Rock'N'Roll Parts One & Two

Melody Maker, October 26 1991. P47

Four years of, widespread disapproval has failed to halt the rise of CUD. DAVE SIMPSON talks to, the band about autographing pizza boxes, their singer's curious habit of wearing women's clothes and their debut major-label single. Pic: MR IAN TILTON

The four members of Cud are doing what most comes naturally - behaving like pop stars and acting the fool. A frantic dash across Leeds city centre has managed to shake off a gaggle of over-attentive schoolgirl autograph hunters, and we're finally able to get down to the serious(ish) business of a Cud photo session. The gigantic chess board outside the art gallery provides our location for the day and snapper Ian Tilton has persuaded the band to play the pawns in his game. Except that they have loftier ideas.

I want to be a bishop," proclaims bassman William Potter doing his best to assume an air of religious benevolence for the camera as lanky drummer Steve Goodwin places his hands in front of him as if he's riding a horse

I want to be a knight!" he begs "Let me be king," pleads Carl Puttnam twisting his not inconsiderable bulk into an outrageous posture somewhere between Henry VIII and Elvis.

Guitarist Mike Dunphy, however, has other ideas "I want to be a queen." he exclaims excitedly. Puttnam grins "We all thought you already were!"

POSSIBLY due to Carl Puttnam's voluminous appetite, it's suggested we conduct the interview in a pizzaeria. Taking their seats at the opposite side of the table. Cud survey me with a tangible, although unsurprising hint of distrust. After all, they've been one of the most critically reviled groups in modern rock 'n' roll. They've been dismissed as being crap, ugly, one dimensional, formulaic, contrived, self-conciously wacky and musically crude. Even now, as their popular approval rises, their critical reputation is only a hair's breadth from the kind of widespread derision afforded, say, Gary Numan.
Haw do they react to the frequently scathing criticism?
"It depends haw it's pitched " muses the affable Potter. "It can be upsetting when it gets really personal. When it's not about the music at all but about what we're wearing or about the fans. They slag off the fans for being spotty or not being able to dance when they're one of the most enthusiastic crowds around."
All of the criticism's entriely unjustified. of course.
"Of course! No, actually a lot of it is justified!", declares Mlke Dunphy "I think we'd be the first to admit that early on we were as crap as everybody said, and there have been times when we've deserved all we've got! But we have moved on, and I do wish sometimes people would recognise that."
You don't agree that what you do relies on formula?
"I think to an extent that's true of any band," Mike continues "I mean, look at the bands that are getting a lot of critical acclaim at the moment. If you go to see Ride, for instance. I can tell you what's going to happen before you even walk through the front door y'know! I always thought we were the direct opposite of that."
"And another thing!" adds Puttnam 'I get slagged off for being badly-dressed, right? When we did the Crystal Palace gig all the bands that they said were well dressed, like Ride, they just wore shirts and jeans! They were dead scruffy!"

THE LEADER OF THE GANG

FOR a band who have have often I been portrayed as being badly-dressed inelegant or grey, Cud exhibit a strange, almost parodic glamour. Much of this comes from Carl Puttnam, whose outlandish garb and general flamboyance brings to mind a latter-day Gary Glitter or Alvin Stardust. Like Sir Gary, Puttnam is ostensibly a most unlikely pop star, an awkward, in many ways, unseemly creature who calls to mind a wild mutation of Billy Bunter, Mick Hucknall and a slobbering bulldog. Prise him into his stack heels and sequined trousers, however, and he becomes Carl Puttnam, Superstar, intrepid conquering hero of a thousand teenage dreams. Puttnam's stage costumes (the glam rock vicar, the transvestite Jim Morrison) are the stuff of legend and yet right now he's dressed relatively conservatively today. Carl is modelling a loud frilly red shirt (which appears to have done some time as a tablecloth). the obligatory over-tight leather trousers, a white pig-skin coat possibly borrowed from his auntie and some glorious platform shoes in the noble tradition of Slade. Even dressed down, he looks faintly outrageous. I don't wear these clothes just cos I'm in the band," he explains. "I've always worn them and now it's got to the stage where I feel I have to out-do myself each time. For a long while wearing flares was all I had to do to look a bit weird, but now it just looks backwards. it s a bit of a problem, really, I've got nothing to wear on the next tour at all. I'm really confused." Puttnam learnt the art of his attire in London, hanging around with Leigh Bowery. Trojan and the sleazebag/performance art in-crowd. When he moved to Leeds to study in the mid-Eighties, it wasn't so easy to come by the gear. I'm having to have stuff made more often now, and it's expensive Did you see those glitter trousers I has on the last tour? Black velvet with silver glitter on! Really, really cool."

DO YOU WANNA TOUCH HIM?

IT'S hard to think of the tubby, red-haired Puttnam as a sex symbol, but it's rare to see him stepping out without an entourage of girls, most of them of an extremely tender age. Mike claims he pays them a fiver each to hang round with him, but I m not convinced Puttnam is curiously, almost obscenely, charismatic. Ogle-eyed females have commented on his strange, fallen angel quality and he does exhibit a tangible air of the little boy lost Perhaps this is becouse despite his extrovert appearance. he's basically shy "I've always been like that," he confesses. "I've never been an overly confident person." Why do you think you've developed this persona? Do you think you recompensating for anything? "No, I haven't got any inadequacies if that's what you're trying to suggest!" Puttnam insists "I just like dressing up. I'm in a pop band, it's not as if I work in a pizza shop!" "But you dressed liked that when you did work in a pizza shop!" Mike protests. "I know had to give it up because people kept asking me to autograph the boxes."

ALWAYS YOURS

Autographing pizza boxes and fending off persistent fans are soon likely to becorne little more than occupational hazards for the maverick Cud as they dive headlong into the world of major labels and wider audiences. Now with A&M, their new "Oh No, Won't Do" EP sees the band twisting their mutant cod funk into more accessible rhythmic cocktails which are closer to Seventies funksters The Ohio Players than indie scrap merchants like Bogshed with which Cud used to be compared. They've come a long way and, whatevar the critics say, the sight and sound of Carl stamping his irreverence and outsize wedge heels over "Top Of The Pops" in the foreseeable future is a prospect to be relished. Meanwhile America beckons and one can't help wonder what on earth Uncle Sam will of this eccentric bunch of Englishmen with the spectacularly awful name. "In America we re gonna have to be called The Cud Band," Carl explains, "because there's already a band called Cud." How completely strange. Are they old psychedelic hip; "No," laughed Mike. "Actually they sound like Bogshed!"

The "Oh No, Won't Do" EP is out now on A&M and the group are currently on tour.