‘Steve McQueen’ is regarded as one of the finest albums of the year, & the culmination of the promise shown by Prefab Sprout on their previous releases. During their recent mini tour, Tony Michaelides met up with vocalist Paddy McAloon to discuss the band’s activities. Acrylic Daze would like to thank Piccadilly Radio for giving permission to reproduce this interview, some of which was broadcasted on a recent ‘The Last Radio Show’ programme.
‘Faron Young ‘, their new single, charted immediately. Tony asked Paddy’s opinion of the importance to him of chart success.
Paddy: “It’s very important to me. I’m not the sort of person who likes to make a record & think ‘well that’s good’ or whatever & that’ll do & if it’s a hit then I’m not really bothered — I don’t even pretend to be indifferent . I’ve always said that if you spend all your time on something & you believe it’s good, then there is no point at all in being happy with it reaching people who already know about you. If it’s really good you should get it through. There’s a feeling of relief with Faron (Young) it’s only in the top 70 this week, so there is a long way to go. I’m delighted it’s the best chart position we have had since ‘Don’t Sing‘. I know a hit single does not necessarily translate in terms of people being interested in seeing you… Last night we played in Birmingham, it was such a brilliant turn out & excellent response that it made me forget about being worried about hit singles. When you get a room full of people who are obviously there because they want to be, there was no sense of ‘Oh, we’ll check them out & see what they’re like’, it was like a partisan audience. But to have a hit single, ultimately, you’re getting through to more people.”
Tony: “Obviously, you’ve got no reservations about the quality of your songs, there’s a wealth of material sitting there waiting to come out.”
Paddy: “There is, but I don’t know how many songs I have because I’m always reworking them.”
Tony: “You get very upset when you’re not writing don’t you?”
Paddy: “That’s the one thing about touring that I don’t like, really it’s impossible to write. I’ve got portable keyboards & drum machine with me , and I’ve only been on the road one day and already I’ve stopped taking the keyboards out of the van & into my hotel room because I can’t be bothered carrying them !! ”
Tony: “You must remember there’s other guests there as well!”
Paddy: “YEAH, well Wendy does her singing exercises so she doesn’t seem to worry about who’s next door.”
Tony: “One thing I meant to ask you in view of the fact that this is the second single from the album, would you consider releasing “When Love Breaks Down” next time round as the follow up to “Faron Young ” even though it did in fact come out before it ?”
Paddy: “Personally, I’m in two minds about this. There’s a kind of stigma that’s attached towards something that’s been released two or three times, like it’s the only song you’ve got. I’d hate anyone to get the idea we’re short of material because nothing could be further from the truth. After these dates , we’ve got a little bit of T.V. work & radio we’ve got a session for Piccadilly Radio as well, we have a 40 date tour throughout the British Isles , we’ll be playing everywhere & we’re looking forward to doing it . I need to get all my writing done now because the rest of the year will be taken up with touring, first the British Isles, then abroad.”
Tony: “What about the future then? After this tour, you’re going to take a bit of time off to concentrate on writing, but you strike me as the sort of bloke who’s got another album ready anyway.”
Paddy: ” Well , we’ve got a few albums worth of material in the bag I always feel a bit unsure of myself saying that, it sounds like same silly idle boast . When we come back from touring I want to do more writing. I never feel happy thinking ‘Well, yeah, I’ve got enough songs in the bag here. We can go on & do two or three records’ I think I would quickly lose touch if I didn’t practice the art of song writing , and also I think that a lot of bands who are successful ,are famous for their success rather than their songwriting . When their albums come out, people don’t have that same sense of urgency. I’d love to cause a stir with every record we brought out. I’d hate people to say “Oh, here’s the tried & trusted Sprouts.” That’s why I think it’s important to disappear from the scene as well.”