I Sometimes Dream Of Glue is the terrifically idiosyncratic new concept album by Luke Haines, he of The Auteurs, Baader Meinhof and Black Box Recorder infamy. A “solo” album in the solo-est sense of the word (he wrote, plays and sings nearly everything on it, and produced) the mostly acoustic music is an amusing counterpoint to the head scratching concept. “Solvents Cure the Ego” is one of the prettiest songs Haines has ever recorded, to cite one example, and sounds like like finely spun gossamer blowing in a soft breeze when you’ve got your face deep in a paper bag of Tamiya model cement.
As frequent readers of this blog (and my wife) might know, I am a huge fan of Haines’ music (I go on about this at length here) and I rate this album as a minor masterpiece in his sprawling canon, albeit an absolutely bloody-minded one. He never disappoints.
The high concept of I Sometimes Dream Of Glue per the liner notes:
It started sometime after World War II – in the late 1940’s. A convoy of British Special Services trucks had been dispatched to RAF Middlewych, their cargo – 10 tonnes of experimental solvent liquid. Sticky and deadly. The mission – to drop the toxic liquid over Germany and finish the job of carving up Europe for good. The trucks never made it to their airfield destination, coming off the road – most probably helped by saboteurs – some five miles out of London…
Just off the Westway, in the motorway sidings, you can see a small sign. Actually you probably can’t see the sign as it is the size of a child’s fingernail clipping. The sign says “Glue Town.” The name of a village. There is little or no documentation of Glue Town. You will not find any information about it on the 21st Century internet. Gluetown is a rural settlement born out of mutation. Of the estimated 500 or so dwellers, no one is thought to be over 2 1⁄2 inches tall. The citizens of Glue Town exist on a diet of solvent abuse and perpetual horniness. The residents only leave to carry out daring night-time ‘glue raids’ on Shepherds Bush newsagent shops. On a tiny screen in the town centre, an old Betamax cassette of Michael Bentine’s Potty Time plays on a loop all day and all night. The reduced size villagers go about their daily business pondering whether the lessons of Potty Time can show them a way out of their drudge lives of sexual abandonment and human sacrifice…
Dangerous Minds: What inspired I Sometimes Dream Of Glue‘s concept? Is it autobiographical?
Luke Haines: Years ago, I wrote a song called “Country Life,” it came out on an EP. That song was about living in a model village. I’d always liked the song and the idea and felt I could take it further. Last year I took a trip to Southend. There’s a pier with a small railway on it. A photo of me was taken on the train. I laughed when I saw the photo and called it “Angry Man On A Small Train.” That became the first song from the new album—and out of that came the concept…
Photo: Becky Millar
Dangerous Minds: I thought the train would be smaller. Well where does solvent abuse fit into the equation then? Were you sniffing glue while you were riding on this (supposedly) small train?
Luke Haines: Haha. I liked the idea of an 00 scale population, as opposed to the miniature inhabitants of a model village, so the populace became tiny Airfix models...and what do you need to stick your models together? Glue. And who doesn’t like sniffing glue?
Dangerous Minds: It’s true! What’s your favorite brand?
Luke Haines: Unibond. I dreamt that Vic Godard was sponsored by Unibond. Superglue is good as well. The lord of all adhesives.
Dangerous Minds: Have you ever tried plumber’s glue? The stuff they put in metal pipes to seal them at the joints is a good time. I woke up in the Bronx, barefoot.
Luke Haines: I have not. But I like the idea of a good time. On this album I feel that I’m giving solvent abuse a makeover. I’m making it acceptable for the millenial creatives. Bloggers will be blogging about glue sniffing in an urban yet pastoral setting. There will be scabs around the nose but they will be sexy scabs.
Dangerous Minds: Exactly! Glue sniffing needn’t be associated with the likes of the Ramones, Diana Ross and UB40. So it is autobiographical, then. I just wanted to establish that.
But the music’s a bit of a departure for you—more pastoral as you say—isn’t it?
Luke Haines: Lyrically it is the harshest thing I’ve done in a while, but I wanted the music to be kind of like kids music. Recorders and harmoniums. Not naive, let’s call it surreal brutalism.
Dangerous Minds: I like that term. It certainly works in this case. You’re also continuing from the last album’s homage to the Incredible String Band in a way, aren’t you?
Luke Haines: I dig the ISB in the many ways that you can take them. There’s obviously a dippy element but by the time you get to Wee Tam the vibe is quite chilling. The chill factor works for me. Like proper horror.
Dangerous Minds: That dovetails nicely with my next question. There’s an obvious sort of Goon Show element to the entire concept of “Glue Town” and its tiny horny, perpetually stoned inhabitants—you even namecheck Michael Bentine—but it also reminds me of The League of Gentlemen and that show’s horror comedy set in the village of Royston Vasey. You’ve just announced an upcoming radio show on Boogaloo Radio, will you be doing anything “Glue Town” related on that? It seems like a concept that you could take further.
Luke Haines: I love all that stuff. Peter Cook as Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling. League of Gentlemen tried hard to be ‘dark.’ The Mighty Boosh was way ahead. Michael Bentine was fantastic. Fucking demented. I love Bruce Lacey and the Alberts as well. The radio show will strive to create a fantasy world… I don’t know what yet. I create fantasy worlds to make sense of reality…
Dangerous Minds: The notion of you doing something like when Vivian Stanshall did the “Rawlinson End” things on John Peel, or Chris Morris’ “Blue Jam” radio show, seems very appealing to me. The youth of today don’t have anything like that.
Luke Haines: Haha. I’m not sure the youth of today will be listening. The old dudes know where the fun is at, though.
Here’s the premiere of “Angry Man On Small Train”:
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Mythic motherfucking rock and roll: Why Luke Haines is the best British rock musician of our time
‘Smash the System’: Luke Haines’ new album is the perfect soundtrack for what just happened