Lux Interior

Lux Interior is dead.  One of my work colleagues told me this on Friday morning as I arrived at work.  He was the lead singer of  psychobilly band The Cramps.  This band was largely responsible for one of my seminal adolescent awakening moments, when I was about 14.  We were on a family holiday in Butlins (I know, not sounding likely for an awakening kind of moment) and my best friend had joined us.  It was at the height of my love of Norwegian pop band A-ha, whom I had recently declared to my dad I would love until the day I died.

One night we went to the evening disco/cabaret .  My friend was tall and gorgeous, and as we wore our classic 80s batwing tops betopped with our newly bought A-Ha labelled hats I felt pretty overshadowed by my cool friend who knew all the moves to the dances at the disco (I’m sure it involved line-dancing).  My little sister, up late and hyper as usual, managed to look both cute and cool.  I looked like a typical average 14 year old in the 80s, with neither coolness, style or cuteness going for me.

Then about half a dozen older teenagers descended on the dance floor and just took my breath away (as well as scaring the pants off me).  They wore Cramps t-shirts, mohawks, big boots, tutus, scary makeup, the works.  Even their dancing was full of attitude.  I was awestruck.  I suddenly felt that being a teenager was about becoming yourself, about remaking the world to fit around you, about having attitude and not caring. 

Over the next couple of years I listened to some Cramps stuff and some other bands that I wouldn’t have gone near before, and to be honest probably wouldn’t want to revisit now, it’s not the most ‘wholesome’ music in the world.  Yet, despite the dubiousness of the bands’ material and worldview, it was nevertheless a moment of release and inspiration for me that changed how I viewed the way me and the world would get on over the next few years. 

I was, of course, about as far from being a psychobilly as it’s possible to get, but this was truly my first recognisable contact with a youth sub-culture and I was smitten by the possibilities.  I had fun dressing up in some slightly more interesting clothes than the matching jumpers me and my sister seemed to have been in for years.  I left dungarees behind (only to rediscover them, oversized, or patchwork, or covered in paint when I was a ‘struggling artist’ with an image to maintain).  I discovered the shock power of wearing what hardly anyone else wore in our little town, and felt I’d really arrived when my mum told me I couldn’t go out dressed like that  – although I thought I looked great, so I felt a bit offended too.

Ironically enough, as far as teenage rebellion goes, probably my biggest subversive action was becoming a Christian aged 16.  I’m guessing Lux Interior would not have been thrilled to know he was one of the links in that chain of events.