In the latest instalment of the Criminal Records series, Paul Heatley talks us through some of the tracks that influenced his new book, Guillotine (All Due Respect, 2019).
PROTECT YA NECK by the Wu-Tang Clan
Guillotine tells the story of a young girl trying to escape from her criminal father with the man that she loves. It also tells the tale of her ex-boyfriend, a former army vet-turned-hitman who chops off the heads of his clients targets upon request. Mikey is the eponymous Guillotine. So, with that in mind, you’ve got to believe the Wu-Tang Clan’s seminal hit ‘Protect Ya Neck’ is pretty much his theme song. When Mikey makes an entrance, this is what’s playing.
RUNNING UP THAT HILL by Placebo
The aforementioned young lady is Lou-Lou, daughter of the dangerous Big Bobby Joe. When Guillotine begins she and her lover Leon are hiding out in a motel, laying low until they’re sure they can safely get out of town without being detected, awaiting a phone call from a friend of Leon’s who says he’s going to get them a car. ‘Running Up That Hill’ represents the obstacles before them, and their struggle to escape Lou-Lou’s tyrannical father.
Purists might be annoyed that I’ve opted for the Placebo cover as opposed to the Kate Bush original, but the Placebo version is the one I heard first and it’s the one I prefer. It has a darker, almost oppressive quality about it that fits right in at home in this nasty slice of noir. Oh, and I’m not being hyperbolic when I call it nasty. Rob Pierce, author of Uncle Dust, Vern In The Heat, and others, called me a sick fuck. I’m gonna wear that badge with pride.
HEADS WILL ROLL by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Obviously, the title of this song is some clear foreshadowing, but the disco-influenced song itself works very well when you picture Tommy – Leon’s friend who’s sorting him out the car – driving through the night coked-up to the gills. Tommy is a wannabe tough-guy who likes to tell people he used to be part of a dangerous motorcycle club, and so dresses himself in leathers and chains. He’s got a hard powder habit and is regularly snorting the shit up his nose.
BIG JESUS TRASH CAN by The Birthday Party
The manic nature of this track ties itself well to Guillotine’s fast-pace, and the coke-addled mind of Tommy, but it also contains the line “American heads will roll in Texas, roll like daddy’s meat”. The setting of the story is purposefully ambiguous, but Chris Rhatigan [All Due Respect publisher] and I both decided on it being vaguely southern. And heads rolling? Yeah, I’ve gone for a theme.
So, four songs and not a single Mark Lanegan track among them? Oh, go on then, just one…
RAMBLIN’ MAN by Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan
There’s a real western vibe to this song (in fact, the whole Ballad Of The Broken Seas album has a strong western influence) that appeals to me. I love westerns, and I hope Guillotine shows some of that admiration. A strong influence upon the story itself was the description I read a long time ago for the Sam Peckinpah movie Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia (which I’ve never seen). I have, however, seen The Wild Bunch. Bad men doing bad things – the very description of noir that I adhere to.
This song works on a couple of levels. Firstly, Mikey is a rambling man, regularly on the move due to the nature of his profession. Secondly, if this were a movie, this would be the closing track. When you get to the end of the book, you’ll see why. Just imagine this playing as the sun burns over the desert and the credits begin to rise.
Paul Heatley is the author of more than fifty short stories published online and in print at a variety of publications including Thuglit, Mystery Tribune, Crime Factory, Spelk and Shotgun Honey, among others. He is the author of The Motel Whore & Other Stories, Guns, Drugs and Dogs, Fatboy, An Eye For An Eye, The Runner, Violent By Design and Guillotine.
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