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Expect stand-up and a singalong from Carter USM's Jim Bob at Bish Bash

Jim Bob, best known as the singer for indie rock band Carter USM (Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine), will be a highlight of the Bish Bash bill this Sunday (May 5) when he takes to the main stage for a solo set at 7pm.

Carter USM had 14 top-40 singles and a No 1 album after forming in 1988, selling over a million records before initially splitting up in 1998. Jim Bob is known for his socially-aware pop lyrics and his frequent use of puns.

Jim Bob. Credit: Paul Heneker (9495404)
Jim Bob. Credit: Paul Heneker (9495404)

Last month he published 'Jim Bob from Carter – In the Shadow of my Former Self' with Cherry Red Books, and the Bish Bash gig is only his second live performance of 2019, the first being another solo outing at the mighty Shepherd's Bush Empire in London.

"For the Bishop's Stortford gig I'll just be doing Carter songs, on my own without a band," he says. "It's usually a singalong celebration, so it should work well, unless no-one knows the words of course!

"The whole arrangement is simple. It just tends to be me coming on and banging out a load of songs. I sometimes have a tendency to talk too much and it can verge into the territory of stand-up comedy."

Some people questioned whether him playing Shepherd's Bush solo would work, but his response was simple: "I thought, 'well, Ed Sheeran does it'. That show was great, and I did another one this year. The one last year was a surprise because it was just me and the guitar. The audience treated it as though it was a punk gig though: there was crowdsurfing to slow acoustic songs, all sorts going on, which caught me by surprise.

"When it's just me, I can change things on the spot. I can add songs that I wasn't planning on doing, drop songs, play them in a different order or whatever. I can gauge the audience and see how it is all going.

"At a festival, everything has to be a bit more over-the-top than usual. I usually find myself shouting more than I plan to, because I feel as though my voice has to carry further. Apart from that, the show isn't radically different to one in an arena."

Jim Bob. Credit: Paul Heneker (9495406)
Jim Bob. Credit: Paul Heneker (9495406)

Jim Bob has been involved with many different projects, all of which sound completely different from each other, save for the fact that he is on them.

"I did an album which was about a school, and recorded it with an imaginary school orchestra, using a lot of school instruments. I wouldn't be able to do something like that if I was in a band. I've also recorded an album with a real orchestra, which was pretty amazing, and another one with just piano. So it can be me and whatever is going on at the time."

He has strong historical links to the area: "At the end of the 80s, one of the places that Carter played a lot was Harlow Square, which has gone now. We picked up a small loyal following there, and in fact somebody who lived in Bishop's Stortford ended up being our first roadie. He was a friend of [Bish Bash organiser] Twig Smith, so it just came about like that. Twig got in touch again after a long time. So we used to know people in the town.

"But I haven't been back for a long time. I'm looking forward to it. I don't play many gigs so it's always nice to be out the house!"

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