Q. How and why did you choose to call this new band ‘Our Arthur’
A. Granddad’s name, middle name, name of characters in some of my favourite films… and it was the only name I could think of that my friends said was any good. In fact they hated all the other ideas I had! Also as it’s not a ‘band’ as such, at the moment, just me and friends helping out, as and when they can, and when I need them, so I figured a name that sounds as though it could be a full band or a single person would work best, and I think Our Arthur fits the bill perfectly.
Q. Why have you started to play old songs from The Groove Farm / Beatnik Filmstars days, if this is a new thing?
Q. I was always wary of doing this, but I’ve mellowed a lot over the years, and as my friends tell me, they are my songs, I invented them, so I have the right to play them if I so desire. And they’re dead right. It’s also nice to be able to pick and choose from quite a vast back catalogue. Plus in the Groove Farm’s case, I want to try and help sell some copies of the new CD that Big Pink Cake have just released.
Q. Is there any old song you would never play again?
A. Yes, plenty of them. But I can’t think of any off the top of me head…
Q. You’ve so far only played one show as Our Arthur, how was it for you?
A. I enjoyed it. It would have been nice if a few more people had been there, but those that were seemed to very much enjoy it. Although some people who were there in the building, as the show was part of the Big Pink Cake’s Summertime Special all dayer, that I hoped would like it, and somewhat foolishly expected to like it, were the ones that didn’t show any interest at all, so I don’t know what to make of that, but I guess it’s down to the old, can’t please ‘em all thing. Or perhaps as usual in my case, my face doesn’t fit, or I’m not accepted as part of the little clique or scene… Who knows? But I suppose it’s my own fault for expecting anything from anyone. And I am only talking about two people in particular. But you know what? If even only one person enjoyed it, that’s good enough for me. It was an acoustic show, which I’m currently into the idea of ... although later I will do some full band louder stuff, but something appeals to my lo-fi kind of way of thinking… about just turning up with a couple of acoustic guitars, bit of percussion and away you go…Trev from Odd Box Records said it was great, and I respect his opinion, so I was more than happy.
Q. Is the new album ready yet? It’s taken a while…
A. It has taken longer than usual for me, but I did record more than a hundred and forty new songs, then I had to decided which ones fitted with what it is I’m trying to get across to people. Plus I had a terrible year with various illnesses, There was a point I started to think I wasn’t going to live long enough to make the new record. I had to have brain scans and stuff, but it all turned out alright…and yes they found a brain before anyone makes the joke! … There’s still an on going thing, where I am sick quite a lot. It seems I have some weird stomach thing going on, but I don’t think it’s life threatening just horrible. But the album is almost ready. Just doing last little bits and bobs. It’s good though, it’ll be worth the wait, if anyone out there has actually been waiting for it…
Q. What’s it called?
A. I haven’t decided yet
Q. When will it be out?
A. When someone nice offers to put it out.
Q. Describe it if you can…
A. Very poppy, very witty if you get my dry sense of humour. Jangly, tuneful, melancholic, sad, happy, I dunno…it’s not easy to describe music without comparing it to other bands, which I don’t really want to do. It’s just a bunch of very good songs recorded cheaply, actually, recorded for nothing in an attic… but… I’ve tried to make it sound as good as I could manage. I think it’s a good as ‘Tigermilk’ by Belle & Sebastian...I guess it's along those kind of lines, just good pop songs. It might even be better…did I really just say that?! You know The Pale Fountains? Well I aimed to try and get it sounding like their ‘Longshot’ album…the rougher live tracks and cheaper recordings…as there’s no way I could compete with the costly productions of their proper albums. I’m not really sure I’ve even got very close to that, but I have aimed high, but you have to accept recording in such a cheap lo-fi manner, there is a limit to what I can achieve. My friend Jez (former Groove Farm drummer) has got the Death By Chocolate orchestra doing some lovely stuff on a few tracks…If it sells ok, I might actually record the next one in a real studio! I guess a lot of the songs have slightly down-trodden lyrics, but nothing get's too depressing, even in the bleakest parts, there's always a glint of hope, and sunshine shining through the smallest cracks. A bit like the old saying about lying in the gutter, but looking up at the stars... If songs are too happy, somehow they seem slightly annoying and fake. No one's life can be that great. Certainly not anyone I know!
Q. Do you expect it to sell well?
A. I always expect my records to sell well, I’m often disappointed! Actually, I'm joking. I've always been reasonable lucky with record sales, and even in this day and age when it’s getting so hard to shift records, I don’t, or haven’t done too badly at all. So we shall see.
Q. Big Pink Cake have released a Groove Farm CD, what was the thinking behind that?
A. They were Groove Farm supporters back in the day, and they still like the songs, it’s that simple. People still write to me from all over the world wanting to get hold of the old records, so it was nice to put a best of collection together, and to remix slightly on a few songs. And to re-master, to get them sounding as good as possible. Which was all done by Rocker (Flatmates, Rosehips, Dandelion Radio) and he did a excellent job. I personally feel it’s a cracking album. It reminds me of the times, it’s youthful and exciting. I’m proud of it.
Q. What would you say was your favourite old Groove Farm & Beatnik Filmstars song, and what’s your favourite new Our Arthur song? And you can only choose one of each…
A. The Groove Farm, It Always Rains On Sundays. Always liked that one despite it sounding like it was written by a five year old lyrically! Beatniks : ‘Milk’, possibly. There’s a good few, but ‘Milk’ appeals to my pop nature. New songs, tricky, as at the moment I really like them all, I’ve not had chance to go off any of them yet! ‘Torn Anorak’ is very good if you like sad songs about getting the shit kicked out of you at school!
Q. Wouldn’t Big Pink Cake release the Our Arthur album?
A. I don’t know, I don't know if they'd be so keen on the stuff I’m doing now, maybe, once they hear it, they might love it, who knows... They’re certainly good people to work with that’s for sure. I’m certainly on their side, and will sing their praises to anyone who’ll listen.
Q. Two last questions. What was the last record you bought and who is your favourite current band?
A. Favourite current band, umm...One Happy Island, possibly. I’ve played their album on Odd Box records, to death. Totally my kind of record. I don’t remember the last record I bought…if you count second hand old stuff as well, I tend to buy quite a few records every week, so I really can’t remember…oh, I got the yellow vinyl Beach Boys 7” (Cabin Essence/ Wonderful) with the Mojo 60’s special magazine the other day…so I guess that counts.
Questions supplied by Paul Gregory