For our first ever Festive Feature on Mad Mackerel, we asked twelve of our favourite bands and artists of 2011 to answer twelve questions and as we reach Christmas Eve, here is the last of them. Happy Christmas!

Mad Mackerel's 12 Days of Christmas No 12 Dennis Hopper Choppers.

If you were to ask us what ingredients would make up the perfect MM song, we might say something along the lines of a dusty Western ghost town, a couple of bandits, some down-on-their-luck grifters, a bottle of bourbon, some bravado, knives certainly and maybe a couple of guns, a vulture or two, and a bank robbery.

And maybe that is why the spaghetti western inspired, mariachi tinged music of Dennis Hopper Choppers has proved such a hit with the Mackerel gang this year and, just like Mr Popper said in his top ten post yesterday meant we were able to soak up an album that revelled in effortlessly soaring up  in to that vast Americana sky. Be Ready is an album that is adventurous, dangerous and wonderfully challenging. It is also brilliant – from the reverb drenched Blue to the yearning Long Trip Home and the speed fuelled Razor Gang, there is not a false move on the whole record.

1) Three iconic clashes. Who would you vote for in each of these (you can say why too if you wish)?

a) The Velvet Underground or The Doors?

This is very tricky, you’ve got East coast Vs West coast USA music.  The East with it’s origins tied up in European cool and the West with it’s New World feel, cutting itself free. It’d have to be a split vote on this one.

b) Bob Dylan or Neil Young?

Bob Dylan is a freak. Nobody can write a sweeter love song or sink a knife deeper into someone’s heart. Did he sell his soul to the devil? Quite probably. Neil Young just isn’t in the same league.

c) The Sex Pistols or the Clash?

The Clash always seemed to have this obsession with being down with the people and authentic, the Pistols were just total showbiz. I guess the Clash at times felt like they were trying a bit too hard and for this reason I’d have to go with The Pistols.

2) What has been your personal highlight of 2011?

Managing against the odds to get the new Dennis Hopper Choppers album ‘Be Ready’ finished and released. 

Dennis Hopper Choppers on Mad Mackerel. 3) What was your low point of the year?

I’m a big follower of boxing. It’s been a dreadful year for British boxing (multiple low points). We now only have one world title belt holder, Nathan Cleverly. Very disappointing. 

4) You can give one single album from 2011 to just one person for Christmas. What would you buy and who for?

I rediscovered Ray Charles- ‘Modern Sounds in Country and Western’ in 2011. I think it should be given to everybody for Christmas as it’s essential listening. Is he the best singer ever? 

5) Give us between two and five songs from 2011 that you’d recommend as the best of the year.

Hard to give one song from each, but two albums I’ve got into in the last few months are Dirty Beaches-‘Badlands’ and Richard Warren-‘The Wayfarer’ 

6) Do you have a favourite Christmas Carol – why?

Most Carols are in major keys, which immediately makes them difficult. Christmas is not a major key time of year. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is a minor key classic melody.

7) Imagine you are snowed in and stuck in an isolated house in the woods for Christmas with no way out. Wolves and bears are prowling outside. You need to recommend the following:

A classic song to impress an ultra cool, know-it-all, teenager

Nico-‘Janitor of Lunacy’. Music doesn’t get any heavier than this, everything they listened to would be pith by comparison. 

A song to terrify Grandma

Goblin playing the Suspiria soundtrack. I reckon the bit where they’re chanting ‘witch, witch’, would go down particularly well. 

A traditional song to help send Grandad to sleep

I know it’s not traditional, but it’s old- Ray Charles singing ‘That Lucky Old Sun’.

A song for someone just waking from a five-year coma

Dick Van Dyke singing Hushabye Mountian from the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang soundtrack. The producers of the film were worried he couldn’t sing and then he pulled this vocal out the bag. I know it’s a lullaby, the only worry would be that they’d drift back down again.

A book to frighten the children

I don’t know who wrote it, but I listened to a short story on Radio4 when I was a kid. This story was written from the point of view of some budgies stuck in their aviary outside in the snow over Christmas. Their keeper is taken ill and ends up in hospital. It’s their story as they starve and freeze to death. I was never the same after this one. 

An unforgettable film to watch

Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs. Basically a western set in Cornwall. One of the most unsettling films I’ve ever seen. 

Dennis Hopper Choppers on Mad Mackerel. 8) What is top of your Christmas list this year? Why?

A coupon for a local piano tuner to come and tune my piano, the central heating and rain we’ve been having are causing real problems. I don’t mind a bit of honky tonk but it’s getting ridiculous.

9) What is the worst Christmas present you’ve ever given and/or ever received?

I have pretty low expectations and I fear others have pretty low expectations from me, so it’s generally all fine.

10) Will you be making a New Year Resolution? If so can you share it and will you keep it? What is the stupidest New Year resolution you’ve ever made?

I don’t make new years resolutions cause they just lead to frustration and disappointment at your own ability to keep them. 

11) Imagine you’re headlining a Christmas Concert at your favourite venue. You can share the stage with three other artists or bands (past or present) for the final encore of the night. Who would they be and what would you play?

David Eugene Edwards from Wovenhand would have to be on vocals cause I think he would uniquely understand and interpret the heavy message of the Christmas story. Link Wray would have to be on guitar, who else could you have? On drums it’d be Steven Drozd from the Flaming Lips, he’s the only drummer who’d be heavy enough to keep up with the other two. I’d play upright bass and stand back in awe.

12) Can you write us a Christmas themed limerick?

There once was a band called Dennis Hopper Choppers

At Christmas they told Mad Mackerel loads of whoppers

The Mackerel was sad that it turned out so bad

But they printed it all good and proper.

Buy the album here.

Watch The Girl Walked Out of Town.


Watch All Could Come True.


Listen to Good To Me.


Previously: Lovely Eggs (here), Twilight Hotel (here), Grass House (here), Hurray For The Riff Raff (here), Lonesome Wyatt & The Holy Spooks (here), Ohioan (here), Wooden Wand (here), Tom Williams & The Boat (here), Henry’s Funeral Shoe (here), The Roadside Graves (here), The Royal Sea (here).

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