Art Brut’s Eddie Argos Talks New Side Projects and His Dream Band

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Eddie Argos is possibly the hardest-working guy in indie rock. Best known for his post-punk revival outfit Art Brut, he also fronts Glam Chops, a band that celebrates all things sparkly and Bowie-like, and a Brit-pop supergroup called the English Travelling Wilburys, which borrows its name from the legendary group.

And now, Argos is on tour with his girlfriend Dyan as Everybody Was in the French Resistance…Now, a duo attempting to right the wrongs of pop history with songs that span the musical spectrum and include, most notably, “Billie’s Genes,” which gives a voice to the kid in Michael Jackson’s mega-hit. We caught up with Argos after his three-day drive from Seattle to Minneapolis to talk about the many projects he has in the works, including a Glam Chops film that turned out to be more Spinal Tap than Ziggy Stardust.

On the origins of Everybody Was in the French Resistance…Now:

I was driving back from my parents’ house with my girlfriend, Dyan, and that song “Jimmy Mack” came on the radio by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. I don’t think I’m a very good passenger in a car, and it kind of made me angry. This song, she’s being a bitch and sings about she and her boyfriend and she isn’t being very nice. I thought someone needs to respond to this, and Dyan thought I should do it. When we got home, we wrote that song. It became fun, and it was interesting to write about characters from other people’s songs for a change. In Art Brut I write about myself, but with EWITFR, it’s supposed to be about other people, but I suppose it always went back to me a little bit.

On remaking one of pop’s touchstones:

I felt like “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson kind of lied to me a little bit because he’s singing about how he got a girl pregnant in a club, and he’s disowning paternity, which isn’t very nice. Somebody else wrote a response to that in the ’80s, I think, called “Superstar.” We’ve written the third song now. The Michael Jackson character’s got a song, the woman’s got a song, and now the son’s got a song. So there’s like three songs about that one event now, which is pretty good.

On the song he’d most like to respond to:

There’s a Donovan song, “Atlantis,” which I love and would like to do. It’s about how the world began with poets and prophets, but I’m a scientist, so I’d like to write a scientific version of that song.

On why he founded Glam Chops:

That’s a fun band to play in when I’m back in London with my friends. I love glam music, and all my friends are in bands and I hardly get to see them, so when I was back in London, it was nice to get together and be a glam band. We made a Glam Chops film. I don’t know what’s going to happen with it. It’s a 20-minute film. It was going to be a documentary for a festival, but now we just want to get it out and see what happens. It’s about us trying to make a Christmas group, kind of a half-real and half-documentary thing. I don’t take Glam Chops very seriously because it’s just fun for me, but one of the guys in the band took it very, very seriously. So the documentary is about me mucking about and having loads of fun and drinking and him trying to organize everything. We did one tour and it ended up with everyone like going to museums because we’re not very organized. The film’s basically about us trying to do things but them not working out.

On his dream side project:

I have another band called The English Travelling Wilburys, where I was trying to get all my favorite British singer/songwriters together to record some songs. I was in it with David Devant and His Spirit Wife, Luke Haines from the Auteurs, John Moore from Jesus and Mary Chain and Black Box Recorder, and we did log one session. I’d like to do more with that band. That was kind of a dream band.