Interview with Deadcuts: Jerome Alexandre

Interview by Jo Blackened
Photos by Altercarnated Photography

Deadcuts Social Media: Bandcamp/Facebook/YouTube

Jerome Alexandre was a childhood friend of mine, both living in Blackheath, London. We both discovered Goth and the darker side to life early on. I lived on the top of Blackheath hill whereas Jerome was actually born above Underhill Studios on Blackheath Hill where David Bowie wrote Ziggy Stardust and Iggy pop would rehearse.

As a teenager he played guitar and toured with several Goth groups until a few tragedies occurred, he moved away and we lost contact. Thanks to social media we were able to get back in touch so we sat down to chat and catch up and you can see for yourselves just how interesting his life has been!

Hey Jerome, it’s so great to see you again. We do often bump into each other around London but never had the chance to really catch up. We were either both busy and hanging out with different friend groups. Let’s start at the beginning…what first made you want to become a musician?

Necessity, I suppose. Imagination provided respite from a very stark world and still does! I spent a great degree of time watching old Elvis and Hammer Horror films at my grandparents then later I came across Prince, Bowie, Chet Baker, Rozz Williams, The Cure etc. I have always felt a kinship with the past and whilst everyone was going mad for Michael Jackson I was listening to Elvis Presley, The Shangri La’s and Songs from the ‘American Grafitti’ soundtrack.

One day at primary school we had a dance contest and I danced to “Blue Suede Shoes” and won this tiny little gold cup thing but that spurred me on – shortly after that I auditioned to play a young Elvis in an advert and managed to bag the part. I was flown out by Avidesa to Spain and shot two adverts out there which earned me enough money to buy a guitar. We stayed in the Hotel Mikado and the first time I got to take my mother on holiday and get her a hotel room etc

However, it was bittersweet. The other kids in the advert were stage school kids and were incredibly malicious and spiteful to me because I was not of the same background, which taught me a valuable lesson that sometimes even if you have a natural ability in the arts; you’re going to come across people who will be incredibly and even intensely unkind.

My mother wanted me to attend acting school but being a single parent there was no way we could conceive of such an idea. She did have a connection at the Anna Scher School but after my experience with the stage school Kids I knew I definitely didn’t want to be anywhere near those kind of people again.

With the guitar I had no idea I’d actually be able to play it due to having Dyspraxia, but for some reason I managed to wing it, it really was and still is the only thing I can really do well. At some point I realised that music has another dimensional quality to it; you can’t see it but it runs the gamut of all the human experience, be it physical, spiritual or emotional, it has the will to affect change.

How did you find growing up in Blackheath & Greenwich? Did you find it a good area that promoted creativity?

Well there was Greenwich young people’s theatre, which still exists today. At age 11 I got to play Macbeth and my friend Tom Davies and I wrote a score for the play too. Then we had The Venue in New Cross, which I recall being £3.50 to get in too! I’m sure you must’ve gone there?

Yeh, I did! I don’t recall seeing you there though?! It was so great, especially for gigs too

I saw so many great bands there; ‘Death in June’, ‘My Bloody Valentine’, ’The Cardiacs’, ‘Legendary Pink Dots’ etc. By 14 I was already in a band and rehearsing every night with your boyfriend at the time Simon Howard!

Aww, I remember Simon; we’re Facebook friend’s lol!

We’d go over to our lead singers who were a good ten years older than us who lived in this flat that looked a bit like the place out of the movie ‘Dogs in Space’. The windows were completely blacked out – we were young and naive and thought this was just for aesthetics. We found out, as time went on that he was dealing and although he tried to conceal it – it was pretty obvious. Sadly he suffered a nasty fate when taking some contaminated drugs which left both him and his wife with severe brain damage.

What instruments can you play? And when did your first begin to learn?

I can play guitar, a little bit of keys and bass, I can sing to an amateur standard but can’t read music. I learnt how to play bass by being on tour each night when Sylvain of the ‘New York Dolls’ told me I was going to be his bass player for his Uk/Ireland tour in 2013, alongside my friend Gary Powell (The Libertines /Dirty Pretty Things) I think I got the job because of my hair and nothing else.

Lucky for me I knew the songs inside out and my Friend (Mick Lynes RIP) lent me a lovely Danelectro Bass with lipstick pick-ups .That tour was probably the most fun I’ve been on – it was just so easy being a trio , less people ha!

For the final date at the 100 club we were joined by Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols) And Clem Burke (Blondie) which was a nice surprise. Also joining Boyd Rice for the song ‘People’ is a fond memory. I’d been a fan of his for a long time too and we’ve stayed in touch since.

When did you form your band ‘Deadcuts’ and what is the meaning behind the name?

Deadcuts was formed on the first full moon of 2012.

Mark Keds and I had been friends for over a decade; he was excited about making music again which he’d taken a bit of time off to do poetry. The name ‘Deadcuts’ came to Mark during a meditative ritual and later on it was revealed to us that there is mention of the name ‘Deadcuts’ in the Old Testament.

To have that opportunity of writing with somebody who had his level of talent wasn’t just an honour, it made me realise how lazy I’d been, as Mark would insist on four strong songs per writing session and that really impressed me. That said, it was one of those bands that even at the very start I knew wouldn’t last long – it was just way too intense, but I did know we would leave a few good records behind!

How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?

I wouldn’t – I’d let the listener decide.

Did you find it easy finding band members to join your band, especially when we didn’t have the internet back then?

I would say it was an easier time in some ways before the internet because people socialised more and labels gave advances. There are pros and cons to the internet; the upside is you don’t have to tour yourself to death to gain exposure, but certainly download royalty rates are just an absolute absurdity, but then I think people tend to think fame is more important than art…sadly.

Do you find image helps with being in a band?

I was never the type to overthink it, I just did what came naturally , You see everybody in our gang had their own thing going on. I think it was in France at a hotel when somebody broke it down to me; everyone had their own archetype -Alan Wass (RIP) had that kind of cowboy fistful of dollars look, Peter had that Poet laureate /Hancock look happening, Wolfman was almost like a cross between a priest and Burroughs and apparently I was, or according to this person a cross between Bobby Hughes in Drugstore Cowboy and Christopher Lee’s Dracula- in fact Peter nicknamed me ‘The Count’ from Thereon.

I mean I never analysed it to that degree, dressing up is second nature to me. I’m still that 17 year old putting on eyeshadow before he leaves the house, even the bands who claim they are anti image like ‘The Smiths’ did, are full of it, as  Johnny Marr looked great and still does!

Where do you get your ideas from when it comes to producing music?

I can’t produce at all. My brain just isn’t wired to understand how to use software or technology. I certainly would like to try to learn though.

You’ve always been based in London and became friends with Peter Doherty and Amy Winehouse, how were you introduced to them?

Amy I met by chance at an open mic night; it’s our loss that she left this world as she had so many more great ideas to express. My ex-girlfriend Heidi Matikainen introduced me to Peter at an Alec Empire show and to this day we maintain a very close friendship. Peter has also been very supportive of my creative endeavours often inviting me to tour with him and joining him onstage.

Deadcuts became very successful and you’ve supported bands such as; Killing Joke and Pop Will Eat Itself. What has been your favourite gig to date and why? And who has been your favourite band to play or tour with?

In 2012 I joined Boyd Rice (Non /Death in June) onstage for the controversial song ‘People’ as well as working with Miro Snedjir (Death in June) on a spoken word Ep.

In 2013 I joined Sylvain (New York Dolls guitarist) on tour as bassist alongside Gary Powell (Libertines /Dirty Pretty Things) on drums. The final night of the tour saw Glen Matlock of the ‘Sex Pistols’ and Clem Burke of ‘Blondie’ Join us. Sylvain returned to London in 2018 and I joined him, Alison Gordy and Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth ) onstage for the final time -Sadly he contracted cancer and passed two days after Mark.

I forgot to mention I played bass on Nikolas Schreck’s album ‘O a weird flower’ and read on Art Abscons ‘Electromagnetic Grandmasterland’ and played synth guitar on ‘Awen’s’ latest album.

We were successful in the sense that we made great music And attracted a fan base who felt a connection to our work . But in my own perhaps critical self-assessment I felt we could’ve achieved far more. The band had the best and worst of luck and it depended which way the dice fell.

Our work ethic, up until the end was always steadfast. Shortly before Marks passing he informed me that we had a vast number of demos saved that could fill at least seven albums – and maybe they too will see the light of day. I mean if I’m honest I really don’t remember much of touring – I remember some gigs like supporting ‘Babyshambles’ at Brixton Academy which was fun, supporting ‘Joe Cardamone’ at a vice night or ‘A few with the Fat Whites’,’ Killing Joke’ but there is nothing like headlining your own gig, where you know deep down the majority of punters are there for you.

I can’t say I particularly enjoy touring – playing onstage is literally the only good part about it; your never alone for a minute. Or either in a cold or hot vehicle on a motorway and you think there must be some masochistic element to all of this? In retrospect I’m glad we didn’t do one of those six month tours!

Who does your album artwork? And is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with, be it an artist/photographer or producer that you haven’t worked with yet?

For Deadcuts first single ‘Kill Desire’ we collaborated with an artist called Trxtr. The Occultist Espira offered us his ‘Witch Bitch’ print for ‘The Dope Girls’ EP cover with the female goat. Sophie Macdonald did all our album artwork and obviously Marvel for our collaboration with ‘Flatbush Zombies’ for the track ‘Aries’.

You were always a big David Bowie fan and after he passed away you were asked to play at his tribute event arranged by his wife Iman. Can you tell us about this and how was this experience?

We played a night Iman had put together with cancer research and were joined by Roxy Music’s saxophonist Andy McKay .Sadly Mark Keds passed away in January of this year.

It’s kinda strange because of the various connections- Bowie was rehearsing in Underhill studios where I was born , Then my stepdad Andy Clark ( whos more like a real father /mentor to me ) played keyboards on “Ashes to Ashes” and last but not least my cousin Geoff Mccormack who was a childhood friend of Bowie’s and toured with him – you can see him in “1980 Floorshow” , “ Cracked actor “ documentary “ and “ Young Americans “ on backing vocals – plus he has a book called “ From station to station -travels with Bowie 1973-1976”.Then there was Andi Sex Gang’s Friendship with Mick Ronson who’d end up producing one of his albums.

The memorial at Bush Hall well that was down to Cass Browne ( Senseless Things/Gorillaz/Loup Garoux) who was Deadcuts drummer at the time – I think he was playing in the house band that night and as a result Deadcuts got the opportunity to play , we had literally one rehearsal but our delivery set us apart as everyone else was doing stripped down pieces with piano and percussion . It was pretty weird to go on after Suggs and Jimmy Somerville .We kicked off with “ Lazarus” and ended with “ V-2 Schneider” accompanied by Roxy music saxophonist Andy McKay and Charlotte Glasson ( Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds) and the crowd responded very well to it because it had a different energy , Mark had on a White top complete with a Blackstar on it and he sang “ Lazarus” with such depth and passion that we ended up recording it later in the studio .It would be later played at Marks funeral.

Here’s another oddity around the whole Bowie thing , it must of been around 2013/2014 but I got told by someone who worked within music press that Bowie had cancer .This source seemed pretty credible and I remember not being able to conceive of a world without Bowie, but he certainly made a profound exit and a legacy of unbelievably powerful songs.

How has the music industry changed over the years? Do you find it easier or harder to be recognised?

I remember when I was first learning to play the guitar their wasn’t many others out there who wanted to be a musician – people thought of being footballers or some other athletic pursuit . Now it seems that everybody wants to be a musician and the market is saturated to such a degree that one has to be a bit more cunning these days in terms of finance . I think most people in this business have other things they do on the side , One has to be inventive at all times.

Going back to when you was young; you struggled with drug addiction. I know what happened, but for our readers can you tell them how drugs were first introduced to you at such a young age?

I was thirteen years old when offered my first line of coke – a well-known movie producer was passing it around at a party and because I had long hair I passed for being older and was offered it but didn’t really go down that road till a few years later; you see drugs have been around me my whole life – I don’t really want to go into who, but a close family member was an addict and onetime dealer although my entrée with heroin began a few years later. I was on the road must’ve been 19 and was struggling with insomnia and anxiety and remember a few people at the hotel I was staying at offered me some heroin – it immediately calmed me and shut off any physical and mental pain – and naturally I wanted more. I was also in a lot of mental pain, as my then girlfriend lost our child and ultimately I was still a teenager who bought into that stupid myth and I thought to play as well as Chet Baker, Lou Reed , Johnny thunders , Iggy pop Etc you had to have that knowledge.

Rozz Williams said it best though ‘Heroin is the great escape , but it’s also the great escape to nowhere’.

I’ve seen it ravage people I love and make them do things they would of never ever done had it not been for that stuff. Also I will never forgive myself for the pain and shame I brought onto my family and loved ones. It is out of my life now and I’ve had to really disconnect from anyone that I know from that period. I think the main reason why so many people find it impossible to quit heroin is that the pain is so excruciating; imagine not being able to sleep for over seven nights, your stomach rotting, temperature either freezing or burning intermittently and your bones being crushed in a vice, it takes some time till you feel right again.

Deadcuts Jerome

How did the addiction progress and affect you personally as well as being a musician?

Well it starts off being something you do occasionally to take the edge off. Then before you know it…’bang’ it’s got you. When I used drugs I made sure I was super organised enough to the point where I wouldn’t miss the gig or take too much and play badly – but the karma associated with that drug will catch you out in the end, it’s a very stressful way to live.

How have you overcome your addiction and what advice would you give someone wanting to try drugs for the first time?

Each morning I’d go to the shopping mall and shoot fifty people at random it’s a marvellous way to relieve stress and a great way to stay in shape (just kidding, laughs)

I’ve a few coping strategies; keeping busy is the antidote and being aware that my friends and family are worth ten times the cool fool routine. At the end of the day remembering it’s only going to result in death, jail or worse – it’s a waste of time . If you’re curious, leave it until you’re old and a few years minus death.

Coming back to the present and the past year; how has the Covid19 pandemic affected your personally as well as professionally?

I remember Rose Mcdowall and I were recording some ideas in a cottage/Studio in the middle of nowhere ~ when Boris Johnson suddenly announced we’d be going into lockdown . You’ve never seen someone literally pack their bags and jump into a van so fast . We were driving back to London and police cars were kind of blockading the motorway and honestly I was petrified at the thought of not getting home . And then when we finally got into London – there was a deathly silence , nobody …and I mean nobody was on the streets it was like a scene out of an apocalyptic film. But it was interesting to see how quick things were back to semi normal , literally the day after people were masked but just carried on their usual lives . I did a few sessions but tours and other creative plans were put on hold .

Aside from Deadcuts, what other projects are you currently in at the moment?

Deadcuts is finished – It was the combination of Mark and my harmonies , his fuzz guitar with my more ethereal swirls and our songwriting collaboration that was its imprint . I don’t want to downplay the other members – they all added something vital too , But without Mark I wouldn’t even bother trying. Jaz Coleman gave me some advice once at the Columbia hotel , He said do as many projects as possible ! And since then I’ve taken that on.

So I’m currently playing with Sex Gang Children – they’re a post punk band from the eighties who I have been a fan of since a teenager and we just recorded a new album called “Oligarch“ we’re playing Electrowerks in December 20th to showcase the album and a few classics. I’m playing guitar for Rose Mcdowall (Strawberry Switchblade/Death in June/Current 93) again another person I’ve been a fan of since I was very young, we should be writing/performing next year . ‘Black Bordello’ is a group from South London which just had their single ‘Nunhead’ played on BBC6;  I’ve known Sienna Bordello their singer for a few years and recorded with her in 2019, and joined their band a week ago, I guess their music sounds like Kate Bush, Siouxsie Sioux, Massive Attack and Billy Holiday on a boat sailing to the Antarctic.

My friend Francesco Bottamini, Aaron scars ( Deadcuts ) and I have a group called Triggers that combines Trap, Industrial and soundscapes together – we should have something out by next year. David J of Bauhaus and Peter Doherty and I may get something off the ground – there’s been talks…

Recording wise – I played on several of the songs on Sex gang children’s recent “ Oligarch album”, played synth guitar on Awen’s “ Lonely Causeway”, Erick Arc Elliot’s “Arcstrumentals“, Bass on Nikolas Schrecks “O, A weird flower” and spoken word on Art abscons “Grandmasterland”.

Aside from music, you’ve also got an interest in the Occult, is this something you practice?

I have always been fascinated by the Mysticism; from the Nazis employing ancient pagan lore and Runes to use and ascertain political influence and how to utilise will to create change in one’s life.

How has the Occult helped you personally and professionally?

I love the synchronicity of life – as I’m writing the answer to this question Karl orff’s “ Carmina Burana” is being played by the Andre Rieu orchestra on the television .Karl Orff claimed in a book I once read that this music came to him in a dream – he claimed a demon had handed him over the entire score and it remains one of the most popular pieces of classical music. It has always fascinated me and not just on a supernatural level , it began with watching Films by Kenneth Anger ,Curtis Harrington and Maya Derren and it carried on from there .

I have a healthy respect for The Occult . People are for the most part unaware just how much a significance role it plays in business / politics and mundane pursuits . For instance The McDonald’s logo is a Sigil that’s unforgettable , The Bluetooth symbol is a bind rune made of both The Hagal and Berkana rune . During The Third Reich German soldiers used the power of runes such as the “Sig “ Rune which means victory and the Sun .

These weren’t employed just as tools of divination but to be worn on each SS members uniform as a reminder of Germany’s Pagan past and an oath .But obviously Karma caught up with them …my interest in that period is purely mystical / take that out of the equation and your just left with slaughter ,slavery and inhumanity .

It is known there is a dark side to using the Occult, have you experienced anything negative?

That said I also didn’t know there’s a karmic side to achieving these things that can have devastating consequences. Yes –  I can give several instances . One was a Sigil I had constructed with the intent of Deadcuts supporting Killing Joke .Several months later I’m backstage at the Scala with Jaz Coleman and out of nowhere Jaz asked if we’d like to support Killing Joke.

Once Peter Doherty invite Deadcuts to support him at two sold out gigs at Le maroquenerie in Paris. For most people this should of been straightforward but my passport had been stolen and the standard wait was a month before I could be issued with another. When you’ve got little to work with A witch advised me that if I took an Algiz Rune and gripped it passing through customs I’d not need a passport . I wasn’t convinced but went with it anyway – sure enough we crossed the channel without a problem with me hiding under the couch , did the gigs which were spectacular but then on our return we managed to literally crash into the customs booth .An inspector closeau type came aboard with a flashlight and sniffer dogs – I gripped the rune and hid under the couch again – the inspector searched our vehicle before bending down shining the light directly under the couch into my face and stood looking perplexed . I was sure they were going to arrest us but even after bringing sniffer dogs on and searching the vehicle throughly they never found me .

Another time Deadcuts were performing at an Occult festival – and a firework rocket was being passed around in which you were to add a wish . That year I had religiously listened to hip hop moguls Flatbush Zombies “ 3001-A Laced Odessy “ And was obsessed with the idea of collaborating with them – So I wrote my wish “ I want to write a song with the Flatbush Zombies “ and added it to the firework rocket . Some weeks later we were supporting a group called Beach Slang and their guitarist Ruben  asked me who my favourite new American group was – I thought I’d be a smart ass and said “ You might not know them they’re called Flatbush Zombies “ , Not Only did Ruben Know of the band he was friends with them ,had recorded with them and offered to get us on the guestlist for their Uk dates at Camden’s koko.After the show Cass and I went backstage ,And met all three of the Zombies – But seemed to bond instantly with Erick arc Elliot.It turned out he liked Deadcuts but was also a fan of ( Gorillaz) who Cass had been in but also (Senseless Things ) who both Mark and Cass were in . The very next day we were recording in a studio with Erick , then the next day Erick suggested Mark and I co Write a track with Flatbush Zombies called “ Aries” which featured on the Marvel Black Panther animation series and we did it all in marks studio in literally a few hours . About a month later the Magician who had fired the rocket with our wishes on sent me a video off it’s launch – I was shocked to discover it had been launched right next to where we’d initially recorded with Erick .

There’s a cost for everything. Nothing is for free.

One day I awoke and literally felt as if I was on fire being dropped from a great height -, And since learning to purify my karma I feel as if I’m slowly putting out the flames.

Now that the pandemic restrictions are now lifted, what’s next on your list of things to do?

I will be finalising Deadcuts last album “Reveal The Love“ the greatest work Mark and I have co-written.

I’ll be touring with Sex Gang to promote the album “ Oligarch” before the end of the year ,After that I’ll return to the studio and finish Deadcuts final album “ Reveal The Love”. I must say it took a bit of time for me to even consider finishing it as I felt Marks lyrics were very close to the bone and felt that maybe people might consider it to be exploitative on my part to have the album released. But after time and consideration I had a change of heart-it’s the best work we ever did together and it has to get out there. We recorded the bulk at Konk studios with Marc Waterman and all it needs are my backing vocals , a few synths and some samples and it’s there.Ive been offered a book deal so hopefully I can knuckle down and get that done.

Can you tell us the concept behind the album?

Its the most personal album we made as a band , I wanted to make the guitars sound like they were bleeding and if there’s a narrative it’s linear , prophetic and deeply spiritual, it’s a bearing of souls hence the title “ Reveal the Love”.

Will this be the last album you release with Deadcuts?

Yes. It wouldn’t be right to carry on the band without Mark. He is irreplaceable .

With all your releases, do you have a favourite song or album?

I can rarely listen to my own work for pleasures sake but am proud of all of Deadcuts output – each time we released a single , ep or album and received pressings I’d get to marks for early afternoon and we’d pull out Psychedelic Furs “ Talk Talk” , Siouxsie and The Banshees “ JuJu” , Death In June’s “ The World That Summer “ and Birthday Party’s “ Sonny’s Burning” and play them on the vinyl player – after hearing those classics we’d put on our record at night and if we felt they matched the intensity of those classics ( which we did) then we knew we’d done the best we could .

What genres of music do you like to listen to personally?

I have a very eclectic taste , pop , rock n roll , doo wop , indie , punk ,classical , county electro , industrial ,jazz , Hip Hop ,Neofolk the list goes on …

Are there any new bands that have caught your attention recently, or do you prefer to listen to music from a different generation?

I like Joe Cardamone’s latest “ Quarentina” series as I’ve always appreciated a cinematic approach to music . In the last five years artists like Ariel Pink, The Underachievers ,Denzel Curry , Zillikami and Sosmula , Frank Ocean ,FKA Twigs ,Julian Casablanca’s and the Voidz , Nick cave – I totally think Goth and industrial has totally crossed over into hip hop since Gravediggaz- people are much more open minded in their approach to music now.

What are your top 3 albums or bands?

I couldn’t really tell you – it’s kinda like asking an astronomer what his favourite planet is .It really depends on the mood I’m in at that present time.

What do you like to do outside of music? Do you have any hobbies?

Asides from shooting people at the mall ? [laughs] Im quite Solitary, and prefer to occasionally meet friends one on one . Or if I’m with Holly ( my fiancée) or my mother we’ll be watching horror/film noir and at some point the Sopranos box set comes out ~ To be honest one of the things I’ve liked about lockdown is the silence – it gives one time to think , Yes the world is in its Kali Yuga cycle and Life is fleeting ,yet I feel fortunate to have been a child in an era where things were slightly more innocent ,when people read books and you made your date a mixtape of your favourite tunes and hoped they liked it .

What advice would you give new bands starting out?

Id tell them to consider doing something else lol , There’s already way too many musicians and bands out there and if their still around in five years playing I’ll know they meant it and are in it for the right reasons. I don’t think it occurs to most people when they start out in this business that there’s not much difference between being a musician and a prostitute – except prostitutes probably get paid better . A sense of humour is something that’ll really help you if you want to be a musician – if you take life too seriously this endeavour may not be for you .

What else does the future hold for you?

I have always wanted to move into soundtracks ,using strings , cellos , French Horns etc – maybe do some acting . Move out to the countryside – Somewhere quiet. Often I fantasise about being a father – but looking at the current world it makes me wonder if it’s such a great idea.

Thanks for your time, is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

Thank you