The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
THE WONDER STUFF MILES HUNT INTERVIEW 2014

HARD ROCK INTERVIEWS 2014 - THE WONDER STUFF MILES HUNT

THE WONDER STUFF

Miles Hunt refuses to tell us where the name of the band comes from, but there's tales of scaring young interviewers, Pet Sounds and the meaning of life ...

 

JANUARY 2014

Sometimes you get to interview bands that really have something to say and over the years The Wonder Stuff has produced some great music. Miles Hunt is the sort of interviewee that you feel instantly comfortable with and is a joy to speak to. Make sure you catch the band on their Australian Tour which kicks off in Brisbane at the end of February...

Mark: Hi, Miles thanks for speaking to The Rockpit. I was talking to a mate of mine yesterday, who said he saw you 26 years ago at The Tower ballroom in Birmingham, where you opened for The Happy Mondays and New Order, and he said you were by far the best band of the night by far!!


Miles: That’s very kind of him to say that!! I remember the night well, actually!


Mark: I think it’s the second time you’ve been over here, the first time supporting Jesus Jones in 2011, is that right?


Miles: No, it’ll be the third time, we were over, a thousand years ago, well, 1991.


Mark; How have you changed over the years? Is there a very different feel to the band, are you still playing a lot of stuff from the big albums, such as “Hup” and “Never Loved Elvis”?


Miles: We still cover all the important stuff, it would be churlish not to! That’s what people who come to the gigs want to hear, yeah, we cover the lot. But, while we’re doing these dates in Australia, and this is at the promoter’s request, and I could see no reason to disagree with him, because we’ve done it in England and it works ok, so we start by doing the third album, “Never Loved Elvis” in its entirety. It’ll be in order, so that’s about 40 minutes of the show, and then we’ll probably do another hour of everything else, and even stuff from the new album that we put out last year, called “Oh No It’s… The Wonder Stuff”, which seems to have gone down well with critics and fans alike.


Mark: Yeah, that was an interesting album, especially the fact that you released that second CD there of other Midlands based artists. I listened to that this morning, and some of that was pretty good, especially the cover of “Blackberry Way”, it really takes you back!


Miles: Cool, thanks. It all started with that one, Fuzz and I were sitting in the pub, and we were saying that every artist from the Midlands, eventually has to get round to learning how to play “Blackberry Way”!! It’s a staple from the area, and by one of our greatest songwriters, Roy Wood. I’d been messing around with it for a year or so, and thought it would be nice to do a band version, so we did that, and Fuzz said we should do a collection of Midlands’s songs, and I thought it was a good idea. So, that’s how we started recording that new album, because we were recording some of it at Fuzz’s house, which is 10 miles away from where I live, and then recording the rest of it at mine and Erica’s house, and then Fuzz said let’s do some original material. So, over about 7 or 8 months we recorded 21 tracks, including the covers, and it’s gone over pretty well with everybody, I think!


Mark: When the tour announcement came up, I thought I’d love to see those guys again, it's been years since I saw you in the UK, and I guess back in the day, Australia was the last thought on people’s minds, it was all about going to the States, and touring the UK?


Miles: Well, you know, it’s one of those things, it’s very much lead by the label that you sign to, and the managers, and I think at that time, going to Australia was seen as a “jolly up”, you all have a great time, whereas what they really wanted you to do was put the time in, promote and tour in the US because they would all earn far more money, if you managed to break North America rather than Australia, sadly. We did have a good time back in 91, we were doing 3 different venues in Sydney, we started off at quite a small club and then did some other cities, and then came back and did a mid-size club and a theatre at the end of it. We also did a festival on the Gold Coast, it was great, we had a really good time.


Mark: Yeah, it’s quite vibrant these days, for years we lived off cover bands because none of the big bands would come over and now because we didn’t really get hit by the GFC, there’s money, and now most bands come over to see us these days, we’re even getting Springsteen this year! The DVD you did was fantastic, “Oh, Yeah, It’s the Wonder Stuff”.


Miles: Have you seen that?


Mark: Yes, I got a copy; someone sent me it on Monday, so I’ve been looking through that, following you through 2 years, 2012-2013.


Miles: Yeah, it covers that 2 year period, really.


Mark: One question that people on social media have been asking, and something you have never revealed, is where the name came from for The Wonder Stuff, we have all kinds of guesses!


Miles: Well, really it’s not an interesting answer to that question!! The reason I brought it up, was I did a phoner with someone in England, the other day, a young guy, from like a local paper somewhere, and the reason it ended up on the social media thing was, he asked me, where did you all meet, and where did the name come from? And I said, I can’t answer those 2 questions anymore!! And I said, you’re going to have to do better than that, mate! It really threw him off his stride, he was obviously very young, and had no idea who we fucking were!! Honestly, I’m not being awkward, but those sentences will not leave my mouth anymore, they just get stuck!! I then said to him, do some better research and call me back, and I put that on Facebook, and it started the whole “where did the name come from?” thing. I was like “it doesn’t fucking matter!!!” I’ve been writing my first book, for the last 4 or 5 months, which is essentially The Wonder Stuff Diaries, Part 1, and it covers the first rehearsal in March 1986, to the first line-up change in December 1989. So, for those people who really must know, where the name came from, it’s in the book!!!


Mark: My mate from the Black Country, has a theory it’s all to do with crisps, can we just discount that one?


Miles: Err, it has absolutely nothing to do with crisps!!

Mark: So, you head to Dubai, after you’ve been to Australia, to a really interestingly named place called The Irish Village, sounds a bit dodgy to me!!


Miles: Well, we’ve actually done it before, not for 10 years, oddly we played in Dubai twice in 2003, we did a big thing supporting Simple Minds, the first time we went, and then the promoter’s liked us, so we were back again 3 months later, it was a small sports arena, they call it the Irish Village, it’s where all the bars are around the sports arena. It’s just a way of breaking up that fucking flight back to England!!


Mark: Tell me about it!! I’ve done it a few times! It’s a long way to come, but it’s a decent place! Taking it all the way back, one of the questions we got on the net to ask, was, what was it that made you decide you wanted to be in a rock and roll band?


Miles: I don’t know how much I can give away, mate, because all this stuff’s in the book!! I was introduced to the actual lifestyle, when I was very young, maybe 7 or 8 years of age, because my uncle, my dad’s brother Bill played keyboards in the Glam Rock band, Wizard. One evening they played in Derby, which is where I was living when I was little, and a few of them decided to save the money from the gig, that they got paid, and not stay at a hotel, but stay at my mum and dad’s house. So, when I got up for school the next morning, there were 5 incredibly hirsute men lying on the floor of our lounge!! All fast asleep, so I got ready for school, and I was standing there looking at my dad, straightening his tie, and combing his hair, getting ready for a day at work, mum was getting ready for work, and I looked back at the lounge, and these guys hadn’t moved!! I thought, hang on, what do they do for a living? And I think the decision was made right then, early mornings are not for me, I think I’ll join a rock and roll band!!


Mark: That’s a fantastic story, hope we haven’t ruined a punch line for you in the book!! Can music change the world??


Miles: It has, hasn’t it?


Mark: I personally think it has, but….


Miles: Yes, certainly, look at the late sixties, not just the music but the art, all the creative arts changed, as society changed. Generationally, I think my generation’s very lucky that, although I have respect for my parents, there’s a huge generation gap between us, like there was perhaps between them and their parents, everything just became wide open in the sixties, and music played a large part in that, both socially and politically. Then the mid to late 70’s with Punk and New Wave, that was a political education. So, yeah, really important, whether it does much these days, I don’t know! Having played a part in it, I feel mostly cynical towards it!


Mark: That’s the interesting thing, I guess, I don’t see too much happening in music to shape the world in the last couple of decades.  Unless it’s a warning that modern music is a sad reflection of the way the world is, and is heading: more about fame and celebrity than social consciousness and awareness.
Miles: I just think musicians became selfish and greedy again, whether somebody like Oasis is artistically worthwhile, whether I like them or not, is neither here nor there, but I think they just dragged us back in to the time before punk rock, where rock stars were just cocaine snorting, model dating assholes!!! That were completely self-serving, and I think once Oasis dragged us back there, we haven’t really recovered from it:


Mark: You can sort of forgive it, in the 70’s and 80’s because the music was good!!


Miles: It had come from something brilliant in the mid and late sixties, and then the scene got itself in trouble in the mid-seventies, and then new people came along to the music scene around ’77, ’78 and said we’ve got to put this back on course, we have to become worthwhile to society again, and that’s what Punk Rock did. But the new musicians can go and fuck themselves, because Oasis dragged it back and fucked it all up, and nobody’s come along to do anything about it like the punks did!

Mark: I think we do need a movement like that again to kick things in to gear again, but the way technology is going these days, it’s hard to see a way back. But, I guess we are just old buggers, talking about the way it used to be!! Now, I’ll be interested to hear your answer to the next question that we ask everyone. If you could have been a fly on the wall for the recording of any album, at any point in time, what would it have been for you, and why?


Miles: I wouldn’t have cared to be there for the recording of, but I would have loved to have seen the faces of people when the mixing was finished to “Never Mind the Bollocks” by the Sex Pistols. I would have liked to have been there when the A&R man said come in, hear it that must have been insane!! Because, they controlled it, there were stories about the Pistols bringing chaos, and the anarchy, but I’ve worked with producer Pat Collier, many, many times, he was in The Vibrator’s at that time, and he said the media had it all wrong about The Pistols being shit musicians, and The Clash, were looked at as classic rock, in fact it was the other way round, The Clash were truly shambolic, and did too much speed, and were just a mess. But, The Pistols always nailed it, the rhythm section, talking about Glen and Paul Cook were just fantastic, and Steve Jones knew exactly what he was doing, and whether you like Lydon’s voice or not, he’s brilliant! There was all the stuff in the media, who’d have thought The Pistols could create such a powerful and controlled album! So, just hearing the proof of their efforts, I think would be astounding.


Mark: It would’ve been interesting certainly , I think it’s just one of those rare albums that epitomises a certain point in time, an ideal and a movement.


Miles: I honestly think it’s the greatest rock and roll album ever made.


Mark: Always when I ask this question, if I have a vinyl copy I will stick it on, and see what happens. I do have a copy, not sure when I last played it, might have been a few years ago!!


Miles: You should play it, it’s all still there, it’s still incredibly fresh, the energy is just unbelievable, and John’s voice is so young, he was only nineteen when it was recorded, and it’s phenomenal!
Mark: It is one of those iconic voices as well, like Ozzy Osborne, for example, who can’t sing technically well, but have just got that sound, which is perfect for what they do!

Miles: As Leonard Cohen said all those years ago, “If you want to hear a singer, go to the opera!” Rock and roll is something completely different, its character that you want in a rock and roll singer.
Mark: Couldn’t agree more! Just give us a couple of songs that you will be playing off the new album when you come over.


Miles: Well, we do “Clear Through the Years”, “Be Thy Name” goes down really well, I like the track, well, I like all of the tracks, but it’s amazing how well that track goes down well live both with the band, and mine and Erica’s acoustic solo gigs. We also do a song called “Right Side of the Turf” which is a title I was given by a dear old friend, who sadly passed away a little over a year ago. He was an 83 year old man who I met, called George, who Erica and I used to sit in the local pub with, he was a farmer all his life, and he just gave me this great phrase, being on the right side of the turf, as in just enjoying your life.


Mark: Sounds great, and a long set.


Miles: Yeah, should be about 2 hours, I would have thought.


Mark: Well, we’ll see you down at The Rosemount in Perth, and I just have one final question, which I think you’ll have a really good answer for! What is the meaning of life?


Miles: Well, there is no answer is there!? There’s something like on all those bumper stickers, but I hate all those fucking clichés!! I have no idea, but enjoy the ride!!


Mark: What football team do you support?


Miles: Sport never registered with me, I have no interest!


Mark Cheers! That’s two pints, I’ve won!!
(Someone on FB earlier in the day had told me Miles was a mad Newcastle United fan!)


Miles: Thanks, we must hook up when we get there!


Mark: It’s been a pleasure to speak to you thanks so much for your time, take care.


Miles: Bye.

 

 

The Wonder Stuff Australian Tour 2014

 

Thursday, 27th February – Brisbane
The Zoo

Friday, 28th February – Melbourne
Corner Hotel

Saturday, 1st March – Sydney 
The Factory Theatre

Sunday, 2nd March – Perth
Rosemount Hotel

 

Tickets available from metropolistouring.com & the venues www.thewonderstuff.co.uk/ / metropolistouring.com

 

Miles spoke to Mark Diggins January 21 2014

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