"Sharing the Love" interview: Part 1

Editor's note:

Before Lambast, there were three early Information Service publications. The first arrived in my mailbox in early 1991, a couple years after writing "something interesting" to Box 1267. It was an A5 sized booklet with some photos, a discography, and an interview, amongst other things. I was unbelievably stoked.

The interview, with Miles and Martin, was long and rambling but contained lots of interesting stuff.

The Wonder Stuff


...Sharing the Love...

1990 was a pretty busy year for The Wonder Stuff, yet for a lot of that time, they were completely out of the public eye and out of the papers, apart from the occasional bit of controversy over the Day Of Conscience and the New Year's Eve bash. So that we can bring you up to date with what's been going on, we carried out a couple of interviews, firstly with Martin Gilks at Aston Villa Leisure Centre in August and then with Martin and Miles at the recording studios in December, where they're working on album number 3.

The year started with Bob leaving the band. Did he jump or was he pushed?

MARTIN: A bit of both I think. Round about the "HUP" tour when Bob was with us, he was going mental, getting pissed every night, drunk on stage and stuff, ruining everything, being in a bad mood generally and we were all thinking that we were going 'to have to kick him out. We didn't want to, but be was making things really hard. Then we went into the studio just before Christ., two weeks before we did the shows at the Villa Leisure Centre and Bob was back to his normal self again, really great, so we thought things would be alright again. Just after that had happened, we were having a management meeting and he just told us be was leaving. We couldn't really disagree with him, because it was obvious he just didn't like being in a band. We'd always said that if any of us stopped enjoying it then would pack it in, so we all really respected him for doing that.

There was a bit of confusion at the time, when he said he was leaving, then you put out a statement saying he wasn't.

MARTIN: Well, we hadn't found a bass player - Bob had only left two weeks before - and at that point there was going to be an album out f or June because we had so many new songs. Bob had been really steaming, playing really well in the studio, and we just wanted to write songs, so when he left we were in a real fix, "Christ, we've got to get a new bass player". So we didn't want to announce he's left because a) you get loads of people phoning up saying "I want to be your new bass player" and b) we already had a fairly good idea that Paul would be OK, but it would have put too much pressure on him. So the idea was not to tell anyone that Bob had left and once we had got a bass player we were happy with, then announce that he'd left the band and tell everyone who was taking over.

We didn't talk to Bob about that, it was a decision between the three of us, so he obviously reacted when we put the denial in the papers, and he wrote to all of them, telling then he'd gone! We didn't want to have a situation like when Terry left the House Of Love, and that went on for about 6 weeks in the press, it was ridiculous, and every interview they did for 6 months after that was about Terry Bickers. We just didn't want that, it was just, "Bob's left, here's the new bass player".

Was there much question over bringing Paul in - did you audition many people?

MARTIN: We auditioned one other guy, but he didn't really know the songs, and because we've got quite a large repertoire now we needed somebody who knew the songs. Paul already knew virtually everything, so that was half the battle, he only had to get to know the new stuff.

Has he made much of a contribution yet to the writing?

MARTIN: We had about 3 weeks in the studio with him, worked on 10 new songs, Paul worked on all those. We'd been to Europe and America before that, and he's been playing with us since January really.

In the press Miles had said that Bob didn't do much on the writing side.

MARTIN: That was the worst thing really, 'cause originally it had been just the four of us, all putting ideas in, but once Bob started to get disinterested, he stopped having any input. For about 12 months he wasn't putting anything into the band whatsoever. He wouldn't write, which was the main thing, he wouldn't do any interviews, he'd complain about having to do photo sessions, he'd complain about going on tour, which was he one thing he had liked, so we were starting to wonder why he was in a band!

On that "Waffle and Maple Syrup" album which was supposed to be the four of you, he said about two things all the way through!

MARTIN: He was legless when we did that! He was going through his awkward stage when he just didn't like doing things, so he'd just get pissed instead. By the time he left, he was a raging alcoholic, but apparently he's given up the booze now. He was drinking enormous amounts, he just didn't care.

Around about this time there was a new single, the "Luna Thug" EP set for release, with "Piece Of Sky" and "Can It Shape Up, Again" on it. What happened with that?

MARTIN: Obviously with Bob leaving, we just wanted to make a clean break with that part of the group and that time, so we decided not to release another song from "Hup" and release "Circlesquare" instead.

The next big thing after that was the tour with The Mission in Europe and America. You did the European leg, went to America and immediately Simon Hinkler left The Mission. What did that do to the atmosphere?!

MARTIN: It was like Spinal Tap! Actually is wasn't that bad. I don't particularly like their music, but they're really nice people and I was just amazed how they carried on. If that had been us we'd have been on the first plane home! But they just carried on and I've got a lot of admiration for the way they did that. Wolfie, their extra guitarist, he was just a hero basically, sitting in the tour bus learning all the parts. But it was very strange. In fact, we've still never finished a European tour, though it wasn't our fault this time - I assume it was all down to Simon, because he was ill, So we didn't play Lyon or Paris, then we went to America and Miles got a throat infection so we missed the last week of that.

MILES: With them, it was getting to be a pain in the arse - we hadn't supported anyone for ages, so it was difficult watching other people soundcheck and waiting for our chance, then there was the whole thing with Simon leaving so they weren't in the best of moods nor the best people to be around.

MARTIN: We weren't blowing them off-stage or anything, but we were just more together than they were.

MILES: We were much stronger because they'd just had a member stolen from their grasp.

MARTIN: By the time we left the tour it was a bit awkward being around them.

Are you all enjoying touring more?

MARTIN. Yeah, it's getting a lot better, it was just the attitude to it was a bit wrong, but I think a lot of that was down to Bob anyway. When you've, got somebody in the band who's always bored, it just affects everybody. We've got over it and we're all really happy. Fiddly's been in the band for over a year and he's a real steadying influence and we all get on with Paul, so it's like being in a new band, and with playing all the new stuff as well, it's like starting all over again.

There are a lot of new songs in the set now.

MARTIN: We play about 8 of them, but we've got something like 17 now that it we could play. Through no, fault of our own, it looks like the new album will have to wait until April 1991. We've done a UK tour, went to America in October and then the rest of the time between then and Christmas was just going to be recording, but we had problems on the production side.

How is the relationship with the record company? I'm not sure if your biggest nightmare is a record company or whether you're a record company's biggest nightmare. You don't really play by the rules.

MARTIN: No. It works both ways. In England it's worked fine, they now know not to do anything without going through us first and it works. Every single has done a bit better than the last, the albums have sold well, we do well live, and we're happy with what we're doing so they've got no complaints and neither have we. When you actually say you want to go to America, it sounds funny coming from a band like us, especially coming from me, wanting the record company to do something for us because in England we've never wanted then to do anything for us, no marketing, no billboards, that sort of crap. When you get to America, you need them to do that, because you can't be there all the time. You need some sort of push because the place is so big and then when they don't do it, we get annoyed with that which is like a complete role reversal, fighting with the record company to actually get them to work for you instead of telling them to calm down! That's the only moan we've really got though.

It's a different approach nowadays to have a single out without an album to promote, as you did with "The Disco King" and now with "Circlesquare".

MARTIN: The Smiths always used to do that and I'd always buy the singles so it's not that odd to us. I hate the way singles are only used for marketing albums as a marketing tool, so when you go to Polydor and say "We want to bring a single out", the immediate reply is "Where is the album?" To come back and say that there isn't an album, it's just a single, a good song we want to put out, they say "What??"?!! You can't do that, you put singles out to sell albums". But we don't, we put them out because they're good songs. The problem is that they put so much money into it now with videos, advertising, marketing and that kind of thing that they have to sell lots of albums just to recoup that money.

You've never really gone in for the 12" dance remix which everybody is doing now, nor the extra versions of singles, like the 10" or picture disc whatever.

MARTIN: We've never done a format in our lives. You can't really do them now anyway, which is a shit because we've told Polydor we want to do them now, just to be awkward! But there was all that thing about a year ago when bands like All About Eve, The Mission and The House Of Love, similar sort of genre to us I suppose, were putting out 16 versions of a single and they'd have a hardcore following similar to ours, who'd go out and buy all of them and it's still only one fucking song. We have done some remixes, but we just put them on the ordinary release, so you can go out and buy the proper version and get the "extra" stuff.

The Primitives were a classic with that, same single with 4 different B-sides all of which hadn't been released before so their fans went out and bought the lot. It's so stupid what's the difference between it being in a cardboard box or a paper bag? The way I look at it, the people who go out and buy it are stupid. Fortunately they've stopped all that now. We did that "Paranoia Mix" of "Circlesquare", which was just a laugh. In all seriousness, it took us half an hour to do that, we were pissed up late at night in the studio and said we'd do a remix. We did it, it sounded good so we put it on the single and now everyone thinks we're turning into a dance band. It took us half an hour, while everybody else like The Soup Dragons probably take weeks over theirs! So people have now decided were a dance band, which I think is hilarious!

Talking about the current indie scene, the direction The Soup Dragons and Primal Scream have gone, what do you think of that?

MARTIN: I Just think it's funny. You can see why they've done it they just want money and success basically, and at the moment if you put a dance single out you get it.

They've all suddenly invented backgrounds where they've been into dance music for years!

MARTIN. That's right! Bobby Gillespie creases me! I've been reading his interviews lately and I just can't help laughing at him, he's just ridiculous. If you want to be a dance band, be a dance band, fair enough, but there's no point in trying to justify yourself and justify your past. What's there is there, and they were basically an indie band, they had long hair and they played thrashy indie music and now they're a dance band. Fair enough, but don't try to tell everybody you've been on E for 6 years because you haven't!

It all seems to have become big business very quickly.

MILES: It's all very well these bands who've come up really quickly, but I think it takes away all the emphasis from wanting to see good live bands, it's just hero worship at the Wembley gigs, whereas when we started doing all the places like Dingwalls, the Powerhouse, it was people who really wanted to see a gig. Most of the kids we talked to would come to see us, then the next week they'd go and see The Mission, then All About Eve, the Poppies whatever. But now, these bands, three gigs seems to be a big tour! The G-Mex, NEC and Wembley seems to be a serious hard tour for them! I don't say you have to go out and slog it, but for the 14 year old kids into these people, I just think it's really boring - I wouldn't want to go and see these Wembley gigs. You might as well wait for the video to cone out, 'cause there will be one - that's the only reason to do those gigs.

MARTIN: There was a review of one of the Neds gigs saying "God help us if they get in the Top 10, 'cause it means anyone could do it!" That's as if to say they can't play live, which is rubbish. It's all these journalists over the last year who've been to see people like The Farm or the Mondays, where it's mostly on tape anyway, and they just think they're great live bands! It was classic at the Mondays gig when the guitarist dropped his guitar but the music just carried on!

MILES: It's great talking to people like the Neds, 'cause they just want to do it nice and gradually, producing their own album at their own pace. They want to learn on the way up, they don't want to sit on a beach in LA while their producer's making their album for them. They suffer from not coming from Manchester, but next year it'll be something else or somewhere else.

I think 91 might be quite interesting, and I'd love to see bands like the Teenage Fan Club, the Neds, Swervedriver or Jane's Addiction getting some of the coverage they deserve, but unfortunately they don't look pretty on the front covers or on MTV.

You released the inevitable video compilation, but the bits in between the songs really brightened the whole idea up.

MARTIN: It was just a simple idea we had and we spent an afternoon just pissing around in the pub. We got a bit of stick for it, but who cares? We get stick for everything we do, it's creeping in more at the moment. You do spend a lot of money on videos so why not let people see them, there's no point in letting them go to waste.

Obviously you don't like doing videos...

MARTIN: We hate them!

Is there anybody you'd like to work with on video in future?

MARTIN: We wanted to work with Tim Pope, because he did all those Cure videos and apparently he managed to get Robert Smith interested in making videos, and if he could do that, then he must be a fairly good bloke. I know he's completely off his trolley but....

Having said that, the last video we did with Steve and Simon, it was just filmed in Brixton Academy and it's just as good as anything else I've ever seen and we didn't have to do a thing. It's no work, you just do the gig, they film it and put it together, you go and have a quick look at it and that's it - it actually takes 10 minutes of our time to do a video as opposed to spending 50 grand going to America and standing in a desert all day, which is just a pointless exercise. At the end of the day, nobody sees it anyway and it's crap, so what's the point doing it?

Having done the video compilation, Is there going to be a live video soon?

MARTIN: We were going to do one on this tour actually, but then again it was going to cost too much to do. We always said, when we did that filming at Brixton, it was a gig, it wasn't staged for a film, and if you're going to stage a proper live video you've got to do a bit more than we did for just one song, just to keep people's interest going. We were a bit annoyed because we'd have to hire a crane or whatever, and that would be swinging across the stage, and there were a lots of other ideas like that which would ruin the gig so we packed it in. We are going to try and think of how to do it properly and perhaps try next time, maybe have cameras up in the truss or something, but we didn't really have time to sort it out, plus the way it was going it was going to cost too much.

What are you going to do with live work in future? You've got to the stage where you've outgrown the leisure centre venues and the next step up is the ARC or Wembley Arena.

MARTIN: That's always a difficult one! Our agent says that we could easily do those now - 2 nights at Villa is the same as one at the NEC or 2 nights at Brixton is the same as Wembley Arena. We don't want to do it yet - we don't want to do it period, actually. It's more of a status thing. That thing that Swells put in the NME, "I want to see The Wonder Stuff move on and become a big band" which is basically what he was saying, what does he mean by that, I don't understand. If you do 3 Brixtons, it's like 1 and a half Wembleys, but the fact that you're doing Wembley is more prestigious. But it's only prestigious for the band so they can feel better about themselves - "Oh we're big now, we're playing Wembley". We know we can play Wembley Arena so why do it? It'd be shit anyway, the crowd won't enjoy it, you get crap beer, it's miles from anywhere, you can't see or hear a fucking thing anyway, you have to get the train there and back - same with the NEC, it's just a hideous event. If you play the Villa Leisure Centre, even that's a bit shitty, but at least if you want to have a ruck you can go down the front, if you just want to sit or stand and watch, there's the sides, so that's OK. It's the only compromise we can come up with at the moment. The problem comes as you get a bit more popular, do you do 15 nights here? I don't know, we'll just have to see how it goes. I still don't want to have anything to do with the arenas though.

People like The Cure, U2 and Simple Minds have gone on to that - some of them say that the music is better in those places.

MARTIN: Some people do say that, but at the moment we totally disagree with the whole thing. Every time you see someone live like that, I just think it's crap, I don't enjoy it, it's just a bad night out. I don't know - apparently somebody's invented a portable gig, so when they've got one of those the size of Wembley, we'll do that and take it around with us!

It's all just dull and uninteresting.. Another thing is T-shirts. At the moment we have to give 20% of the T-shirt money to the venue which I think is crap, but if you go to Wembley, it's something like 33%! Fuck off! And people wonder why the T-shirts are 15 pounds. So everything gets passed on to the punter and the venue walks away with a load of dosh. Bollocks to it.

I think one of the reasons that the band is so popular is that ethic of value for money. Are people trying to talk you out of it, because there's a lot more money that could be made on merchandise for example.

MARTIN: Our T-shirt guy says we should put the prices up because people would buy it anyway. Like the new "Circlesquare" T-shirts have got 4 prints on them for 8 pounds. I think we make 50p on them or something - but even then, if you're doing between 6000 and 9000 pounds a night, you're still making money. There's no point in ripping people off.

The long-sleeved ones are shit, but they went in the shops before the tour without our say so while we were in America - two things were done while we were in America. The T-shirt which we hadn't approved came out and went into the shops at 12 pounds, and then the video came out and the artwork was wrong! We couldn't believe it, they hadn't checked it with us. And it was out at the wrong time. We wanted it out when we're touring, just so we could say we were doing something, but no, they just put it out. If you look at the six faces, the faces are pink and green and the back is white, but it should be black. They've missed all the black print out. They got the bar code black in - they wouldn't miss that - but they missed all the other black screen printing. We went fucking mad when we got back and found that had gone on. There were adverts in the papers as well, for "The Wonderstuff", which obviously hadn't come from the band - at least we can get our name right! It was a real pain, but there's not a lot you can do about it really.

So, after the UK tour was finished, there was a short break, then an American tour.

MILES: Basically we played the places we missed at the end of The Mission tour when we didn't get down to Texas or the East coast because my throat went. It was a better tour for being on our own.

MARTIN: On The Mission tour, we only really did the top half, so that's why we went back.

MILES: Those are the best places for us as well, plus LA, Chicago, San Francisco, places we've played a few times. With us in America, it goes in cycles. When we first went, we had the buzz of being the new English band, then when we went out with The Mission, the buzz had gone and though various radio stations in LA and New York play our stuff, because we haven't really done much there, we haven't really got that serious fan base, so we've got that thing that bands playing The Marquee have over here - there's lots of people there to check them out, but it's not a real audience at all. It's kind of dull really. But the only way to get past it is to keep playing there. But it was OK this time.

MARTIN: We'd said that we were going to finish the tour this time, so we had to enjoy it! But it was only 3 weeks.

MILES: With The Mission tour, we'd just done Europe and realised that we weren't going to see home for another 5 weeks, it's just "Oh God!"

MARTIN: The thing to do is go over a couple of times a year instead of one 3 month long stretch. Next year we're doing two, first around the album release, then go back later in the year. What we'll do is the same circuit of towns we know, then the odd few that we haven't done - so we'll probably do LA and play to 2500 people, then Bumblefuck, Colorado to 20 people!

Do you actually enjoy America itself?

MARTIN: Yeah its alright. I like the crowds over there, but I don't like the people - sounds really strange, but I've really gone off Americans, I find it difficult over there.

MILES: America's just America really!

Recently, the rest of the band were sounding very enthusiastic about America.

MARTIN: They've changed their tune a lot! Everybody was really enthusiastic and I was the one who hated America and now it's turned full circle - everybody else can't stand it and I quite enjoy it. There again I've never had an American girlfriend whereas all the others have so maybe that's got something to do with it!

So there's not going to be a U2-like obsession with America then?

MARTIN: No, no, not a chance. It's great to go over there - you can't complain at the opportunity of going to America to play obviously, but it's so boring. The travelling really gets on your tits, 18 hours every day just to get from one gig to another, so you're always tired and then when you turn up somewhere there's always some over-enthusiastic American rabbiting in your ear, screaming "I love you guys, I love you guys!". You just want him to fuck off, OK say you like the band then piss off. It just gets on your tits after a while.

So, after the American tour, what was the plan?

MARTIN: The idea was that we'd come back from America and start work on the new album straight away with Dave Allen, who co-produces The Cure records with Robert Smith. But we did two tracks with him before we went away and they were abysmal, so when we got back, we were stuck and spent three weeks looking for another producer before we finally got together with Mick Glossop. Then we had to wait for him to become free so that we could start work. We did a couple of weeks with him, then he had to finish something else off, so we went off and did the High School gig and supported the Neds at the Astoria when Jesus Jones pulled out, so we haven't been sitting around doing nothing, but we've been waiting to really get started.

MILES: Truth be known, we've been working on it for a year now! We've got about 15-20 finished songs and then there's a few ideas as well.

MARTIN: We've got the basic album - 14 songs. Hopefully we'll record every idea that we've got and then put them out as an extra to the album.

MILES: We're also going to re-record things like "Inside You" and "Can't Shape Up, Again" which had Bob on, so there's little point releasing them. They weren't much more than demos anyway, but we just fancied rush-releasing something at the time, but when it came to it, "Circlesquare" came out so well that we didn't want to put that on an EP in the shadow of "Piece Of Sky" which people already knew. We did about seven songs last December, so we're just re-doing them now, making then better. We've toured some of them since, "The Size Of A Cow" needs livening up, "Maybe" needs a closer look, which is what we're doing at the moment. We were just jamming ideas in December, so it's good the way we're working now, thinking about the songs. We had time to think about "Eight Legged Groove Machine", but a lot of things on "Hup" just got rushed.

MARTIN: At least two songs weren't even worked out previously, they were just recorded in a day. It's silly to do that and then come back and think what we could have done with them.

MILES: By the time "Mission Drive" comes out, it'll be the third time we've recorded it, so we've had time to work on it. The single of "A Wish Away" was the sixth time we recorded it, we did "Give Give Give" four times, whereas "Don't Let Me Down, Gently" was the first time - there wasn't even a demo on portastudio. Some times it can really work, depends on the song. A really obvious little pop song like "Don't Let Me Down" is simple, "Go, see you at the end!" But a lot of the stuff we're doing now needs a bit of thought, like "Flying Five" or "38 Line Poem" as it is now - it's a bit straight rock, so we need to make it a bit weird like "Goodbye Fatman" or "A Song Without An End". I like doing it like this.

MARTIN: Except this way it takes 3 times as long!

The next question is the direction of the new songs. I think it automatically sounds more "folky" because of Fiddly's contribution, but I don't think that that is the basis of the songs - they're not that dissimilar in spirit to your earlier songs. As you've gone on though, the violin and banjo has certainly become more integrated into the sound. Does it come into the writing at an earlier stage now?

MARTIN: We're definitely not going to turn into a folk band. We've always tended to write the songs on acoustic guitars first anyway, so nothing's really changed, it's just that now we use different instruments. It's just if you use the fiddle or mandolin, people automatically think you've become a folk group. But there's no reason why a rock band shouldn't or can't use a violin or a banjo. Quite a lot of bands do it on record, but not live so you don't hear it or see it done that much. Martin is just as much a part of the band as anybody else now, so we don't really think about it. It has come into the writing earlier though. The first time we did it was "Cartoon Boyfriend" and we'd literally written and finished the song more or less, but it didn't sound quite right, so we got Martin in to play fiddle on it and that's how it all started. It was the same with "Unfaithful", but now he's writing songs the same as everybody else in the band. Obviously when he writes a song, it tends to be very much fiddle based, but that's fairly inevitable I suppose.

The two other major events or non-events of the year. First, Clapham Common. What happened there?

MARTIN: Time to sound all righteous now. It was Malcolm's idea originally, because he went to see the Anti-Nazi gig when The Clash played, and so we talked it over with Wayne and The Mission and came up with this idea of a free gig in the park and get people like Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Shelter, Mencap, all those people to come along and try to get some sort of sponsorship through that so we could afford to put the gig on for free. Nobody was going to be allowed to preach on stage, but all those causes would be there, so if people wanted to find out about them, they could. That was the original idea. Then we started asking people if they were interested, like The Cure, The Pogues, Jane's Addiction, people like that, and we were going to throw all these names into a pot and pull then out. There wasn't going to be a running order, nobody would know who was playing when, but it would just be a really good day out and people would go home and remember it - that was the main thing.

Then, basically The Mission's management took over the project and it ended up with people like Rupert Murdoch wanting to get involved - he offered something like 500,000 pounds to do it, Sky TV were going to broadcast around America, then BSB came in and Budweiser wanted to do something with it, then Harp Lager - how can you have a Day Of Conscience, a free gig and it's being sponsored by Rupert Murdoch?! Then it came down to bands as well - they wanted Robert Plant to do it and headline it when a) there wasn't supposed to be a headliner and b) there wasn't supposed to be any old farty rockers doing it - no disrespect to Robert Plant who I'm sure is very good, but it wasn't our idea of a day out! He basically came about because it meant Sky could sell it to America as Robert Plant's Day Of Conscience in London, because he's massive in America and it would get prime time TV, but all the others wouldn't get any coverage, which totally distorted the idea. So we thought "fuck it" and backed out.

I said that the record companies ought to pay for it. We had people like Skinhead O'Connor and The Waterboys on Ensign, us and The Cure on Polydor, The Mission and All About Eve on Phonogram. I think we needed 300,000 pounds, which if you totted up the cost of one video for each band, it would cover it, especially with bands like The Cure. So why the hell couldn't the record companies have put a bit of money back into it, had a good day out, done a video of it and sold that, any profits going to charity? Easy, but no way, Bit too simplistic I'm afraid. You've got to have sponsorship, because if you don't have sponsorship people think you aren't good enough to be sponsored. We completely missed out on the festivals. I can't remember whether we got asked about Reading or not, but they ask really early in the year, which was when we hadn't got a band together, so there was no way we could have said yes anyway. The top of the bill is done in February I think - The Neds got on just before the gig, but that's the last few opening acts. Anyway the year was a bit packed with recording and going to America, so we didn't really know what was going on and if we'd be available anyway.

The year finished with the Finsbury Park problems.

MILES: When we were in America, we had a call from our agent saying there was going to be a gig in Finsbury Park on New Year's Eve, do you want to headline it? We thought it sounded alright, but we wanted to know more. By the time we got home, it was a 10000 capacity heated tent with us headlining. I thought it would never work - New Year's Eve, fucking freezing cold, travelling's a nightmare. If it was the Summer, you'd get people coming from everywhere for a gig like that, like Reading or whatever, but that time of year, the trains are so expensive, its impossible to travel, so you're only really going to get a London based audience and I wasn't convinced that we could pull that type of thing on that night.

Then we decided that if we were going to do it, it couldn't just be a straightforward Wonder Stuff gig, the bill was going to have to be really strong. The ensuing conversations were on the bands we wanted to do it, so there were people like Jesus Jones, Ride, James. The thing was to say, "it's not our gig, you ain't supporting us, we're all doing something on that day and it just happens we've been asked to go on last". A couple of weeks went by, then we were told tickets were 25 pounds, so we immediately said no fucking way were we going to do it at that price. Then Dave, our manager, said we could carry on talking and get him to bring it down to 15 pounds. He came down to 20 pounds and we weren't sure, but we said if we were going to do it, then the bill had to be shit hot.

Next thing, Ride told us they couldn't do it and the Joneses said they weren't interested, so we just said forget it. Just as we were about to tell the Mean Fiddler, who were arranging it, that we weren't interested, Eat's management, who we'd put forward as an idea, phoned him up, and they were told that they didn't know what they were talking about, because the bill was James and The Buzzcocks and that The Wonder Stuff weren't doing it!

MARTIN: This is all before we'd confirmed or denied anything to do with it!

MILES: We were still just talking at that time. So that was on the Thursday and on the following Monday I saw someone I know who works at NME who told me that they were running a big full page ad to say we were doing a big concert at Finsbury Park on New Year's Eve, supported by The House Of Love. I roared with laughter, but when we saw them, it was "Fuckin' hell!" So we quickly got a press release out so that that would be in the next week's papers, to try and make sure people weren't buying tickets for a Wonder Stuff gig that wasn't going to happen, then have all the hassle of having to get their money back.

So that takes us up to now - what's the plan?

MILES: Talk at the moment is of a single in March and the album in the early Summer. There might even be two singles before the album comes out depending on how slowly we work on it! It'll be nice to get it out - it'll be close to two years since "Hup", which we never wanted to happen, but with touring and the problems with finding and changing producers, it's all just got a bit delayed. Once we've got a firm date for the album, we'll be able to start looking at dates for the tour, which will be just after the album cones out. There's gonna be loads of new songs that we didn't even do and the last tour, so we want the album out first so people know the songs.

MARTIN: People will already recognise some of the new songs anyway, like "Donation", "Play" and "Mission Drive", so we'll be able to kick out a lot more of the old songs from "The Eight Legged Groove Machine"!

MILES: I dare say there'll be a couple of new ideas as well that won't be on the album. We're generally ahead of ourselves, so there'll probably be a couple of new things by then. It's a shame it's taken so long, but in a way I'm glad we've been out of the way while all this dance stuff has been going on. All these bands suddenly leaping into Wembley - how dull! I'm just glad we're away from that, given these people their fifteen minutes and then hopefully we can all resume normal business in 1991!

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