Cool Hand Luke Haines

I'm on a mission to write something for this blog at least once a week, so here's an entry on one of my absolute favorite bands of all-time, the Auteurs. Fronted by Luke Haines, formerly of C86 pretenders the Servants, the Auteurs released four wonderful albums between 1993 and 1999. In addition, Luke also put out a more experimental album by his side project called Baader Meinhof, which also comes highly recommended. I can remember where I was when I first heard the Auteurs. I was living in Dublin -- this would have been late '92 -- when I tuned into the Dave Fanning Show one evening. Dave was the indie of DJ of note in Ireland, their John Peel if you will. That evening he played the Auteurs debut single "Showgirl," a fascinating gem with lyrics that seemed culled straight from a James Cain novel. The record floored me and I bought the debut album New Wave the day it was released. During this time the Auteurs were being lumped into a scene with groups such as Suede, Elastica, and Blur c. Modern Life is Rubbish; what would eventually become Britpop. Time has been kinder to the Auteurs than any of the other groups from that era, that scene. Most groups from that era made one ood album and flamed out. The Auteurs put out four stone classics.

The Auteurs also play a minor role in my new novel Heartworm, which mainly takes place in 1996. There's a short chapter called "Cool Hand Luke Haines" where the protagonist (a music journalist) has an encounter with Luke while taking a stroll through Camden. The conversation they have is based in part on a real interview I conducted with Haines for my old fanzine Vendetta, as well as Luke's tremendous memoir of the Britpop era Bad Vibes.

There's a documentary about Haines that I'm desperate to see called Art Will Save The World, which hasn't made it's way to Netflix yet. Everyone I know in England and Ireland who has seen it, loves it. I'll leave you with something from their 1996 album After Murder Park.



I finished the first draft of my second novel Heartworm two weeks ago. Why the name Heartworm? Here's the lowdown. I had been working on a sequel to Wivenhoe Park this spring with the working title of Portholes For Bono, which is a lyric from the 1995 Whipping Boy album Heartworm. The novel is set in '95-'96 so it seemed natural to listen to music from that era, especially since Heartworm is one of my top ten favorite albums of all-time. There's also an Irish angle to the story, based on two years I spent living in Dublin, making Whipping Boy a natural soundtrack to my creativity. Bono even makes a cameo!

That said, I felt like there was something missing from that earlier version of novel #2. At this time, Bloomsbury Academic announced a call for entries for their music book series 33 1/3. Most of the books in that series are standard rock criticism, but several, such as Joe Pernice's Meat is Murder and John Niven's Music From Big Pink were written as novels. I came up with an angle on how to incorporate Whipping Boy into a fictional narrative and make it a sequel to Wivenhoe Park. Not so far fetched when you think of it. The protagonist of Heartworm is a rock critic and I interviewed Whipping Boy for my old magazine Vendetta so I already had plenty of source material in the archives.

To cut to the chase, Heartworm didn't make the final cut for 33 1/3, but the book will come out and I'm already looking forward to promoting it -- I'd love to do a reading in Dublin next year on the 20th anniversary of Heartworm the album.

If you've never heard Whipping Boy, below are two of their best known anthems performed live on the Jools Holland show:


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