Interview: Stuffy/The Fuses make an unexpected return with gigs in London & Hull + album reissue

With Joyzine celebrating our 20th anniversary this year we’ve been in a somewhat nostalgic mood, thinking back about all of the many great bands that have come and gone in two decades of writing about music, so it was a rather lovely surprise to find out that one of them is making a comeback!

Stephen ‘Stuffy’ Gilchrist has become a good friend to the site over the years, through his stewardship of the excellent Brixton Hill Studios and as a member of numerous bands that have become Joyzine favourites – Hot Sauce Pony, Local Girls, his solo project Stephen Evens and the band with whom we first crossed paths Stuffy/The Fuses, alongside Jen and Jon, who’ve since gone on to form the rather splendid Hurtling. After six years and two albums of energetic yet sophisticated indie rock nuggets (including a headline performance at one of the Tsunami Relief shows we organised with Jim Rhesus), the band called it a day with a final show at the ever wonderful Windmill, Brixton in 2009, however with the recent emergence of a fresh Facebook page rumblings of a reunion began to circulate.

We of course wanted to find out more, so sent Stuffy the following questions:

Stuffy/The Fuses performing at Joyzine’s Tsunami Relief charity gig at Lock 17 in 2005

For those not yet familiar with Stuffy/The Fuses, could you give us a potted history of the band?
I tried to start a band back in 2001 but despite numerous adverts in the weekly music papers (as was then) and asking various musicians I admired in the scene to get involved most people I met were either uninterested or in one case weirdly threatening. So I went about recording the first album pretty much on my own borrowing a few favours from musicians to fill in the bits I couldn’t do. Once I had the album I was then able to put the band together including the two people I originally asked (Jen and Jon in this case). Pop fact: Jen asked ME if she could join the band having forgotten that I’d already asked.

What is the best description of the band that you’ve ever heard/read?
Thing is that I rarely read the reviews as if they were particularly fierce I’d often end up seeing their point and thinking I should stop or start again in a different vein and I decided that it probably wasn’t very productive or conducive to continued creativity. There was a lot of prattling on about Phil Collins and singing drummers despite the fact that Phil Collins the singer and Phil Collins the drummer were two very separate entities. I only played and sang at the same time because drummers were very hard to come by and I sang on the record so it seemed to make sense at the time. Nice one scribes, no journalistic integrity required, eh? See what I did there? No? Nevermind. Joyzine were always very nice supportive…maybe something you said? What did you say again? (PM – how’s this from 2004: “a scorching exhibition in stand up drumming, crowd rambling and explosive indie punk”)

What brought this reunion about?
It wasn’t my fault. Our dear friends and sometime gigging companions from back in the day Fonda 500 announced that they were going to play their final show in December and asked me if I would come and play with the Stephen Evens band, but then added sheepishly that they would love it if Stuffy/The Fuses came and played. I did point out to them that we split 15 years ago but seeing as Jon, Jen and I are still very close I said I would ask.  I was very surprised to find out that were up for it. They now have their own pop group Hurtling who are divine and gloriously casting their spell over audiences far and wide so I am very touched that they still have a place in their heart for this little band.

What are the plans now that you’re back together? Is it a short term thing or can we expect more in the coming months and years?
The intention was only to do this one gig for Fondas in Hull but everyone independently thought seeing as we have gone to all this trouble then we might as well play a London show. So we have booked a show for 16th December at The Temple Of Art and Music in London which is like a magical dive bar set in Narnia. We have asked our friends Valve and Paul Morricone to join us for this show also. Paul (from The Scaramanga Six) also having been on the bill of our last ever show in 2009! We have also managed to persuade ace keyboard botherer Athen Ayren to come in on this little excursion who I play with in The Monochrome Set and they have slotted in as if they have always been there which has made rehearsing a joy.We are also going to do a digital release of our Steve Albini recorded 2nd album Angels Are Ace which I didn’t realise wasn’t available to stream until I tried to practise the set and couldn’t find the songs anywhere. A deep delve into the archive resolved this along with one or two lost gems.  

There aren’t many bands with a drumming singer/frontperson – who are some of your favourite proponents of this unorthodox line-up?
Phil Collins……oh shit.

Stuffy/The Fuses support Fonda 500 at their last ever show on 9th December at Hull’s New Adelphi Club, alongside an all-day line-up including Joyzine faves The Research, Matt Edible & The Obtuse Angels, Black Salmon and many more (Tickets here) before heading back down South to play The Temple of Art and Music in London on Saturday 16th December, supported by Valve and Paul Morricone (Tickets here)

Follow Stuffy/The Fuses on Facebook

Interview by Paul Maps

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