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Rollmo! No. 15


Rollmo! # 151983
"There's nothing small about Prefab Sprout. Nothing bedsit. We get grouped in that Aztec Camera sensitive songwriter bracket, the Everything But The Girl wimp tag. We've got nothing in common with these people, their music's tame. It's polite. It's mild mannered. It comes knocking at your door. We've got passion, but not delivered in the same way as U2 or something - get a good riff going and turn it up full blast. That's so traditional your mother would like it."
"I've got got a song called "I Am A Plumber" where I tried to write about love from a plumber's point of view.
"Compared with Michael Jackson or Brian Wilson, we're all of us, Elvis and Roddy and The Smiths and myself - so sensible, such moderate people."
"In the real world of pop music, it's really a parochial thing and I do like the big abstractions of working in the pop world where it's money, it's image and it's brash image that counts. Rather than say we've nothing with that, I'd rather embrace that and bring something good through it, rather than kick against it and do nothing, you know, by saying you're holier if you say independent. You should embrace it."
"I don't have a persona. I'm not well known and I think the notion of the authentic rock persona ended when Bowie came along and said the obvious. I don't really want to be known because look what it does to the imagination. As soon as everybody knows you, you become the "decent guy" and I'm not sure that does you or the group a lot of good. I like finding people through their records. If you don't know too much about people, their charisma stays intact. Then it doesn't spill out when you're off-duty. There's only so much it, after all."
"You know, this is the best time there's even been for the old farts, the best thing since the Sixties. Did you see that Hall of Fame thing recently? It's like a giant Dynasty, with Paul snubbing George and Ringo in that mooted Beatles reunion because he's going to court against them, Mike Love reburking Paul in his speech for if John had been alive, John would have played, and Mark Knopfler's bigger than ever and Phil Collins is bigger than ever and ... it's the best time ever for them. Now there's two sides to this. On the one hand, I'll be glad when I'm 40 I've still got that sort of license to entertain, and my own future's assured. On the hand ... sheesh!"
"I'm not as easily impressed with the idea of being in a group. I therefore hope that I'm not as open to the seductions of being in a band and the kind of easy things that go with it. I'm harder in a sense that you've got to sort of pace yourself doing this - there are lots of bands even in the three years we've been away who've probably come and gone, yet they've had hits into the bargain, and that helps with the tension fund and whatever, but they've gone. I don't want to be chewed up and spat out."
"When I do in-store signing I'm always amazed at the diversity of the crowd we get. And other strange things happen. I was accosted in a pub by a young "ladder lad" with an arm in plaster. He literally cornered me and demanded to know when we were going to release "Basketball" as a single. Then in some record shop, this coloured guy recognised me (which I thought was pretty amazing in itself) and said, "I love your stuff ... and Public Enemy. Wait until I tell my mates!"
"I like Warren Beatty. He interests me even on the level of a guy who doesn't want to do any press and then ends up doing it all and he's supposedly so shy, ut he can't be that shy, can he?"
"There's no denying that what I do is more specialised in the sense that I will take an unusual notion as the starting point of a song in a way that a scriptwriter will, where you'll go and see a movie that's about something that's unusual. I don't know who made "Melvin and Howard" - the film about Howard Hughes taking a walk through the desert and being picked up by someone then leaving that poor person all his money in his will. That would be unusual for a song but perfectly OK for a movie. I now approach it like that, it's OK for a song aswell so I write songs that have specific wild notions."
"My writing is definitively getting better and more focused and despite what I've said before, I'm probably even less bothered than ever about commercial and artistic constrains. If I like the ide, I'll follow it through, no matter how strange it is. I don't want to turn into a boring, confessional singer-songwriter. I'm still attracted to the bizarre. It's just a question of being crafty, so I can keep the record company happy."

Compiled by John Birch