Almost a decade and a half after calling it a day Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine (USM) have reunited for a set of gigs round the UK for one last hurrah! We caught up with Les Carter from the band to ask him about the band’s music that led the charge of electro indie rock over the ’90s.
What made you want to play gigs as Carter USM again?
The whole thing was born out our friend and indie compatriot Wiz from Mega City Fours’ untimely and tragic passing in 2007. His friends, family and fellow band members wanted to hold a big gig/party in his honor and asked Carter amongst other to play. Up until this point we had really not intended to reunite for any Carter gigs, but the reaction from the crowd at this gig was astonishing and resulted in a great flood of requests for us to play again. It seemed impolite to refuse.
What can fans expect at these shows?
After 2009’s Album shows where we played 4 albums in 2 gigs in London, we are returning to a hits and more hits show this year. Especially as we are playing our first festival in 14 years. We want the gigs to be very special.
How do you pick what songs to play?
Choosing the songs to play is fairly easy, putting them in the right order for the gigs is a nightmare.
Will you be playing any songs from either of your solo projects?
No, this is gonna be pure Carter.
Will you be using a drum machine for the gigs or have you got a drummer lined up?
It’s a common misconception that we just use a drum machine. We do in fact use backing tapes for our shows that do feature a drum machine, but so much more, including samples, bass, keys and orchestras.
Your Manchester gig in November is already sold out, did you think tickets would sell that fast?
We always hope to sell out fast, but we were a little worried this year because of the economic climate. Happily for us the Carter crowd has dug deep into their pockets to give us a sell out. The Beautiful Days festival is also sold out and the Brixton show is very close.
Is there any plans for an international Carter USM tour?
Well, we have had enquiries from a few international promoters, but nothing concrete has come of it yet. We aren’t really keen on doing a big tour, we like our home comforts.
Back in 1997 you called it a day because it stopped being fun, did you worry about whether it would be fun during this return?
I do worry about it, yes. So far the reunion gigs have been amazing, but we are both in agreement that we will only keep playing if it feels right and remains fun.
You’ve tackled a lot of hard hitting issues with your music, do you think the issues got heard as a result?
I think we may have had an effect of some people who listened to the lyrics, I know I was hugely affected by the music I was listening to when I was younger, it really did help inform my political leanings.
Do you think many of the issues you addressed with USM are still relevant today?
I think all of them are. The world can still be a nasty place and I fear that war and social injustice will never go away.
Has it been hard to rehearse and re-familiarise yourself with the USM songs?
Most of the songs are held in muscle memory, so in a way, it was really easy. There are still a few that catch me out every time, but that was also the case back in the nineties 🙂
Will you and Jim Bob be working together on any other projects?
I expect we will still help each other out from time to time, may even collaborate on a few things. We are both clear that we don’t want to make any new Carter stuff though.
Given the large amount of music you’ve both made since USM, does it get annoying that you’re generally still remembered for songs like Sheriff Fatman and Bloodsport for all, or is it good that they’ve had such a great longevity?
Of course it would be brilliant if the Abdoujaparov and Jim’s solo stuff was held in the same light as the Carter stuff, but I fear that will never happen. Personally, I think a lot of Jim’s new stuff is a lot better than Carter, but most Carter fans haven’t even bothered to listen, preferring to stick to nostalgia and what they know. I am happy though that the ‘classics’ are still loved, it is amazing to see the 1000’s of elated punters at the Carter reunion gigs, it gives me a lovely warm glow.
You also have had your show “Fruity on the radio” on Phoenix radio, how does being a DJ compare to performing your own music?
I like DJing on the radio. It’s very hard to find 2 hours of new and interesting stuff to play week in and week out though, which is why, for now, I am giving it a rest.
Abdoujaparov has also been playing gigs recently, are there any new releases planned for the band?
I have more than 30 new tunes waiting in the wings that are earmarked for various projects. My big problem at the moment though, is that I just can’t finish anything. Maybe it’s my second mid-life crisis?
Do you ever listen to your own music?
Only if I have to or if it’s so old that I don’t remember it 🙂
What is planned after the November gigs?
Post November 2011 is complete mystery to me. Although… I have recently moved to the coast and have hooked up with a few musicians down here in Folkestone. Something will come of that I’m sure. I have a studio to build down here, which will be a huge project, I’m sure that will take most of 2012 (with a break to watch the Olympics).
Check out the band’s website to find out more!