Photos courtesy of Patrick Boissel and Alive
Back in the days of the ‘Motorhead’ (Chiswick/Big Beat) album, my brow furrowed upon seeing two of the tracks, ‘Lost Johnny,’ and ‘Keep Us On the Road,’ credited to Kilmister/Farren, and Motorhead/Farren, respectively. Then the ‘Overkill’ album came along with ‘Damage Case’ credited to Kilmister/Clarke/Taylor/Farren. So, who is this Farren person, I wondered? I’m like that you see, especially where Motorhead are concerned, always wanted to know the who, the what, and the why?
Not one of my cleverest moves, I must admit, not to consider this Farren person a little more studiously at the time my curiosity became raised, but there you go. Then at some misbegotten and probably alcohol hazed point in the late ‘70’s or very early ‘80’s in one of the many Motorhead dressing rooms I have had the privilege to frequent from time to time, I noticed a paperback book. It belonged to either Lemmy or Phil Taylor, and both were present at the time. The title is, once more, lost in that alcohol haze, but the author was Mick Farren. "Is he the same geezer who is credited on a few of your songs?" I asked. For the next ten minutes or so, Lemmy and Philthy Phil gave me an extremely large thumbnail sketch detailing all I needed to know about Mick Farren’s career up until that point in the history book pages of rock ‘n’ roll. (Suggested reading: ‘Give The Anarchist A Cigarette’ by Mick Farren, for an in-depth, autobiographical account of the above and so much more about the man’s incredible life).
Right, before we move along too far; the 3 sets of lyrics. ‘Lost Johnny,’ written when Lemmy was with Hawkwind, (then re-shaped into the Motorhead style, and their early set-list); has, if you’ve not listened to them closely, almost larger-than-life, cinematic images, within those Farren lyrics; and is, during its just over 4 minutes playing time, a mini-sci-fi story in itself. ‘Keep Us On The Road’ and ‘Damage Case’ are along similar lines, and to the Motorhead lyric-hungry fetishists among us, they rubbed shoulders mightily with those written by Lemmy himself.
Mick Farren has continued writing lyrics within his own bands over the years, but this particular short essay is designed to introduce you to the man’s sci-fi novels, whilst not forgetting both his lyrical and poetic expertise.
Unfortunately, most of Mick Farren’s works since his first novel, ‘The Texts Of Festival,’ (1973) are now out-of-print, (but there’s always EBay, Amazon Marketplace, and your local used book store; so all is not lost). His second novel, ‘The Tale Of Willy’s Rats,’ (1975) - (the rise of the most demonic rock band ever) - is available as a download from the Mick Farren website, (see Links within this site and a click through). His most famous trilogy of novels, originally published as 3 separate books, have recently been re-published as one volume. ‘The Quest Of The DNA Cowboys,’ (1976), ‘Synaptic Manhunt,’ (1976) and ‘The Neural Atrocity,’ (1977) were re-published in 2002 under the title of ‘The DNA Cowboys Trilogy’ and is now available from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon .com
A full bibliography of Mick Farren’s fiction novels are listed and copiously illustrated on the aforementioned Mick Farren website, (Funtopia), also an extensive discography; but for the next few minutes I’d like to concentrate on his more recent titles, which areavailable.
Victor Renquist. The name is not familiar to you? Mick Farren has written a series of four stylish and smart vampire thriller novels based around the one thousand year life of the nosferatu, Victor Renquist.
The synopsis for the first of these; ‘The Time of Feasting,’ reads thus: A colony of vampires lives beneath New York City. But now the Time of Feasting is at hand and the thirst for blood has become an overwhelming need. Renquist, the centuries-old colony Master, is being challenged from within by the younger ones who, contemptuous of humanity, are tired of living in secrecy. A drunken ex-priest and a tenacious city cop, who are beginning to suspect the truth of these night creatures, also challenge Renquist. Will the colony survive, or will they collapse under the ancient urges that control their every move?
‘Darklost.’ Los Angeles – City of Angels, city of dreams. But sometimes the dreams become nightmares. Victor Renquist, Master of a small group of Nosferatu, is working to establish the Colony in their new home, after leaving New York just one step ahead of exposure. In many ways, life in Los Angeles is easier – the city is full of enough lost souls, with no one to mourn them or question their disappearance, that the awesomely powerful Nosferatu experience no difficulty sating their need for fresh human blood. They have become a deeper, darker part of the city’s nightlife.
And Hollywood’s glitterati are hot on the scent of a new thrill, one that outshines all others – immortality. Never to die. Even though it means joining the ranks of the Undead, some – especially one ageing superstar who fears the waning of his popularity – are ready and willing to pay that price.
Renquist is faced with a dilemma. For the Colony to remain viable, it must grow. He knows this, the other members know this, and each seeks to control the choosing of the new blood. But every new member brought through the rituals into the ancient compact of blood and terror poses a new problem of politics, of group dynamics, of power. As Master, Renquist must walk a tightrope – balancing the conflicting desires of the members, and himself, while still remaining in control.
And Renquist is uneasy. Ancient instinct warn him that someone, somewhere, is meddling with the even darker powers, powers that even the Nosferatu fear, powers that are totally inimical to all life. The Council of Nine, governing board of Apogee, a highly successful quasi-religious cult, is attempting to summon the entity of ancient evil known as Cthulhu – a being that figures all too frequently in Renquist’s dreams. He must find a way to stop them and also to solve the problem of the Darklost, a human brought part-way along the road to becoming Nosferatu, and then cruelly abandoned.
Can Renquist overcome the growing dissent in his own Colony and unite all his forces, old and new, to save the world – of humans?
‘More Than Mortal.’ Victor Renquist, has been drawn to England by a message from an old flame, Columbine, who is currently living in a bonded threesome with the Asian nosferatu, Marieko, and the voodoo priestess, Destry. Near her home, Ravenskeep Priory, an unsuspecting group of archaeologists are excavating an old burial mound, and are about to uncover something completely beyond their wildest imaginings. Not some long-dead Saxon warrior, but the being once known as Merlin.
The Merlin, however, is not the friendly old duffer of The Sword in the Stone, but a dangerous being from the nosferatu past – a being like them, created by an alien race and possessing enormous powers.
Renquist, working with Columbine, her companions, and a long-forgotten Scottish clan of nosferatu who live in feudal splendour under the leadership of Lord Fenrior, must decide whether to kill the Merlin before he comes to full power. Renquist’s decision will have enormous implications for the world of nosferatu and for all humankind.
‘Underland.’ Victor Renquist has been ‘recruited’ – forcibly – by an undercover branch of the National Security Agency, Paranormal Operations and Research. They need his help. It seems that certain members of Hitler’s Third Reich escaped to a secret world below Antarctica, taking with them some very advanced technology. Human teams have failed to infiltrate the base, and Renquist is the NSA’s last chance.
The team is small: Renquist; his right-hand man, Lupo; an extremely unorthodox hard-line NSA operative named Jack Coulson; and Thyme Bridewell, a failed NSA brain-control experiment originally intended as Renquist’s lunch. What they find in Underland taxes even Renquist’s supernormal powers. The quondam Nazis have some very powerful allies – the Dhrakuh, a race of sentient reptiles from the dawn of time. Their goal is nothing less than the conquest of the entire world.
To make matters worse, Renquist is hampered by some throwbacks from his own race and by the unexpected arrival of one of his own colony members, Julia, together with Philipa, a darklost whom Julia has led through the Change into Nosferatu.
The future of civilisation hangs in the balance.
Believe me, Mick Farren certainly casts an amazing spell in his stories, so much so that you very much feel the need to become a nosferatu yourself! Definitely recommended reading.
Another of his available novels: ‘Jim Morrison’s Adventures in the Afterlife,’ is equally quite an amazing and imaginative tale. From the synopsis: A wildly self-destructive sixties rock star, a legendary Western gunfighter, and a temperance evangelist encounter one another in the netherworld, where they not only raise a unique form of hell, but also pay a protracted visit to those inner circles of Lucifer. Against a background of contemporary pop icons, megalomaniac Egyptian gods, figures from the voodoo pantheon, prophets of the Old Testament, huge Japanese movie monsters, and low-yield atomic weapons, Jim Morrison, the Lizard King of classic rock, also discovers that life beyond the grave is as much an exploding psychedelic nightmare as any acid vision of his mortal existence.
Jim Morrison’s Adventures in the Afterlife picks up the story of Morrison as he hurtles through a purgatory-like afterlife in search of some way to bring his soul to peace and find the perfect alien martini. Along the way he finds Doc Holliday, and together they find themselves chasing the restless fire-and-brimstone evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, whose soul has broken after death into two warring halves. McPherson’s sexier half becomes the object of Jim’s obsession, and as the two struggle to find each other in this disordered land, their wild, careening chase through a dozen dystopiae recalls imagined worlds as diverse as Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange and Terry Gilliam’s movie Brazil.
This is a daring, hilarious romp through the landfill of millennial society. Possessed of an imagination rivalling that of any of our edgiest fantasists, steeped in the detritus and ephemera of three decades of pop culture, Mick Farren has crafted in this novel a bizarre and compelling fantasia.
And the very latest, which Mick Farren has promised may well run into a series of three, perhaps four novels: ‘Kindling.’ The last bastions of freedom, the Kingdom of Albany and the Norse Alliance, stand at bay. They are threatened by the Empire of the Mosul, whose unstoppable forces, driven by a brutal theocracy of the Zhaithan and drawn by the promise of paradise, have already conquered most of Europe and now set their sights on the New World.
There is one slim chance of salvation. Four youngsters must find each other, and themselves, to form an entity that can challenge the Dark Things, warrior demons raised by the necromancy of the Zhaithan. But the four are widely scattered. Argo Weaver, fleeing his east Virginia home to escape a brutal stepfather, is concerned only with his own survival. Lady Cordelia Blakeney, aristocratic and decorative adjunct to the Army of Albany, cares more for the fit of her uniform than the state of the world. Jesamine is a slave-concubine of a brutal Teuton colonel. Raphael Vega, Hispanian conscript in the army of the Mosul, must hide his artistic talents from the heresy-seeking priests.
And even with the help of the mysterious Yancey Slide, who may not be entirely human, the obstacles they face may well be insurmountable.
Mick Farren is an amazing and inventive storyteller. He takes the reader through bizarre and incredible worlds, although many of them are here on planet Earth, without falling into the age-old, sci-fi author’s trap, of using weird and unpronounceable names for his alien cultures. In this way he is somewhat unique, and this ability makes for extremely comfortable reading. Nothing is worse than rolling along with the story, then being confronted by one of these ‘blockages,’ whilst you struggle with some unpronounceable name or another. The man possesses an incredible vocabulary, and an astounding ability at keeping the reader gripped to the page right through to the very end. Read him. You will be enthralled, and your life enriched, in equal measure.© Alan Burridge – March 18th, 2005.
© Photo from NME by Chalkie White, courtesy the Funtopia website.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Farren was the singer with the proto-punk band The Deviants between 1967 and 1969, releasing three albums. During 1970 he released the solo album Mona – The Carnivorous Circus which also featured Steve Peregrin Took, John Gustafson and Paul Buckmaster, before ending his music business to concentrate on writing.
During the mid-1970s, he briefly revived his musical career, releasing the EP Screwed Up, album Vampires Stole My Lunch Money and single "Broken Statue". The album featured fellow NME journalist Chrissie Hynde and Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson.
He has sporadically done musical work sincethen, collaborating with Wayne Kramer on Who Shot You Dutch? and Death Tongue, Jack Lancaster on The Deathray Tapes and Andy Colquhoun on The Deviants albums Eating Jello With a Heated Fork and Dr. Crow.
Aside from his own work, he has provided lyrics for various musician friends over the years. He has collaborated with Lemmy, co-writing "Lost Johnny" for Hawkwind, and "Keep Us on the Road" and "Damage Case" for Motörhead. With Larry Wallis, he co-wrote "When's the Fun Begin?" for the Pink Fairies and several tracks on Wallis' solo album Death in a Guitar Afternoon. He provided lyrics for the Wayne Kramer single "Get Some" during the mid-1970s, and continued to work with and for him during the 1990s.
- 1976 – Mick Farren – "Play With Fire" / "Lost Johnny" (Ork records)
- 1977 – Mick Farren and The Deviants – Screwed Up EP (Stiff Records)
- 1978 – Mick Farren – "Half Price Drinks" (Logo Records)
- 1978 – Mick Farren – "Broken Statue" / "It's All In The Picture" (Logo records)
- 199? – Lunar Malice – "Gunfire In The Night" / "Touched By The Fire"
- 1967 – The Deviants – Ptooff! (Impressario/Decca Records)
- 1968 – The Deviants – Disposable (Stable Records)
- 1969 – The Deviants – The Deviants 3 (Transatlantic Records)
- 1970 – Mick Farren – Mona – The Carnivorous Circus (Transatlantic Records)
- 1978 – Mick Farren – Vampires Stole My Lunch Money (Logo Records)
- 1984 – The Deviants – Human Garbage – live (Psycho Records)
- 1987 – Wayne Kramer & Mick Farren – Who Shot You Dutch?
- 1991 – Wayne Kramer – Death Tongue (Progressive Records)
- 1993 – Tijuana Bible – Gringo Madness
- 1995 – Mick Farren and Jack Lancaster – The Deathray Tapes (Alive Records)
- 1996 – Deviants IXVI – Eating Jello With a Heated Fork (Alive Records)
- 1999 – The Deviants – Barbarian Princes – Live In Japan
- 2002 – The Deviants – Dr. Crow (Track Records)
- 2004 – Mick Farren and The Deviants – Taste The Blue – live (Captain Trip Records, Japan)
- 2005 – Mick Farren – To The Masterlock – live (Captain Trip Records, Japan)
- 1996 – Mick Farren and The Deviants – Fragments of Broken Probes
- 1996 – The Social Deviants – Garbage (Alive Records)
- 1999 – The Deviants – The Deviants Have Left The Planet
- 2000 – Mick Farren and The Deviants – This CD Is Condemned (Alive Records)
- 2001 – Mick Farren and The Deviants – On Your Knees, Earthlings (Alive Records)
Also Appears on
- 2002 – He’s A Rebel: The Gene Pitney Story Retold (To M'Lou Music) (The Deviants perform "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance")
During the early 1970s he contributed to the UK Underground press such as the International Times, also establishing Nasty Tales which he successfully defended from an obscenity charge. He later wrote for the main stream New Musical Express, for which he wrote the article The Titanic Sails At Dawn, an analysis of what he considered the malaise afflicting then-contemporary rock music and which described the conditions that subsequently resulted in punk.
To date he has written 23 novels, including the Victor Renquist novels and the DNA Cowboys sequence. His 1989 novel The Armageddon Crazydeals with a post-2000 United States which is dominated by fundamentalists who subvert the Constitution.
From 2003 to 2008, he was a columnist for the weekly newspaperLos Angeles CityBeat.
- 1973 – The Texts of Festival
- 1974 – The Tale of Willy's Rats
- 1976 – The DNA Cowboys Trilogy: The Quest of The DNA Cowboys
- 1976 – The DNA Cowboys Trilogy: Synaptic Manhunt
- 1977 – The DNA Cowboys Trilogy: The Neural Atrocity
- 1978 – The Feelies
- 1981 – The Song of Phaid the Gambler
- part 1: Phaid the Gambler
- part 2: Citizen Phaid
- 1985 – Protectorate
- 1986 – CORP*S*E (aka Vickers)
- 1987 – Their Masters' War
- 1988 – Exit Funtopia (aka The Long Orbit)
- 1989 – The Armageddon Crazy
- 1989 – The Last Stand of the DNA Cowboys
- 1990 – Mars – The Red Planet
- 1991 – Necrom
- 1996 – The Victor Renquist Quartet: The Time of Feasting
- 1999 – Back From Hell: Car Warriors #2
- 1999 – Jim Morrison's Adventures in the Afterlife
- 2000 – The Victor Renquist Quartet: Darklost
- 2001 – The Victor Renquist Quartet: More Than Mortal
- 2001 – Short Stories (1972 – 1973)
- 2002 – Dead Cats Bouncing
- 2002 – The Victor Renquist Quartet: Underland
- 2004 – Kindling
- 2006 – Conflagration
- Watch Out Kids
- Get On Down
- Elvis In His Own Words
- The Rolling Stones In Their Own Words
- The Rock & Roll Circus
- Elvis – The Illustrated Record
- The Black Leather Jacket
- Elvis And The Colonel
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to Elvis
- The CIA Files
- Conspiracies, Lies And Hidden Agendas
- Give The Anarchist A Cigarette
- Gene Vincent: There's One In Every Town
- Words of Wisdom From the Greatest Minds of All Time
- Who's Watching You?: The Chilling Truth about the State, Surveillance and Personal Freedom
- (Who put the) Bomp! Saving the World One Record at a Time
- Zones of Chaos (an anthology)
Farren organised the Phun City Festival in 1970. He has long been associated with the Hells Angels (UK) who provided security at Phun City; they even awarded Farren an "approval patch" in 1970 for use on his first solo album Mona.
- Funtopia This is the new url of Funtopia website.
- Interview with Mick Farren by Rich Deakin on the subject of the UK underground press.
- Mick Farren Bibliography (Last available Internet Archive snapshot of http://www.myunicorn.com/bibl3/bibl0311.html as at February 19, 2005)
- Trouser Press Discography with the Deviants
- Trouser Press Solo Farren Discography
- 3:AM Magazine Interview September 2002
- L.A. Weekly Interview November 2001
- Biography at RocksBackPages.com
- Doc 40 Mick Farren personal blog
- MICK FARREN: The 1997 Your Flesh Profile Interview - good biography up to 1997.