In September 2016 I happened to be in town when the Worcester Music Festival was on. I was the Chairperson of the event when it was first started by Chris Bennion of “Not Just Sauce” in 2008/2009, and it has been nice to see how the event has grown and developed since then.
There was an all-day music event on at the Worcester Arts Workshop as part of the festival, and it was there that I stumbled across a steampunk beat poetry duo called The Antipoet.
I was absolutely blown away! They did a set that lasted for around half an hour or so, and I spent the duration of their set in fits of laughter. I was also very bemused by this odd-looking duo with one of them playing a double bass in a skirt and at one point in the set wearing a gimp mask, and the other with black bold eyeliner and wearing chains. I was captivated by them and really enjoyed their unique blend of music and poetry.
Which begs the question – what exactly are The Antipoet? Are they poets? Are they beat poets? Are they musicians? Are they all of these? I’ve seen the likes of Atilla The Stockbroker and John Cooper Clarke a few times, but The Antipoet to me are streets ahead of both and in my mind they are all of these things.
Who Are The Antipoet?
It is very hard to describe The Antipoet but in a nutshell they are poets and performers whose unique blend of insights into all manner of things from politics, babies, festivals, gigging and everything in between are as true as they are hilarious.
The duo consists of Ian Newman on the double bass, and Paul Eccentric who deliver these funny poetic ditties. Now the eagle eyed among you reading this might think that Paul Eccentric is not his real name, and you would be right. Legend has it that in 1984 a journalist who was a writer on the Watford Observer gave “wannabe enigmatic pop star” the surname “Eccentric” because Paul refused to give his real surname during an interview. It stuck, and from that moment on, Paul Eccentric was born.
Take a look at this video below which I recorded during The Antipoet’s appearance at the Worcester Music Festival the first time I saw them, but apologies in advance for the slightly shaky filming:
The 10 Year Anniversary Book
To celebrate 10 years of The Antipoet being on the road and playing every pub in the back of beyond and in the middle of nowhere, breaking down on various A roads en route to gigs and playing many festivals a book entitled “Does My Bass Look Big In This” has been released to mark the occasion. Containing a foreword by Carol Matthews, the book covers those 10 years of life on the road as The Antipoet, the struggles, the trials and tribulations and playing to audiences who were never quite sure what The Antipoet was.
I loved their account of life on the road and reading about some of the strange places they have played in, their battles with promoters to be paid for their performances and their long struggle with getting people to take them seriously as poets.
I can well believe some of the things they were told along the way and why some pub owners and promoters wouldn’t book them or have them playing in their establishments in case they didn’t go down well or “upset” the audience in some way. Sadly, the majority are afraid of what’s different, and The Antipoet are different. Though to me, they are different in a good way, and it is this uniqueness that appeals to me in so many ways. They should be proud of sticking to their guns of who they are and what they stand for; in a world where society expects you to conform, these two guys are like a breath of fresh air.
It is a sad fact of life that many poets never make enough of a living to pay the mortgage, rent and their bills and the phrase “don’t give up the day job” is often heard by many poets, unless of course you are lucky enough to be appointed Poet Laureate of the UK like Carol Ann Duffy and Sir John Betjeman. The Antipoet have carried on regardless, bringing their unique brand of poetry to the masses with the help of their manager Donna (also Paul’s wife) and I applaud their tenacity and determination to carry on doing what they love.
The book also includes a 2 disc DVD set of some of their most popular performances including “Ere’s One for the Kiddies”, “We’re Artists”, “We Play For Food”, “Bards of Bugger All” and “We Like Girls”. The lyrics are included in the book, so you can quite literally “Sing Along with The Antipoet”. I have done so several times, and I never get fed up of them – I could quite literally listen to them forever!
Better than Attila The Stockbroker, better than John Cooper Clarke – The Antipoet are the best of the steampunk/punk poets of their generation. If you see them on the bill at a festival local to you, or if you see them on the listings of a pub or open mic gig local to you, go and check them out, you will not be disappointed. Miss them at your peril!
Happy 10-year anniversary to The Antipoet, and I hope they have another great ten years bringing their unique brand of poetry to the masses!
Useful Antipoet Links
“Does My Bass Look Big In This: The Antipoet – The First Ten years” by Paul Eccentric is available to buy from Black Pear Press, price £10.00. It includes a 2-disc DVD set of some of The Antipoet’s best performances.
More information about The Antipoet and shop to buy their albums can be found here – http://www.theantipoet.co.uk/.