Layts and Suths
Ben Layton and Martin Sutherland were dynamic partners in musical crime. Layts and Suths was a creation that is almost impossible to describe, but luckily we can now hand over to Martin himself to add some sense to proceedings… (The following excerpt from Martin’s own writing should be read with what is commonly called “a pinch of salt”! – Editors).
Layts and Suths
You have to know Layts and Suths before you can understand Laytsandsuths.
To a casual observer, the musical phenomenon known as Laytsandsuths is a simple enough proposition: a couple of average Joes, not particularly talented or insightful, with a repertoire of four-chord songs about subjects as undemanding as coffee. This is an understandable and certainly forgivable notion as, when taken at face value, that is exactly what Laytsandsuths are. The problem with this view is that it in no way helps to explain the legions of fans, dozens of celebrity devotees, critical and commercial successes that have come to the duo over the past few years. For example, how did Ben Layton and Martin Sutherland become Time magazine’s ‘Men of the Decade” on the back of such apparently juvenile lyrics as: “Let’s go to the Spar/It’s not very far/We’ll get there in a car/And buy a maaaaarrow”?
Martin Sutherland was born in a Siberian Gulag, or Russian concentration camp, in 1938 (or 1984, according to some reports). Originally named Alexander Russiarussiarussiachechnyakov, he changed his name by deed poll to Martin Sutherland upon the execution of his parents in 1941. They were convicted of attempting to poison the dictator Josef Stalin by adding a fine clean white substance to his afternoon coffee (a theme revisited in the 2001 classic ‘Brewtime’). One can only speculate as to the effects the loss of his parents must have had on the young Martin’s psyche – to this day he has steadfastly refused to discuss this period with anybody outside his immediate group of himself. What we do know is that, as a direct consequence of the state’s murderous actions, the barely three-year old Martin was left alone in the middle of the Siberian forest to fend for himself, unarmed and unaided.
At the age of five, the now bearded Martin founded a settlement on the banks of the river Tiber, which would come to dominate the Western World for the next three thousand years. A year later, whilst sitting in the now-great city’s main orchard, an apple had the good fortune to fall on his head, thus creating gravity (an event referred to in the 2004 smash hit ‘Inventor’). Other achievements during Martin’s formative years include the unravelling of the human Genome, inventing wood, and finding water.
It was at the age of seven, whilst guiding the Israelites to the “land of milk and honey” that Martin first encountered what was to eventually become his raison d’être: the world of music (not World Music). It was at this point that ‘the Lord’ (Hebrew for Layts) spake unto ‘Abraham’ (Hebrew for Suths) from a burning bush:
“And it shall come to pass Let’s write a tune Have you got a plectrum?”
It was at the party of one Pete McGowan that the duo first performed their signature tune Uptalker (the Best Song Ever®), along with a heavier number they would later discard called “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Nice one.
‘Uptalker’ (the Best Song Ever®) was recorded and demo CDs were sent off to numerous record companies. After several rejections, it fell to a perceptive young promoter called Brian Epstein to recognize the immense potential of Laytsandsuths, and sign them up to his label. Thanks to the excellent publicity campaign mounted by Parlophone, and the outrageous drunken antics of Layts (see Cuban Missile Crisis, Chernobyl, and Prisoner Abuse at Abu Ghraib Jail), the duo’s first commercial release, the Fine Clean White CD with the Strength of a Zeppelin EP, achieved triple-platinum sales in less than 3 seconds.
If Martin is the epitome of the kind, sensitive, dignified and considerate “troubled genius”, then Layts is his complete antithesis. Layts is not a complex person, and perhaps the most practical way of gaining insight into his ‘character’ is by simply listing a few of his ‘achievements’ to ‘date’…
* Whilst other, more humanitarian entrepreneurs were developing the use of ice for the refrigeration of essential food, Layts began selling it, at extortionate prices, to starving people in the desert who thought it was glass for their windows.
* Misunderstanding the finer points of the recent high-profile ‘Drop the Debt’ campaign, Layts offered the use of his private collection of Chinook helicopters for the drop.
* Layts first met Suths during the American presidential elections of 1961, in which Layts was a candidate. His campaign slogan, “Ask not what Layts can do for you – ask what you can do for Layts”, was subsequently hijacked by JFK in his acceptance speech that year.
* As CEO of the timber company ‘Logorithm’, Layts is responsible for the destruction of an area of Brazilian rainforest equal to twice the size of Wales every minute.
These examples perfectly illustrate the callous and cold-blooded nature of Layts. Yet Layts remains most famous for his contribution to the sublime world of Laytsandsuths, a somewhat minimal contribution sure, but nevertheless integral. He is the mouthpiece, the public face of Laytsandsuths, the ‘gifthorse in the mouth’ – without him there would have been no success, and no riches, but the music wouldn’t have suffered.