Steve Cradock: Pleasure Seeker
Million selling songwriter, accomplished musician, sharp dresser and all round top bloke, Steve Cradock releases his new album "Peace City West" this April. The 14 track ‘Peace City West', features the recent single ‘Last Days of the Old World' and is released on Steve's own Kundalini Music label.
Steve is familiar to most as the long-serving guitarist in Paul Weller's band and a member of Ocean Colour Scene.
Born in Birmingham and raised on a teenage diet of The Who, The Small Faces and lashings of The Jam, Steve's first band The Boys were a ferocious power-pop outfit. Inspired by The Stone Roses, Steve's next band Ocean Colour Scene Steve rode high on the Brit-pop wave with second album, the 1.3 million selling ‘Moseley Shoals' spawning four Top Twenty hits.
Recruited by Paul Weller for his band in 1993, Steve has been alternating between OCS and a role as The Modfather's musical consiglieri ever since, Steve only got round to making his solo debut, the splendid ‘Kundalini Target', two years ago.
The Steve Cradock Interview:
Your new solo album ‘Peace City West' comes out in April.
Yer the 4th.
What can we expect from it and how different is it from your first solo album ‘The Kundalini Target'??
Personally I think its come on leaps and bounds, its certainly more experimental. Vocally I felt more confident, and I think that shows.
Where I recorded it made a difference and the people making the record with me gives the album a certain energy, it feels a lot more up full.
Its been great writing with other people. Andy Crofts is a really good song writer, so I've collaborated with him a few times on the album.
I've written a couple with my wife Sal as well, that was a first.
There's one track called "Finally Found My Way Back Home", that I had the music to about 15 years ago, I demo'd a version of it with PP Arnold; she wrote some lyrics. That's on the album but its totally different. Andy Croft re wrote half the lyrics, and so do I. Sal sings on that as well. Its been compaired to a Dusty Springfield record, which is very flattering.
Paul Weller wrote this beautiful poem, which he gave me to use; I believe I've transformed it into a really lovely song called "Lay Down Your Weary Burden"
My daughter Sunny sings on a track called "Ring The Changes", that's Cute,
Cassius my son fell asleep in the control room, he was snoring so loud, we had to record it. That's at the beginning of ‘Ring The Changes" too.
There's some great song writing, really interesting instruments and some top musicians on this album. I'm really proud of it!
Where does the title ‘Peace City West' comes from?
It's about an imaginary third world war; a nuclear one.
A guy called General Hackitt wrote it.
The wars took place in Minsk re-named Peace City East and Birmingham was re-named Peace City West. Obviously me being from Birmingham, I thought this was the perfect title. It was actually Andy Lewis from Weller's band that introduced me to the book in the first place.
It's no real surprise that one Paul Weller is featured on the album, but James Buckley, who plays Jay in ‘The Inbetweeners', is also on it.
How did that come about?
I met him after one of the Ocean Colour Scene gigs. I think it was Manchester. He was staying in the same hotel. He then came to see us play at the Albert Hall with his girlfriend Clair. I think it was after that we just kept in contact.
He was in bands before The Inbetweeners, so playing the guitar wasn't new to him.
Yer James and Clair came down to the studio the second week of recording. They were only going to stay for 2 days, but ended up for staying the week. It was very funny; we had a really good time with them. James played the guitar 6 and 12 string on 3 of the tracks. He does this mad vocal chant on a track called "I Man" and is also in the video release for the song.......
The cover for your new excellent single ‘Last Days Of The Old World' is outstanding.
Who designed it?
Well I took the picture while I was in Brighton playing a gig with Paul. I sent it straight to Stefan Duerr. And as he always does, he worked his magic, and that was the outcome.
You are going out on tour in the next few months and also supporting ‘Beady Eye' on their first UK tour.
How excited are you about that?
Well God VERY, I mean its not often you get those kind of opportunities. I'm really fond of Liam and Gem, its gonna be Amazing, I cant wait.
You played all the instruments on your first solo album.
Can you remember the moment when you first wanted to be a musician?
Yes I was 11, and learnt the bass guitar. "Pity poor Alfie" was a track that really influenced me by The Jam.
Who were you favorite bands when growing up?
The Small Faces
Otis Reading and Aretha Franklin.
There are so many others the list goes on............
Who were your main influences for your playing style when you were first starting out?
Really Steve Marriott and Paul Weller were my early influences.
How nervous were you, the first time you played live with Paul Weller's touring band?
Bricking it is a polite way of putting it, you know loved his songs, loved his music, I think its pretty obvious that I would have been very nervous, certainly the first few years I played with him.
Did you step-back into being a Jam fan and not a band member, when Bruce Foxton joined Weller on stage at last year's Royal Albert Hall shows?
Yes of course.
Who came up with the name Ocean Colour Scene and what influenced that??
We all did really. We spent a few days in the Birmingham library. We then decided to put 3 words together that didn't make sense. Hence the name.
You financed the band yourself from your wages as Paul Weller's touring guitarist.
How tough were those early days of Ocean Colour Scene?
Yer they were fairly tough. Having no money is always hard, but luckily the wages I got from Paul was put into recording with OCS. I just shared it with them so we could continue as a band.
You supported some big artists around that time like Paul Weller and Oasis.
Was that a major reason in attracting some major record labels?
We had a record deal by then anyway.
Believe it or not no it wasn't. We had a deal with Parlaphone already, which we were at the end of. A guy called Johnny Walsh who was A&R at MCS Records had heard the demo of Moseley Shoals, before we did the tour supports. He came down to our studio in Birmingham. It was he and Sally Edwards (my then future wife) that got us signed to the label. It was after that we supported Paul and Oasis.
Ocean Colour Scene's debut album didn't set the world alight, but the 2nd album ‘Moseley Shoals' certainly did.
Was it just down to the band writing better tunes second time around?
I think a combination of having a great passionate team behind you, i.e. MCA Records, really helps, and also you grow with each album you write.
Was there a moment when you realised that you'd ‘made it' as a band?
Playing Top of the Pops with the Riverboat Song.
Did you have to pinch yourself when being in the studio for the ‘Warchild: Help' project with the likes of Weller, Noel Gallagher and of course Sir Paul McCartney?
Yes it was a great moment. Paul was really cool and Linda was there taking photos. I got one somewhere of all of us.
During the years of 1995-1997, where the ‘Britpop movement' was in full swing and England had a decent football side again, it really felt like Britain was at the centre of the universe again.
Was it perfect timing for the band and your music??
We'd worked really hard as a band, for many years before that, always writing, always gigging, so the hard work payed off. It just so happened it was 1995.
How special was playing at the Oasis Knebworth and your own Stirling Castle shows??
Ar god Stirling was really really Amazing. The bag pipers opening the show from the top of the castle was surreal, the gig was phonomonal. I think it ended with a huge fire work display.
Knebworth, well that was something else. The amount of people was shocking, but they all knew our music and sang along to the usual "Day we Caught The train" and so on. Perhaps that's when I thought we'd made it too
In our opinion you've written two classic guitar riffs in the shape of ‘The Riverboat Song' and ‘Hundred Mile High City' that will live forever in the hearts and minds of music lovers.
‘The Riverboat Song' immediately makes us think of that performance on TFI Friday and ‘Hundred Mile High City' was of course used to amazing effect in the movie ‘Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels'.
How proud are you of those songs?
Yer those and many others.
Were you at all worried for the band's popularity when Simon Fowler ‘came out'?
No it never crossed my mind. I was more worried for him and how his Mum and Dad would react. He was at a funeral that day, when it came out in the Sun. I think we were all glad there were no more secrets.
You all seem a very close-knit group and a great bunch of mates.
Can you see yourselves still playing together when you're collecting your bus passes?
Have you got any more ambitions left as a band?
Which band OCS, WELLER or Steve Cradock Band???
I have Ambition for all the bands I'm in. I take them all very seriously, and I'm always looking forward.
You've worked with two very brilliant, but very different female vocalists in PP Arnold and Amy McDonald.
Are there any others you'd like to work with?
While we were recording the new Album Peace City West, Sally my wife put a letter from me and a demo of "Kites Rise Up Against The Wind" into Kate Bush's post box, who's house was round the corner from where we were recording. I would really like her vocal on that track.
She obviously never got back to us. I also worked with Alison Moyet for many years. In fact the first time I played at Glastonbury was with her in 1990, but she's another great singer I've worked with.
First single ever bought?
Beat Surrender - The Jam
First album ever bought?
Buddy Holly's Greatest Hits
Last album bought?
Tame Impala - Innervision
Are you a vinyl, CD, iTunes or mp3 man?
All of them
What are your favourite Ocean Colour Scene albums?
Mechanical Wonder / Moseley Shoals
What is your favourite Paul Weller album?
Desert Island Discs - What 5 albums would you take?
Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys, Revolver by The Beatles, The La's by The La's, Stone Roses by the Roses, and Sunshine Hit Me by The Bees.
Who would be in your fantasy band?
Steve Marriott vox
John Bonham drums
Heroes in music?
All of the above
What state do you think the music business will be in, in ten years time?
I have no idea. I don't look at it as a business, I just play and write the music.
First gig attended?
UB40 Birmingham Odeon 1981
First gig played and its abiding memory?
Load Heath School Hall 1982. Three of the girls from the 5th year were backing vocalists. That made us feel quite professional.
Best gig played?
The Albert Hall with OCS 1997
With Weller at Albert Hall May 2010
The Brighton Concord with my solo band 2010
Favorite gig venue?
Barrowlands in Glasgow
Favourite radio show?
Shawn Keeley Breakfast show - 6 music
Dave Berry XFM London.
Favourite TV shows?
The Inbetweeners, The Simpsons and anything that David Attenborough does.
Favourite tour cuisine?
Curry Madras, extra hot!!
Favourite tour drinks?
Pigs Nose in Devon and Tap and Spile in Birmingham
London, Barcelona, Rome, Prague, Hamburg
Favourite clothes labels?
VNA Groove from Italy, Pretty Green, anything with a good cut. I love Liberties in London for men's clothes.
We believe you're an Aston Villa fan.
Who are your Villa heroes ?
Andy Gray and Gary Shaw.
Your two kids are called Sunny and Cassius.
Does that mean you are a mad boxing fan?
No not mad boxing fan. I occasionally dip in and out. Ricky Hatton's good. And of course Ali, was the greatest, and that's maybe why we chose Cassius's name. It happened to be a very sunny day when my daughter was born, and she looked like a little ball of sun, hence Sunny, not after Sonny Liston.
Who would you consider ‘playing away' from the missus with? (hopefully with her consent): Stupid question. I could NEVER answer that. I'm too much in love with Sally.!!
Who would you consider turning gay with? (hopefully with their consent):
Sorry I can't answer that either.
Heroes in Life:
Too old for heroes
Peace City West is released April 4th on Kundali Music
"Peace City West" was recorded over a fortnight at Deep Litter Studios - a barn on a farm at the most southern-most point in Devon. With a revolving cast of musicians including long-time OCS fan, actor James Buckley (Jay from the Inbetweeners) on guitar and vocals, it's as richly melodic as you'd expect from someone with such an established musical pedigree.
If this bucolic ‘getting it together in the country' feel can be heard in tender ballad ‘Little Girl', ‘Peace City West' is also a very personal record, notably ‘Only Look Up When You're Down'. "That was written for my mum because she hasn't been well" the guitarist explains, "but it can be taken in general terms as a way to look at life. I didn't want it to be too maudlin."
The funky ‘Steppin' Aside' (co written with his wife Sally, who also features on backing vocals) is a Dusty Springfield-ish groove and the stunning ‘Finally Found My Way Home' has the feel of a classic; the sort of song which sounds like some dusty 45 you'd find in a second hand record shop and cherish forever. "I was waiting for someone to write words over the top of it. In the end Andy Crofts (Weller's keyboard player / The Moons) rewrote the verse while we were on tour in Melbourne. Andy Crofts ended up writing 5 tracks on the album.
While ‘My Scooter Sits Idle' boasts one of Steve's finest couplets to date ("My scooter sits idle/Just like my Gideon's bible"), the barnstorming ‘Last Days Of The Old World', meanwhile, will delight long term fans. Boasting a Kinks-ish guitar riff offset by apocalyptic lyrics about "Digital showers over London." It also features a certain P. Weller.
Last Days Of The old World / Pleasure Seekers / Finally Found My Way Back Home / Interlude A / Kite's Rise Up Against The Wind / My Scooter Sits Idle / Only Look Up When Youre Down / Interlude B / Steppin' Aside / Little Girl / Lay Down Your Weary Burden / Interlude C / I Man / Ring The Changes
STEVE CRADOCK - 2011 TOUR DATES
APRIL - GERMANY / UK
4th Berlin - Magnet
5th Munster - Gleis 22
7th Hamburg - Knust
9th Dresden - Beatpol
10th Koln - Werkstatt
11th Frankfurt - Das Bett
16th Glasgow - King Tuts
17th York- Fibbers
18th Manchester - Night & Day
20th Birmingham - Temple @HMV Institute
21st Cardiff - The Globe
22nd London - Islington Relentless Garage
MAY - IRELAND
4th Belfast - Limelight
5th Dundalk - Spirit Stone
6th Dublin - Acadamy 2
7th Waterford - Forum
9th Galway - Roisin Dubh
10th Mullingar - Stables
12th-14th Haldern Pop Festivel - Germany
Ocean Colour Scene Tour
22 Feb 2011 Nottingham - Rock City
24 Feb 2011 Aberdeen - Aberdeen Music Hall
25 Feb 2011 Glasgow - Barrowland (1 & 2)
26 Feb 2011 Birmingham - O2 Academy Birmingham
Supporting Beady Eye
13 Mar 2011 Cologne - Live Music Hall
11 Apr 2011 Nottingham - Rock City
12 Apr 2011 Liverpool - Guild of Students
21 Apr 2011 Leeds - O2 Academy
23 Apr 2011 Newport - Newport Centre
24 Apr 2011 Wolverhampton - Civic Hall
26 Apr 2011 Southampton - Guildhall
27Apr 2011 Brighton - Brighton Centre