Auteurs, Black Box Recorder and the vintage German flare-pistol

Luke Haines: Bad Vibes

It’s a fine line between insanity and genius, so they say, and Luke Haines certainly seems to not only have a foot in both camps, but also to have defined the boundaries.

The man who brought us the woefully overlooked Auteurs, Black Box Recorder and Baader-Meinhof amongst other things, has finally put pen to paper and the result is the dark, absorbing and frequently hilarious read that is Bad Vibes, Haines’ view on life between 1992 and 1997.

If you remember the sorry debacle that was Britpop back in the mid-90s, you’ll probably remember how The Auteurs were placed squarely at the vanguard with such luminaries as Suede, Elastica, and a whole host of faceless Adidas clad nonentities. To Haines, who, following the sparkling New Wave album from 1992 had clearly other, and more, sinister things in mind, this must have been akin to the equivalent of being stuck in a lift with a creature morphed from Eddie Waring, The Chuckle Brothers and the worst of Marty Feldman. Truly horrible.

As Bad Vibes progresses, and Haines is propelled from the studio to touring America, back to England via a whole host of misadventure only to have the whole sorry pattern repeat itself, you feel torn between chortling surreptiously and thinking ‘oh, the (in)humanity’. When he pulls the vintage German flare-pistol from his luggage in America with a weary, yet determined air, it becomes clear that Haines is not a man to be trifled with.

Quite simply, this is one of the most exhilarating things I’ve read for many a month; if you’ve ever wondered what made the man who wrote Government Bookstore, Unsolved Child Murder and the positively cheery Light Aircraft on Fire tick, then as an obsessed fan this is for you. If alternatively, you’re looking for well-written prose, dark humour with more kinks than a Ray Davies convention and a view on life, strip searches, cellists and the music industry in general then this should be on your reading list, if not actually in your grubby little hands without delay. Genius.

Bad Vibes by Luke Haines is published by William Heinemann at £12.99