HYHTO first appeared on the blog in December 2017 it included some of the best stories from interviews during that year, so for this batch there’s a few to choose from. Here’s four of them and first up is Neil Thompson (The Carpettes) from May this year…..I loved going to The Marquee to watch bands but I didn’t really enjoy playing there to be honest. We did six supports there and they were hard work – there was always an attitude in the air ‘Come on then, impress us’ !
We played four nights in November ‘79 with The Lurkers during their residency there. Each gig would have punks sitting on the stage with their backs to us and every now and then one would look around and stare at you – and then turn back around. I much preferred London gigs like The Hope ‘n’ Anchor and The Nashville.
In 1980 we went to Italy three times and Holland once, we also did a short UK tour supporting The Inmates. That UK tour was probably the best two weeks of my life. I was twenty years old, travelling around the country playing music and when we arrived at the venue all the equipment would already be set up by the roadies – heaven! You can’t beat live experience for getting better on stage. It’s no good sitting in the bedroom playing guitar – not gonna get you anywhere.
In April this year I got in touch with Steve Thompson (Songwriter/Producer)……We had one manager guy called Skippy who said we need to have one of those moments like The Beatles on the rooftop. So one Saturday afternoon we went down to Old Eldon Square in Newcastle broke into an office and ran a cable up to the monument in the middle and performed. It was the first time anybody had played there and it hit the papers. It didn’t end well for Skippy, he got arrested and deported back to Australia.
Every now and then you would do a gig where there would be two bands. One night we played The Rex Hotel in Whitley Bay and there are two stages there. Now this was a sign of our ambition cos we used to try and arrive later than the other band so we could headline the gig – we were top of the bill at The Rex (laughs).
The other bands would do it as well cos we saw them driving slowly along the back lanes. Beckett were one of the bands cos I recognised their posh Merc – we only had a van.
Most times we’d be out gigging and finish around 2am in the morning and coming back we’d go to a cafe near Central Station in Newcastle that was open all night. All the bands would go there, we discovered we didn’t need sleep.
I met up with Gary Miller (Whisky Priests) in March 2019…..Our first gig was in October ’85 and the band were just in a fledgling state, none of us were full-time then and were holding down day jobs. We had a loyal following and one of them was called Nigel Wreford, and his dad had a dairy farm. He used to deliver milk and one of the houses on his route belonged to a guy at Tyne Tees Television who produced The Tube, his name was Malcolm Gerrie.
We hadn’t released any records by then but we did have some demo tapes. On his next round the farmer dropped off the milk as usual but put a tape next to the bottles with a note attached saying…Have a listen to this, think you might like it.
This was early ’86 and I was working my first job as a clerical assistant in Social Services at Durham County Hall when the phone rang and my colleague shouted over… Gary, it’s for you… I thought it must have been someone ringing from one of the care homes when someone on the other end said… It’s Tyne Tees Television can you come and do The Tube this Friday. This was at five-to-five on a Wednesday afternoon (laughs).
I did meet Malcolm Gerrie later and he said he was driving in his car when he remembered the tape, listened to it and thought I must get these guys on The Tube. We loved the experience and opportunity for what was a young band then. We were sat in the studio canteen seeing all these famous people off the telly…I recognise him he does the news (laughs).
May 2019 saw an interview with Emma Wilson (Blues Band)…….My first experience of recording was epic! My brother and cousin were signed as 29 Palms by Miles Copeland to IRS Records in 1991. I was asked to sing backing vocal on both their albums. I went from singing in pubs to recording in The Chapel Studio in Lincolnshire with producer Mick Glossop. Mick had worked with musicians with the calibre of Van Morrison, John Lee Hooker and The Waterboys.
Mick was brilliant I basically got a masterclass from one of the legends of record making. He’s an amazing musician who knows how to put a sound together. I was so lucky to work with him at such an early point in my career. Vocals on the 29 Palms album required a much more intimate and harmonically complex sound than I had ever used vocally. I done 6 or sometimes 8 layered vocal track’s all on tape not digital. I still use the techniques he taught me today.
In 2002 I toured the UK supporting Fine Young Cannibals. After the first couple of gigs I noticed the audience were mostly made up of women who were big fans of the singer Roland Gift. They saw the support act as just more time to have to wait and see him.
So I started to mention him in my set Oh I’ve just seen Roland getting his dinner things like that and they loved it. They’d just made a connection. After that they listened to my set and it made the gig easier and more fun. Roland thought it was hilarious and was extremely sweet to us.
Interviews by Gary Alikivi.
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