Do you remember the
first time you met Geoff?
It must have been early 1983. We (IQ) were
constantly trying to get support slots at The Marquee in London and
we were booked to open for The Enid when out of the blue we were offered
the chance to support Twelfth Night. I seem to remember it was all
a last-minute dash, so much so that when we got there I discovered
I'd forgotten to take my one vital piece of equipment...my tambourine!!!
Calamity! I happened to notice that Geoff had a very snazzy half-moon
tambourine which really impressed me because I was used to buying
ones that cost £5.00 at the most. Mike suggested I ask Geoff
if I could borrow his but I was much too scared. Geoff was in a real
band and I was a scruffy kid off the streets! Eventually I plucked
up the courage and asked Geoff and he was brilliant, he put me at
my ease straight away. he was really down to earth and very easy to
get along with.
We chatted and it turned out that we both
had a lot in common...both singers in proggy bands, both from the
north, both involved with doing band artwork and both quite similar
in what we wanted to do in the bands, with our theatrical approach
and all that. So really we hit it off straight away. Not long after
we played a gig in Reading at The Target and Geoff turned up and helped
us load all the gear in...even the Mellotron which made him a hero
in everyone's eyes.
When I moved away from London and back up
to Manchester, Geoff was already living in that neck of the woods,
so we met up from time to time. He'd left Twelfth Night and I was
really undecided about whether or not to stay with IQ so that was
another similarity between us and we talked about it for ages.
As it turns out, I now have that tambourine
of Geoff's. His widow Jane gave it to me after he died, which obviously
means a great deal to me.
Am I right in thinking that Geoff's first solo
gig at The Marquee was supporting IQ?
Yes. Actually, we had a really good 'leapfrogging'
kind of relationship...there was never any ego about who was the main
act and who was supporting because it kept changing all the time!
IQ's first gig at The Marquee was supporting Twelfth Night, then as
you say Geoff's first solo gig was supporting us. Then after I left
IQ and put Niadem's Ghost together, our first gig was supporting Geoff
and his band at The Gallery in Manchester, followed by the good old
Marquee. Then after I rejoined IQ in 1990 Geoff's first gig in Europe
was in 1991, supporting us in Germany.
How did Geoff enjoy the trip?
He enjoyed the beer! I think it was a great
challenge for him, playing a solo gig, just him and his wobbly guitar,
to an audience of new people. He had a really good time, as I remember.
To be honest, I was surprised to see him there on the night because
he and Andy had been up till about five o'clock that morning getting
monstrously p****d. For us, it was great having Geoff as the support
because there wasn't tons of gear to move around on stage and he was
good company. I must say, it got a bit stuffy on the mini bus, especially
with Geoff and Andy's extraordinary bottoms, as you can imagine.
Was the trip to Germany before or after you contributed
to Geoff's solo album Second Chants?
It was before. Second Chants was a year later.
How different was it in the studio compared to
recording with IQ?
The main difference was it was about fifty
times quicker! Geoff worked very instinctively and spontaneously,
partly because of a limited budget but also because that was the way
he liked to work. He'd get an idea and just go for it, try to get
it down on tape as quickly as possible. We would run through some
vocal ideas together in the studio and Geoff would say, "Yes,
that's fine" and I thought he meant the level was OK but he actually
meant it was a take! It was done and we were on to the next thing
before I knew what was going on. With IQ, I'm used to being much more
meticulous when it comes to recording so it was a nice change and
quite a challenge. Often, working really quickly achieves a better
performance because there's the pressure of having to get it right.
Do you have a favourite bit?
Yes was really funny and there can't have
been more than three takes of that altogether. It was basically recorded
in one go, and because it was a light-hearted track, to have done
it too many times would have killed it. Even Song (2) works well,
I think, and of course I was the Voice of the Universe on Helping
Hand, which can't be bad! It was a great experience, and one that
I really treasure.
Did your involvement in Second Chants influence
the choice of Apathetic + Here, I... for mannerisms?
Well, Apathetic was Mike's choice, to be honest.
I don't think that was anything to do with me being involved with
Second Chants, it was just a song that he liked, although maybe he
wouldn't have heard the album if I wasn't on it. We knew we didn't
want to do a straight copy of one of Geoff's songs, we wanted to try
a different arrangement, and I'm sure Geoff would have been into the
idea of his song being reinterpreted. Mike pretty much did all the
arranging of our version of Apathetic and I'm very pleased with it.
A few of the artists on mannerisms appear
several times. How did you come to be on Sob Stories with "Eh!"
and Down Here with Flap?
By accident more than design, to be honest.
I was asked by the "Eh!" band to sing on Sob Stories and
I was surprised and chuffed, and how could I refuse? I suppose the
reason behind Flap is that I wanted to record a track that was from
me as a friend rather than a fellow singer. With appearing on three
tracks on the album, I was conscious of it looking like I was being
a megalomaniac which really wasn't the case, it's just the way it
turned out. I hope Flap will do something else, it feels in some ways
like a band waiting to happen.
If you had to pick another track to record for
mannerisms what would it be?
Slow One, which I've always loved.
Is it true that you and Geoff were working on some
ideas for an album?
Yes, we had the idea to do an album together
and we'd begun writing songs. The album would have had a story, with
Geoff and I playing different characters, though the story itself
was never finalised. We used to get together most weeks to try things
out, and I've got the tape that we put together. It's still my intention
to finish one or two of the songs but I don't know where they would
appear...possibly on a solo album of some description. I wish we could
have completed an album together. Second Chants was very much Geoff's
project, he was the captain of the ship, whereas this album would
have been a joint venture and it's interesting to speculate about
how it would have turned out. Neither of us had ever worked with another
singer before, so it was something completely new for us.
Finally, Geoff's favourite IQ album was The Wake,
(he said it was the best the best album Genesis never made!). If you
had to pick a favourite album and track by Geoff what would they be?
I think Second Chants would probably be my
favourite album because it's the one that's the most Geoff. Very difficult
to pick a favourite overall track...possibly Slow One...but Geoff
explored so many different styles, it's hard to choose one that represents
them all. Down Here is still great.
Well, thanks a lot for taking the time to talk
about Geoff and give my regards to Frank and Edna!
My pleasure! And by the way, folks,
don't forget to visit the IQ Web Site for all our latest gossip and
news about IQ...it's at http://www.gep.co.uk/iq