Browsing Tag the Prisoners

Masters – Allan Crockford

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Masters2

 

Ask Allan Crockford about his musical CV and you can not help but be seriously impressed; The Prisoners, Prime Movers, Solarflares, Stabilisers, James Taylor Quartet, Goodchilde and Phaze. Add his own current band The Galileo 7 and you have a very fine body of work to appreciate.

All of these bands are highly influential and inspirational to successive generations of aspiring musicians with a psych, garage tendency. “But what about mod?” you may ask.

I work on the principle that arguably with the exception of The Small Faces, there is no-such-thing as a ‘mod’ band. However, there are legions of bands with a mod following. Most, if not all of the bands Allan Crockford has been a part of, fall into the latter category when it comes to the UK. Across Europe, they are more regarded as part of the psych, garage, punk scene.

Over the Whitsun Bank Holiday, Allan lines up with long-time collaborators, Graham Day and Wolf Howard at Margate as Graham Day and The Forefathers.

The purpose of this incarnation was simply to revisit the back catalogue of their combined output and revitalise some truly great songs, resulting in the acclaimed debut album ‘Good Things’.

01. How pleased are you with the reception of both the band and the album?

Very pleased with both. It’s come as a great surprise to be greeted with this sort of enthusiasm for doing something exactly the same as we’ve always done! We suspected that a few old faithfuls would be interested, but it’s gone beyond that. If only we’d had this sort of enthusiasm when we last together as The Solarflares then we might have carried on without the 10 year break. I think the internet has helped with making our presence known.

02. What has been like to revisit those great songs with Graham and Wolf?

A lot of them we had played before at various times, but not collected together in one set. It’s been pretty easy really. The real surprise has been doing Prisoners songs without the organ and not really missing it. I suppose we’ve got better at filling the holes in the sound, or maybe letting the songs breathe with a sparser sound. One of the two anyway… I’ve also really enjoyed playing Gaolers songs. To me they are like new songs as me and Wolf didn’t play on the original recordings. It means it’s not all nostalgia.

03. You have had a long-standing writing partnership with Graham Day. How does the process work for you both and has it changed over the years?

It’s not a writing partnership. Graham wrote the basic songs, then they were fleshed out and arranged with the full band, whichever one we were in at the time. I might have contributed the odd arrangement suggestion occasionally, but the songs we play in the Forefathers are very much his. If I made a contribution it’s more in being quick to pick his ideas up and play bass in a way that compliments his sound. I only started writing songs myself in the last 7-8 years, during the time that we weren’t playing together. If we were ever to record new material with this band, then I dare say we’d do it the same way as we always did, with me and Wolf jamming along with Graham’s basic idea until the song emerged. Why change a winning formula!

04. How surprised are you that The Prisoners and Prime Movers are still immensely popular in the 21st century?

I dispute that the Prime Movers were ever that popular! The only reason we were called that when we initially made our return was for a one off gig in Germany for an old record label that specially requested it. We dropped all the PMs songs from the set very quickly, apart from ‘Good Things’. And also ‘immensely popular’ is pushing it a bit for both bands! We’ve got a small set of very enthusiastic and loyal fans that make a lot of noise, but it’s still very small scale. We’re very grateful to them, but we never over-estimate our popularity. We’re preaching to a small number of converted.

05. You have told me in the past that throughout your career, from The Prisoners onwards, you and indeed the other members of the various bands, never regarded yourselves as mods, but you seem to have attracted a mod following in the UK. Why do you think that is?

We never disputed that there were ‘Mod’ elements to our sound and style, but we never wanted to be defined by a label. We just loved 60’s rock n roll and style. Most people dressed that way back then, but weren’t called Mods. I don’t get the need to identify with something narrow and limiting. Why can’t you play the music and wear some of the gear if you feel like it, without someone putting a label on you? The development of youth culture and tribal allegiances are kind of interesting as topics for a social thesis or a Phd, but it gets a bit boring to be asked the same question about it for the next 30 years… No disrespect! I love the music, but I also love a lot of music that apparently Mods aren’t supposed to like.

06. Your own band, The Galileo 7 have received critical acclaim for their album from last year ‘False Memory Lane’. How would describe your sound and what you are aiming for with them?

We’ve made two albums before that; ‘Are We Having Fun Yet? (2010) and ‘Staring At The Sound’ (2012). There’s also the brand new single ‘One Lie At A Time’. I suppose it’s psych-pop rather than garage-rock, if anyone can pick apart the differences within our little sub-genres. Influenced more by mid to late 60’s pop psychedelia than R&B, more Nuggets than Rubble… I haven’t got the vocal range to take on soully/R&B screaming and testifying like Graham, so I try to work on melodies and harmonies that will work whoever is singing. I’m not aiming for anything apart from carrying on playing and having a creative outlet for my ideas. I realise that not everyone who has liked the other bands I’ve played in will necessarily seek out our stuff, but there’s enough crossover musically for anyone who is into the same influences to find something they like. And with our new lineup, the energy level has increased and I think we’re delivering the songs better than ever live. Check us out when you can!

07. Getting back to Graham Day and The Forefathers, when can we expect a follow-up album to ‘Good Things’?

Don’t know if it’s ‘when’, more ‘if’. We haven’t got any plans at the moment. It’s very tempting to knock out ‘More Good Things’ just because the first one was so easy and everyone liked it so much. But that might be a bit lazy. We might do it, but doing new stuff together might be more rewarding. But it’s up to Graham to write the songs, and who knows if he has the time or the inclination these days. I think singles might be more likely if it’s going to be new stuff. And if we did record new material, we might do it under a different name just to be obtuse. The Forefathers are supposed to be our tribute band!

08. The band are playing Saturday night at the Margate Whitsun Weekender. Are you looking forward to it and what can the audience expect from the show?

We always look forward to playing, and the audience can expect…. The usual! A load of old songs played with energy and fire, with maybe some unexpected choices thrown in. we like to keep the set fresh by chucking in the odd song that no one expects to play. Sometimes we don’t expect it either.

09. Are there any other bands that have impressed you recently, and if so, which ones?

I don’t really see a lot of bands to be honest, so it would be forcing it a bit to write any down… I spend most of my time buying vinyl re-issues of records I’ve already got, like a lot of other middle-aged music fans.

10. And what about your own plans? Will we see more from The Galileo 7?

Yes, we’ll playing whenever we can and recording new stuff when I’ve written it. No definite plans but something will happen. I’m enjoying playing with the new line-up and I’m sure that will inspire me to come up with new material very soon.

Allan Crockford, thank you very much for this interview and best of luck with all your projects. Have a great time at Margate. See all the details here!

 


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Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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April 24, 2015 By : Category : Bands Beat Front Page Inspiration Interviews News Picks UK Tags:, , , ,
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Masters – James Taylor

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Masters2

James Taylor was born in 1964 and played organ in Medway legends the Prisoners, making four classic albums between 1982 and 1986. After the band spilt he formed the James Taylor Quartet, initially predominately playing Hammond-heavy versions of TV theme tunes and film soundtracks before developing his own brand of what would soon be known as acid jazz. Taking in jazz, funk, soul, hip-hop, rock and more the JTQ have enjoyed huge success in a near 30 year period which continues to the present day. Ahead of the JTQ’s appearance at the Margate Weekender, James Taylor talks to Mark Raison for NUTSMAG.

01. When did you start taking an interest in music?

As early as I can recall, I remember seeing the Beatles on Top of the Pops in 1968 playing ‘Hey Jude’. I was into all sorts of music from an early age; eclecticism was always my thing and still is now.

02. Where they any musicians in your family?

My uncle had his own band playing sixties soul and my mother and grandmother were piano players and they gave me my earliest musical education. I had my first piano lesson when I was four years old. I was very interested in trying to work out tunes that I had heard on the radio and TV, so no change there really. My brothers and I formed a band playing Stevie Wonder covers.

03. Around the time of recording the first Prisoners LP, Better In Black, you briefly went to university but soon quit. What route do you think your musical path would’ve taken if you’d not made that decision?

Hard to say, I left after a few days when I realised there was no way I could take the whole thing seriously. I wanted to play with the Prisoners. I was not interested in engineering and I was bored of education. It was a scary decision to say to my professor “I want to be a musician” and to turn my back on serious education but I felt gigging was the most exciting thing in my life, so there was not much of a choice really. I still feel the same way.

04. On the first two Prisoners albums, before your Hammond, you got a great sound out of a Casio keyboard.

Thank you. I found the Casio in a keyboard shop and noticed it had a setting called ‘electric organ’. I played along with my 7” vinyl of ‘Green Onions’ and I was able to get a sound not too dissimilar to Booker T. Jones so that’s how I whiled away the evenings. As a sixteen year old before joining a band, I was hooked on all things Hammond-ish.

05. After the Prisoners, how did the James Taylor Quartet take shape and what was your original ambition for the band?

I was pissed off when the Prisoners spilt up because I just wanted to gig, so I put my own band together and just carried on really. You know when things fall apart sometimes it forces you into a new position or way or operating that was unforeseen but that in some way brings you forward unexpectedly. It was fortuitous that Eddie Piller liked our sound and started putting out our records. I was very surprised that other people liked our stuff; I thought I was the only Hammond nut around, turned out there were others.

06. Wait A Minute was a highpoint of the original JTQ line-up and included ‘Theme From Starsky and Hutch’ which is still what many people best know you for. What are your recollections of recording that LP and of Pee Wee Ellis and Fred Wesley from the JB’s who played on it?

We were at a rather posh studio with a very expensive producer. We had a great laugh actually, didn’t want to come home. Pee Wee and Fred were really amazing. They complimented our sound and it felt odd to hear your heroes playing on your own record. I knew ‘Starsky’ would be popular but I didn’t think it would still be doing the rounds now, it’s aged well.

07. With Get Organized came changes to the quartet line-up. After working with the same musicians you’d known from Medway, how was it suddenly working with young jazz musicians known in their own right?

That was a period where I felt a lot of pressure from Polydor to be at the centre of this new emerging musical scene, but at the same time I really enjoyed working with all these great new players. I found a way to use the Hammond alongside all sorts; it was a kind of stretching experience. I felt that the early line-up had sort of extinguished itself and I had to decide how best to go forward. It was very liberating but when you separate from the people who share and understand your musical development closely it’s a shock to discover other people don’t see things quite the same, I had to be flexible. So it was a steep learning curve, it took a while until I found my feet again after the first band finished.

08. That period from the late 80s to early 90s encompassed rare groove, jazz, hip-hop and soul. It moved fast and the JTQ were right in amongst it; making albums at a rapid rate. How do you view those times?

We gigged and recorded flat out so it was tiring but very exciting. I could have taken more time out to examine things a bit I guess, but when you’re moving so fast you kind of don’t want to stop. The band was regularly selling out large venues all around the world. We were considered a very bankable act by the UK music scene and promoters, so we just lived on a bus basically, marriages fell apart, people got stressed out a bit, but it was a non-stop party for the first eight to ten years at least!

09. You had/have a strong reputation as a live act but was there pressure from record companies – when the acid jazz scene was at its height – to have bigger chart success?

Yes. Everyone in the business wanted us to be a vocal act, I was okay with this but instrumentals were always my passion, so it was good to make soul records as long as we could gig Hammond instrumentals as well. We had hits, a lot of commercial success was fun for a while but I soon felt the need to rebalance things and get back into our more core sound.

10. The Template celebrated 25 years of the JTQ in 2011. It’s a great album but you seem to operate more under-the-radar these days.

Thanks, but I wonder why you feel that to be the case? In the last three months we’ve played a week of sold out shows at Ronnie Scott’s, sold out the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Sage in Newcastle, headlined the Liverpool Jazz Festival. These are big gigs and we’ve been played on all the national BBC radio stations. As well as this we’ve recorded an album for TV/film and advertising, another live album for Ronnie’s, and I’ve written and am about to record a huge choral/Hammond piece for Cherry Red. I think you maybe feel we are under the radar because you’re not personally aware of these things. We are still one of the biggest jazz acts in the country and are permanently in demand worldwide, the problem is I’m running out of energy, I’m fifty now!

11. Your recent album, Closer To The Moon, contains elements of classical music. For many ‘classical music’ seems like something impenetrable and intimating, as well as outside their taste. What’s your interest in it?

Closer isn’t a classical record though, it’s just got some of those sounds on it. I’m interested in music which connects directly with me, this could be Stevie Wonder or J S Bach, I don’t really make a distinction. The Hammond works well in a variety of musical genres so I’ll make a record with Billy Childish or with a cathedral choir or Tina Turner, it’s all good. I recognise that classical music is a turn off to loads of people but what can I do? I’m just into it just like I’m into the Small Faces, so I’m excited to represent myself using aspects of the classical idiom. Have you heard those string arrangements of Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake?
Classical music.

12. What period of your career so far do you look back on most fondly and why?

I like things as they are now because I have complete freedom musically, so I guess now is the best period for me, it still feels very exciting to play the Hammond on stage, just as it did my first gig with the Prisoners. Being a musician is a privilege and it’s not a thing that I take for granted or shy away from.  I’ve enjoyed my career in music and I’m very grateful for your scene for being so supportive to us for so long. The mod scene got us started really and it’s always great to see mods in the crowd showing the others how to dance and dress. I’ve really enjoyed answering your questions, it’s given me a chance to reflect on many things and I’m very much looking forward to your festival down in Margate. I’ve never played there before so I can’t wait, also pleased to see that we share the bill with other great musicians: Graham, Allan and Simon [Graham Day and the Forefathers]. I reckon it’s going to be a memorable gig.

Find out more info about the Margate Weekender.


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Mark Raison

I've spent three-quarters of my life wandering the mod path with detours down its side streets and dark alleys. From an enthusiastic youth to a still-enthusiastic-but-harder-to-tell grizzled old goat, I've dabbled in all parts of the scene from writing fanzines 'Round Midnight and Something Has Hit Me; to promoting bands; attempting to manage bands; singing in the mighty garage combo The Electric Fayre; putting on indie, psych and soul clubs including Freak Scene, Orange Sunshine, and Shake!; writing liner notes for Reg King releases on Circle Records; and, in fitter times, tucking away the odd goal for the New Untouchables. I still DJ from my box of R&B humdingers but more often you’ll find me tapping away on my blog at monkeypicks.co.uk. I like the poetry of Charles Bukowski and dislike the taste of cheese.

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April 23, 2015 By : Category : Bands Front Page General Interviews ModJazz News Picks Tags:, , , , , , ,
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Masters – Graham Day

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Masters2

Graham Day, the Medway powerhouse singer, songwriter and guitarist, formed the Prisoners at school in the late 70s and made four albums, including the bona fide classic The Last Fourfathers in 1985, which continue to inspire and thrill today. After a cooling off period following the demise of the Prisoners he headed a succession of bands – the Prime Movers, Planet, the Solarflares, Graham Day & the Gaolers – all tough and uncompromising; his music – granite slabs of his own unmistakable brand of garage rock with tough melodies – eschewing the vagaries of fashion. After the second Graham Day & the Gaolers album, Triple Distilled in 2008, he hung up his guitar until last year when – with long-standing friends and bandmates Allan Crockford and Wolf Howard – he returned, to the delight of his legion of fans, to front Graham Day & the Forefathers, playing songs spanning the whole of his career to date.

What has the reaction been to Graham Day & the Forefathers? Is it what you expected?

It’s been fantastic and pretty unexpected I suppose. We never intended to make it a regular thing but the reaction has been so good we have decided to carry on for a while yet.

You made two great albums as Graham Day & the Gaolers and then disappeared. What happened? What were you doing the meantime?

For me the Gaolers were amazing. I’d sort of retired and had been playing bass with the Buff Medways. Billy [Childish] decided that had run its course and that was that, but my mate Dan from a band called the Woggles was over in England visiting some friends and we met up in London for a beer. He told me I should start a new band with him and the Woggles bass player. Sounded like a great idea so they flew back over a couple of months later and we made the first Gaolers album, Soundtrack To The Daily Grind. There were no real plans to tour as it was a bit of a logistical nightmare with them both being in the USA but it was so good we just had to. It sort of carried on from there. I thought our second album, Triple Distilled, was the best thing I’ve ever done and we did some great tours, but touring takes so much energy and time, and we could never do single gigs as it was too expensive to bring Dan over so we ended up not playing again. I’ve never said it was finished but it sort of fizzled out. What was I doing in the meantime? Retired again I suppose.

What made you get back out there playing again in 2013?

The Prime Movers did our first album, Sins Of The Fourfathers, on a German label, Unique Records. Last year was their 25th anniversary and they asked us to play a one-off show playing that album at their party near Dusseldorf. It sounded like a fun plan but too much effort to just play one gig, so we added three gigs and made it a mini-tour. It also wasn’t interesting or long enough just to play songs off that album so we added a few Solarflares and Prisoners songs to the set. It was so much fun and went down really well so we decided to carry on doing it. But by the end of the mini-tour we’d dropped most of the Prime Movers songs and were playing more Solarflares, Prisoners and a couple of Gaolers songs so it seemed ridiculous to call it the Prime Movers any more. So we came up with the Forefathers because of the Prisoners reference and stuck my name on the beginning just to tie up the fact we were playing songs I’d written in all the bands over the years.

The Prime Movers changed quite dramatically across three albums, most notably with Arc in 1993 which had a strong prog-rock feel. What are your thoughts on those albums?

I love the first album. It’s totally raw and full of energy. We recorded it as a three-piece but never gigged as a three-piece. Fay [Hallam/Day] used to join us on stage for half the set and then started writing songs and was soon with us full time. The band changed pretty quickly due to Fay’s influence. I have no idea what really happened to the sound, it turned into Deep Purple during the next two albums, and live I thought it was great, although pretty self-indulgent and very strange. I was quite happy to go along with it at the time because it was something different but looking back on it I don’t understand it at all. It sounds totally alien and often laughable, like a piss take. When people talk about the Prime Movers I’ve subconsciously deleted those last two albums – Earth Church and Arc – and think of it as nothing to do with me although I’m undoubtedly guilty as charged.

How do you feel about the esteem The Prisoners are held in?

It’s always puzzled me how much people go on about the Prisoners. At the time we did okay in London and France but elsewhere we were pretty unknown and played a lot of gigs to bar staff in mostly empty venues. I never thought of the band as being particularly special; everyone we knew was in a band and it seemed just the normal thing to do. I thought we were pretty good live but never managed to make a record which did us justice. It was the wrong time for our music; the popular thing was New Romantic and recording studio engineers tried to make us sound like the music of the time. We had constant frustrating battles trying to explain what we were about and never getting it. The press mostly hated us and said were out of date and just retro shit.

Have the Prisoners overshadowed your work since?

The adoration people have shown that band over the years astounds me. It’s very touching but has also been annoying at times. Most of the stuff I’ve done since has been fairly well received but totally overshadowed by the Prisoners. Every gig people shout for Prisoners songs and it made me feel like they just wanted a nostalgia trip and weren’t prepared to let me move on. Sometimes people get quite aggressive about it and think I owe them something. Promoters would ring up to offer a gig but they wanted a Prisoners reunion, not the current band. For a songwriter that can be quite damaging, as if my musical career ended at age 22 and has been worthless ever since. There’s no point carrying on unless you really think what you’re doing is the best stuff you’ve ever done and with a couple of exceptions I’ve always believed that. So it has been frustrating to think that no-one else agrees with you.

No chance of any more Prisoners reunions then?

There are still people who want the original Prisoners line-up to get back together, which will never happen again, and it still manages to piss me off. We did some reunion gigs in the 90s and although nostalgic it just wasn’t the same. People have to realise that Johnny [Symons] has never played the drums since so was never relaxed or particularly good when we played and James [Taylor] has made a career out of jazz funk and plays the organ totally differently than he used to; which might be brilliant but unfortunately doesn’t work too well with those songs. Promoters will pay ten times our normal fee to get something which simply doesn’t work, that doesn’t make any sense, and I find it quite insulting that they wouldn’t understand that. The best thing about the Forefathers is that finally I’ve been able to stop fighting against the Prisoners. This is not a new band playing new material; it’s just about embracing the past and enjoying it for what it is. For the first time I’ve been able to appreciate those old songs and have found it quite emotional. Of course we’re now giving the audience what they’ve always wanted so the gigs are no longer a battle and are just one big happy party.

Am I right in thinking you look back at the Solarflares period the most fondly?

I loved the Solarflares. I wrote some of my best songs during that period and also learnt how to sing properly. It started off being quite popular but support dwindled slowly until it wasn’t worth doing it any more. We did some great tours and I look back fondly because we had such a laugh and got on so well together. For the first time we made some records which sounded like the band and I learnt how to produce decent records. I wouldn’t say I look back most fondly at that period; at the time yes, but I’ve enjoyed most things I’ve done and as I said earlier I always believe the current stuff is the best. Following that logic I would have to say the Gaolers was the best period. The happiest period is right now I suppose but that doesn’t count as it’s just a tribute band of ourselves.

If the Solarflares had been your first band in the early 80s and the Prisoners later do you think they’d been judged differently?

Maybe it would be the exact reverse but I’m not sure. There was something really cool about the Prisoners, maybe because we were so young and because of the conflict between me and James which made it explosive at times. I think the Flares were more measured, happier and less cool as a result.

As well as fronting bands you’ve been in Thee Mighty Caesars and the Buff Medways. How was it taking a more back seat role to Billy Childish?

I started playing drums in the Mighty Caesars in 1986 while the Prisoners were still going and I loved it. I was getting pissed off with the Prisoners and loved the freedom to literally take a back seat and bash away on the drums in a cracking rock and roll band without the hassle of singing and feeling responsible for it. Some people got really angry that I did that. When we were gigging one night after the Prisoners split up someone from the audience grabbed me and shouted at me to stop playing this shit and get the Prisoners back together. I never played the drums before but loved it and still do. Same playing bass in the Buff Medways; I loved that for the same reasons. I’m not sure I would like playing guitar in someone else’s band, and definitely wouldn’t sing for anyone else, but on a different instrument it’s great fun.

In what ways are you similar and different to Billy?

Billy and I are very different. We used to live in the same house during the Prisoners days and we’ve always got on really well. He’s much more driven than me, always doing something; be it songs, painting or writing, I’m the opposite and only do something if I’m inclined to. He will record every song he’s ever written and I’m much more self-critical and will bin a lot of stuff before I even play it to anyone else. His life is in the public eye and is a living breathing ‘artiste’ and social commentator; I’m just a normal bloke with a proper job and nothing to say who happens to play in a band for a hobby.

What inspired you to learn to play guitar?

I started off playing bass, playing along to Stranglers and Rezillos songs in my bedroom. When me and Allan started a band in 1978 I found I was too fiddly on the bass and he was a good rhythm guitar player but couldn’t play lead, so we swapped. When I heard Syd Barrett playing guitar on The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn it blew my mind. I discovered how you could make a guitar sound so powerful without being ‘rock’ with loads of unnecessary notes, and it changed the way I viewed the instrument. Similarly with Steve Marriott’s guitar sound and playing, it made me question what a typical guitar player is expected to do.

And to write songs?

I found quite early on that I had some kind of ability to write songs. I suppose it starts off by being inspired by and developing or even copying other people. I’ve found over the years that if you try to do something completely original it’ll be total shit, which is why it’s never been done before. The Prisoners were quite plagiaristic, embarrassingly so at times. Sometimes I did that because I thought a song had a great chorus but rubbish verse or vice-versa and wanted to improve the song. “Midnight To Six Man” is a good example of what I mean. I always loved the song but hated the chorus so I wrote a different one and called it “Be On Your Way”. Generally songs have tended to come to me when I’m trying to sleep at night. I sort of dream about seeing us on stage playing the song and realise I haven’t written it yet. So I have to get up and whisper it into a tape recorder because I know it’ll be forgotten in the morning. If a song doesn’t come together in ten minutes I usually bin it. These days I find it funny to play some of those songs I wrote as an angst-ridden teenager, singing some of those angry misogynistic lyrics now aged 50.

Did you always see yourself as vocalist?

Vocally I struggled for a long time. I never thought of myself as a singer and all the people I loved I tried to emulate to disastrous effect. Phil May, Steve Marriott, all them great soul singers, I quickly realised I wasn’t ever going to be them and had to try to find my own voice. I think I found it sometime during the Solarflares period and I’m only really happy with it in recent years. Just listen to the vocals on Thewisermiserdemelza to hear one of the main reasons I hate that album.

You mentioned about some of the songs you wrote as a teenager. How old were you when you wrote your first album A Taste Of Pink? How do you feel listening back to them?

I think the earliest songs I wrote which made that album were “Say Your Prayers” and “Don’t Call My Name” and I was 16. I still like some of those songs; they have a beautiful naivety and simplicity which can never be recreated. I’ve always been very anal about music and  therefore consequently I’m very narrow-minded. I think that’s why on the whole I was still writing songs with 3 or 4 chords, a guitar riff and a simple melody, recording it in the most basic way possible right up until the last album.

Does song writing come easily now or does it involve a lot of concerted effort? What’s your usual writing method?

I still don’t understand how I write songs. As I said they just come to me. If I sit down with a guitar and say right, I’m going to write a song now, it’ll never happen. I’ve never been someone who always writes songs for fun and have only ever done it when I’m inspired to by having an album or a new band to energise me. I think I’m just essentially lazy. Having said that if we’re recording a new album I’ll probably write a batch of crap first, then the juices will flow and I can normally come up with the music really quickly. Lyrics are another matter completely and I hate writing them. I often used to gig a new song and make the words up as I go along and hope something sticks. The only real exception to that is the last Gaolers album. I had so much fun writing those lyrics as they’re all about touring and past experiences, and some of the best things I’ve written. I absolutely detest some of the shitty lyrics I’ve written in the past particularly about conservation or trying to say something meaningful.

Has the Forefathers got those juices flowing and given you the urge to write any new material?

Not yet. I do have some new stuff I wrote before which was for a possible new Gaolers album and I also started writing an instrumental album but with no real chance of the Gaolers playing again I gave up.

What made you choose “Love Me Lies” as the first single to be released by Graham Day and the Forefathers?

No real reason actually. We recorded the whole set of backing tracks live and when it came to choosing one for a single I just felt drawn to that song.

I assumed it was because you were unhappy with the original on Thewisermiserdemelza. I love that record but you’ve been very critical of it. Why?

Yes I hate Thewisermiserdemelza for lots of reasons. One is the real disappointment with the sound. We had Phil Chevron – rest his soul – as producer; it was the first time we’d had a producer and we had very different ideas about the album. Fair enough but it was our album so he should have listened to us. I’ve already said that at that time studio engineers would try to get you to sound modern and that’s the last thing we wanted. So from the outset we just fought against the engineer and producer. Some conflicts can result in a fiery, energetic battle which can get really good results. This one did the opposite. Secondly I hate the vocals. I just tried to put on some silly gruff voice which sounds completely false. Phil to his credit did try to get me to sing properly but I didn’t listen. It was my 20th birthday during the recording session and I was just pissed most of the time we were there. Lastly I just don’t like many of the songs on the album. I was clearly going through some kind of psychedelic ballad period and just don’t like it.

How has your taste in music changed/developed over the years? What do you listen to now that you wouldn’t have when you were starting out?

I don’t really listen to music that much as I know all my records inside out and I don’t like modern music. I’m cursed by the love of a certain type of recording sound and find it incredibly difficult to like anything if it doesn’t sound like that. I haven’t liked much music since the punk era; although the recording of punk music is really poor I guess I’ve forgiven it because that’s what I grew up with.

What three records have left the most lasting impression on you and why?

Piper At The Gates Of Dawn because Syd Barrett inspired my early guitar playing; The Pretty Things first album because it introduced me to blues, great singing and the ultimate sound of rock and roll; and the Kinks Kontroversy because it showed me how good songs can be.

If you had to pick three of your own albums to best represent your career which would they be and why?

The Last Fourfathers because it’s the best and most representative Prisoners album; That Was Then And So Is This by the Solarflares because we were at our peak then, touring and loving it; and Triple Distilled by the Gaolers because it’s the best album I’ve ever made.

Photos by: © Steve Worrall (www.retromanblog.com)


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Mark Raison

I've spent three-quarters of my life wandering the mod path with detours down its side streets and dark alleys. From an enthusiastic youth to a still-enthusiastic-but-harder-to-tell grizzled old goat, I've dabbled in all parts of the scene from writing fanzines 'Round Midnight and Something Has Hit Me; to promoting bands; attempting to manage bands; singing in the mighty garage combo The Electric Fayre; putting on indie, psych and soul clubs including Freak Scene, Orange Sunshine, and Shake!; writing liner notes for Reg King releases on Circle Records; and, in fitter times, tucking away the odd goal for the New Untouchables. I still DJ from my box of R&B humdingers but more often you’ll find me tapping away on my blog at monkeypicks.co.uk. I like the poetry of Charles Bukowski and dislike the taste of cheese.

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July 8, 2014 By : Category : Bands Front Page Interviews Music News Tags:, , , , , , , , , ,
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