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Venue: The Waterfront, Norwich.
Participants: Shane Richmond, Willie and Pete.
SR: I last spocke to you in October, when you were on tour with China Drum, what's been happening to you since then?
Willie: Well, I've obviously had the sex change, Peter has done a number of years studying Western Buddhist philosophy and how that can work in the suburbs of London and Christmas of course came along and interrupted the flow of things, we shot a video for our next single ['Go Away'] which is out.... help me out here, Peter....
Pete: Err, Monday, February the twelfth.
Willie: .... and just all the arty farty stuff that record companies make you do before the next onslaught. And now we're three days into the next onslaught and, you can probably tell, worse for it.
Pete: And we've done a couple of gigs as well, one with Therapy? And one with Terrorvision, at the Brixton Academy and the Astoria.
SR: How were they?
Pete: Brilliant. Really good fun, especially the Astoria gig; excellent fun.
SR: When I spoke to CJ he said that he likes Honeycrack being a touring band, building up support from the ground and not going for the big advertising campaigns, or whatever.... After this amount of time is that still the case?
Willie: No, that was a lie then, we hated it, we always have hated it and the whole thing was contrived from beginning to end. We're record company puppets.
Pete: Or, putting it another way, yes we're very glad to be on the road. It is definitely the most satisfying way of creating.... whatever this is. Working from the ground up, building up a fanbase, playing the gigs, letting people know what the music's about, bringing out the singles one by one, rather than....
Willie: Well, two at a time would be foolish.
Pete: Two at a time would be almost counter productive. Yes, and watching it grow like that, which is what it's doing at the moment. It's very satisfying to feel that happen.
SR: Quite quickly it seems. The Arts Centre gig was in front of a couple of hundred people and tonight you're up at the Waterfront.
Willie: We've been able to ingratiate ourselves with some very powerful people over the last few months, it's inevitable that our profile should rise I think. Jim Davidson springs to mind, in the BBC cafeteria, I think it's no small coincidence us getting a repeat performance on Blue Peter.
Pete: And Terry Wogan really, really took the band to his heart.
Willie: Eurovision song contest next year!
SR: How does touring effect relationships within the band? Do you get fed up with each other?
Willie: Well, sexually obviously it died a long time ago, but these things can be rekindled with the right sort of medication....
Pete: And of course a thorough change of costume at regular intervals.
SR: If you had to describe each member of the band, how would you do it?
Willie: I'd do it in Spanish for a start, assuming that nobody else can understand Spanish.
SR: Apart from Spanish people probably?
Willie: Well they're few and far between.
Pete: How would I describe them? CJ obviously is blonde, five foot two, rather rounded....
Willie: Plump, use the word plump, come on!
Pete: ....very, very fetching. Mark, sort of a computer operator type, short hair, bespectacled....
Pete: ....and as you say Jewish. Hugo, born in the African Congo he has a liking for small armadillos; he likes the feel of the texture of their skin.
Willie: A talented man with little to say and much less to offer.
SR: And each other?
Willie: Oh, I think we'd avoid describing each other.
SR: I was told in October that the record company had suggested that your album comes out in February....
Willie: Yes, they keep suggesting stuff like that.
SR: ....apparently it's been put back now?
Willie: Has it? Really, that doesn't surprise me.
SR: What is the status with the album at the moment?
Willie: Well as far as we were concerned it was finished last April, but these things get stalled. You have to put your faith in these people, they understand things like free market economy, fascistic concepts like that, so we go 'fine, okay, you get on with it.'
SR: So do you know what the release date will be?
Willie: I have been told that it's the first week of May.... 1999.
SR: Does it have a title at the moment?
Willie: It doesn't. Although again, we've been told a few over the last few interviews. Apparently some rumours have slipped out of various corridors, but none that we've settled on.
Pete: The band itself has not decided on a title, we're actually fighting it out at the moment.
Willie: I wanted to call it 'Chirpy, chirpy, cheep, cheep,' which, those of you who are fans of Middle of the Road, that great seventies act, you'll understand the irony, of course you will and you'll....
Pete: Unfortunately no one in the band understood it so that's been thrown out. But I personally.... [looks at Willie]
Willie: No, no no! Please, please, let this be your bloody platform!
Pete: I'd like to throw caution to the wind and actually call the album 'Animals,' after one of the songs, but no one seemed to agree to it, I don't know why.
Willie: Well, one because it's foolish, two because it's foolish and three, if we needed a reason.... it's foolish.
SR: You said it was finished way back in April, so is it frustrating to have an album waiting to come out for all this time?
Willie: Oh, way, way beyond frustrating. You know frustrating? Push it a little and you get to what it feels like.
Pete: I think it's a marvellous exercise in self will, focusing yourself and being able to contain yourself when discussions like this arise about why it hasn't come out yet.
Willie: We have of course written the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth albums.... These people are paid money to make these kind of decisions and we're being horrendously facetious because, well that's our job, but it's probably fair to say that they do know what they're talking about. They said to us when we wanted to get it out around October time, when the last single came out 'well, you're a new band and it's the pre-Christmas release period and your bigwigs are releasing their albums the Jacksons etcetera of this world,' and apparently there was this new group, the Beatles, that were doing something or other. So we were competing with the big boys and they advised us, very strongly, that the thing to do was to hold on until the new year, they quoted us a February release date. But I think what probably turned the tide was when the single 'Sitting at Home' did rather better than anybody had anticipated it was going to; we had hoped for a seventy or eighty chart position and it ended up, I think it peaked a thirty seven and settled at forty two. They suddenly changed their plan, rather than throw the album out there and wait to see whether it sinks or swims and keep the band going etcetera, they figured if they could get that much mileage out of the first single then the second one, presumably would do better and the album, when released would boost the band's profile ten times over. So it would be rather more guaranteed a swimmer rather than a sinker, this is the theory and as we know theory falls flat on its own arse on many occasions. And I'm a very pessimistic person at the best of times so.... I'm sure they're right: we'll be fabulously successful all because we put the album back a year. I'll be a year older of course, but there you go.
SR: What Mark and CJ agreed on when I spoke to them is that your playing of the songs has improved since you've gone out and toured with them....
Willie: I'd like to know what they're listening to!
Pete: They definitely have, yes. They've got tighter, they've got better, the singing's got a lot closer to the way we want it to be, the thing is definitely improving.
Willie: We're going for a sort of Bacharach touch, three part harmony....
SR: The harmonies are very complex and that sits strangely with the band's almost punk sound. What do you think of the rumours that many of the old punk bands will re form this year? Is it the great rock 'n' roll swind le part two or have they almost become part of the establishment?
Willie: They were always part of the establishment; it was a scam from beginning to end and it was cooked up by the industry, believe it. The economics of these things are far bigger than the ideologies. What seemed like good ideas in principle, anarchic in spirit was just fucking crap. True anarchy is not just saying smash down the state, it's having a pretty damn good idea why you're doing it. It was inevitable that these punk bands got back together again because none of them understood the politics behind it. There was a principle involved which I wholeheartedly approve of which was smash your idols, the pomposity of musicians who had backed themselves into this ludicrous "come hither and worship me" corner. I love the fact that punk destroyed that and meant that a whole new set of criteria evolved to what it was possible to perform, how you could write, I liked all of that and out of that movement, by a flag of convenience came some great acts; people like Costello and the Stranglers and the Police even, all those were called punk, but come on.
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