Melody Maker | Advance | 2 October 1993 | Photo: Matt Bright
"These guys saved my life," begins Cranium HF vocalist Fisheye, nodding at his partners Kev and Ross. "I was really seriously ill when I first met them. My face was all bloated and my lips were the size of football pitches. I thought it was because I'd once lived in an old fire engine on a toxic waste dump, but the doctor said that I might have AIDS. So he sent me for a test.
"On the way up to the clinic, I saw some posters for a Daisy Chainsaw gig that night. I thought, 'Fuck it, I might be dying, but I'm going to that'. The next thing I know, I'm working as a fucking roadie on the tour! Apart from Kev, who
was Daisy Chainsaw's soundman, everybody took one look at me and kept well away. The spliffs always went straight past me. It was a nightmare."
By the end of the tour, Fisheye had turned into an impromptu support act. Every night, bloated face and all, he'd climb onstage to rap over a few tracks that Kev, who has also worked as a sound engineer for Meat Beat Manifesto and Sheep On Drugs, had recorded with his friend Ross several months earlier. Back in London, Kev suggested the three of them formed a permanent unit. Cranium HF's debut release, the "Nation Of Pinheads" EP, one of the weirdest and boldest dance records of 1992, appeared soon after.
A year on and with Fisheye fully recovered from his mystery illness, Cranium HF (Head Fuck, in case you're wondering) have now issued a second EP, "The Deal". The opening shot, "Money, God, Power And Greed", is a thumping mix of rap, industrial and acid music. This is followed by the guitar buzz of "Womantra", which is one part My Bloody Valentine to two parts The Orb. Over on the other side of the record, there's an in-yer-face rave choon together with the cinematic and spooky "Pinhead State".
"The Deal" sounds like the work of four different bands.
"So what?" snaps Kev. "Who says you can't be into club tunes and rock groups at the same time? There's too much snobbery in music at the moment – all guitar groups have to sound like so-and-so and all DJs have to play a certain type of techno. Even the best DJs seem scared of freaking people out."
"What they should be doing is getting everyone on the dancefloor with a popular dance tune and then suddenly banging on the Dead Kennedys or World Domination Enterprises," says Fisheye. "That would be so much more exciting. I've been to raves in Goa where the DJs did things like that and the buzz was brilliant."
Cranium HF's lyrics are further evidence of the group's desire to break free from convention. Fisheye's frenzied diatribes are a far cry from the hippy-go-lucky shit of many dance tracks.
"I make the words up as I go along," he declares. "I'm like Morrissey – 'Girlfriend In A Casserole' and all that. I'm just talking about how fucked up everything is. I mean, I was really into the Summer Of Love, but I now realise that it didn't have anything to do with reality. It was just about Ecstasy. I would love to be one of the so-called beautiful people..."
"But you've no chance, have you?" grins Kev.
"We've lived off the table scraps of the 1960s for far too long," interjects Ross. "We want to be about what's happening now."
Spot on. Cranium HF's unique blend of musical styles is exactly what the 1990s should be about. "The Deal" is a significant lesson in the application of technology as a means of progression instead of simple repetition.
"The trick is to treat technology with the contempt it deserves," notes Kev. "Don't be a slave to the machine."
"We make music in spite of the fact we're a technology-based group, rather than because of it," says Ross. "Nothing on 'The Deal' turned out the way we thought it would."
Especially not on the night when, long after everybody else had gone home, the trio set off the fire alarm in the recording studio.
"It was because we were smoking so much, er, stuff," beams Kev. "It was mad. We were standing three or four feet apart but we couldn't see each other through the fog. And that bell was so loud. We tried all sorts, but we couldn't stop it. We had to wrap a T-shirt around it in the end."
"My T-shirt," adds Fisheye. "It wouldn't have been so bad if you hadn't then made me stand outside in case the police came along. I was so fucking cold. So much for saving my life, these vicious bastards almost killed me!"