Top man and ex-member of the
Grip/Wildhearts/Honeycrack and now in Celebrity Squares. Read on...
|1. What are you currently up
things too numerous to mention, I am putting the finishing touches to
author/comedian Tony Hawks' album, to accompany his book 'One hit Wonderland'
which I was fairly actively involved with. I am also preparing material for
the next series of 2DTV (animated political/social satirical comedy on ITV),
for which I have written the music for the past two series.
This afternoon I am recording
a couple of minutes of music for a new Lenny Henry video - 'Lenny Henry -
This is My Life' I am just about to go up to the Edinburgh festival where
I am appearing for Steve Furst at 'Lenny Beige's Pick of the Fringe' on the
17th and 18th of August, to promote the new single (The Celebrity
Squares/Anyway/Stupid 369CD006) which is released through Cargo on Sept
In between eating, using the lavatory,
sleeping and developing a permanent lip gloss that retains it's colour and
won't remove the enamel from your teeth, I am also mixing the last few tracks
for The Celebrity Squares - my new band.
|2. Who were your
Sorry to opt
out but that's just too hard. It's a bit like 'what is your favourite song'?
Surely most of us know that the answer will depend on where we are in life,
what mood we're in, our physical and mental conditions or which chemicals
might be coursing through our body. Or perhaps whether we feel that we're
in love, or heartbroken etc etc. There are millions of events/people/experiences
that influence me, that seem crucial at the time or later, but irrelevant
five minutes before or after. Besides which, I've never really felt that
I have a career.
My time at various periods, seems
to have been well occupied, but the very word 'career' suggests a strategy
or a goal and I'm not entirely convinced that I've ever had either for more
than a couple of seconds.
|3. Which band would you like to
list of possible answers, but I already feel my own pedantry becoming a burden
so how about I just say JELLYFISH.
|4. I was lucky enough to see you
perform with Tony Hawks at his book launch party the other week. How did
this collaboration come about? Working with two Sir's (Norman Wisdom &
Tim Rice) must have been an experience!
I was introduced
to Tony through comedian/actor Ben Miller, who took me around to Tony's one
night for a musical evening. Five actor/comedians with guitars, and myself,
armed with a guitar and a sneer which quickly turned into a smile as I realised
immediately that Tony was/is one of the few decent people you'll ever meet
in entertainment (or indeed anywhere else). He told me about his recent idea
for a book involving him having a hit record, and invited me to collaborate
as a co-writer and producer.
Before committing to anything,
I went out and bought his first two books, 'Round Ireland with a Fridge'
and 'Playing the Moldovan's at Tennis', and after reading them, found I liked
him and his bizarre yet philosophical approach to life, even more. (Go out
and buy the books, I can't be arsed to walk through the plots here - suffice
to say they are life affirming and well worth the read).
So enthused was I, that I accompanied
Tony to Moldova last May and filmed his triumphant return to a country that
few Englishman had heard of before his book. I then agreed to be involved
in this third project of madness, which involved having a hit record anywhere
in the world within a two year period (an idle dinner party bet, as most
of his adventures have been). We spent weeks in my studio exploring musical
areas and styles, that bore little or no relationship to anything that I
had done before, and for the most part, it was a thoroughly enjoyable departure
The Tim Rice/Norman Wisdom/Hawks
collaboration, was one of the last songs I produced for Tony, and yes it
was surreal. An 87 year old man clowning and tripping himself up all over
the studio like a naughty school boy, while one of the richest lyricists
in the known universe chortled at his antics, (before excusing himself as
he had to be in Stockholm with Benny and Bjorn from Abba), has to go down
as one of the more bizarre moments in my life so far. Not least of which
was a nagging fear, that as I pushed Norman for vocal take after vocal take,
that he might just collapse and I would have to add to my CV; 'Willie Dowling
- The man that killed Norman Wisdom'.
5. Going back in time...the Grip
were a great band (I still have my vinyl album!). Was this ever released
on CD at all? Why do you think big success never came about? Kerrang! were
a keen supporter (if my memory serves right).
Yes the Grip
album 'Be Yourself' is available on CD (although it may well be deleted by
now) on Razor Records, but I don't have a copy myself so can't provide a
catalogue number. By coincidence, it would appear that one of The Grip's
tracks, 'Baby Blue' is about to be used as background music in a Dennis
Hopper/Elizabeth Shue/Joseph Fiennes film titled 'Leopold Bloom', out later
Why were The Grip never successful?
No reason. Not as lucky as some others. You get lucky or you don't, it's
a simple as that. Or perhaps we were actually dreadful, I really don't know,
but at the time I thought we were pretty good.
|6. Your new band The Celebrity
Squares - who is in the line-up and what style of music do you play? (Please
feel free to plug as much as you like!)
The line up
of The Celebrity Squares is as mysterious as it is dull. (I should of course
name check the various performers on the new album. Aside from myself you
can hear, Greg Hatwell, Andy Lewis, Andy Robertson, Hugo Degenhardt, Kate
Stevenson, John Steel, J.Mac and J.B. the horns from hell, and if I ever
get around to finishing 'Deep and Meaningless' Eva Rice and Lucinda Labes.)
The music could be described in the same way, although I would prefer 'eclectic
pop' as an inadequate and lazy way to describe it.
|7. Do you prefer writing in a band
format ie bouncing ideas of other people or on your own? How do your song
ideas come about?
Same sad answer
I'm afraid. Sometimes I prefer to write on my own. Sometimes I want to
collaborate. Sometimes I struggle to complete a song over months, other times
they seem to write themselves in twenty minutes. Which is better? I've no
idea, you tell me.
|8. Who would you like to work with
in the future?
A reformed Jellyfish
might be interesting, or perhaps Jesus, but I don't think I'm
|9. What was the last thing you
I have three
books on the go at the moment: 'Black Vinyl/White Powder' (Simon Napier Bell),
'American Scream - The Bill Hicks Story' (Cynthia True) and I've almost completed
(inevitably) 'One Hit Wonderland' (Tony Hawks) to see if his version of events
bear any resemblance to how I remember our times together....
|10. Message for your
Thank you for
your loyalty, undying support and unfathomable faith in me. You really are
a very nice couple.
'Introducing... The Celebrity Squares'
the debut single from The Celebrity Squares is released on 2 September 2002.
The catalogue number is 369CD006 available through Cargo Distribution. For
further information see The Celebrity Squares' website
Interview © 2002 Jason Ritchie/
Format and edit: The Music Index.
All rights reserved.
Classic Rock News Group