ess remix.

ANDY – That’s it isn’t it?

CHRIS – There’s the other Ess O Ess, with a Backwoods remix, and a Craig Richards remix.

ANDY – Then we’re retiring after that.

CHRIS – If all of then get out before I have a heart attack I’ll be a happy man. I feel like there’s another one we’ve forgotten.

JOSH – Who did the vocals on Ess O Ess' ‘Cantilate’?

CHRIS – That was me, that’s some of my nonsense.

We’ve run over time, Chris and Andy are late starting their monthly DJ fixture at The Spead Eagle, so we pack up and head back inside. There’s more chat about new releases and a few more anecdotes that won’t be going to press. Hugs and pats on backs, warm goodbyes and into an Uber taking Josh and I back down south of the river.


LATER!! with Not An Animal and Bad Passion takes place at Peckham's Voodoo Ray's on Saturday, 23rd of June. For more information, head HERE.

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