FAST 9C – The Stupid Babies
Continuing to explore the records not covered in Big Gold Dream – and as part of a new project I spoke to Adam Tinley about his Fast contribution – The Stupid Babies on Earcom 3.
There are many hidden gems within the Fast catalogue, each one with its own quirky providence. Baby Sitters is one of my personal favourites, and it has a story far more unusual than most – and considering the Frank Hannoway/Michael Barclay ‘accordion meets post-punk guitar ABBA cover’, it has some pretty out-there competition.
The Stupid Babies was a punk-band consisting of two brothers – guitarist and songwriter Adam Tinley and his younger brother, Dominic. Brothers in music is certainly nothing new, even brothers in punk bands was, and still is fairly commonplace. What set Stupid Babies apart was their age. Adam was 11 and his brother just 5! Other than being one of the youngest punk groups to release a record it was also a stepping stone to something far larger for Adam…
For anyone who thought Don’t You Want Me was the only No.1 single associated with Fast, read on! This is an excerpt of the story of ‘Baby Sitters’ by ‘Stupid Babies”.
Grant: You’ve mentioned that it could be seen as being precocious, and even strange for an 11 year old to form a band as you thought it was what everybody did.
I was always obsessed with pop culture from my earliest memories …I wanted to be a teddy boy or I wanted to be Brian Connolly of The Sweet ….and I always loved all kinds of music …my Dad’s classical collection and my Mum’s Abba and The Carpenters ,but mostly my eldest brother Mark’s glam rock ,then heavy rock ,then punk rock …and he was at secondary school playing guitar in bands and I idolized him…..I’d actually started guitar lessons before him but he soon superseded me technically so I leaned riffs and chords off him and his teenage mates …I loved Radio Luxembourg then later John Peel ; illicit transistor radio listening under the bedsheets…all of it…then when you’d get like Jilted John or John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett’s very simple, stripped-down music on TOTP I thought I could have a good crack at it myself…
Nowadays it’s not such a big deal though …Youtube is probably awash with little kids singing ‘punk rock’ songs….ideas that can go from conception to potential global audience in a matter of minutes …where as back then with rudimentary home recording devices, regular post and a landline (if u were lucky) the whole process took a year or so….
What were the roles – you on guitar and your brother singing?
Well actually i was on ukelele and kazoo and yes my 5 year old brother Dominic on vocals and shaking a rattle…
Haha, what were your influences?
Apart from Malcolm Mclaren (I idolised him to the point of naming my cat after him when I was 10) and his ‘The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll swindle’ soundtrack, Patrick Fitzgerald’s ‘Safety Pin Stuck in my Heart’ EP and The Flying Lizards’ ‘Summertime Blues’ were the main ones that I remember…of course I was also influenced generally by stuff that kids do …I loved Lego and comics …
For The better known song on the EP. ‘Babysitters’ I plagiarized the melody from a tv advert at the time for bubblegum called Bubblicious …the lyrics were a phrase from a Baby Crocket cartoon in The Beezer comic and the kazoo solo was an approximation of the sax solo from ‘Rock Around the Clock’, albeit I was more motivated by the nutso Eddie Tenpole/Sex Pistols version from ‘The Great Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle’…
The music for ‘Baby Blues’ was directly lifted from The Cockney Rejects ‘ ‘Join The Rejects’ which itself was a rewrite of ‘Get Yourself Killed’ by The Tickets and I just told my little brother to pretend to cry all the way thru it for the ‘vocal’
Though i didn’t know it at the time I was just doing what all my favourite artists do or did …Mclaren,Bowie and Alan Vega …steal bits from everywhere and mash it all up…
How did you record the song?
In my bedroom on a cheap mono cassette recorder from Tesco
What actually does seem strange for an 11 year old to do is sending the tape to a record label? You must have been confident with what you’d recorded?
It just seemed like that’s what everyone did …the spirit of the times…record music on cassette then send it to a record label or John Peel and hope for the best ….I can’t remember if I was confident or not …but driven yes…
Why send it to Fast Product, a relatively obscure record label when I’d think the obvious choices would be EMI etc?
Well I’d seen a magazine article about Earcom 1 and The Prats so I thought they would be open to more music from kids. Like I knew it definitely wasn’t the next Jimmy Osmond !
Did you meet Bob Last and Hilary Morrison? I know from the other Teenage/Pre-Teenage bands such as The Prats that Hilary had to do all business the with the parents due to their ages. How involved with this were you?
I never met Hilary but yes she used to ring and chat with my Mum and myself…like a post-punk pre-pubescent social worker ha ha …Hilary told me my Mum was concerned about me dying my hair pink …but it wasn’t even like a vivid Zhandra Rhodes pink…it was more of a Mrs. Slocombe rinse …
I didn’t get to meet Bob until I was recording in LA in 1990 …he came into the studio to say hello …unfortunately I was usually wired and paranoid in those days so I may not have been very friendly…
What were your impressions of Bob and Hilary?
Well I was unaware that Bob Last was The Human League’s manager until many years later…and during the period when they were at their very best ….I just thought that’s beyond fucking cool !!!
Hilary was just a sweet Scottish voice on the end of a phone ….she used to send me loads of button badges and stuff …I loved that…but the best thing she did by far was give me John Peel’s home phone number which probably got her into a lot of trouble lol….
From releasing a record did you have expectations for it to appear in the real charts? How did you feel when this did not happen?
I don’t remember having expectations like that at all…hearing John Peel play it was already beyond my wildest dreams …and thank God it didn’t chart as when I did have hit records a decade later it completely did my nut in so I can’t imagine what it would’ve done to me aged 12..
What did your school friends and teachers make of all this? There can’t have been many school children making their own records.
Definitely not in my school, no ….I don’t remember any teacher ever congratulating or encouraging me…and I had gangs of alpha skinheads surrounding me demanding that I “SING IT !”…on the other hand I was quite a popular kid and I could manipulate kids to ask for musical instruments for xmas so they could be in my bands….
Unlike the few school groups who’ve been lucky enough to make a single they were mostly obscure one-offs, or on MOR related labels and now forgotten. How does it feel that your childhood music is included with such other iconic music?
Being an ex-labelmate of The Dead Kennedys ,Human League and Joy Division ? Feels pretty good obviously 😉
Fast are known for working with political Post-Punk groups such as Gang of Four and The Mekons. Why do you think Bob decided to include The Babysitters, almost the antithesis? It certainly would not appear to be a novelty as he’d worked with other bands such as The Prats.
Oh God u just reminded me of The Mekons’ ‘Where Were You ?’ I LOVED that song …I didn’t know they were political …I probably didn’t even know what that meant …I just loved good beats and tunes with riffs that I could play like that one….I don’t know why he included us …that EP was so ridiculously eclectic …
Punk and its subsets have become vast, varied and its influences far reaching. There’s something very pure about a band so young making DIY music, without the accepted influences and desire to appear ‘cool’. Where do you think The Stupid Babies find themselves in the history of Punk? And do you think there are common links with other bands such as the previously mentioned The Prats?
I don’t really see The Stupid Babies in the history of punk …DIY leftfield independant music maybe ….At that time there was a big emphasis on everyone in punk bands having to be teenagers …but who I personally thought were really cool were The Poison Girls who were in their 40s – my parents age at the time…and they performed some of the most inventive music and superior lyrics of the whole scene…
Where there other songs you wanted to record, or will release?
I made a lot of music with and without my brother back then but sadly i’ve lost it all….I sent John Peel an unsolicited ‘session’ on an unduplicated cassette …and even more regrettable than that was sending a fan (Smash Hits printed my home address so i received fanmail) a cassette of original recordings …again the only copy …now that really was STUPID …
Your song appeared with DAF. Do you think there was any influence from them on your later work as Adamski?
I was def made aware of DAF by sharing the EP with them …and I really loved ‘Ich Und Die Wirklichkeit’ but it wasn’t until they’d stripped down to a 2 piece that they were a more obvious influence on my work as Adamski ..and everyone else making club music in the mid-late 80s wether they know it ir not 😉 I listened to DAF so much it’s odd that I don’t speak fluent german by osmosis !
Looking back over your career – influential dance music and noted number one’s what are your views of The Stupid Babies?
Well the way that I made music then is the way i still like to make music now …at home with commonly accessible technology and limited skills…albeit a DAW in a laptop is obviously a massive advancement on a cassette recorder and a kazoo …I did all the programming for ‘NRG’ and ‘Killer’ in my bedsit in 1989… (though Seal’s vocals had to of course be recorded in a proper studio)…and nearly every time i’ve worked in flashy professional recording studios it’s culminated in a musical dog’s dinner and hemorrhaging record company money that I had to eventually pay back ….so I regret not sticking to my own artistic intuition and what worked in the 1st place….in terms of achievement I’m much more proud of The Stupid Babies than my rave era successes …but if I hadn’t invested our £100 advance in a piano that I taught myself to play I probably wouldn’t have been able to do all that dance music stuff anyway…
What are your thoughts on Fasts place in the history of music
Personally I still love and garner inspiration from the name,the logo ,the artwork and slogans and am immensely pleased with myself to have got myself associated with such a legendary ground breaking record label….but the whole of pop culture from Elvis to Instagram and all in between is really just a minuscule footnote in the history of the human race so who cares …C’mon Everybody….
Below is Baby Sitters by The Stupid Babies and the No.1 Single Killer by Adamski
You can hear and buy Adamski’s latest, Revolt on his Bandcamp page HERE. Including a collaboration with Asia Argento.