Q & A

Q: Would love it if you came to Edinburgh. Even play at my house – Ross McMillan

A: Ross yes love to. – J.B.

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Q: Re a previous question regarding worst gigs, you said when the drummer went home!!
saw you in widowmaker way back in 1977 in Sheffield where the drummer was drunk and dismantled his kit cutting the set short, any recolections of that night? Plus what was Luther like to work with ? i love his playing and thought too late to cry was, and still is, a great album. – Andy Davidson

Andy that was such a bizarre and sort of unnatural experience for me back in the day although I did learn a lot of stuff about how the business likes to work. Times and trends change but basic principals are the same. Did a lot of stuff in the USA with that band stadiums etc. Luther was a bit of a nutter, but he was also a very good guitar player. I felt he was punching below his weight and was a much better player than the material suggests. – J.B.

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Q: You;ve probably noticed me writing here before about your gigs and guitars. . . But may I ask what amplifiers and fx you use these days?. I can hear delays on some things, bit of vib.. maybe a vox ac30? .. sorry im a nosy musician hahaaha. – John Smith

A: John the amps are pretty standard Fender Super Reverb (circa 1968 ) for Rick and a new Vox combo for me. That said we do have a whole room full of vintage amps too. – J.B.

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Q: I was at the Half Moon on Friday – really enjoyed it! I’m finding myself haunted by “I’m not broken’; not one I knew before. Is there any where I can get hold of it? – Kate.

A: Kate the song has been recorded and now mixed and will be on the next release that’s all I can tell you right now. When we recorded it for the first time we knew it was a good one. – J.B.

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Q: Hi. Are you guys planning your December Musician gig this year? I’ve travelled down from Durham for the last three years. It’s a great way to start the Christmas holidays. If so, any chance of putting in ‘King Fluid’? I’ve seen the band a few times over the years and I can’t recall ever hearing it. – Dave Kemp.

A: Dave yes we do have that booked in for the end of the year but check sites first. There is nothing to stop us doing King Fluid either. That was a good song. By the way its not about booze as the liner notes on Left Hand Band suggest, its about blood and spirit or blood and grace if you like. So that’s a long held concept is it not. – J.B.

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Q: John: Been a fan since your days with Widowmaker. I have the pictures from NYC to prove it. I don’t think that’s a fond memory for you, but it is for me. I’m coming over to the UK in mid-November. ANY chance of the band/solo performance then or is it too early to tell? – Mike Walsh.

A: Mike there are no gigs planned around that time right now but keep checking the site and stuff because one never knows with this band. Widowmaker photos? Blimey they would be interesting to see. That was an odd early experience for me but strangely relevant too. There is a fanzine with an article and interview with me giving my account of that bizarre trip. The name of the mag is Just a Buzz and is available online. – J.B.

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Q: I’ve followed your steps ever since I first heard ‘Like Princes do”. I really love most of it, but for me “Versus the corporate waltz” stands out as your finest work. It’s still top ten of all records in my book. Don’t know if you’ve ever been playing in Sweden, but I haven’t seen you live. But I will plan a trip to London just to see you there. Someday. – Mats Karlsson

A: Mats we like the Corporate Waltz as an album too. Its the third album proper and maybe if it had enjoyed the power of EMI behind it we would have broken through with songs like The Cats Still Scratching which was the only DPW song to be playlisted at radio. We never did tour or gig in Sweden but I know the albums did pretty good there. There is always a first time. – J.B.

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Q: Just wondering if you could add Scotland to your list of possible gigs. – Nicola Mackay

A: Hello Nicola… Thanks for hanging in there with us. Was it the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen by any chance? Glad you got into us and yes we will come to Scotland if someone can arrange it. We always seemed well liked there too. Some sections of the London press still think that we are Scots for some reason and of course we do nothing to dissuade them either. Sometimes we did interviews talking with Scottish accents (although we ended up sounding more Icelandic!) I really admire and envy Teenage Fanclub for sticking to their guns and now it seems things have come full circle for them. Good lads too, met them once in America. – J.B.

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Q: Do you still have the blonde 65 Twin Reverb I sold you? – Paul Wilkie

A: Hi Paul… I recall coming to your place to get the amp. We did a gig last year where Rick used it and it sounded great with his ”Harrison clarity” playing style, it had JBL’s in it by then. Yes a fine amp, but sadly it got sold last year to a player in Wales. One reason is that we made a decision to use smaller less powerful amps onstage so we could mic things up with a more fuller sound. Will probably reverse that decision one day and end up scouring Wales looking for the bloke! – J.B.

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Q: John I am really intrigued as to what the Orange guitar you played in the early days was/is. I have not seen another like it, the body looks like a Fender Coronado but the headstock more like a Gibson. I have diligently studied the ‘Damned Anthems’ DVD to try and get a closer look but I’m no wiser. – Terry

A: It’s a Framus Nashville. They were generally known as a poor mans Gretsch but definitely had a vibe and sound all of their own. I loved playing it especially earlier on. I used it all the way through the SA and Decency tours only really putting it away around 2004 when I started playing a Tele. Framus did a bass version too ( ultra rare.) We saw one once in a shop in Coventry during the ‘Loyal Serpent’ sessions but the shopkeeper was a lunatic who actually used to physically attack customers especially any who expressed an interest in buying an instrument so we didn’t get it. Regret that too because it would have really suited Geoffs style. There was a band in Manchester named the Druitti Collumn who also had a guy playing one. – J.B.

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Q: Marguerite Parkinson here… Formally Nicholls. Mate of Bab’s from year’s back. Hip Relacement is fantastic! – Marguerite Parkinson

A: Hi Marguerite… Friend of Babs? Wow say hello to her from us all she was a real friend and asset in the early days. Thanks for your kind words. Hip Replacement has quite a few hidden gems on it I guess. “All Your Birthdays “ seems to be a favourite. I like” Sigemund Says” cos any song which has the lyric “fuckin Omar Shareef” in it has got to be an object of curiosity at least. “The Bridge” is good too, it features Geoff on accordion sounding guitar. – J.B.

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Q: Was a great night but when you come back in a couple of week is there any chance of at least one DPW song? – Colin Huggins

A: Colin… Wouldn’t rule it out! Maybe ‘What Are You Dreamin Now’ from Hip Replacement , that would be appropriate as it’s a bit Stillsesque. You know what ,playing that incredible music from that unbeatable era has benefited everyone in the band as far as improving as singers and musicians. Adam Ellis has made a great difference and I love singing with his voice in the mix. Also Rick has upped his vocal game bless him! – J.B.

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Thanks for a great night of entertainment at the musician last night, me and my dad really enjoyed your music! – John Smith

Thanks for coming John. Glad you enjoyed it. I was a bit nervous at first to tell you the truth and I am usually never nervous. I hadn’t done a solo gig for years and had never played much of that set live. Some of the songs were brand new while doing things like Billy and The Snakecharmer was a challenge. I enjoyed it though and it will get stronger too. – J.B.

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Q: How about a gig in Kendal? – Jim Fothergill

A: OK Jim we can look into it .Dont think we have ever played in Kendal so yeah new ground and all of that. – J.B.

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Q: How are you able to make a living out of music in this day and age? – Liam

A: We make a living through doing a variety of gigs and stuff .Sometimes we fragment and do duo or even solo work .We will do private parties and all kinds of different things .Rick gives lessons too. Also the Marrakesh thing does ok when its going. Royalties do come in too, not much but not bad. A lot of travelling is involved. – J.B.

Q: Do you feel the music press misjudged the band? – Liam

A: The music press did really misjudge us at the time of SA .They assumed we were some anthemic stadium celtic thing when infact we have never been so .Its probably because of ignorant journalists at the time and our attitude to a chorus .It was the radio which misunderstood the most however .Some sections of the press did suss us out correctly. Funnily enough they seem to be the ones still in business! – J.B.

Q: What was the reason for Geoff leaving after Corporate Waltz and how is he doing these days? – Liam

A: Geoff got into a bit of fatalism after we were blown out by EMI and kicked back into having a a drink or two. He didn’t play on all of the Corporate Waltz although what he did play is fantastic (check out Where Will The Birds Sing). Right now Geoff is a very together individual and in my opinion is playing the best bass of his life. The guy is in a league of his own. – J.B.

Q: What was the story of your relationship with Balfe and Food? – Liam

A: David Balfe??? He is the only person I have ever known who I have simultaneously wanted to protect (from his own ridiculous self) and punch in the mouth! He is a supremely pragmatic guy and actually pretty good company, but also capable of being extremely unenlightened and un-hip. He had an enormous red sofa in his house where his legs used to just dangle over the edge and a massive map of the world behind his back in his office which made him seem like Eisenhower. He never really understood us but that wasn’t due to his lack of trying it was more down to our Leicester personalities. I would have loved to have provided him with the global success he saw us as capable of but there you go. After we were dropped it was as if we didn’t exist in his universe. As I said he is very pragmatic. – J.B.

Q: If you were given the opportunity to change anything on Decency, would you change it and what would you do? – Liam

A: Alter anything on Decency? Yes the producer and the ridiculous piano on Hot Summer Water (my favourite DPW song.) – J.B.

Q: How difficult was it for the band after Moth left to find a replacement? – Liam

A: Replacing Moth was emotionally very difficult. He was a founding member and for a very long time after his departure it seemed impossible to replace him in spirit. It was the right thing to do though both for the band and him in the long term. I felt confused and guilty for years afterwards but the fact that it hurt so much was proof that it was a just decision. Dave Anderson came into his own from about ‘93 onwards and became the most consistent Diesels drummer. He is still a brilliant player, as is Moth. – J.B.

Q: Was there any major label interest after EMI/Food? – Liam

A: Phonogram and Sony both expressed an interest but it didn’t come to anything. Phonogram actually offered a deal but bad legal advice on our part scuppered it. I re-signed to EMI in ‘96. – J.B.

Q: How did you get into Moby Grape and Springfield etc? – Liam

A: Mainly through Moths old band who were from Leicester. They were called Legay, later changing to Gypsy. They did a lot of Grape and Springfield covers. Geoff and I thought they were amazing. Three guitars and harmonies etc. In a way DPW is directly descended from this band! – J.B.

Q: What’s the bands reputation like in the music industry? – Liam

A: We have got an good reputation I guess in the business as a whole. People who are aware of us generally associate us with class and ability especially A&R survivors from the time. – J.B.

Q: What are you most proud of about the band? – Liam

A: I am really most proud of the fact that we did five more albums after being dropped by a major.It was certainly a case of being led entirely by the music. I would suggest that many bands would have split in the same set of circumstances but we didn’t. – J.B.dividing line

Q: Where can you buy ‘What Kept You.’ – Jonathan McKernie, Steve Wilkins, Dave Cook

A: The ‘What Kept You’ album was only available via our online operation when it was run by Keith in Sheffield, but is now out of print so apologies for that misleading info. That said the recordings still exist so perhaps we can look at reintroducing them via this site. – J.B.dividing line

Q: What were your best and worst gigs? – Stanley Bowles

A: The best gigs are the ones where you feel great afterwards and the worst are the ones where someone says “the sound was weird tonight,” but specifically I remember a great gig in Bonn during the Shakespeare Alabama European tour and strangely enough one in Newport, Wales around the same time. They both stick in the memory, the latter because Rick and I had been up for a couple of nights prior to it drinking and raging in Manchester so by rights we should have been really whacked out, but instead seemed to be really full of energy for some reason! Sometimes a band (well certainly DPW) hits its best in the most unusual circumstances like obscure gigs or even rehearsals. It’s when it all gels together both sound-wise and dynamically. I know it’s a legitimate demand from a paying audience that it should always be great, but that is just not possible given the human element to it all. We never have done anything other than our utmost best even if its ended up sounding a bit ropey. Worst gig? The one where the drummer decided to go home takes some beating . There is a clip on Youtube of us doing ‘Here I Stand’ that night, Geoff is merry though! – J.B.

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Q: Hi there, just wondering if you had any plans to come to Ireland? Saw you support Big Country in 1989 and thought you were brilliant. – Tony Kelly

A: Tom that’s a long time back , glad you are still keeping up with us. No plans to come to Ireland at the moment but this is DPW and you should always expect the unexpected (and the unexplained). We were only talking about those gigs in Ireland during ’89 the other night. Lets see what we can arrange. – J.B.

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Q: Could I ask you Rick, What Telecaster is it that I’ve seen you with on several videos? – John Smith.

A: John the Tele Rick used on Shakespeare Alabama and most of our other albums is a 1978 standard issue, he often employed a pretty impressive technique of playing from the headstock! The best example of this is on the song Everything Works Both Ways from our album Hip Replacement. – J.B.

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Q: Possible title ( One we’re all victims of…….), Almost lost my hair. – Steve Wilkins

A: Mmmm… Steve how about ‘only one hair left and that’s looking weird and alone.’ Keep the titles coming. – J.B.dividing line

Q: Come on John, spill the beans.What tuning do you use? – Llewellyn Morris

A: I use standard tuning but play with the thin E string at the top ,as you may have seen , this does give an unusual tone to chords and infact is responsible for the DPW drone found in songs such as When The Hoodoo Comes and Like Princes Do which are both in the key of B neutral , a no-mans-land of a key ! Rick would sometimes play in G tuning and even B tuning as well as the more common drop D. – J.B.
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Q: Whatever happened to the album that was planned a year or so ago.? Forget the name but it was to be a compilation of ‘lost songs’ from 1992 onwards. – Jonathan McKernie

A: The album is called What Kept You and is available online Johnathan. – J.B.