Thursday, 6 December 2012
Miles Apart-A tribute to Wiz of Mega City Four
Today marks six years since the death of Wiz Brown, singer and songwriter of the band Mega City Four. It is unlikely; however, Farnborough council will be worrying itself with erecting bronze statues of pressing blue plaques to his memory. His legacy is left in the hearts of nineties indie kids.
It must have been a nightmare trying to market a band like Mega City Four. They resembled grunge brickies (which before forming the band, they were) and their music fell between the clearly formed lines that music fans, by their very nature, use to define a band. The NME lumped them in with the Stourbridge big three of The Wonder Stuff, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, and Pop Will Eat Itself. Indeed, MC4 did tour with all these bands but while the Stuffies wrote ‘It’s your money I’m after baby’, the Ned’s told us to Kill our Televisions and the PWEI were on Beaver Patrol, Wiz penned songs called ‘Scared of Cats’ and referenced the actress Anne Bancroft.
The heart of MC4’s music was Wiz’s personal, introspective and often poetic lyrics. Words such as ‘I don't care if you like me/and I don't need your respect/I'm just scared if I take off/this stupid mask the only thing I'll get/is cold indifference/And I want to be of consequence to someone’ (Clown), ‘My friend stands too close to me/sometimes I forget myself/and just listen to her breath’ (Shadow) and Forgive me, be patient/I'm given eyes to see/The nerve to be before you without the gift to tell you/I'm clutching for the words struggling to stands/tumbling and falling/but still reaching for your hand.’ (Vague) were perhaps lost in the mix of riffs and jump-up-and-down drums. It’s interesting to ponder if MC4 dressed in stripy 60’s tops and corduroy rather than camo shorts and holey jumpers, they would have been a much bigger band.
This is not to take anything away from the bands music. Songs such as ‘Stop’ and ‘Wallflower’ are brilliant, delicate, fluid and hooky pop songs. Anyone who had caught the band live or listened to their ‘Inspiringly titled..’ live LP will testify to the band being tighter than a drum skin. This almost telepathic tightness between the musicians was due to years and years of doing gig after gig after gig. Indeed, the band coined the term ‘Tranzophobia’, a half jokey mental condition derived from spending too much time in a transit van between playing the toilet venues of the world. What is fascinating to me, however, is despite all this time spent on the roads, not a sentence about the touring life made it onto Wiz’s lyric sheet.
Another thing anyone who witnessed the band perform live will you tell, was the good nature of Wiz. He always seemed almost overwhelmed by the fans support, beaming while thanking the audience between songs. Indeed, Wiz did believe in the term ‘fan’, he saw as more as friends, or dare I say it, family.
It’s a tragedy that the Wiz and Mega City Four are not better remembered. There are those of us that will have great memories from gigs and still play the records, but I still think they deserve a bigger legacy than being remembered as a second division indie band. The were a band who stuck to their principles and vision as doggedly as Fugazi, wrote songs poppier than the Primitives and wrote lyrics as deep as Elbow’s, as funny as Pulp’s and as self searching as Morrissey’s. Make not bones about it, Wiz was a wonderful, warm human being. One of the true good guy’s, but he was also an artist of extreme talent. I will miss him and the songs he never got to write, even Farnborough council wont. RIP Wiz.