Jarvis Cocker in Conversation: Good Pop, Bad Pop

Jarvis Cocker in Conversation: Good Pop, Bad Pop

By Jill Theobald | 13/06/2022

Jarvis Cocker in Conversation: Good Pop, Bad Pop

“TO keep or to cob?”

That is the question legendary local musician Jarvis Cocker poses in his new book Good Pop Bad Pop.

So it’s quite fitting, having kind of paraphrased Shakespeare’s Hamlet, that the Pulp frontman, solo artist, broadcaster and DJ is on stage at the Crucible Theatre in his hometown of Sheffield talking about the semi-memoir.

Described as “the accumulated debris of a lifetime”, the book catalogues the jumble of objects and items he finds clearing out his loft in a former London home and which he decides are worth keeping or throwing away.  

“You know what ‘cob’ means, don’t you?” he says to the audience, which includes his mum, as well as former MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough Lord David Blunkett, among many fans of all ages.

On other dates on the exclusive UK tour, during which he chats to broadcaster, presenter and writer Stuart Maconie, there had to be some translating for audiences outside Yorkshire.  

Among the items he doesn’t “cob” are a school exercise book, which contains the blueprint for the band Pulp.

A very young Jarvis has already decided, and drawn, the blazers and “rancid ties” he believes the group should wear.

He also states that Pulp’s music should be “fairly conventional but slightly off-beat pop songs” — leading one audience member to ask during the Q&A session whether he was an inadvertent early adopter of what today is called “manifesting”, the self-help exercise where people focus their thoughts on a desired outcome.

Other “keep” items include a broken pair of glasses — he describes the alternative as “like throwing away a bit of your face” — and a copy of the Fabian Society’s Building from the Bottom: The Sheffield Experience, a book co-authored by Lord Blunkett.

“I really wanted to show you this,” he tells Lord Blunkett, to which the blind former politician replies quick as a flash: “I can’t see it, Jarvis.”

“Am never going to live that down?” admits Jarvis, in his deadpan tone.

He also puts on display a sliver of  Imperial Leather soap in a matchbox which he kept because it had the old branding.

When Maconie points out Jarvis took a long time to get over the cardboard from Bounty chocolate bars, he quips: “I’m still not, entirely” — reassuring for someone like me who went to the shops in the late 90s to buy a packet of Opal Fruits sweets before they rebranded as Starburst.

Jarvis also has a ticket to the first ever proper Pulp performance at the now demolished Rotherham Arts Centre in July 1980 and tells the audience it was the only gig where the band ever did a cover of a Motorhead song.

I wasn’t there, but I was there in December 2002 when Pulp played the Auto Festival at Magna Science Adventure Centre.

At the time, the gig was billed as being the band’s last ever show and indeed it was until 2011, when Pulp reunited.

I interviewed Jarvis for the Advertiser ahead of the show and he shared that it seemed fitting that their final gig should be in Rotherham, the same place as their debut.

How lovely to be back in the audience of a different show two decades later for a night of nostalgia — this time, with Jarvis the author.


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