There is nothing quite like a Kid Carpet show. Funny, inventive and wonderfully anarchic, they’re a rare example of family theatre that the whole family can get a kick out of. We caught up with the Bristol legend as he prepares for his new show in a few week’s time and found out some noisy secrets.
Kid Carpet fans come in all ages. What’s the secret to writing shows that go down a storm with the whole family?
I’m simply making work that I think is fun and has music in it which is kicking enough for me to want to perform. I hope to put on a show that I believe is in some way meaningful or explains how I feel about the world and if anyone else comes along for the ride or buys a ticket then that is, of course, a huge bonus.
I try to get my kids involved in the early stages to get their naturally left-field views on things but the shows I make are as much for parents as for children. I really don’t want to patronise my audience and the last thing I want to see is Mum and Dad reading a book or playing on their phone at the back. There’s a lot of theatre, TV and music made for children that I believe should be sent straight to hell and that makes me want to give punk rock back in return.
You’re known for using toy instruments and beautifully simple visuals. What’s the appeal of keeping things lo-fi?
Keeping things lo-fi means production of music and artworks can be cheap and immediate to work with. You don’t need to save up to buy the proper materials and you can use whatever’s lying about. I think people connect with everyday stuff from home, it’s what we usually give our children to work with and hopefully makes people think, ‘Hey, I could do that, it looks easy!’
What have you got in the pipeline?
I’m currently working on Snow Globe, finishing songs as well as the script for a talking fridge and some very special guests. In 2018 we’ll be touring Noisy Holiday as far and wide as possible. The Castle Builder is still out on the road and we’re hoping to impress international bookers to take it to some far flung corners of the Earth. We’re also looking into piloting some Noisy Television!
Tell us a secret about the Noisy Animals.
The puppeteering style of the show – waggling things around in front of a camera – was originally a plan for doing visuals when I first started gigging. It wasn’t until I’d had kids and began the process of making a family theatre/music show that I realised it could be the actual presentation style. I considered having actual real people in Gorilla, Bear, Badger and Hedgehog costumes. I’m so glad that never happened.
Who is your personal art throb?
My tastes change but I guess my current love has to be Grayson Perry. Trendy, I know, but that exhibition at Arnolfini is such a magnificent joy to behold. He tackles all the difficult business of today with a gay abandon. Stuff that fills everybody else with such vitriol and tormented venom, he gets a teddy bear, pops it on a massively glorious motorbike and rides off to re-invent our terrible world as a wonderful rainbow land. It fills me with a deep joy.
What’s your favourite piece of public art in Bristol?
Lewis De Baron used to spray up some pretty deadly graff back in the 90’s, that nonsense was a personal favourite but long gone.
I think the skate park under the M32 between Easton and Ikea might be my favourite now. It’s there because the kids have made it happen. It’s also seedily co-occupied by drug dealers and the homeless. I take my kids sometimes. They’re inspired by skaters, BMXers, roller skaters and graffiti art but also really interested in what those odd looking people down the end who told them to go away are up to. I love the curves of the motorway above our heads. It’s a dystopian no man’s yet an everyone’s land between a mosque, a motorway, a shopping centre and a fenced off river. Too gritty for J G Ballard. It’s tough and cool and for real.
So, this festive season, Kid Carpet is borrowing Gary Barlow’s massive snow globe in order to guarantee a white Christmas. But the weird and wonderful characters inside threaten to derail his plans. Can he once again triumph over adversity? We can’t wait to find out.
Snow Globe is at the Colston Hall 1 December until 7 January. Tickets start at £8 and can be booked via their website.
💥 BAM 💥Photo credit: Bristol Old Vic