Tag Archives: Interview

2015 ➤ Seven’s easy stages: from jelly parties to saviour of the rock scene

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Seven Webster and Pete Bailey: Face to face interview about a life in music

◼ STRICTLY SPEAKING we don’t allow “rockists” onto this blog, since our idea of 80s yoof culture was defined by the dance music and fashion-forward styles emanating from UK clubland. And what 80s pure pop did was to banish 80s rock from the weekly charts. But Shapers of the 80s is very happy to make one big exception for probably the nicest guy on the entire UK music scene even though he does all his business down at the denim-clad, can’t-dance, beer-belly end of the music spectrum. His parents with the surname Webster gave him the unforgettable first name of Seven, and in the 30 years since he spouted one hilarious soundbite after another when we met in a posey little Numanoid London club, he has learned the ropes as musician and manager and built his own influential company into a thriving business.

Tomorrow, his outfit 7pm Management launches a new annual rock music conference at Rich Mix Cultural Foundation in Shoreditch. RockComm London describes itself as “the first UK-based international rock music conference aimed at bringing together all sectors of the community for positive discussion aimed at stimulating business and growth”. It hopes to unite everyone from labels, publishers, managers, distributors, agents, promoters, manufacturers, digital aggregators, the lot.

Seven says: “With so many great rock music based companies from across the world wanting to be involved, we’ve extended the event to give everyone time to network, which is the conference’s primary objective.”

There are people actively signing rock music
at moment: it’s a very buoyant time for rock

RockComm launches with a full day of networking which will showcase some of rock’s tastiest new bands. “The emphasis will be on quality over quantity.” The conference itself occupies Tuesday 9 June, as an appetiser for the UK’s biggest rock music event, Download Festival, and leading up to both the Kerrang and Golden Gods award ceremonies.

It is more than ironic that Seven is attempting to reconcile the many differences that define the music industry within a week of one of the most influential managers from the 1960s, Simon Napier-Bell (Yardbirds, Bolan, George Michael), partying in Soho to promote the paperback edition of his latest book, Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay. In this painstaking slice of history through the past 200 years of popular music he decides that nothing has changed in a business based on “greed, corruption, self-interest and fun”. Today recorded music remains in tricky balance between art and marketing where traditional record companies are squeezing a dying revenue stream and the US government still prosecutes them for payola offences running into millions of dollars.

Seven is one of a seemingly small band of brothers who is determined to assert his creative ideals. He draws on a lifelong love of music – “it’s my heart and soul” – and believes rock music is in a very buoyant state today, with people actively signing rock acts and wielding what he believes is “a cumulative fist”. His own reputation is as an international rock festival booker (Hard Rock Hell and Hammerfest) and worldwide artist manager of Skindred. His partner in 7pm and in RockComm is Steve Wolfe, a former Universal Records director of A&R.

As a taster of his ideology, Seven gave this hands-up interview to Pete Bailey at TeamRock national DAB and online radio. He talks about being the manager of Skindred, The Qemists and Dido, his brother-in-Law Mick Wayne (RIP) and former guitarist with David Bowie and the Pink Fairies, new bands and brands making waves and monetising their social media…

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During this half-hour stroll through his life-story, Seven reminds us of when he played guitar live at the Lyceum during the Batcave era in a goth band called Geschlecht Akt (German for Sex Act). “We weren’t great,” he says. Make up your own mind here by sampling their track Libido Twist from the Foreplay 12-incher (Criminal Damage Records, 1984) at YouTube.

Seven’s next band One actually signed to Chrysalis for £65k. Seven took his turn, as you did in the 80s, fronting a clubnight called Pigeon-Toed Orange Peel, then edited a magazine, as you did in the 80s, called The Buzz to help launch other bands, as you did in the 80s, which led into management and promoting new acts at the Marquee. So not too much standing still, then. Seven’s advice for the ambitious newcomer? “Don’t emulate, innovate. Take your time and put a good team around you.”

Just to make him squirm a bit, here’s the snap of Seven propping up a fruit machine the night we met in 1983 at a post-Romantic clubnight in Mayfair called the Padded Cell. Though it was fronted by a couple of wannabe 70s Numanoids, he quipped about the exceedingly time-warped crowd that night: “So many people here have stepped straight out of their nappies into bondage gear.” Not him, of course. So what was he doing among this bunch of late arrivals on the synth scene? “I just hate staying in,” he said. “I’ll go to ice-cream and jelly parties, anything.” Which was enough to get his pic into my nightlife review in The Face. The rest is history.

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A quiet master of the telling quip: Seven Webster at the Padded Cell in 1983. Photograph by Shapersofthe80s

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➤ Steve Strange talkative as ever in his last interview

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Steve’s tweet on 19 Jan: “Man overboard in the Red Sea”

◼ A VISAGE FAN HOLIDAYING in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt in mid-January asked Steve Strange for an interview and he gave one – his last, as far as we know. Maria Elliott from Huddersfield made the audio recording after she bumped into Steve by chance and realised they both had a love of Northern Soul and these are the reminiscences we can listen to after Maria submitted the recording to her community radio station PhoenixFM where she has become “part of the furniture”.

Maria says: “It was actually broadcast on the Thursday evening of his death before I found out. I was going to tweet Steve to tell him how he could listen to the show, then found out and was totally devastated.” Maria sent the audio file to Shapers of the 80s with the wish that it should reach Steve’s family along with her condolences.

LISTEN TO STEVE’S LAST INTERVIEW, JAN 2015

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She says: “My speech therapist put me in touch with Phoenix and the Parkinson’s disease society paid for me to attend a six-week course. Howard Priestley, who runs the station and presents a soul show on Thursdays 8–10pm, asked me to contribute to pre-recorded shows as I can’t really rely on my voice so Howard came up with the idea of recording little snippets and I sometimes call myself Missy Elliott.

“As for me and Steve, we loved the same music. In Egypt we were dancing on the top deck of this boat trip we were on, and we had a fab day.”

On Maria’s 11-minute recording we hear Steve loud and clear, talking 19 to the dozen, as ever. They discuss his teenage years hitch-hiking in pursuit of Northern Soul and how he became a dance champion. He also boasts about his fancy footwork impressing holidaymakers in Egypt: “Last night when I went out here I cleared the floor dancing. I can still move, but I can’t do the backflips.”

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Steve’s tweet on 15 Jan: with friends at his hotel in Sharm el-Sheikh

MORE PIX FROM THE HOLIDAY IN EGYPT

❏ Debra Hudson wrote to Shapersofthe80s, 23 Feb: “My husband and myself met Steve and Maria [Elliott, see above] on holiday in Egypt. We spent two weeks with Steve up to 28 January and we have some fab photos and a lovely letter he wrote to me. He has touched my heart with laughter and kindness. It was lovely hearing the interview with Maria. Can’t stop crying now. There’s also a picture of Steve in hospital wearing my scarf he took off me, saying that it will be famous one day. He was right. Here [below] are some photos I took and from friends we also met.”


➢ Also at Shapersofthe80s:
Original Blitz Kids pay tribute to Steve Strange, their host, pivot, style icon, friend

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1982 ➤ “Who?!” Peter Capaldi’s first interview (probably) as a green young stand-up

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Capaldi learning the ropes as a comic: Live onstage supporting Spandau Ballet in 1982. (Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s)

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Capaldi and his new Tardis: the 12th Doctor Who. (Photo © BBC/Guy Levy)

◼ “KIDS THREW ORANGES AND COINS at me in Brighton. It’s the first time I’ve tapped into that iceberg of sympathy.” Such was the welcome the 23-year-old Scot, Peter Capaldi, received on his first serious outing as a stand-up comedian supporting Spandau Ballet’s first national concert tour in 1982. I’d been bowled over by his high-octane act a week earlier in Manchester and now the tour was winding up in Bournemouth where I’d come for its Easter weekend finale. His energetic performance suggested an interview was going to be fun, and I’d snapped some onstage pictures that spookily presage an aspect of Capaldi that was to win a Bafta award later in his career.

So here we were in 1982 in the Royal Exeter hotel talking about his lucky break earlier on the same tour – being spotted supporting Spandau’s Glasgow gig by film producer Bill Forsyth who also recognised talent writ large. One result was me resting my notebook on a thumping fat filmscript titled Local Hero, and the other was Capaldi admitting: “I’m terrified of starting this film – standing in front of a camera.”

Oh the irony. Tonight Peter Capaldi, now 56, stepped into the best role in British television to play the 12th Doctor Who – a rendering as fierce and dotty as any who went before. Today too I finally found my long-lost notes from the first interview he’d given as an unknown comic, plus the cassette tape of our very relaxed conversation about his days at Glasgow School of Art, singing with a local band, and his yen to try comedy, inspired by 1981’s nationwide tour by Rik Mayall and the Comic Strip team, who a year later leapt onto British television screens on Channel 4’s opening night.

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Local Hero, 1983: Peter Capaldi with Burt Lancaster and Peter Riegert, a gentle Scottish comedy directed by Bill Forsyth

For Capaldi’s debut in autumn 1981, he had invented a dim character called Fraser Meaky after thinking “I can’t go onstage as myself!” but then Gary Kemp’s circle of Spandau friends, who did not want another band supporting their tour, asked him to be a comedy warm-up before the main event. Fraser was shed in favour of a much more frenetic onstage Capaldi wearing a distressed old showbiz tuxedo, the humour retuned to lampooning the ego maniacs in politics and pop.

Recently, he had been compering a Monday live band night at a Glasgow club. “I like fast clean idea jokes, like Steve Martin,” he said. “The trouble with Glasgow is that it’s a small audience and every time you play you face the same crowd so you have to invent new material. After three weeks I couldn’t think of any more jokes, so it fell through.” How he solved this dilemma was revealed as we spoke. More of the interview will follow soon, meanwhile listen to our chat.

AUDIO CLIP FROM OUR 1982 INTERVIEW:

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➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: How Clare Grogan’s pop entourage put Capaldi on the road, plus an audio track with his band The Dreamboys

➢ Catch Doctor Who series 8 on BBC iPlayer for two months

Doctor Who

Rare self-deprecation: Click pic to view Doctor gifs at thespoonmissioner

➢ Sept update: The new Doctor joins Denzel Washington and Gemma Arterton on BBC1’s Graham Norton Show, 26 Sept – Peter Capaldi’s debut alongside Jenna Coleman was the most watched Doctor Who opening episode in four years, with 9.2million UK viewers.

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1929–2014 ➤ Bacall slouched, she simmered and she gave as good as she got

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Bacall raised the temperature in Hollywood: Bogie used to tell her, “Keep it quiet. If in doubt, don’t answer”

❚ THE ONLY TIME I MET LAUREN BACALL was at London’s Hayward Gallery in autumn 1985 at the show Hockney Paints the Stage. I was minding my own business admiring one huge and brashly colourful stage setting, when that unmistakably smoky voice boomed into my ear: “Aw, that is a perfect match for the curtains in the ocean room back home!” I just about suppressed laughing out loud and we became instant pals for the duration. She did actually like the Hockney, without revealing which colour would match her curtains, and certainly gave the impression of knowing her way round the art world.

My diary notes that she was with her incredibly young-looking daughter Leslie Bogart while mum, aged only 61, sadly looked “much the worse for wear though youthfully kitted in black one-piece romper suit”. Did I even ask one personal question? In the orbit of so dazzling a supernova? You’re kidding. And everyone in that gallery was silently begging me to.

➢ Lauren Bacall, the tough-talking femme fatale who taught Humphrey Bogart how to whistle, has died at the age of 89 – Guardian obituary:

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Betty’s star today on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame

She was so nervous in her first film role, at all of 19 years old, that her head shook; so she tilted her chin down to steady herself, and had to look up from under at the camera. She stood at the bedroom door of ‘a hotel in Martinique in the French West Indies’ – the Warner Bros lot in Hollywood – looked up, and asked Humphrey Bogart for a match. And defined her life… / Continued at Guardian online

Lauren Bacall,

The inimitable Lauren Bacall with Sophie, her papillon, in her apartment at the Dakota, in New York City. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz

➢ At 86 Lauren Bacall looked back on a lucky, if often difficult, life as she gave it straight to Vanity Fair:
You are going to cut me to ribbons, I can tell. What’s the argument for this story? That I am still breathing? I don’t talk about the past,” she proclaims, taking a piece of Bissinger’s and pushing the rest in my direction. Nevertheless, the past is present everywhere in this room and all over the apartment. It is, in fact, never far from her thoughts. She has lived in great comfort in this place since 1961, when she bought it for $48,000. “I called my business manager in California and said, ‘Sell all of my stock’ — what little of it I had — and it’s the only smart financial move I ever made,” she says… / Continued at Vanity Fair online

“Go to work, Slim”

❏ Above, we see 19-year-old Betty at her sexiest in To Have and Have Not, her first movie with Bogie when they fell for each other and married for life, making it rather superior to Casablanca for romance. Watch her minx up this quirky number, How Little We Know, with Hoagy Carmichael tickling the ivories.

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1945: Bogie and Bacall married within a year of meeting. She said the 25-year age gap was was the most fantastic thing in her life

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2013 ➤ Bobby Womack’s last interview with Old School Robbie

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Jan 2013: soul legend Bobby Womack meets UK deejay Robbie Vincent at Jazz FM

➢ At Facebook, the legendary UK soul deejay Robbie Vincent writes: We have lost a real Soul Brother in Bobby Womack, one of the greatest. We go back a long time and he used to call me Old School Robbie. Respect to an amazing and talented musician and a real gentleman. At this time I wish I was on air to pay tribute… Delighted to say you can hear again my last interview with Bobby Womack at Mixcloud. Thanks to Mike Vitti for his help in making it possible for you to share words and music from our Soul Brother. He was in fine form too.

➢ When Robbie met Bobby… Robbie Vincent’s Essential Rhythms interview with the legendary Bobby Womack on Jazz FM in January 2013, in three parts – James Brown, hiding from the tax man, pretending to be blind, Sam Cooke, Wilson Picket, great music, this thing has got the lot.

➢ Soul legend Bobby Womack dead at 70 – Rolling Stone obituary: Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. ‘My very first thought was — I wish I could call Sam Cooke and share this moment with him,’ Womack said. ‘This is just about as exciting to me as being able to see Barack Obama become the first black President of the United States of America.

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