Thanks so much to Martin King for the interview! For those who are living under a rock The Desert Wolves have just released (or should I say re-released?) their Pontification album with 4 extra songs! All of them brilliant! You can find it at the Firestation Records HQ. Also you can find the glorious Desert Wolves on myspace here.
++ How are you doing? How has 2010 been so far?
Been sorting out some minor corrections and a book proposal for my PHD-which is on The Beatles.
++ You just released, or should I say, re-released, the Pontification album with four extra tracks on the Firestation label. Would you care telling me a bit about each of these four songs? Why weren’t they released before?
“Skin Deep” was one of the final demos we did along with the Gunmetal Jaguar.i never really liked it that much so left it off the album-i have warmed to it a bit! La Petite Rochelle was released on the Rochelle 12″. “She Wore My Sweater” was recorded in the same session as “Mexico” -8 track genius- but i never really liked the way it turned out. “Passion in the Afternoon” has a sort of U2 rumble on it as an alternative but we liked the other version better .
++ Are these all the unreleased Desert Wolves songs, or are there still some more laying around somewhere on dusty tapes?
There are no more tracks but there was a Desert Wolves mark 1 which Nick and Dave Platten were in and there are some demos -they were a bit more punky-did boredom as an encore-that sort of thing- Dave would be able to tell you more and about the origins of the name.
++ What was the main reason that made you decide it was time to re-release the masterpiece that Pontification is?
The re-release idea really came from nagging by Uwe at Firestation!
++ So let’s go back in time… how did The Desert Wolves start? How did you get to know each other
I joined in late 86 as a mutual friend told me they were looking for a new singer -we did our first gig at the international supporting the stone roses in jan 87.
++ How did you end up signing to Ugly Man records? How was your relationship with Guy Lovelady? Any anecdotes you could share?
The Ugly Man connection was already made when I joined. Guy Lovelady was a great amateur enthusiast in the spirit of the times, always at gigs and often came down to the studio.
++ Where any of you involved with other bands before being part of the Desert Wolves?
I was in a band called bee vamp in the early 80s-some tracks just released on a Manchester musician’s collective cd on Hyped to Death label-also 2 indie 12″ and a peel session in 81-with Jim Parris who went on to form Carmel. I then formed the Harbour Bar -on one of Leamington Spa collections-a short lived easy listening band years ahead of its time!! A few gigs and one demo.
++ I have some questions about your songs, first of all, was Rochelle a real person, or was her a character you invented for the song “Speak to Me, Rochelle”?
Rochelle was a real person but i just liked the name. The main inspiration for most of the lyrics was a fairly new relationship with the woman i am now married to. “Besotted” and “November” in particular.
++ Also, I’ve always meant to ask you, have you ever been to Mexico? You seem to be a big Mexican food fan for sure, tacos and burritos
Never been to Mexico. The song was inspired by a Mexican restaurant on Oxford road in Manchester in 80s: “Amigos”.
++ What about “Passion in the Afternoon”? Does it have to do anything with Rohmer’s movie by the same name?
“Passion in the Afternoon” is about autumn afternoons in my flat! There is a scene in room at the top with Laurence Harvey and Simone Signouret that has a similar feel but I only discovered that afterwards.
++ Is it me, or it seems you have an interest in cars, especially vintage ones. Am I right? I mean, from the Vermont Sugar House artwork for the 7″, the album, and even the new Desert Wolves album artwork. Also you did write a song called The Gunmetal Jaguar!
I had a 62 sunbeam rapier in the mid 80s which was used on the artwork for “Love Scattered Lives” and in the video-hence its revival in nes artwork-i now have a 77 Daimler of the sort that is on the Vermont Sugar House cover-the 60s obsession was mainly me-stems from childhood and never went away-Iam a big collector.
++ What about the video for “Love Scattered Lives”? How did that came about? What are your memories from recording it?
The video was shot on a budget of £20 by someone called Liam Khan who went on to work with the Pet Shop Boys and New Order-for a larger fee i suspect-it was a great day out on the Yorkshire coast.
++ I think you are such a great lyricist, so I have to ask, where does the inspiration comes from? And how easy was to make music with the whole band? What was the creative process?
As with the Vermont Sugar House tunes started mainly with Dave-some Nick-and then I would add lyrics when we were happy with the tune. The recording of “November” is a first take and the first time i had sung the lyrics. I recently read that Bryan Ferry did that with “Love is the Drug”. I like that sort of thing.
++ How do you remember the Manchester scene from back then? Any bands you enjoyed? How did you feel about the whole Madchester thing?
In retrospect I feel very lucky to have been around the Manchester scene-from the factory in the late 70s where i saw band like the B52s/Pere Ubu/Buzzcocks/the original Human League-through the collective and The Hacienda-Madchester was a lot of un clubbing wise but i am more an 82-87 Hacienda person. Loved The Smiths and New Order but not as much as Orange Juice. And I have a deep nostalgia for a time when most people I knew were in a band.
++ When and why did you decide to call it a day?
Musical differences i think-some dispute because i couldn’t sing like Scott Walker- the fact that no one but Scott Walker can etc etc. The Wolves split at a foolish time, just before the Roses thing and everyone getting signed. Hated the Inspiral Carpets and the Mondays vastly overrated and the fact that the Roses were considered plod rock between 86 and 89 and had a national front following has been erased from pop history.
++What happened in that gap between The Desert Wolves and Vermont Sugar House?
Dave and i just kept writing in the gap which eventually resulted in the Vermont Sugar House stuff.
++ Are you still in touch with all members of the band? What are you all doing nowadays
Dave and I now work in academia, Nick at the EU in Brussels-saw them at Xmas. Richard went on to be a successful tour manager, he did the Spice Girls first world tour. Craig was thought to be dead based on assumptions about his lifestyle but he has posted something on youtube (re: the video).
++ We should do a Vermont Sugar House interview some time Martin! But are there any future releases coming? Should I expect some more great songs from you in the near future?
Not sure if there will be more Vermont Sugar House stuff-have a couple of nice songs kicking around and have bought a very nice 1966 Burns Baldwin so who knows.