Influences: Led Zeppelin, Cream, Free
Loves the Barrowlands and has seen many great gigs there.
K: Hi Richard. Thanks for coming today and thanks for setting up the access to the Barrowlands. What an awesome venue. Can you tell me a bit of your back story around the Blues?
R: I’ve got more of a Rock background but still love the Blues and am a regular attendee the The State Bar. I love playing Blues but I’ve got a much wider selection of stuff that I actually listen to. I listen to a lot of Jazz, Classical and Rock.
K: I know what you mean but sometimes when I’m in the mood I listen to nothing else! Especially if I find a new band that I’ve never heard before.
So can tell me a bit about your singing history
R: I didn’t really start singing till I was about 16 and used to travel all over the place to see bands, particularly Oasis at that time. There was no real musical influences in my family but my Dad was a massive Beatles fan so there was a pretty easy step between those two.
I always knew I wanted to have a band and I started rehearsing with a drummer, a guy I used to work with. We used Carlton Studio. Nothing really came of it and then I started working in MacDonalds part-time when I was at Uni and Fraser (John Lindsay) worked there and we eventually got round to talking about music and it transpired that I was a singer and he was a guitarist. I got some of my recordings to him and he got back to me and said he really liked my stuff. So he came along to the studio and he hadn’t just learnt the stuff I gave him, he had worked on it, and he came in and started playing and I thought “Holy shit! This is for us!”
At the time, I was playing rhythm guitar and singing and I suppose I didn’t know anything about singing, I was just kinda shouting and I must’ve been okay it it. The we put a proper band together called “Riff Raff” which was more of a Rock Blues and we played a lot of Cream and stuff like that. The only drummer we could get at the time that was at our level was a guy in his 40’s and we were all in our early 20’s. I wanted to push our original material but he was only interested in covers to get the money. So we ended up in that covers band circuit doing these kind of gigs.
I learnt a lot from it. When we started out I never had a floor monitor. The drummer was a guy called Mike Angus and he was a big big guy and he is the closest I’ve ever heard to John Bonham. He’s the onlydruumer I know where 2 things always happen…
- You can’t hear me without a PA. Any other drummer I can sing over them.
- When he hits the cymbals he makes me blink!
He was crazy loud! Fraser at that time, as well, was very loud. He was playing at 11 all the time. So for that first year we were playing without a floor monitor and people were coming up to me after the gig and at the break and saying “You sound great. You sound like Paul Rogers!” and I was thinking “No I don’t…I’m just hoarse!!! I’ve just been shouting for the last hour above Spinal Tap”
So we got a monitor and it just changed things completely! I then got a chance to actually figure out what kind of singer I was now that I could hear my voice. It just seemed to get better as time went on.
Fraser left the band and I got another guitarist in called Steve Malloy and he he just transformed it. We changed the name to “Love Monkey”. The image was…A monkey in a clown costume with a big cheesey grin on his face and the Hindenberg going down behind him!
We kind of treated the band in a “Spinal Tap” way but I’m not sure anyone ever understood the sense of humour behind the band. The bass player used to turn up wearing a suit and dark glasses and we would do things a bit strange.
K: For example?
R: We would do Dazed and confused, but the guitarist hated the violin bow section, so we put ‘La Villa Strangiato’ by Rush in the middle of it’. That kind of thing. It was a laugh! We never took ourselves too seriously but we were a great band.
K: It’s interesting that you put an emphasis on the fun part of the playing. Some people take the Blues scene very seriously and that’s fair enough. People spend a lot of time learning their craft and researching as much as they can about the genre. What’s your opinion on how the Blues is perceived by the modern Blues Fan in the UK at the moment?
R: It’s a good question, which I’m glad you broached. I often have this conversation with people and it’s very often with serious Blues musicians and they don’t like this conversation. I kind of the feel that the only people who really have a claim to be Blues purists would be the guys that were in the cotton fields and to be honest I don’t think they would’ve been too precious about it either. I bothers me sometimes when people judge what your playing because it’s not what they would class as “proper” Blues.
I might swing the microphone about sometimes but I feel like the whole music scene is about entertainment and have never had any criticism about the way I perform from any audience member. I think there’s room for all styles and approaches. There are so many different musicians and I would like to think that they respect what I’m trying to do even though they may not particularly enjoy it. I actively encourage the “over the top” behaviour from the drummer and the guitarist and if you ever come and see me I always like to orchestrate the band and I’ve never had any complaints from these guys either. Some of these guys really appreciate the opportunity to let rip some times which is again great fun!
K: You spoke before about a new band you were putting together and a new album. Can you tell me a bit about that?
R: Most of the stuff is new material that I’ve written. It’s mostly Rock but there are a couple of acoustic tracks on it. One has been recorded and one has Cello on it by a guy called Dan.
K: Is that lead or rhythm?
R: It’s both actually. There’s a beautiful multi-layered section in one of the tracks.
K: You talk about keeping things serious but in a light-hearted way so what drives your writing and what inspires you?
R: It’s changed over the years. I’m a bit more serious about the stuff I’m writing. I’m interested in the sound of the voice and using it more as an instrument a bit like some of the stuff Robert Plant does, rather than the words.
K: So what about the album. How’s is that progressing?
R: I’ve got an illustrator designing the cover at the moment. None of us are particularly photogenic so I thought I’d go for illustration. I’ve also gone for the booklet design. All the lyrics will be included for example.
K: What does it mean to you to have an album of your own work produced?
R: I’m an album person. I’m not that old but I’m old enough to have been part of that generation where you still bought albums. I do use Spotify but I still buy albums. I love the anticipation of knowing when an album is coming out and going out and buying it, getting it home, opening the case, flicking through the artwork…the whole thing. I enjoy that whole process.
K: Is there a consistent feel to the stuff your putting on the album?
R: It’s not like a concept album but I’d like to think it all sounds like me and I do think the running order is pretty important. It all hangs together quite well.
K: So tell me…what was going through your head earlier when you were standing on the stage in the Glasgow Barrowlands?
R: I guess I was thinking….”It’s shame there no a better turn oot!” (laughs)
K: That’s a great place to end it Richard, thanks very much again for setting this up today.
Camera: Nikon D750
Lens: Nikon 24-120 Kit
Focal length: 82mm
Exposure: 1/125 sec at f/7.1
Time of day: 12:51
Lighting: Keylight at 45 degrees at about 6 feet elevation with 24″ softbox. Fill light with 24″ softbox at -1 f stop from keylight. Fill light on floor.