The latest in our series of the fan interviews featured in the Dutch Go Duran fanzine in the 1990s.
Part 1: September 1990 (Simon, Nick, Warren, John, Sterling)
Part 2: November 1994 (Simon)
January 26th 1995, "Privacy", London, UK
"I got to know Warren reasonably well over the years and I can honestly say what a lovely guy he is. He has always been extremely friendly to me and I've seen little evidence of pretentious pop-star behaviour." (Cherry Lipstick, 2001)
"Two months after interviewing Simon, I was back at Warren's again, this time interviewing him for his Privacy fanzine. This time none of the other band members were there and Warren showed me around the studio. Unlike the hall and kitchen, which are very dark, the studio was light and full of keyboards, microphones and guitars. I spent over an hour with Warren, he continued talking once I'd turned the microphone off and told me that the attic in the house was full of Simon's junk as the house used to belong to him!" (The Dutch Go Duran, 2003)
And there's a bonus Mandy adventure at the end of the article!
How's Thank You going?
It's ready to go, all finished.
Do you think you ought to release a few more singles before you release the album?
With us it's usually one single and then an album. From a record company point of view, singles are out there to sell albums. If it's on the radio, people are going to wanna see if you've got the product out there, and then they'll buy the album. So...
I just thought that perhaps if you put a couple of singles out before the album, then those people who would normally buy the album and then not bother getting the singles would buy the singles because they weren't available on an album yet.
But record companies don't make money on singles, and artists don't make money on singles. The packaging for a single is the same as an LP, so it costs them a fortune as they can only sell it for a fraction of the price of an album. That's why.
Why did Thank You take so long to make?
Just logistics, you know, having some people in Francei, some people in L.A., some people in London, you know, doing it during the tour, heavy scrutinization of each track, having a lot of problems with the mixes, and that was the major problem, getting the right people to do the right songs. We did what we could do to them, and then it was ready for somebody to mix it, and we just... we struck out about three times before we found the right people.
How long do you think this new album [Medazzaland] will take to make?
Everything going as planned it should be probably the fastest one we ever do. I mean, we have sixteen songs written, ten tracks already recorded in the computer, so they're really more than skeletal, there's parts down that we can use, so it should be really quick. Hopefully we'll have it ready by the end of the year. Or ready for release early next year .
It surprised me when you were working on it last year that one week only Nick would be here, the next week only Simon and then John. You never seemed to all be here together.
We started out all together on the new stuff because we played a lot of it live, just jammed, and we came up with a lot of great things, and Simon would come over and work on some melodies, just me and him, or we had good keyboard parts or overdubs.
Has it got any lyrics?
Not the last time I spoke to Simon, no. Just some ideas, you know, because there's a huge body of material that needs to be written when you have sixteen blank songs. We have melodies, it's just like filling the blanks now. We know the basic rhythm of the melody, but we don't have the lyric, so it's going to be a lot of work.
Do you write lyrics as well?
Yeah. Sometimes. I don't like trying to put myself fully into it, you know. I used to do that and get a lot of books and steal lines and get ideas. I'm more into now just getting a good concept for a song or a title or something, a couple of little words, things like that.
Who decides which singles get released?
Well, we say what we think is good, and then the managers say, 'Oh, we can go all the way with this one.' It's a business, and you've got to let the business people really decide what the single's going to be, because we can't, on the strength of our name, go to radio and say play our record. It's the manager's job to go there and make sure it gets on the radio. They know what these different format stations will go for, they know what kind of mixes they want to have on the stations, and that's why they get paid to do what they do.
White Lines is being released in America, Italy and Japan, and everyone I've spoken to has said I don't understand why they're not releasing it in the rest of Europe, it should be a world-wide release - it's a dance song, it was a great song when it was originally done, it's a great song now. But some people, you know, they'll just live and die by the ballad.
I don't actually know the original of Perfect Day.
It's great, but I mean it's nowhere near as lush as what we did. Simon's voice is just beautiful on it. Lou Reed is very monotone. He loves it, Lou Reed, absolutely loves it.
Who chose the songs for Thank You?
We all chose different things, you know, we had lists, and we had long discussions as it went. Everything, just about everything got recorded. Not everything on the lists, but everything that we all wanted from those lists got recorded, but not everything got used on the album
How do you feel about bootlegs?
I don't think we really suffer by them; the only people who suffer by them are the people who buy things that are bad quality. Usually it's just like a collectors thing, it's a fan thing, and it's not like it's going to affect records sales because those people that want to buy bootlegs are definitely going to want to buy the real albums. Bootlegs really hurt you in South East Asia and countries like that, where they actually bootleg the real thing and sell pirate copies of it, but that's different. Actual bootleg tapes, that's all right. When I was a Zappa fan, I had everything he ever did, and I used to make my own tapes at shows just to hear the music, it wasn't to make a bootleg. One of the first things I told Frank when I met him was, 'I record your shows, but it's just for me because I have to hear all the new arrangements and the new songs.' So I can relate to that.
Why was there no Zappa stuff on Thank You?
Hey, there's no Beatles stuff on there either, you know, there's no Stones stuff. We played Watermelon In Easter Hay, which is kind of a signature song of Frank's that the Zappa Trust do not want anyone to record. I think they picked five songs out of his catalogue that no one can play, that no one can ever record. But we did play it live the day after he died, and then about five more times in different cities.iv There are a lot of artists that aren't on Thank You only because there are just too many of them, there are too many great songs.
Who are you aiming at with Thank You? You've chosen some obscure songs for the audience that you've got.