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The Chanteuse & The Crippled Claw are a great new band from Sheffield. Mainman, the Crippled Claw, was on the scene a couple of years ago making great eccentric, left field DIY pop singles with Kings Have Long Arms before, ironically, breaking both his arms in a freak accident- hence his monicker. Now recovered he returns with an even more enticing new project featuring the vocals of Candie Payne and his twisted pop is close to dark, northern, melancholic genius enthuses John Robb who introduces them to you with this interview…

The Chanteuse & The Crippled Claw

LTW!  ‘your music has a fantastic atmosphere with the melancholic underbelly of late sixties psychedelia mashed with the early sheffield futurism of Human League etc…and it is very English! explain!

“Without trying to emulate but storing in a small suitcase in the lost luggage compartment of my heart I like music like 50 foot hose to the more obvious fuzz soundtrack stuff like Morricone and Gainsbourg, also throw in some Bruce Haack, some BBC radiophonic workshop but with the grandness of a Scott Walker record and the wonkyness of the Upsetters but with the attitude of The Fall. Add to that mansion sized pop hooks then that’s sort of what I’m trying to achieve musically, lets face it, no one else is (laughs). All though a lot of what I love comes from across the universe it is very important to me to make the language used, the attitude, the voice, very English. It is also very important to me not to sound like The Black Eyed Peas (laughs), although when I’m alone watching Countdown with the sound off I do like to put on that ‘My Hump’ song(Laughs)
Reguarding the Sheffield thingy..Moving from Salford to Sheffield, I was forced to hand in my acoustic guitar and maracas at the end of the Snake Pass and was handed a Synthesizer and a bottle of Hendersons Relish, but being a Salfordian I took the synth then just did what I wanted..(laughs)”

LTW!  ‘How does your project work? are you the maverick genius! tell me about the people you have pulled together.’

“The Chanteuse And The Crippled Claw is myself writing, playing and co producing everything along with my pal, ace Sheffield producer Dean Honer from wonky electronic pop group All Seeing I and I Monster, and on vocal duties Liverpool Chanteuse Candie Payne who when she sings transports me from 2013 to England 1965…I’ve also got this really ace young lady called Lucy Fawcett playing trumpet for me who’s a multi instrumentalist, which take the pressure off me when we do it live”.

“The original idea behind the project was too write some intelligent adult pop music and work with different female singers be it fresh talent, more established artists or the odd Leg-end in the same way someone like, say Serge Gainsbourg, would of done in the 60’s, hence the chanteuse vibe..(laughs)
About 2 years ago I’d badly broken both my arms in a bike accident- I’m the Eveil Knieval of eccentronic pop (laughs), so I was at home a lot listening to the radio or watching day time telly off my head on powerful pain killers but what made dem bones ache more violently than they should was hearing and seeing all these awful so called top pop production and writing teams treating women (and men) like fucking sex idiots. It’s not a representation of womanhood or female empowerment and it’s not sexy- well certainly not to any of my female or male friends, I mean, who are someone like the Pussycat Dolls representing and if it’s your daughter then you should be worried? Women are still being portrayed in Pop Music like fucking Stepford Wives apart from, say Lily Allen, who gets hounded for having an opinion or taking the piss out of the industry she’s in which is a fucking disgrace. Why should a woman with an opinion be deemed controversial in 2010? then two months later you’ve got Bono and the rest of the goons of rock coming out saying let’s clamp down on file sharing- its killing music mate, but not one of them cunts came out and supported her at the time. Why anyone would want to be a popstar defies all logic, I couldn’t work with anyone who (A) doesn’t have their own opinion (B) has no talent and (C) can not dress themselves, yes, I know that’s pretty much everyone in pop but I’m trying to address that with The Chanteuse And The Crippled Claw (Laughs). ”
“Me, a ‘maverick genius??’..without a doubt John!! (Laughs), all that’s important to me is to do good, but fascinating work and be the square peg in the ass hole of all that is deemed popular or trendy..”

LTW! tell me your brief history
” I’d been making records in my flat or mates houses in Sheffield and putting out little 7″ singles on various mates or fan’s little D.I.Y labels under the solo alias of Kings Have Long Arms from between 2003 till 2008. In 2004 I wrote a song and got Phil Oakey to sing it called ‘Rock And Roll Is Dead’ It got loads of really good reviews in the NME, the Guardian and everything in between and it was quite big in all the electro clubs across Europe around 2005/6- a cult classic I think they call ’em!?. I did telly in France and my little zero budget videos made by mates in Manchester were on MTV2 quite a bit and in turn I got to play all over Europe without once going to London to kiss some record label/agents arse/or even really speaking to the press and because of Mr Oakey’s belief in my d.i.y. – no bullshit- slightly odd pop approach it gave me the confidence to ask other people to appear on tracks so I also got to work with people such as Ray Dorset (Mungo Jerry), Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce from The Smiths, Denise Johnston (A Certain Ratio/Primal Scream) to name a few. These records were compiled in to a fun little album of sorts called ‘I Rock You Pop’ ,this album forced me to go to London where I was given a Publishing deal for the song’s from Domino records in 2007. In 2008 I put a single out for them called ‘Big Umbrella’, my now Chanteuse, Candie Payne, sang on this. It did really well on the radio, my proudest moment was hearing it twice on Coronation Street in the Rovers and in Kev’s Garage (laughs). I then broke both my arms and Candie went off singing with Mark Ronson- there’s a moral to this story somewhere (laughs). Since then I’ve had to relearn how to use my arms again after having to have lots of complicated operations and physio which has recently ended. During this time of pain and pain killers I’ve written an album for The Chanteuse And The Crippled Claw project (out Early March) and have also been doing another project called The Arch Nazards which is more of a heavy- psych- kraut- rock group but again, not really like anything else…my destination is Immortality, which is quite a long time John (laughs) .”
LTW! ‘Did the bike accident which broke your arms change the way you worked physically and mentally!’
“Definitely, when I woke up in hospital for the first time both arms tied up to different posts in plaster making me feel like a fly in a spiders web. I thought I’ll be OK and be going home, then the specialists came to my bed and told me the seriousness of my injuries. My right shoulder had the sort of injury they only see once or twice a year in people who have been hit in the shoulder by lightning and my left wrist was completely shattered. The first thing i said was “but i play guitar and keyboard. I write songs” the specialist just looked at me and said “did you?”. I was pretty gutted but was determined to prove medical science wrong (laughs) .Now I can’t play barre chords but I’m now able to shred on a guitar if i hold it upright on my lap like a cello. It’s an unconventional way of playing it but who cares about convention when you’ve a need to rock out! (laughs) and I’ve enough movement in both hands arms now to play a keyboard. Making music was all I was bothered about and probably one of the biggest obstacles to overcome which was why I did this first. All I had working on my arms the first time I went in to a mate’s studio was my right hand and two of my left fingers, for me the most difficult and mentally traumatic thing’s to do was the mundane stuff like making a drink, turning a tap, opening a jar or a bottle, making something to eat- put it this way, you find out who your mates are when you can’t wipe your own arse (laughs). It’s given me a lot of insight on lots of different levels. It’s been excellent John.”
There are some upcoming gigs…

The Chanteuse & The Crippled Claw play their Debut live Shows at

Queens Social – Sheffield 22/1/11

Deaf Institute – Manchester 23/1/11

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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