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hello and welcome to mark chatterton's rock files podcast today i would like to welcome on the show martin turner the founder bassist and lead singer with wishbone ash for many years martin still records and tours with his band under the name of martin's owner x wishbone and has kindly come over today to talk in person about his life his music and wish by national course so a warm welcome to you martin how you doing mark good to see you again buddy yeah um yeah nice nice to be here yeah it's a different little corner of england than where i am in surrey yeah and during the last two or three years i've spent way too much time in surrey so a bit of a change for you hey yeah yeah so most welcome let's just start off with argus because obviously the only the other day it was the 50th anniversary of august being released and it's been such a big influence on many people and there's so many fans who cite it as their favorite album ever what looking back would you say why has it been such a an important album it was 50 years ago it just sounds like such a long time yeah and it is i guess it's it's half of a whole century isn't it it's half of yeah 100 years um mind-boggling really well um to to put it in context uh wishbone ash when it was formed at the end of 1969 um we we had previously in the 60s we've been the empty vessels for many many years steve upton myself and my little brother glenn as guitar player and i used to help me singing and stuff um when we arrived in london i mean it really was so bloody hard to go in the first few months that we couldn't get any work couldn't get off the ground glenn went and got a job and it was all looking to go a bit pear-shaped but steve and i have met this guy miles copeland who became our manager um and we did audition initially for you know another guitar player um none of whom we were happy with so we ended up going with two guitar players and that became you know the wishbone sound i used to sing the melodies for him to play they used to moan and about how awkward it was but when it's sung it tends to be a lot more melodic and it gave we got off to a really good start um we were signed you know to mca in in america by derrick lawrence who became our producer so we had derek produce him he had a hit with uh with um deep purple in the 60s the song hush yeah um which was very poppy not that we we had aspirations in that direction because we didn't um we thought of ourselves as an album band definitely but he got martin butch in as the engineer and uh the first two albums wish bonash um the introductory album for us and pilgrimage the following one were both recorded on eight tracks at delaney studios and then by the third album argus we're using the same team you know the band martin birch engineering and derrick lawrence who is very good very good at knowing how to steer the ship if you know what i mean when we were getting lazy um and not getting on with it he give us a good kick in and tell us to get on with it um and then if we were getting too serious and intense he'd start cracking jokes and and get everyone relaxed and um and laughing again he was very good very good so we had a great team and on the argus album we went to the new delaney which eventually became cts or something upper up at wembley stadium you know like right under the twin towers which was wonderful um and the luxury of recording with 16 tracks oh amazing you know so we went a bit over the top we were like double tracking the guitars we even double tracked the base in a couple of places to get it to come through stronger um now we spent only about a week recording we derek needed another week to mix the album so basically we had to record all the vocals which we've mapped out you know uh they did exist where to put perform all the vocals in one day you know which was really a bit you know the deep end um i wasn't keen because you you know the singing is really physical if you're gonna yeah get the expression and really explore the tune um one day isn't enough but uh we're like well if that is the limitation and that's what we're going to come up with then you know crank the headphones up real loud and let's approach it like we're on stage just sing it down back which is what we did um andy was singing on quite a few of the tunes with me so i wasn't totally alone um i mean later on when we listened to it back uh in the following weeks before it was released a couple of people commented that the vocals sounded a little bit flat which they were yeah yeah and that was because we we're so cranked up you know when you've got really intense uh sound pressure level you can start to pitch slightly under you know it was consistent actually when i finally checked it out and we did wonder about we should we should have spent more time on the vocals maybe you know is it not too late to go back in and do two or three days putting the vocals on again but everyone was like no no no you can't do that this is fine i mean i would have insisted on it if i'd known how this album was going to be once it got out i mean for me personally um i was literally overwhelmed with emotion when i finally heard the whole album edited together played back in the control room i mean it was such a release for me having worked on it you know composing writing lyrics composing the music and working on it for a whole year um it was about nine months actually so it was like having a baby yeah yeah and for me when i listened to it back i i just started weeping i mean i was i could finally let go and i thought it sounded absolutely wonderful it sounded like everything i ever wanted the band to be you know i wasn't convinced that it was going to be successful because there didn't seem to be anything there that was a hit finger for instance which is the one thing that record companies always want yeah and we want i don't write stuff like that i mean i i write what i write and you know if it's good enough to go on this record then maybe it's good enough to go on a different size record the only thing that we did have was blowing free which was single z yeah and indeed um we had tried to record that before and you know i've been emphasizing to my fellow minstrels listen this is an anthem that celebrates love teenage love so you've got to really inject some vitality into it and and really get it sounding strong and well i think we tried to record it on the pilgrimage album somewhere around there and he just said so limp and all right oh i obviously didn't convey to these guys you know what i'm going after here so then when we're recording the um august stuff i suddenly that right guys we're gonna have a go at uh blowing three again and they were like really you know i'm like yeah yeah and this time it's gonna sound great okay now when you listen to the bass on that tune i mean i was absolutely determined that you are going to work this time um you can hear that in the playing it the bass really pushes the song along like an engine but um the amazing thing was i came back into the control room uh with derrick uh i don't listen to it like wow wow i finally got it across to these guys they're actually playing it now with some commitment with some fetal you know it sounds like it means it you know even though the vocal wasn't on there yet um i'm like great this is good this is good so then i think maybe the next day i bumped into derek because see i was coming out of the control room as he was coming in oh mark this is um can i have a word a minute i'm like yeah yeah what's up he said well this this song blowing free um so i you know been having a chat with with the guys and um basically all the other tunes you know warrior turned on the sword leaflet stream he said they're much they're more serious and i'm blowing free is completely different it's quite poppy and fluffy and maybe it belongs on another album i went psychotic yeah are you kidding me look let me get one thing clear you know it needs to be on the album precisely because all the other stuff is serious yeah and it provides a bit of balance a bit of light relief okay so it's going on the freaking album end of conversation and derek was like speechless okay um very fair enough very he didn't even want to argue yeah the point he could sense you know i was so intense about it yeah that you know to me it was a typical cerebral wish bow and ash at work you know coming up with some half-baked idea that was absolutely against all my instincts and and i put my foot down you know it didn't always work but on that occasion it did but you know argus without blowing free yeah no sorry no because at the time quite a lot of artists who were may described as say album plans they did appear on top of the pop set as a slot did you ever get offered to twice we did yeah and they asked us to do top of the box and bbc um i mean at the time i personally did not like top of the pops it was getting to be it was getting to be really seedy somehow you know like brewing you know where some businessman who's just arrived home from work you know his missus is shoving his dinner in front of him and he's sitting down and watch top of the pops all these girlies like wiggling their bums in front of the camera that's what it smacked off you know abba and everyone on there it was just so contrived jimmy savile i mean it was like there was something creepy about it somehow and um yeah they rang us up and asked us and we ought to look and ah well we actually we got uh you know next tuesday or wednesday or whatever it was we we've got um we've got a gig in holland so no sorry we can't do it most bands would have cancelled the egg yeah and on top of the box because following your appearance you know records would be flying off the shelves but we we just weren't keen now or i certainly wasn't um i i told the pops to me was crap a lot of contrived that was just people making up songs because they want to be famous you know and there was this slightly sick prurient thing going on as well didn't want to be associated with that um years later in 1980 um my fellow band members were voicing a lot of frustration about the lack of success um and i'm like like what do you mean what you want to be doing top of the pops and then well yeah that would be good oh god oh they don't learn no no so um going back to the early days when you you first all moved down from torquay over to london and you were struggling i call it up from tournaments okay yeah i'm trying to be a dangly bit of the country that sticks out into the atlantic yeah yeah i mean i grew up there i mean it was great in the summer the um the population would double and triple in size there'd be loads of people coming in you know you'd meet people from all over the place essex up north liverpool and and swedish girls used to come over swedish students and french guys who were so smooth you know he used to study them you know they had the right clothes with the perfume smell you know they were so slick and um i i grew up on a kind of roller coaster where the summers were just amazing and you know i'd spend a lot of time being a beach bum you know bronzed and lovely and and hanging out on the beach i didn't wear shoes for like months yeah and and it was it was just great um and then the winter was everyone's gone home the population is a fraction of what it was and it raineth i mean forever you end up with trench foot walking around the streets and i grew up thinking there has to be somewhere drier than this the west country sticking out into the air around it the gulf stream comes over goes up in the air as it hits the land and deluges the cows down there are eating all this ultra rich greenish grass you've ever seen the milk is very creamy hence devonshire's clotted cream my dear devil and cornwall is famous for it and indeed the clotted cream does help to keep the moisture out if you yeah because it's so waxy but i just knew that there must be somewhere less wet and indeed come across to london different ball game still wet but nowhere near on the scale it is in the west country so yeah um how long were you so struggling for you know how long yeah were you struggling until you i mean looking back on it i mean you know i had an accident on the first day of january and 69 yeah which was was a complete disaster at the time but it was as a result of being up all night and i could have killed someone in that accident because i passed out tried it that really focused the mind um and made me made me commit basically because we would have stayed in the west country forever but it it it forced me to think about my situation and you know do you seriously want to become a professional musician i'm like yes i've got to give it a crap okay then you know you need to be somewhere somewhere where you can accomplish that and the only place was london and london was pretty rocking city then yeah yeah so it was kind of i kind of became a pilgrim i went to the mecca of of music um which was london it was there was still that kind of carnaby street swinging 65 god what it was 69 yeah when it came up it was still just about there and um and we i want to say we were lucky i think we created our own luck we were very positive and all of a sudden we met miles copeland um we had we had played a gig at dunstable civic hall supporting um deep purple and i i saw uh richard blackmore watching us from the side of the stage for like a long time you know he is obviously intrigued and didn't say a word to me but he rang derrick lawrence or when he was speaking about lawrence and mentioned there was this band that were really good told him what they were called so he tracked us down and rang up and said you know richie told me you're a really good band i want to come and have a look you know are you doing any gigs we're like well we haven't got any gigs at the moment so he said why don't you come down to a rehearsal which he did he loved the bam and he said look i made a friend of mine that's just been made head of a r at mca universal in los angeles i'm convinced that i can get you guys a deal yeah if you pay the airfare for me to fly to l.a i'm back i'll come back with the deal well what's that going to cost 300 quid ouch no way in 1970 31 to 300 quid no in the end we said okay you pay half and we'll pay off so we came up with 150 quid and um and derek got put the deal together came back and he was written in to produce the first three albums and he did a great job yeah blessing and then obviously you went to america very quickly well when you're signed to an american record label uh indeed not in new york city on the east coast but in l.a right the other side of the world um and you're managed by an american mars copeland albeit living in london but i mean you know he the first thing he ever said to us was you know if i could get you guys out to the states you know wow we can really do some stuff um so the the record company wanted us on there you know they really did we actually sent we we had hypnosis working on our artwork for us and we put together the cover that became the pilgrimage cover yeah we sent that out to l.a uh to be the the cover for the first album right and they said um uh what the hell is this yeah um what's this band called wishbone ash okay uh listen we we need to get a burnt wishbone you know yeah and we thought americans you know how how simplistic they are you know mentally um and we thought it was a bit silly that idea but they put it together in in their design um department sent it over to us and we looked at this burnt wishbone that they described and we were like wow it looked amazing it looked really strong and um we we had to concede they were right yeah um yeah so that you know it was it was a good launch yeah okay because you ended up supporting the likes of alice cooper and john in the early days yeah we'd be in the dressing room chatting to alice you know about international politics and you know having a really good conversation and all of a sudden somebody are coming alice you're on stage man you know then grab his bottle of whiskey and stagger on stage like a drunken bogey man you know i mean it was it was theater it was brilliant yeah and in those days he was doing the um thing where the bands and kind of capturing them put him up on the gallows and and all the lights go out in the building there's just one spotlight on on his face as he said i see quivers dying and having been hanged i mean absolutely amazing theater yeah um and yeah he's a great great guy really really like alice cooper um i understand you support elton john and his new york debut yes elton elton was playing his first gig in new york city which was really important always and um he came down to our dressing room and he's like guys you know listen this is my first gig headline in new york city and i'm really nervous about it anyway listen to celebrate the occasion here's a bottle of champagne for you um very sweet i've been very sweet of him to even bother with yeah you'll be a support man and i mean we watched him that night that him and the band were blisteringly good you know and they got off to a great start in nyc yeah yeah wonderful and you actually played at madison square gardens i believe yeah supporting robin trower um was it i don't know yeah double headline with robin who who was a a fascinating guitar player i mean he really did have that touch of being able to play like hendrix which i think i don't remember him being like that in the early days yeah but it was it was something i guess that really that really went down well in the states yeah yeah and um what was he amazing to listen to him he really he really reminded you of hendrick's um fabulous guitar sound but then at the end of songs when he'd walk up to the microphone and with his high voice but thank you very much we really appreciate it it just didn't sound right she expected someone like henry hey man because in the end you were you were playing arena shows most of the time weren't you yes a lot a lot of big gigs i mean from the day one in the states i think the first gig we ever played was in austin texas supporting uh back on turner overdrive was it yeah yeah you ain't seen nothing yet but down behind that chest uh i'm chicago we played with them um oh what's the name of that great bluesy the american rock band can't think of their name yeah the the lead singer was going out with um aerosmith no no before everest before um with the girl from bonnie and clyde uh actress brilliant um don't worry they don't want yeah yeah nice i mean they don't always stood on the side of the stage watching you yeah yeah yeah um yeah there were some great times i mean um we we've done gigs with the james gang you know down warehouse in new orleans and then um joe we we got a call from our agent what would that have been 73 somewhere around there maybe our asian irving asif was like guys guys you got to do me a favor you've got to do me a favor i've got to get joe out on the road you know all right uh i think hang on listen we got we got um vinegar joe and renaissance on the road that's like three artists uh that's more than enough you know we're having trouble squeezing everyone in as as it is no guys you don't understand you've got to do me a favor right really okay um send him out then so up rolls joe the next next gig with barnstorm fantastic band kenny pasarelli and joe vitale was a brilliant musicians and sure enough he's got a record out that's looking good you know so yeah it was a show then he got bunged up after renaissance then he got banged up after vinegar joe which was elky brooks and robert palmer yeah um we came out of the limousine outside the gig with rocky mountain way playing on the radio just gone to number one walked into the gig and he's playing it live on stage if the tour had gone any any longer we would have been supporting it yeah yeah yeah he came out on our tour it was magic yeah the vibe in the stadium was phenomenal you know it was it was wonderful wonderful great band great song what's more to want so would would you say wishbone ash didn't quite break america because you you were doing we we never really had any hits yeah so it's the singles except in the new orleans area the wishbone 4 album um no easy road got heavily played around new orleans and the south across the texas uh but particularly in norway yes and um they absolutely love that song i mean it's about rock and roll music and that's very important down there um but i mean we we would have zz top on shows with us the support band when they first started out i mean i can't remember going out and buying their first album yeah because i thought there was such a good band couldn't believe it the first time i saw them and i walked on the side of the stage to to check them out you know and i'm like three guys that can't be right where's the rest of the sound coming from i mean they were just so ballsy yeah and they were just a great band you know from day one you can sense that and we we when we were down south you know you'd be black oak arkansas that'd be leonard skinner to be all these southern bands you know um but uh zz top it it was years before they actually took off you know they were playing for quite a while and in those days betty gibbons used to sing up a lot more and and also play some beautiful uh blues guitar you know yeah yeah it was great to have seen them in those days so yeah um no easy road new orleans all the radio stations were playing it yes number one hit single but only down south so that makes a difference you know that does catapult you and all of a sudden tv shows want you to appear and you know yeah so getting back to britain and europe sort of you sort of played all these festivals in 1935 and the star trekking thing and well headlined reading around yeah around the middle of the 70s you know we we had been working so hard um miles bless him um had us you know our lives were mapped out for the next year 18 months and it was just you after three or four years of it you were starting to feel like there's some rodent on on a treadmill yeah you know because it was relentless and we all just needed a bloody holiday basically yeah ted was the first one to break um and he was like i'm i'm out of here yeah enough and ted was a guy that used to play so intensely used to put a lot into it and he used to sweat a lot so he would become exhausted you know we'd have to take him to hospital and maybe like um this guy seems to be severely dehydrated and you know does he has does he drink fluids ah yeah quite fond of whiskey but um it was it was tricky ted i i i mean ted would tell you something different i think he just got sick of playing all the music over and over and over and over the first three albums um i didn't want to he was he wanted to try new things you know there was a lot of new music stevie wonder and funky funky stuff he he wanted to do some different things so that was a tricky period mid 70s um what about lori joining did that change the dynamic of the band yes yes it did um but in in quite a positive way really it sort of laurie's level of musicianship was pretty impressive you know um and i think it made us all up our game a little bit you know i certainly had that effect on me you know i was willing to try a bit harder maybe i don't know um initially it was a bit of a weird one for andy powell because he'd always been the flash guy and ted was the sort of quieter bluesy type player now all of a sudden he was a bit lost because lori was a flash guy as well you know and um i i used to have to have a word with him now and again i'm like andy yeah don't be intimidated by that flash little bastard just do what you do mate yeah and and kind of try because he was i think he was a little bit um [Music] intimidated by by laurie's ability you know i i i know he was because he used to go over and practice a lot so he could get up to the same level of yeah proficiency and he did you know after a year yeah um but it was it was a good period i mean it was it was a kick up the backside for us all i think and um and we made some some good music with laurie yeah and in fact laurie did a very good job of playing all ted's lips from the first three albums yeah yeah yeah probably played them a lot longer than ted and then you lived in america for a bit and came and then you came back sort of 76 um you know i i was there i wasn't in favor of that um i felt that we were spending a lot of time in america we were doing six week tours you know sometimes one a year two a year i think we did three one year i mean it was like intense i can't think of any other band that started from ground zero you know ground level and yeah and um i'm a dashing backwards and forwards playing america and and then in the uk and europe um it was really intense normally you make it in one territory and then you go across yeah at a higher level you know we were doing it from from the bottom rung out and um it was it was really really hard work but you know we were young guys we weren't all kind of married and settled down with kids yet so we were able to do that for a few years but it did put a hell of a strain on everyone i think and i i think that had to do with why ted left the band personally yeah um but uh when we hit the mid 70s we yes you mentioned the star trucking tour which was quite ambitious i mean nobody nobody in those days had actually done uh a kind of european tour um with uh a package who was originally it was john mclaughlin wasn't it yeah argentina turner i continue um i think renaissance again i i went uh and lou reed was going to be headlining and yeah he pulled out climate screws brand second climax blues band wonderful guitar player um yeah i mean it was it was a big undertaking man miles decided to keep everything on one airplane yeah i've seen that he went to see a plane in up this necklace yeah [Music] and he decided okay we'll rent that and we're going to get all the equipment and and everyone on it so they asked for everyone to give them details of how much equipment and what it weighed uh so we all submitted it not that we were very clever putting that together in those days um but when we actually rolled up on the day the pilot was freaking out it was like listen this is not what you guys told me you were going to be putting on this plane and you know we're going to be really heavily laid in here so you know we're going down the runway forever and well he's take off eventually so it did gradually get up but the plane was just way too much equipment on it so when we got out to germany um a couple of the bands i think renaissance decided they would travel they'd rent something and travel by road um and i remember we were trying to organize something for us uh and there was a particular day we had chris well chatting with us for many years observing this kind of cacophony of trying to plan ad hoc on the run you know and as the day went on we're all up first thing in the morning trying to trying to figure out how we were going to proceed from here on i think we had to get down to marseille in south france for a very gig um in the morning we were trying to get flights no we were trying to arrange to travel by road but it was taking so long that after lunch in the early afternoon the only option that we had was to to hire a plane in order to get down there in time for this show so we had a bloody jet flew down from amsterdam to pick us up take us down to the south of france and then fly back to amsterdam i mean you know we've got three stewardesses and you know a flight crew i mean like you know when we got on the plane i said to steve steve tell me we're not paying for this uh i mean i knew it was going to cost a fortune but it was the only way to get there i continue turner somebody made a call to french customs and told them that i continue to had drugs in their equipment [Music] we think that was the french promoter because he told miles backstage i mean it got quite ugly it got really it was right on that flash point you know i mean i think a knife was drawn even about you didn't supply me with the whole show we had one band didn't appear so i'm only going to pay you half the money and there was like a real ding-dong about that um it's funnily enough that was in a rash in a roman amphitheatre yeah probably one of the best gigs we ever played i mean it was legendary that gig i mean everyone spoke about it for years afterwards it was magical i think uh bad company were on the day before we headlined the last day and we i'd had food poisoning or something i mean i've been sick and then i fell asleep backstage on some amplifier covers um and then kevin walked me up about up past two in the morning mark you're on stage and i'm like oh no you know my my mouth tasted like a gorilla's armpit um but i went on stage we we performed and the audience were quite mellow i mean i suppose they've been sitting there for three days so we played and it sounded amazing you know i'm thinking how the hell did the romans know how to design a gig in those days um but it sounded amazing it really did in in this stone amphitheater with the sky for a ceiling and then the sun popped over the ridge of the stadium and sean on the stage like in the last tune like phoenix or whatever yeah yeah it's the atmosphere was like unreal it really was bizarre and we finished that was it it was the end of a three-day festival and the audience stood up and applauded for like it seemed like 15 minutes you know just went on and on and then um i remember i was walking back to the coach and there's this beautiful girl appeared by my side um she's a well-known french model um i think she was mixed race you know part moroccan or algerian she's absolutely lovely um and i got chatting to i thought when you come back to hotel for breakfast so we had breakfast together yeah and i've never seen her again but she's a lovely lovely girl yeah um yeah so it was like if she said what was the best gig you ever played that was up there yeah sure it was yeah pretty damn good yeah what about your expectations oh i i i did i didn't tell you the one absolute bummer about that tour we we were we finished in spain and i remember steve we were in a hotel room and we were getting paid in cash all the money for right the way through from scandinavia germany france um spain and we were told if you try and take all that cash across the border you know you could get it confiscated mm-hmm sorry well yeah but at least we got it at least we've got the money um but they were insistent that you really should put it through the bank so it went through the bank got sent back to london by the bank um of mars company in amsterdam where the guy in amsterdam had in order to get that the the tour on the road i've got a loan from the bank using his house as collateral so they had a a leaner in his house um so when the money hit amsterdam he grabbed it sorted cleared the debt with a bank so his house didn't get grabbed and we never saw a penny yeah i mean we were due for payment of something 50 000 pounds i believe now you imagine a loss of 50 000 pounds in 1975 i mean what would that be now i mean you could probably put a naught on the end of that obviously at least yeah yeah and um it nearly put us out of business i mean the thing of going to live in america was kind of maybe running away from the problems that that created um and it gave us a bit of breathing space and we could separate ourselves from miles um to try and recover and and really really get going again yeah because it was it was pretty debilitating in that whole period and in fact a lot of people did see him um we didn't want to do that you know we worked together for a long time and we just want to get the hell out of it really which is partly why we ended up going to the states against my will i i wasn't for it but the other three were so i was prepared to give it a try yeah you know we were talking about for a year maybe two it ended up being three and after living in connecticut for three years um you know you start thinking well there are a couple of things that happened to me i mean i thought to myself you know i mean it was having a pretty corrosive effect on my marriage because my more and my wife was not happy being out there and the only way i could get her to come out was with the provider that listen if you get sick of it and you want to go back to england there's a ticket waiting for you and and she did she used to go back regularly and i'd be out there on my own um we didn't see each other much for a period of three or four years and um after living there for three years i i kind of remember thinking one day how many actual friends have i made in america because everyone saw hey marty can't go to my place yeah but it's it's somewhat superficial you know you you didn't there was no one that i could call a friend yeah after three years except my landlord mr schoenberg lee schomburg great guy new york yeah you know yeah what do you call it advertising executive you know and we got on really well um the guy who serviced our cars donny an italian-american dude i went and picked my car up one day and he said mom hey listen man i want to show you this car is making some noises you know uh let me just take you around the block so he drove around the block and he pointed out a couple of things he was doing and told me what it was it was gonna need attention and stuff okay you know um brace myself for the next bill and um as we're driving back up the street there's a black kid walking down the sidewalk and donnie makes the shape of a gun like this as we went past so i said to him mum you got something against that kid did he do something to you or something and he looked at me and he's like yeah martin listen you're a english dude right i don't expect you to understand but listen man i gotta tell you there is gonna be a war in this country between the white guys and the black guys and well that happens man i'm ready i'm all told up i got my weapons okay whoa whoa stop right there this guy went psycho about how the next civil war was about to go off any minute and he done weapons training he was part of a militia yeah i mean i dropped him off i drove home thinking i need to get out of this country yeah yeah these people are nut jobs they all got pistols and weapons it's like it's another culture because we speak the same language yeah you know you think the culture is the same but it's not i mean having said that i go to america every year and i've got family there and people you know friends it's it's a great country but this little experience up in connecticut kind of put me off a little bit and it's like you know what i'm gonna go back to europe um i mean i grew up listening to russian music you know and i was thinking okay i've lived in america for three years let me go live in russia for three years and see if i've got more in common with a russian than i do american um i mean i didn't go to russia um but i came back i i thought that i was going to be leaving the band because i thought these three guys will definitely want to stay here to my astonishment they all came back to england yeah i mean andy was a bit reluctant and you know he kept his foot in the door in connecticut and it and went back there a few years later and has lived there since the 1980s um but um yeah messy yeah because we're going to say about yeah when you step started out what were the expectations we think i'll do this for 10 years and then settle down but here you are now in in your 70s still playing so yeah how does that work really well to be honest with you i would have to admit that i i've kind of tried on various occasions to not be a musician you know yeah do something else oh okay i i got heavily into studio and recording yeah yeah i i know i did spend many years and especially in the 80s recording with musicians of all different styles and colors and you know lots of different stuff that i was always there was me and and a guy from roxy music phil manzanira yeah in the 80s we were the two guys that had professional setups at our homes yeah so you know we we could work for cheaper than you would have to pay in a professional studio so you know we did a lot of work and i learned a lot from doing that but um even the accident that i had that that forced me to become it was forced me to make a decision about becoming a professional musician um and then at various other points where i've kind of tried to slither out the back door and find something else to do you know um but somehow fate always contrives to bring me back to the chosen path yeah yeah and i am a creative person there's no getting away from it you know i've got a kind of creative magical streak that i don't profess to be completely in control of at all sometimes it works great other times it doesn't um it's it's a bit like being a mad magician yeah um but uh it's it's in my blood i mean it has been from day one you know i was bombarded with music as a kid my dad played music all the time um he was one of those guys that played if he liked a song he would play it over and over and over and over again you know look can we stop playing that tune now i mean because it would drive me nuts but as well as that i was my mother enrolled me in the church choir yeah as a young boy she'd been a singer her mother was a piano player both of my grandparents were piano players there was a tradition of music in the family and i was just drenched in it you know from a young boy um singing in the church choir was something that really benefited me i think it gave me a um i became a very good singer and i became very confident yeah about singing for which for a young kid it's pretty good going really um okay you know i i haven't got the best voice in the world i'm not you know sting or rod stewart but i know how to sing and um and i really enjoy it i think it's everyone should do it join a choir yeah it's it's good breathing breathing all that oxygen in so you're quite happy to be out on the road in your seventies and stuff because yes i mean to be honest i wouldn't have thought that that would be the case um you know how am i gonna be working with guys that are a younger generation than me you know they they've some of these guys that i'm working with you know they they were just babies when i was out yeah um so that's worked fine i i enjoy playing small gigs like we do nowadays to the residual people of our age group that want to come out and listen to rock and roll music i enjoy playing those gigs probably more than i did playing stadiums in the states because you were backstage you know you never made contact with the audience until you walked on you know did your thing and then walled off again sometimes you know you would the car would be in the building you know you you come out of the dressing room get in the car and you just didn't make contact with anyone um all you saw was the gig the hotel and the plane um but nowadays you know playing small places to 100 200 300 people you you meet people that have been you know listening to the music for decades and and they've got something to say yeah and it's interesting i mean there was a guy up in the northeast who who was uh uh a bit he came up to me a few times he was a bit needy he was obviously down on his luck he eventually told me that he'd broken up with his wife and she wouldn't let him see his son who he was really crazy mad about and he was tortured i got the impression he might be taking drugs or definitely alcohol he had no money and i should get him into gigs you know uh free of charge when because he really wanted to come and see us play and when we were in that neck of woods you know you i'd see him and i'm like oh areas you know being needy and and and i help him out well i didn't see him for a few years he was around for quite a while and then i didn't see him for a few years and then i walked in we were doing a small gig at a working men's club up there in the northeast and we're bringing the equipment in and i just happened to look and i thought wow that's that guy i can't remember his name but he looked clean wholesome well-fed he didn't look tortured anymore yeah and he didn't leap up and come rushing over to me he just winked and smiled that meant a lot to me yeah i'd hung in there with him and he got there yeah he fixed himself yes he survived that's my job that's what music does for people it helps to lift their spirits to some people it's about music is about as valid as the freaking wallpaper you know it's just a backdrop to your life yeah but with other people you know they have personal experiences you know maybe a member of their family died or something and the music is something that they shared with that person so it takes on a significance and i have to be i have to be conscious of that i have to be sensitive to that so you know when people come up when they want to chat about the music and stuff it's it's important stuff yeah yeah because i think it's quite crazy to think that a lot of your fans now are grandparents themselves yeah um back in the 70s there were 15 16 year old teenagers and and they stayed here all that time yeah i mean i'm not very good with all that yeah you know i don't know how old my children are i don't i you know my kids i've got i've got a granddaughter who's having a birthday this weekend coming yeah um i've got a clue how old she is but you know some of them i get on great with you know others you know we get on but you know not i don't know it's it's rapport um and you there's no guarantee is there really but um they're all they're all wonderful all the members of the family yeah you know it's it's fascinating because you've got like variations on the same thing it's it's intriguing but i swear off of them i haven't got a bloody clue what my life consists of yeah yeah yeah finally um i just want to ask you because you did the written in the stars album and that that was very successful you got an award for it didn't you and uh the problem is you know back in the 70s when we were signed with um mca universal um you put a record out and it would sell 20 30 50 000 maybe a hundred thousand um you know some of the albums went well quite a few of them went silver gold platinum um if i do an album now it sells a couple of thousand copies yeah yeah you know um the income from it doesn't even pay for the recording yeah yeah sure unfortunately that is a fact of life um i mean okay you know i've got some fabulous recording equipment so you know we can we can afford to make an album but the last time i did that was written in the stars i mean to pay for the equipment that broke during the recording sessions and i had to get fixed cost me i can't remember it as a thousand quid or 2 000 quid but i mean i just about managed to cover that yeah you know um if i had insisted on taking money out for what was it six months of recording something like that i mean maybe it was over six months maybe it wasn't that in total but i mean nobody would have received a penny for making that album yeah so i mean when when the first royalty started coming in it was fairly clear to me that if any of the members of my band were going to receive anything you know um if they didn't they they would be pretty disappointed so we we had to make sure that everyone got paid which meant you know i lost what would be quite a lot of money because we weren't able to pay for the studio time yeah yeah um now going back to the 70s i mean when you are signed to a big record label you know they used to advance us money yeah serious money i think it was it was eight thousand dollars or something in the early seventies by the end of the seventies they were advancing us something like 150 thousand dollars for an album yeah which is a lot of money that can keep a band to float for a year yeah sure unless you end up spending a lot of time in studios can get expensive but um nowadays you've got like streaming companies that are mainly in america they build themselves up into this huge megalith with you know everything available for everyone that they charge for um and they make up their own rules about how much they're going to pay you which is usually point no no no of a cent yeah you know which goes to your record company they take a share of it and then you get like i don't know some minute amount of money unless yeah unless you're getting like tens of millions of hits you know [Music] and unfortunately that economic structure which has kind of replaced the record company with um money that can be used to develop bands um streaming services the only people that are getting rich are the people that are on the street yes yes the money is not ending up with musicians no creative people so if you follow that to his conclusion that is going to snuff out creative music i mean i i hope not but uh that seems to be the way it's going at the moment yeah the economics of of you know being creative creatively involved in music and making um they just don't add up anymore since the demise of big record companies which did it did work you know they made a lot of money and they were in a position to to help bands get established and promote them um not going well though so really going out on the road is the only way you make any money yeah kind of you know selling merchandise and playing gigs but it's hard work and that as well once you get costs um rising like they've done recently with both inflation and the cost of fuel you know that can very easily put a serious thing in the equation yeah so that you know instead of making a small profit you're making a small loss yeah sure we shall see um i mean there's always a way but very difficult so you're quite happy to keep going out on the road at the moment at the moment yeah um you know it's it's not nobody's getting rich but you know it's it's a nice thing to do and at the moment i can still do it yeah yeah you know i'm driving the van with the gear in it singing and playing bass and um despite my age i seem to be able to do that at the moment yeah how long it will last i don't know no okay yeah well thanks very much martin for taking the time out to come and speak to us and good to see you man and there's so much more we can we could talk about but i think yeah yeah it's quite quite a lot more we've covered a break now but yeah thanks for the interview and i'm sure people enjoy what they've heard anyway yeah hopefully and hopefully and we enjoy you playing live anyway yeah yeah yeah it's good isn't it music yeah all right then thanks

2022-05-13 14:53

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