Friday, 14 December 2012

The Man With The Golden Voice - Paul Carrack Interview

Andy Howells spoke to The Man With The Golden Voice, Paul Carrack in December 2012 prior to his appearance at St David's Hall, Cardiff in January 2013.
It’s fair to say Paul Carrack is a music legend in his own right. His career has been going strong for over four decades. Among his CV of successes are the 1974 hit How Long? with Ace, lead vocal on Squeeze’s 1981 track Tempted and singing Mike and The Mechanics 1988 worldwide hit The Living Years.

Paul’s career was recently documented in a BBC Four documentary The Man with the Golden Voice. “There was an amazing response to it” he says, commenting that he probably reached more people in their living rooms through that programme than he ever could at any music venue. Is it difficult to get exposure on TV these days? I ask. “We don’t depend on it,” states Paul before continuing “We live and die by hard slog”.

Paul certainly maintains his hard slog attitude to work, although he is currently taking a break from his successful tour he is visiting Germany this Christmas to perform with SWR Big Band over the festive season. He recorded a Christmas album with them a few years back “We’ll be performing some old chestnuts, which is good fun and they’re a hot band” he enthuses.

“If the second half of the tour goes as well as the first it will be brilliant,” Paul said of his January 2013 date in Wales,“We’ve had a really good response so far. I’ve played St David’s Hall a few times and it’s always a good venue.”

The show will span music from Paul’s long career, although he jokes he won’t be doing everything, otherwise he’ll be there all night and his wife will be none to happy if he gets home late. “There’s a mixture of old and new,” he says “including How Long, The Living Years and Over My Shoulder with a good proportion of new material.”

Some of the new material heralds from Paul’s latest release Good Feeling which follows the good tradition of melodic inspiration fans have come to expect from him over the years. “I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel,” he says, “I follow a traditional style of two choruses and a middle bit. I just want to spread good vibes. I have no political axe to grind and am happy to spread the love!”

Following the tour, Paul will then be out on the road with Eric Clapton, are there any more plans for 2013 for Mr. Carrack? “I’ve got some shelves to put up,” he jokes, “but I think that’s enough to be going on with!”
  • A version of this interview originally appeared in The Guide supplement during December 2012
  • For the latest news on Paul Carrack visit his official website.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

In Concert: Marty Wilde's Rock 'N'Roll Party, St David's Hall, Cardiff

British Rock 'N' Roll legends don’t come much bigger than Marty Wilde and that was clearly evident when he stepped onto the stage of St David’s Hall last Friday evening for the latest date of his Rock 'N' Roll Party Tour.

Looking fabulous in a Rock 'N' Roll stylised yellow jacket, Marty backed by The Wildcats launched into the Elvis classic Lets Have a Party before treating fans to further hits Bad Boy, The Everly Brothers The Price of Love (which featured Marty on harmonica) and John Leyton’s hit Johnny Remember Me, of which Marty performed as a tribute to his friend who couldn’t make the Rock N Roll Party tour due to ill health.

Two slots in the evening were also given over to fellow performers Eden Kane and Mike Berry. Fifty years on from his greatest hits Well I Ask You and Boys Cry, Eden clearly hadn’t lost the ability to hold the audience, even encouraging participation on some numbers. Mike Berry who was Britain ’s own answer to Buddy Holly back in the early 60s also pleased fans with his own hits Tribute to Buddy Holly and The Sunshine of Your Smile which Mike joked is now very popular at funerals.

Marty made several returns to the stage during the evening delivering his own classics Jezebel and Teenager in Love while The Wildcats paid a warm tribute to bass guitarist and former Shadow Jet Harris who died last year by performing a memorable rendition of Jet’s 1963 chart topper Diamonds.

The evening rounded off with all Marty, Eden and Mike uniting to perform some classic Rock 'N' Roll tributes and Marty commenting “When you tell you’re friends where you were tomorrow tell them we weren’t a tribute act – we were the real thing!” After half a century of performing that’s quite a testament!

Monday, 29 October 2012

In Concert: The Sensational 60s Experience (2012), St David's Hall, Cardiff

"It’s good to see people of all ages here tonight," said The Ivy League’s Joe Brennan as he compered The Sensational Sixties Experience on Thursday evening. "Yes, Ice Age… Stone age…" the audience laughed, and rightly so, as the best 60s music show in town hit Cardiff.

First up were The Ivy League, famous in their heyday for tracks such as Funny How Love Can Be and Tossin’ and Turnin’, who joked with the audience between numbers, while reminding everyone of some great sounds from the swinging decade.

The first half ended with The Union Gap UK recalling the sounds of Gary Puckett’s original Union Gap including Young Girl and Lady Willpower.

The second half kicked off with Herman’s Hermits featuring original drummer Barry Whitwam recalling some of their greatest hits. Whitwam told of the Hermits meeting with Elvis Presley when touring the States back in the 60s and revealed the banjo sound created on their hit Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter was created by a guitar muffled with a handkerchief.

Then, The Tremeloes featuring original drummer Dave Munden and guitarist Rick Westwood topped the bill with a sensational set including Do You Love Me, Twist and Shout, Here Comes My Baby and Silence is Golden.

The evening rounded off with all four bands returning to the stage to perform a rock n roll medley that had everyone in the house joining in. As famous 60s DJ Alan Fluff Freeman might have said "Sensational? Not Arf!"

Monday, 1 October 2012

Drummer Still On The Beat With The Tremeloes - Dave Munden Interview

1960s pop legends The Tremeloes, famous for their hits Do You Love Me? and Silence is Golden will play St David’s Hall, Cardiff later this month. Andy Howells chats with founder member drummer Dave Munden about the band’s heyday.

“I’m the only one who has been in the band all the time, so I’m in every photo there is of The Tremeloes,” says drummer Dave Munden, who along with school friends Brian Poole and Alan Blakley formed The Tremeloes in Dagenham, Essex , around late 1958.

“Brian and Alan had a couple of Hofner acoustic guitars on which they used to sing Everly Brothers stuff,” remembers Dave. “I used to sing along with them and one day Alan said ‘Do you want to join the band? We’re having a practice tonight around the greengrocer’s shop!”

“So I went over, he sat me down at the drum kit and got me to keep time with the music. I sang and drummed at the same time and that’s how I joined the band.”

Like most bands of the era, The Tremeloes, fronted by Brian Poole, did their apprenticeship on the live circuit. With several personnel changes and the arrival of Rick Westwood on guitar in 1961, the band auditioned for Decca Records on New Year’s Day 1962 and ultimately won a recording contract over four lads from Liverpool known as The Beatles.

Brian Poole and The Tremeloes released several singles before scoring chart success in 1963 with their upbeat version of Twist and Shout.

The next single, Do You Love Me? toppled The Beatles’ She Loves You from Number One. “It was unbelievable,” says Dave. “To get a number one record in the charts was fantastic.”

The Tremeloes pictured with Brian Poole in 1963
Further personnel changes saw Brian Poole go solo in 1965 and Chip Hawkes join the band when they transferred to CBS records. The Tremeloes returned to the top of the charts in 1967 with Silence is Golden and maintained chart success with several feel-good hits including Call Me Number One and Here Comes My Baby.

“We were in great spirits,” remembers Dave, “when we got in the studio we had a good time and it came across on all the records. Really that’s what the band is now on stage. We like to have a laugh and get the audience involved.” Dave says The Tremeloes were “always a good live band” and this has helped their popularity endure over the last five decades.

The Tremeloes’ current tour will be the last to feature Rick Westwood, who is due to retire from the band. Dave describes Rick, who sang the original lead vocal on Silence is Golden, as “a great guitarist – a one off. He plays like nobody else.”

Fans can catch Dave and Rick along with Jeff Brown and Joe Gillingham as The Tremeloes in The Sensational 60s Experience at St David’s Hall, Cardiff on October 25, 2012. Joining them will be Herman’s Hermits, The Ivy League and Union Gap uk.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Meet The Band: Paper Aeroplanes

West Wales duo Paper Aeroplanes are gaining a huge following as they tour the UK. Andy Howells catches up with lead vocalist Sarah Howells...

WHO are you and where do you originate from?
We’re Paper Aeroplanes, Sarah Howells and Richard Llewellyn and we come from Milford Haven and Aberporth.

How long have you been together as a band?
We’ve been playing music together for ages but Paper Aeroplanes has been a band since 2008.

How would you describe your style of music?
With great difficulty. Folk Emo is my favourite at the moment. I think describing music is about as easy and useful as describing food. It’s best to try it for yourself.

What’s your best live experience so far?
Probably supporting Ron Sexsmith in a packed Cathedral gig in Cologne. That was pretty special, playing and watching Ron. But sometimes our most intimate gigs in tiny spaces can have a really amazing atmosphere. It’s all about connecting with the audience so whenever that really happens it makes for an awesome gig.

What are you working on at the moment?
We’re writing and getting ideas together for our next album. We’re very excited about it. It feels like our most complete and representative collection of songs we’ve written so far.

Where can we catch you live?
We’re on a bit of an epic tour of the UK in May and June. In Wales you can catch us at:
● Mon June 4 – Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye
● Weds June 6 – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
● Fri June 8 – Arts Studio, Swansea˚ Grand Theatre
● Sat June 9 – Torch Theatre, Milford Haven Keep

  • A version of this Q&A by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment section The Guide on May 25, 2012.

The Christians Celebrating 25 Years In Music - Garry Christian Interview

Ahead of tonight’s gig at The Globe, Cardiff, The Christians front man Garry Christian talks to Andy Howells about their 25th year in music.

The Christians soulful pop harmonies and intricate synth sounds were a mainstay of the British pop chart during 1987 and 1988. The Liverpool ensemble’s hits Forgotten Town, Ideal World, Words and Harvest For The World set them apart from the manufactured pop and soft rock acts of the era.

Garry Christian the lead singer of the band believes their individual music style helped give them an appeal that has spanned 25 years. “That’s why it stands up today,” he says. “That’s why people come and see us –because in a way we’re timeless. If you listen to Forgotten Town it’s got that big snare and reverb you don’t hear on today’s records.It is of its time, but the actual songs when we do them live, they just stand up today they’re great.”

Garry, his brothers Russell and Roger and It’s Immaterial Keyboardist Henry Priestman united in the mid 80s to “get a tape together” before signing to Island records. The band took its name from Garry and his brothers’ surname as well as Henry’s middle name. Their self titled debut album reached number two in the album chart and was followed up a year later with their second album Colour, both of which have just been reissued to mark the bands 25th anniversary.

Fans can expect to hear these classics as well as their version of The Isley Brothers Harvest for the World when they play The Globe in Cardiff tonight. “I really kind of sweated over doing that,” confesses Garry about Harvest for the World. “The Isley's? How do you take it away from THEM? But we did and I’m really glad we did it really.”

Garry is looking forward to a return visit to Wales. He said: “Me and Wales are kind of connected, because when I was a kid my mum had a kind of caravan bungalow in Blaenau in North Wales. I love Wales.”

The UK tour will culminate with an appearance at The Isle of Wight festival and the release of a new album Speed of Light. “It’s all sounding great and I’m really proud of it,” said Garry, who is still passionate about music and excited about the festival. He said: “We’re looking forward to that and not only just to see Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and Bruce Springsteen. “There are a few acts I want to see, so we’ll do our gig and get off to see them.”

  • This interview by Andy Howells was published in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on May 25, 2012.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Meet The Band: Manhattan Coast

AHEAD of their May 18 gig at Le Pub, Newport, South Wales band Manhattan Coast chat to Andy Howells about their new EP.

Who are you and where do you originate from?
We are Manhattan Coast, an alternative rock band coming from Bridgend/Llantwit Major.

How did you come together as a band?
A few of the current members were in a previous band together called Death Quit Dancing. When new members joined, we began writing new material that was taking a different musical direction towards what that band was, so we decided on a name change and started from scratch.

How would you describe your style of music?
We would describe ourselves as alternative rock, influenced by bands such as Deaf Havana. As much as we like to write heavy riffs and catchy hooks, we also like to write melodic music as well. If we feel inspired to write something that appeals to us, then we’ll go ahead and write it and hope other people dig it, too.

What’s your best live experience so far?
Best live experience would be playing with great local bands such as Straight Lines and The Guns. To be on the same bill as bands who are putting their own stamp on South Wales and its music scene is something we’re proud to be a part of.

What are your plans for the next few months?
We have our Never Tell Me The Odds single EP, which will be available to download from May 14, and the video is already on our Manhattan Coast YouTube channel. Also on our YouTube channel is a cover of Dedication To My Ex that we’ve just recorded. We also plan on recording our first EP in the summer and releasing it in July/August.

Where can we catch you live?
You can catch us at our own single launch on May 18 at Le Pub, Newport, which is a free show and consists of some of South Wales’ best live bands around at the moment. There are also plans to play more shows towards the end of the summer around the South Wales area.

  • A version of this Q&A by Andy Howells, appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment section The Guide on May 12, 2012.