Thanks so much to Gavin, Christine, Stephen and Adrian for the interview! Also a big thanks to Emma, the number 1 Proctors fan, who helped so much on the interview.
Look for the new The Proctors CD out on the Cloudberry Classics series! It includes 5 fantastic pop songs!
‘After returning victorious from a bubble bath wonderland laiden with a chest full of tunes, and the secret to a kings glory. Toys at teatime, a true daydream lay forever in front of us’ Adrian ‘Josef’ Jones (The Proctors) April 2009
++ Who were The Proctors? Why did you name the band The Proctors?
Gavin: Gavin Priest, Christina Priest, Adrian ‘Josef’ Jones and Stephen Davies. The band was named after a kid at school whose nickname was Proctor. He was a bit of an outsider.
++ Did Stephen/Stevie usually spell his name like Steven back then?
Stephen: No it was a printing error. It was always Stephen back then. Stevie is more of a recent thing, but I am tending to mainly stick with Stephen. I think it suits my advancing years better than Stevie. If my name was spelt Steven I would have the same first two names as Morrissey as my middle name is Patrick. Well they are the same but with just a different spelling. I read once that Morrissey said he is glad that is first name (Steven) is spelt with a ‘V’. I’ve never really understood what he meant by this. I much prefer the look of the name ‘Stephen’ with a ‘PH’. When I see the name Stephen Pastel I get quite excited, so I think it will definitely be Stephen from now on.
++ In which bands were you involved with bands before or after The Proctors?
Gavin: Prior to the Proctors I was in This November, The Cudgels. After it was Sweet Jesus, Venus and Groupie. Oh and Autopia and Codename Josephine after this!
Stephen: Myself and Adrian were in The Cudgels along with Gavin. I occasionally come out of retirement to play stand up drums with my brother Andrew who performs shows as ‘Andus’. Adrian is also currently playing drums with a punk band.
++ Why did you like the colour blue so much?
Gavin: I do like blue, how did you know! The deep blue ocean and a beautiful endless sky. And of course its the saddest colour of all…
Christina: Connections to blue are melancholy. Though the songs do not have a ‘Blues’ sound, some of them do have the deep emotions of Blues and I think they are also about the familiar ‘things that we knew.’ (Like Blues) On the flip side, I also believe in ‘Blue Skies’!!
Stephen: Blue is a great colour and it goes with everything. Also the word conjures up imagery that is both personal and universal.
++ Who wrote the lyrics, who did you write them for & how did the others act when they finally heard what was going to be the next lifesaving hit? Were there tears when everything eventually clicked?
Gavin: I wrote most of the lyrics, with Christina doing a few songs also. The tears were ones of sadness and joy! Nothing really clicked, we were usually ‘winging it’, but in some cases the results were pretty good!
Christina: Gavin wrote most of them so he should get the credit but the ones that I wrote were mainly to do with the unhappy time I had at University and a boy I had a crush on who had been to prison. (I was very young and impressionable at the time!)
Stephen: Although I played on a few of the songs I still think of myself as more of a ‘fan’. I love all of the songs. I think the music strikes just the right balance of melody, emotion and energy. When Gavin first played The Proctors demo tape to me I was absolutely knocked out by the songs. There were no tears – just excitement!
++ What did you eat on tour? Did you ever slept on floors? Any particular gig you remember the most?
Gavin: Many times! Usually with a big dog licking my face. That was a good hangover cure! In London we played with Drugstore and Tom Yorke and Michael Stipe turned up. I was pleased to play at the Hacienda in Manchester also. Ian Brown gave me a high five and Rob Gretton who managed Joy Division popped into our dressing room! I’m such a name dropper! These gigs were with Groupie.
Stephen: The Proctors never played a live show. When we started in 1993 the indie scene in the UK was on it’s last legs. The fanzines had died out, nobody was releasing records or starting labels. There was more interest in the band from Europe and the USA – which would have made touring difficult. The indiepop scene of the early 90s wasn’t very romantic although looking back it was great fun. The Cudgels played some good shows. My favourite gigs were the ones we used to do with Po!
++ Almost all your songs mention, in some way, mention space related stuff like the moon, a shooting star, sunshine & Jupiter, by any chance do you believe in astrology? Or maybe you wished to be an astronaut when little? What are the Proctors zodiac signs?
Gavin: I like the idea of space. An endless silent vacuum. I like Ray Bradbury stories like ‘The Kaleidoscope’. I like anything really that can’t be explained by the powers that be. Spiritual stuff. Why does a smell or a song not just bring back a memory, but make you feel a way you did when you heard it years ago. I think thats a kind of time travel…Yes I’m a believer! I love lucid dreams and hairs standing up on the back of your neck. I bet you regret asking that question! I am known to my family for making ‘cosmic comments’ as they call them. Not sure if I believe in horoscopes, seems a bit simplistic, I mean you wouldn’t leave the house on certain days!
Adrian – Virgo
Stephen – Aquarius
Christina: I think anything to do with ’space’ means ‘optimism’ because it shows there is a massive wide world out there full of possibilities. It also reminds us how small (and sometimes fragile) we all are in the greater scheme of things. I think that space also reminds us of how we should all try and be conscious of the ‘universality’ of mankind’s existence.
Christina is a Scorpio. Fiery and fiercely determined. People often think of Scorpio’s mainly to do with the nasty ’sting’ in the tail but one very positive quality is that Scorpio’s are ‘firecely loyal.’ (You will never get a better friend than a Scorpio!)
++ What band did you secretly wanted to be? Why didn’t you become the new Smiths? (Who needs bands like The Smiths while in your adolescence when all you really need is songs like ‘Only Stupid’ or ‘My Youth’ & you’ll be alright!)
Gavin: That’s nice of you to say. Christina wrote the lyrics to ‘My Youth’. ‘Only Stupid’ deals with nostalgia in some ways, I’m terribly nostalgic. And theres a touch of ‘Beam me up Scotty’ in there. I blame David Bowie’s Space Oddity being on the radio all the time when I was about 5.
Stephen: I had always wanted to be in either the original six piece Primal Scream line-up or the original Sea Urchins line up pre-Pristine Christine. That single was released too late – they had lost it by that stage. During the summer of 1986 The Sea Urchins were at their pure pop peak. They were untouchable.
++ What does it takes to create perfection, like you did in ‘Liveforever’?
Gavin: Ha! I like you. Its one of our best efforts perhaps…Lovely and sad! A love song. I was always a little embarrassed about my lyrics, usually picking words that rhyme over any real meaning. But I think subconsciously I wrote things that meant a lot to me. Glad you like that one.
++ Who took the amazing band pictures & why didnt you all win ‘Britian’s best dressed’? my curiosity doesn’t have limits; who got the most girls?
Gavin: That was Debbie Williams – Pete Williams’ wife (he of Dexy’s Midnight Runners fame) We were at college together when I met Pete for the first time and I was star struck as I was listening a lot to Dexy’s first album at the time. Yes good photos! Christina usually got the most girls, which doesn’t say much for the rest of us!
When the Proctors turned up at the studio for our first recording session, guess who the engineer was? Pete. ‘Oh no’ I thought, ‘I have to sing in front of him!’ He recorded all our stuff from then on. Stoker from Dexy’s also popped in during a visit to Pete and Debbie, which was nerve racking for our drummer Ade!
Stephen: I think Gavin is being a little modest here – he was always pretty successful with the girls. He’s got a lovely cheeky smile! Ade did okay and I came in a poor third. I don’t think my technique was very good. I would start conversations with girls about obscure indiepop records and if they hadn’t heard them I would lose interest. Sadly my approach hasn’t improved over the years. Britain’s Best Dressed? Hmmm .. we were pretty good.
++ How did your rehearsals look like? were there biscuits involved or just strict practicing?
Gavin: Yes of course it was a very strict regime. There were custard creams involved as I recall.
Stephen: I can only remember attending one rehearsal. Malted Milk are probably my favourite biscuits but it generally depends on my mood. I suppose the variety packs are the best option.
++ Speaking of biscuits; who made the coffee, or did you prefer tea?
Gavin: I like tea usually..
Christina: Always tea
Stephen: Coffee in the mornings then tea from luchtime onwards.
++ Whatever happened to Christine after The Proctors? She ended up being Queen Elizabeth’s personal singer?
Gavin: I don’t think she’d be allowed into the Palace
Christina: Christina now lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she has made her home. She has a career but enjoys writing creatively. This is a link to an article she had publised about some time she spent living in New York. http://www.bettyconfidential.com/ar/h/a/a01731.html
++ How did your fanbase look like? Please send me a picture if you have so I can copy the look!
Gavin: I will find you a picture
Stephen: It is hard to know what the fanbase looked like as the internet hadn’t really got going and the band didn’t play live. I would say the fans are quite an intelligent bunch.
++ Did you design the artwork for your releases?
Gavin: No unfortunately.
++ Who played the flute on ‘The Other Side of the River’? I dont know if it was with purpose but I always have a king’s fool dancing around on a field with his flute & a nun swaying back & forth singing the vocals in my head. Or yeah OK, I’m pretty sure that’s just me
Gavin: That would make a great video…Pete Williams played the harmonica, and we all imagined a tramp coming out from a canal bridge playing this harmonica bit! Thats 3 great characters for the video. I would have to be the fool as I played the flute (well penny whistle). Christina would be the nun, but who would be the rent boy!
++ All of your songs are quite different. It’s genius how you still managed to make every track flawless. Were you always interested in trying out new sounds and styles and not just sticking to a formula?
Gavin: I suppose we like different types of music. Yes we like experimenting!
++ Which Balti house is your favourite in town? Which football team do you support?!
Gavin: Cafe Le Spice and Wolverhampton Wanderers
Stephen: There are a couple of good balti houses in Walsall and Aldridge. I support Walsall FC.
++ I loved Farewell Farewell, and that is the last song, in order, that was released by The Proctors. After that, it was farewell indeed. Was that on purpose? Why did you call it a day? What did The Proctors do after?
Gavin: That was on purpose…subconsciously. I was in another band. The Proctors had run its course I suppose. We are all alive and well, and totally cosmic! Myself and Adrian may be embarking upon some new Proctors material soon.
The Proctors – Black Tattoos