WriteWyattUK 2019, in quotes, part two – the final six months

With 2020 knocking at the door, us at WriteWyattUK Towers (OK … just me) thought it high time to deliver the second part of this site’s highlights from the last 12 months in quote form, covering from July to December. Just click on each highlighted link for the full feature/interview.

July

Merseyside Musings: Carl Hunter, centre, chatting with Bill Nighy, right, on the Sometimes Always Never film set

“You can kind of forget what you’re doing, and when you’re making a film it’s very intense, working on it every day for 10 months or so. It’s a marathon, and because you’re doing it all the time it becomes your life really, so I can be a little blasé about it. But not because I don’t care or I’m rude or arrogant. I remember a mate asking what I was up to, and I said, ‘I’m going up to Scotland to spend a few days with Edwyn Collins to work on the soundtrack of the film. And he went, ‘Fuck off! You’re not! Orange Juice Edwyn Collins? You’re gonna work with him?’ I was asked about a composer for the film, but I never wanted a composer. I wanted a songwriter, partly because I’d seen Submarine, where Alex Turner did the music. I liked that, and always had this idea of working with Edwyn. I asked if he’d be interested, he said yeah, then recruited Sean Read of The Thunderbirds, and Chay Heney, who was in a band called Sugarmen. The three of them moved into Edwyn’s studio in Scotland in the depths of winter, and were properly snowed in. Yet these three musical alchemists turned out this amazing soundtrack, with two classic Edwyn songs out as a 7” double A-side single, then a 12” vinyl album.” The Farm bass player / screenwriter Carl Hunter, a first-time feature film director in 2019 with the superb Sometimes Always Never

Bard Italia: Matteo Sedazzari puts pen to paper on his debut novel on Frith Street, London W1, the heart of Soho

“It’s nice to have like-minded friends who share similar tastes in music, fashion and such-like. I was a Jam fan before I became a Mod, discovering the band by accident when going through my brother’s record collection, All Mod Cons. For some reason, it resonated. It was enlightenment, it really was. I had no idea who Weller, Foxton and Buckler were. It just felt right. I felt it was for me, as I was struggling at school, not with my friends, but with teachers. The sound of The Jam gave me the voice I was looking for, as covered in A Crafty Cigarette. At that moment, I didn’t care if I was the only Jam fan in the world. It was me seeing the light. ” Matteo Sedazzari, who published second novel, Tales of Aggro, in 2019

Balloony Tunes: The Kooks, at that point a four-piece, at the launch of their fifth album (Photo: Andrew Whitton)

“I love that we’re students of music. I don’t know how you could criticise someone who loves playing music going to music school. For me, we probably were taught all that stuff. But when you write it all on paper you’re probably more interested in going out, meeting people and having a good time. Physically investigating the history of music is much more exciting than being taught in a class. And exposing yourself to as many live performances as possible, that’s an absolute thrill.” Hugh Harris, guitarist with The Kooks, and – like the rest of the band – a past BIMM student

Maracas Master: Mark Berry, the artist best known as Bez, spells it out for the Government (Photo: Paul Dixon)

“Let’s just say I’ve left it a little bit late now for any career change. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. And luckily, I’m still fit and healthy, so yeah, I’m really looking forward to it. I’m a different bloke to when I first set out. I have changed my lifestyle slightly, moving into more sustainable living. I got involved in politics for a while, and I’m a Grandad these days.” Happy Mondays’ resident freaky dancer and percussionist Bez, growing older with a little more wisdom, it would seem, yet still happy to party

Force Field: The Real Thing, still feeling it, all these years on, at Perth’s Rewind Festival (Picture: Martin Bone)

“He was my right arm, and we never ever pictured ourselves without each other. It was a hard decision to carry on. We felt there was no way we were going to try and replace him. For me and Dave (Smith) he was irreplaceable. We wanted to always be known as the original Real Thing, rather than bringing someone else in and making it into something else. But we can do that because I was the lead singer. While I’m there we’ve still got the Real Thing sound. What I have, basically – and this is technology for you – I’ve sung all Eddie’s parts, and our keyboard player can play them along with us while we’re singing. So we’ve still got that nice three-part harmony. We’ve never known anybody else- there was me and Dave, Eddie and Ray (Lake). From when we were in school, we were together. Me and Dave know each other inside out and know how to carry the show. And we know what we’ve always done to carry a show. So we’ve just carried on, and it’s been very successful.”  Chris Amoo on carrying on The Real Thing after losing his brother and the band’s co-founder Eddie, who died in early 2018

August

Chain Males: Craig and Charlie Reid, The Proclaimers, busy again in 2019 (Photo: Murdo MacLeod)

“I think that the polarisation of politics in many Western democracies, America and Britain especially, has been very obvious. For a number of years now. I think it will end eventually, but I don’t know how or when it will. It’s got a while to run yet. And I don’t think you could watch what’s gone on in the last couple of years and not write about it.” Craig Reid of The Proclaimers on the sad state of the UK’s and the world’s political landscape in 2019

Good Company: Debbie Horsfield and fellow Poldark crew members celebrate the continued success of their adaptation of Winston Graham’s classic Cornish historical saga (Photo courtesy of Debbie Horsfield)

“The option was to stop after four series or have a look at the clues Winston Graham left in book eight (The Stranger From the Sea) about things that happened in the interim. And there are clues. He talks about things that happen to the characters and touches on things, but doesn’t go into massive detail. I talked to Andrew Graham, Winston’s son, and we agreed that filling in some of those missing years and using as the starting point the clues Winston left while looking at his own methods for creating stories, which was increasingly to look at what was happening historically, socially and politically at the time, such as slavery, the Acts of Union in 1800, Acts of parliament designed to suppress potential revolution, the Napoleonic Wars … I think the books have always been relevant to what’s happening today. When the first series came out, people asked if I’d invented the bits about greedy, self-serving bankers. But maybe some things never change.” Director Debbie Horsfield on a scriptwriting dilemma for the BBC’s fifth series of the 21st-century adaptation of Poldark

Live Presence: The Amber List. From the left – Tony Cornwell, Mick Shepherd, Simon Dewhurst, Tim Kelly

“We’re all, I guess you’d say, seasoned musicians, having played in numerous bands. We’ve all had a faint brush with the potential that something was going to happen, kind of getting giddy on that. But now I think we’re all very realistic, doing it because we enjoy it. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed it and how much it meant to me. I started writing solo stuff again and did an album about three years ago, and when we got The Amber List together, I’d forgotten the joy of playing in a band and getting out gigging.” Mick Shepherd on his latest live and studio band venture, The Amber List 

Three’s Company: Ash’s Mark Hamilton, left, and Tim Wheeler, centre, with Rick McMurray, right, checking us out

“We went to the same school, although I didn’t really know them. It was probably six months before we got together. I saw them play some kind of Children in Need show at school. They were a kind of weird band. They had these two older guys who’d left school, one playing drums, one singing but walking off stage because he couldn’t sing, Tim having to take over. But I thought they were kind of cool. They were (two years) younger than me, but you could tell Tim and Mark had something, even if the others were something questionable. It was shortly after that they got rid of the other guys, and the only other drummer they knew was me.” Ash drummer Rick McMurray on the band’s 1989 roots and how he joined Mark Hamilton and Tim Wheeler’s fledgling outfit

Biscuits Promised: Edwyn Collins, set to get on the road again with his band, for a string of memorable 2019 dates

Grace: “The tune’s completely brand new, but the first verse was a jumping-off point. When we first moved here, I’d gathered around 30 of Edwyn’s notebooks, with jottings all over them. And when he was writing again, I mentioned how I’d found that first verse. He was always against revisiting anything he’d written before, but I said, ‘I don’t understand what your problem is.“ Edwyn: “What it is, before my stroke I was a little bit pretentious, a little bit arrogant, and I thought all my lyrics were brilliant.” Edwyn Collins and wife/manager Grace Maxwell on the subject of ‘It’s All About You’, the opening track/jumping-off point for his splendid 2019 LP, Badbea

Spatial Future: Ian McNabb, still a proven force to be reckoned with, approaching his fourth decade on the road

“We all love anniversaries. It kind of gives you something to hang a few dates on. It used to all be about looking forward and new music, and I do believe that to be true, but we’re now in a phase where ticket prices and going to gigs is so expensive. If people are paying £25 up to £50 and even more when you get to the heritage gig malarkey, you want to turn up and hear two hours of songs you absolutely love. Days of playing two oldies then seven tracks off your new album, that’s gone. Rock’n’roll’s so long in the tooth now and things have changed so much. The world’s a different place, and those songs have become classics now. It’s not just nostalgia to play them.” Ian McNabb was offering punters value for money in 2019, performing with both The Icicle Works and Cold Shoulder

September

Earlier Incarnation: From the left – Davey, Dom and brothers Simon and Mark in a 1988 Chesterfields line-up

“It’s 35 years since Davey and I put the band together; his lyrics, I think, are amazing. I’m just so happy to be out there singing his songs, hopefully doing them justice. If I didn’t think that was the case, I wouldn’t do it.” Simon Barber, paying tribute to his Chesterfields co-founder Dave Goldsworthy, in the year he reformed the band for a series of successful UK live outings

Best Practise: Jon McClure, aka The Reverend, quite possibly in a special ‘meet your Makers’ initiation ceremony

“Lots of people write less good versions of their first album forever, or until they stop doing it, but I feel more powerful than ever in lots of ways, with a better angle on who I am as an artist. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend quite a lot of time with Damon Albarn. I look at him and a few other people, and think you can get better as you get older if you don’t try to be 21, accepting where you are and what lane you’re in, pushing at the boundaries. I feel really positive and in lots of ways I’m completely divorced from the rest of the music industry. And I’m alright with that. I live in Sheffield, my fans are there, and I’m a bit old school, me, starting to put artistry before everything else, and it’s gone dead well. When I tried to fit into the music game, it went really badly. If I’ve got any advice to young ‘uns it’s just to do what you want, do what you think is good.” Jon McClure getting reflective and offering a little advice, a dozen years after Reverend and the Makers’ commercial breakthrough

Bass Instinct: Tim Butler hogging the camera, in live action with The Psychedelic Furs, with brother Rick to his side

“I saw The Clash play the 100 Club with the Sex Pistols, which was what really made us talk about getting a band together. That was with Keith Levene playing with The Clash, and there was Siouxsie and the Banshees playing, with Sid Vicious playing drums and Marco Pirroni playing guitar, and of course the Pistols had Glen Matlock with them. That was a transformative gig for us, with the Pistols a kick up the arse to the music business and the whole prog rock, denim-clad sort of music scene. Sort of like Nirvana were in America in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. I think there needs to be another kick up the arse now. For a while I thought it was going to be The Killers, but they didn’t turn out like I thought. A great band, but I think the mainstream pop chart is still a bit stagnant. It all sounds the same. There’s nothing that stands out. It could all be the same person.” Tim Butler on the punk bands that inspired The Psychedelic Furs to find their feet

October

Electric Performer: Jeffrey Lewis, without his Voltage, as heard on the Bad Wiring LP (Photo: Sonya Kolowrat)

“It’s certainly true that over the years we kind of went through this evolution of turning into a band from just being kind of me in a bedroom with a tape recorder, with my brother Jack playing bass. It was the two of us for a while, we started making up songs and by 1997, playing little places in New York. By around 2002 we were playing with a drummer, starting to go on tour, learning the ins and outs of what it meant to play shows on stage and make recordings. It was a very slow, weird learning process we sort of accidentally found ourselves engaging in until at this point we were like, ‘Oh yeah, we’re a band, here we are on tour, and we know how to talk to a venue, do a soundcheck and ask for ‘more keyboard in the right stage monitor’ and professional sounding stuff. I guess that just slowly happened, but then with all these bands we love, like Yo La Tengo, The Velvet Underground and all that kind of noisy full-on sound like The Fall, and Stereolab … for a long time I felt there was this disconnect between the fact that we’d be getting press that would consider us a solo, acoustic singer-songwriter thing, then we’d show up and play this loud, full-on rock’n’roll stuff with distortion pedals and everything. And still to this day I show up at a venue and they’re surprised that the guitars will be going through an amplifier, or that there’s a microphone for the guitar, or we have a DI box, and so on.” New York-based indie singer-songwriter Jeffrey Lewis on slow evolution from late-’90s DIY folkie to ‘barn-burning indie-rock live sensation’

Double Act: Pauline Black and Gaps Hendrickson, rocking The Selecter’s 40th anniversary tour (Photo: Rob Marrison)

“He was just a young boy. I think he was 15, and we were both just standing there, looking at each other, thinking ‘Wow, this is Jerry Dammers’ house!’, completely not knowing what this was going to be the start of. And the first time I saw Roger on the stage … whatever the X-factor was, he had it. He was such a wonderful person to be around and out on the road with and performing with, for sure. I think what it taught us was that you don’t know what the future holds, so if you are able to be out on the road and in full health to tour on that scale, that’s absolutely great. Enjoy it.” Cultural icon/leader of The Selecter, Pauline Black on losing close friend Ranking Roger, of The Beat, this year.

Hat’s Entertainment: Neil Sheasby, third left, with his Stone Foundation bandmates (Photo: John Coles Photography)

“Going the other way to Coventry, that’s where 2 Tone unfolded, and was the nearest city to us. And in Birmingham – the other way – we had Dexy’s Midnight Runners, The Beat, UB40 … We were surrounded by it. Around 12 or 13, I was going to matinee gigs, but then Dexy’s just seemed different. It seemed to stand out. When I first heard Searching for the Young Soul Rebels I felt, ‘This isn’t what the other stuff is, this is something else’. I was being informed, and you dig deeper into the lyrics and stuff, realising he’s talking about Irish poets, some sense of national pride, all that. Kevin Rowland didn’t really do many interviews, because he had that great idea of just doing essays in the music press – and all that attracted me as well – but when Paul (Weller) did an interview he was informative and he’d talk about whatever he was reading or listening to, like Curtis Mayfield, namechecking the Five Stairsteps or something, so I’d be checking all that out. We didn’t have the internet, so you had to go and find the records, which was hard to do, but again all that was really exciting and I felt that was a real rite of passage.” Stone Foundation bass player/co-founder, and music writer Neil Sheasby, on the importance of Kevin Rowland and Paul Weller for his musical odyssey

Vapors Return: Dave Fenton, live at Cardiff University SU Great Hall, with The Vapors  (Photo: Warren Meadows)

“This time last year we did three gigs at the Mercury Lounge in New York City, which all went down well, and we sold out. A great weekend for everyone, and quite a few fans came out from the UK. We’ve got quite a good following there and got invited back for the lost ‘80s tour this summer, doing around 22 dates over 30 days across America. It was weird playing there. Indoors it was freezing cold because the air conditioning was on, but when you went outside it was 100 degrees.” Dave Fenton on the successful US return of revered new wave outfit The Vapors – several decades after their first visit

November

Lounging Around: Vinny Peculiar mastermind Alan Wilkes, shades indoors and a continued respect for David Bowie

“I always considered myself Bromsgrove’s answer to Bowie. At least that’s what someone told me once. I saw Bromsgrove as the new Bromley … if only because it sounded a bit similar. We’d bullshit people about that, but it didn’t quite happen … then I had kids, got a real job, and all that. The whole David Bowie thing of the 70s, I don’t think anyone will ever do what he did. The Beatles changed with every album, but Bowie did it for longer at a time when the microscope was heavier, and did it so amazingly. Switching genres and bands, creating the whole avant-garde alternative in such a great way. I was a big fan from The Man who Sold the World to Scary Monsters.” Alan Wilkes, aka Vinny Peculiar, pays tribute to one of his most important influences, the late David Bowie

Mosin’ Around: Ex-Strangler Hugh Cornwell back in live action in 2016 with his band (Photo: Warren Meadows)

“It was all about experimenting. We didn’t really know what we were doing. You’ve just got to go out there and see what happens. And I think we did introduce some new boundaries in pop music … or tried to. It’s also coming up to (The Gospel According to theMeninblack 40th anniversary. That was before the Simmons electronic drumkit, but that album’s got an electronic drumkit on it … before they even existed. That was through some recording techniques I experimented with, using condenser microphones against the drums for a real metallic sound. There was stuff like that that pre-dated anything else, and I’m really proud of that. The Meninblack was my favourite album.” Hugh Cornwell reflects on his days with The Stranglers, not least making 1979’s The Raven and the next year’s highly-experimental follow-up

Faraway Motorway: BOB waiting on their lift, way back then. From left – Henry, Simon, Dean, Richard (Photo: BOB)

“Around 1991/2 we did a couple of big UK and European tours and were writing lots. We’d written the third album but when Rough Trade collapsed, we were looking for something else. Someone from EMI talked to (manager) Paul Thompson, wanting to work out what sort of deal they could offer us. We were all very excited, but it fell through. He had three projects on the go – Duran Duran, Radiohead and ourselves, us and Radiohead at the same level, about to be taken on in progression-type deals. But Duran Duran were spending loads on their comeback album and he was told by the execs he couldn’t sign both bands. Presumably there was a toss-up between us and Radiohead. He was only there another two months, so obviously wasn’t happy his ideas had been taken away. But now we’ve found the tapes, they’ve been remastered digitally, and Richard’s mixing those plus a bunch of others recorded in Harlow at The Square, live to the desk in a room at the back, and now remixed. So we’re looking at 12 properly-recorded brand new songs no one’s heard, a double-CD featuring that album and loads of unreleased demos and songs we were working on. There’s nearly 200 tracks in various forms that never came out, whittled down to around 50.” Dean Leggett, explaining why it’s taken BOB 30 years to finish the follow-up to their superb Leave the Straight Life Behind LP

Reflective Moments: Erland Cooper, out on the road in support of his acclaimed Orcadian soundscapes in 2019

“I wrote it in between the cracks of all the other projects I was doing. For me it was like a tool to just ease a busy mind. Let’s say, if you’re on the sweaty London Underground for example, rushing around … I won’t get into intricacies of stress, because that’s relative in what you’re going through compared to anyone else, but I would just put this on. I’d get to the studio and make these layers to kind of counteract what I’d just experienced, and I would then travel with it. So instead of frowning on the Underground, when I hear this Orcadian accent, I’d be beaming. I think that’s what music and other people’s art does for me – it transports me to a place, whether that’s real or imaginary. Even if it’s just for a minute or 10 seconds, three minutes or 40 minutes of a record, that’s fine, and that’s all I’m ever trying to do, to get an essence of something that transports me somewhere else. I think we did that in Skem (The Magnetic North’s second LP, Prospect of Skelmersdale), we did that in Orkney with the first Magnetic North record, and I think that’s just what I do. And it’s probably that little boy or that kid who wanted to leave in his 20s. I can’t stop writing the same song.” Singer-songwriter Erland Cooper explaining the concept behind his Orkney trilogy, with the second LP, Sule Skerry, released in 2019

Latest Compilation: Happy Stupid Nothing (2019) includes some later greats from Babybird’s song catalogue

“I was very grounded. I started in my late 20s. I was in a theatre company before that, but that paid nothing. I was doing that for 10 years, on £40 a week. But when it came to this, I knew a bit more about the business. My original manager used to book bands at The Leadmill in Sheffield. I knew what a cut-throat business it is. I was aware it wasn’t necessary going to be something which would be a career. I always knew it could end. But then there was ‘You’re Gorgeous’, and it went insane. We signed a big deal and all these things. You lose your head a bit then, but realise again after a few years that it’s not permanent. To this day, I don’t know where my next lot of money is coming from. And it’s always been like that. You can work in any job and suddenly be made redundant. Music isn’t really a proper job, is it. Anything creative is seen as not being proper, as my Dad would say.” Prolific artist and Babybird founder Stephen Jones on the need to ultimately stay grounded to survive long-term in the music business

Revered Company: Joe Strummer with Tony Beesley after a Mescaleros show at Sheffield Leadmill show in 1988

“Post-Clash, I spent some time with him at an after-show party in Sheffield, and we sat chatting for hours about all sorts of subjects. He was very accommodating, generous and friendly: a memory I will always cherish. He actually inspired me to get back into my writing after I mentioned my fanzines, and he offered to help. I suppose that was yet another inspirational milestone for me in influencing my eventual move into writing full-time. I last saw Joe live when he and the Mescaleros were touring with The Who in 2000. Little did we know, at the time, that he would soon be no longer with us.” Music writer and publisher Tony Beesley, who co-wrote and published Clash fans’ book Ignore Alien Orders in 2019, on his final head-to-head with Joe Strummer 

December

With Pete: Buzzcocks in 2015, starring from the left, Chris Remington, Steve Diggle, Pete Shelley and Danny Farrant.

“When he died, it was all over the BBC News, and they were playing our songs on Radio 6 Music one particular day. I missed a lot of that, because people were phoning me and I was trying to sort things out, but at the end of one show – I think it may have been Lauren Laverne – I was listening in to see what people were saying, and heard six songs back to back. That really blew my mind. I thought, ‘Bloody hell! We were really good!’ And hearing Pete’s voice singing, a little tear came in my eye. I was saying ‘You go for it, Pete!’ at the radio, y’know. I think one of those was ‘Why Can’t I Touch It?’ And that’s one that takes me back. I remember this groove, and we didn’t really have a groove kind of song at that point, so I went in, did that riff, John and Steve joined in, then Pete – a bit late turning up – came and joined in, adding the words. We recorded ‘Everybody’s Happy Nowadays’, had a meal at a Greek restaurant, then around 10 o’clock that evening recorded that B-side. We’d had quite a bit of ouzo by then, but felt, ‘Well, we’ve got the A-side, so that’s alright’. There’s a bit in the middle where me and Pete are jamming, looking at each other, me playing some off-chord piece, us answering each other. But it was all down to a nod and a wink, and ‘OK, let’s get back into the song’, and moments like that take me back to that recording process, back to the Greek restaurant, keeping it going … and the ouzo!” Steve Diggle, reminiscing – after the death of Pete Shelley in late 2018 – on a certain late-’70s recording session with Buzzcocks at Stockport’s Strawberry Studios

Kick Start: Beatrice Kristi Laus, aka Beabadoobee, has true star quality judging by her headline Dirty Hit showcases

“I’m very proud of all that – the songs from Patched Up and from Space Cadet kind of show the growth I’ve had as an artist. And I want to reflect that in my (next) album. I think everyone expects me to follow this grungey path, and I do want to make really loud, grungier songs, but at the same time I still want to keep that stripped-back acoustic sound. The new album’s going to be a real mixture. But I’ve basically had a different phase for every EP release.” Beatrice Kristi Laus – aka Beabadoobee – reflecting on her swift artistic development since 2017 debut single ‘Coffee’, her year ending with a Brit Awards’ Rising Star nomination and a series of sell-out Dirty Hits Records’ showcase tour headline performances

That’s it for this two-part feature, pop kids. Thanks for taking the time to read through to the end. You can expect one more WriteWyattUK  feature in 2019. You have been warned. 

 

 

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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