On the 15th of May this year, the last night of "Graham Gouldman & Co." at Ronnie Scott's in Birmingham, Graham kindly let "10cc Matters" interview him during the break. Dutch fan Ronald van Klooster had been in touch with Graham by email for some time and he had set up this appointment for us.

Read what Graham had to say before treating us to another set of great songs with the help of Rick Fenn, Stuart Tosh, Mick Wilson and Simon Carter.

Did you enjoy yourself tonight?
Yeah, great! Although last night they were wilder. They were even standing on the tables!

Last year, people said the audience was talking too much ...
Yes, you can't really aim for a sort of dedicated audience. Some people are fans but a lot are just here because they come here every Saturday night so you never know whether the people are here purely for you, or...

A couple of acetates have turned up. This one turned up in America. The A-side is called "Virgin Soldiers", the B-side is "Hot Sun."
The "Hot Sun"... it's the same as "Hot Sun Rock." Now, "Virgin Soldiers," do you know which year that was? It's got to be in the 60s because it's an EMI disc. Um ... you've lost me on that one.

There's another one, that's turned up in Norway: "Cry All Night".
Well, "Cry All Night", that was the first song that Eric and I wrote together. It's the same as "Fff's". They did a cover of it for the Eurovision Song Contest.

And there's one more, it's by Godley & Creme, "Over And Above My Head" and "One And One Make Love".
Yes, those were tracks that were recorded by me, Kev and Lol. Giorgio Gomelski eventually produced an album with Kev and Lol and I played on it but it never came out.

What we'd like to ask you, you worked with Peter Cowap who now has sadly passed on, on three singles. One of them, "Crickets"/ "Wicked Melinda," was credited to Cowap and Hillary?
Well, my ex-wife, her middle name was Hillary and (...) I can't exactly remember why we did that... But it is you? Yes, it's me!

There's another one, by Leslie Crowther, called "Santa Claus."
That was a song that I wrote with my Dad and it was produced at Strawberry Studios.

We must have a lot of material that you have not heard for a long time.
Oh yeah, there's loads of stuff from years ago, it keeps cropping up.

Can you give us any details on your new solo album "Another Thing"?
Yes, it was going to be called "And Another Thing" but it might be called something else, I'm not sure yet. But I've done three tracks for it so far: "Walking With Angels", "Dancing Days" and "Just Another Day". "Walking With Angels" was written with Gordon Kennedy, who was one of the writers of "Change The World," the Eric Clapton song. I've worked with him quite a lot in Nashville. "Dancing Days" was written with another guy called Gary Burr, who is another Nashville writer. "Just Another Day" was written with Claudio Guidetti, an Italian writer. I met him initially at an EMI writers' week. They have these weeks where they get 15 songwriters, some famous songwriters and some new writers as well. And we go to this, sort of a hotel, and take over the whole place, like a mansion, and every morning when you come down for breakfast, the publishers have this list and tell you who the two writers are that you are going to be working with during the day. So the day before you don't know who you are going to write with. And they tend to put a guitar player with a keyboard player and a singer and it's the most fantastic thing to do. I've been to two of them and I've been invited to the next one which will take place at the end of June, I think.

Can you shed a light on the work you did with David Hasselhoff?
Well, all that it was, was this guy that I know whose name is (...) well, I can't remember his bloody name now! Anyway, a guy was producing David Hasselhoff and he asked me to play on this track of his cause I do sessions as well. I can't remember what the hell it was called. My connection with David Hasselhoff is very tenuous!

Regarding the concert you did recently with Roddy Frame and Neil Finn, you seemed to enjoy that very much. How much pleasure did that give you as you had only one hour to rehearse that?
Well, initially we were just going to do our own songs and that was going to be it. We were going to be on stage at the same time and then one was going to do a song and then the other but the producer of the show said: "Can't you come like an hour early, just so you can meet the other guys and maybe sing on each other's songs?" We were, well, wow, can we get this together? But as it happened the chemistry between everybody was so good. I mean, I was singing "Weather With You" with Neil Finn and Neil sang on "I'm Not In Love" and "Dreadlock Holiday," and it was just fantastic.

That leads us nicely into the next question. You know there was a 10cc concert shown on UK Arena? What we'd like to know is, where and when was this recorded?
I think, from what I remember it was done at the Hard Rock. Not the Hard Rock Café, there was another place called the Hard Rock which was in the Belle Vue area of Manchester. I think it was 1974, I haven't actually seen it, but I think that's when it was.

Can you tell us anything about the new version of Dreadlock Holiday for the Cricket World Cup?
Well, a friend of mine called Rick Blasky, who was with Phonogram Records, I first met him there, is now doing all these records for all sports. Works with a company called "Media something" - I can't remember the actual name of it. He's trying to get "Dreadlock Holiday" as the song for the World Cricket Cup.

You recorded four different versions for it?
Yes, done lots of versions and I still don't know whether they are going to use it because they've got a problem with using an old song. But at one time UB40 were going to record it which would have been great. Perfect, I think. At the moment, I don't know whether that is actually going to happen or not. But it would be great if it did.

Just taking you off the subject of music for a bit, you once said during an interview, that you enjoyed listening to Radio 4. BBC Talking Books, especially when you're driving on the M62.
Yes, because I go to Manchester a lot, my Mum lives there and my eldest daughter. You get a good play on them and it halves the journey.

Do you ever look back on some of the stuff that you ever recorded? Do you ever wish you'd done them any different?
Well, all the songs that were hits, are always perfect. You know, sometimes a record goes out of a song of yours that you've done with 10cc that somebody else has recorded. You hear the record and you think: "Ooh, they've changed this chord or that chord! They should have done it like this, the way I originally did it but they happened to changed this for some reason or other." And what happens is, that as the record goes up the charts, the more perfect the record becomes. And the more you go: "Yes, that was right, that was a good thing to do!" So that's what happens. Generally, I would say 99% of the time, I'm happy with what I've done.

You once said that Morrisey recorded the best version of "East, West." How much of a thrill is it, to hear different artists recording your music?
It was brilliant. I mean that's a good example: he's got the spirit of the song, more than the Herman's Hermits version. I think that when Herman's Hermits did it, they recorded it without any sort of thought. And that was all very well but when Morrisey did it he kind of got the right feel, it was more lonesome. How I felt at the time, being away from home.

You've written many classics during your career. Looking back, is there any one song that was written by somebody else that you'd wish you'd written?
Hundreds of them. Any song that was written by say ... Jimmy Webb, Burt Bacharach, the Beatles, these were all my inspirations. You know, I always try to emulate them. I've got so many different influences and I've found that when I think about my own songs, there are so many different styles. There isn't one "Graham Gouldman Style" though I've always been drawn towards minor chords than more soulful and much more meaningful darker and I've often thought why that is. I mean, being Jewish you know, a lot of songs that you hear in the synagogue are only done in minor keys. My parents, my mother's side and my father's side are from Russia and Poland, that's got to have some sort of bearing on what you do.

Are there any more plans in the pipeline for more shows like Ronnie Scott's or the Café Royal?
Well, there's a few more gigs to do. Well, everything's a bit unfocused at the moment. Is it "Graham Gouldman" or is it "10cc?" What is it? We are just trying to decide how we can sort of go ahead.

There are a lot of questions about that on the Internet as well. They are wondering why Eric is not there.
Yes, and that is my big problem. That's why we won't call it "10cc." Because it isn't. If a fan comes to see us and it's advertised as "10cc," well, it isn't, because Eric is not there. That's fair enough. But the funny thing is, that throughout the shows we've been doing, sort of "Graham Gouldman & Rick Fenn of 10cc," no one, not one person, on all the stuff that we do, has said: "It's not right that you're singing 'I'm Mandy Fly Me'! You didn't sing it on the record." I think people are interested in hearing the songs rather than necessarily hearing the singer do the song. So it's a bit confusing in a way. And I'm confused about it at the moment. I'm not sure what we should do. We were just talking about it, just now.

What does the future hold for Mr Graham Gouldman?
Well, I suppose, I do these sort of gigs because I love playing and I love working with these guys that are absolutely brilliant and that's one of the things that I was meant to do: play and sing. I don't necessarily want to be a front man or anything like that, I just love playing and singing. But I've been working with Gary Barlow. His next single is one that we wrote together, the first single from his new album. And I've been working with various different writers, working on my solo album and that's really what I'm doing. And hopefully doing more gigs but as the gigs are concerned it's how are we going to do it ... it's a bit of a problem really.

How did you enjoy doing the Masterclass?
That was very nice. I enjoyed that. Yes, it was good. On the programme it appears as if I'm hearing the songs for the first time, but they'd actually sent me a tape so I could familiarise myself with the songs. And there was really one song that stood out better than the others. I liked doing it because I feel you should share your experience with new people and try to help them in some way.
(See also "Further reading" below - ed.)

There was a question from somebody on the Internet. John Bruinsma recently wrote a piece on How Dare You. He thinks it's the ultimate 10cc album and he asks: "What's Graham's opinion on How Dare You," 23 years after the making of it?"
To me, 10cc's best moments were on "Sheet Music" which was the 2nd album, although "The Original Soundtrack" contained "I'm Not In Love." But for me, personally, "Sheet Music" was the best album. We were kind of bursting with ideas. Everything we did was right. You know, sometimes you go through life and everything you do is wrong or everything you do goes right. It's like the hand of God.

Was that a time that Paul McCartney was there at Strawberry Studios?
Yes, he was in the studio working on his brother's, Mike McGear's, album. So all their gear was in the studio, all our gear was in the studio, the studio was cramped with stuff! I suppose that the fact that Paul was there, was kind of an inspiration as well, a creative atmosphere. It was great. But the "How Dare You" album was a fine album as well. Of course, it was kind of the beginning of the end, as far as Kevin and Lol were concerned. So I am sort of sad about that album in a way but it had some fantastic stuff on it.

Ronald: as a bass player myself, do you have any favourite bass players?
Oh yes, many. I suppose Paul McCartney was one of my greatest influences or the Motown bass players. I suppose the bass players suddenly weren't just kind of backing musicians, they were almost lead players. Contributing so much more to records than just like a drummer, keeping a beat. To me the bass player and the drummer are the unsung heroes. Whatever happens, the foundation has got to be there and everybody else can go flying off, wherever they like. But the bass player and the drummer have got to keep everything absolutely straight. And that's a very responsible job. But it's not the job that everybody recognises, saying that it's great. In the end it's the most important thing. It's like being a good parent. Quietly being in the background supporting your kids in a way. So the kids can fly off and do all sorts of stuff. You have got to be there as a steady influence and nobody notices you. But that, in a way, is the most important thing.

I don't understand why you left your Rickenbacker. Why is it not on stage now?
I have still got it. But this guitar, I am using it jazz based and I've had it since the mid 70s. It suits more of the stuff we're doing. You will see in the 2nd part lots of other stuff as well. So it's kind of a very general guitar.

Last time you used it, it was on "Ready To Go Home?"
Yes, I just like it. I like the way it looks, it's a very reliable guitar. It's an old one. And the Rickenbacker is very good, I've used it on records a lot. In fact, I've kind of rediscovered it. And yes, I've used it on "Ready To Go Home" on the record. But I've got like four or five regular basses that I use.

Which one is the latest one that we saw you use in Holland, at the Music Beach Concert (1993 ed.)?
It was a Goodfellow. That's a very good guitar. We've had a bit of a problem with the guitar this night. Well, actually not the guitar, it's the amp. But I don't like the idea of (...) I've seen bands where guys are changing basses for every number and really, bass you know, it's too subtle the difference between one bass and the other. Unless you're playing a six-string or a five-string bass with a low E. But I don't do any of that stuff.
One of my favourites is Marcus Miller. I'm sure you know him. Yes, he's wonderful.

A question that's been on my mind for a long time. Every time I listen to a 10cc album, the last two albums: "Mirror Mirror" and "Meanwhile," there were tracks chosen as single and I always wonder who is taking that decision. With respect, every time I think it's not the right one. Last time with Avex, for me, "Take This Woman" should have been a single. Why didn't they do that?
I told them to do it. I told them to make that the single but they wouldn't do it. They're very influenced by what radio says. Unfortunately, we can't control it. I know it's ridiculous.

It's commercialised, we're sure it would have been a hit.
Yes, I know, it was really good. It was brilliant, I thought! I agree it's a missed opportunity. It's the record company that makes the final decision. They're the ones that are going to sell it and they say: "We've been to radio with this and so we know we're going to get plays on it and so there's more chance of it being a hit." So that's basically it. Mind-boggling, isn't it?

There's a rumour going round that you and Kevin had a song recorded. Have you?
Well, I mentioned this song I wrote with Claudio Guidetti. When we first wrote it, we tried to write lyrics to it and we couldn't. And I said I was going to ask Kevin to write lyrics to it which he did. And they were too obscure. They were too strange. All I say is, if we were doing a 10cc album, that lyric would have been used. It was too inaccessible and I eventually got a guy called Frank Musker who is quite a well-known lyricist to do the lyrics which were also very good. But it was great working with Kev again and he's always out for stuff. He's not affected about anything. He's great.

What do you think about the new 10cc fanzine?
It's great, I think it's brilliant. Yes, I like it very much, it's more in-depth, it's more real 10cc stuff you know. It's not sort of funny, it's more informative.

Well, you've given the right answer! Here you go!
(At this point we presented a "10cc Matters" T-shirt to Graham as you can see on the photos.) Oh, hooray! Thank you!

Thank you very much for this interview!
You're welcome!



The Graham Gouldman Masterclass review
Laura Rickenbacker's Masterclass account
Review Ronnie Scott's 1999


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