PSB and autism

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No Muscle Mary
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PSB and autism

#1 Post by No Muscle Mary »

From their new interview in The Times.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/pet- ... -wd8tg7pqq

"I think we’re both a bit autistic" - OMG, I've been saying this about them for years!! It's likely what gives them their genius and drive and focus and loyalty but also makes them a bit stroppy and opinionated and difficult to work with. Not to mention unique vision, attention to detail, perfectionism.

I am a bit of an expert in autism after years of research (my kids have it, possibly my husband and possibly myself) and could see it in the boys. Neil practically self-diagnosed when he described how he was as a child in Left to my own devices and in interviews, like how he was called Tigger as a kid because he walked on his toes and bounced along. It's not something to be ashamed of and has many wonderful qualities. People with ASD really are the best of people. Gary Numan has been public about being Aspergers.

I never would have said it here before but now they've said it themselves. Some would see it as a sensitive subject.
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Effen Vida
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Re: PSB and autism

#2 Post by Effen Vida »

Bloody paywalls. Would love to read that.
My 8yr daughter is autistic and quite the brilliant, maddening, funny handful!

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Marie loves PSB
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Re: PSB and autism

#3 Post by Marie loves PSB »

I would not be surprised at all to be honest as they have "some sort of problem" with meeting fans and having photographs taken etc.... (I totally do not understand the illness but, I know that they are a bit difficult with fans) - with autism you don't know how to socially interact. (Iam I right?) As you know Chris also hides away.

Also, I think PSB are geniuses (as you mention that too Mary) - I always thought people with Autism and Asperger's were very brainy too. I think if they were not autistic their music would not be the same.

It shouldn't really be seen as a sensitive subject really should it? I bet quite a few of us have some of the symptoms. - And not diagnosed.

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Re: PSB and autism

#4 Post by No Muscle Mary »

Many people are autistic without knowing it, they are high functioning.
It was only when my child was diagnosed that I started reading about it and recognised a lot of the signs in myself.
I can spot it pretty easily now.
Yes, social interactions can be difficult for people who have autism. Not understanding what's expected of you in a situation, not picking up on social cues. It's pretty complex.
It tends to go hand in hand with dyspraxia - problems with muscle responses. This would result in people who are really bright at school but terrible at sports and even quite clumsy.
It's not so much an illness, more a different way of being. The best way to describe it is having a different operating system, Mac computers in a world of PCs.
That said, it's a spectrum. On one end you have people who can't talk or ever live independently. On the other are high functioning people where you wouldn't even realise they are on the spectrum. And in between there lots of other disorders, often comorbid, many of them anxiety related.
People with autism tend to be able to pick each other out as they understand each other more than they understand neurotypical people.
Anyway, sorry if I've gotten into it too much. It's great to see Neil talk about it after I'd spent many years wondering.
Chris avoiding fans, hiding behind hats etc, bit of a sign alright. Their different take on life, their attention to detail, their sharpness, even right down to not smiling and Chris's hatred of any kind of falseness or pretence.
It's important for children with autism to have people they can look up to. They need heroes as all you usually get in the mainstream media is the negative stereotypes.
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psbfannyc
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Re: PSB and autism

#5 Post by psbfannyc »

Wow....thanks for bringing in your point of view here No Muscle Mary. Fascinating.

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Young Offender
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Re: PSB and autism

#6 Post by Young Offender »

You explained this very well Mary, i could not have explained it better, I can usually spot others on the Spectrum pretty well, I have a 17 year old daughter who is autistic not severe and not high functioning somewhat moderate but she is at a 7 year old level and will always need help.

But I do see some of the traits you point out in your post, they are Anal and Perfectionist and it shows.
No Muscle Mary wrote: Wed 26 Jul 2017, 6:46 pm Many people are autistic without knowing it, they are high functioning.
It was only when my child was diagnosed that I started reading about it and recognised a lot of the signs in myself.
I can spot it pretty easily now.
Yes, social interactions can be difficult for people who have autism. Not understanding what's expected of you in a situation, not picking up on social cues. It's pretty complex.
It tends to go hand in hand with dyspraxia - problems with muscle responses. This would result in people who are really bright at school but terrible at sports and even quite clumsy.
It's not so much an illness, more a different way of being. The best way to describe it is having a different operating system, Mac computers in a world of PCs.
That said, it's a spectrum. On one end you have people who can't talk or ever live independently. On the other are high functioning people where you wouldn't even realise they are on the spectrum. And in between there lots of other disorders, often comorbid, many of them anxiety related.
People with autism tend to be able to pick each other out as they understand each other more than they understand neurotypical people.
Anyway, sorry if I've gotten into it too much. It's great to see Neil talk about it after I'd spent many years wondering.
Chris avoiding fans, hiding behind hats etc, bit of a sign alright. Their different take on life, their attention to detail, their sharpness, even right down to not smiling and Chris's hatred of any kind of falseness or pretence.
It's important for children with autism to have people they can look up to. They need heroes as all you usually get in the mainstream media is the negative stereotypes.

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No Muscle Mary
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Re: PSB and autism

#7 Post by No Muscle Mary »

My kids' faces lit up yesterday when I told them what Neil had said. Funny that in an interview where they said they don't like giving away personal information, they reveal something so fundamental to their characters. Something, it seems, that quite a few of us already knew.

Editing this to verify my meaning: some of us already knew they had characteristics/traits of autism.
Last edited by No Muscle Mary on Sat 29 Jul 2017, 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: PSB and autism

#8 Post by daveid »

It'd be great if someone could copy paste the Times article. I won'r give Mr Murdoch a penny.

I reckon a lot of PSB fans are on the autistic spectrum, and I'm not precluding myself from that. We like to see repeated patterns in everything they do, don't we?

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Re: PSB and autism

#9 Post by spacewalker »

I'm pretty sure Chris is Aspy.
Can't say the same about Neil but he certainly is a bit autistic too. Some of his lyrics' themes and the way he explores them are autistic.

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Re: PSB and autism

#10 Post by TG »

:shhh: Copy&paste of the interview

Pet Shop Boys: Modern pop stars have to talk about their love lives — but we don’t

Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe talk about their 35‑year careers and why only their songs reveal the secrets of their private lives.

Deep inside a sweltering, warren-like rehearsal space somewhere in southeast London, Britain’s most successful pop duo (50 million records sold worldwide) are on mischievous form. Pet Shop Boys, aka Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe (they’re always listed in that order, like Ant and Dec, and Gilbert and George) are both shaven headed, clad all in black and melting in the heat. So how are they, apart from hot?

“Old,” says Lowe (he’s 57).

“You’re not old!” says Tennant.

“Neil said the other day he’s now a young old person.” (Tennant is 63).

“Yeah, I think I am,” says Tennant.

“Whereas I’m still an old young person,” says Lowe.

What’s the difference?

“I’m still like a child,” says Lowe. “A stroppy child.”

So Tennant can’t behave like that any more?“He never did,” Lowe says. “Always the serious one.”


Serious? Not wholly, but Tennant, the singer, is certainly the more grown-up half of the partnership, marshalling a conversation that skips merrily from the delights of the Norwegian city of Bergen to the perils of playing the Vienna State Opera (“we had a major row about the lasers”), to Tennant editing the Dairy Book of Home Management in his pre-music days, to why West End Girls, their breakthrough single of 1984, sounded like hip-hop (“Grandmaster Flash with an English accent”).

The keyboardist Lowe, as promised, plays the role of miscreant younger brother, occasionally finishing Tennant’s sentences or digressing laconically about subjects such as his love for the trashy reality TV series, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. “It’s the same every episode,” he says with wonder. “They all get dressed up, go to a party, get drunk, have a row, and then have the debriefing on the way back in the limo.”

As entertaining as free associating with the Pet Shop Boys is, we are here, as they playfully remind me, to talk about Catalogue, their project to reissue all their albums, which is kicking off with Nightlife (1999), Release (2002) and Fundamental (2006).

“I’m always surprised how good they are,” Tennant says, his vowels as decadently elongated as ever. “Because when you make an album you get kind of sick of it by the time you’ve finished it. There are so many versions of the Pet Shop Boys and then we edit them together for each album.”

Fundamental is often described as their most overtly political album, “a picture of Britain and the world in the War of Terror”, as Tennant puts it. He corrects himself: “War on Terror. It was Borat that said War of Terror, wasn’t it? ‘We admire your War of Terror.’ ’’

One reviewer said that Integral, a song on Fundamental about ID cards (how quaint) was the first time he had heard Tennant sounding angry. “Yeah, well I was probably angry about quite a lot of things,” he says. Another song on that album, I’m With Stupid, was about Tony Blair’s closeness to George W Bush, while the album was dedicated to two gay teenagers who were hanged in Iran in 2005.

How about now — has the age of Donald Trump and Brexit inspired them to write anything? Tennant said recently that I’m With Stupid could easily be reworked to refer to Theresa May and the US president, but he’s unsure about tackling current events: “It’s almost too serious, too alarming,” he says. “It sort of bypasses your creative process.”

The pair have expressed their contempt for nostalgia, but their records are like shiny time capsules, both thematically and musically. “Sometimes we just copy the style of contemporary pop records to see how they work,” Tennant says; over the years they have upholstered their electronic sound with hip-hop, disco, house and even indie guitars. Surely there must be an element of nostalgia with these reissues. Which of their albums are their favourites?

Lowe smirks. “I think my three favourite Pet Shop Boys albums are the three that are being rereleased.’’

Tennant giggles. “I remember talking to Liza Minnelli about promotion and she said that she could turn any question into an answer about her new album. ‘It must have been very tough growing up with your mother . . . ’ — ‘Oh I think mum would have loved this new album. She loved to dance!’ ” More laughter. Told you they were on mischievous form.
They’re bullish, too, undeterred by a few iffy reviews for their forays into high culture (“Heaven save us from pop stars with pretensions,” said The Times of their Alan Turing-themed Prom in 2014). “We would probably quite like to do another ballet,” Tennant says. “I think we’d quite like to do another piece of musical theatre. We’re not just like doing one of each. It’s not box-ticking.”

Not that they would ever forsake their first love: pop. Why would they, when it’s bigger than ever? Gone are the days when it fought to be taken seriously against rock, with Tennant, as assistant editor of Smash Hits, firmly on the side of pop. That battle has been won, he thinks: “Pop’s dominant.” He cites the example of Coldplay. “When they came in they were the new Travis, then they were the new U2 and then suddenly they’re making pop records.”

The duo are rehearsing for a summer of festival dates, including Brighton Pride and Bestival. The latter, a famous haven for fancy dress, will be a rare occasion when Tennant and Lowe, who have previously donned pointy cone hats, glitter-balls and cardinal robes on stage, won’t be the most bizarrely dressed people in attendance. The last time they played Bestival, in 2006, they flew afterwards to Finland to play another festival, where the headliner was David Bowie, whose Hallo Spaceboy they had recently remixed.

“We were on before him, and there were people swimming in the nude while we were playing,” Tennant says. “When we did Go West, a massive ship went past and tooted its horn. It was really amazing. Then we went and watched a bit of Bowie’s set, and he said, ‘I’d like to dedicate the next song to Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys. It’s called Queen Bitch!’ ”

When the laughter has died away, they try shamelessly to turn the conversation back to the reissues.

“You should see the work Neil’s done on these booklets,” Lowe says, referring to the liner notes that accompany the albums, which Tennant oversaw.

“It was like doing the Dairy Book of Home Management,” Tennant says.

“Probably worse than that, actually.”

“No, there could never be anything in my life worse than the Dairy Book of Home Management,” Tennant says with a shudder. “It was a home encyclopaedia; the whole thing had to be done in ten weeks. I knew nothing about cooking or . . . ”

“Wiring a plug,” says Lowe.

“We got the diagram wrong in the book,” says Tennant with another shudder. “I think we got live and neutral mixed up.”

“Can you imagine the deaths!” says Lowe.

A few years after that, in 1981, Tennant met Lowe in an electronics shop on the Kings Road in southwest London. They bonded over dance music and “being two northerners in London”, Tennant says. He is from Newcastle, Lowe is from Blackpool. Both retain their accents; Tennant has a house in Durham and Lowe still spends lots of time in Blackpool.

They talk mistily about the early days of the band, where money from the label was plentiful, even for an unknown duo without a hit.

“The first track we ever did on Parlophone was Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money) in 1985 and we worked in, I think, four studios,” Tennant says.

“And it was a flop!” says Lowe.

“I probably imagined I’d be back at Smash Hits within nine months,” says Tennant.

He was wrong — later that year West End Girls went to No 1 on both sides of the Atlantic and suddenly they were pop stars; Tennant was in Smash Hits rather than writing it. And here they are, 22 Top 10 singles, three Brits and eight Grammy nominations later. They’ve been together for 36 years, but there have been no hiatuses, or even whispers of disharmony. “We don’t fall out,” Tennant says. “We sort of bicker a bit. Well, it’s more likely that we’re both annoyed about the same thing that’s happening around us. I think we’re both a bit autistic.”

Lowe nods. “If you’re told one thing, and you’re told the reason for that thing, and then something else happens, you can’t follow why it’s happened that way, and it starts to drive you mad.”

Tennant came out as gay in 1994 and Lowe is widely assumed to be gay too, but neither will talk about their love lives. “Some people like to do that,” Tennant says. “The modern pop star has to do that.” As far as he is concerned, though, “the private life is in the songs. Once you’ve done that, you don’t then need to explain it. And it’s more interesting. We don’t know much about Bob Dylan’s private life — makes him more interesting. It’s probably boring. Otherwise, it all becomes this song and the life and the perfume and the clothes range and the reality TV appearances.”

Pressed, Tennant will talk about his formative years at a strict Catholic boys’ school, which fed into several of the band’s songs, most notably It’s A Sin. “I’ve probably worked through it,” he says. “When we wrote It’s A Sin in 1983, it was only 11 years after I’d left school, whereas I don’t really think about it now. People took It’s A Sin seriously, but I thought of it as being light-hearted. It was written very, very quickly. When we do it live it’s a sort of a big highlight. It didn’t feel like that when we wrote it.”

Lowe’s childhood could hardly be more different. “Blackpool’s an unusual place to grow up,” he says. “Amusement arcades, nightclubs, holidaymakers, the Pleasure Beach — that’s your normal.” Showbiz runs in the family: his mother was a dancer and his grandfather, Syd Flood, was in the Nitwits, the music-comedy act that had a residency in Las Vegas in the Sixties.

It turns out that this might hold the key to Lowe’s stage persona, which famously involves him looking grumpy behind his keyboards. Tennant talks about watching an online clip of the Nitwits: “We realised, it’s the family act, because his grandfather sits there and looks grumpy! It’s the same act!”

An act it certainly is in Lowe’s case; he is clearly having a hoot most of the time, as is his musical partner of almost four decades. Tennant remembers talking to Lowe’s grandparents about working in showbiz. “Your grandmother said to me, ‘Oh, it’s a marvellous life, isn’t it?’ ”

He stops and smiles: “I said, ‘Yeah, it is, actually.’ ”
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daveid
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Re: PSB and autism

#11 Post by daveid »

Thanks! Great article especially the Bowie anecdote

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Re: PSB and autism

#12 Post by JSDOUVRES »

Well, as somebody that has Autism Spectrum Disorder myself (Asperger syndrome, high functioning) it wouldn't necessarily shock me with Neil and especially Chris but then again it is believed that an incredibly large amount of people out there are undiagnosed and most never will be.
I wouldn't wish it upon anybody frankly, I do believe there are positive things with it too but the negatives can be difficult to say the least.

I kept my diagnosis secret from everybody for a long time but the prejudice surrounding it and mental health in general has and is changing, especially the last few years which has made it much easier to talk about now and for me some people needed to know frankly (employers, teachers etc).

It's an interesting topic!

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Re: PSB and autism

#13 Post by teelea68 »

As an Aspie (though undiagnosed until my 30s), I have always felt that Left to My Own Devices spoke to my own sense of not feeling like I belonged anywhere, of living apart from others (even my own family), and of generally doing my own thing. While many of their songs are informed by the gay experience, it seems that many of them speak with equal felicity to the autism/Asperger experience.


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Re: PSB and autism

#14 Post by regularjoe »

Nice to hear it - father of ASD child, his late uncle probably was, too (undiagnosed) my wife wonders about me....

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Re: PSB and autism

#15 Post by Choliux »

I've been a die hard fan since I was 8 or 10. I was very shy and introvert and related to songs like Left To My Own Devices and Can You Forgive Her. Two years ago my 2 year old son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Since then I've been reading and consuming as much as I can on the subject and now I can't help to "diagnose" (in my head) people who exhibit some autistic traits but are not officially on the spectrum (like say, Gary Numan, Bob Dylan, or recently Marc Almond). I started to suspect that Morrissey may be an Aspie, and more recently Chris. In some way, it gives me comfort knowing that mu heroes and role models are on the spectrum. Somewhat of a silver lining in an otherwise very painful situation.

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