So the infamous Blood and Icecream trilogy has come to an end with The World’s End, another quintessentially British comedy from Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg.
The theme running through all these films has usually been about responsibility – avoiding it and then learning to embrace it. This time it’s Pegg who starts out as a teenager in the Eighties – rebellion, drinking, and a strong love for rock-dirge merchants The Sisters of Mercy.
Flash forward thirty years and “Gary King” explodes back into his former schoolfriend’s lives utterly unchanged from those irresponsible adolescent days – still sporting the same head-and-star t-shirt from the Sisters back cataloguge, dyed-black hair and aviator shades.
King is a man-child, unable and unwilling to let go of his childhood when he was literally King of the Scene, and his love for a band from that time is part of the visual cue that tells us he’s trapped in a time-warp and needs to grow up!
That’s obviously the part that impacts Goths so specifically. Despite Sisters policy, and Eldritch’s firm denials, Goths make up a vast quantity of the band’s fan-base – so to be accused of being somehow ‘immature’ or ‘irresponsible’ for still loving this band stings somewhat.
Well, it does at least for me. I’m in a peculiar middle-ground though – the same year The Sisters of Mercy performed their legendary Albert Hall gig, at the height of their power, I was joining the world in Eldritch’s ancestral stamping ground of Yorkshire. Not being in late-middle-age, I have no hesitation about broadcasting my love of the Sisters – hell, I started a tribute band to them!
That isn’t to suggest the band isn’t still active themselves – the Sisters routinely tour the world to sell-out venues, but is this movie suggesting every audience member is hanging on to an illusion of youth?
The fans themselves have definitely given the film a pale pair of thumbs up. Discussion on My Heartland, the premier Sisters message board, has been positive although a few contributors have expressed concern that they’re being portrayed as rather sad cases who haven’t moved on with their lives!
- TBG: Hi Mark – thanks for talking to us. How long have you been a Sisters fan?
Mark: I’ve been into The Sisters since about 1986. Typical me, I missed what most people would call the “classic line-up”. On the other hand I did get to see all the Floodland-era TV appearances and videos as they happened.
Anyway, I got into The Sisters via Wayne’s offshoot band and someone saying “listen to this, it’s the band Wayne and Craig used to be in” and recording me a copy of FALAA. Home taping was killing music back then, not mp3s. I was hooked from the very first listen.
- TBG: Lucky you! You’re still a fan today of course, and many others are as well. What do you think the secret of enduring success for the Sisters is?
Mark: The enduring appeal of The Sisters? Well everyone loves a good old English eccentric don’t they? Especially eccentrics with the wit and cleverness of dear old Uncle Andrew.
And actually I do wonder if their appeal is becoming more limited. There’s only so long you can go without releasing any new product. I know Eldritch isn’t keen on the greatest hits tour idea, but given the lack of variety in setlists in recent years, it’s getting harder for him to dodge that accusation.
On the other hand, for those of us in the know, Sisters gigs are an excuse to drag out the old faded t-shirts again and relive the forgotten glories of our misspent youths.
- TBG: That’s very much the main motivation of Simon Pegg’s character. He’s a Sisters fan and it seems to be part of this image, that it’s a childish obsession, it defines him as an overgrown teenager! Do you think Sisters fans nowadays should ‘grow up’?
Mark: I dunno about “growing up”!
But I don’t really think I’d feel comfortable getting all “gothed up” these days. A forty-something fella in eyeliner would just look stupid. I might get away with crimping my hair though…
- TBG: Open to interpretation on all counts there, I think! So what do you think – is the media pushing the idea that Goth is a bit of a relic and needs abandoning, maybe?
Mark: [On the] media portrayal of Goth, I’m incredibly ambivalent. In fact I’m incredibly ambivalent about Goth overall these days. On the one hand, I’m very much a supporter of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, and when I hear anyone slagging off Goth I tend to get quite defensive.
On the other, I find some (repeat some) individual Goths irritating, even embarrassing. I don’t really understand what dressing as Jack Sparrow, for example, has to do with Goth, you know? And the whole cyber thing completely left me cold.
- TBG: It isn’t for everyone, and I’m sure we’ll end up addressing the divide between the tribes some day! So I believe you’re saying that outwardly you might tone down as you age up, but inwardly there’s nothing wrong with keeping on loving the Sisters and hitting the gigs – and the bars – with your mates to celebrate it?
Mark: Aye – spot on!
It seems like Mark has the measure of the mood. Sisters fans might find the mocking tone slightly rankling, but probably only because it strikes a little too close to home! In reality, of course, there’s nothing wrong with loving the Sisters decades after you first discovered them.
We think Gary King is utterly justified in what he thinks – but maybe he needs to address his wardrobe first? Let us know in the comments below!
I’ll leave you with these two tweets that made our day when we read them…
@simonpegg You should have said, we would have sent you the actual suit.
— Chris Catalyst (@ChrisCatalyst) August 22, 2013