MIKE BENNETT INTERVIEW
Interview By: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Preacher
When it comes to being multi-talented, few people can claim to have this gift, however, Mike Bennett is one such individual. Producer, musician, playwright, author, stand-up comedian and so much more. Now Mike fronts The Blockheads, and presents a show for us here on Voodoo. Prepare to be blown away by this most remarkable individual.
Hi Mike, thank you so much for taking time out to do this. First of all – please introduce yourself.
My name is Mike Bennett, and I am a raconteur – alright I’ve been accused of being that way. I’ve produced the right records, plays, and I am a generic producer who writes , construct things that people usually based on something going on in the mindset of the artist Rose sticking to my guns try and embrace everyone involved in the chosen subject matter and projects closer I try and get across what the artist wants and find things that they can’t even see that is part of the genetic makeup of the creative person I am engaging in at that point in time. I’ve also worked West End actor but I didn’t want to end up performing cover versions all my life so I branched out into the murky world of production writing vehicles for other like-minded people.
Let’s go right back to your childhood. Did you come from a musical family? What are your memories of what actually got you excited by it? Were you musically inclined as a child/young person? Did you have any music lessons? If so – on what?
I wouldn’t say that I necessarily came from a stereotypical musical family but certainly an artistic lineage. my mother for instance is very good at art and writing and my father wrote a bestselling book. So, I would imagine genetically I inherited aspects of literary skills. I started to write children’s stories at the age of six, and adapted them when I’ve got the right form various luminaries in my late teens, during Stage School and ever since really. I tend to write expediently, fast and frenetic lane. If it takes ages, to me it means it’s not coming out correctly and when that happens, I generally scrap the body of work. i’ve been lucky because I’ve worked with some fantastic editors during my time at Children’s ITV. When I went to bed as a child, I didn’t subscribe to the teddy bear thing, I had Demons at the end of my bed. Okay they were imaginary but they help for me looking at the darker aspects. Not sure where they came from but I was an avid fanatic on things like Grimms fairy-tales which helped me later in life. Children’s fairy stories are not particularly joyful unless we are talking Enid Blyton or Rupert the Bear. I never subscribe to things like that. I appreciate the skills of them though actually I did like the rhyming couplet elements to Rupert the Bear but even as a child I found it a little bit trite. Not to say it was not excellently written but I would prefer to make my references to creepy limerick orientated stuff. are used to read a lot of limericks by Edward Lear. I found a copy of his work when I was six at a jumble sale and later in life got into his other work, it was very interesting and used a little bit of it in a piece of work I wrote for Wishbone Ash. The track is called ‘Bloodline’ and I’ve pinched the opening lines went something like this: “Out of the overlapping leaves of my brain came tap tap tapping voice that was not mine alone” I liked the idea of the leaves within the brain. you’ve got four seasons to play with, and the idea of that alone makes it interesting at least to me. I thought that Poe was children’s literature and I also found a book of his called ‘Poe-Ems’ – a ridiculously generic typo but I read the lot and it gave me a source of inspiration that I could weave into my own fairy stories. I also love looking at some of the creepy pictures in the Victorian children’s stories and books containing nursery rhymes with definitely had adult themes that were enveloping all the way through each vignette. it was great grist from my poetic efforts. I always got told off at school for writing my stories in rhyming couplets. But I didn’t take any notice, because I was probably subconsciously honing my art. That might sound pretentious but it’s the way it was and continues to be that way although I also work non-verse and although my writing is multi genre and it includes a little bit of journalistic work I do believe I have a recognisable signature to my well thought out scribblings. It was great but I’ve got to revamp a lot of the stuff I started when I was six years old for Children’s ITV, LBC, The Muppets and other rioting odysseys
Do you remember what the first single and album you bought were? And can you remember where you bought them from?
I’ve only ever shoplifted once and it was The Sweet’s “Desolation Boulevard” – the English version – and I was caught. It was 1974 so I guess I was 11 years old and whilst the police were grassing me up to my parents. I pinched it again from the table and replaced it with the Vera Lynn album. That’s probably why I’ve got into Glam Rock. I’ve pinched it from ‘Stylus For Records’ in Winchcombe Street in Cheltenham. My one and only shoplifting escapade and it got me into all kinds of mutations involving Glam, from the New York Dolls who made records around that time to bubble Glam nonsense by people like Mud. I say nonsense, but they were absolutely executed as Productions, and I used to stare at the label and note who the producers were. I started to follow labels…
I have a huge collection by the age of 10 and I bought demons and Wizards by Uriah Heep and the first for Black Sabbath albums but my favourite Black Sabbath album has to be sabotaged a very underrated piece of work. Yes my neighbours were not keen even though I only had one of those Old-fashioned tin box type things. I also won the top 10 records in a competition that was on the back of a walls ice cream lollipop that I bought. It was 1972 and I got the top 10 so I had silver machine by Hawkwind and the Seaside Shuffle by pterodactyl a dinosaur is a little did I know I was to produce the lead vocalist Jona Lewie later in life. Totally hilarious. All because of a lollipop and I love of 70s music which was my escape from the drudgery surrounding the attitude of the day. It was a humdrum part from the music and quite a lot of good literature. I really miss the classic album with the gatefold sleeve and I like the fact that you could only get about nine tracks on it and not reshuffle it because I think an album should be played on a specific order and that is the all of the artists and producers design for the listener but I do understand that the fast-food generation can reshuffle a whole plethora of tracks squashed into an MP3 format. A necessary evil perhaps.
Were you musically inclined as a child/young person? Did you have any music lessons? If so – on what?
No formal training but if there was a piano lying around, I would make a racket on it. I had a guitar called an audition from Woolworths it was £15. I managed to get four tape recorders and do individual sounds on each one and then play three of them all together and record them on the fourth tape recorder. It was a right racket. I like things like Faust and I’m not saying it was up to that standard but I was accidentally being experimental and continue to be accidentally experimental to this day as my way of getting around not being brilliantly accomplished as a musician. I can come up with a great rift but then I get somebody superb to recreate it if necessary. Yes, I have met the right to quantising if push comes to shove, but I am an analogue merchant through and through
I suspect as a child, rather like me – you were something of a dreamer – who was not academically inclined but were always wanting to create things in your head? Would I be right?
Yes, I got in trouble at school for being a dreamer. Staring out of the window and looking at the shapes of clouds and writing about them during a geography lesson. I remember in metalwork I was so scatty that the teacher made me wear a helmet whilst making something like a spade, using some dangerous jagged contraption. My thing that came out was a chisel. I thought I should’ve got top marks for it but instead I’ve got a detention. I had to do 100 lines but I used five pens at once. I’m not going to do the calculations but it’s quite a good track. The only trouble is that the teacher noticed that it was the same handwriting every five so I’ve got another detention. It was a jolly good effort on my behalf though. In my opinion innovative and I should have been administered at Goldstar but no I’ve got yet another detention at this time I watched over me so I couldn’t do my five-pen trick. oh well you’ve got to give everything a go. I think what really gave it away was that each pen was a different colour, but the same handwriting. Never mind I became a writer anyway so not always lost. I wonder if they still do lines. it’s probably got a digital version. One of my friends downloaded an entire Master’s degree and got an honour’s, which I thought was quite outrageous. That’s taking it too far especially as he is now a qualified doctor. Are used to love the drama class and I love the sports classes but apart from that I was always found guilty of dreaming. I continue to dream even as I walk down the street. Daydreaming is great because you can write it all down. Nightmares couldn’t be fun as well because you can get up write something design to unsettled people or at least make people think outside of the box. 70s childhood was humdrum but the art and the music was the great saviour. How ironic though the lamb was made by the working-class for the working-class but as colourful as it was the working class could only watch it on a black-and-white television. I always thought that was unfair. Yes, I was a dreamer and I very often dreamt in cartoon and a verse. Came in quite handy if I wanted to do some creative scribbling my teachers would dismiss as nonsense. I ended up taking that as a compliment
You must (I imagine) have been someone who loved to make people laugh as a youngster? Is that what drove you to take up comedy?
Yes, I certainly did the most sang ‘Lily the Pink’ for about two years outside my Junior School gaining a huge audience much do the constellation of the teachers
Were you a troubled teen? I seem to have memories that you told me you have been a ‘naughty boy’ at some point in your distant past?
I didn’t think so – I thought everybody else around me was trouble, but I probably will – I was relieved of school duties at 13, and then put in one of those ‘naughty boys boarding schools’, then made a campaign to get into Stage School, by writing copious amounts of letters, and convincing the governor at the naughty boys institution, that if I was to get it – he would be perceived as progressive. When I wrote to the Stage School, I told them they would be perceived as progressive if they let me in – and I’ve got into three so it was the great escape! All my teachers at Stage School are totally amazing, and that’s when I started writing for The Tony Blackburn Show on Radio One and Two, and getting stuff on LBC, and eventually writing for the BBC – on the primary science open University program – teaching how to teach science in a creative way – culminating in the going on an assignment at Oxford University and join in the Oxford Union as a speaker- which is so fucking ironic I laugh at it to this very day!
What music were you passionate about as a teen? Who were you ‘go to’ bands?
I liked a lot of classical music from day one, especially Beethoven, whose music sounds really modern today, and reminds me of stuff like The Enid, who clearly drew inspiration from such greats. From the tender age of 10, I liked stuff like Uriah Heep, 10 cc, The Move, godfathers of Glam rock The Sweet, Deep Purple, Hawkwind, and little bits and pieces of the British invasion scene – such as The Small Faces, and of course who would not like The Kinks? My favourite track is their non-politically correct “Apeman”.
What were you first gig/festival memories?
My first concert memories were predominantly at Cheltenham town hall, with X-Ray Spex being the most memorable and amazing I ended up working with the icon. Queen in concert at Cheltenham town Hall and was mildly underwhelmed that it did pinpoint the glam influences they drew from the likes of Sweet, Bozo I’ve subsequently worked with both artists and did like Queens first couple of albums. I was also lucky enough to see Hawklords in Gloucester and they were incredible and had these communist slogans – or it looked that way but they were playing with artistic imagery for reasons of subversion no doubt but it was great fucking fun and I fucking love them live. I also saw The Glitter Band as a 10-year-old and thought that they were fairly awful to be fair. Eddie & The Hot Rods were just Incredibles at Cheltenham town hall because they provided a poignant symbol for the birth of Poker and Rogue and I think that they are completely wiped out of the new ways history that the high-octane performance is that they provided was certainly a huge influence on the punk movement. Check out the second album life on the line for a track called media messiahs which I think killed them off because they were slagging off the people that were promoting them and that’s real Punk as far as I am fucking concerned!
Again, from memory, you were actually formally a writer before you were a musician & producer?
I was the writer first and then I was even more of a riser, and then I will walk down the street putting melodies to my writing in my head. My middle school the highly active head as I’ve told people before because it’s the only way I can describe it. I started fucking around on vintage keyboards lying around in the basement flat that belonged to one of my friends uncles, when I was about 10 years old and started recording it on one of those old-fashioned tape recorders then I started buying it all and Until it became one large body of work all be naive but then again you’ve got to give me some credit I was only about 10 years old.
I know you’re literally a multi-instrumentalist (which I hate you for hahahahahaha). Can you remember your first band/project? What was it like? And what did you do in it?
I listened to music as a kid, and started writing for my first band at the age of 10! We were completely rubbish. We were called Flying – a crap name, and then I progressed to a show band called The Vein Hedgehogs – and I did some Greek cabaret where people were throwing plates around – and I thought it was because I didn’t like what I was doing but then I realise that’s what they did Greek weddings! Then I got busted because I was pretending to be 16 when I was very young. This of course was pre-naughty boy’s school, so Christ knows how I got away with it I only did two gigs before I got nicked. But I used to rehearse at home and blast things like Black Sabbath, Silverhead, Hawkwind, Mott the Hoople, and lots and lots of George Formby – it was my outlet. Yes, I did the old hairbrush thing into the mirror and all the archetypical things that kids do. When I was writing my children stuff, I would have something like try Kofsky or if feeling mellow handle just to provide an atmosphere for the words that were dripping out of my pen in those days. I have really good handwriting now it’s halfway between child light and those lazy doctors. I shouldn’t really call them lazy – they just seem to have the same handwriting as me. although I am not really a digital person because I write in real time it’s good that I’ve got this voice recognition application. Back in the day I would have the music blaring in my bedroom and I’ll be scribbling away using the the chosen music as my muse. Others were not amused at my Muse. But I was in training for what I do now for better or for worse
How did you find yourself becoming a producer?
Couldn’t get a record deal for love nor money and I think it was Toyah Willcox that suggested that we produced our own stuff and submitted it to the business affairs department as opposed to going down the artist and repertoire route. So we always done it that way and license the finished product. That’s not including work with people like Demon Trojan and creation where it is a straight commission but it started off by making home product and licensing as opposed to sending demos in to record labels which have never worked for me
Is the producer there to enhance the artists idea – or to subscribe to the labels directive, coming from the artists and repertoire department?
It’s a bit of to-ing and fro-ing between the parties because often the label has an idea for both branding and sound. Answer If I’m in ploy by the band and they are license into the label the group have a lot more say that the label very often has a different conceptual outlook that may not necessarily subscribe to the artists version. Whilst being respectful to the artist the label has signed in for a purpose and to embrace that vision would be ultimately detrimental to the longevity of the relationship between artist and the platform to which they are signed to. gut instincts often leads me to a form of compromise. some artists want really long tracks that are not necessarily viable if say the label on marketing them as a three minute single pop band. It’s a bit of a tight rope and one has to weigh up the pros and cons of the following an artist version versus the ideas of the label but artists are getting a lot more saying now because they are making finish product and licensing. In this case there is a lot more artistic freedom and I never got a deal through handing in demos so I’m all for working for the band that has a label interested and creating a licensing deal whereby the artist get the rights back within say 3 to 5 years and that way they have a lot more say in the creative process so that my ideal scenario. However sometimes I’m working for a label and they will be insistent on the artistic direction. Back in the day it used to be much more like that but the artist and repertoire situation is not as prevalent and the one good thing about the wild West in which the groups in a bit more creative control is one of the upsides of the current climate. So basically if a label is interested in licensing something there is more interaction with the group than the label or imprint, that’s got it upside and its downsides. I often make two versions one for the label and one for the artist and then we sit round a table and thrash out a compromise. When I worked at labels like trusion it seems to be very much what the label managers and executive producers wanted and they seemed to have control over the vision. That’s why I got into making Finnish content and working with the group about the artistic direction including cover art, promos, videos and even the choice of PR. That’s probably my favourite method of working because in an ideal world if the artist achieves something representing their own vision and they get to play it out on stage and on the air they are doing something that is real to them but always has to be a form of compromise into an extent the producer has to be acting as some kind of broker thrashing out the pros and cons of commerce versus art. Summer Stabulis bands have their own formula and that makes it a lot easier because you follow a path that is already proven to be successful but if it’s a new band it’s a lot more complexed. Especially when each van member has a separate version and then of course you’ve got your record label guys throwing in ideas that the artist may be didactically opposed to. to some extent you have to be conscious too keep the status quo whilst pushing the project forward to suit a whole bunch of very strong minded people. That’s why I like to have several mixtures of each track and indeed it’s always a good idea at the end of creating an album to get the group into a live session situation not unlike the old Maida Vale sessions where the van just goes straight through the desk with no click track and you get the version that they really sound like Live
As someone with such diverse talents, how do you manage to balance your various creative pursuits?
Now I am performing again the dynamic has changed once more. I don’t like to think about it too much because I do suffer from anxiety which has driven me all my life. It’s made me and fucked me up at the same time. I think that I am a natural creative juggler and spinner of plates. but I live of nervous energy. I don’t suppose I would be able to achieve very much without it but relaxation does not play a massive part in my world at the moment.
I do manage to get off for a break every now and then but I’ve always got a pen and paper to hand. I’m always making a sketch, a storyboard, writing a script or a song so even if I’m at dinner I’ve got it nearby just in case something creative pops into my minuscule but highly active mind.
Oh yes plates spinning and juggling is the order of the day when it comes to my balancing act. Sometimes precarious but always exciting when the finished result comes in.
Which art form do you find most challenging and why?
Oil painting because I’ve only recently discovered it and that was during the lockdown Period. So, because I was frustrated the pictures came out rather violently with dark abstract subjects matters. The obligatory daemonic people sometimes represent in the system, or the systematic breakdown of a community or even nation. Difficult subject matter but what I say is better out than in but this is definitely the most difficult for me as I am something of a novice have you only just discovered this particular strand to my work as an artist
How does your creative process differ when working on music verses writing a play or a book?
It’s the same each has a beginning a middle and an end, just not necessary in that order. And because I do audiobooks as well often music is used as a backdrop to the narrative so it all becomes a collective discipline. Music and drama first cousins if not even brother and sister, so most people who dabble in the arts or even make a living out of it would have the difference sub-disciplines. but it really is about get into the end-game. After all songs have to be written and drama needs to be gifted soundtracks And of course you’ve got musicals so that is really full on especially if you are the lyricist and composer as well as doing the Liberato
Can you share an instance where your experiences in one field influenced your work in another?
Oh fucking hell yes, because when you are working with the fall all the lyrics of based on a humorous level – and then you translate the music to coordinate with the tragi-comedic Aspects of the work you are addressed soon and you always draw experience person you are producing so people like The Fall and Ian Brown are inspired by comedy, let’s face it comes out of tragedy. It’s fucking tragic I’m having to explain it I might even get a song out of that. I like the question though because comedy comes out of art and art in this illustrates life it’s a vicious circle but I like circles and I like the fact that it can be vicious because the word angst
which is derived from the word anxiety, and I was born with that fucker closer! It’s given me drive and it’s given me scope so I’m not fucking knocking it
Oh yes 100 fucking percent, because the writing is the production and then the end result feeds any of the other art forms.
What inspired you to venture into multiple artistic disciplines – instead of focussing on just one?
Life itself inspired me and because I’ve only got the choice of three disciplines: I thought of the old cliches three was a magic number and just couldn’t find them all. Lots of actors have other jobs on the side they might work as a taxi driver and they might also work as a part-time teacher so it’s no different but I just choose all my disciplines strictly from the arts and entertainment world. It’s keeping everything in one place and anyway, if I was a taxi driver, I would have a fatal crash and be in the papers for all the wrong reasons because I would probably wrap the car around a tree. I’m telling you that – because I did once luckily, I was the only one in the car. So, I have been helped out by my limitations because I struck taxi driver from the list of possible jobs at the very early age having wraps the car around a tree in the Forest of Dean
Are there any specific musicians, authors, comedians or actors who have had a significant impact on your work?
Absolutely and it’s most of the existentialists like Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, but I do also really admire people that rights on the light entertainment side of things because there was nothing light about light entertainment and I have learnt a lot from watching a lot of double acts. everything from Laurel and Hardy very early Fry and Laurie and you could even find something half decent embedded within Cannon and Ball and all sorts of end of the Piers stuff. I find inspiring to watch people bounce off each other. Music me I wouldn’t have to say Beethoven, Black Sabbath, the snivelling shits, strange things like The Enid, because I think that it’s great, they mix classical with progressive rock but in a very subtle form possibly underrated. I love anything to do with crowd rock and I also like purist pop carefully crafted for the likes of Wakefield and S Club 7. On the other side of the coin, I like stuff by Napalm Death, Tool, Papa Roach, and a whole lot of the catalogue on Earache records. A lot of these things have inspired me and I like to mix it all out in my creative Cauldron and see what comes out once it’s bubbling.
Could you share a memorable or amusing anecdote from your experiences as a stand-up comedian?
I did the comedy store, and I did the Workmen’s clubs but was mainly writing for comedians and I remember working with Michael Bentine, and we arrived early and they thought he was the janitor and told him off for not mopping the floor and the stage properly. His response was to take the mop and mop the floor and stage properly. I was totally aghast. I did a live show interacting with Rik Mayall, but showing the TV work I had done with him which was predominantly Grimms style affair initially for children but was totally amazed that it was completely an adult audience who totally lapped it all up – but then again things like beauty and the beast pertain to things like Stockholm syndrome and that particular one was dark. My job was just doing the light entertain a bit in between screening and I think that I went down well with the audience because of the quality of Rik’s Work and let’s face it he could make a telephone directory sound hilarious. A true story about Michael Bentine though, that was nuts, it was literally Michael Bentine’s Potty Time, in real time somewhere like that theatre in Hastings. Most bizarre.
How do you navigate the challenges of audience reception and expectation – when performing in different artistic mediums?
Okay I’ve had all kinds of different responses from audiences. I was in a Samuel Beckett to handle Premier with Steve Harley – the arts Theatre in the West End. once we went onto that stage we never came off. I like a drink but never before I go on stage. I had stage fright every single night and although I was glad when it was all over. I was surprised at the fantastic reviews because the audience were different every single night. Sometimes laughing in places where there were not jokes. some nights absolutely packed with a standing ovation and sometimes we were playing tattoo man and a dog. I played jumbo the elephant in Winnie the Pooh in the West End. My main job was to blow a kazoo through a ridiculous trunk. The guy playing Noddy a fight with the guy playing big ears because he thought that he was up stadium. Big ears became big ear. As one flew off and snapped and a half. I didn’t even get told off once I forgot my kazoo so I made up my own elephant sound on the door right on the lights and said keep it in and then I started adding words, lots of words so then I was doing the upstaging. It was fucking hilarious. It was rammed in the west end and I’m pretty sure it was at the Royalty Theatre and I’ve got loads more comedic acting work out of it including playing the lead role in Billy Liar both in the West End and on tour. But deep down I want to be the guy with the pen, and of course, simultaneously I was playing in a plethora of bands and producing low rent records for Post punk bands I have met at drama school. I did do the remake of Hancock’s Half Hour for the BBC, and got to work with Frank Skinner – that was fun, but that was much later in life. I get the odd acting role but I don’t go looking for it. But I am a cheap date if I’m free. I’ve played Autologous in The Winter‘s Tale, and did many productions in fact in the West End at the Bloomsbury theatre, which I think is amazing because it puts on progressive work. I love bums and tits farces, I love Ray Cooney and all that kind of material because it’s all about sight gags Comedy timing and Benny Hill was an expert at that despite what a few alternative comics said about him at the time. He wasn’t an Oxbridge performer, he was a people’s performer, and all of those people like Max Miller and all of the music hall and post musical greats our inspiration, and I’ve done a lot of music hall live. My Galloping Major has got the edge on my Burlington Bertie but I do like a little bit of what you fancy. Music Hall inspired popular music and theatricality that is plundered from the genre to this very day. I’ve appeared in things, I’ve had terrible reviews that I thought was not deserving, and I have appeared in things that got great reviews that I thought was riddled with mediocrity. I think you’ve just got to keep going and hope that your integrity at least will Provide a plethora of assets that will see you to the curtain call.
Are there any projects you’ve worked on, that seamlessly combined music, comedy, and storytelling? If so, what was the experience like?
Oh fucking hell – definitely Rik Mayall! There is a reason for him based on the Grimms fairytales for a combination of music words and comedy. It was three and one which was bloody marvellous, and the same applies to my projects with Frankie Howerd, and dare I say it – Lily Savage, although that was one of my most important projects due to the toxic (alleged) atmosphere from the start, but let’s face it there is nothing like about light entertainment.
How do you adapt your creative approach when working on collaborative projects verses solo endeavours?
Collaborative project might be the group that already has a formula and I need to ask them where are they want me to follow the formulaic. that’s as easy as it is difficult because if an member has their own spin on the formula. obviously if it’s one of my own creative projects I get more say because it is intrinsic plus something coming from me and the artists involved would be a session fee making life a lot easier. But I do like to pick and mix. Sometimes when you are producing for an artist with a brief and an artistic policy you might end up utilising their services on one of your own solo project, which makes the catalogue become a swerve ball. I mean for insurance Glen Matlock doing X Ray Spex and through the portal of the label you were both associated with and both contribute to a charity record promoting the life and times of the legendary polystyrene. On that project I had quite a lot of say. mind you when you are working with people like that it’s not difficult because they are so gifted and I’ve been round the block that many times that they do not have the egocentric traits somebody claiming to be up and coming
A lot of people who claim to be destined to be a massive often home proper because you bump into them in 10 years and they are flipping burgers. I think flipping burgers are great, whether is a janitor at the school or a lawyer it’s a great. I’ve met so many bullshitters telling me they are on the way up and if I will do it just for royalties everything is gonna just be amazing for everyone and then you bump into them in the burger shop, or at the lawyer Convention for conveyancing solicitors so it’s all bollocks. I think people that go into the business looking for the same as opposed to practising hard or very dangerous often in my humble opinion on the part of the spectrum that involves narcissistic malignant sociopathic Borderline-Personality-Disorder types. Got a client at the moment claims that she caught autism at the bus stop. I wish people would stop using the spectrum. Please egomania adjusters think that they have the God-given right to have passageway into stardom are most definitely devoid of empathy and therefore I would call them dodgy bastards and leave it at that
You have worked already with a fascinating cross-section of bands and artists, both. As a musician, and as a producer. Are there any bands or musicians you still dream of collaborating with in the future – and why?
I don’t know I used to dream about doing a psychedelic remix on cosmic wheels by Donovan. Partly due to the chat I had when we were on the same label. I was working with the fall and Donovan was on the same label it was a subsidiary of BMG called permanent records the only problem is I didn’t turn out to be very permanent. Therefore, the opportunity was on the plates until they stopped being permanent if you see what I mean.
I would love the Paul McCartney gig as I’m told how much he has chilled out and let the producer crack on. I know someone who’s done that gig and apparently it was thoroughly enjoyable and I didn’t get to meet him once and he was a thoroughly nice bloke that was always interested in more people would were doing. I would’ve liked to have worked with Juliana Hatfield, God knows what she’s up to now but I always felt I could add something to the proceedings. With her dark lyrics and her whimsical delivery, I felt I could add something in the middle of something sonically like the Cocteau Twins but on this occasion on hallucinogenics (metaphorically speaking of course). I’d like to the idea of me making Ocean Colour Scene sound even more interesting and that’s not a put down on them I just have some ideas for them but I don’t suppose they really need to me.
Have you ever had a troll or stalker?
Don’t talk to me about them they are so boring predictable and even when they go under a fake name in a different IP address it’s 100% traceable not just via digital means something that forensic experts call course of conduct. repetitive behaviour syndrome and of course the inevitable spelling mistakes and hi Facebook and YouTube accounts. It happens to the best of us and 24 Lucy V it’s rather alarming but on the outside perspective it’s momentarily laughable but then you shrug it off and feel chuffed that you’ve got somebody so obsessed with observing your every movement it’s kind of flattering. I’ve only got one but he has slipped up and put things on messenger so people under his own name which could get him into very serious trouble. Somebody that wants to fuck you up on this occasion because I fired him I was advised by my criminal barrister that he would slip up and he most certainly has done but does not realise how he has been traced and it’s not just me who has been A stalker under the malicious communications act it’s about three people so is in fact a massively imprisonable offence but I’m just a small independent guy I’m quite frankly could not give a fuck. Needless to say harassment is a serious offence and being in the public eye even in a minuscule way could attract keyboard warrior types of generally live with their mothers and go onto different IP addresses thinking that they are protected but they always fucking slip up and beyond a shadow of doubt this stupid Imbecilic fool Lil boom monitoring not just run every word that my clients who have fallen victim of hers demeaning and the derogatory activity which give me a fake review to contacting someone on messenger and totally incriminating themselves. We are writing about it at the moment and it will probably turn into a mini rock opera. not in the Andrew Lloyd Webber format but more like Crass, Flux Of Pink Indians videos, even Black Flag although we will probably call it red flag.
Are there any memorable interactions or collaborations with other artists that have left a lasting impact on you? I know you were very close to the late great Mark E Smith (The Fall) as an example?
Oh yes absolutely. As a workaholic I used to make loads and loads of demo tapes and send them to a menagerie of artists. I say myriad, as I think of artists as creatures. Wonderful artistic creatures. And sometimes I even sent them to puppets or at least an agent who looked after puppets. Anyway, sending a song to Toyah Wilcox, and then ending up writing and producing the entire album was a great buzz and of course lead me to Hazel O’Connor. That in turn, led me to Maire Brennan from Clannad – so I had this sort of female theme going on. The mark E Smith thing was quite unusual, because I was lying down at Track with Jay Stapley who ended up with Suede, and the Roger Waters Bleeding Hearts band, in fact I think he was already doing that and for some reason Mark got his assistant to fax to the studio I was at with Jay asking me if I would like to produce the next fall album. He had heard something I had done with creation records and Trojan respectively with the mercurial Kim Fowley oddly enough – something I had done with David Van Day from Dollar, who reported to light both characters. So, album number one’s cerebral caused it was recorded it Narbrook grow in 12 days, and I was not sent one demo. In other words, it was done quick fire and, on the spot, and I was not that experience in working with a group of such desperate characters. The track ‘Bonkers in Phoenix’ was a lullaby created by Brix Smith and then using a technique it called fist keyboard. Mark spent a day punching various analogue keyboards and screaming over the top of it to create the atmosphere of an acid trip at Phoenix festival. God knows what she thought about it, but the record label seemed to like it. It is very shocking, and a rumour was put out but it was breaking people’s speakers and they wanted money back I’m talking about fans and stuff like that.
Mark was quite good on putting out PR sometimes it’s the old adage of never let what actually happen get in the way have a good story. The album actually was quite a messy affair and I was cutting my teeth. Much later on in life it became more acclaimed and I did a similar thing called ‘The Train’ with Mark, which I believe was his last recording – this was in association with his manager Ed Blaney who orgasm wrote the piece. it was much more structured though and industrial, and when I did the second album ‘The Light To Use Of Syndrome’, I insisted on two weeks rehearsal, and at least one month at the Dairy Studios in Brixton, and some sessions at Farah Heath studios in Northamptonshire – and the album was great success. It still has the grid and the acerbic Nail-biting witticisms that Mark was so good at the conjuring up but it had a different feel and at some point, I even broke the golden rule and use the click track. But it was all recorded in the old -fashioned style, with a lot of the editing thing executed with a razor blade and I’ve still got a scar on my left index finger to prove it. All those times signature changes on the track with chisellers were done by splicing not buy any digitise medium whatsoever. One of my favourite tracks was indeed ‘The Chisellers’ which went to the top of the Indie chart when that actually meant something. ‘Bonkers in Phoenix’ is a nice party piece when people ask me what I do. I can clear a room if I want to with that one – but I absolutely love the track of the joke, and my favourite actually because I change my mind a lot is a track from the light use of syndrome entitled ‘He Pep’. it was a rant against the music industry and Mark had about 55 sheets of paper with his rants written beautifully in gorgeous Fountain pen handwriting – but it wasn’t working so I suggested that we threw them away and he did a one-time job down – my just feeling the vibe and the anger on that track against the industrial keyboard is amazing and he has a great pop David Bowie being lost in the vaults of the record company. he also says that he keeps his Parker pen under his ear which I thought was quite odd and pointed it out to him but the next day he walked in in the end with his found in pain under his ear but I did spot a bit of Sellotape. He was a surrealist, and very well read, and introduced me to a lot of the existentialist writers and he was really into stuff like Harold Pinter and got me to read Dumb Waitrose before we recorded the trap ‘Feeling Numb’, and it makes perfect sense at least to me when I listen back to that track. It should have been a single but it wasn’t. Wishbone Ash were on the same label and I was producing them. Mark was going to fire me – because I was working with a band that had two members with ponytails. I reasoned with him I could get one of the band members from Wishbone Ash to relieve themselves of the offending ponytail would that be okay and he said “Alright Cop, do that and I’ll turn off fucking blind eye! I’ve politely asked Bob Skeat to relieve himself of a ponytail – then I took a photograph on everybody and carried on business as usual. I think the ponytail went back on but that’s academic as far as I’m concerned. I’m sure that it was marks surrealist humour as much as anything else. But it has certainly time is inspiring and on other occasions I have found myself momentarily in a delirium that was didactically opposed to mine open-minded work ethos.
How does the live performance aspect of stand-up comedy and music compare to the process of writing and publishing a book or play?
I much prefer the writing, directing and producing – because I like watching the process, and the brainstorming aspect, but having said that I equally enjoy performing with The Blockheads – because it’s got theatricality, funk, Music Hall, dub reggae and all the music I’ve ever loved – so I like women equal measures rarely but the writing and the producing can be very rewarding if you get it right. I don’t always get it right let’s face it. In order to get something right you’ve got to get it wrong. I have appeared in my own work. At Wimbledon Theatre, I was in one of my plays, but I would rather have been sat in the stall somewhere with a notepad. I hope this answers the question in a succinct way. I change my mind quite a lot when I get asked this question. But the production process is amazing and the creating of the videos and the cover art and all that kind of thing. since I joined The Blockheads, I am nowhere near as prolific but, I am writing an audiobook for John Otway – and it’s a spin on ‘Oliver Twist’. I wanted to call it ‘Twisted Oliver’, but the publisher of One Media appealed to Pinewood and wanted to call it ‘Oliver Twist’. The idea is that Fagan is the great guy, the angel and Oliver is a complete bastard! It feels like it’s coming out quite well as an audiobook and it will be a paperback. Writing comic vehicles for people like that it’s such a pleasure and he is such a good actor he’s incredible, very self-deprecating so he won’t admit it – but I’m telling you now, it’s really fucking brilliant!
One body of work I did write, produce, direct, and played all the parts in, was ‘Poe Zest’. it was a play at the Bloomsbury in the West End, and that was starring Dr and the Medics – but when it came to the audio-book I played every single part and I guess it’s one of my proudest moments. I remixed the works of Poe, and intertwined it with his actual life – which was rather macabre in its own right. I think there are around about 24 murders in it. Some attempted acts of pernicious perversion go horribly wrong, and the story about a man with the biggest nose in the world but it was always intended to be a metaphor for a magnificently huge ‘man snake’. It was all about who had the biggest and resulting in death, screaming devils on chariots, wenches, pernicious prostitutes, dastardly Demons, creepy creaking coffins, and ultimately over puritanical people ending up in the cavernous confines of Purgatory. All good light entertainment really. I consulted a few of those Demons from the end of my bed when I was six years old. I guess they should get a slice of the publishing.
I know you had a close working relationship with a man I’ve always revered – Frankie Howerd. Can you tell me about that please?
I cut my tooth and comedy writing for Frankie Howard, simply because I had the same age of phone home charismatic convergence. Very misunderstood. The temperature from your actually just down to nerves and when he was in a huge environment for the corporate people can see more of us than if we were recording it in a small House with stray cats popping in and out. I wrote in a series of monologues and comedic songs which came out on an album initially called “The Frankie Howerd Collection”, later rebranded as you “Get Your Titters Out”. Some of it was just restoration of old work and then I did a single with him called “Frankie‘s Group” which got the volume to the word this point in time you played the Lyric Theatre at Hammersmith went on to play at the Oxford union making him the king of comedy and a reputation for being a raconteur with abundance of natural talent, and every pause, every comedic deliberation…was timed beautifully. He treated me very well, and thanks to him allowing me to scribble some words down for which were mainly variations on his iconic catchphrases I gained more work in the comedy field. I don’t think the David Walliams portrayal of the movie was at all realistic, and I found it a bit downbeat. Frankie was generous to a fault, I recognise that nervous energy because I have it myself. I did a duet with him which I’m happy to share here and it went down really well on ‘The Word’, which was of course for teenagers with growing pains. and students with a propensity to enjoy laddish voluptuous vulgar vivacious comedy, but was very much of its time. It was great to be working with him, when Frankie was on the rise again, as it was also seeing live performances in front of a host of big stars – to celebrate his magnificent performance – at the Lyric Hammersmith etc. Frankie gave me lots of tips and like me you had a love of music Hall at the lights of Max Miller and other catastrophically comedic talents with a gargantuan gift to entertain the masses. Guided by Gordon Simpson courtesy of our mutual agents.
I went on to work with Frank Skinner who turned out to be a huge fan of the Fall, it was indeed a remake of ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ with Paul Merton as the curator, and although you could never capture the original hilarious Hancock escapades it certainly proved to be a happy how much for those who have missed it first time around. I only had a cough and a spit in my episode but got to play two parts it was an honour to be a small part of a huge iconic slice oh quintessentially English humour, based on observation and listening back to them characters such as Sid James and Hattie Jacques – we never played it for the laugh. That made it less frenetic but much more fun. I guess Kenneth Williams was a bit different because he was part of that funny voice thing. Ultimately, I don’t think Hancock liked that, but I think it was great because gave a good variation to the various capers which were very simple, but conversely were never simplistic. Sid James and his iconic laugh over Tony Hancock with his hang-dog delivery made for a great double act.
* The series that did actually pick up an award, as I say, I was in the middle school called in a huge will but I have a girl and symptoms of onset was marvels of a hole and indeed they came to see me in the West End when I did the Samuel Beckett stuff at the art theatre, and indeed, they came to some of the comedy shows that I have in the West End including the Glam rock extravaganza blockbuster. It got great reviews about a certain person with inherited wealth took the title of the dinner variation on the play sound like a stone-bookers although allegedly that chap and his team were sat at the stores with the notebook so they didn’t capture of the era. I’m glad it round for a month in the West End with great reviews I learn so much from the likes of Galton and Simpson, Frankie Howerd and indeed our mutual a joke Tessa Le Bars who I am in touch with this day it was on at the famous players theatre which of course is a legendary music hall quite literally underneath the Arches at Charing Cross. If it wasn’t for my experience writing for artists such as Frankie Howerd, I could never have pulled it off. There is a great link between music Hall and Glam … pearly Kings and Queens were the Little Rock protagonists of the showmanship has drips through into very contemporary genres. Herman’s Hermits Dylan’s great version of “I am Henry The Eighth I Am”- which was about a serial killer woman who married people only call Henry and killed them. Search quite dark because the last guy is saying shimmering move for half a yard of string I’ve got round to my marrowbones and said God save the King I am arrive old man called Henry Henry the eighth I have another word I was about to be bumped off. *
As Frankie Howard was told me there is nothing light about light entertainment. The alternative comedy soon came to a little bit like Punk a lot which lasted about two years. The old school guys provided fertile soil in which seeds could grow for the next generation and I think that that is finally being appreciated. I’m writing a time travel book from 1812 to the golden era of Glam Rock which was 1973, and the lineage is quite interesting, and it’s amazing when Punk came around Glam travel to America I love Frankenstein version of the genre was born with a blue-collar workers. Some cool hair metal I’m referring of course to Mötley Crüe and Kiss and Twisted Sister and although not my bag, it fascinates me how it can be traced back to the east and I know one form or another still going strong. Punk and new wave was great, but it didn’t kill off Progressive Rock in the end – because that still going strong. Frankie Howerd, by the way did a track for Alan parsons so that’s an interesting connection. It doesn’t matter whether it’s theatre or music or works are in a gallery it all comes from bouts of creativity and today it’s all under one umbrella. Some of it is art and some of it is entertainment and some of it is entertaining end of the pier frivolous folder and there is nothing wrong with that. I don’t like the word highbrow because it implies that other forms are lowbrow. I like to metaphorically fill my boots with all of it stick it into a cool room mix it all up. It’s too easy to criticise and marginalise something may not be to your taste that implies that other people have a theory of take on what is abstentions of what may be tailored for a specific audience.
If I could spin plates, tell fortunes, or even orchestrate optical allusions I’ll give it my best shot but I know my limitations. Out of 100 things that I’m good at three. Well, that’s debatable I do a little bit of pain to hit this actually so maybe I’m good to things out of 100. But I like to push the envelope and I have the privilege to learn from the best. Frankie Howerd was certainly high calibre. I know my limitations and do have the skill set to bring someone in to join the dots and help with both things together. Sometime is it successful for the seventh time is it’s not that’s the way it’s always going to be in this pernickety precarious platform known as this business records show. Thoroughly looking forward to taking a little break abroad at some point this year I’ve just got to finish about 17 deadlines and I live a free man and I can take this lovely lady I’ve just met all the holiday. Every single person I work with has that workaholic street so I don’t think it is unique to me. Got a couple of singles coming out at this ridiculous/a vampire documentary so let’s see where that goes. I will use my combined experience to do the best job possible and that’s all I can say at this point in time
I have always been fascinated by Kim Fowley – what was he like as a person?
I was very young, and I was in a band, and he was working with a company called Smallwood-Taylor, who would somehow become Sanctuary Music or something along those lines. He successfully split up the band, and then took me around on a bunch of producing excursions, and I can’t say I didn’t learn a hell of a lot because I did. But he was quite a scary chap, and the first thing he said when he met my girlfriend of the time was “What’s your worst nightmare?” Before she got a chance to answer it, he took out his false teeth, and said “To suck my fucking gums dog”! That was him on a polite day too! It’s true that he was inventive. He would listen to a piece of music and then just get me to loop a couple of bars and then change the pitch so it was the skies, and this was really pre-proper sampling. I co-produced ‘BMX Bandits’ with him and had something to do with a record with The Teenage Fanclub, although I was sent out of the room, and felt I was used as a vehicle to get him to Scotland – but that’s Kim Fowley all over. Are used to terrify girls, and I remember him having a dog sat upon him in a pub in Chiswick. He got down on all fours growling at the dog. The dog sadly ran into the Chiswick High Street and got run over by a black cab by the time the owner of the dog! I’ve seen a bunch of skinheads beat Kim Fowley up valley – he had all these thugs around him, and took his belt off and was saying “Come on let’s have it you fucking arseholes” or something like that – it was horrific. That’s a true story, I believe it was called “The Packhorse Pub” – I can’t be sure, so I will use the word ‘allegedly’ as I’m fairly sure it was the fucking packhorse. I also found a gun with a silencer under the mattress in the spare room, but I was putting them up in, ‘allegedly’ I’m told I’ve got to keep using this stupid fucking word but it’s true! Fowley was an inveterate narcissist and Svengali, that could make people jump through hoops whilst doing a cartwheel. As the change fell out of their pockets they would go straight into his bum-bag. He used to carry loads of money around in a bum-bag for some reason. Loads and loads of money but it was a tight as it was terrifying. Great produce – I have to say that, I’ve got to give him credit for that, and also, he had the ability to charm people – as he hassled money right from small companies up to large corporate institutions. He didn’t have much to drink when I knew him, but when he had a pint, he started having (allegedly) an acid flashback – and this caused havoc at a gig we were doing with Gene Loves Jezebel. Somebody spat at one of the band’s fans – and when the security came into our dressing room, Kim Fowley utilised the third type chap surrounded himself with to intimidate the security guards – and we’ll walk. My experiences with the man were at times mind corroding and time is inspired and that’s all I’ve got to say about Kim Fowley!
You’ve worked with legendary Ska/Two Tone band The Specials, can you tell me about that?
I started of what is a junior with tradition. Making tea, ear wigging, bumping into people in corridors the usual. The chosen group of companies was not intrinsic to the reggae idiom. It had some labels light indigo for instance which was blues and the legendary punk rock label receiver. They got their name because treasurer bought them from the receivers. So, I would bump into Poly Styrene, and ended up working with her. They gave me a load of crappy Megamix to start with sounds of the 70s just joining track together for those cattail type labels because they would license stuff out with Adventureland I’ve got to mix the specials I think I did ‘Too Much Too Young’, ‘Concrete Jungle’ and ‘Gangsters’. This was at the time when Ska Music was having a dip, and the New Romantics were momentarily in Vogue. So, these were not the original recordings that they were what was called but then re-record which is now rebranded as rare and exclusive. I suppose it is all about monumental marketing at the end of the day. The specials were on the label and the person I became friendly with was my very good friend Neville Staple who was indeed to my mind, the main aspect in ‘Ghost Town’ which has as much relevance today as it did when it was created, by probably the most innovative group in that genre of all time. So, one day they handed me the entire Tauzin catalogue and invited me to do two albums worth of remixes and I’m talking about massive artists including Bob Marley. Consequently, I’ve got to do several tracks including the soul shake down party which was my favourite. Then I would go on tangents with the likes of Neville who as you probably know he’s on his own bespoke version which has always had more originals on it than the other version but that’s another story. along with his brilliant wife Christine Sugary Staple, they have kept the Torch burning and I had the pleasure of doing a lockdown record which was a version of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. I had the idea of imagine – if there was no Facebook, and if there was no Twitter, and all that kind of thing – and the idea was not only embraced by Neville and Christine Sugary Staple, but they added something magical. I’ve just been chatting to them and they will send a link so you can see the final result that it cheered a lot of people up during the confines of the compounding, La Conner lockdown phase which I think tested a lot of people’s mental health.
It was indeed the brainchild of Michael Infante, yet again One Media IP pinewood. I worked with him for years including the Frankie Howerd stuff I did because he is multimedia. They’ve got Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop, Paul McCartney … all sorts of people on the catalogue and that is quite frankly how we have managed to bolster the soundtrack for our movie – which Neville and Christine Sugary Staple are of course in. Had I not walked through the door of Trojan Records, none of this would’ve happened. Yes I’ll be working with Michael because he publishes my work but it’s also about bringing ideas to the table. Michael had the idea and I walked through the door at Trojan and in my own mercurial way got to mix the specials and became great friends of Neville. It’s a small world. sometimes the label comes to you with the project that you’ve got to think on your feet and come up with scenarios, a creative think-tank, and if you’re going to start a Projects make sure you finish it because of the day you don’t finish one project it becomes the drastic domino effect. First you don’t succeed then fucking well try something else keep it moving as what I say.
I’d not realised until recently, but you’ve also worked with the legendary and immortal Rik Mayall, what was he like to work with?
He was absolutely incredible so professional. It was for One Media IP at pinewood, and my job was to direct and remix a bunch of ‘Grimm’s Fairy-Tales’ – so my six-year-old training comes in handy once more. More than just Grimm’s, we tackled ‘Sinbad’, with original stories and a ridiculous version of ‘Aladdin’, ‘Beauty And The Beast’ of course being about Stockholm syndrome was the dark one for me. they went out as audiobooks and I did some audio visuals with him as well which went on to things like BBC, more recently talk to you babe and were presented at the Manchester Fringe Festival. They are constantly on repeat and they are coming back more in a Gothic form and I think that we’re calling it “It’s Grimms Up North” – apart from a one-off part he played in a sitcom. Sadly, it was his last work and most of the process was rehearsal, intelligent discussion, and in the contract – he had full editorial control, but to my surprise – he didn’t change one word. He didn’t need to be off script because most of it was voice over, but he was completely off script and rattled it off like a true professional. Again, I will ask One Media IP appointment to provide an example although is out there in the public domain
I’m also a fan of ‘On The Buses’. You worked with Bob Grant (cheeky bus conductor ‘Jack Harper’) didn’t you? I’m given to understand he was something of a tragic figure – how did you find him?
Hey I’m really glad you mentioned in the show. I had an idea a long time ago and I still think it would work like a dream. Imagine putting it in crackly black-and-white and fucking with the speed of light jam tv. take out all the canned laughter and you’ve got a very dark representation of the 70s right there. Something Rio and Bob grants laughter could have a big fat echo warm it. I wrote a play for him called ‘Hands Off My Crumpet’ at ‘The Princess Theatre’ in Hunstanton, and it went down a fucking storm. But going back to your question, ‘On The Buses’ should be remixed in Super8, crackly as you like, with speed variations to make it a surrealist spectacle – that would really show heightened reality from what was quite a dark period. Absolutely bloody love it. I like ‘The Likely Lads’ as well, because I like looking at the awful tank tops and stuff.
A not-so-guilty pleasure of mine, is I am a colossal fan of ‘Bullseye’ featuring the immortal Jim Bowen. You have worked with him, what was he like?
Yes, it was amazing what a fantastic musician as well! I wrote in a monologue and I did a remake of a track I think we all know – ‘Everybody Walk The Dinosaur’ or whatever – it was cool. And I wrote some parts for him. and he showed me what a brilliant pianist he was! He was fantastic as a brass player too, in fact he was in a band that used to be on the QE2 and not as Jim Bowen – but as a music lover and it was really into indie music, rock pop and everything I was shocked it wasn’t the person I expected at all. I shouldn’t have got on with him really – because he was an ex-Headmaster, but I couldn’t help liking him and he was bloody amazing. ‘Bullseye’? Bloody iconic bring it back even more It only seems to get spot players that it was three things it was super, smashing, and fucking great!
Looking forward – what is next for you? Obviously fronting the Blockheads, but what do you have lined up as a producer? Are you still writing fairly endlessly?
Well, apart from touring with The Blockheads, I’ve done my first feature film – we shot it in California. It was called ‘AM to Drak’. it all went horribly wrong when I found out (allegedly) that my girlfriend was doing extreme porn, and at the very time (allegedly) we were making a film, in fact along with an (alleged) midget, so that they sabotaged the movie! So, we’ve made a film with the likes of Melanie Williams, Peter Hook, John Otway, Wishbone Ash, and a whole bunch of people that I know, that are involved in the soundtrack anyway. We’ve made the film about the film that went disastrously wrong, and it opens very soon in a chain of cinemas, and is going on Amazon Prime courtesy of One Media IP pinewood studios and there is an ‘A-list’ actress of very high calibre right now in the movie – so watch this space, and if One Media and Peter are okay with it at Pinewood, I’m happy to provide you with some clips just to give you an idea of what went horribly wrong, and how not to make a movie, but it’s coming soon. It’s got a cinema deal as well, and it’s all been horrendous in the works department – with the (alleged) midget man stealing the tapes, and our budget (allegedly) being used to make extreme porn. You could not make this up, and all will be revealed in the fullness of time – because we’ve managed to salvage quite a lot from the cutting room floor. There were arrests, people hospitalised, apologies, drinks spiking (allegedly), and something (allegedly) called crystal meth. We did have a crystal meth scene – but totally shocking that (allegedly) the Props Master brought in the real deal. Melanie Williams is absolutely incredible in it, along with Peter Hook, creating some great soundscapes because it’s also very music based – and we’re working with some brilliant people especially Fried Banana. I’ll say no more about it now, but I’ll try and get some clips provided for you.
Is there one particular side to your any talents that you enjoy most?
Out of 100 things I’m only good at three and that is performing writing and production. I can’t say which I prefer as they are inexorably intertwined. It’s like a package deal hiring me because I’ll probably get immersed in the artwork and the storyboarding of the video promo and I may get involved in some compositional elements. As for the 97 things that I’m not good at I try and recruit 97 people to do those things. I know my weaknesses put it that way. Part of the production ethos involves delegation and put in teams around artists so I don’t think it’s particularly unique to me that often.
Do you still get excited by new bands/artists? If so – are there any in particular you would like to recommend? What advice would you offer a young band/artist?
I try to avoid it like the bubonic plague because one and every three marriages end up in a divorce if you got a five-piece band what is the likelihood that wall no end up in the musical matrimonial kangaroo court. If they come with a budget and they are happy to embrace ideas than yes of course, but if not, I’ve got a huge list of yes-man in my back pocket it will be cheaper than me. Solo artists are a different thing because they can’t divorce themselves unless of course they’ve got a split personality. I shouldn’t really say that, it’s probably not politically correct. If they have a management and they will benefit from my ideas then yes of course it’s rare and I’m not known for breaking bands. If a group has a reputation or indeed a band are heritage orientated, they already have a website in which they can advertise and a fan base who will find out about it. I have to be practical I am in my autumnal years now and must concentrate on The Blockheads, the talking books, the films and a bit of broad-casting – just because I get to talk about music. But my advice is to make the content, don’t put it through those DIY dashboards if you can avoid it, and approach people like The Orchard or Kudos, because they will get all the paperwork in place because we are still in the wild West. Cargo that’s another good company. Self-producing is okay but it’s quite good to maybe have someone coming at the end and do the mix. But I don’t want to be seen as some sort of consultant giving out advice that is only my opinion. I’m sure that there are 1 million ways to do this, and as I have found out myself, so my expertise is not breaking new bands.
How should bands/artists hoping to work with you get in touch?
Through Media City In Manchester.
When you are not busy – what do you do for relaxation? Do you have time for things like hobbies?
I have hobbies, and they include going to the theatre, eating out a lot, but I always take a notepad unless I’m on a date, and I sneak into the restroom and scribble something down, or ask politely if I can just do a bit of notetaking. Doesn’t always go down brilliantly but it’s a goodbye of me combining hobby and work as a unified thing. I do like a bit of five aside football, but my left knee is playing up at the moment, I’m so that’s out of the question. I play chess occasionally. Infact I’m in the middle of three games on the Internet at the moment. I think I’m about to lose two of them. A very protracted process chest but I find it quite relaxing. I like the strategic games although ironically, I’m crap at drafts and tiddlywinks.
You have even become an artist in recent years? Some of your work is genuinely striking. Tell me about this aspect of yourself?
*I don’t consider myself to be some kind of post-modernist prolific painting provocateur, but I do double with oil and very often I’m art director of the albums book sleeves. Cover-up was always important to move so I provided a few examples for better or for worse that I take the analogue approach. I work with oils, watercolour and then very often get them into a sort of photo copy lo-fi, lo-res situation and then scribble on them with my beautiful collection of low rent pens and pieces of chalk. I discovered how to do it for better or worse during the lockdown period which was as everyone knows unnecessarily protractive but I made the best of it by going to canvas and sometimes putting things down with simple pens pencils and pieces of chalk. I would call it a hobby but I’ve always got music playing in the background so technically my workaholic ethos is at play but then I get two for the price of one I get some work out of it and I get a hobby. I am not the best artist in the world But it’s a great expressive form and I intend to exploit it more as mine Twilight is approach*
I don’t consider myself to be some kind of post-modernist prolific painting provocateur, but I do double with oil and very often art director of the Albums book slaves. Cover-up was always important to move so I provided a few examples for better or for worse that I take the analogue approach. I work with oils, watercolour and then very often get them into a sort of photo copy lo-fi, lo-res situation and then scribble on them with my beautiful collection of low rent pens and pieces of chalk. I discovered how to do it for better or worse during the lockdown period which was as everyone knows unnecessarily protractive but I made the best of it by going to canvas and sometimes putting things down with simple pens pencils and pieces of chalk. I would call it a hobby but I’ve always got music playing in the background so technically my workaholic ethos is at play but then I get two for the price of one I get some work out of it and I get a hobby. I am not the best artist in the world, but it’s a great expressive form and I intend to exploit it more as mine Twilight is approaching.
This may be a little morbid – but how would hope hope/like to be remembered in the future?
I’d like to be remembered as somebody who did not know how they would like to be remembered.