Oxford Mail


It's lonely at Camp David

He cultivates that
eerie, camp stage
presence: heroin-chic
cheekbones, sarky
humour, big Judy
Garland voice.


Women never approach David Cowles-Hamar at gigs. He can't understand this. The Oxford local is, after all, in the spotlight, warbling for The Bigger the God.

Perhaps it's the skirt, I suggest gently.

Oh, yes. That. Well... "Complete drag is funny, it's over-the-top. But some item of girl's clothing makes people slightly uncomfortable," he admits.

And David likes that. He cultivates that eerie, camp stage presence: heroin-chic cheekbones, sarky humour, big Judy Garland voice.

The punters don't mind, though. The Bigger the God launches its third album in early December, And the Ugly. David's double-barrelled name also appears in lights at the Phoenix Cinema, which premiers The Devil's Feast on Friday.

This is the Oxford star's first feature-length effort, a home-grown production made by Richard Duriez and Sharon Woodward of Mischief Pictures.

The low-budget project invites comparison with surprise-hit The Blair Witch Project, and explores an anarchist group's fears about a religious cult. Eloise Coyle plays David's brutal artist girlfriend, who keeps him "under the thumb".

"I'm doing that really annoying thing, when a singer starts acting," he confesses, then considers. "But why not? Singing, dancing and acting used to be the mainstay of entertainment for years. Suddenly people can't bear it if you do more than one thing."

Singing is his glory, however, despite the effort required. "I have no singing talent, everything is sheer bloody hard work. I used to do an hour or two of scales every day.

"I knew I could front a band, and needed an excuse to be on stage. I worked like a maniac and it's paying off."

Sort of. The band's single Mum Steals Boyfriend flew off the shelves three years ago, crowning the chart at HMV in Oxford. That was the season the group played to 1.2 million viewers on The Big Breakfast.

Continually pegged as the "next big thing", The Bigger the God grew tired of waiting for mainstream acceptance. The musicians are turning their back on punk-pop fusion, and playing what they want: completely indulgent 'evil circus music'.

"You can only play indie pop for so long," David explains. The new sound startled the band's cult following, who have slowly come round to the haunting, tweaked songs laced with cabaret accordion riffs.

"We wanted to make an album we hadn't heard before. If we halve our audience, we'll know we've progressed."

In the meantime, the unemployed star will be looking for work, pounding the pavement with his vegan Doc Marten boots. It's not an easy life, but he wouldn't trade those shining moments, where his eccentricity dazzles and his voice blazes over the microphone.

"On-stage, I need people to love me and adore me," he confesses. "Off-stage, I want them to leave me alone."

Except, of course, the girl who can overlook the skirt.

"I'm doing that
really annoying thing,
when a singer starts
acting," he confesses,
then considers.
"But why not?"
It's not an easy life,
but he wouldn't trade
those shining moments,
where his eccentricity
dazzles and his voice
blazes over the crowd.


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