Apart from looking after Shack we discovered a unique band from Kendal, in the Lake District called Seven Seals.
Incendiary interview Liverpool legend Yorkie, part two
(IN: How did Space come about? cont..)
Y: After the Balcony split I laid low, collecting my thoughts. I worked on new songs on my own and then started working with former Balcony drummer Mark Cowley on a label, Hug Records. A short lived venture, I may say, whose only release was the debut single by Liverpool power-pop combo Space. If it's Real was Hug Records only release. A garishly presented 12" that caught the attention of nobody in particular, it was later to become a collectors-item for all the obvious reasons... Tommy Scott re-thought their approach after hearing the hip-hop band Cyprus Hill, drafted in keyboardist and ex DJ Franny Griffiths and wrote a completely new set of songs. We also relocated from the city centre rehearsal room to my basement.
It was weird in many ways; the band was seen as a total curiosity by their peers, who had no idea what they were trying to do. At any gig they played you could see members of every other band in the city scratching their head in bemusement. After signing a deal we started working on demos on an 8-track cassette porta-studio in my bedroom. I was keyboard tech for the band for a while, and just when I was about to pack in the job (to move to production) Tommy asked if I'd consider playing bass for them. I jumped at the chance, as it meant I could join a fully established band, without having to play all the shitty gigs you have to do when you start out.
IN: So you became a pop star at last Yorkie...
Y: Pop 'stardom' is what you make it and is never how you imagine it... My first gig as bassist for Space was the Hillsborough benefit gig at Anfield football ground. Then it was off to America. The much documented troubles we sustained in our three visits to the USA culminated in my Mum, Gladys passing away. As you might expect, I was gutted... and so where the rest of the band. I left America for home to deal with the funeral arrangements, and the band came home two days later to attend. She had been recording a documentary for Granada TV's Something for the Weekend, about the history of the basement, and died during the making of it. The documentary included contributions from Julian Cope, Paul Simpson, Gary Dwyer, Space, Pete Wylie, Bill Drummond, The Farm & Echo and the Bunnymen. The programme was aired with the family's permission.
Anyway, Space went on to record their most successful album, Tin Planet which gave the band their highest chart placing but it wasn't all great; the Love You More Than Football LP was shelved by the record company after a fall out. The final album, Suburban Rock 'N' Roll which stands in my opinion as the best album we ever recorded. But we were just out of step with current tastes in music and decided to take a long overdue rest.
IN: The thing is; you've been busy since then; with production jobs and helping new bands, and film work... tell us what working with Alex Cox was like.
Y: Yeah; I sank myself into working on a number of solo projects and eventually released a number of albums and singles through my own Imprint of Quality label. Then, Pete Wylie asked if I wanted to work on a film project he was doing with maverick director Alex Cox for the BBC Learning Zone called I'm A Juvenile Delinquent...Jail Me. I engineered the sessions at his home studio and this led to a productive friendship between me and Pete, and also Alex; who, incidentally, is one of the sweetest, most inspirational people I have had the pleasure of meeting.
Alex asked if I'd consider doing a live performance, as part of Peter McCaughey's exhibition for the 2nd Liverpool Biennial arts festival. It was in a disused, derelict cinema called The Futurist, in Liverpool's city centre. I played six songs, accompanied by an acoustic guitarist, and it was projected onto a huge glass screen at the entrance of the building. My only solo gig to date... Alex filmed the event and edited the footage. I went on to work with him on other stuff, supplying music for a student film he was planning on re-releasing (Edge City/Sleep Is for Sissies). Then a film director called Andy Wilton got in touch and was interested in using some of the tracks from my Let's Evolve CDs as incidental music for his new film 20,000 Little Reasons. A low budget film noir, to be honest it seemed about tailor-made for my instrumental musings!
live at the Futurist
IN: I wanted to ask you about the Pale Fountains. You also worked on Shack's last LP did you not? What's it like to hang out with Michael Head?
Y: Well, for starters, The Pale Fountains were magnificent. Enough said! As regards Shack, after doing some production work, I met Mike Head by chance. He called the next day and asked if I'd be into 'recording something beautiful'. This was to be the (masterful – ed) Shack album The corner of Miles and Gil. We demoed the songs for the album in my home studio for a year, and then, after securing the band a deal with Noel Gallagher's Sourmash label, began recording in earnest.
Mike had formed the Pale Fountains after the demise of EFN, and his love of Love had carried him through some exciting times (as well as some rather hellish ones). After his best friend passed away, and after a short hiatus, he formed Shack. They even became Arthur Lee's backing band for a while...Mike (and younger brother John) was in Love finally. You can hear the influences on every record he ever made, but I reckon The corner of Miles and Gil brings them into high relief, I reckon its as daring an attempt as you'll get to make something as enduring as Forever Changes.
IN: And other bands? You manage Seven Seals do you not?
Y: Yeah, I co-run MD Music Management. Apart from looking after Shack we discovered a unique band from Kendal, in the Lake District called Seven Seals. I reckon they are one of the most exciting bands I have heard in many years, so I was quick to sign them to MD. I had recorded some songs for a projected EP with the band prior to the Shack album, but now that was finished we went into the studio to record the band debut single. We started recording the bands debut album towards the end of last year and finished early this year. We have a number of labels courting them at the moment and it's paramount that we choose the right one as this band is going to be massive. Another project close to my heart is Preston 'new folk' band Ivan Campo. Beautiful songs with slightly uncomfortable, sinister overtones are their forte, and I work on their recordings every available chance I get. And to bring you right up to the present Richard, I am currently in the middle of recording the next Shack album!
IN: So, as an established Liverpool cultural figure, what do you make of the current Capital of Culture Movement?
Y: The Capital of Culture and all the people running it have a very great need to reassure the people of this city of it's worth. The general feeling is that they are turning our great city into a collection of luxury apartment blocks.
IN: And your favourite biscuit?
Y: My favourite biscuit is Shortbread.
Words: Richard Foster.
Photos: Courtesy of Yorkie!
to return to part one, click here