Jane: Today I'm joined by Tim Lovelace who has been described as, and I quote, 'the archetypal muso, journo and wino', of course eluding to his love of music, journalism and fine wine respectively, do you think that's an accurate description Tim?
Tim: Yes, I do. I have a lot of respect for all three disciplines, in fact they overlap almost daily for me.
Jane: Tim of course shot to fame in 1973 with his Heavy Rock band 'The Clap' and they first captured the nation's attention with their ingeniously titled top 37 hit 'Honey I Suckled Your Kids'. Describe those times for us Tim.
Tim: They were great days Jane, back in the true era of rock 'n' roll. We were wild.
I remember when we toured what's now the Baltic States, where we had a huge but moderately grotesque fanbase, and me and the crew had just polished off all the complimentary miniatures in the minibar and we were completely tipsy off our faces, I have to admit. So we thought rather than do the cliche thing all the bands do, we would actually throw a TV. IN to a hotel window. Luckily our room was on the ground floor because it took all four of us five attempts to get it through, and that's after about three quarters of an hour carefully unscrewing it from the wall mount. Obviously we explained the next day what had happened, we replaced the TV, apologised and carried on rocking to Lithuania.
Jane: (weak laughter) Great story Tim. Tell us how you came up with such an obscure name for your first hit, was that your idea?
Tim: Of course. I suppose at the time I was looking at the juxtaposition between the antichrist, who steals children, and garden plants. It was an experimental phase but I think the best ideas are. I always say 'If you experiment you can only succeed'. I think it's a title that still catches peoples' ears open when they hear it.
Jane: Indeed. You then, of course, followed that up with your follow up single 'London's Overcrowded and Smells Like Poverty' which was a huge hit in most parts of the country and helped you reach the 23rd spot in 1978's chart. It was at this point that you encountered some controversy with the critics, tell us what it was all about..
Tim: Well basically the critics didn't like the fact that I had become a cult.
Tim: With an 'L'
Jane: Of course.
Tim: Well it was the first time we got political with our music. Before I think we had less intelligent stuff to say. Our message was more; 'you're not particularly safe with us around', you know, the typical 'lock up your sons and daughters' act. And pets. But it's all been done before. We wanted a new direction.
Jane: And that direction took you far away from London for a few years didn't it.
Tim: Yeah, we just felt that Cumbria could offer us more as a source of inspiration.
Jane: And of course it did because it was there you produced one of your best remembered works.
Tim: Yeah, It's quite a funny story really. I remember being in our dethatched cottage, and I was sitting in this little wooden chair in front of the fire and I remember thinking about a name for this song, well, I was stuck for ages
Jane: How small a chair was it?
Tim: On the name for the song. As you know the song's about a guy who gets his melon all mangled up on amphetamines, 'cause they were pretty rife at the time, not where we were so much, in rougher areas, like London and Oxford. Anyway I needed a powerful name that captured the mood of the piece, then I saw this local tourist guide map on the floor and it hit me like a ton of bricks, the idea not the guide. It was staring me in the face
Jane: And that's how your first top eleven hit 'Explode The Cumbrain's Hell' got it's name
Tim: Crazy really, just a simple play on words. If that copy of 'Explore The Cumbrian Hills' was never there then... I should really do a benefit gig up there sometime, you know, to say thanks for the ideas.
Jane: Of course nowadays Tim some people might know you best as a journalist. How did you get into that field?
Tim: As you know breaking into the field of journalism involves opening, and then of course remembering to close, the gate of peristence. Nowadays I write for a variety of well known regional papers, often music reviews and the odd wine piece - I don't mean 'odd wine' like made from stones or anything. In fact I've just submitted my latest review of a great band called 'The Smoking Joes' who absolutely blew apart the Crown and Anchor in Strayby last night. Proper heavy rock-a-billy. In fact one woman in her sixties was up on the tables dancing but luckily the security there was pretty good and you'll be pleased to know she was ejected.
Tim: And later served an ASBO, but I'm not sure if those two incidents are related or not.
Jane: Ok. As we mentioned earlier you have a keen interest in fine wines, do you have a cellar?
Tim: Yes and a loft. Converted. Great acoustics. There's no wine up there though. Just some old china. No. Its all downstairs. I've got a new thermostat in the wine cellar that keeps the temperature at a constant 5 to 18 degrees. I've got wines from the four corners of Europe: France, Chile, Spain, Italy and The Netherlands; and some of them have been maturing down there for over four years or so.
Jane: Would you say you're more of a red man or a white man?
Tim: Both really, not together though, tastes like vimto. It really depends on my mood. When I'm writing an article for the music section I like to scuttle off to one of my studys with a few bottles of red and a few white and you won't see me for days.
Jane: You get pretty lost in your work then?
Tim: Yeah, yeah. Something like that. It's hard going, but I er, I work my way through it.
Jane: Well shall we have your first record then Tim?
Tim: Yeah, I've tried to mix it up a bit. I listen to the whole spectrum of music, old, new and middle. I'm a firm believer in not pigeon holing music, that's why I'm really into this 'hardcore operatic gothic chillout' right now
Jane: For the benefit of our older listeners can you explain what exactly that is?
Tim: Well, imagine Enya singing on a mortuary slab whilst Hell's Angels grope her warbling corpse... and it's raining bricks - imagine that as music obviously. In lay-mans terms it's soprano vocals over thrash guitars all backed with a pounding 4/4 gabba beat.
Jane: And here it is. The band is called Spunkatron 900 and this is 'Wound-love'
Jane: It's quite challenging listening Tim, is that what you like about modern music?
Tim: Yeah I like people who aren't afraid to push the boundaries of music, and what music actually is. The line between music and non-music is right on that boundary. It's also got a great cover sleeve of two very right wing looking labradors.
Jane: Is this the direction you see music heading in, or do you feel that musically there will be a return to the basics?
Tim: I think we should embrace new technology Jane. Nowadays you'll often see me, if you're at my house for some reason, surfing on my new Apple Mackintosh Personalised Computer System. I love finding new bands on 'Myspaces' and I also like to taste new wines online. I think in the future humans won't really be necessary to start a band. You might see, for example, an automated music robot just jamming with a microwave or something. I think it holds a lot of interesting possibilities.
Jane: Well that leads us nicely on to your second choice, an electronica piece by DJ and producer Crippledbaby.
Tim: Yeah, I actually first got into 'house, garage' and 'lean-to' music when I did a review of a popular late-nightspot in Cheadle for the Cheadle Courier. This guy was on the 'wheels made of steel' and the atmosphere in that place was like no atmosphere I had ever seen before. It was hotter than hell's sauna in there and I remember a large guy with that strange hair - erm druidlocks- who gave me some medicine - to counteract the heat I think. After that I must of knocked back a few too many pints of the old Black Sheep 'cause next thing I know I'm at some stranger's house at six in the morning. Well, I was feeling pretty chatty so I got talking to this guy- his real name is Sebastian, a good looking guy- he played me some of his tracks and we agreed we would collaborate the next day. He came to the house and we worked on 'remixing' some of my back catalogue. Anyway I never heard from him again but I still have this CD. And his coat. Its great stuff. The CD I mean. The coat's too small for me. I haven't tried it on.
Jane: Brilliant. Here's Crippledbaby's electro ponce-step remix of The Clap's 'Honey I Suckled Your Kids'
Jane: It's certainly a novel take on the original. Did you return the favour and do any cover versions of his music?
Tim: I did but it mostly involved me banging the bass drum for five minutes and occasionally shouting 'rock your body' in a robot voice. Musically It didn't transfer so well.
Jane: Well your third choice sees us back on more familiar musical grounds and you've plumped, and this is a first on Desert Island Dicks, for just one section of the song, tell us why.
Tim: When sport meets music Jane good things are gonna happen, both musically and... sportically. When I first heard this it nearly bought me to tears. Its about helping young black children, who have no food or clean water, you know really giving them a chance to suceed...
Jane: Tim is of course refering to John Barnes and his famous John Barnes rap from England's Official 1986 World Cup song; 'World in Motion'. Here it is...
Jane: Take your time Tim.
Tim: (Sniffs) Thanks. It's a beautifully crafted piece and it really captures the spirit of winning despite inevitably losing and for many of us that's what the eighties were about.
Jane: Very true. Do you think, as a child, your parents influenced your musical tastes?
Tim: Well I'm not a child anymore, but if I was, I would almost definately say 'yes mummy'. (both laugh)
But seriously though they had excellent taste although obviously I didn't see that when I was a kid. My dad was a huge fan of George Formby, and I remember one Christmas how excited I was when he gave me my first banjo. I remember me and a lad who lived in the house over the road from us started a skiffle band called 'The Towelettes'. Me on banjo and he shook a matchbox. He wasn't very musically minded. In fact I remember we broke up because he got sent to boarding school for burning Mrs Holcombe's cat Smokey to death. My mum listened to a lot of classical music. She was militantly religious. I'll never forget her face when we released 'Honey I Suckled Your Kids', it was like this...
(pause to replicate face)
Jane: She was very disapproving then?
Tim: No she had a stroke. Stone cold dead. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword.
Jane: Moving on shall we have your fourth selection now?
Tim: Sure. This track reminds me of the 'Swinging' Sixties. They say if you remember the Sixties you weren't there. Nonsense. I was there and I have a photographic memory, and a photographic camera, so I can easily reminisce about the days when we felt we could change the world. And I think the History books will rightly show that we made the right choice by getting proper jobs and sorting ourselves out. There's no such thing as a free lunch.
Jane: So this track encapsulates the mood of that special time for you?
Tim: Very much so
Jane: Well here's The Stiffs with 'I Love Making You Money Sir'
Jane: Now of course there were four of you in The Clap, are you still in contact with the others?
Tim: Only really with one quarter of them - hang on- excluding myself. So one quarter of the other three is...(pauses) Yeah...I'm only really in contact with three quarters of one of them, which doesn't quite make sense. I stay in touch with Bill Crawley - the drummist - he's doing great. He's working on a solo project with another guy he's met. As for Chris and Roger well the last I heard they had adopted a Romanian baby in Stoke. Or maybe it was called Stoke. Anyway.
Jane: Do you have any plans to re-form?
Tim: I do but the others don't. But I might do it alone. Watch this space. That's an exclusive.
Jane: So you're not ruling it out.
Tim: Its ninety nine percent uncertain.
Jane: Right. Explain your next choice for us Tim
Tim: This track really needs no introduction, I suppose because, technically, it is one. It's a classic, it appeals to all ages and musically its quite avant garde.
(MUSIC - EASTENDERS THEME TUNE)
Jane: Apart from music, writing and wine Tim, how do you like to unwind?
Tim: I like to read a good book, not The Good Book, I'm a di-agnostic. I play a lot of sports, in fact Ive just had some building work done to the house and I am now the proud owner of an American pool table and dart board. The pool table is American I mean, the dart board is from Great Yarmouth or somewhere like that. I also like to keep fit. You'll often see me running in the home gym. Mostly because the previous owners moved the downstairs toilet so I have to go through there. Apart from that just chilling down.
Jane: Where do you see yourself going from here?
Tim: Well I've got to go to Sketchleys to get my cords back.
Jane: I mean in terms of your life.
Tim: Well I'm still looking for that special somebody. Well not really a somebody - a woman. Women only please. Somebody to enjoy quiet nights in with, watching tele. and arguing.
Jane: You must have had your fair share of groupies in the Seventies.
Tim: (laughs) With a name like ours I'm not sure it was worth the risk. To be honest I did have 'relations' with a fair few, that's true, but it was all so false.
Jane: Well which?
Tim: I meant it was all so superficial. They only wanted to brag to their friends.I felt like a piece of love meat. It was all for show.
Jane: Well Tim unfortunately It's nearly time for us to finish. It's been fascinating. Can I thank you for your time and your musical selection.
Tim: You can
Jane: Then Thank you. You have been listening to Desert Island Dicks with me Jane Keys and this week's guest, musician and journalist, Tim Lovelace. Tim, What have you chosen to play us out with?
Tim: Well since we were just talking about groupies I thought I'd leave you with one of our lesser known tracks, but one of my personal favourites; here's 'I Am The Rock God So Kneel Before Me'. It's mostly me playing solo.
Jane: Thanks again Tim, and here it is...