Arnold

Arnold have reformed after nearly 10 years away. The London 4-piece are working on new material & unearthing previously unreleased work. We caught up with Mark Saxby of the band to talk about the old Creation days, what’s been happening since and their future plans.

It’s great to have Arnold back. How have you been?

Well I haven’t made a lot of money but I’m very happy and I love life.

It’s been nearly a decade since we last heard from you; what prompted the decision to get the band back together?

The drummer Dave Hill put together a film about us and when I saw it I thought the songs sounded great—-I hadn’t listened to them for a long time. Then a couple of promoters got in touch saying they wanted to work with the band—I hope they know what they’re letting themselves in for.  Bands can be right bastards.

If we can go back to the beginning, how did you first get into music?

My sister’s record collection. “Through the Past Darkly” which was a Rolling Stones compilation. I played it over and over. And “Fire and Water” by Free—-they had a guitarist called Paul Kossoff who would bend a note and make it wobble—“Ah” I said, “That’s what I want to do”. I started to go and watch Dr Feelgood with the original line-up. Wilko Johnson played a black Telecaster so I worked a whole summer in a warehouse and bought one. Six months later I did my first gig.

Were you fans of Creation before signing with the label?

We all liked Screamadelica. And our old singer Rob [from Patio] loved Teenage Fanclub—-he’d lie on his front with his head between two speakers blasting them out with a look of bliss on his handsome face. But I don’t think we were that aware of Creation until we signed to them. Only then did we get an idea that it was classy in the way Atlantic or Island Records were. I suppose looking back we knew next to nothing about the indie scene.

Did Creation influence Arnold’s sound?

Well they did, largely by giving us the freedom to make it sound like we wanted. Looking back it was a huge privilege to be given not inconsiderable sums of money and left to get on with it. No calls from A and R men telling you the vocals were too quiet or forcing you to go with a particular producer. One idiot on the Columbia Records side of things said The Barn Tapes were “Sonically unacceptable for the States” as if Americans had more sensitive ears—but Creation let us do what we wanted. In retrospect it might have been wise for someone to suggest we go and write a single.

How did you first become involved with the label?

Des Penny went to see Alan McGee with a tape of a band called South. As he left the underwhelmed meeting Des gave Alan an Arnold demo. Alan and Dick Green came to see us rehearse—I don’t think they were that impressed but Des squeezed £1000 out of them to make a decent demo. With the cash we rented a barn down in Kent, loaded up Boo’s van with the dog and recording gear and went down to the country to get shit-faced.

How were those sessions?

We were there for two glorious weeks in June. Barbies, booze, sun, various other bits and pieces, recording all night, Marshall cab in the shower-room, arguments, Payney trying to tame the local horses, occasional visits from friends and lovers. Lucky to survive it really. Our own personal Nellcote. Dropped the tape off at Creation. Heard nothing for a good few weeks, then over a couple of days loads of phonecalls from Alan McGee.

What were your expectations given that Creation was the biggest label in the country?

We’d been so broke for so long it was nice just to be able to to buy some groceries.  And it was great meeting lots of new people. From my own point of view I was happy to be able to play and write knowing someone was going to listen, knowing it would get released. I just wanted that to last.

1998 brought some mainstream success with the Hillside Album, including a tv appearance on The Big Breakfast at Reading Festival. What were the highlights for you?

The highlights had to be the American trips. We toured there a lot. Imagine six weeks on a big old chrome tourbus with two lounges, criss-crossing the USA and Canada – Newport festival, dancing with Joan Baez, the Staples family singing The Weight.  Those trips were everything you ever dreamed being in a band could be.

After Creation folded you moved to Poptones; how did it compare.

It wasn’t as much fun. There was no sense that this could all go huge. I made my self fairly ill producing and mixing Bahama – in fact that album was the best thing to come out of the Poptones experience. Again I enjoyed meeting new people like Ed Ball and working with Suzy Ember. But all in all fairly dispiriting.

Do you still keep in touch with Alan and Dick today?

I bumped into Alan McGee recently at his club in Brixton and had a nice chat. When we were on Creation he was on the wagon and I remember him saying he wished he could have gone down the pub and got to know us better. Mind you it might have killed us all! So I never knew him that well—just found him straightforward and with the good taste to give us two record deals. I sent Dick Green a demo some years back—-I think it might have been a bit rough looking back—and I never heard from him.

We last heard of Arnold with a self-titled 5 trackcd for Luckie Pierre in 2002. What happened to the band members after that?

Phil Morris has been concentrating on his charitable work. Phil Payne started having kids. Dave  couldn’t keep his fingers out of the corporate till and has been in and out of Ford Open Prison for various white-collar crimes. Rob Ariss runs an ironmongers in Dover.

I’m in Little Massive with Rob. We’ve made two albums and an EP. We’ve never gigged it but  recently formed a band called Bay of Pigs which plays live—-it’s the best band I’ve ever played in. I’ve also been playing guitar with X-Ray Spex and the legendary Polly Styrene.

Are there any plans to re-release the Creation albums. Maybe a Best Of?

Well I’ve been comping a cd of unreleased stuff—-there’s more than forty songs there and a lot of it sounds marvellous. So I think a new album is on the cards. Maybe we’ll do some acoustic gigs. But we’ll take it one step at a time—-bands are difficult things to keep together. This band split up eight year’s ago for lots of reasons and most of those reasons are probably still there—–but as long as it’s fun then I’ll give it a go. After all, this lot are some of my best friends.

The Jesus and Mary Chain
November 1st marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Psychocandy, the Jesus & Mary Chain’s debut album.

To celebrate Jim Reid has given an interview to the Von Pip Musical Express where he talks about the album comparing it to “an old photograph” and the backlash they recieved after their initial success. He also answers the inevitable question if the band will celebrate the anniversary by playing the album at some live dates… “I wouldn’t rule it out, but the truth of the matter is it’s a very hard record to play live.”

To read the full interview click here.

The band recently released a 2CD ‘best of’ which you can get for a mere £4.99 by clicking here.

Sean Jackson

After more than a decade away, Sean Jackson of 18 Wheeler returns with his debut solo album.

We caught up with him to talk about his time on the label, upsetting Kate Moss, gigging with Kim Fowley, life since the 90’s heyday and working with Joe Foster again on his excellent new album.

You can also hear a track from his new album.

Click here to read the interview.

Sean Jackson 18 Wheeler

After more than a decade away, Sean Jackson of 18 Wheeler returns with his debut solo album, we caught up with him to talk about his time on the label, life since the 90’s heyday and his excellent new album.

Below is a track from his new album ‘Slots’.

What was your first introduction to music?

I was 10 when John Lennon died, and suddenly Beatle music was everywhere. I couldn’t believe anything could be that good. I loved all of it, without reservation. I began to study their history, and that led me off in a thousand directions. A lot of people are pretty snotty about the Beatles these days, but they are still the best.

Did you always want to be in a band?

I got a guitar for my 11th birthday. From then on, there wasn’t anything else I wanted to do.

Coming from Glasgow were you a fan of Creation and how much influence did this have on your music?

I’m actually from the Highlands, but lived in Glasgow for a few years in my late teens/early 20s. I could tell that Creation was the place to be.

How did you come to be on the label?

Via the Laird o’ Rock (aka the legendary Dave Barker). Norman (Blake) heard our demo and advised sending it to Dave, who was then running PaperHouse. He told us he was moving to Creation to set up a subsidiary, called August, and that he wanted us to be on the label, which in due course we were. When August wound up, Alan moved us to Creation. (By the way, if you ever read this, Dave – get in touch!)

You were on Creation during a period many period have split opinions about. What were your highs and lows of being on the label?

I remember being in the old office pre-Primrose Hill (the one that used to be a brothel) a fair bit, though I was never at any of those parties that went on there, honest m’lud. When they moved to Primrose Hill, it clearly got a bit more “corporate”…but only a bit. I didn’t really care about all that nonsense. The best thing about being on Creation for me, aside from the laughs, was that it was all about getting stuff out. It used to amuse me when we were labelled “slackers” by some people. In 5 years, we did 4 albums, about 15 eps, and lots of touring in various places. There were many highs, but a few random memories – playing the Albert Hall as part of the UnDrugged night, being Kim Fowley’s backing band for one show (he told us, without hearing them, to ditch the tunes of his that we’d rehearsed, and just improvise – either loudly or quietly, at his signal, while he ranted), spending an evening with Alex Chilton in the pub, touring with Teenage Fanclub, Sebadoh, and many other great bands, experiencing a mild outbreak of Wheelermania in Japan… I could drone on…

Did you go to Knebworth?

Yes. My main memory of that was that everyone was given Oasis binoculars. There was a VIP bit of the backstage beer tent, where people such as Kate Moss were sitting behind a rope, on a little raised platform. So Al (bassist) went to the edge of the rope, and trained his Oasis binoculars on their very important platform…much to Kate Moss’s displeasure, and my amusement.

You played at the Labour Party Conference in 1996 and were introduced onstage by Tony Blair. How did feel performing at such an event?

We all do stupid things when we are young.

Which 18 Wheeler tracks bring back the best memories?

Probably The Ballad Of Paul Verlaine, which I thought turned out well, and which used to be the last thing we played every night when we toured Year Zero, and maybe one or two things off the 4th album, which was good fun to record. But I don’t know, I don’t listen to it.

Was it a shock when it all came to an end. How did you adjust?

We had almost finished the 4th album when we got dropped. I thought they would have been as well to release it, as it had already been paid for, but by that point Sony’s accountants were in no mood for more Wheeler. I knew that Creation wasn’t going to last much longer when Graham Gillespie was let go and they shut the warehouse down. Graham was like the ravens on the Tower Of London – when he went, that was clearly going to be it. It certainly was for us, at any rate! It wasn’t a shock. We’d never been that successful in Britain. I had (and continue to have) a lot of love for Alan and Dick for the way they stuck with us. Incidentally, our manager compiled a work tape for the 4th album, and a few months later gave it to Creation, after we’d been dropped, just for their interest. I heard that they’d been playing it in the office, and when I ran into our old A&R guy a bit later, he told me they thought it was “fucking brilliant”…which I thought was quite funny, in a way.

Any plans to release the ‘lost’ forth 18 Wheeler album?

I wouldn’t mind, but I certainly don’t have any plans to release it. There may be an 18 Wheeler compilation before too long, and if so there will be a few tracks from it on there.

I interviewed Alan Hake earlier last decade and he said you were in Russia at the time? How was that?

It was fantastic. I went to live there post-Wheeler, and had a very interesting time for a few years. The Golden Age still exists, if you want to go and find it.

Where are you living these days?

No fixed abode.

What are the other members upto currently?

Al is a full-time father, and also running a website dedicated to his love of vinyl singles – 45cat. Google it, it’s great! Neil has disappeared.

You played some solo gigs 2 years ago, how were those shows?

They were very low-key, but I enjoyed them a lot. I hadn’t played in 10 years, so they were really to see if it was enjoyable – actually, in terms of playing, they were more enjoyable than most of the Wheeler gigs. I’m hoping to get that band together again soon.

Have you done anything else musically between 18 Wheeler and those shows?

I’ve done some recording in London, and I write on and off all the time. Everything is so much slower these days.

You are about to release your debut solo album, how did that come about?

Originally it was going to be on Must Destroy (Al’s label). I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do another record, even though I’d been writing and had tons of new songs. But Al said he’d release it, and Iestyn Polson offered to produce it for free at his home studio, and also using down time at the Church, which he has a hand in. I thought under those circumstances it would be churlish to say no. However, we did it on and (mainly) off and by the time it was done, Must Destroy was no more. So I asked Joe Foster if he’d like to release it, and he said yes. And here we are.

Whom would you say influenced you on this album?

I wasn’t specifically influenced by anything, though there is maybe a slight folk influence on one or two things. I’m always influenced in a general sense by “classic” song structure – I enjoy writing within those confines. Stuff I’m listening to at the moment includes Bill Monroe, Earth, Loose Fur, Beatles, Mighty Baby, Howlin Wolf, Khanate, though there’s not much of that on my album.

You are currently working with Joe Foster again releasing the album on his Poppydisc label, how does it compare to Creation?

It’s very hands-off, which is fine by me. Joe is still a great character.He is old school, in the best sense. I’m glad to have had the chance to get re-acquainted with him.

Will there be some more shows?

I hope so. There is talk of one or two things, but I don’t really want to say what in case it doesn’t happen.

Do you have any more plans for solo material (or with a band)?

The next album is written, and there are a few demos on my My Space page. I plan for it to be a double album (in old money) – 80 minutes long, and full of 2 and a half minute songs building to the final track, which will be a 15 minute sludge-drone opus called Vow To The Sun (also currently up on MySpace). So there!

Finally, do you have a message for the kids today…???

Brush ‘em if you got ‘em.

Interview: April 2010

You can order the Sean Jackson’s album ‘Slots’ from amazon by clicking here.

Interviews with The Jasmine Minks

The Jasmine Minks signed to Creation in 1984 and have remained with McGee until releasing ‘Popartglory’ on Poptones in 2001.

Here Jim Shepherd from the band talks to us about what it was like in those early days, receiving letters from the Manics, McGee discovering the Mary Chain and what life is like on Poptones.

Tell us about the first time you met Alan and how you came to sign to Creation.

We had done a demo of a few songs in a small studio in Brixton, South London and sent the tape off to the Melody Maker. Ian Pye gave us a fairly nice write up and the next thing I know is that I get a phone call from a guy called Alan Mcgee. He was direct with me and said that he had heard of us through Ian Pye, he was starting a new record label and looking for groups. ‘Do you like the Velvet underground?’ he said and, of course, I said yes and the bond was made.

Alan came along to watch us rehearse – It was quite nerve-wracking having someone watch us. We played really fast and ran through all our songs without a break. The last song was ‘Think’ and Alan nodded vigorously after hearing it. We went for a drink afterwards and I remember Alan drinking half pints of beer (he soon changed that habit) which we thought was a bit unusual (we were heavy drinkers at the time and spent our weekends speeding on amphetamines with beer to keep us straight). He thought that some of our songs were good and that my guitar playing stuck out (Alan was later to try and do a deal with Cherry Red for me to do a solo guitar album in a Tom Verlaine style) but they were too long and needed trimming.

‘Think’ was about 5 minutes long and fast as fuck. We chatted about how to improve the songs. It was useful to have someone come along and give us some clear advice who was on the same wavelength as us. ‘Think’ and ‘Ghost of a Young Man’ were the only songs to survive from that time. We talked about Velvet Underground, Love and little on current music. Adam made a big impression with Alan. (Adam was always quick to make friends with his quick wit and banter), while I was more quiet and made my voice the loudest when it came to knocking the music into shape. Alan was beginning to put on some concerts at his new venue in central London, called the Living Room.

We played our first ever gig there along with Primal Scream (then consisting of Jim Beattie and Bobby Gillespie and a drum machine) and continued to play there regularly with groups such as The TV Personalities and Del Amitri (not one person turned up to see them). Our first recording session produced ‘Think’. We were excited to have Dave Musker and Joe Foster from the TV Personalities to play organ and produce respectively and even more excited to borrow the same organ that Orange Juice used on ‘Blueboy’.

Alan never bothered with a contract for us – there was no way that we were going to double cross him – he was our manager so there was a huge amount of trust there. When the major labels started sniffing around and we did demo’s for them, the idea was to get money for Creation as well as to get The Jasmine Minks moved up a gear. We began to build up a following whenever we played and our confidence grew and grew. We felt we had the ability to be the best guitar pop group in the universe and word was getting round about us too, both in the major press and the indie press. But neither were really getting a grip of a our changing moods and attitudes.

How did your band cope financially and did you worry the label was going to survive the early days?

We were the only band likely to do anything for about a year on Creation. People like Morrisey and Simon Napier-Bell came to see us as well as the Go-Betweens. The first few bands were pals of Alan’s or groups which were likely to get a different audience like the Loft who were much more laid back and middle of the road and groups passing through the label like the Pastels. We were the hope of many people who latched on early to the group and record label.

It was a disappointment when our first few records did not go straight into the charts I must admit. We were very naive and thought that the world would come to us. I didn’t know much about the finances of the label – All I knew was that things were run on a very tight budget and we always took that into account when we recorded, choosing cheap studios for very short sessions and mixing was usually done at the same sessions. We even recorded our first full album ‘The Jasmine Minks’ at a friend’s house (he’s currently in Pablo on Poptones) on his 8 track machine and borrowed the mastering equipment from other friends in The Shamen. We always got our royalties on time with a breakdown of where the money was spent etc. which, from stories I have heard, was not happening in some other independent labels, where groups were being ripped off and not making any money at all. I never doubted that Alan would make the label huge – It was just a matter of time. There were times when our organisation cost us dearly, like when EMI America wrote to me and asked for us to get in touch. I didn’t of course!

You were on Creation prior to the Mary Chain, did everyone at the label think they were going to make as much impact as they did?

I think they did, yes. We were with them when they came down to do their first gigs. We were hardened giggers by then, having been playing for a year. There was a mixture of laughter and amazement when they played. They had this magic. They were so bad they were good, if you know what I mean? Wherever we played with them, they were getting people riled up whether for or against them.

You lent your equipment to the Mary Chain when they recorded ‘Upside Down’. Where you worried what state it would be in afterwards?

No way! We often lent our equipment to groups and most of them much more aggressive than JAMC and we never had things broken. They were quiet guys who liked to make a noise on stage only. We introduced a load of groups to a great rehearsal/recording studio called Alaska studios. We were regulars there and we borrowed other people’s stuff too. Glen Matlock once came in and asked to borrow our stuff – we were gobsmacked and started playing Pretty Vacant as soon as he left the room.

The most scary time for lending our equipment was when we played the infamous North London Polytechnic gig with the Jesus and Mary Chain. The first group on, Meat Whiplash were beaten up on stage. We went on next and nobody messed with us – I looked pretty hard in my long coat and skinhead and Adam had a hammer in his pocket, sticking out for all to see. A full scale riot developed when the JAMC went on though and we had to duck flying pieces of broken up PA system to rescue our gear. We played a European tour with JAMC and Biff Bang Pow with each group headlining alternately.

I thought that the JAMC would have to change their style to stay interesting as they only seemed to have one Beach Boys/ Ramones style of writing. But they persevered and won over thousands of fans throughout the world and kept that going for a long time too. That was something I could not do, although I admire it in groups like The Ramones. The Jasmine Minks would write a load of new songs, play a new set, without any old songs at all, record them, get fed up of them and start the process all over again. It meant that we could never really get a recognisable sound. I feel much the same today, to be honest, although I am more willing to play a few old songs.

Did their (Mary Chain’s) success change the atmosphere at the label?

It did give Creation groups a lot more credibility in the national press and groups began to start to produce more professional sounding recordings with varying degrees of success. From then on the press were always around and the label was getting more and more interest from around the world. It hurt that Alan stopped managing us to concentrate on JAMC, but it was understandable. I have a unique, but unsettling way of coping with people leaving the group. I get really positive and look upon it as a force for change and I revel in it and the options now available. I can be a bit of a loner at times and this is probably reflected in the music press’s willingness to ignore us in the past and with the recent biographies of Creation just published to underestimate our part in the beginning of the label and the hopes that we had then.

It even seems to be ignored (or twisted around) that the Manic Street Preachers got their1,2,3,4,5,6,7 All Good Preachers Go To Heaven name from our LP ‘1234567 All Good Preachers Go To Heaven’. Richie from the Manics wrote to me and told us how much he liked the LP and that it was what inspired their name. Anyway, we got our heads down and produced an album specially for the European market and licensed to a label called Interscope. It was a kind of ‘best of … so far’.

Later on Creation also licensed ‘Another Age’ to RCA in Japan and it sold out there almost immediately. Alan was brilliant at nicking things and he got the demo’s that we did for London Records and we used them on Creation without them even knowing about it. The recordings of ‘Sunset’ and ‘Ghost of a Young Man’ were both actually recorded for London Records in the heart of Tin Pan Alley in London. We felt like rascals in the best of the London traditions, The Who, The Creation and Small Faces…

There have been many Creation ‘eras’ as such, which has been your favourite musically?

My favourite times were probably around 1985-1987 when The Jasmine Minks could produce blistering sets which varied in our changing line-up. Primal Scream were doing some amazing gigs, Biff Bang Pow produced some classic singles like ‘There Must be a Better Life’, Felt came to the label (I used to adore them) and The Legend would do some weird shit that noone would ever dare attempt, like singing a Vandellas song with 3 saxophonists and getting away with it! But the 90’s were great too with the Primals when they sounded like the Rolling Stones and then mixed in the dance stuff too, the first two Oasis albums as well as all the Super Furry Animals stuff and the pure punk rock attitude that led to putting out Kevin Rowland’s ‘My Beauty’. It’s difficult because my real period in music as a fan was 1977 to 1980 when I rushed to the local record shop and bought singles every Saturday. Stuff like the Sex Pistols, Swell Maps, Ramones, Joy Division, Buzzcocks, The Jam, Penetration, The Slits, The Pop Group – ah the list goes on…

Who were your favourite Creation artists?

Primal Scream were the best group in the world back then (and seem to be again now) and in the mid eighties they were doing these mad 20 minute sets with loads of perfect 2 minute songs and a huge group of guitarists and a, totally extravagant, tambourine player. I am a fan of Felt, Oasis, SFA too.

Do you think the huge success of Oasis was to blame for the end of Creation or do you have any other theories?

Oasis helped Creation to go up and up and become a world label, so they were magic for Creation. I think Alan made a sad but understandable decision to get back to a small label ethic without multi-nationals breathing down his neck.

Are you pleased Creation has ended or would you have liked it to continue?

As I said I was sad. But at the same time it is very exciting to now be a part of a label based on the quality of the artefacts and not on whether they may sell millions or not. I think Creation did so much that Poptones is a perfect antidote to the hugeness, and impersonality of what Creation became, regardless of the obvious high quality of Creation’s artists.

How did your relationship with Creation end?

I never felt that it did. To me it was always about Alan’s vision and I never felt that that left me. I have never recorded for any other label although I did produce a group called the Hellfire Sermons once. I have an extreme relationship with music and I either want to be involved in it 100% or not at all. I am not into being a ‘career’ musician if my heart is not in it. I lost interest in guitar music in the early 90’s and began tinkering with electronic music. When Creation was folding I was just beginning to get back into doing guitar/song based music again (Ed Ball gave me great encouragement when I bumped into him in London – I was saying I was too old and he was saying, ‘no you’re not – just do it!’ – thanks Ed) and there was even talk at one time of a Jasmine Minks record being the last ever one on Creation. I’m glad in the end that it was ‘Accelerator’ though!

How did you become involved with Poptones?

Wattie and me basically wrote an album’s worth of quite spontaneous songs over the internet and by emails in the space of a few weeks last year and Wattie (fucking genius that he is) approached Alan with the songs and he and Joe Foster went for them straight away.

Joe in particular thought that there was a chapter in the Jasmine Minks story still to be played out and did a lot of work to get us involved. We wanted a single out with attitude and that’s how we came to get the maverick politician, Tommy Sheridan (jailed for continually trying to prevent warrant sales of people’s personal belongings who refused to pay the Poll Tax and now a member of the new Scottish Parliament), involved. Since then we have been headlines in the tabloids as they try to defuse any ideas of people thinking for themselves or ignoring the established politicians by belittling our efforts or by tryng to spread their disgust at us. It reminds me of what the Sex Pistols must have had to put up with.

How does life with Poptones now compare to Creation?

It seems like the early Creation attitude of fuck ‘em all and let ‘em rot if they don’t like us but with all the experience of the later days Creation. There is a much more international feel to it as well with acts such as Lee Perry involved and the accessibility that the worldwide web offers.

Tell us about the Jasmine Minks plans for the future?

We live for NOW. The Jasmine Minks may be around for a while, we may not. We will put out some records this year (an LP ‘Popartglory’ is due out in summer) and our heart and souls will be in them. But we could just as easily turn around and say that the next record will be in 2005! This is not a money making venture for us – our records stand up for themselves. So be on our side while you get the chance and keep your ears and eyes open…

Interview: August 2001

Interview with Alan McGee

If you don’t know who Alan McGee is then perhaps you’re at the wrong website. When we spoke to him in 2002 he no longer did interviews and had recently launched his Poptones label, the following year he started managing The Libertines.

Why did you decide to set up Creation?

I didn’t want a real job. I never thought I’d get wealthy from it I just wanted to put our records. Creation’s not completely dead though, I still own the Creation Studios, I still manage 5 or 6 artists on Creation Management and then there’s Creation Songs, the publishing company, plus of course there’s Poptones.

With Creation I feel we should have stopped in the mid 90’s. We still put out some great records after this period which I stand by such as ‘Man Don’t Give a Fuck’ by Super Furry Animals, Trashmonk, Arnold, the last two albums by Primal Scream and Teenage Fanclub alongside the Kevin Rowland album which despite the sleeve is a really beautiful album. I still stand by that.

Do you think the hunger went after the massive success, almost as if you’d achieved everything you wanted?

Basically, I needed to go back and start all over gain, which is what I’ve done with Poptones. I’ve started a new publishing company called Heartland. But people knock Poptones for not being successful but we had a Platinum album last year with The Hives and Cosmic Rough Riders went Silver. It took Creation six years to get that far so I’m really pleased with it.

What’s happening with The Cosmic’s at the moment?

They’re making another record without their old singer. I just love bands like The Beach Boys and The Byrds and these guys make records just like they did, so I love it. They come from an estate in Glasgow that I wouldn’t even walk through and it’s great that they can then go from that to Top of The Pops, that’s what I love about doing this.

Did you expect The Hives to take off so quickly?

Well, it just happened, everyone just picked up on them so quickly. They’re so into it though it’s fantastic.

Is there a new Hives album planned?

We’ll have to wait and see. What’s gets me is that people say my career is a fluke yet I’ve discovered about 8 or 9 really successful bands now, yet people say I’ve fluked it. How do you get to sign that many bands which are that successful and just fluke it? Not many people can do that.

If all I wanted was to be successful I could be but I have to believe in the artists. I get offered loads of management deals and regularly turn them down. (We mention the success of the shit Pop Idol acts) I’ve just been offered a singer, who shall remain nameless and I could easily make £200,000 a year from her, but if my hearts not in it I can’t do it.

We do things coz we love music, not many people put 25 to 30 albums out a year and I always feel i’m misrepresented and that’s why I don’t do interviews anymore.

The reason I feel I’m misrepresented is because the English middle classes don’t like someone who’s Scottish and working class havin’ it. I’ve got a lot of bad press for making a few million and the record press don’t like that.

There was talk of you signing Liam (ex-Flowered Up) Maher’s new band Greedy Soul. What happened with that?

We couldn’t agree a deal so we had to let him go. He’s free to do his own thing.

What else is happening with Poptones at the moment?

We’ve just released the new Bellrays single this week and there will be a new Montgolfier Brothers album soon. I don’t really see a lot of difference between Creation and Poptones, although I think the sleeves and the look of the label is much better.

But what’s still true is that for every Hives there’s a Selofane 74, much the same as Creation. But still everyone thinks it’s a flop.

Well I think you’re just trapped under the shadow of Oasis and not that many people understand music enough so they just expect you to pull another Oasis out of the bag.

But then no one else in the last 25 years has found anyone that successful so I certainly won’t find another.

Did you go to the recent Finsbury Park gigs?

No, Andy (Bell) invited me along but I was too busy. It’s great there’s a huge Oasis revival on at the moment.

What do you think of Heathen Chemistry?

I love ‘Stop crying Your Heart Out’. I was with my wife in the car listening to Radio One, which is just shit, and this song came on and I hadn’t heard it before. I didn’t know what it was but I thought it was amazing, then when Liam started singing I thought it was brilliant, I really love it. The rest of the album is good, but that’s fucking amazing.

Especially following ‘Heathen Chemistry’, one concern for all record labels at the moment is the amount of music being downloaded from the internet, does this concern you?

As a publisher it really fucking concerns me yes (Oasis are published by Creation Songs).

I recently tried to buy the old Creation URL and Sony weren’t interested at all. Why do you think that is?

Well I reckon they’re hoping one day we’ll start it up again, and I wouldn’t say no. Maybe when my daughter is 10 and I’ll start the label again, but for now I’m happy concentrating on Poptones. Poptones has got about six really great acts on it that I’m totally committed to. My favourites are definitely The Hives, Cosmic Rough Riders, Ken Stringfellow, Arnold, the Bellrays and Beach Buggy. Despite putting out great records we still get slated so I don’t do interviews.

One posting I get on the site regularly is about Andy Bell being in Oasis. Do you think he’s maybe wasting his talent?

Well, Andy always wanted to be a rock ‘n’ roll star and now he is. The thing with Andy is he’s a great songwriter and guitarist but he’s not consistent. But that’s maybe my fault by making him put too many records out. But Andy’s like family, he’s like my little brother and I’ll always let him do what he wants, if he wants to put a record out, I’ll release it.

Did you see Ride recent reunion on Channel4?

I didn’t, but Andy told me about it apparently they got shafted didn’t they?

Oh yeh, it was supposed to be him and Mark presenting a show and performing on it, however, they got about two minutes.

Ride, along with Super Furry Animals put out some great records but there were four really great bands on Creation, My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream, Oasis and Teenage Fanclub.

I stated to Andy recently that Oasis should definitely do a version of ‘Step Into My World’ as it was an excellent song that would fit Liam’s vocals.

Oh yeh, it was an amazing song that wouldn’t be out of place in their set. The problem is that it was released as a Hurricane#1 song so they won’t touch it. It’s got a great bass line, fantastic guitars and Alex’s vocals were excellent.

The great thing about Ride and Andy is that they were passionate about their art and wouldn’t compromise on that. There are still some great bands around today that still feel that way. D4 are only 23 and they are just the same, they just care about the music and couldn’t give a shit about chart positions just like The Hives really. They couldn’t care about getting into the charts.

Another band was 3 Colours Red they were great at first. I wasn’t so struck on later stuff like ‘Beautiful Day’. But stuff like ‘Pure’ was amazing’.

They’ve just reformed, would you consider signing them?

Probarly not, I’d like to manage them, but they’ve got a manager already.

Are you going to the Sex Pistols gig this month? Last time you saw them you put an advert in NME.

I will go. I can’t believe some people have called it an embarrassment. I basically took out the advert coz I was gonna write into the NME but the journalists were pissing me off and I know how they change things so I took out the advert coz then they couldn’t change it. I just thought to myself “wot the fuck!”

You’ve recently been running the Death Disco club nights in London, how’s that?

Well I’ve stopped doing that coz I hadn’t been drinking for 6 or 7 years and going to see a band is ok coz I’ll only have a couple, but when I DJ I just guzzle it and thought it was best to stop before I had a drinking problem again. I’ve got two year old so I need to be careful. The thing with me is I believe for anyone to achieve anything they have to be an obsessive and that’s what I am, so if I get into drink again I won’t stop, so I had to. I recently DJ’ed for The Bellrays though and that was good.

You’ve mentioned the NME do you still buy it?

Yeh, I think James Oldham still loves music. But the kids today they all buy Kerrang. NME doesn’t sell too well these days. As we’ve talked about downloading music, kids these days want something for free and they don’t really see that they should have to pay for anything, hence they get their stuff off the internet.

Well, everything you want from the NME you can get off their website anyway, I only use to buy it for the news and now I can get that online so you’re right. Don’t you think NME was much better circa ’88 to ’92?

Well that was the Golden Era for Creation, so yeh. 1991 was the year. We put out Screamadelica, Bandwagonesque and Loveless that year, three fucking amazing albums. Getting back on the Internet side of things, the comments I made in 98 about the Internet destroying record labels is even more true than I ever considered and its come home to roost. I never considered the impact those comments would have.

Do you still long for the old days of folding sleeves yourself?

In many ways that’s what Poptones is. It’s taken it all back to basics.

What about the Sony Compilation a couple of years ago. Did you enjoy that?

I didn’t wanna do that. Dick Green is currently putting together a box set, but I think it’s still too early, especially as I signed the bands. It’s kind of mad but Dick is my friend and I’ll let him do it. We’re also putting out a Boo Radleys compilation.

Really?

That was a joke.

But surely you like ‘Giant Steps?’

Yeh, but it pisses me off how they went from that to ‘Wake Up Boo!’ They saw Oasis have some success and started making records like Sleeper.

We’ve discussed how Oasis put a shadow over everything you’ve done since, one band I think would have been successful if they’d released records before Oasis is Heavy Stereo. How do you feel about them in hindsight?

They put out a great first single, which didn’t do too well in the charts and they couldn’t really focus on the album.

But don’t you think the press attacked them coz the first single didn’t enter the charts at number one, which is what everyone expected after Oasis?

True, but I let them down in many ways. It was just after my breakdown and I couldn’t really help them. But Gem’s a great bloke and I’ve loads of respect for him.

What do you think of Primal Scream these days, do you like the new album?

I like the more song based stuff, but I’m not too struck on the electronic stuff. I’ve only heard seven tracks which I downloaded from Audiogalaxy.

Do you keep in touch with Bobby?

He’s my best friend and I speak to him every day. He’s got the best headspace he’s had in a long time, He’s got a great girlfriend and a little kid now. But the thing with the Primal’s is that they toured too much in the past and when they’re on tour they take drugs you know. But they’re all pretty sorted now.

I’ve known Throb 20 years and for 5 years I didn’t hear from him but now he’s back in touch again, they’re really sorted. But my two favourite bands on the label were definitely Oasis and Primal Scream, there’s not much between them.

All I wanna say really is that I’m 41 now and I’ve been doing music since I was 17, and I’ll be doing it until I’m 65. That’s what annoys me about the bad press Poptones has received, in the UK last year only 28 albums have gone platinum and The Hives was one of those albums.

Finally, have you got a message for the kids today?

Start a record label it’s an amazing experience and you get to meet a lot of cunts.

Interview: July 2002

Interview with Pete Astor

Peter Astor was on Creation Records as a member of The Loft and The Weather Prophets before going solo. Ten years after leaving Creation we decided it was time to speak to him and ask about the old days and also his current projects, The Wisdom of Harry and Ellis Island Sound.

You were a writer for the NME before joining Creation. Did you enjoy your time at the paper?

Yeah, it was okay..I was only a stringer..so you kind of went in one a week & asked if they had anything for you…it was in Carnaby Street then so I’d go down and see the rather unpleasant arse end of 80’s mod & skins & try not to catch their eye as I ducked into the office.

How did you meet the other guys in The Loft?

They came to see me in a band of mine thinking my band was somebody else…I think Bill and Andy thought they were going to see Andy’s mate Razzle (later of Hanoi Rocks I think)…anyway, they got me instead & asked me to be in their group…we then spent about a year meeting up each week & The Loft evolved from there..

Were the band going long before you signed to Creation?

About a year and a half I think..but of course I’d been thinking about being in a band & putting out records an rehearsing the whole thing in my head for years!

Tell us about the first time you met Alan and the Creation gang.

Me and Bill went to see The Nightingales at his club the Living Room in a pub called the Conway Arms near the Post Office Tower & we got talking to Alan.

What music were you listening to around this time?

God…lots of different things..um jazz stuff, Thelonious Monk., still a favourite.. Curtis Mayfield… James Brown, The Pop Group, The Fall, The Nightingales.

The Loft’s most famous gig was unfortunately your last, do you have any particular memories or feelings towards that night at The Hammersmith Palais?

It was a weird time..things had got very bad with the band communication-wise. I certainly wasn’t getting on with Andy at all & I guess being a bunch of boys we never really managed to get anything out in the open…except in so far as I left the stage towards the end of the gig after delivering a rather nasty Patti Smith syle monologue about what I felt about what was going on during ‘Up The Hill & Down The Slope’…which I guess was kind of apt I guess but also not very kind

Have you ever spoken to Andy Strickland since?

I met him in the off licence once & I also saw him on tv a while back talking about the All Saints split where he spoke (rather knowledgedly I felt) about how the band had split into two warring factions…

Do you ever visit Andy’s website (dotmusic.com)?

No I haven’t but I guess I should have a look.

You were obviously present for the Mary Chain’s first London gig. What were your first impressions?

Being probably far too knowing and prematurely grown up I remember not quite seeing what McGee & Foster were so excited about, but that became clear once I heard more stuff & saw them some more

You went across with Alan to Warner’s for a while with The Weather Prophets, did you enjoy that experience?

It was nice filling our bags with Led Zepplin lps..& the money was excellent..but it was the same big investment/quick return scenario that you tend to get with big money, but we got out pretty quick.

Do you think Warners were a bit harsh with him and the whole Elevation project?

I think that’s how they do buisneess & It’s a bit naive and just plain dumb to take their dollar & then to start whining about it all.

My personal favourite song of yours was actually ‘Hollow Heart’ (which no one ever mentions), what songs would you recommend to someone who’s new to your material?

I’m very proud of lots of it but particularly ‘Joe Schmo & The Eskimo’… there’s actually a japanese compilation called ‘Providence’ which gathers all the good stuff up which works really well, although I say so myself.

How did the Weather Prophets come to an end?

We kind of petered out really…we’d been trying to do stuff with sequencers & stuff…we loved New Order at the time… but we couldn’t manage it so that combined with the fallout of the Warners thing where if you’re not a big as Johnny Hates Jazz you’re percieved as a failure.

You then went on to make a few solo records, how did you find this?

I thought ‘Zoo’ was a really good record. but generally I think I was being a bit grown up & self important in my aproach to music…

You left Creation in the early 90’s, are you surprised at how much Creation and the indie scene in general changed throughout the 90’s?

Uh..I liked the bit I saw on tv recently when Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine jumped on Phillip Schofield…!!

Did you like many of the later generation of Creation artists?

Yes… My Bloody Valentine..’Giant Steps’ by The Boo Radleys, Oasis at the beginning were brilliant.

How did you spend your time between Creation and forming Wisdom of Harry?

Learning about stuff, kicking my heels.

Tell us about the Wisdom of Harry, how would you describe your sound?

It started more electronic cos that’s very much what I was into & had great faith in then…now The Wisdom Of Harry is more based on singing and words…but still with noises & stuff…its really hard to describe – I’ll leave that to others I think…we’re currently using a line up of vocals, guitar & drums and soundloops when we play live… but when I say soundloops I don’t mean we play to loops.. i don’t like doing that… it means the loops kind of hover over what we do… if that makes any sense… I am currently working on a new Wisdom Of Harry album

Is it a full band or do you use various musicians?

The Wisdom Of Harry is basically me & various guests…like David Sheppard – who I do Ellis Island Sound with – and Chris Summers who plays drums when we play live now & also used to do some the electronics before we used live drums…

Any planned releases/gigs in the future?

The next releases from me are going to be together with David Sheppard as Ellis Island Sound … we’ve just signed to Heavenly & will be releasing a compilation of some of our various releases so far together with some of our favourite remixes we’ve done of Regular Fries, Manic Street Preachers and others… this is due out feburary next year to be followed by our first album proper.

What do you think of todays music scene and what reords are you listening to these days?

Always so much brilliant music amongst the shit…my latest listening is actually lots of old stuff at the moment…here’s a list…
cluster Ð zukerzeit
Missisippi John Hurt – 1928 Sessions
Blind Willie Johnson – Praise God I’m Satisfied
Gil Evans – Out Of The Cool
Led Zepplin – Led Zepplin
Bob Dylan -world Gone Wrong
Oliver Nelson – The Blues And The Abstract Truth
Blind Lemon Jefferson – Best Of
1950’s Gospel Classics: Prof Johnson, Henry Green, Rev. A. Johnson, Deacon Leroy Shinault And Rev. Robert Ballinger
The Music Of Kentucky Vol 1 – Early American Rural Classics 1927-37
Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um
Michael Nesmith – And The Hits Just Keep On Comin’
Grateful Dead – Europe 72
The Chronological Thelonius Monk – 1947-1948
Sun Ra – Fate In Pleasant Mood/ When Sun Comes Out
Shirley Collins & Davy Graham – Folk Roots, New Routes

-Finally, do you have a message for the kids today?

eh?

<img class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-616″ title=”Interview with Pete Astor” src=”http://www.creation-records.com/site/wp-content/uploads/interviews-pete-astor.jpg” alt=”Interview with Pete Astor” width=”725″ height=”125″ />
Interview with Dave Newton, Manager of Ride

We caught up with Dave Newton, Ride’s manager. In this interview we asked him about the old days, putting the box set together and his involvement with the Oxford label Sifty Disco.

You were obviously a huge music fan before Ride, did you have any other involvement within the industry except working in the Oxford Our Price?

I set up a local music paper at about the same time as I started working in Our Price Jjuly ’86). in fact Steve designed the masthead for the paper which was called Local Support. I ran the monthly paper for about 3 years and I also ran a weekly Friday night live music club as a spin-off from the paper – cunningly monkered Local Support Live.

Tell us about the first time you heard/saw Ride live?

On the third of these club nights I had a band from Bradford booked to support local thrash metal favourites, Satan Knew My Father. the Bradford band cancelled at the last minute and I asked Steve whether his new band would fill the vacant slot at short notice. I had already heard some stuff that Andy and Steve had recorded on Steve’s 4-track including the instrumental demo of Chelsea Girl that has been included on the Firing Blanks CD as part of the box set. This they’d recorded back in the Summer of ’88 at Steve’s house – at the time they were both in a reggae band called Big Spiderback who played regularly locally. This band actually featured David Cowles-Hamar on vocals (an old friend of Steve’s from school) who is now the lead singer for The Bigger The God (Oxford’s a small place!).

Could you see their potential initially or did this grow over time?

I thought initially that they were a great local version of all the music I loved. I can’t honestly say that I thought that they would take me to places I’d never dreamt of over the coming 5 years! However I was amazed at how quickly the full venue warmed to them. It was obvious from the crowd that the band were a cut above “local band” status.

When did you get into Creation?

The first time I came across Creation Records was early in 1984 when I noticed a tiny news story in the NME about this label that was launching (I think that they had already released The Legend single but even at this stage that was being swept under the carpet) with 5 singles on the same day. This isn’t quite how it panned out but as I learned later Creation was always about aiming as high as possible and that it was largely irrelevant how things actually worked out.

Of course I’d like to say that the first Creation single that I bought was by Revolving Paint Dream or The X-Men but to be truthful it was “Upside Down”, like many other people. By the end of that week my speakers (and maybe more) were blown. A love affair with both the Mary Chain and Creation had begun (to the point of ranting down the phone at the producer of The Old Grey Whistle Test when the “Never Understand” video was out-voted by a Talking Heads single on one of the shows). I scrambled my way back through the nascent Creation catalogue and managed to fill most of the gaps.

I bought far too many Biff Bang Pow and Jasmine Minks records for my own good health, but my obsession with all things Creation (an obsession that had only been previously matched by that for all things Two Tone) did thankfully lead me to be the first person in Oxford to own the debut House Of Love single. I know this for a fact because at this time I was working at Our Price (with Steve Queralt) as the singles buyer and ours was the only shop in town with a copy, which of course never even made it into the racks.

The Creation obsession was now starting to become a long-term relationship and Steve and I took every opportunity to go and see any Creation related band in Oxford, London or Reading. Primal Scream at St Paul’s Arts Centre in Oxford, both the House Of Love and My Bloody Valentine at the After Dark Club in Reading, the Doing It For The Kids all-dayer at the T&C (where someone had the temerity to say to me about the House Of Love, “It’s just ‘The Back Of Love’ all over again” – bastard). I had finally managed to convince Steve that this was a healthy pastime after (a pre-Creation) My Bloody Valentine had played at a tiny pub in Oxford in 1987 and it had left us both gob-smacked. One of their very few gigs as a 5-piece as it happens – just after Belinda had joined and just before David left. Looking back on it, that night was probably in many ways the first formative event for what was to become Ride – but that’s another story.

Snub TV seemed to feature something Creation-like every week and even a small profile of McGee himself on one of the shows. The Valentines and House Of Love gigs were in bigger and bigger venues (one of my best gigs ever was My Bloody Valentine supporting the Pixies at the T&C) and then came the double whammy of “Christine” and “You Made Me Realise”. Two of the best records that I’ve ever heard. Of course there was a load of crap along the way but even Biff Bang Pow made some good records and they always came in wonderful record sleeves.”

Was the plan to try and sign to Creation or was it just fate?

The band only really had a fondness for either 4AD or Creation. In fact we were all frustrated that neither label had been in touch. The first label to express an interest were WEA who paid for a demo session in Oxford. Cally and Ben there were really big fans and they helped us set up a one-off indie release with One Big Guitar. This was scheduled for October ’88 and we put a short tour together to promote it but the label never really got their shit together.

From then the story goes that Gary Crowley was playing the Ride demo that was to form part of this first single (what later became the Ride EP) on his radio show on GLR. Listening on the car radio were Jim Reid and his then girlfriend Laurence Verfaille. She was just about to start work at Creation as their in-house press officer. She told McGee and he found out that Cally and Ben had been working with the band. McGee phoned up Cally and was told by him that the band were already signed to WEA. When Alan found this out to be untrue he was straight on the phone to us and he came up to see the band play every night of the support tour to the Soup Dragons that had been fixed up by our newly appointed Booking Agent, Ben Winchester.

By the end of the week the band had agreed to let Creation release the first EP and that Creation would pay for the next recording session to record the second set of 4 songs (ultimately the Play EP). Alan was the only person who wasn’t insisting on signing the band up to a six albums deal. He said that he just loved the first EP and that if the band were to go off elsewhere afterwards then so be it. As it turned out this was his genius move and he ended up securing the band’s signature at the end of the Summer of 1990.

What were the high points of the Ride/Creation days for you personally?

Releasing records on Creation. The first Peel session. Buying daffodils at 3am on the mornign of the ULU show on the Play tour (and putting them in someone’s bath in North London with a fan heater on them all day to try to get them to bloom). Hearing Vapour Trail for the first time. Oxford Apollo in Feb’92. Reading ’92. Australia, Japan, America. Hearing Mark convince Alan McGee that Leave Them All Behind should be the first single from Going Blank Again. The Daytripper Shows. Let’s Get Lost live.

How well did you get on with Alan McGee?

We were never mates and as such, I think I managed to escape being sucked into the “Creation Family” – it helped not being based in London too. It was a good working relationship but not one that either McGee or I had had any previous experience of. Ride were the first band on Creation to arrive with a manager in tow and as such Alan couldn’t quite get the influence over the band that he might have been used to. However I think he recognised this as a good thing and throughout the first couple of years (before things took their toll on him) we generally ended up making the right decisions. Alan’s opinions were always taken on board fully by myself and the band but ultimately Alan left the band to make all artistic decisions.

Have you read the David Cavanagh book? If so, would you like to take this opportunity to tell your side of things?

I think what David says in his book is largely correct. I think he tried to create a bigger divide between myself and Andy than was really there and he did try to bend some of the facts in the later years to fit the way he wanted things to be. It gave a neater ending to the Ride part of the book but it wasn’t particularly accurate. However I have no issue with that. It’s strange to know that the book started out as being fully endorsed by Alan but ended up as something that he disassociated himself from. There are many ways of telling the story and within the context of the overall Creation story I’m just pleased that Ride were given the proper weight.

Tarantula seemed to almost be an Andy Bell solo album. What was the other guys involvement on the album and how was the mood in the studio?

Mark was largely at a loose end throughout the sessions. The band had only really worked on a few of the songs together in rehearsal before they arrived in the studio at the start of ’95. This meant that as a band they were quite fresh and both Loz and Steve actually regard this album as the best that the band played together. They would work on the material that Andy had written and most of the backing tracks came together quite smoothly (it was one of the quickest recording sessions that the band ever did). I think that the problem for Mark is that his involvement was limited to rhythm guitar and backing vocals and it wasn’t enough to keep him interested. He had some half finished material of his own but the nature of the session meant that there wasn’t the time or inclination to bring those songs to fruition.

At one point it seemed as though Ride would achieve the heights that Oasis reached, in the words of Noel Gallagher “where did it all go wrong?”

I think Ride could’ve gone on to be much bigger than they were but I think that they were always a bit too cool to actually acheive the mega-star status of bands like Oasis. I think that there was always a need within the band for the “art” to dominate the “commercial”. They might’ve got lucky and captured the zeitgeist in the way that Blur did, enabling them to continue being creative whilst still selling enough records to afford the occasional indulgence but I do genuinely believe that Ride were a couple of years ahead of their time and their success opened some doors that the whole Britpop scene was able to walk through in the mid-90s.

Have you listened to many of the post Ride bands (e.g. Animalhouse, Hurricane#1).

I’ve listened but I’ve found it hard to get personally excited. Neither band had the all-consuming power of Ride gigs and recordings.

The new Box Set seems to have been put together very carefully with close involvement from the band, everyone obviously still cares. Who made the decisions on tracklistings, etc.?

The Best Of itself was a consensus between the Andy, Mark, Loz ,Steve and myself. It wasn’t very difficult and we only had a couple of tracks where we were “yes or no?” Firing Blanks was put together by Steve from material sourced by everyone. This was difficult and it took a lot of arguing to end up with, what I think is, a killer tracklisting. The Live CD was mixed by Alan Moulder and Mark. After listening through to it all the band decided that Making Judy Smile and I Don’t Want To Be A Soldier didn’t quite make the grade of the others and so they were trimmed off the final tracklisting.

There’s been a few postings on the Ticket To Ride website stating the lads should get back together for one last show to tie in with the album. Do you think they’ll ever play together again one day?

The process of putting this box set together has been the most enjoyable Ride project for everyone involved for about 9 years! I think it has forced us all to look back (with the benefit of hindsight, of course). However we must realise that that was then and this is now. I could never rule out another show someday but I also don’t see any real motivation from within the band to make it happen. If it did happen then I would expect it to be a one-off and a distraction from everything else that they’re currently doing in their lives.

Tell us about your involvement with Shifty Disco?

I set up the label with Richard, Mac and Ronan here in Oxford nearly five years ago. I look after the international side of things now as well as the marketing in the UK. I don’t really get involved in the A&R anymore, especially as the company has now grown so much (we now have 9 staff in total).

What are your/the labels plans for the future?

We have the new Beulah album ready to roll in September and also we’re currently having fun with a single from a New York band, AM60, who’ve been played all over Radio 1. An AM60 album will follow in October when we also have the new Elf Power album. We still run our monthly CD Singles Club and we always have something interesting on that each month.

There is a rumoured solo Mark Gardener album from the Shifty Disco ‘Magdalen Sky’ sessions. Would you like to confirm or deny this and if this is true are there any plans to release the album?

Mark only recorded the one song in that session. He has a load of demos that he did at home from that period but I’ve only heard a couple of them. However I do know that Mark has just moved his home studio over to France and is planning to spend the Autumn writing and recording over there.

Before Ride Oxford wasn’t renowned for it’s musical pedigree. Do you think they were a huge influence on Supergrass, Radiohead, etc.

Directly a big influence on Supergrass (Danny and Gaz used to be on the Ride mailing list). I think there are many things that couldn’t have happened in Oxford without Ride’s success but I don’t think the influence on Radiohead could be counted as anything more than raising their personal level of ambition. In ’88 they all went away from Oxford to college in various parts of the country. At the time, Oxford was a musical handicap (Steve Lamacq said as much in one of his first Ride live reviews for the NME). By the time they came back to Oxford, Ride were an international success. It must have shown Radiohead that they could afford to let themselves have ambition. There is one bit in one of the Radiohead books where Thom talks about the time that he and Jonny were busking in Oxford and Andy and Mark stopped to watch. It was a big deal for him. Funny to think that now!

Finally, do you have a message for the kids today?

Find your own thing. Don’t let marketing departments sell you things as “alternative”. Don’t be a passive consumer, use your teenage years to forge the next generation. The past is not cool (apart from Ride reissues, of course).

Interview: July 2001

Interview with Loz Colbert of Ride

Lawrence Colbert was the drummer in Ride, one of Creation’s most successful bands. We caught up with him, to ask about his days on the label and why it was important to sign to Creation.

Ride became very successful within a short period of time, did you have any idea what was going to happen from the early rehearsals?

No I can honestly say that great as it felt I didn’t think we’d make it until we were old men

You were offered deals by other labels, was it important to sign to Creation over all of the other independents/majors of the time?

It was important as many of the bands we respected were on Creation and it was mainly that roster and the artwork that made it feel like a good home for what we did

Tell us about the first time you met Alan and the first time you visited the infamous Creation offices.

The first time I met Alan was at the support for the Soup Dragons when he came to see us and essentially sign us. A record company dinner then was some chips and a pint and I was suitably impressed! He was the only one who was really going out on a limb to sign us up and was very passionate about the whole thing and one of the most enthusiastic people I’d met in terms of music.

The first time I went to the Creation offices it was that bizare concoction as you know of walking through a “Hothouse” of immigrants making shoes or something (a-la labour exploitation images ),..through to what felt like the nerve centre or “commmand HQ” of a war on the charts and the industry as a whole! It was like fighting the ruskies from a bunker somehwere. Everyone was very much on edge (surprise surprise !) and you felt part of something exciting.

It reminds me of those James Bond films when they go out to a hidden warehouse and you see all the troops training, blowing things up & experimenting with weapons, etc and preparing for (whatever they are preparing for) “Now pay attention,Loz,”…..

Who were/are your favourite Creation artists?

My all time favourites were The Jesus & Mary Chain- as the reason for getting into noise and sex and wanting to be in a band. After hearing them I formed my own band with a pal from school, a chainsaw and some drums (Mo Tucker style!) I still play My Bloody Valentine every now and again-mainly “Loveless”. It was mainly Mark & Andy who introduced me to The House of Love and My Bloody Valentine respectively

Slough festival, any particular memories?

Hot sunny day, my girlfriend had some whizz hidden in her bra, a German girl inviting me for Tea and a very appreciative crowd

If you had to recommend a Ride record to someone, which one would you suggest to buy first?

Well it would probably be Nowhere/Going Blank Again

What’s your fondest memory of that era?

Playing live in all kinds of different scenarios from sweat dripping off the walls & ceiling and blood on the drums/guitars to playing at the Albert Hall with a choir and strings for backing …meeting John Peel before playing Reading festival for the first time (mustv’e been 19..?) & the response to our music in Japan…

How did your relationship with Creation end?

Fairly well,…

Are you pleased Creation has ended or would you have liked it to continue?

Only sad that it ended because I liked the attitude of the label, maybe the sequel will have Arnold Swarzenegger playing Alan McGee….?

Do all the members of Ride still stay in touch?

Yep ……..I send them hate mail on a regular basis! (just kidding)

What are your/The Animalhouse’s plans for the future?

Lots of exciting things……

Interview: June 2001

Interview with Andy Bell of Ride, Oasis and Hurricane #1

We caught up with Ride old bass player Steve Queralt in August 2001 just before the band were due to release the Box Set.

Were you in any bands prior to Ride?

Yes, various synth orientated bedroom bands which i regard as the eighties equivalent of being a bedroom dj playing cutting edge minimal deep house. oh and a dodgy reggae band that went as far as actually playing gigs.

What influenced you to start playing the bass?

My dad found a bass in a skip so he says and brought it home for me. I was listening to lots of reggae at the time and was able to follow the basslines. Fate I guess.

Tell us about how you came to meet the other three?

I knew of both Andy and Mark. Mark’s sister was in my year at school and they were both keen on starting a band. Andy was introduced to me by my brother as a really good guitarist. Andy and I made a few demos at my house including the version of Chelsea Girl that appears on the Firing Blanks comp. They then went to Banbury to study Art where they met Loz, the final part of the jigsaw.

Did you expect things to take off so quickly?

Absolutely not. Our horizon ended at being the biggest band in Oxford but before we knew it Warner Bros were on our back.

What were the high points of the Ride/Creation days for you personally?

The first time we did anything. First support spot in a proper venue, first trip to Europe with the House Of Love, First time in Japan etc. Not to say that it didn’t stay exciting but the first year touring the UK non-stop was really special. Other fond memories include Reading Festival supporting Public Enemy and a weekend in Sweden at the Hulsfred Festival. Hulsfred had everything, Watching England beat Cameroon with loads of other bands, meeting some really special people, the whole atmosphere of the place and playing football on the Sunday. The gig was shite though from what I can remember.

Was it important to stay with the label rather than move to a major?

Oh yes. So many bands jumped ship and died on major labels. Sheer greed.

Were you a Creation fan before signing to the label? Whom were your favourite artists?

House of Love, MBV, and I was a really big fan of Felt.

At one point it seemed as though Ride would achieve the heights that Oasis reached, what do you think changed that?

Releasing Carnival of Light. After Going Blank Again I felt we were at a fork in the road and that we took the wrong route. The others will disagree though. Too much Beach Boys and Neil Young going on!!

Has the new box set made you slightly nostalgic for the old days?

I have always missed touring ever since we stopped and yes getting together with the boys on the rare occasion always makes me wipe a tear away.

You put together the new Rarities CD for the box set, was it hard deciding on which tracks to include?

Yes. There were loads of bits and pieces which could have been included jams, alternate takes, full versions of tracks that only saw the light of day as short interludes on the albums. There was a bit of pressure to include everything and to make it as concise as possible. However it would have been like a library for anoraks so i tried to make it stand up artistically and keep it interesting from the collectors point of view. God know whether I achieved it or not.

Which tracks are your favourite on the CD?

Tongue Tied by a mile.

I’ve had a couple of emails from fans stating that ‘Hit Me Like A Train’ is not included which they think is a shame, do you think this will ever be released officially?

Lets hope not. Besides what will the kids with bootlegs do if we released everything? I like the fact that there are still some stuff hidden away (for good reason) Ocean Smiles for instance!!

Have you played in any bands since Ride?

Yep. Another but superior Reggae band call Dubwieser which I regret giving up because I really enjoyed the music and the power that the Bass has in that style music. Ive done some dumb things and leaving them was one.

Do you still run your record shop?

No that never got off the ground.

Have you listened to any of the other post Ride bands (e.g. Animalhouse, Hurricane#1)?

No. Difficult to answer that really but I dont really listen to rock/indie music any more.

Finally, have you a message for the kids today?

Boards Of Canada.

Interview: August 2001