How we met: Spider Stacey & Max Décharné

'We supported the Pogues because he thinks our music matches; we both make a fair old racket'



Max Décharné 49

is a journalist, author and musician who joined alt-rock band Gallon Drunk in 1991, before starting his own group, underground garage-punk act the Flaming Stars in 1996. He lives with his wife in north London

I'd known who Spider was since the Pogues first started in the early 1980s – their second album is probably my favourite of the past 30 years. But just because you like someone's music, it can still be disappointing when you meet them. I was playing a gig with the Flaming Stars in early 1996 at a venue in Camden, and Spider came down to check us out. Afterwards, he came up to me and we started chatting. He was a dream to talk to: witty and knowledgeable, and we had a lot in common as we're both from the punk generation.

People in the business will come and see your gig once out of politeness but they don't keep showing up on a regular basis, as Spider started doing, unless they are really enjoying it. We started hanging out in pubs a lot, chatting about the Velvet Underground, and going round to each others' houses for dinner.

For most of the time I've known Spider, he'd stopped drinking. For a lot of people, if they don't drink any more they don't want to be around it either, but Spider was so considerate. When I'd go round to his and his partner's house, we'd always bring a non-alcoholic drink, but then he would bring out a bottle of wine, saying "Here, I bought this for you."

He's been in this well-known band now for 27 years, while I've been in bands that have been on a different level entirely, but it's never affected our dynamic. He could name-drop for England if he wanted to, but he's very understated about who he knows. Recently, we were watching [the American TV series] The Wire and a song by the Pogues came on, so I asked him about that and he said "Oh yeah, we know [the series creator] David Simon , he likes our music."

Spider rang me up a few years ago and said the reformed Pogues [the band broke up in 1995 after numerous personnel changes before getting back together in 2001] were playing Brixton Academy, and asked if we'd support them. Normally we play in front of 300 people, so it was a lovely gesture, and last Christmas we did the same thing. I guess Spider thinks it matches, as we both make a fair old racket.

I interviewed Spider for my last book – which was about Chelsea's King's Road – because of the punk element. I found out things about him that I hadn't known after 10 years of friendship. He used to customise his clothes as a teenager as that's what the Clash did, fixing fox furs to an army surplus jacket. The object was not to look like anybody else. And that's what I got out of punk, too, of doing things yourself and not being scared about whether you're making a fool of yourself. You recognise that attitude in people and I think it gets to the crux of our friendship.

Peter 'Spider' Stacey 50 is a founder member of the punk-influenced London Irish band the Pogues, best known for their festive classic 'Fairy Tale of New York'. He lives in north London with his wife

I first became aware of Max through his band Gallon Drunk in the late 1980s; they were Camden-based, while we were nearby in King's Cross. His music didn't sound like the Pogues, but there was a similarity in a grasp of the sleazy and the desperate.

I met him a few times back then, but my first clear recollection wasn't until early 1996 when my girlfriend Louise took me to a gig by his new band, the Flaming Stars; it blew me away. I loved the underbelly of darkness theme, about reaching the end of an evening [of drinking] and sinking into that grey horror of the approaching dawn. So when I met him afterwards, we really hit it off: we had a shared musical background, a love of the Velvet Underground, and we seemed similar – quite introverted and private.

I started going to his gigs on a regular basis – I think I've seen more Flaming Stars gigs than any other band – and got to know him much better. He's one of the best people to be on a night out with, as alcohol has a positively benign effect on him – he gets quite talkative – although as I'd given up drinking not long after I met Max, our nights on the town were a little one-sided.

Max was really supportive when I started my band, the Vendettas, in 1999, after the Pogues split up. He went to every gig. We started going round to each others' places for dinner parties – actually it generally involved getting takeaway pizza with our girlfriends and we'd listen to each others' music collections: I'm sure Max thought some of the stuff I played was a load of crap. I think he's always had impeccable taste: the first band Max went to see live was Dr Feelgood, while the first band I ever saw was Uriah Heep, so Max has "coolest first band" status by some considerable margin.

Since the Pogues reformed, Max's band has guested for us a couple of times. The first time they did it was at Brixton, and the roadie crew came up to us afterwards and said Flaming Stars were the best support band they'd seen. But I think his band is much more than a support band; they deserve to be headlining. Why they aren't enormous baffles me. n

Décharné's latest book, 'Straight From the Fridge, Dad: A Dictionary of Hipster Slang' (£16.99, No Exit Press) is out now

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn