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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Terry Hall interview from RN142

the sort of thing you miss if you don't buy the mag, Carrick, Christian and Gordon Hill are all interviewed in the new RN145

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RN: The night before the 1985 Cup Final you played in Liverpool. Where was that?
TH: It was at Liverpool University with Colourfield. I was very excited about the day after and for the encore I did ‘Glory Glory, Man United’ but it was only me who did it, none of the band joined me. I had a huge United flag that I draped across me. The drummer was an Everton fan, Gary, who was in The Teardrop Explodes but he wasn't going to the Final, and I was.
RN: How did that go down then?
TH: Not very well! The odd bottle here and there but what do you do!
RN: The Enemy are currently topping the album charts with many pundits saying they are the best band to come out of Coventry. Do you have any view?
TH: They're alright. It’s that thing isn't it, it's just not your stuff, not what you're into. I actually Dj'd with them in London about 6 months ago hoping to really like them because they're kids from Coventry but I wasn't that mad really.
RN: A Gig in front of thousands of people who have come especially to see you or United winning the European Cup?
TH: European Cup. Without a doubt. I've done the pinnacle of gigging with the Specials with crowds of about 10,000 in America, which is pretty big but it really doesn't compare.
RN: Have you ever owned a scooter?
TH: Never owned one. This is about the 15th year running I've said I'm going to get one. I keep going to this shop near Old Street in Brick Lane, looking at them thinking I'm going to get one but I never do.
RN: What is your synopsis of life on the original Two Tone record label. It didn't last very long did it?
TH: No, because the last thing we wanted to do was sign directly to a major because we didn't want to have to move down to London to work. The idea was ‘why can't we stay where we are, with our families and work on it from there?’. In theory it was a brilliant idea but when you go outside yourself and start signing other bands and have responsibility for other bands that is where it went wrong. All of a sudden you have got another band saying ‘what's happened to our single?’ And you don't want to be involved.
RN: What was the original tour like for you and the relationships with the other bands involved?
TH: It had a massive impact on people. It's that sense of really making it because all of a sudden you have got a back drop and proper posters. It's not just cobbled together and you have roadies so you don't have to move gear after the gigs. It is quite an odd feeling. A ‘made it’ buzz, definitely. You don't do anything! Unfortunately the gigs I remember most are the ones with trouble.
RN: Do you ever play any of your old music?
TH: I never play any of my records but I have never done that with anything I've ever done. I'm not mad on listening to my own voice! I hate that feeling of ‘I could have done that a bit better’ really, I hate that feeling, it is best to just let it go.
RN: Any stories behind any of the famous singles?
TH: Gangsters was hilarious, we were managed for a bit by Bernie Rhodes (who managed the Clash). He took us under his wings and wanted us to do this character building thing so he sent us to France to do four nights at a club in the centre of Paris. He left us at Dover with a skip thing on wheels with our gear in it and we didn't have a van so we had to hand trolley all our gear onto the ferry and when we got to the other end there was no one to pick us up so we each took bits and hitched it into Paris. We got to Paris and the hotel that was booked for us had no booking. We were all in a park sleeping on benches with bits of gear lying around. We got into a hotel and we were so frustrated that there were seven of us in one room that the room just went to bits. When we went out for the day the management confiscated all our guitars and equipment. The club owner came to rescue it that night and he was armed and stuff. We were all a bit like 'what the fuck is going on! Our first trip abroad with the band!
RN: What are your thoughts on Bad Manners I believe you were friendly with Doug.
TH: Yeah, I used to like Bad Manners a lot, they were quite different from us musically but you could see their angle straight away. You would not go quite as far as comic but not far off, he did it to himself.
RN: Madness. I think it is fairly well documented where you stood with them.
TH: There was always that rivalry with Madness that sometimes felt a bit unhealthy because of how they dealt with the NF (National Front) element stuff and how we dealt with it. We would just naturally want to kick them out of your concert but they were a bit more accepting. There were a few arguments and that is where we started to divide really. You wanted it condemned in the press and they didn't do that.
RN: 1978 in a breakdown what percentage were Terri Clark and his Specials influence; i.e. 25% Ska, 25% Punk and 50% Reggae?
TH: I'd say at that point it was probably the Punk new wave stuff I was listening to like Talking Heads. I'd sort of grown out of the Pistols even then at a very early age and the Damned, very early and gone onto Patti Smith and then getting into dub reggae. I remember a lot of Reggae with Teresa my sister as she was an original skinhead, and I was like her younger brother, ‘69 and stuff, so I heard all of the records and that was always in my head. She had a lot of mid 60s Jamaican stuff. It was all reggae, especially when Patti Smith and the Clash even were getting into it.
RN: Will you be doing anymore work with the Dove Pistols?
TH: Yeah, always, just because they're mates really and its effortless and I like teaming up with them. Probably three or four times a year we'll meet up and do a festival or something.
RN: It must be really nice to feel like that about playing music.
TH: They are just really good fun. They can't do anything but that. Fifteen years they have been at it and in their hearts that is all they want to do and its lovely to be around that enthusiasm.
RN: Can you remember what made you support United?
TH: It was definitely the '68 final. I was 9 and up until then my Dad used to go and watch Coventry, he used to try and get me to go but I used to hate it. Even post crawling stage I knew I shouldn't be going to that crap! He took me to a couple of games but that night when I watched United-Benfica, that was like real football and it left such a massive impression.
RN: Can you remember your first match?
TH: It was at Old Trafford. We had an 4 Auntie in Bolton and her son had moved down to Coventry and he watched them and he took me up to see United-Coventry. I'm trying to think of the date and it has always bugged me but it was around 1970/71. We sat at the back of the Stretford End. From that point, it's been said many times before over the years but you get the bug. It's beyond football. You get the bug. I had to wait a couple of years before I started getting part time jobs and going more.
RN: Best game, not including Barca ‘99?
TH: The replay at Villa Park. Looking back over the Final, the semis and stuff, league vs Spurs, Villa Park was just incredible, the most incredible game I have ever been to. It was unbelievable. I remember turning to leave when they got the penalty and thinking we're out, it's gone, I couldn't bear watching Bergkamp score, and then he didn't and it was like 'there's life'. Keane going off, and then that goal...
RN: What do you think about football now compared to the 70s and 80s?
TH: Mid 70s, I remember going to games aged around 16, 17 and thinking it might happen (scrapping) because of your age and how you looked. Now you do walk past it. Roma when we went in the wrong end and all this shit but nothing happened. You get away with it because you're an adult and you're a grown up. It is a big difference, there are still games now when I still think here it goes.
RN: So its a nicer environment to go to football it but the atmosphere is lacking?
TH: The atmosphere is totally different. You remember travelling in the 70s and it was mad, it was like the vikings, thousands and thousands of us descending on a town.
RN: Do any of your family support or go to United games?
TH: No. My sister is Coventry and my mum is split between United and Coventry. RN: But she doesn't go? TH: No, she's 83 now!
RN: Ever been nicked at the game? TH: Errrr no. (grinning) RN: Ok we'll pass over that one. TH: Yep!
RN: When the Specials clashed with a game, how did you deal with it?
TH: The Specials was difficult. I had to drop off going to games for about a year or two because I just used to get so much hassle. I just couldn't really do it. When we started Fun Boy Three I made sure that we would never work around a game, we just wouldn't work and they were cool with that because there were only three of us then.
RN: Do you collect any United memorabilia?
TH: Yeah, well your scarf has just added to it! (Aidan presents Terry with a scarf on behalf of all at RN). I used to buy a lot of silk scarfs in the 70s, there were some brilliant ones with cartoon drawings on them and all sorts, brilliant. I used to collect a lot of programmes but I've stopped doing that now because they just take up a lot of room. I like going to the fixtures at the back and who is playing who.
RN: Have you ever met any United celebs?
TH: I did a TV show with Docherty, Stuart Pearson and Gordon Hill. It was a Thames TV thing. I can't remember what it was but it was a pre-cup final thing. Docherty was such a twat to me, he was just a complete twat. We were in the green room beforehand, sitting there, you don't make any big deal that is just where you have to stay and as he was going out the door he said: "Can you keep an eye on my coat for me’. I was like ‘I'm on it with you mate!’. It was just that assuming it was all about him which is horrible.
RN: Any celebrity fans?
TH: Ian Brown, he's alright. You do meet them over the years, Angus Deayton was one. I don't know (about his support...). You just question where they have come from its like the Zoe Ball thing, you're not quite sure.
RN: Do you think it was too short a time after leaving the Specials to return with Fun Boy Three?
TH: I tell you what it was. Because the last 6 months of the Specials was so heavy all we wanted to do was get into a studio and mess about. It wasn't even for an album - it was just to try and exorcise all that shit we had been going through for a year. We never had songs or anything, we just wanted to play instruments and see what happened. Because we were contracted to Chrylasis we made a record.
RN: Do you have any advice for City fans?
TH: They are beyond advice really. Have a shave, get rid of the ‘tash!
RN: I've always likened hating Man City to like hating a man who hasn't got a cock, you just don't need to do it do you!
TH: I was once managed by a City fan and I've got two or three close friends (who are city fans) but I could never go down to their level of sourness. Well it's impossible. Kevin Cummins the NME photographer is a big City fan and he goes to a lot of games. I made him take photos of me in the NME in the mid 80s at Old Trafford. I said I wouldn't do it anywhere else and he got to do it. His face was a picture. He took three, 'that will do!'
RN: Can you sum up Fergie's reign in ten words?
TH: Patience, paid off. I remember the first game at Oxford when he first took over... He got over that spell of 'Get him out, get him out' and thankfully it was patience and now he is one of the greatest managers ever. It is impossible to dispute that no matter where you are from.
RN: What words some up Fergie?
TH: A sense of Loyalty, passion, alcohol...or nose but just a fantastic manager.
RN: What was your first United badge?
TH: It was a patch, it was like a hippy one with 'come on United'. Like the Churchill one. I used to collect patches to sew on scarfs or sew them anywhere in fact. A jean jacket. A mate we used to go with had the Butchers Coat on and it was dead weird. But you still see a few blokes at the games with them on... the old bloke with the teddy bear hat, he's still got one on.
RN: Are you still in touch with Coventry and what do you think of the music scene there?
TH: Only to go and see relatives really. There is no love lost between me and Coventry, unfortunately. I didn't feel they owed me anything and I didn't feel I owed them anything. I remember when we moved up to Stockport in '82 I did an interview with NME and they chopped it all up, but there was a headline in the Coventry Telegraph that said 'Terry the Traitor'. Freaked my Mum and Dad out, horrible.
RN: Did you ever get into any heated debates with other band members about football or were they not really bothered?
TH: They weren't really into football. None of them went, ever.
RN: How do you feel about the smoking ban?
TH: I think its ridiculous. I understand it, I understand non-smokers enjoying it and if you go to clubs now it smells really weird. You can smell people now. I've always been a smoker that if someone in the room objects I'll go outside so it doesn't bother me. I prefer smoking outside anyway.
RN: Did you shag any of them from Bananarama?!
TH: No. Can you imagine my mum reading that!
RN: Nightclub is my favourite Specials track. Which track did you enjoy performing the most?
TH: Performing it was probably Gangsters but to listen to, well not even listen to, but something that might come on the radio every now and again, is Ghost town. Every time I hear it - 20 years on - I just think’ God that was a great record’. It always shocks me, ‘God that sounds great’.
RN: Has the fact you are Terry Hall saved or caused any bother while following United?
TH: I had a slap at Anfield in the 80s. I've also had the other thing where other fans take the piss. You can put up with that. I've had 20 Everton in a service station singing "Terry, Terry give us a song" and you think 'fuck off!'. These 4 four lads once spotted me and had I not been who I was there would have been trouble, that has happened a lot. That happened at Forest years ago.
RN: Which team do you dislike the most?
TH: In the era we grew up Leeds was always a weird one and still is and now with the demise of Leeds it's fantastic. It was out and out hatred. Obviously Liverpool were a close second and City you can't be arsed with. Chelsea I don't like, I don't like their fans or the team, I never have. I was saying to Suggs actually, and Damon Albarn, 'How you can go and watch a team like that, when just walking up to the ground it is like a Nuremberg Rally’. Terrible.
RN: What is your viewpoint on Saha?
TH: I don't know. I'm not a massive fan to be honest, I'm not convinced, its the same with Tevez it just doesn't actually feel right. With Ruud it felt dead right, there was that confidence and that confidence isn't there up front. You just don't know.
RN: Did you travel from Coventry in the 70's and what are your memories?
TH: Travelled a lot. Five or six of us used to go from Coventry and Rugby. There were a lot of games where we used to get into trouble but everybody did then. Stoke was one of the worst grounds I went to. I got hit 4 times and I got chased with a pick axe. What would happen is we would all sleep at our house on the Friday night and somebody would have a car because the trains were often too expensive so we'd leave as soon as we woke up and and drive at about 6am and we would get to a town about 8 in the morning and wander round the town all day and trouble found you really.
RN: Did you go to any games in the relegation season?
TH: I went to a few games, I didn't go to the fateful City one but looking back that was the end of the era, that was the turning point. Something had to happen again.
RN: And the start of an era. The Red Army came into its own.
TH: Unbelievable. I remember the first game back in the first division against Wolves and there must have been sixteen thousand there. It was mad. I went to Blackpool away.
RN: Did you ever try to schedule gigs or studio recordings around United matches?
TH: The Specials no, but from then on, yes. Another thing I wanted to after the Specials is you lost all sense of time being in a band like that, forever working and travelling. Then I got a season ticket back at the start of the Fun Boy Three. Just so I knew where I would be every Saturday.
RN: How do you feel about acts calling themselves The Specials?
TH: Half and half. Half of me thinks you shouldn't be doing that because we’re not in the band anymore and the other half thinks you have got to pay your mortgage. Neville especially has been doing it off and on since we split up and I wouldn't want to deny him a wage really. You can't do that.
RN: How did you find it working with Lily Allen at Glastonbury?
TH: It was alright, she was like a moomin! She's nice.
RN: Any chance of you doing any Specials stuff again?
TH: There's a good chance actually, this summer. We had our first band meeting. All seven of us were in a room for the first time in 25 years and there is a good chance. It wouldn't be anymore than 6 or 7 (dates) we've already said that. Abroad? Maybe? Do it here first and see what happens. The idea. Patti Smith did it first. Play your album in full as it's sequenced. Maybe do an encore with bits of the 2nd Album on or Ghosttown or something. We're talking which is great. You've got an exclusive which is good!
RN: You have been quite open about suffering from depression throughout your life, has United helped or hindered?
TH: Helped. 100% helped. There are no lows, there's an instant low like getting knocked out of the Cup at Anfield that's a terrible low. But by the next day I'm alright with it and it's onto the next match. And it's that faith you've got in the team. It's the one given in your life.
Thanks to Terry. Interview by Aidan. Transcript by John. Copyright Red News 2007.


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