There’s something worryingly Charles Manson-esque about Strange Cages frontman Charlie McConnochie, whose peculiar revelations leave me wondering whether he is joking or bordering on the insane.
“I like to chat to Mormons online and try to convince them to take LSD,” he says when I ask about his interests outside of music. “Just Google ‘Mormon chat’ and you can get started straight away.”
Having researched Strange Cages prior to our interview, Charlie’s eccentricity comes as no surprise. In a previous Q&A, he even went as far as expressing a desire to be the leader of a cult – a subject which I ask him to elaborate on.
“I find the fine line between awakening and delusion very interesting,” he says, explaining his fascination. “A lot of cults start out as a group of people with pretty harmless and positive ideas about how to live life, and it’s usually the ego of one person that causes things to turn dark. I like insanity. I’m interested in the insane.”
Indeed, the idea of enticing Mormons into experimenting with LSD seems like the workings of an unhinged mind, and his political ideology only serves to deepen my suspicions: “If the poor were to eat the flesh of the rich, they would be sorted for food and we’d be able to redistribute the wealth. I think we need to seriously consider cannibalism as a solution.”
Ellis, the band’s bass player, pitches in with a rather more orthodox political perspective: “The gap between rich and poor is wider than a freight train and it’s high time we addressed it. In the words of the late Karl Marx, ‘Let’s get this bloody sorted, shall we?!’”
Despite the well-informed answer, it’s not long until the weirdness returns. When I ask Strange Cages if they have a story which sums them up as a band, Charlie reveals that Joe [drums] has “stolen the soul of Macaulay Culkin.” Apparently, if you look close enough, you can see “Culkin’s desperate gaze peering from Joe’s reflection.”
Having spoken about Mormons, cults, politics and Macaulay Culkin’s soul, we eventually get around to the subject of music. Regarding their local scene in Brighton, Charlie says the band are involved in a monthly night called ‘Deadbeat Disco’ in which they are “always trying to get bands, people and reptiles involved.” As for the challenges they are facing as a band, the “struggle for originality” is what concerns them most according to Ellis, who claims he has to be “calmed down with a wet flannel and a Crunchie” when he can’t take the heat.
When I ask what the future holds for the band, Charlie reveals in typical oddball fashion their plans to take over the world and record new material: “We’ll be continuing our quest for universal stardom. We’ll be entering the broom cupboard soon to make some more recordings and we’re also going to collaborate with Todd ‘The Camera’ McConnochie again for some visual treats.”
While “universal stardom” is more than likely a jocular exaggeration of their ambition, they may at the very least be on their way to cult status as a band. As for Charlie’s other cult ambitions, let’s just hope he doesn’t end up like Charles Manson, who almost made it as a singer-songwriter before orchestrating a mass murder spree in the 1960s. With such a fine line between awakening and delusion, as Charlie put it, I would strongly advise him to stick to music.
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