The The Versus the Auteurs

Melody Maker - January 8, 1994


The The and the Auteurs are waging a war of words following a major bust-up on tour. The The's Matt Johnson allegedly threatened to kill The Auteurs' Luke Haines and threw the band off the tour after Haines referred to Johnson onstage as a "comdedian." Both sides have issued strongly worded statements about each other. The Auteurs' camp states: "Although the tour had been going well, trouble was brewing behind the scenes. The The forced The Auteurs to go onstage barely 30 minutes after the doors opened, thereby greatly reducing their potential audience. To add insult to injury, when arriving at the Brixton Academy, The Auteurs were told they were to perform before Tommy Cockles, a little-known comedian." Luke Haines told The Maker: "This was the ultimate insult. It was Spinal Tap and the puppet show all over again." The Auteurs' statement continues: "An appeal by The Auteurs to Matt Johnson was met with short shrift. All fairly galling for the band to be treated like this when they had been added to the bill to sell tickets for what had previously been a slow-selling tour."

At the end of The Auteurs' set, an enraged Luke Haines told the audience, "I hope you enjoy Tommy Cockles because there's another comedian on after called Matt Johnson." He claims the comment went largely unheared by the crowd. The statement carries on: "Things remained tense, the following day at Portsmouth Guildhall, The The tried to force the band on at an even earlier time and without a soundcheck. Once The Auteurs set had finished, Matt Johnson appeared at their dressing room door demanding a word with Luke. The 'word' consisted of shouting very loudly and threatening to kill the Auteurs vocalist unless he apologised. Luke said he would not apologise but, instead, could he be thrown off the tour? On hearing yet more shouts, threat, and swearing, The Auteurs' crew stepped outside to prevent what could have been a very nasty incident." Luke Haines said: "For someone who spends most of his time singing about how crap war is, I find it a bit hypocritical that he [Johnson] wanted to kill me just because I made a joke about him. Someone buy the man a sense of humour." The Auteurs then apologised to any fans travelling to see them at the remaining tour dates in Newport and Plymouth.

Matt Johnson quickly responded with his own statement. He said:

"The The have spent the last year, touring with bands, both in headlining and support roles, and we've got along fine with everyone including Depeche Mode, The Cranberries, Swell, and many others, but I have never encountered such sour-faced petulance as with The Hors D'Oeuvres (oops, sorry, The Auteurs). I know what it's like to be a support band, and so I made sure they got a soundcheck every night. The band was also allowed to go onstage at a later time than their contract stipulated. But from the start of the tour until their untimely exit, they wouldn't smile or talk to anyone. They just blanked us every time we tried to engage them in conversation. For the Brixton Academy show, I had booked my favourite comedian, Tommy Cockles, months before The Auteurs were added to the bill. The intention was for Tommy to come on immediately prior to The The, in the space between the support and headline bands. Just before the show began, The Auteurs sent their tour manager to tell me they band wouldn't play unless they went after Tommy Cockles. My response was very simple: Tommy had been booked for months, and if The Auteurs didn't want to appear, well, that was their decision. I guess the band then changed their minds, because they went ahead and played. The next day, however, I found out Luke Haines was sulking and had demanded -- through his hapless emissary (his tour manager) -- a written apology! I also found out that at the Brixton Academy, Haines had made a humorous attempt at an onstage insult by calling me a comedian. It wasn't what he said about me in his little fit of pique from the stage that irratated me (let's face it, I've been called worse things over the years), rather his behind-the-scenes, prima-donna antics that had led up to this point. Instead of a written apology, I paid a visit to The Auteurs' dressing room and asked if I could have a word and set matters straight. I can't deny I do have a bit of a foul mouth (it runs in my family), but by this point I had had enough. Luke was sweating and spluttering some confused explanation (honestly the first and only time I heard the man talk) and so I just let it be known that in accordance with the band's wishes, I wouldn't be too upset if The Auteurs didn't want to play anymore. Actually, I wish them no ill will and I am sure underneath it all, they are probably decent people. As far as The Old Turds' (oops, sorry, The Auteurs') legendary audience pulling power goes, it's amusing to note that when the audiences in Newport and Plymouth were informed the band couldn't make the show, the only requests for refunds came from four personal friends of the band. I knew I shouldn't have booked Mr. Blooby. A peaceful New Year to you all."

The The this week released their "Dis-infected" EP. The Auteurs release a new single, "Chinese Bakery," in late February and an album in the spring


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