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Listen: Interview with John Cooper Clarke

Listen: Interview with John Cooper Clarke

Wednesday 14th March, 2012 10:36AM

Legendary punk-poet John Cooper Clarke tours New Zealand this month. A pioneering character of the early English punk scene, Kim Hill spoke to him for Radio New Zealand ahead of his nationwide tour which kicks off next week.

Click here to listen to Kim Hill interview John Cooper Clarke (see videos below for examples of poems they talk about).

John Cooper Clarke New Zealand Tour

Thur 22nd March - Kings Arms Tavern, Auckland
Fri 23rd March - Bodega, Wellington
Sat 24th March - Nelson Marchfest

Tickets for his Auckland and Wellington shows on sale now from HERE at Undertheradar.


'Chicken Town'

Press Release:



John Cooper Clarke’s biting, satirical, political and very funny verse delivered in his rapid-fire performance style resonated with the punk movement that had begin to pick up speed in the late 70s and saw him begin to draw huge crowds in his own right after touring with most of punk’s seminal and ground breaking bands including Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks, The Fall, Elvis Costello and Siouxsie and the Banshees, to name but a few. The steep rise in his profile soon saw him begin to be supported by some of the very bands he had opened up for a few years previously (New Order actually supported him on no fewer than seven separate occasions).

A figurehead for the movement and all that it encompassed, he became the “Punk Poet”, “The Bard of Salford” who found himself as one of the leading voices of punk and youth culture of the late 70s. Live he would find himself performing to thousands across the UK, crowds gathered with open eyes and ears gazing up at his distinctive, and now iconic visual appearance (tall and thin with a mess of black hair, black sunglasses, drainpipe trousers and cuban-heeled boots) all transfixed as he worked through a catalogue of work taken from his four studio albums and numerous singles.

So what of John now? Aside from being a key component of the punk movement, which has shaped countless bands since and being a key orator of British society during this time, his mark is indelibly seen in today’s pop culture. Aside from his fashion style spawning a number of copy-cats that stroll past you in pubs and clubs all over the country, his effect on modern music has been huge. His influence needs only to be heard in the satirical and keen social observations of the songs of bands like The Arctic Monkeys (Alex Turner cites JCC as a huge inspiration and john’s work appears in the sleeve of one of their singles as well as Turner apparently having a JCC tattoo), Reverend and The Makers (John duetted with lead man John McClure on the b-side of the band’s huge hit single ‘Heavyweight Champion Of The World’) as well as platinum selling Plan B (another keen fan, asking John personally to appear in his directional film debut Ill Manors, which is out late 2011, as well as appearing on the soundtrack). Clarke's recording of "Evidently Chickentown’ was also used in the closing scene of one of modern TV’s most famous and respected television shows, The Sopranos.

The revival of the 70s punk phenomenon over the last few years has seen a whole new generation clamouring over John’s work and watched his star rocket once again. A series of shows on leading new music station BBC Radio 6, which John presented, an appearance in the award winning Ian Curtis biopic Control (where he plays his younger self), numerous programs and nights dedicated to him on Sky TV and The Culture Show amongst others, as well as a multitude of festival appearances (Glastonbury, Latitude, Green Man, Electric Picnic as well as festivals in Holland and Belgium, Big Day out Australia & NZ 2010 & many more) have all cemented John’s place in modern youth culture.

No bigger accolade and platitude of his work is that no less than 3 of his poems are now in the GCSE syllabus, including the remarkable Twat. He is studied by many A level students and his poetry is prolific within UK and Irish University courses, all ensuring that he will be forever ingrained in the psyche of Britain’s new youth. One of Britain’s best loved and most important poets and performers, John is as vital now as he was then; continuing to write new work from his Colchester home, which he regularly performs live all over the UK and Ireland.


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