interviews

The long road out of hell: How Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell became a rock phenomenon

Rock‘n’roll had never seen anything like Bat Out Of Hell. Scrap that, the music business had never seen anything like it. Nor has it seen anything like it since. In the October of 1977, Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman – ...

How Goldie got his groove back

It’s a fucking journalist’s job to write the fucking truth. There’s something to write about here, get your fucking pencil sharp for a change. This is that kind of album.” And there, like a hand grenade on the soft white tablecloth between us is Clifford Joseph Price MBE’s introduction to The Journey Man, the first proper Goldie album since Saturnz Return in 1998. His ringed fingers rap the table and plinking dining room piano is audible again, but not for long. During a lengthy conversation at The Landmark hotel in central London - where he would meet David Bowie while planning their 1998 collaboration, Truth - Goldie gobbles fish and chips with his hands, demonstrates a magic trick, sings, screeches and does a mean impression of his beloved Bowie. Not to mention the endless tangents, heavy use of the word ‘bam’ or the ferocious grip of his greyish brown eyes. But let’s get back to that album. Released via Goldie’s own Metalheadz label (“The greatest example of the rock’n’roll swindle turned good”) and Cooking Vinyl (“I haven’t seen passion like it”), The Journey Man is a 16-track opus that tells the story of Goldie’s life - from breakdance and graffiti in his West Midlands adolescence, through to seminal LP Timeless, his ‘90s pomp, excess, and his current set-up in Thailand with his family. “I said to myself, I’m ready for this album,” Goldie says. “I’m getting up at 5am, I’m on the beach, I swim, I do my Qigong, Tai Chi, yoga, bam… and I’m thinking, James Bond has this fucking life!” Closing with an updated version of Truth sung by José James, this is more film than album, an all-consuming odyssey of soul and drum’n’bass hinging on 18-minute techno-flavoured centrepiece Redemption. He’s relishing the chance to combine “raving and mindfulness” while treating Glastonbury to three DJ sets this weekend, but when he hits the road in November, Goldie will do so with The Heritage Orchestra. He describes members Matt and John Calvert as “unbelievable”. “People won’t be able to handle that one Goldie has done all this,” he continues, explaining that he conjured every note, lyric and arrangement on a record that was five years in gestation. “I couldn’t have fucking done this any other time, it’s my fucking Eno! Bam! Nine drum’n’bass songs and seven musical projects, there’s the illusion. I know magic, mate, I do it in music. Maybe it’s time for people to hear and not just listen, this album can’t be stopped. It’s the greatest work I’ve ever done.” Goldie believes the “gift” of being unable to read or write music allows him to channel emotion more directly, looking over engineers’ shoulders as they converted his ideas, usually recorded on an iPhone, into tracks he’d spend months working on. “The process is unique,” he says. “We spent three days making 97 drum parts, then I moved to Thailand and left them for two years. It’s weird, but they matured like wine.” He whittled 97 down to 20, and they became the drums for the album. “I see it like a painting,” he says. “I know no one else is doing it like that and I need to give myself a little credit. It’s fucking weird, but I get off on it. I learned from the best, Pat Metheny, Nellee Hooper, Miles Davis, Art Blakey…” Kate Bush is just as important to Goldie, and he pays tribute in the lyrics of Run, Run, Run. “I sat with her in Fortnum & Mason having cakes, I asked if she wanted to sing on the album but she didn’t.” Goldie doesn’t seem fussed, and he needn’t be: vocalist Tyler Lee Daly is compelling over plaintive jazz piano from Jon Dixon. More than who sings where, for Goldie, The Journey Man is about art. “Electronic music gets away with fucking murder. DJs get paid a lot to push buttons - no, monkeys push buttons! Just put a bit of soul into it. Making music is not business to me, it’s passion.” He leaves the business side to his team, crediting a “refit of the Goldie brand” and a deal with Believe Digital with Metalheadz’s recent resurgence. His manager and business partner Karl Neilson, a friend for over 20 years, says it’s his job to “help people recognise that there’s not many like Goldie on the planet and to keep him on top of his creative game”. Meanwhile, Cooking Vinyl’s head of marketing & product management, Chris Farrow says hook-ups with Spotify and Apple and placements across radio will help the label educate old fans and show potential new ones that “Goldie is multi-faceted and this is a long-term project. He’s influential, there’d be no Sub Focus, Netsky or Chase & Status without him”. Goldie, whose new friendship with Skepta has led to an upcoming collaboration, wants to continue to be influential too, with sage advice as much as music. “Don’t make the mistakes I did,” he says, “The ‘90s were fucking mental. I became a complete parody of myself.” Sozzled memories flow as we finish lunch, at which point Goldie’s fidget levels max out and he departs for a yoga class. “Sometimes I feel like a ghost, like I don’t exist,” he says, getting up. “I’m 52 this year, to come back at this age and do an electronic album is fucking weird! How did I survive?” He doesn’t hang around for an answer, but you get the feeling he already knows it: graft, madness and maverick talent.

The Big Interview: Glastonbury Festival's Emily Eavis

It’s the morning after the night before. A bleary-eyed nation has emerged from its slumbers to try and make sense of an election result that seemed unfathomable just days ago. And, down on Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset, site of the legendary Glastonbury Festival, the event’s co-organiser, Emily Eavis, is reliving a similar day this time last year. Back then, it was the Brexit vote that cast a shadow over the festival’s opening day. Today it’s Labour’s unexpectedly good, if not actually victorious showing at the polls that’s fuelling her sense of hopefulness going into this year’s festival, as she confirms a last-minute appearance by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – a Glastonbury veteran, of course – who will now be joining the festivities. “He’s very welcome,” she beams as she returns from overseeing operations in the Shangri-La area, where a team of 20 workers are already beavering away to get the site festival-ready and where, keen Glasto weather-watchers will be pleased to know, it is currently “dry under foot”. “It was a truly grim revelation that morning when we got the Brexit news just as we were about to open the Pyramid Stage at 6am,” she adds. “But now there’s a feeling of optimism…” That positivity radiates from Eavis herself, who is buzzing with thoughts of future dream headliners (“I would love to get Fleetwood Mac, Kate Bush or Tom Waits. It would be good to have Led Zeppelin but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Actually, it’s definitely not going to happen”) and still thrilled over Glastonbury winning the inaugural Music Week Award for Festival Of The Year (“It meant a lot, because there aren’t any other awards from the industry – and we had a really good time”). The good spirits also extend to the festival itself, with the 177,500 people (including staff, performers and guests) lucky enough to be on site over the weekend buzzing about a bill headlined by the biggest pop star in the world (Ed Sheeran), arguably the biggest rock band in the world (Foo Fighters) and the band that played the greatest Glastonbury set of all time in 1997 (Radiohead) – plus, of course, a supporting cast of thousands and all the theatre, cabaret, circus, late-night hedonism and Green Field hippyness that remains a crucial part of the Glasto “vibe”. That said “vibe” has survived into 2017, battered but unbowed, remains something of a miracle and is down, in no small part, to Emily and her father Michael’s continued insistence that Glastonbury is more than just a big gig in a field. Emily grew up amidst the chaos of the early festivals, when Glastonbury was a counter-cultural event attended by radical activists, peace convoy travellers, keen recreational drug users and members of Ozric Tentacles (and, er, your correspondent). It was about as likely to receive blanket coverage on the BBC and in The Daily Telegraph as, well, Jeremy Corbyn was to be embraced at the ballot box. Eavis became formally involved in running the festival in 1999, just after the BBC started its coverage in 1997 (taking over from Channel 4) and just before the festival fully professionalised its operations with the arrival of the superfence in 2002, acts which helped secure its transition to the mainstream. She’s now ultimately responsible for the line-up of all of the festival’s main stages, while her own children are now growing up amidst the rather-more-organised chaos of today’s festival preparations. “When I was at school growing up, [the festival] was seen as so alternative,” she reminisces. “Parents of other kids in the class were like, Don’t go to their house, it’s a bit much what they get up to. And now, you’ve got parents coming up when I go and pick up my kids in the playground and the headmistress even tried to get some tickets the other day. Times have changed…” And yet Glastonbury remains the same, for this year at least. Next year is the farm’s scheduled fallow year, whereas plans for a new festival away from Pilton in the years after that are already taking vague shape. Time then, for Eavis to sit down with Music Week to talk this year’s line-up, security measures and what new festival The Variety Bazaar might mean for Glastonbury itself… In light of the Manchester Arena attack, what can people expect in terms of increased security at this year’s festival? Our head of operations has been having regular meetings with the police and we are putting lots of extra security in place. There’s going to be extra checks on the way in. We’ve asked the public to do things like label all their bags and sent a message out to all festival-goers to give general advice and warnings about potentially taking extra time on the gate. People are quite reassured by that. Getting people on site is a massive task anyway, is this going to slow things down a lot? Yes, but the last couple of years on the gate have been pretty fast. There were delays last year because of the car parks but on the pedestrian gates they moved very quickly. There’s some extra space being made to make way for those extra security measures but we’re going to try and make it as swift as possible. We have warned people that it might take extra time on Wednesday, which is normally our busiest day, so maybe more people will be arriving on Thursday this year. A lot of the public have been in touch so we’re getting a feeling from people and working out when are going to be the busy times. Will there be more police on site? Will people be seeing armed police? The level of policing is still being discussed, but there will be extra police, certainly on the gate. But that’s a decision the police will make. We are having conversations, but they’re also working to their own plan. Once you’re in, we are going to keep it business as usual as much as possible, the feeling inside the fence will be very much as it usually is. What are the likely highlights on the bill for you this year? This year is very diverse. It felt like quite a feat having both The National and Biffy Clyro second down on the Pyramid Stage, both of which could headline. And Katy Perry could headline in her own right every night! I’m really looking forward to seeing her, it was great getting an act of her size to play an afternoon slot. Those afternoon slots have now been acknowledged as almost afternoon headline slots, before the crowd disperses and there’s a choice between headliners on all the other stages. I’m really excited about Barry Gibb, and Kris Kristofferson was a huge coup, because there has been talk of him coming for a couple of years. Can Radiohead replicate their 1997 triumph? That was amazing, wasn’t it? It really was the gig that lifted everyone’s spirits. I just remember the sheets of rain through the white lights of the Pyramid arena when it was lit up, it was amazing. Having them back means a lot to us because they mean so much here, they have had so many great moments here, but 1997 is the one that sticks in everyone’s head. Ed Sheeran is also headlining. Does having the biggest pop star on the planet playing help you reach a new audience? Within the field, I don’t think so, because we announce our line-up so far after the tickets go on sale. They are coming because they want to be at the festival and there’s a lot of trust in us putting together the best line-up we can. But within the TV, we probably reach a whole new audience. Ed played in a small tent in the Green Field a couple of years ago so we were really thrilled when he said that not only would he do it, but it would be his only festival appearance worldwide. There’s a lot of competition; there are a lot of big festivals that offer lots of money, we aren’t offering anywhere near those massive [fees]. We’re probably offering less than 10% of what they would get for one of the big shows. We’re so reliant on goodwill and, for someone the size of Ed Sheeran to say, This is the show that I want to do, we were just bowled over. It means so much to us to have him. Selling out every year before you announce the line-up is a very privileged position to be in. How did you get there? Well, it wasn’t that long ago, in 2008, when tickets were still on sale after the gates opened! So you’re never going to sit back and say, We’re safe, because it’s cyclical and you can be struggling again. Nobody knows quite how it happened but, at the moment, we’re really lucky to be in that position. I can’t analyse it too much because we are just trying to make it as good as possible, give people the best possible time and hope that they want to come back and even more people want to come. But you are never totally safe… Most festivals wouldn’t dare take a year off either. Why do you do that? It is important for lots of reasons. The farm needs a rest, the land gets battered obviously. Because we’re in a very small local community, it is good to have a little bit of a break from that side of things. But also dropping off the radar is a good thing sometimes, it was a really good idea. My dad came up with it years ago and just being absent for a bit is no bad thing. It gives us a chance to look at all the elements and review all of the deals, the areas, the plans, crowd management systems and how the whole thing works, then come back stronger. How crucial has the BBC coverage been in moving Glastonbury into the mainstream? Well, 1997 was the first year of BBC coverage, so it was long-established before that. But certainly they do a brilliant job, we love working with the BBC and hopefully it is something we’ll continue. Across all of the BBC output, it reaches 20 million people which is pretty impressive, after the Grammys it’s up there with the most-viewed music TV. It’s absolutely mad. It’s testament to their coverage that so many people want to watch it. We work closely with them all year because we want Glastonbury to be portrayed in the right way. A lot of work goes into making sure it’s a true reflection of the event, not just the main stages. Given the size of the audience, are you booking bands for the TV audience now, rather than the crowd in the field? No! We’re totally about the field, it’s all about booking for the audience here. Then we sit down with the BBC. Some big artists really don’t want to be filmed, so it doesn’t always work in our favour. They’ll say, I’d really like to play but I don’t want to be on TV, so that’s an issue sometimes, it works both ways. It’s mostly a really good thing, but the priority for us is the experience the people are having here, in the field, in the weekend, in the flesh. Can you still have a Glastonbury breakthrough moment without being on TV though? Yes, it all correlates with what’s happening in the field. Last year, Christine And The Queens were amazing in the field, because of her incredible performance and also because it was after Brexit, and there was this French girl blowing the whole place away. The field was completely connected with her in that moment and the BBC captured that and translated it to the rest of the world. But the moment is still very much there in the field. Sometimes that moment is on TV and sometimes it isn’t. But what happens here is the most important thing. No one here knows what’s happening on TV, but here people will be saying, Did you see Declan McKenna? And then they get home, watch it on the iPlayer and it becomes a moment afterwards. Can Glastonbury get any bigger? No. No! It is not possible because we are at maximum capacity. But that’s great. We’ve got a hell of a lot of people here so we don’t need it to get bigger to be honest. What do you think was the crucial moment when it crossed over? I don’t think there was one moment where it suddenly tipped. It was so different in the ‘80s, but it evolved slowly over the years. There was the fence and a couple of big changes around that time but what’s nice is it’s moved organically through the years. It’s in a lovely place at the moment. Times have definitely changed but we’re too far in it and too involved and we don’t have the time to analyse it too much, we just try to enjoy it while it’s there. My Dad still has a great time. That’s the greatest thing that he’s taught everyone, just to enjoy themselves. The audience has changed over the years as well. What do you say to people who say the spirit of Glastonbury has been lost? Well, the spirit has definitely changed and evolved. It’s certainly not what it was in the ‘80s, but a lot of those people are still here. A lot of the travellers who were around in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s are now running areas [of the festival]. All of those people are still here and that’s why it is still really special, to have that thread still going through it. And it’s important to us to keep that going. We’re constantly fighting to keep the spirit alive and keep it close to its roots. The charity element and the £2m we give each year... That’s what makes it unique really, all those elements you don’t see in other places. You announced plans for a new festival elsewhere, The Variety Bazaar, earlier this year. What’s going on with that? The plan at the moment is for a fallow year here in ‘18, ‘19 back on Worthy Farm, then 2020 is our 50th anniversary, so we’ll be here for that. Then the plan is we’ll do another event in 2021, which will be called The Variety Bazaar, and that will be somewhere else. It’s not going to be an average Glastonbury but it will be [produced by] the team behind Glastonbury. We’re looking at three different sites elsewhere at the moment. Would it be instead of, or in addition to Glastonbury 2021?Probably instead of, that year. But it’s a long way off and plans can definitely change. It’ll probably be slightly smaller but it’ll still have music and the same sort of ideas, music and installation. The idea is to give some of the fringe areas of the festival more space. We could do more with Shangri-La, Arcadia, The Common, Block9 etc. Is there any threat to the long-term future of the Glastonbury we know and love? I don’t think so. We want to keep it going. It’s in a really good place, there’s an amazing team behind it and the atmosphere this year is so brilliant. There’s no reason why we would want it to stop, everybody wants to keep it going. While the public want to come and there’s so much positivity about it, then there’s no reason not to. We’ll keep it going for as long as we can, for sure.

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