Interview: Space (part 2)
Published on November 30th, 2011 | Jonny Abrams
Here is part 2 of Rocksucker‘s interview with Space (click here to read part 1)…
“If I Ever”
It’s not at the top of the list of things I like about your music but I do enjoy the fact that ‘serious’ music fans tend to get a bit sniffy about Space. Is that kind of divisiveness something you’re proud of?
Tommy: Oh yeah, I loved all that, ‘cause we were always called “whacky” and “quirky”, stuff like that, and there was a point where we started thinking, “This is shit, why are we always ‘quirky’?”
Jamie: Now the time has come to embrace it. Because, you know what, we are whacky and we are quirky.
The Kinks could be pretty quirky.
Tommy: Yeah, they’re a big influence on me, The Kinks.
Franny: The best thing about that was that people, even other bands, always thought, “Here’s that quirky band,” so every time you’d go to a gig, they’d all be onstage giving it the rock and roll, but what they didn’t realise was that we could rock and roll as well. They heard our records and thought that’s what we were like, but as soon as we went onstage and started jamming a song, they’d be like, “Fucking hell!” I used to love all that.
Tommy: The thing is, we didn’t fit in with the Britpop people. They all hated us. They were into Oasis and all that. When they have Britpop things, we never get mentioned. We were just outside it.
“Nothing to Find Her”
Jamie: That’s nothing but a good thing, man. Britpop, shitpop, whatever you wanna call it: it was good at the time but there was no longevity in it and that’s how you’ve got to look at it.
Franny: What was good about it?
Jamie: Well, there were some good bands.
Franny: Like who?
Jamie: I think Oasis were brilliant, and Cast.
Tommy: Suede as well. I started liking them because he said he liked “Female of the Species”. I thought, “Yeah, they’re boss, them!” (Laughs)
Franny: Yeah, they’ve got some boss songs, Suede.
I remember hearing “Female of the Species” for the first time, and thinking that it sounded almost impossibly exotic. It reminded me of this feature-length Flintstones film where Fred becomes a spy. (A cursory post-interview Google reveals this to have been called The Man Called Flintstone, and there’s even a video of the song, which until now I most likely hadn’t heard for the best part of twenty years…)
Jamie: See, if you’d told us that back in the ‘90s, we’d probably have got a proper cob-on with yer! “Whaddya mean?? We’re not the fucking Flintstones!” But now we’re starting to embrace it ‘cause we are quirky and we are whacky. That’s what makes us. This new album’s gonna be whackier and quirkier than the first one. There comes a point in your career where you’ve just got to go, “That’s what we are.”
Franny: That’s the case with “Female of the Species”, isn’t it? Someone wants you to write something a certain way, but you just do what you do and if it happens, it happens. You can’t force yourself to do another thing.
Tommy: I hate listening to that song on record now. For one, the chorus is out of tune. I’m singing it wrong.
Franny: You think that?
Tommy: I remember, ‘cause I was that pissed when I sung it. I could hardly stand when I went in to do it…
Jamie: This is the first time I’ve ever heard this, by the way!
Tommy: …and I was even singing “the female of the species is more deadlier”! I had the words in front of me but I was that pissed that I was slurring it all. Jeggsy the engineer was saying to the producer Steve Lironi, “That’s out of tune! He’s singing it all wrong!” Steve just said, “I like it, that’s the way I want it to be.” So I’ve had to live with it ever since.
However many thousands of people that bought the single – including myself, I might add – can’t be wrong.
Franny: He’s told me that loads of times but I don’t see what he’s saying, and I listen to it all the time. I go, “Where’s this part he’s on about?” but I still don’t hear it.
It’s often the case that little things jump out at you as sounding wrong when you’re listening to something you recorded yourself.
“Hell of a Girl”
What are your favourite songs of each other’s?
Tommy: Of Jamie’s? None. (Laughs)
Jamie: Are we talking up to the present day? He’s got a new one called “Frightened Horses”: probably that.
Tommy: To me, that’s the best song I’ve ever written, like. Not ‘cause I’m saying it’s a great song, I mean just to me. I like all of of Jamie’s tunes, although I wasn’t fussy on “Piggies”.
Jamie: Funnily enough, that’s my favourite one.
Did you used to write/record in various combinations at times? For example, “Cold in the City” sounds like it was mostly Franny and Jamie, and so on…
Jamie: “Cold in the City” is shit. It’s terrible. It sounds like Fun Lovin Criminals.
Franny: Hey, I wrote that!
Jamie: “Bastard Me, Bastard You” is crap as well. I was only a kid writing songs then. I hadn’t blossomed, hadn’t realised what I was meant to be. (Rocksucker says: We think they’re both blinding, but there you go…)
“Cold in the City”
“Bastard Me, Bastard You”
Franny: You shouldn’t go in the press and slag your own songs off, because there are people out there who love them.
Tommy: All the best have written crap songs, though. Even Lou Reed wrote some shit songs, know what I mean?
Franny: I’d never slag me own songs off in the press, though. There could be people reading who think, “What’s going on there?”
Allan: I was in a band and I wrote a song. I came out from behind the kit to play guitar and sing it live. There was this bunch of kids who came down to see us at the old Lomax, and a couple of weeks later they came to see us again and said that they loved that song and they’d covered it!
I played “Female of the Species” at a wedding this summer.
Jamie: That’s what Tommy does in his spare time! That’s how he pays the mortgage. (Laughs)
Tommy: It’s funny, all me mates from me footy team were having a party and they pestered me to do it there. They had their own band as well, a footy team band, so I had to get up and sing “Female” for them. I was dreading it. It went down well but I felt embarrassed doing it, know what I mean? That was more nerve-wracking than playing any gig. Especially ‘cause the band were better than us, like!
Jamie: When it’s your own band, you can hide behind the facade of it but if you have to go and do something on your own, like an acoustic thing, it can be terrifying.
Jamie, you’re a bit younger than the other Space originals. How old were you when you first got signed?
Jamie: I was 16 when we first got signed to BMG and we put out that very first single, “If It’s Real”. When we signed to Gut, me ma had to sign the publishing deal as I was only 17 or 18 then.
Tommy: That’s why he went through all that shit, going into rehab and all that stuff. It happened to him too young.
Jamie: People say, “It happened to you too fast,” but when I was 17 I felt 30.
Tommy: Yeah, but you couldn’t handle America. None of us could, really.
Jamie: I remember the first night being in the States, and these had just been there and they warned me it was hard work because you’ve got like ten or fifteen people round you, talking at you. And they’re not fans, they’re record company people and press. We did a gig, playing with Beck, was it?…
Tommy: And No Doubt, and all that.
Jamie: Yeah, in Philadelphia, and then we walked offstage and I remember all these standing in the corner going, “Someone needs to get him away from this,” because I’d only just come out of rehab and counselling. Everyone was talking at me at the same time and I was like, “Whaaat…the…fuck??”
Tommy: Before we went to America and that, the furthest I’d ever been was to Wales in a caravan. I’d never been out the country in me life, and then you get put in all these different countries. I hated it, just wanted to go home straight away. Couldn’t bear the place. Now, it would be fucking killer to go there, know what I mean?
Franny: I remember we went to Thailand, arrived at about four o’clock in the morning and, when I got off the plane, I’ve never been hit with heat so much in all me life. We got back to the hotel, all jetlagged to bits, and all these fans had followed us for miles back there. The area looked really poor but there was this brand new five-star hotel just plotted right in the middle of it. All of a sudden, you felt guilty going in there. All these kids had to stop outside while we went in. We got to our rooms and when I walked out again – and I’m not going to say any names – a few of the bands were in the hallway, all holding each other, crying their eyes out.
Tommy: When we went to Japan, Andy would knock on my room crying, with his bags packed, every single night ‘cause he wanted to go home. He couldn’t cope with it. He just wanted to be in a small band.
Jamie: We’d always wanted to be what we became, but we were so convinced that it was never going to happen that, when it does happen, you don’t know how to take it. We were all still dead young so, while we should’ve been able to go away and handle it, the pressure is hard to explain, really.
Franny: It’s not just about the music, it’s about timescales and different times of day. Your body doesn’t know whether you’re coming or going. After I’d found all these other bands crying in the hallway, I went downstairs – it must have been about seven o’clock in the morning – and they were all sitting around having their tea and drinking red wine! The next minute, this guy comes in and says, “The interviews are starting up.” We hadn’t been to sleep for sixteen or seventeen hours, didn’t know whether we were coming or going, the sun had just come up and we were going straight into interviews. It was nuts. I walked down after these, still trying to get me head together, hadn’t had anything to eat and we had to go off in this van. I found this big bowl of crisps and I just took it with me and got on the van! You just don’t know what’s going to happen at any minute.
“Play the Songs”
Tommy: Jamie was partying hard. Most of them were. That takes its toll as well.
Jamie: Some people are stronger than others, know what I mean? I’ve always said that I’m not. I wake up the next day with a hangover and I wanna fucking kill meself. It got to a bad point where we’d got back from Asia, and we’d had the success of “Female” and all that, and we started playing to like two thousand people at each gig, that’s when I started really partying hard and taking stupid amounts of drugs. And the thing was, when we came back from tour, these would all go home to their girlfriends, whereas I’d go home and I’d carry on. In fact, I’d party even harder because I’d been away from all me mates so I’d be out with them every single night. It was the just the biggest mistake I’ve ever made, ever ever ever. But, you know, you live and learn, don’t you? You learn to control it but, at the time, it was just…pffft. I should have put a bit of a leash on it, but I never.
Tommy: See, I liked a drink but I was never into drugs. I tried each thing but it just didn’t do anything for me.
Jamie: It’s not just that; some people are just more sensible than others. That was always one of my downfalls, ‘til I got into me thirties. I never had any sense, never had any self-control. But it never helped that all these were so fucking square! Nah, they weren’t really. I must admit, when we were on tour, any band that said they could drink or rock and roll us under the table were surely mistaken. It was pretty full-on.
Franny: There was only one band that could keep up with us and that was the Super Furries. They’re fucking brilliant, and all good lads, but they were off their heads all the time, 24/7.
(Rocksucker loves listening to great bands talking about other great bands and the conversation goes off on a tangent. It feels like a good point to end on.)
Space, thank you.