‘Mine’s best’

‘It’s been lovely,” said former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker toward the end of his Friday afternoon set at FRF ’07. And indeed it was. The JT caught up with Cocker backstage after his show and asked him to elaborate.

How was the show, Jarvis?

It was very good. Actually, I shouldn’t say that, it sounds big-headed. I’ve been in Japan for 12 days or something and it would’ve been tragic if I’d come and played a s**t concert at the end.

Did you and your family visit Kyoto?

Yeah, it was good. We stayed in one of them places where you have to put slippers on to walk from the door to the room.

What was the Black Sabbath cover (“Paranoid”) all about?

I know that some people are thinking, “Oh, he’s going to play a Pulp song in a minute.” So to kind of placate people in some way, we’ve been playing well-known songs (on tour), but not Pulp songs. It’s one thing doing a cover version but doing a kind of cover version of your own songs would feel a bit weird. I’d rather do Ozzy.

How do you rate the FRF vibe?

It’s very chilled out. There’s no thinking you’re suddenly going to get jumped on.

How does curating your own festival, Meltdown, earlier this year compare to FRF?

Mine was much better. I’ve gotta say that, haven’t I? Mine pissed on this!

You finished your set singing the refrain, “The c***s are still running the world.” They’ll probably play that uncut on TV here. How does that make you feel?

Very proud.

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Kings do talk

Southern-rock four-piece Kings of Leon didn’t have much in the way of onstage banter during their assured Green Stage set at FRF ’07, although the JT did manage to get a few thoughts out of jetlag-battling bassist Jared Followill shortly before his band went on stage.

Are you scared about playing against any of the other bands here?

Not really. I’d rather go on before Muse than after Muse. I think The Cure is what I’m most looking forward to. Muse are an incredible live band but The Cure just has all the f**king songs. I’ve been a fan since about ninth grade.

You’re looking very dapper. What’s your top tip for maintaining your cool at a festival?

Well, we’re kind of cheating — the hotel room makes it kinda easier. But it is the tiniest and worst hotel room I’ve ever stayed in in my life by far. And we’ve stayed in some bad ones before. You can basically flush the toilet from your bed. But everybody here is so clean anyway, everything is perfect.

How are the local ladies?

They’re women. Compared to those back home, they’re harder to talk to. They’re as pretty.

And the weirdest thing you’ve seen so far?

You can buy anything from a vending machine. I adopted a baby from a vending machine. My friend Madonna has it. She’s holding it for me.

How much are you getting paid?

I have no idea. I would guess probably between $40,000 and $80,000.

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Bit of Brown

With three performances in two days that were funkier than a four-man-tent in Naeba, the hardest-working band at FRF ’07 was nine-piece band Osaka Monaurail. Highly appropriate, really, since they model themselves musically — and sartorially — on that hardest-working man in show business, the late James Brown. Earlier this year, they recorded an album with Marva Whitney, a former member of the James Brown Revue and “the original funky diva,” according to Osaka Monaurail’s band leader Ryo Nakata. Veteran Whitney joined the group for two of their shows at FRF ’07.

How does working with Osaka Monaurail compare to working with James Brown?

Marva: I like them because it’s like I never left James Brown. It’s like a pocket — whatever they’re playing, I can just slide in. It’s almost like I’ve never heard anyone who came that close, and yet still they have all their own identity. You wouldn’t expect a Japanese band to be able to hit those notes like that.

How do you transform yourself from a regular guy into this James Brown-like character?

Ryo: I don’t know how, but that’s what you gotta do. You gotta work hard on stage.

How many different suits did you bring to Fuji Rock?

Ryo: Three. We can keep them clean because we’ve got an “iron man” in the band. He ironed them yesterday at six in the morning. In the band, we have a driving man, the iron man — he’s our trumpet player, actually.

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