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A View From The Stage – Graham Lambert (Inspiral Carpets)

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We love music, we love the people who love music and naturally we love the people that make music.

So what about those people that make music? What sort of people are they? They like music as well, right? What were they into as kids? Was it the same sort of music we were into? What are they listening to now? What songs did they wish they had written?

We wanted to discover the “music fan” inside these artists, so we decided to find out using a similar format to our Meet The Community feature. By firing a series of short questions at a selected indie artist we wanted to get a bit of an insight into what makes them tick musically.

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In this edition – Graham Lambert (Inspiral Carpets)

Writing an introduction for a Q&A with a founding member and guitarist of one of the most quintessential bands of the 1990s seems rather superfluous. What could we say about someone whose music has been so influential and in no small part was an inspiration for the very existence of EIO40?

It’s remarkable enough when you consider that Graham Lambert started Inspiral Carpets all the way back in 1983 and here they are in 2016, still going and still producing music. Their 2014 self-titled album was a welcome return after a 20 year break and re-united the band with Graham’s 1983 co-founder Stephen Holt.

Of course for many of us it wasn’t until 1990 that the Inspiral Carpets swept into our world on that tide of Madchester with their album Life forming an integral part of the ushering in of that golden age. Conveniently we were recently provided with a perfect example of the impact of the Inspiral Carpets by one of our Facebook group members. In fact, on the very day that we received from Graham by email his response to our Q&A, Rob Weetman posted in our group his own personal refection of what  “This Is How It Feels” meant to him.

Graham Lambert web image FB

Steve from EIO40 provided his own personal observation on the impact of the Inspiral Carpets and the Madchester scene in 1990 for the 2015 Shiiine On festival programme.

GRAHAM SHIIINE

As for the man himself, Graham has had his own little impact in the EIO40 community. He may be one of our heroes and often the subject of our interactions, but he has also contributed to our world like any other community member would.

Going up and down loft ladders is the offically sanctioned fitness workout for EIO40 and it’s members. The resultant photos of unearthed gems shared among the community on Twitter is one of the fuels that keeps us going. So we were delighted to discover in November 2014 that not only did Graham have a loft but had also just been for a bit of a rummage. Obviously he was modest enough to partially obscure his own material with some pre-Intastella Intastella.

GRAHAM LOFT 2

Despite Inspiral Carpets early exit from the Indie Over 40 Cup at the hands of The Jesus & Mary Chain, a result Graham suggested would have been different if we had introduced drug tests, he was good enough to acknowledge the efforts of @bringitonskippy whose own loft ladder workout session and rummage sadly wasn’t enough to secure a victory on that day.

GRAHAM SKIPPY

More recently Graham kindly agreed to join the panel of celebrity judges for our 2016 Alternative Murcury Prize. We are most grateful to Graham for taking the time to get involved in that feature and can report he executed his duties with suitable diligence. We are sure some of you are curious to know which albums Graham voted for, however we made a commitment with the Murcury judges that we wouldn’t divulge their Top 3 to the outside world. Therefore we are unable to tell you that Graham voted for The Coral, Bill Ryder-Jones and Suede.

We’ve never met Graham but he comes across a thoroughly decent chap as well as generous (that we can vouch for), so let’s discover a bit more about him…

1) Where did you grow up?

I was born in a suburb of Oldham called Chadderton. Oldham is an old mill town. It was my home then and is now.

2) What posters did you have on your bedroom wall as a teenager?

I have an older sister, Christine, so I occasionally had posters from her Look-ins and Jackie magazines. Glam idols such as Slade, Sweet and T-Rex, this was obviously around 1975. As I got older I went more football related and had a massive poster of Mick Channon of Southampton as well as Glenn Hoddle. My first purchased music pin-up was a Daily Star David Bowie poster.

I became a massive Bowie fan although for me he ran out of steam after Scary Monsters. Around this time I accidently stumbled across John Peel, he had Psychedelic Furs in session. I actually thought I’d misheard and it was an early Bowie demo. What a band! 3 albums of pure class.

3) What was the first record you bought?

One Saturday morning in the 70’s I persuaded my Dad to take me to Oldham indoor market so I could splash my pocket money on Metal Guru by T-Rex. My Dad, ever the frugal, tried to dissuade me by informing me if I waited it would be less than half price in two weeks time.

I remember saying he bought Shirley Bassey and those Top of The Pops compilation albums on the week of release. He couldn’t really argue.

Once we got home I recall marvelling at the 7 inch single in a beautiful deep blue single sleeve with the red T-Rex logo. I was hooked.

4) What moment made you want to become a singer/artist/musician?

There wasn’t really one specific moment. Round our way we played football in the winter, cricket in the summer as kids then. As we got older and discovered Joy Division and Magazine everyone tried to play some kind of instrument.

Friends fell by the wayside due to a combination of alcohol, musical views and female distraction. I ended up sat on the end of my bed writing songs and discussing our love of Echo & The Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes, Talking Heads and rebelling against bands such as U2 and The Beatles with vocalist Stephen Holt.

We were all massive John Peel fans and when he started his show with our first single on Wed 6 July 1988, the path of the band changed. We had to dig up our goalposts and relocate them.

5) How much did you get paid for your first gig?

We played at The Mare and Foal public house in Oldham-which is now an Indian restaurant-on 19 April 1986 for £30. The pub was full of friends, fellow Oldham bands and workmates. We covered Bob Dylan’s ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ and Velvet Underground’s ‘What Goes On’.

I wasn’t fooled by the full house and I knew we had to get down to Manchester and ultimately London to get anywhere. There was no way we were going to spend a lifetime playing in pubs doing cover versions.

GRAHAM 1

6) Do you have a particularly memorable gig you performed at?

Every gig is memorable for one reason or another. I recall the above shows in Oldham, playing in Halle Eastern Germany to about 10 people, G-Mex in 1990 and 91, The River Plate Stadium in Argentina and I have vivid memory of the last show we did at Leeds Academy in Dec 2015.

7) Who would you most like to perform with on stage?

Hahaha I haven’t a clue when our next show will be so my answer is Stephen Holt, Clint Boon, Martyn Walsh and Craig Gill………..the Inspiral Carpets . File me under unadventurous as a musician. I like my band mates and their company. I find them funny, charming & talented. I have no desire to go through the process of getting to ‘musically know’ any other musicians.

8) What is the best venue you have played at?

Hmmm good question. I suppose most venues have their inimitable charm, it’s all about the people and the vibe. It’s been amazing to play at Shepherds Bush Empire and Koko in London in recent years, two fantastic historical music venues.

GRAHAM 3

9) What song would you most like to have written (not your own)?

James – Getting Away With It
Von Bondies – C’mon C’mon
Rolling Stones – You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Thirteenth Floor Elevators – Slip Inside This House
Nick Cave – Rings of Saturn
The Cramps – Smell of Female EP
Toydrum with Gavin Clark – I Got a Future
Shel Naylor – One Fine Day
Violent Femmes – Hallowed Ground
Hank Williams – Alone & Forsaken

10) If you weren’t a singer/artist/musician what would have been?

I was working at Taylor & Clifton Printers in Uppermill, Oldham when the band took off but I wanted to be a footballer, farmer or cricketer.

11) What are you listening to at the moment? Any recommendations?

I love Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds  ‘Skeleton Tree’ & the new Aphex Twin album/EP but between 7am and 9pm Mon to Friday I’m a BBC 6Music fan.

12) What are you up to at the moment?

The band are currently writing songs which will be the next album. I have no idea when it will see the light of day. We’ll let you know. (make sure you do. Ed)


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Thank you to Graham Lambert for taking part in our Q&A and for providing an enjoyable insight into his musical world.

You can find Graham & the Inspiral Carpets at these places

Graham Lambert on Twitter
Inspiral Carpets on Twitter
Inspiral Carpets on Facebook

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The Indie CV – Jez and Andy Williams

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It is unusual for someone to spend their whole working life at the same organisation and that can pretty much be said for band members and artists. In this regular feature Rob Morgan (@durutti74) maps out the career chronologically of a selected band member.

In this edition Rob compiles the CV for Jez and Andy Williams

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Jez and Andy Williams

Born: 18th February 1970, Manchester

Jeremy and Andrew, as their birth certificate names them,  are twin brothers and grew up very close and very interested in music, Jez learning the guitar and Andy the drums. During their education at Wilmslow High School they met Jimi Goodwin, a bass player, and the trio played in many local bands during the mid eighties, at that time a particularly fertile musical scene in Manchester.

1987 – Metro Trinity

Jez became guitarist with Metro Trinity, a little known Manchester band who issued one single on their own Cafeteria label. A four song twelve inch EP titled “Die Young”, it was a typically post C86 indie record, lots of jangle and strum. Easily the best song was “Michael Furey”, a mid tempo strum of nicely layered guitars easily comparable to the Railway Children or a less frantic Bodines. Andy joined his brother in Metro Trinity after the EP was released, and the band recorded one more song, “Stupid Friends”, which was issued on a flexi with Debris fanzine later in 1987 alongside “Garage Full Of Flowers”, the debut recording by the Inspiral Carpets which was already referencing the Stone Roses’ “Garage Flower”. But Metro Trinity folded around 1988, just as the Williams twins met up with Goodwin again at the Hacienda.


1991 – 1996 Sub Sub

Influenced by their nights at the home of acid house, Goodwin and the Williams twins ditched their conventional instruments and started to create dance music. They were soon signed to Rob’s Records, run by Rob Gretton, who also became their manager. After a little underground success with their debut “Space Face”, their third single “Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use)”, credited to Sub Sub ft Melanie Williams, was a huge success, Melanie’s soulful vocal over the funky seventies disco groove was highly infectious and the single reached number 3 in the UK charts, and garnered a performance on Top Of The Pops.


Sub Sub would not reach such heights again, but continued to issue singles during the mid 90s, and an album “Full Fathom Five” (it’s a Shakespeare reference, Roses fans). They were well regarded by their peers too, recording singles with Tricky and Bernard Sumner as guest vocalists. However their studio was destroyed by a fire on the Williams twins’ birthday and they took the chance to rethink their direction and motivation.

1998 to 2010 – Doves

Goodwin and the Williams twins decided to return to their electric instruments, Goodwin on bass, Jez on guitar and Andy on drums, naming themselves Doves. Still managed by Gretton, Doves started attracting attention with their debut single “The Cedar Room”, released in 1998. Mark Radcliffe played it often on his afternoon Radio One show and it’s mesmerising slow trudge of glacial guitars and a soaring chorus made Doves a band to watch.


A few more singles led to a deal with Heavenly Records and their debut album “Lost Souls” was issued in 2000. Admittedly Goodwin was their lead singer but both Williams brothers were given lead vocals on each album as a measure of democracy. Indeed the album’s lead single “Here It Comes” contrasts verses sung by Andy with Goodwin’s chorus.


The heart of the album was the song which kicked off side two (in old money). “Melody Calls” was again sung by Andy and describes how music can express thoughts which are hard to speak, the second verse is perfect:

“The words don’t come so easy
She can’t say what’s inside
The sounds they do speak for me
The sounds remain forever
Stays with her till morning time”


“Lost Souls” is an album full of heart, rising like a phoenix from the tragedy of the Sub Sub studio fire, defiant and ready to battle again. The LP was dedicated to the memory of Rob Gretton who had passed away during the recording of the album. It was well received and nominated for a Mercury prize for album of the year and “Catch the sun” became a surprise hit single too.

2002 saw the return of Doves, first issuing the single “There Goes The Fear”, an eight minute monster of a song culminating in a Brazillian percussion carnival, and “The Last Broadcast” LP. While “There Goes The Fear”, “Pounding” and the gorgeous “Caught By The River” all charted well, the album allowed the Williams twins to shine too. “M62 Song”, sung by Andy, sounds like it was recorded on a Walkman beside the titular motorways (and Andy sounds oddly like James Roberts of the Sea Urchins and Delta here). On the other hand, Jez gets the opening song “Words”, a powerful statement of intent over driving drums and circling guitar arpeggios, while Jez sings of resilience and self belief, an absolutely cracking album opener.


Doves’ third album “Some Cities” was released in 2005 and again was highly anticipated, the thumping lead single “Black and White Town” was another success but if anything the album suffered from sounding slightly too similar to their previous work in places. Again each Williams twin sang a song, Andy’s “Shadows of Salford” sounded like ‘M62 Song” on piano, but Jez’s “The Storm” was an orchestrated beauty, slow and gorgeous, which in places sounds like a Bond theme. The best song on the album was the closer “Ambition”, recorded live in a church – they were making a video there and were taken by the acoustics. There’s something of the feel of Bark Psychosis in that song.


Maybe Doves knew they were repeating themselves because when they returned in 2009 with their fourth album “Kingdom Of Rust” their music felt familiar yet refreshed, and the electronic elements on songs such as opener “Jetstream” made a difference. That song, sung by Andy, pulsed like Kraftwerk taking “Trans Europe Express” to an airport and was an early album highlight alongside the title track.


Later in the album Andy had another lead vocal on “Compulsion”, where the strangely funky rhythm pattern sounds like A Certain Ratio throwing Chic down the stairs (in a nice way). “Kingdom Of Rust” was a great return to form but after a tour and a greatest hits album, Doves went on hiatus in 2010.

2014 onwards – Black Rivers

Jez and Andy began working on new material outside of Doves from 2012 onwards and started releasing songs and performing live from 2014 under the band name Black Rivers. Their debut album was issued in 2015 and takes in some wider influences than Doves, there’s hints of 60s psychedelia on opener “Diamond Days” while “The Ship” is a second cousin to Portishead’s “The Rip”.


 

Andy and Jez share vocal duties equally and it sounds enough like Doves for most fans to find something familiar in it, especially those characteristic guitar arpeggios of Jez’s on “Voyager 1”. Black Rivers are touring this summer (blimey, they’re playing the Trades Hall in Hebden Bridge, clearly a hotbed of indie in Yorkshire) and should be worth seeing if you have the time.

It seems like the Williams twins still have plenty of great music in them to add to their considerable legacy.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rob writes about music and other less important subjects at his blog A Goldfish Called Regret (agoldfishcalledregret.wordpress.com) and also creates podcasts for Goldfish Radio (https://m.mixcloud.com/robmorgan589).

He never achieved his ambition of making a Sarah Record.

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Whose CV will Rob be writing next?

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