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Sunday, 11 August, 2002, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Custom-made for controversy
Custom
Custom set up a Factory-style Manhattan warehouse

There is only thing guaranteed to drum up more interest in a song than it being played on MTV - and that is being banned by the music channel.

And that was exactly what happened to Canadian rocker Custom, when MTV objected to the "morally objectionable" lyrics and video for his debut single Hey Mister, following its US March release.


Making fun of the president while you're at war is probably not a good idea

Custom
"We were all kinda confused about the verdict," said Custom, who says his song was tame compared with many releases that get the channel's blessing.

The song is a tongue-in-cheek story about a kid talking to his date's father, and begins: "Hey mister, I really like your daughter, I want to eat her like ice cream, maybe dip her in chocolate."

The video sees Custom's girlfriend dancing in her underwear on a beach, but he told BBC News Online that it is "not really that racy at all".

His original idea for the video would have caused a bigger storm, he said.

Custom
He has also been a film director
"The first video we wanted to do was one with George Bush as the dad in the White House. But then we had war and making fun of the president while you're at war is probably not a good idea."

The song became a college radio hit anyway - but there are plenty of other reasons why Custom should be attracting attention.

As well as writing and playing almost every note on his debut album Fast, the six feet eight inches tall rocker, whose real name is Duane Lavold, is also an award-winning film-maker.

He directed INXS star Michael Hutchence in one of the singer's only movies, Limp, shortly before he died. But the results will never see the light of day, Custom has decided.

"I was working on the soundtrack when... erm... Michael passed away," he says.

Custom
He is playing at the UK's V2002 festival
"The film got finished, but simultaneously with Michael dying and the record companies picking up the songs for another purpose, the movie became very secondary and inappropriate and untimely, and my focus became 100% on music."

After relocating from Canada to New York, his converted Manhattan warehouse has drawn comparisons with Andy Warhol's Factory thanks to the stream of artists, film-makers and photographers who make it a constant hive of activity.

"We have lots of friends who are musicians and fine artists and so on and so forth, and because we have a well-stocked bar they come and hang out," he said.

And when he leaves the warehouse, he chooses one of three forms of transport: a skateboard, a retired police car called Liberty that still has its flashing lights, or an Austrian motocross bike that has been chased by a few real police cars in its time.

Custom lived up to his reputation for re-writing the rules was heightened when he accused Nancy Berry, an executive of his record company, Virgin, of leaving him threatening phone messages.

Custom
Hey Mister gets a UK release on 12 August
"I'm not allowed to talk about that. There's no ill will, it's just part of the past," Custom said.

He said he considered taking legal action for harassment, was allowed to leave the label and a bidding war for his signature ensued.

He eventually chose Artist Direct, the stable set up by Ted Field, who helped nurture Eminem's career.

The fruits of that relationship - especially Hey Mister and another stand-out track, Streets - prove that he has the musical talent to match his colourful character.

"Anyone who has eclectic music tastes stretching from, say, the Sex Pistols and punk rock to Notorious BIG and hip-hop would be interested in this," he said.

"That's probably where I come from musically."

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Custom
Listen to a clip of Streets
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02 Jan 02 | Entertainment
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