Chris Wade is a writer who has done nonfiction for Hugh Cornwell (Stranglers) and his Hound Dawg magazine. He is a founder of the music project Dodson and Fogg (2012). On the album, actor Nigel Planer narrates two stories that go between the music tracks. Wade has also written comical fiction, including Cutey and the Sofaguard (2010), an audiobook narrated by the late great Rik Mayall. And now, Wade announces the release of his newest work of humorous fiction: The Hunt for the Mayor of Smoochyville, an audiobook narrated by Peep Show‘s Super Hans, Matt King.
The mayor has gone rogue and is living a nude, feral existence in the wild, and he is terrorizing the townfolk. Oddballs Martin and Smithy take it upon themselves to retrieve him. On the way, they dine at the Mature Lobster, drink house beers, talk about crisps, ogle coins, and try to make their way through the dreaded Grot Alley. Will they find out just who is planting the ham sandwich and Acker Bilk tape on the doorsteps of Smoochyville? More importantly, will they retrieve its mayor? The Hunt for the Mayor of Smoochyville is on sale as an audiobook here.
An interview with Chris Wade
For the narrators you’ve used, what made them the perfect choice for the job?
Well I wrote Cutey and the Sofaguard in 2008 with Rik Mayall’s voice in my head, but obviously never imagined we’d do an audio version. At that time I had no intention of making a proper go at being a writer and musician, but I sent it to his agent late 2009 without putting much thought into how I might do it, and I was amazed when he wanted to do it. There was no one else in mind for that. I went down to London, met him in his agency’s office, and went over the characters for an afternoon. Then about a month later, I went back down and recorded it in Shepherd’s Bush at a studio down a ginnel, over three days–three sweaty days, I might add. There was no proper vocal booth for dear Rik, so I had to put him in this kind of cupboard and put a chair in after him. There was only enough room for his frame so he was in there really tight and boiling hot for three whole days. The results were brilliant, though, I got to say. Bless him, he never moaned or made me feel unprofessional. He just dived into it!
I’ve had an artist and actor called Brian King do one for me too, a free one called Who Killed Beaky Wilson, and he is fantastic.
With Nigel Planer, I had him in mind from the start and the same with Matt King. I got some of my favourite scenes from older stories, ones I never used, and I rewrote a new narration for it with Matt’s voice in mind. It always works out well that way. I was thrilled Matt wanted to do it. He lives in Indonesia, so I arranged a recording session over there for him to nip over and do it. We had a couple of phone calls about delivery and stuff, so he knew what I was after. Did a brilliant job, I’m really happy with it. I really enjoy writing these audio comedies. They’re a lot of fun to do and kind of sell over time and build up interest gradually. For me though it’s a good chance to make myself and a few others laugh, as well as work with some of my favourite actors.
Do you remember where you were when you heard of Rik’s passing? Having worked with him, how did it hit you?
Yeah I do. I was holding my baby, and I got three texts at the same time from my sisters all saying he’d died. I had to put the baby down, I felt really dizzy and odd. I was gutted. Went and listened to Cutey again and found some outtakes that were very moving and also wrote an account of the time I spent with him for my free magazine. I was very sad.
From a fan perspective, I’d loved his work since I was a kid, he was classic, RIK MAYALL for god sake, a legend in our house.
From a personal point of view, I was very sad because we had a good laugh together and he used to text me and ring me for a while after the audiobook, so it was sad in that way too. I’m really proud of what we did together and glad that people see him as the legend he was, because when I worked with him no one seemed to care much, he’d gone out of favour a bit. So it’s amazing that they see him as the giant he was.
Which writers inspire you?
I love horror writers Stephen King and James Herbert but also love reading Charlie Brooker books (and watching his shows, too), Hunter S Thompson, George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, and anything written by Bruce Robinson is always great. I’m not a huge reader of fiction myself, I’m much more into nonfiction books, as well as music and film/TV, but I do enjoy writing. Even if it’s not always going to be seen as fantastic, I enjoy the process. I like creating a new world that bares very little resemblance to the real one, where anything can happen and people speak a bit differently. It’s like escaping in a way, not that I have anything to escape from, apart from changing my daughter’s nappies.
Is there such a thing as “British humor”?
It’s a tough question because I think there has been a bit of a caricature of the idea of British humour. At first they said it was all flatulence and Benny Hill chasing bikinied women about. Then it became summed up by Monty Python, American audiences at the Hollywood Bowl reciting catchphrases and speaking the sketches aloud with the Pythons as if it were a band singing their greatest hits. Now though, there are loads of different types and you really can’t split it all into nationalities. I always loved the 80s anarchic stuff when I was growing up, Young Ones, Comic Strip, Blackadder, but then there’s modern comedy like The Office and Extras which are just as good in a different more dry way, and my favourite at the minute being Peep Show, where every line is a killer near enough. I always love what Steve Coogan does, always have and I think Mark Heap is one of the funniest men around. Nothing’s black and white, apart from old films obviously. So there’s loads of genres within British humour just as there is with America. The Simpsons is still the best show of all time in my opinion.
Having done Dodson & Fogg, are there any British folk singers you like?
Well when I started Dodson and Fogg I was just doing songs with acoustics, and adding in a few different instruments and getting the odd guest. I never saw it as folk music, but reviews started calling it acid folk and things like that. It’s kind of grown from that now to world music, rock, blues, and all sorts of stuff. Folk wise, I’m more into folk rock really, although I love all types of music. I love Celia Humphris of British folk band Trees. They made two albums in 1970 (way before I was born, I know!) but she is on the Dodson albums, so I am thrilled with that. Her voice is amazing. I also love the Incredible String Band. I did a book about them, and even got to do a Q and A with Mike Heron of the band, and chatted him after one of his gigs too. He seems like a really nice guy.
What’s next for you?
Well I’ve just released a book about the music of Captain Beefheart, which is doing well already one day in, and I’m working on a music project with a musician called Sand Snowman. Plus there’s a music project with Nigel Planer which looks to be coming to fruition too, as well as a new Dodson and Fogg album which I will be starting later in the year, because that’s the thing people are most interested in and it’s the best thing I have as a proper outlet for ideas. I’m doing one with my brother too under our band name Rexofrd Bedlo. I also have a couple of non fiction books to work on, ones about the works of Lou Reed and Robert De Niro, and a dark piece of fiction I hope to release as an audio book later in the year. As well as that, I’m developing my record label and releasing some other bands’ albums, and I have a film script I hope to get made, so looks to be a cool year actually. Jesus, what have I set myself up for?!