The name of Billy Childish is inevitably linked in my mind to a kindly face, with typically angle shaped English features, a generous moustache and a funny hat similar to that of Sherlock Holmes. The aesthetics, which are connected to one of my favorite bands: Thee Headcoats. When I first discovered the band, thanks to a friend, whose vinyl collection is the source of half of my musical knowledge, I didn't know what was behind this figure. For a long period of time, he was only an excellent garage musician. But one good thing about this profession, rather than only writing about one's musical references, is to be able to discover many more new things too. Before I started writing this article, I only considered Childish's work outside of music as something of an accessory, a sort of complementary thing that made the musician more complex, more interesting but without the sufficient entity to deserve to look into it independently from the musical side.

In the mid 70's he decided to devote his life to art. He played all his cards in one hand and entered the prestigious Saint Martin art school, with the help of a grant for talented youngsters. He was aware that if he didnt make it, a life of jobs for unqualified people was waiting for him. This was in the mid 70s, when the context in England was grim, just before Thatcher, a horizon of unemployment and few hopes, the sediments where punk germinated. Childish is not unaware of this and he joins the Pop Rivets as vocalist. This was the first and, possibly, the less representative, of a long list of bands he was in who were obsessed with garage, 60s, r'n'b and blues.
Both in his music and in his artistic or literature work he has shown a strong independence in his criteria and an absolute loyalty to himself. A trait that I have always recognized in him is the total indifference with respect to the trends in any of his fields of work. His songs, same as his poems and paintings, have stayed the same without alteration. From Milkshakes to the Buff Medways, or the Mighty Caesars, have merely been vehicles for the uncontrollable creativity of Childish. With each of these bands he has continuosly released records, even releasing various records in one same year.
With respect to the industrial part of the creative process, Childish has always defended a form of home made amateurism. Everything he has published under his own home label and book publisher, Hangman Books. His favorite way of recording records is to do it over a weekend in his house in Medway, first takes, live, a couple of microphones and a DAT.
He is, as an artist, a ferocious defender of figurative art. His attack on conceptual art started during his time in art school, as a result of which he was sacked in 1981. Some 20 years later he was one of the founders of the movement Stuckism, which he abandoned a couple of years later, though he continues to adhere 100% with their objectives and ideas. This movement is represented through about 130 groups in 34 countries.
Being as I am critical with ironic and conformist postmodernism, I am fully in agreement with Childish's ideas. It's about 'de-elite-ing' the artistic creation in the same manner as hardcore stripped the musical creation of its elite-ness.
Billy Childish plays once a month in the Dirty Water in London. His new band since August 2006 are the Musicians from the British Empire.