Thanks so much to Dave Squire for the interview! The Five Year Plan was another seminal band in Bristol, some of them will join later Tender Trap, Sportique and Beatnik Filmstars, among others. They only released a handful of things: a 7″ and a 12″, plus compilation appearances but I know there are many tracks lying around that I hope can be released one day on a retrospective album! Check more about The Five Year Plan on their myspace.
++ Hi Dave! Thanks so much for doing this interview! How are things going? Any special plans for the upcoming summer?
Things are good here thanks. Personally got an exciting summer as myself and girlfriend leaving England to move to the USA for 2 years. We have both got teaching jobs in Washington DC – really looking forward to that and exploring a new city and country!!
++ So let’s go back in time. Why did you decide to start a band?
I didn’t start the band, that was Tim and Rob. They started playing and practising, mostly in Tim’s garage and Rob’s living room while still at school. Finding drummers was difficult in our village so they asked someone who gave drum lessons to recommend his next pupil! That (luckily)was Phil Cox who was 13/14 at the time – I used to go and watch them rehearse and then replaced the original keyboard player (when i say keyboard I mean Casio button keyboard at the time!) after a couple of gigs.
++ The Five Year Plan is kind the continuation of a previous band, The Inane, right? What were the main differences between these two bands?
The Inane were a 4 piece, we played a few gigs all around Bristol really, picked up some decent reviews and most of what we recordedis nowavailable on “The Only Fun In Frampton Cotterell” (download through iTunes, Amazon etc) – obviously a reference to one of our favourite bands, Josef K, and the name of our home village north of Bristol.
We were meant to have a single released at the time which didn’t happen and I think we were disappointed, perhaps felt a bit restricted by just having the four of us and so metamorphosed into The Five Year Plan.
++ So how did you all knew each other? How did you all met for the first time? Were you friends beforehand being in the band? What will you consider the classic lineup of the band?
Me and Rob have known each other since we were about 5 years old (40 years ago now), and then Rob was at secondary school in Bristol with Tim. Oh yes well as The Five Year plan we wanted a slightly different sound, got Rob’s neighbour Andrea Moffatt in on guitar after we’d got Katy West in on vocals. I think Martin Whitehead, who was a friend of ours and of course ran Subway Organisation, knew her – she came along to an audition/practice, sang Femme Fatale and was in. We always wanted at least another guitarist liveas well as Tim and a mate of ours, Jeremy Woods, later joined as well. Andrea left and we had another guitarist joined for a while but didn’t really fit in – at one stage Richard Bell from The Blue Aeroplanes played with us as well, he played a few gigs and played on some recordings we did.
++ Why the name The Five Year Plan?
The Five Year Plan? We liked the sound of it! It was a bit left wing, we had a song “What Is To Be Done?” that re-used the title of a Lenin book. Bloody Thatcher was running the country at the time!
++ Bristol during those late 80s was a happening place, from The Brilliant Corners to the Flatmates, Sarah Records to Tea Time Records, etc, etc. Why do you think Bristol was having a much more robust scene for guitar pop bands than most of the other cities of UK?
In retrospect Bristol was a pretty happening place throughout the late 70s and early, mid and late 80s, I’m not sure we appreciated it at the time! Anyone who wants to know more about Bristol music should check out Bristol Archive Records here on Myspace – Mike released our Inane recordings and loads of great stuff – one of our favourites was The Electric Guitars who we saw a lot of times.
We knew the Brilliant Corners, in fact one of our early Inane gigs was with them – always thought Davey Woodward was a great and very underrated songwriter. The Blue Aeroplanes were good of course. I flat/house shared with Martin and Sarah from The Flatmates and Tim played in the Flatmates at the end – unfortunately literally the end as he was in a fight with Martin on stage at ULU. I don’t know whether Bristol had a particularly stronger scene than anywhere else to be honest. We knew Claire and Matt from Sarah records to say hello to but I don’t remember many of their bands being particularly local – Tramway I think butI never saw them live.
++ Talking about Bristol, I was there last February, really lovely town. I’m wondering if it has changed a lot since the days of The Five Year Plan? Where were the places to go to see bands or to hang out? There was Revolver Records too right?
Bristol? I don’t live there anymore, in fact I haven’t since the end of 1989 so I’m probably not the best qualified to talk about how it’s changed. Lots of the places that we used to go to and play have gone of course, like Revolver Records and venues like the Stonehouse, Bristol Bridge, Tropic and Western Star Domino Club. Again Bristol Archive Records myspace site and web page talks about a lot of the defunct venues. The Thekla and the Louisiana are still going I think and special mention th the Thunderbolt which an old mate of ours from Frampton, Dave Macdonald runs, putting on live music.
++ Would you share any anecdote or secret about the Bristol scene that many might not know?
Bristol scene anecdotes? Not sure again that I know that many!! Sharing a flat with Martin Whitehead as I did when he was running Subway and putting on gigs was always interesting – I can reveal that Pop Will Eat Itself were very house proud and very good guests, washing up after themselves. The Clouds (including Norman Blake) had some novel ways of getting themselves alchohol when the shops and pubs were shut!
++ Who were Breaking Down Records?
Breaking Down Records? Was us basically, named after The Only ones song, although yes, the Airspace LPs were also released on Breaking Down.
++ I have the 7″ for “Hit the Bottle”, but you also released a 12″ for “Nothing Will Go Wrong”, which I still haven’t been able to find. Care to tell me about this one? What do you remember from the recording sessions? Is it much different to the sound of the 7″?
I’m not surprised you can’t track down a copy of our first single! We only pressed 500 copies, 12″ only though I have met people that actually bought it. There were 4 songs, Nothing Will Go Wrong, Brand New Car, Give Me A Lifetime & Something To Make You Laugh. I think some of the songs will appear on the compilation that Tim is putting together for Bristol Archive records. The recordings could probably have been a bit more muscular than they were, certainly live versions I’ve heard were more dynamic, and in the case of Brand New Car, much faster!
++ You also participated on both Airspace compilations? How did you end up in those? Those were compilations to raise money for a charity, right? Do you remember what kind of charity it was?
Yes, we were on both Airspace compilations – as far as I remember the charity was to provide opportunities for children with various physical disabilities to enjoy activities like trampolines etc. Bit vague I’m afraid. I’m pretty sure that Rupert who was a member of The Groove Farm worked for them and organised the records and we lent him the label for release.
++ I’ve heard you got many unreleased songs. What happened? Why weren’t they released? Are there any plans to release them one day perhaps?
There are quite a few unreleased songs – we planned a single late on and as usual for us it didn’t get round to appearing!!As said before, Tim is putting together a compilation for Bristol Archive Records like he did for The Inane – there are a few bits from gigs that might get used, the first single, the “Martin Bramah” recordings, and also songs from a session that we did with Richard Bell from The Blue Aeroplanes salvaged from an old cassette!
++ So you wrote a song called Martin Bramah. I have to ask then, if you ever saw The Blue Orchids live? Maybe you even got a chance to talk with Martin?! And yes, what are your favourite 5 songs by them?
The song “Martin Bramah” would have been on that – Tim and Rob especially were big fans of The Fall and we all loved The Blue Orchids – Tim has, of course, recently had Martin Bramah guesting on a song by his new band, the Short Stories – check out their myspace page too, they’re excellent!Wesaw The blue Orchids supporting Echo & the Bunnymen in Bristol andalso at a gigat theLyceum in London with the Comsat Angels and (I think) The Sound. I saw The Sound masses of times so it’s difficult to be sure
++ I’m also wondering about the song “Pumpin’ for Jill”, was it based in a real character?
Pumpin’ For Jill? it’s an Iggy Pop song, not sure what album it’s on a late 70s/early 80s I guess. I think it was in Choo Choo Train’s live set (they also did Shake Some Action and a Paul Collins song and teenage Kicks I think as well). Me and Tim got on well with them, Tim offered to pay for some time in the studio. They did the backing tracks very quickly, they took ages teaching me the keyboard part (I had to use more than 3 fingers at a time!!) and Tim sang lead, with us all lending backing vocals. Loved doing it, and hoping it will turn up on the 5YP compilation.
++ What about gigs? Did you gig a lot? Do you remember any in particular? What about that gig with The Housemartins in the Thekla?
The gig with the Housemartins was great. I was a big fan and had already seen them loads of times in London. The Thekla was packed and I’ve still got a tape of the gig – again bits should be on the compilation. We didn’t play much outside of Bristol, supported The Weather Prophets, Jazz Butcher, Nightingales
++ Why and when did you call it a day with The Five Year Plan?
I think at the time none of us were quite committed enough to keep things going. Also we all started living in different cities so things kind of petered out. Rob of course has played with Heavenly, Marine Research, Sportique and now Tender Trap. Tim played and plays with Beatnik Filmstars, Kyoko, Forest Giants and now the Short Stories who everyone should check out. Jer has a covers band, we think Phil is a builder in Spain and Katy is still in Bristol I think. I haven’t done anything since music wise apart from listen to other people!