Looking back at 2018. Part two – the second six months

In which WriteWyattUK scans the archives to cull a few choice quotes from the last six months of 2018’s feature/interviews on this site, taking a leaf out of Dr Feelgood’s books, following Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s lead, ‘Looking back to see if she was looking back to see if I was looking back at her’. 

Whild Living: Slade legend Jim Lea looking back on an amazing career

July

“I think a lot of the people I interviewed – because we’re 20 years from the ceasefires and the Good Friday agreements – are talking about it differently now and maybe more openly than we would have before. Every now again, they’d look you in the eye and they would tell you their story. Suddenly there were layers of information that people were divulging that they might not have spoken about before. I think musicians often want to not alienate anyone so they kind of hold their tongue. Whereas now it’s like, ‘Let me tell you about what it was like when I was 16′. So it’s tumbling out a wee bit.” Belfast-based writer Stuart Bailie, who saw success with the excellent Trouble Songs – Music and Conflict in Northern Ireland

“Dave (Hill) broke a string and Don (Powell) said, ‘Hey mate, come over here.’ He’s got this quick wit and he said, ‘It says here you play the violin, is that right?’ I said yeah, and he said, ‘Do you play anything else?’ I said, ‘Well, a bit of piano and err ..’ and I just lied and said, ‘Oh, and the cello’, which I’d never even played. He said, ‘Ooh, cello as well?’ and I said, ‘Well, I didn’t get very far with that.’ And he said, ‘Did the spike keep sticking in your neck?’ Jim Lea, of Slade, on the moment that broke the ice during his ‘N’Betweens auditions, the band going on to major success after a name change.   

“I’d heard ‘Space Oddity’ on the radio and it was one of those records of our generation that I played over and over again. I couldn’t quite figure out what all the sounds were, and the way he painted a picture with the lyrics of being in outer space floating in a tin can … as a young eight or nine-year-old it was real theatre of the mind for me.” This Day in Music’s Neil Cossar, now a publisher, on a key moment in his music career.  

Lightning Conductor: Ian Broudie, out on tour and busy in the studio this year with the Lightning Seeds

“I didn’t really have a band. I recorded it all in the house on a four-track for that first album and then continued to record at home. And gradually home became a studio. So it was very much just about putting some songs out without any thought of anything else.” Multi-instrumentalist and producer Ian Broudie reflects on the early days of The Lightning Seeds. 

August

“We’re in our 37th year and what you and I are discussing here is about songs we’ve just made. It’s really refreshing and really heartening to me that I’m in a position whereby we’re not having to talk about ‘Sit Down’ and all that. I think that’s testament to the fact that we have pushed it, and we are moving forward. I think it’s great that we’re able to do that so convincingly.” Violinist and multi-instrumentalist Saul Davies, on board with James sincve 1989, and still part of a creative force.

Gear Factor: The Reid twins put the finishing touches to their tour transport (Photo: Murdo McLeod)

“I’m not really big on the flags. It was never about that for me. It was about democracy, and is still about democracy, and I would hope it’s more about getting a more modern country. It’s always ironic when you find the old Tories or even the old Labour left harking back. It’s not about that. It’s about looking forward. And to me the Britain they hark back to – my father’s Britain as a child – has gone. That’s where I’m coming from really.” Charlie Reid of The Proclaimers, on future hopes for his beloved Scotland in post-Brexit vote Britain.  

Band Substance: Cornershop’s first press shot, West Orange Studios, Preston, 1992. From left – Ben Ayres, Tjinder Singh, Avtar Singh, David Chambers.

“Politically, we are in a hot-pot of course, but the time is really ripe for other Cornershops to say something of the situation. Unfortunately, politics seem to have been taken out of music again and we are back to songs that don’t represent the hard political situations we are having to deal with. The youth seem more set on singing about meeting someone in a car park than why they can’t afford to buy a car. Tjinder Singh, of Cornershop, on the need for musicians to make their voices heard in the current poisoned political climate.   

“I started playing guitar 38 years ago, with my older sister’s and Mum and Dad’s record collections on in the background while I was learning to play. It wasn’t so much what I was listening to. I was listening to Hawkwind. I started when I was five, but not properly until I was seven or eight. It was my sister’s guitar. She was having lessons but got bored, so I started playing it, miming in the mirror with it at first. And my finger-style came from ‘Dear Prudence’ and ‘Blackbird’ off the White Album, (The Beatles).” John Bramwell, going solo in 2018, his I am Kloot days behind him, on his musical roots.

September

Hold Tight: Fay Fife with The Rezillos at Butlin’s GB Alternative Music Festival, Skegness (Photo: Gary M. Hough)

“We just completely gelled and took off. And we really communicated with the audience, and you could tell they were getting it. So that was the big moment – that realisation that our performance was quite something.” Fay Fife recalls her first night on stage with The Rezillos, 40 years earlier. 

“Back in the early ‘90s, my friend Lucky Pete, drummer of Gaz Mayall’s band The Trojans, left my Hank Williams book at Joe’s house. I wanted my book back and lived around the corner from Joe when he was living on Lancaster Road. I remember having a Baby Belling cooker and thought I would make a pie and customise the outside of the box – ‘Slim’s Pumpkin Pie’. I was cooking Sunday lunch at The Globe, Talbot Road at the time. Anyway … I turned up, rang the bell; Joe opened the door and I asked for my Hank book. He went and got it from the lounge and said he read it, which made me happy. Standing at the front door sporting my cowboy hat and pie in hand, I said ‘I made this for you’. He immediately invited me in, with my son Hughie and Lucky Pete. He seemed happy with the pie. We chatted and my son played with his kids Lola and Jazzy. This was the beginning of our friendship.” Artist Robert Gordon McHarg III on how he first got to know close friend Joe Strummer, having helped compile the JS001 boxset in late 2018.

All-Round Inspiration: Joe Strummer, Polaroid style (Photo: Bob Gruen)

“I see him in the kitchen with a half-eaten sandwich, his dog asleep on his feet, waving a piece of paper at me and asking me to fax it quick to Mick.” Lucinda Mellor, Joe Strummer’s widow, on her abiding memories of The Clash and Mescaleros legend, who died in late 2002. 

“I suppose it’s just a pop album. I don’t know what kind of pop, but the sound’s pretty simple, and not particularly experimental. I suppose if anything I was encouraging, ‘If in doubt keep it dangerous’. I thought it was quite a heavy record in its raw form, and it’s quite a breezy listen now.” Gruff Rhys, the former Super Furry Animals frontman, mulls over his wondrous 2018 LP, Babelsberg

“If you are a fan of ours, you don’t want to hear the same album all over again. I love well-written songs as much as I love Faust or Can. To write a simple song, and make it sound like something a four-year-old kid whistled on the way to the bus stop, is not easy. That’s what we’ve tried to do.” Musician and author Nick Power contemplates the thinking behind The Coral’s rather splendid 2018 album, Move Through the Dawn

How High: Goat Girl. From left – Rosy Bones, Clottie Cream, L.E.D., Naima Jelly (Photo: Holly Whitaker)

“I think there’s still money in it for the big cheeses. We get money to live off, because we can’t really have jobs, but it’s kind of like fake money really. And I don’t think there’s much in it for bands anymore. There’s a threshold.” Rosy Bones, of Goat Girl on the level of fame that’s come the way of Rough Trade’s latest capture in 2018, suggesting the financial gains are yet t0 follow.  

October

“You cannot control, and they have an absolute need to be a long way away from you in terms of the way a relationship changes. They must be their own person. And with the last track on the album, ‘Wanderlust’, that word’s the closest we can get to it, but another German word, ‘fernweh’, carries far more weight – about this absolute need to be away.” WriteWyattUK favourite Neil Arthur, of Blancmange, talks about the concept behind the latest wonderful Blancmange LP – getting to grips with changing circumstances in the home. 

Rebound Sound: Eleanor Friedberger, back to Europe in 2018 (Photograph: Chris Eckert)

“Yeah, now it seems kind of shocking that I’ve been making records on my own for seven years, almost as long as The Fiery Furnaces, and we made eight albums or something. I don’t know where that work ethic comes from. I’ve been lucky I haven’t had to have another job, and I’ve just plugged away at this.” Eleanor Friedberger thinks back over how long she’s been out there as a solo performer, having initially broken through alongside her brother, Matthew. 

“I’m not a big man for birthdays. They just come and … if you have too much time to think about them it means you’re not busy enough.” Former Stranglers frontman Hugh Cornwell dismisses talk of 70th birthday celebrations in 2019. 

Lining Up: The Men They Couldn’t Hang at Preston Guild Hall (Copyright: Michael Porter Photography)

“Oh, I’m amazed our voices have held up at all, after all the shouting, smoking and drinking! But I think we’re growing old disgracefully, which is good, and I think the sort of thing we’re doing means that we are able to continue doing things that don’t make us a laughing stock and retain a little dignity as well.” Phil Odgers, co-founder of The Men They Couldn’t Hang, considers the band’s longevity, 34 years after their first gig, in the year they delivered the marvellous Cock-a-Hoop, a 10th studio LP. 

November

“Talking about making a glam record is what we were setting out to do when putting material together and trying to find what would be the true line. We ended up talking a lot about Roxy Music, early Brian Eno, things like that. So I think with a lot of the songs, if it’s not apparent, they are at least in practise shot through with early glam.” Colin Meloy, the Decemberists’ frontman, on 2018’s mighty fine I’ll Be Your Girl album.

Time Out: Hazel O’Connor, enjoying a few moments to herself before the next set of dates.

“The more you experience in life, the more you have to get clued into the idea that it’s not forever and you have to treasure every single person that you treasure – good and bad, warts and all. Otherwise, you might blink and it’s gone.” Singer/songwriter Hazel O’Connor gets reflective, 38 years after her breakthrough moment in the film, Breaking Glass.

“I still expect the phone to ring at 2.15 every day, Walters on, ‘Did you hear The Archers?’ straight after. I miss them both, still. Everyone forgets that about Walters, not just a great producer but a great broadcaster in his own right. They were both great eccentrics of broadcasting.” Broadcaster and writer Andy Kershaw, having been told it’s 14 years since we lost John Peel and 17 since John Walters’ departure, and that both would have turned 80 in 2019.

UK Dates: The Cardigans, set for a return visit in early December 2018.

“After First Band on the Moon and the song ‘Lovefool’ became such big hits, we had to spend so much time talking about those, that we really felt tired of them. When you have a big hit like that, you can really get connected with one song, and the image of us then was happy-go-lucky, funny, ‘60s looking, whatever … which was not at all something we identified with very well, that perception of us. And we started to use different ways of recording. That was the first time we started to work with computers.” Nina Persson recalls the shift within The Cardigans ahead of Gran Turismo, which turned 20 in 2018 and led to a short celebratory run of UK dates.

December

“I went in and there was a Marshall stack there. I didn’t realise it was turned full on. I certainly woke up the room, let’s put it that way. Mick (Tucker)’s comment was, ‘Mm … you’re in, I think,’ pleased to see a bloke who didn’t mind hearing his guitar feeding back.” Guitarist Andy Scott recalls his successful 1970 audition with The Sweet. 

‘Omeward Bound: Dave Hill, back out on the road with Slade for Christmas 2018

“When I come home, I send pictures of the action we got, but then it’s usually, ‘That hedge needs cutting down there!’ And when I go out walking locally, people see me and it’s like, ‘Morning Dave. Alright? Where you been?’ Noddy (Holder) and myself are the most recognised, but I think people see us as friends as well as famous people. Also, we’re not a band people associated with politics or making a point. It’s nothing to do with music being used for a purpose of opinions or reactions. Our music has come from the stable of good records and meaningful songs – a rock’n’roll band.” Dave Hill on life back home, away from the stage, after five decades playing guitar in bands, most notably as part of the legendary Slade.

Stage Presence: Bianca Kinane-Ewart in live action

“It’s not about being better than anyone else. I had plenty of opportunities to be in groups who turned out quite famous, but it wasn’t right for me at that time. And I’ve never been the kind of person who would say I’d do something just because it would be good for my career. As long as I’m happy doing my music, in whatever capacity, that’s all that matters to me. And the older I get the more I realise you can have a bit of it all, really, and be happy, choose what you want to do.” Tipperary-born, Lancashire-based singer/songwriter Bianca Kinane-Ewart on 25-plus years in music. 

So that’s it, folks, another year chalked off. Thanks for your continued support. This website first dipped its toes into interwebtastic waters in the spring of 2012 and has now published more than 500 features, interviews and reviews over six and three-quarter years, attracting more than 300,000 views, with more than 80,000 of them in 2018. That said, don’t think for one moment I’m making any money from this malarkey. In fact, in the last seven months since ‘monetarising’ the site, I accumulated just short of £50 from it, less than it’s costing me a year to run. Ah well. Such is life. The important thing is I still have a roof over my head, a loving family and lots of emotional support, and now and again I get to talk to my heroes in music and comedy. That’s got to be worth it, right? What’s more, this was also the year in which I finally got my name on the front of a book, and you’ll find plenty more about This Day in Music’s Guide to The Clash here (including details of how to order a personalised, signed copy). 

Anyway, enough talk of business (with a very small ‘b’). Happy New Year to all my readers. Love and peace from WriteWyattUK HQ, and here’s to more features, reviews, fun and shenanigans in 2019. Bless y’all.     

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About writewyattuk

A freelance writer and family man being swept along on a wave of advanced technology, but somehow clinging on to reality. It's only a matter of time ... A highly-motivated scribbler with a background in journalism, business and life itself. Away from the features, interviews and reviews you see here, I tackle novels, short stories, copywriting, ghost-writing, plus TV, radio and film scripts for adults and children. I'm also available for assignments and write/research for magazines, newspapers, press releases and webpages on a vast range of subjects. You can also follow me on Facebook via https://www.facebook.com/writewyattuk/ and on Twitter via @writewyattuk. Legally speaking, all content of this blog (unless otherwise stated) is the intellectual property of Malcolm Wyatt and may only be reproduced with permission.
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