Thanks so much to Matt and Richard Bolton for the interview! Check more about Windy Miller at their facebook page and become a fan!
++ Windy Miller formed from the ashes of two bands, The Apple Moths and Love Truncheon. The Apple Moths are quite familiar to me, but Love Truncheon is not! Care to tell me a bit about this band? Were there any recordings?
Matt: I still don’t know who Love Truncheon were. Dan the drummer from Windy Miller originally played with them, whoever they were, and maybe Russ who came later to join on guitar. Richard will know more about this than me. Richard?
Richard: Love Truncheon were a rock band formed by russ and dan, both were massively into guns and roses and the likes so you can sort of imagine the feel of the band, lots of cocking and rocking and the likes, there were demo recordings which i believed have been lost or recorded over a few times with various practices, to be honest that’s probably a good thing.
++ So who were Windy Miller and how did the band came together?
Richard: Towards the back end of the Apple Moths the idea was put forward that it might be nice to get ourselves one of those proper drummer types, little did we know at this point what an impact that would have on the band, Eddie, who owned the drum machine we used didn’t seem very keen on the idea, nor did he welcome the addition of distortion on the guitar demo’s of the new stuff. Sadly the applemoths broke up and immediately reformed as Windy Miller, with all new songs and a new drummer, Dan, to boot who we picked up from local advertisements. We began to write a whole new set in Dan’s Mum and Dads house and quickly decided we might benefit from another guitarist, Dans friend Rusz was asked to try out and it worked first time, a new band and a new sound!
Matt: Windy Miller were the remaining members of The Apple Moths after Eddie departed. Dan joined on drums, I think Richard found him under a stone somewhere, or should I say rock? I don’t think I’d ever met him before he joined Windy Miller. He was very young and was into rock music, Guns n Roses etc. Drummers were thin on the ground where we lived, so it just wasn’t an option looking around for one that was into the kind of music we’d played previously with The Apple Moths. Needless to say, Dan joining hailed a completely new musical direction. Even more so when a friend of his Russ joined on second guitar, who was a complete metal head, with his widdly-widdly guitar solos, one of which can be heard on ‘Billy’. In retrospect, I really don’t know how I thought we’d benefit from getting rock musicians in the band.
++ The name Windy Miller comes from the TV show Camberwick Green, right? Care to tell me a bit about this show as Im not familiar at all with it? And why did you choose the name?
Richard: Camberwick Green was a children’s tv show over here in the UK, it was an animation type show, Windy Miller being exactly what it says on the tin, a Miller living in a windmill making bread for the locals, each character had its own little tune to go with it but Windy’s, well his was by far the best and so we used his fabulous persona as our new name.
Matt: No real reason, it just sounded good at the time. It was a great show, and a huge part of our formative years, there were three shows, Trumpton, Chigley, and of course Camberwick Green where Windy Miller was from, he had a great hat/hair thing going on.
++ What are other children TV shows you liked? Do you follow any TV shows nowadays?
Richard: This is a difficult one, we all grew up in slightly different times so the childrens tv shows were different, my personal favourites were chorlton and the wheelies, H.R Puffenstuff and Jamie and the magic torch, I’m sure Matty will like to add his own in at this point.
Matt: There were many, I look back on them with great fondness as I think most people who grew up at the time does. Chorlton and the Wheelies, Mr Benn, The Clangers, Ivor the Engine, Bagpuss, The Herb Garden etc. far too many to mention here, but they were so great, I loved them all to bits, the creators of these shows (usually Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate) showed such imagination, something that is sadly lacking in my opinion today with kids T.V. shows. Back in those days they were a lot more innocent, and dare I say it, twee
++ I heard rumours that there will be a Windy Miller song on a future Leamington Spa compilation? Is this true?
Richard: Yeah apparently! Matty and myself tried to rerecord win by miles to put that on the album but i think they plan to use the original recording which is ok by us, saves us having to change lyrics from “that i’m too young to be insecure” to “i’m too old to be insecure”?
Matt: Yes, I’m sending them on to Uwe at Firestation records, hopefully he’ll include one.
++ I only know the 4 songs that are up on the facebook page. Are there any more recordings? Were there any demo tapes released? Tracklists?
Richard: There were around 15 songs written by Windy Miller but only those 4 recorded in the studio although we do have a pretty decent recording of a practice session that we have converted to MP3, very nice to have to listen back to. Unfortunately we cannot remember all the track titles but a few of them are safely lodged in our memories, Starman Jones, Spicy red soup, and Slow/Fast being but 3 of them.
Matt: Well we had many more songs, but very little recorded. Apart from two songs which have been lost to the mists of time, that we recorded in a friends garage, funnily enough with Roger (mentioned on the Apple Moths Myspace) on Drums. We were essentially a band out for a good time, the music wasn’t that important, and for me, being in that band signalled a loss of innocence. I was approaching my twenties by now, and had left my indie pop roots well and truly behind me. All of what we do have recorded, was more or less immediately after The Apple Moths split up, I doubt indie popsters would approve of the stuff we used to do later on.
++ From the facebook songs, I’m quite curious about the names “Billy” and “Elephant”, what’s the story behind them?
Matt: Over to Richard, he was the songsmith.
Richard: Ha Ha, this has always been a problem for me, I tend to write lyrics about what is going on in my head at the time, unfortunately I’m a bit esoterically stubborn too, I like my lyrics to be misleading so not as a way of avoiding this question but merely to avoid misleading I’d like to say pass except to say that ‘Billy’ was probably a song about one of my closest friends growing up called Billy Whizz (obviously not his real name).
++ With such great tunes, how come there wasn’t any proper releases? Don’t tell me there was no label interest, that’s hard to believe!
Richard: Thanks for that! no I think it was more that Windy Miller didn’t last very long, it was over within a year if my memory serves me well. I think the blending of two totally different bands may have been a mistake, in hind sight. It was great while it lasted though.
Matt: We never really thought about it to be honest, the band was first and foremost a vehicle to socialising, which we were all heavily into at the time.
++ How do you remember the Bradford scene back then? Any favourite bands? What about venues for playing gigs? Did you gig a lot?
Richard: Now you’re talking, this is a total bone of contention with me, I will try to keep it brief. Bradford was at that time and for years before a city full of talent and venues to show off your talent, we could play a different venue every night for a month and still not play the same place twice, unfortunately this has all gone now and bands don’t get a showcase. I think we only ever managed to do 6 or 7 gigs in the year we were active but they were at the places we wanted to play, Duchess of York in Leeds being one of the best and unfortunately our last……
Matt: In my opinion, it was awful then and it’s awful now, it’s music scene is predominantly rock orientated, which is why The Apple Moths came to nothing, if The Apple Moths had lived somewhere like Bristol or Reading, where there was a thriving Indie Pop scene, maybe things would have been different. I often resent the fact we lived somewhere where the population at large were, and still are, unreceptive to Indie Pop. Sure we had friends in other bands that we used to gig with, but there was never a cohesive scene going on in Bradford. I mean you’ve only got to look at the bands from Bradford who were successful e.g. New Model Army and Terrorvision to see what other bands were aspiring to. Enough said.
++ What was the biggest highlight of Windy Miller as a band?
Richard: I think I just answered that but yeah the gig at the Duchess of York with It’s Amazing and Cactus Juice, fantastic gig, great turn out and a very weird ending…..
Matt: Most definitley playing at The Duchess of York in Leeds, we played a handful of gigs around West Yorkshire and we had good times playing, most of which I have no recollection of. I think a highlight, as well as a lowlight, was playing at The Duchess, it was an aspirational venue as so many great bands had played there, for example I saw The Close Lobsters and McCarthy there with Eddie from The Apple Moths, so it was a very special place for me. It was unfortunate that the band split up after playing there after Dan the drummer threw his drumsticks out into the audience after we’d played, in a very clichéd rock way, he was fond of drinking neat vodka while he was playing. Of course, one drumstick hit the sound man on the head, he took exception to this and pinned Dan against one of the bass bins, and proceeded to scream at him to get out of the venue and never come back.
++ How and when did the band call it a day? Were the Windy Miller band members involved with music after?
Richard: Ha ha, again it was that night at the duchess, as ive said, great gig great turn out but unfortunately Dan had slightly too much to drink, he was only 16 at the time and i think that coupled with the turn out and his addiction to all things ROCK he smashed his drums up at the ending and threw his drumsticks into the crowd not realising his own strength and unfortunately he both hit the sound man in his face and broke thousands of pounds worth of microphones!! we cannot stop laughing at this now when we talk about it but at the time it was catastrophic, Dan was kicked out of the pub, stranded ain Leeds and unfortunately left the band as a result. What a night!
Matt: What Richard just said. I went on to join a band called Cactus Juice, they were mostly into bands like The Stone Roses and The Senseless Things, so that gives some idea of what they sounded like. Sometime after, I relocated to Leeds to attend music college (which I never went to) I got into the Acid Jazz scene, and played bass in a band called Earthbound, funnily enough with Steve Hadcroft from The Apple Moths and Windy Miller, he’d also gone to Leeds to study animation. Richard returned to his punk roots, I’m not sure when, but he joined a band called Bullweek which I was later to also join on returning to Bradford.
++ Do you still live in Bradford? I don’t know much about the town, but what if I visited once as a tourist? where will be the places I should visit and why?
Richard: My advice, don’t ever come to Bradford. Bradford is famous for two things, the riot in 2001 and a massive hole in the centre of the town that used to be a shopping centre until they decided to rebuild but in true Bradford fashion, ran out of money shortly after the old buildings were demolished.
Matt: Bradford is an unremarkable industrial city, which rose to prominence in the 19th Century with it’s textile industry. I wouldn’t recommend Bradford itself, but Bradford is nestled in the hills of the Yorkshire Dales, which boasts some of the most beautiful countryside in the world, if you find rolling hills romantic, Bradford’s your place. Famous people from Bradford include The Bronte Sisters, so Haworth, where they lived and wrote, would be worth a visit, I know the Japanese are fond of their English literary figures, and Haworth is no stranger to bus-loads of Japanese tourists, why not join them, and experience the bleakness of the moors yourself someday The artist David Hockney is from Bradford, and also the playwright J.B. Priestly.
++ Anything else you’d like to add?
Richard: I’d just like to say that although i have a lot of negative things to say about Bradford I do believe in the talent here and I’m sure with help and insight we could return to the strongly artistic city we once were. I must think this as I do still play in bands, at the moment i sing and play guitar in a Pop/Rock band Idiot Box. Am I mad?
Matt: Thanks so much for showing an interest in Windy Miller and asking us to do this interview, it’s been fun it’s great to know that Indie Pop’s future is safe in the hands of dedicated record labels like yours, keep up the good work.
Windy Miller – Win by Miles