Scroobius Pip has a new single out this month. Our reporter was tasked with asking him some difficult questions about China, Edward Lear, and wrist watches…
TTI: “Thou shalt always kill” was massive. Now you’re trying to establish yourself as a serious contender on the scene, supporting Mark Ronson on tour. Do you think having a ‘viral’ hit is a blessing or a curse?
SP: Feels like a blessing to me! We recorded “thou shalt…” at the end of 2006. It was the first song we had written together and within 12 months we have played pretty much every festival, toured America, Holland, France and, of course, all of England! If it’s a curse its the kind of curse i can live with!
TTI: How is the tour going? You’ve a reputation as a pretty serious artist, but are there any high-jinks you’d like to tell us about? Are you looking forward to being back in the UK?
SP: It’s all been great fun. I do have a reputation of being a serious artist but i really ain’t. Our live show combines a lot of weird and amusing stuff. Having some bearded guy preach at you for 45 minutes just wouldn’t be a fun night out!
TTI: How well do you go down in the USA? Are there many references they don’t get? Do you change your lyrics out there at all?
SP: America has been great for us. The reception has been overwhelming. The fact that all these people know who we are and turn out for the shows is amazing. I don’t change too much. Sometimes, in Thou Shalt…, i swap Stephen Fry for one of my favourite alltime American comedians Mitch Hedburg. Often goes down well.
TTI: You’ve got a Chinese myspace. Are you big out there, too?
SP: Have we?! Its news to me! We are just tying up a record deal in Japan which is really exciting but i havent a clue if they know of us in China. Or Japan for that matter!
TTI: Your videos are quite lo-fi, but they seem well produced. Do you need to spend a lot of money to make a good video these days, or is it all done on a shoestring? Who makes your videos?
SP: Shoestring all the way! Since day one we have used a guy called Nick Frew. He is a genius. He made the Thou Shalt vid for two hundered pounds! And most of that went on feeding everyone. The budgets have grown slightly but it’s still very much relying on favours at this stage. We would love to have a big budget just so we can pay Mr Frew what he deserves! One day!
TTI: You’ve become very famous on the back of a very small amount of recorded material. Are you constantly working on new lyrics while you’re on tour? Is it easier getting noticed without the backing of a major label thanks to the myspace / youtube phenomenon, or is it still a lot of hard work?
SP: It’s still a lot of work and we have more material than people realise. When we gig there are about 11 songs we currently choose from and we have just finished the album which has 13 songs on it and about half of them we have never played live. But, yeah, gigging is really important to us. We didn’t wanna be one of those bands that just relies on the internet for a career. Get up, record a song, upload it, go back to bed! In the 18 months we have been together i would estimate we have played over 200 gigs in around 6 different countries. We want to earn anything that comes our way.
TTI: You’re quite political. Are you an angry artist? Anything you’d like to get off your chest?
SP: I’m a very laid back artist! I’m not that angry about much. I just like discussion. And putting up ideas and topics for people to then discuss. There are a lot of things in my past and in the world that have angered me but i don’t want to just shout to people about it then walk away. I want to put views across and see how people feel about it.
TTI: Your name is taken from an Edward Lear poem. Would you describe yourself as literary? Is a lack of originality responsible for the stagnation of hip hop in general?
SP: I’m far from literary. I don’t read much but i do have a thirst for knowledge. I think thats what we should teach people. The actual joy of learning and using your mind as opposed to memorizing facts to pass exams. On the Hiphop front it’s tough. Because there are pools and pools of originality (Sage Francis, Atmosphere, Saul Williams, Aesop Rock, Polar Bear, Sway, Poem Inbetween People, etc) but they just don’t get the limelight that some of the more bland artists get. But that’s just the consumer nature of the industry. Whatever is selling will get the column inches.
TTI: And, finally, the question our readers most want to know — why do you wear two watches? One of our unkinder readers suggested that you might have two different girlfriends in two different time-zones. Care to scotch the rumour? Or are you really a secret lothario?
SP: Haha. Thats a good theory! Its not true but it’s good! It’s no big thing. Way before i had any kind of exposure i worked in a record shop. I went to buy a watch from Argos and they had it in silver and gold. I couldn’t decide and had to start work soon so i went for the silver. By the time it got to my lunch break i was rushing through lakeside shopping centre to buy the silver! I wish there was a better reason! Haha. Thanks for noticing though….
Interview by Al Allday
Originally published in TTI Music Special 2008