Category Archives: interviews

Interview: Terri Walker

TERRI WALKER is trying to convince me that her barely stifled yawns are due to her heavy schedule over the last few weeks and have absolutely nothing to do with my interview questions.

“This month has been kinda crazy,” she says with a sigh as she relaxes into a sofa at her management’s offices in Shepherds Bush, “but you know, it’s worth it.”

Walker’s debut album, Untitled, was among the nominated albums for last month’s Mercury Music Prize, and although Dizzee Rascal’s Boy In Da Corner eventually won the £20,000 prize money, the exposure the competition afforded Walker has given her profile a big boost. She’s a busy girl.

“I’m glad Dizzee won,” she says. “He’s young, he’s giving hope to those kids out there that feel they have to beat someone up or shoot someone in order to get ahead in life. It’s not about the bling-bling. He did it up in his little studio and when he accepted that award, it really touched me. I nearly cried. He deserved it.”

Terri Walker deserves her day in the sun too. Although at the time of going to press it remains to be seen whether she will have any success at the MOBO awards – she was nominated in no less than four categories – whatever happens, Untitled is one of the most assured and accomplished debut albums to have emerged from the British soul scene in years.

Read the rest of this piece at the new home of Expletive Undeleted here.

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Interview: Mark E Smith *2

MARK E SMITH of the Fall is talking to me, eyeball to eyeball, giving me a few pointers about how I might like to approach our interview:

“Is he an idiot like Oasis? Or is he friendly like New Order? Or is he reclusive like Morrissey?” he whines in a fey, airhead manner, before snapping back into reality and fixing me with a surprisingly steely and clear-eyed gaze. “Say what you want. But watch your back.”

MES doesn’t have much time for the people others might regard as his contemporaries. If you see Manchester as one big happy musical family, Smith is the surly step-child in the corner, loudly singing off-key and out of time, spoiling it for everyone. Loving the fact that he is spoiling it for everyone ..

Read the rest of this piece at the new home of Expletive Undeleted here.

Interview: Amp Fiddler

JOSEPH ‘Amp’ Fiddler has a theory that conversations are the dynamic for change in our lives and I’m with him all the way.

How true this is when you’re speaking over the phone, I’m not so sure. Surely you need to be close enough to be able to see the whites of their eyes to really have a chance to know what’s going on in someone’s head?

It’s a shame not to meet the guy in person. Fiddler cuts a striking figure. Tall  – well over six feet when you take into account his hair, which fluctuates between dreads and an impressive afro – distinguished, and a snappy dresser to boot, Amp resembles nothing so much as a latterday funky Malcolm X, stepping out to an afterhours jazz den in his wraparound shades, polo neck and leather raincoat.

But he’s in France, midway through a lengthy European tour, relaxing before tonight’s gig and I’m in the UK, midway through production day, not relaxing before the magazine goes to press. We’ll have to try our best.

Thinking about it, it’s unlikely I’d be able to see the whites of Fiddler’s eyes anyway  one, he’s on tour so they’re probably a little red around the edges (“we’ve been having a lot of fun,” he drawls) and two, he’s rarely seen without sunglasses, even indoors.

Fiddler, however, has been in this game a lot longer than I have and he fields my questions like the seasoned pro he is, his rich, melifluous  if, occasionally, a little croaky  voice booming over the line from Lyon.

The tour is going well. A native of Detroit, Michigan, he “most definitely enjoys the European way of life” and only wishes the weather was a little better, “but it’s okay. I been having a great time.”

Roughly half of the people in his audiences have already heard his astonishingly assured debut solo album, Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly he estimates (well, he actually recorded his debut for a major label at the start of the Nineties, but it wasn’t a happy or rewarding experience); the other half haven’t but, “our show is very dynamic, so if people don’t get it by the middle of the show, they definitely get it by the end. But,” he adds with a chuckle, “most of them get it in the beginning.”

Old enough to say “record” when he means “CD”, young enough to know who Dizzee Rascal is (he recently bought Rascal’s album for his son Dorian), Fiddler is also polite enough not to mention it when I get the titles of his songs wrong or interrupt him, mid sentence. He doesn’t let things bother him. He’s playing a long game. He turned 46 last week but isn’t unduly perturbed: “The older the fiddle, the better the tune.”

Read the rest of this piece at the new home of Expletive Undeleted here.

Interview: Steve Albini

ANOTHER reprint from the annals of GRUNT magazine, this time an interview with legendary guitar-botherer, microphone enthusiast and In Utero, Surfer Rosa and Pod engineer Steve Albini.

After Big Black imploded at the height of their dark, angry power, Albini got together with a couple of the guys from the brilliant Scratch Acid and created a band with a name inspired by their favourite cartoon character.

Steve ‘Weave’ Hawkins put them on in Leeds and the Brag editorial board (Mark, Marie, Doug and me) bugged him into letting us interview the band at their contentious Poly gig.

We were all major Big Black fans and we were all appalled by the name of the new band, even though the music they made was pretty fantastic, with Albini’s big, mad old guitar sound placed front and centre. We had to walk through a picket to get into the venue. Great gig. A bit of a strange night though ..

Read the rest of this piece at the new home of Expletive Undeleted here.

Interview: Antisect

ALONGSIDE Discharge with their “screeching haikus”, Antisect were right at the very limit of what I deemed acceptable in terms of hardcore punk adopting the dynamics of heavy metal.

They were an intensely powerful live band, but it’s fair to say they were none too subtle. My main impression is of gigantic riffs, loads of feedback and even more shouting. And Sideshow Bob-style spiderplant hair, of course.

And they all seemed to be called Pete.

I got to interview them twice in the space of less than a year, first in Leeds and then in Gateshead, either side of the release of their debut album, In Darkness There Is No Choice. The interviews tell two very similar tales of perfectly affable people confronted with the relentless drunken negativity of a fanzine ediot who when it came down to it, just enjoyed arguing as much as anything else.

They were a little more relaxed second time around and among many world exclusives came the extraordinary and shocking news that they actually owned a television set ..

Read the rest of this piece at the new home of Expletive Undeleted here.

Interview: Shaun Ryder*1

WHEN Shaun Ryder – erstwhile actor, author, newspaper columnist, Salfordian crooner, lyrical genius and a man who was banned from Channel Four for saying the fuck-word at tea time – sits you down in his living room and says that he wants to tell you a story, you listen.

“I was walking down Deansgate the other day,” he begins, with a sly look playing across those famously unrefined features. “And a naked man with a big wand touched me on the shoulder and turned me into a frog. And I could see meself in the shop windows. I was a frog!”

shaun_webRyder, TV remote in one hand, bottle of lager in the other, pauses for effect. Maybe coming to the Peak District to interview him in his natural element wasn’t such a good idea after all.

“I turned around the corner and turned back into meself and an alien spacecraft picked me up and took me off on a journey, right?”

What are you on about?

“Every time I go to court, they quote all this stuff I’m supposed to have said in the papers as fact – even stuff from the Sport, which has had ‘We find B52 bomber on the moon’ as its front page headline,” Ryder finally explains. “So I’m telling you that little story there. I can pull that out in court now.”

Nothing is ever as simple as it seems with Shaun Ryder ..

Read the rest of this piece at the new home of Expletive Undeleted here.

Interview: Crow People

CROW PEOPLE came from some pit village near Doncaster but they seemed to play an awful lot of gigs in the ‘industrial garden town’ of Scunthorpe.

I first remember coming across them at one such packed, sweaty gig in the mid-Eighties, although when I ran into Mark (who now has a teenage daughter and a career as a teacher) at the Flux gig at the 1in12 in Bradford last year, he told me that we’d actually met a good few years before when I was wandering around the Arndale in Doncaster, trying to sell records I didn’t want to unsuspecting punk rockers. It’s news to me.

Although they only released a couple of records throughout their career, they never got any press attention (apart from the stuff I wrote myself) and were barely known outside our little patch of South Yorkshire / North Lincolnshire, Crow People were a tremendous live band.

I used to get absolutely blasted, sit on the floor cross-legged and spin-out to their chugging, swirling, psychedelic space-rock. Way fucking cool.

I even ended up putting them on in Leeds, at this mad Leeds Abortion Fund benefit at Leeds Poly with the Wedding Present offshoot the Ukrainians and LS6 indie-sirens Sharon. Coming through a decent PA, Crow People just sounded extraordinarily powerful and intense (though the evening was marred when, at a crazy post-gig party at the Sharon girls’ house, one of their knobhead mates from Donny had an argument with his missus and trashed Paddy’s bedroom ). Their lack of recognition always baffled me.

They released a couple of records on Armstrong’s Meantime label but I have no mp3s for you, I’m afraid. I lost my copy of Cloud Songs years ago. Anyone has a spare, or even photographs of the band, well, you know where I am ..

In the meantime, here’s an interview I did with Mark for GRUNT magazine in 1988 ..

Read the rest of this piece at the new home of Expletive Undeleted here.