Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine: how we made Sheriff Fatman

We used my flats rank toilet on the record sleeve with my guitar shoved into it though I put a plastic bag over it first

James Jim Bob Morrison, vocalist/guitarist

I had read about a dodgy landlord in the South London Press. The drug-dealing, the phoney prescriptions, the awful living conditions for his tenants: it was all in the newspaper, even his physical stature. All I had to do was change his name and Id turned an awful story into poetry and pop music.


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Fruitbat and I recorded the track in the same place we recorded the first four Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine albums: a brick shed in producer Simon Painters garden. There was no room to swing a cat, let alone set up a drum kit two important factors in the bands sound, since we used a drum machine. We knew the track was something special and it quickly became a live favourite, but it wasnt really a success until we signed a major record deal with Chrysalis, who rereleased it.

I used to love the chaos when we performed the song live in 1989 and 1990. There would be so many people moshing around the band, it was difficult to tell where the stage ended and the auditorium began. We made heavy use of strobes in our sets and theyve left my neck scarred. On good days, it looks like Im wearing a posh scarf. When its hot in the summer, the tingling on my neck makes it feels like Im being followed.

Watch the video for Sheriff Fatman

The lyrics namechecked some celebrities of the time, including the businessman Nicholas van Hoogstraten and the Prince of Wales, and we even mentioned Crossroads. Apparently Paul Henry [the actor who played Benny in the soap] got a bit miffed about Fruitbat appropriating his blue woolly hat. Im not sure if bands today could get away with the More aliases than Klaus Barbie line. Big Cat Records, our original label, didnt ever question anything in any of our songs. Maybe thats why Fatman wasnt on daytime Radio 1 as much as it could have been.

Sheriff Fatman used to be my Ralph-McTell-Streets-of-London-in-Big-Train moment where the singers forced to perform his big hit over and over. But Ive completely come to terms with it all being Jim Bob from Carter, filling my solo sets with virtually nothing but Carter classics. Everyone knows Sheriff Fatman is coming: they just need to wait for it. And, now were all a bit older, I just enjoy an extended clap-along in the middle section of the song.

When the Bohemian Rhapsody or Rocketman producers begin casting the Carter USM movie, Id like Sheriff Fatman to be played by either Michael Caine or Christian Bale in a fat suit.

Les Fruitbat Carter, guitarist/vocalist

I actually had a very decent landlady at the time, although the flats toilet was a bit rank its the one we used on the record sleeve. I covered the top of my guitar in a plastic bag before I shoved it down the bowl for the photo.

The 7in single cover for Sheriff Fatman by Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine. Photograph: Big Cat


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Jim Bob had seen a few documentaries on the subject of slum landlords. Id lived in some shoddy places when I first left home and experienced some awful conditions. Around this time, I worked for the Ministry of Defence. If I tell you what I did, Id be in violation of the Official Secrets Act and would have to kill you.

When Fatman was first released, it only got into the indie charts. It was rereleased when we were more popular, and thats when we made Top of the Pops. I think Chris Evans was a fan of the tune: he interviewed us in the toilet when we were on The Big Breakfast. When we played Fatman at gigs, the bouncers would get swamped. Surfers and stage-divers always broke through. Jon Beast, our larger-than-life compre (RIP), used to get them revved up with the You fat bastard chant.

I loved hearing Fatman covered by our Japanese tribute band, Clinton USM. They were kind enough to join us for the afterparty at a few of our reunion gigs. The real-life landlords who inspired the song are probably in a tax haven now. Theyre the reason the songs lyrics havent dated: theyre still accurate, unfortunately.

Im a landlord too now, by the way. It just kind of happened. My tenants have mostly been fantastic. The only one who wasnt is now buried under the patio.

Jim Bob plays Shepherds Bush Empire, London, on 23 March. Jim Bob from Carter is published this month by Cherry Red Books. Fruitbat is one half of Smokin Donuts, on tour in May.

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

This post was curated & Posted using : RealSpecific

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