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Clip: Neil Innes interview

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  • Carl Z.
    No tub-thumping for Innes, just fun June 5, 2006 BY JEFF ELBEL Neil Innes accidental career
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 5, 2006

      No tub-thumping for Innes, just fun

      June 5, 2006


      Neil Innes' "accidental career" was launched in the public ear by the
      Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band nearly 40 years ago.

      The freewheeling group appeared in the Beatles "Magical Mystery Tour"
      film and scored radio success with "I'm the Urban Spaceman," produced
      under a pseudonym by Paul McCartney. Then the Bonzos influenced
      formative members of the Monty Python troupe, with whom Innes
      continued working. In addition to composing Python's cunning
      soundtrack, Innes became John Lennon figure Ron Nasty alongside Python
      Eric Idle for 1978's Beatles spoof, "All You Need Is Cash."

      The intervening decades have witnessed notable projects, including
      1998's documentary series "Away With Words" and even a book on
      economics. A recent visit to the Abbey Pub found Innes inducting many
      into his Ego Warriors society, while his band featured old favorites
      alongside material from 2005's engaging "Works in Progress."

      Q. After what seemed like a lengthy absence, you've resumed North
      American touring recently. What changed?

      A. If you have children, it takes a while for them to grow up and for
      you to realize that life goes on without your refrigerator. In
      November of 2004, [my wife] Yvonne and I went 'round in a minivan,
      doing a one-man show. It had been our ambition since we met to drive
      across America. We suddenly realized, "Hey, we can do it!" It was a
      fascinating time, because you were holding an election.

      Q. Did you perform the Bonzo's reunion single, "No Matter Who You Vote
      For, the Government Always Gets In?"

      A. I didn't, actually. When we wrote that, no major record company
      would touch it. They said, "It's doom." A record that's banned has a
      better chance than one about something serious like politics. I
      generally steer clear of politics, because it's an infected area of
      human consciousness.

      Q. Ego Warriors is a great unifying concept, rallying people to thumb
      their noses against pomposity and bureaucracy. To whom have you most
      recently given the salute?

      A. When we arrived, we had to go through U.S. immigration and Canadian
      immigration. It occurred to me that the whole world is being run like
      an airport.

      It was Oscar Wilde who observed in "Lady Windemere's Fan" about
      Americans being a remarkable nation, because they went from barbarism
      to decadence without stopping off at civilization. North Americans
      shouldn't take this personally [laughs].

      I detect a sort of "people farming" mentality, where we don't give
      each other enough respect as individuals. We're in this situation
      where we're over-marketed, over-regulated and over-procedured. These
      things add to a ferment of irritation. Most people identify with this.
      Ego Warriors is kind of a release valve from that, but not in a
      soapbox, tub-thumping kind of way. We have fun with it.

      Jeff Elbel is a Chicago free-lance writer.
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