"The first time I knew I was a performer was in the Scouts," says The Vessel, relaxing in pro-celebrity jumper and fake Playboy bunny badge. "I had to play Superscout and I walked on in my uniform and ripped it off and underneath I was Superscout. I think the parents spotted my star quality. And you know what, we'll probably play that Scout hut on the way down."
Stars in their own hypnotist-friendly eyes for five years, DAVID DEVANT AND HIS SPIRIT WIFE are finally finding that reality is taking the plunge into the home-made rock'n'roll snow scene of their imagination. Jarvis has gone mainstream, and David Copperfield looks crap in silver platforms. At last there's room for the Devants.
"Somewhere around 1973, pop could have gone somewhere else," says The Vess in the middle of the inevitable chat about parallel universes that comes up with bands named after dead Victorian stage magicians. "And I think that we are at the end of one of those corridors that has been neglected."
Indeed they are. The London-based Devants sound like Roxy Music meets Pulp with adenoidal Ziggy crooning. The look is pure Alvin Stardust meets kid creole. And the minds behind are bent enough to reckon that their Pyjamarama rock'n'magic stunts are more real than Paul Weller's old moustache. The Vessel's bouffant might be fake but debut single 'Pimlico', and the sporty new one 'Cookie', are on the healthy side of parody.
"There's a voice! There's a genuine voice," protests The Vess. "It's like if you read a book and there's a genuine person speaking to you and that's a vital element no matter how you dress up your music. People should aspire to be us, that's the way it should happen! We want to become the norm! People should be asking Oasis why they don't have visual chicanery in their shows."
DD live shows are vaudeville showbiz feasts. With the Devant players - Foz, The Colonel, and Professor Rimschott doubling up as stunt aids and the Spectral Roadies joining in, anything goes from levitation and fags shot from mouths to the Vessel being shot out of a cannon before returning in tatters to sing another song. "It's a big feeling," he says.
Preposterous? Yes. The DDs are John Waters' idea of '70s art rock gone illusional Vic Reeves; and all of it, from the trash mock star threads to the spooky hypnotist aura, is thrice as interesting as Cast's most exciting reincarnation fantasy.
"Somebody said to me we had mal de siecle, which is that you're born out of time," says The Vessel sipping the last of the Bulgarian red. "And we are. We're a throwback to when bands were characters and when they were just allowed to be themselves rather than a corporate idea of what bands are.
"What sets us apart from some bands that like that music hall thing, though, is that it's about the noise as much as everything. People might think we've got bad taste and that's legitimate criticism, but it's not kitsch. We're walking a tightrope by setting ourselves up this way. But that's an adrenaline rush and we're just heightening it... a bit like Lenny The Lion."
Whereupon The Vess levitates on the spot, drops into the waiting cardboard Cadillac and roars off round the magic roundabout to his destiny. His lovely assistant Rimschott packs away the mirrors.
Written by an NME journo called Roger Morton. (c) New Musical Express, I'd imagine.