A rocker’s fashion philosophy
I’ve always been attracted to the theatricality of playing live. Even when we put out our first record and I was buying stuff in second-hand shops, I was always going for the brightest, showiest stuff. After school, my first job was working in a clothes shop in Leicester - it was at the time when independent stores were dotted around, and this one was at the forefront. You’d spend all your money there. When the new boxes came in, nobody had any wages left, because you just spent it all on the clothes.
I did used to have a feathered parka, which was sort of amazing. I had it personally made, and it had all these huge black feathers coming out of it. It was quite Jon Snow, actually. My personal style has evolved with each record we’ve put out, so whatever the artwork or the concept of the record, my style changed with it.
On the first album we dressed like a cult, sort of like the Manson Family. The second album, I was dressing like a manga drawing of a rockstar; I’ve always liked that sort of late sixties look, but I’ve also always preferred the Japanese version of a mod to the British version. The third was the psychedelic record, where we just dressed like the album cover. The fourth album was seventies themed, with Bowie influences. Makeup was involved, too. Looking back at certain photos, I go ‘wow’. My hair was ridiculously long, I was wearing a lot of animal prints.
When you play a live show, you have to consider the detail of absolutely everything. What your guitar lead looks like; the colour of your shoelaces. Every element has to be thought through. I enjoy that part of it. I enjoy making my own clothes to wear onstage as well. It’s mad when you see thirty or forty people in the crowd copying you, in T-shirts they’ve made themselves. Things like that are insane.
It does get hard on tour, though. When we toured our fifth record, I just wanted to wear the same thing every night. It was starting to do my head in, having to choose a different outfit every single night. That’s why I decided a uniform was the best way. I loved the idea of repeating one outfit like Andy Warhol used to do. So I had a uniform of skeleton trousers which I made, about 100 pairs of them, and then a white T-shirt with a word on it, but the word would change every night. That was a lot of fun, playing with the words.
When we played the BAFTAs, which was obviously a black tie affair, I’d been doing the T-shirts every time I played and everywhere I went. So I decided I had to do the T-shirt and have it say ‘black tie’. I got absolutely for it. I got destroyed. Everyone was like ‘Oooh, who’s this dickhead?’ I did have a tail on as well, to be fair.