Thanks so much to Nicky Scott for the interview!
++ 20 recorded songs but no releases. How did you end up recording so many songs and not putting them out on a record?
i suppose we were developing our sound and never thought about putting them out as singles or a cd.
++ How many demos were released? Do you remember the tracklist of them?
We released 3 demo’s with hand felt-tipped covers and envelopes, which was a great job !
1) Randall and Hopkirk (deceased)
2) Three White Leopards
4) Hide the Clock
1) Cloak and Dagger
2) The Magic Faraway Tree
3) Amateur Dramatics
4) The Wishing Chair
2) Painted They Stare
3) Claiming Islands
4) Soap Sculptures.
++ How did The Wishing Chair came together? Was the Carlisle music scene small? Did the name The Wishing Chair come from Enid Blyton’s books?
We had all been friends for a long time, and had been in a band six years previously together called ‘Long Street’. Stephen and I were school friends and had been in a band together at school called ‘Jamswamp’ after school we worked together delivering beds and furniture and had a love of music and Carlisle United, we met Liz when we were thirteen through a friend and great inspiration at the time called Steve Harkins who was singer/songwriter.simon was alot younger than us but fit in really well, and we knew him from various bands around town. At the time there was a very healthy mix of bands, who were all very supportive of each other, The Twiggs, who were my favourites, Cosmic Cat, the E-Springs, The Cat in the Hat, The Mighty Helmets, April Sunshine, Red Mullet, 10 Gladioli. The name certainly did come from Enid Blyton, A world of make believe, but with both dark and light story lines The sense of escape, adventure and realising true and full potential are laced throughout each song and each song was like a short story with characters entering, telling their tale then disappearing off…to I know not where
++ Speaking about children books, which are your favourite 5?
– Lion the witch and the wardrobe (there’s a theme here isn’t there, of magical lands)
– Lord of the rings (as a series of books)
– The Wishing Chair (of course)
– The magic faraway tree
– The Shoot football annual of 1975 (as Carlisle United were featured in it as they were in the top big las league then)
++ What were your first dreams and intentions with the band? Did you have any particular style or band you wanted to sound like or was it mainly about getting together and having a good time while playing?
Getting together, having a good time and blending everything we’d ever heard into our own sound was how we sailed all the songs were drawn from emotion and real life and fantasy
The dream was to stay dreaming…
++ Seems like you and the others were in a couple of other bands on the side, was it hard to find time for Wishing Chair? Which were these bands you were involved with? Were being in bands and play music a common hobby in Carlisle?
Stephen and I both played in different duos playing the working mens club/pub/bingo hall circuit which provided us with a living. Stephen was in partnership with guitarist Ian ‘mert’ from the Daisychain Connection in a duo called ‘Waiting for the Postman’ and I was in ‘the men upstairs’ with Paul Musgrave who was the singer in ‘Celtic Storm’, so if we were playing at night, we would rehearse in the afternoons, the duos were our bread and butter so we needed to do it, and we played 3/7 nights a week, I enjoyed it but I think stephen would say different. I suppose being on the circuit you come across many musicians across the ages from your area, so everybody did seem to be a musician, but its like that in every town im sure
++ Being from Cumbria, so close to Scotland, who were more influential for you at the time, Scottish bands or English bands? I guess also Scottish bands toured more around your town, right?
I love it that Carlisle used to be in Scotland (even though I love being English) I feel it breaksdown the crazy nationalistic sillyness that sadly has ebbed and flowed throughout history. We’re a City firmly influenced by both, aswell as Italians (who came to build a great big wall) and Danish who came and knocked down loads of walls, then settled down to stay I love how when you peep under the covers of nationality you see that it is indeed a great big collage of identity.
As a band we were influenced by both English & Scottish bands soaking up everyting we came across (like a big pop sponge).
Touring wise we got a good mix back in the 1970’s & 80’s sadly the bands used to play in our Market Hall, which had a glass ceiling so in the summer it was like watching a gig in a green house
++ Last summer Paul Vickers wrote a piece about you saying that “the music they played was quite skiffley, but with Johnny Marr-style guitar. It had a Hans Christian Andersen quality to it as well – lots of childlike imagery”. That’s a nice comment to receive! What about the Hans Christian Andersen reference, you think it was based on the music itself or simply the rather imaginative song titles (mainly thinking about 3 White Leopards which indeed could’ve been a child play by Andersen, and of course The Wishing Chair)?
Paul’s description is absolutely ace we couldn’t have put it better ourselves We were always facinated by the different levels of things like Hans Christian Anderson they were adult stories told in a child like way with all the hope, fear and excitement that childhood holds and with no limitation to imagination and possibility. 3 White Leopards is a pastiche of TS Eliot poems i’ve always been fascinated by ‘metaphysics’ (on a very basic level, not the deep deep really complicated levels that talks about maths and stuff, but on the level of it being ‘the theory of being and knowing’) this was a theme throughout all the Wishing Chair songs.
++ How often did you practice together and how did the usual rehearsal look like? Did you meet for other things other than playing, like mini golf or maybe paint ball?
We used to rehearse as much as we could, I would think at the beginning it was everyday, and that continued, we loved sculpting the songs, Simon our drummer was brought in once a week , so it was me, Stephen and Liz practicing round the fireside most nights, and in our spare time we all enjoyed origami and shark fishing together.
++ You recorded the song Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), was it your favourite TV Show and why? Which other TV shows did you enjoy back then?
Randall & Hopkirk was such a great concept two detectives and one of them a ghost who could walk through walls and basically be wherever he wanted without being spotted.
Fave TV show was Mr Benn the very thought of having a mate (in a fez) who can offer you different costumes and doorways to felt tip coloured worlds completely blew up my tiny brains as a child and still sets off quite a few explosions now.
++ Its interesting that you never released any records but managed to shoot some live videos. Were you a live band more than a studio one? Any particular gigs that you remember the most?
We did a bit of everything. we used to enjoy playing acoustic in the bar of our local arts theatre before and in the intervals of productions,because it was like our fireside rehearsals,very intimate, i don’t think we ever had a bad gig,it was all a big adventure.
++ What was the biggest highlight of The Wishing Chair as a band?
Being in a band together
++ Why and when did you call it a day? What did The Wishing Chair members did after?
I don’t think we ever split up ! we’ve all done loads of different things since then, Stephen is a professor of pop and spreads the word in many directions, Liz is postmaster general and runs base camp, Simon toured the world playing in big bands on cruiseships and I live in Thailand and have a live music venue
++ You now have your own band November222 and you included The Wishing Chairs song ‘Wishing Chair’ on your first live show (which you do superbly)! Have you ever covered other Wishing Chair’s songs?
hey thanks, we did a version of ‘digging in the shade’ i didn’t play the original recording to the Thai lads in the band, so it was a very different version,and i was singing it, i have some live video, so it maybe will be on youtube on eday . and most nights i do an acoustic set in the bar and one or two songs sometimes make the set.
++ Thanks so much! Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for taking a trip in The Wishing Chair, Off we go, we know not where ………