I first met GUNSHIP while watching Too Much Sun on screen 2 of the Odeon in Bradford with Shaun Ryder. The film had got to the point where Karate Kid was kicking Robert Downey Jr out of their shared trailer. Robert Downey Jr was doing a horrible English accent. So horrible, it triggered memories of the dream I had suffered through the night before. I had dreamt of being suffocated by writhing tentacles in a sea of blood and fire. I had felt the air stop in my throat. I had felt the crushing force of the future. I saw death on the horizon. Damn you, pre-breakdown Robert Downey Jr.
You alright? asked Shaun Ryder, who was eating a Calypo and throwing popcorn over the balcony at a group of teenagers who were setting fire to complimentary postcards and smoking Davidoff Superslims.
I need to get some air, I said.
Get me a gulp or two while you are at it.
Outside the cinema, I popped some Hawaiian Punch Hubba Bubba into my mouth and forced myself to not think about Cthulhu. It wasn’t working, in the same way that when someone says do not think about turtles, all you can think about is turtles.
Fuck turtles, I said, and fuck Cthulhu.
That’s the spirit, said voices behind me.
I turned to find a small group of smugly dressed men playing hopscotch against a gang of punks.
Care to join? they asked.
I have other things on my mind, I said.
Fight the power, they said, and carried on hopping competitively on the pavement, which seemed to aggrieve the marching band that was practicing marching without the band part, miming the playing of brass instruments, their bootheels cracking rhythmically against the pavement.
Punks, said the marching band.
There’s no need, I said.
What did you say? said the punks.
I said, fuck Cthulhu.
Cthulhu is our lord and master, said the marching band, and directed their marching towards me.
The smugly dressed men and the punks came to my aid, kicking and punching anyone in a red and gold uniform. Fists and feet were thrown like grenades, headbutts landed like artillery, and elbows rained down like a biblical plague. The blood rain plague, not the frog plague, or the boils plague. The messiest plague. Or, maybe the plague of flies, or gnats. I always detested those plagues the most, what with me not having a first born to lose. With blood you could just stay indoors. With boils, it was only a plague for like a day or two, and I had teenage acne that lasted for six years. The Egyptians got off light, unlike the marching band that ran screaming from the onslaught.
The punks ran after the marching band. I would later find out it was The Slits who had helped me, but that was much later. The smugly dressed men remained. They told me they were GUNSHIP.
You don’t have to shout, I said.
It’s a style, they said, in harmony.
Weird gang name, I said.
We’re not a gang, they said. We’re a band.
Do you have to all speak at once? I asked.
No, they said.
What’s Cthulhu doing to my head? I asked.
Twisting your melon, man, said Shaun Ryder, who had just stepped out of the cinema. I told you to get me some air. I was gasping in there. That film was awful, and those teenagers have managed to set fire to ten rows of seats.
Hey, Shaun, said GUNSHIP.
Hey, GUNSHIP, said Shaun.
You know these guys? I asked.
Of course, he said. We went on a two-week sojourn to Titan last summer for a spot of water polo.
I feel left out, I said.
I wouldn’t worry, said GUNSHIP, it wasn’t all that.
Only because you’re shit at water polo, said Shaun Ryder.
Fuck off, Shaun, said GUNSHIP.
Don’t mind if I do, said Shaun. He whipped open his Casio flip watch, pressed a button and disappeared in a shimmer of special effects.
Thanks, you lot, I said. He was my ride.
We’ll take you wherever, said GUNSHIP.
I want to go to Mount Othrys, I said. I have some gods I need to chat to.
Sure, said GUNSHIP. We’ll call in the chopper. While we wait, do you want to hear a song? It’ll cover the sound of that fire alarm.
Sure, I said.
GUNSHIP pulled out all the world’s synthesisers and set them up on the pavement. A limo pulled up. John Carpenter stuck his head out of the window and shouted curses at the band. He grabbed four of the synthesisers and sped off into a neon sunset. I don’t know how, it was lunchtime and the sun wasn’t due to set for ages.
Don’t question John, said GUNSHIP. Luckily, we have enough synthesisers left to play Tech Noir from our self titled album released in 2015. Which they did. Afterwards, the chopper landed in the middle of the road, blocking another marching band in yellow and gold uniforms, but they were more understanding than the last one. We’re marching for Hastur, they said. They waved us off as a fire engine arrived to douse the now flaming Odeon.
Hey, I said to two thirds of GUNSHIP, weren’t you in Fightstar?
We can talk about that later, they said. Which we did, and we’ve been friends ever since.