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GRAHAM GOULDMAN: 10CC AUSTRALIAN TOUR INTERVIEW


Well before seventies’ art rockers 10cc were churning out hits, band member Graham Gouldman was already a bonefide chart-topping songwriter, having penned some of the biggest selling songs of the sixties. Gouldman had written For Your Love, Heart Full of Stone and Evil Hearted You for The Yardbirds (which kick started the careers of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Paige). He’d composed Bus Stop for The Hollies, No Milk Today for Herman’s Hermits and Pamela, Pamela for Wayne Fontana. The band’s Eric Stewart was also an influential writer and engineer prior to joining 10cc. Add the amazing creativity and quirkiness of Godley and Creme and no wonder 10cc were such a wonderfully eclectic music making force. 10cc sold more than 30 million worldwide and dominated the airwaves in the 70’s with monster hit after hit.  From their breakthrough debut single Donna in ’72 to their final No 1 Dreadlock Holiday in ’78 and other solid gold classics such as I’m Not In Love (a worldwide smash in ’75), Rubber Bullets, The Wall Street Shuffle, I’m Mandy Fly Me, Life Is A Minestrone, The Things We Do For Love, The Dean And I, Art For Art’s Sake, and many more.

The original four members of 10cc haven’t played together since the late seventies and are on various levels of speaking terms with each other. Gouldman however has kept the flame alive by touring his version of 10cc. The current live band has been together for more than 10 years and features Gouldman on vocals, bass and guitar; Rick Fenn (lead guitar, vocals); Mick Wilson (vocals, guitar, percussion); Paul Burgess (drums, percussion) and Keith Hayman (keyboards, guitar, vocals).  Rick and Paul have both toured with 10cc since the mid 70’s line-up. 10cc will be heading to Australia in April/May for a series of concerts in which they’ll be playing many of the band’s hits.

Ahead of the tour, Australian Musician’s Greg Phillips spoke to Graham Gouldman about the band’s history and the upcoming trip downunder.

Graham, before you joined 10cc, you wrote hits for The Yardbirds, The Hollies, and Herman’s Hermits among many others but when did you first realise that you could make a buck out of writing songs?
I really got interested in music seriously when I was 11 years old when i was given a guitar by a cousin of mine who had been on holiday in Spain. It was a really cheap guitar but I fell in love with it. Also I was born in an era where the music of the time had a massive influence on me. I didn’t know that I could make a buck out of it, that had absolutely nothing to do with anything. I just fell in love with the idea of music and making music and that’s all I wanted to do. Consequently my education probably suffered as a result because I wasn’t interested in anything else

Who did you look up to as songwriter in those days?
It probably started with Lennon and McCartney, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Jimmy Webb, Billy Joel, Paul Simon were very big influences on me and still are.

You’ve written so many hits … if you were to narrow a magic formula down to a few things, what are the most important elements of a good song, and potentially a hit song?
That is a very difficult question to answer because you just write what you feel is good and hopefully people think it is good as well. The answer to the question is I don’t know. Certain songs have a certain magic, something about them that is so attractive that you can’t resist them and you’ve got to hear them again. You just do what you do and hope other people like it. Songwriting is something that can’t be taught, it’s a gift. It’s not clever, it’s a gift. It’s instinctive really, to know when to stop, to know when to move to another part of a melody. I get sent a lot of stuff to listen to and there are basic things that people don’t even think about such as how many verses you should do before you change so that people don’t get bored. You know, I’ve heard those verses … some people might do three or four. It’s like, I know you listen to great music, haven’t you learned anything? It’s an instinctive thing, you’ve got to know what to do.

When I think of 10cc I think of how diverse the band was in regard to sounds and songs. Each release would be more surprising than the last. Was that just a sum of the parts of the band or something you consciously tried to do?
It wasn’t conscious, nothing was that conscious with the band. The reason for being such different styles of songs was that there were four of us in the band that were writers, four singers, four producers, four musicians and everybody brought something to the table. We all had our influences and we had common influences and I think that is what us so interesting. The other thing was that we did everything for ourselves, we weren’t that interested in anything else. It had to satisfy ourselves and it was almost like we tried to impress each other, not thinking about anything else … not the record company, not the public … just each other.

10cc original lineup

I’m Not In Love was quite innovative for it’s time in regard to the multi layered vocals. Was that the result of a lot of planning or a spur of the moment idea?
It was a spur of the moment idea. Necessity is the mother of invention. We needed a choir and we worked out a way of doing that without getting one in and using the technology of the time, which looking back now was quite crude. But because of that, we had to think and be creative and I think we did very well.

Were you students of how records were created in the past? Did you study George Martin and Brian Wilson for example?
Yes but only by listening. None of us had a formal technical education. We were very lucky in the fact that Eric Stewart was also an engineer. We would be in the studio with the four of us and nobody else at all and that added a special atmosphere to what we were doing. There was no 5th party, no other opinion, just the four of us, which I am sure had something to do with the results.

What do you think 10cc would have been like with today’s studio technology?
I would love to know. I think we would have used the technology very well but I think at the heart of 10cc was the songwriting. I’d love to know what we would have come up with today.

In 1975 there was an epic song off the ‘Original Soundtrack’ album called One Night in Paris. Later in that year, Queen released Bohemian Rhapsody. I always saw similarities with the two songs and in fact the two bands had similarities. Do you think your song influenced Bohemian Rhapsody at all?
I have no doubt that One Night In Paris was some sort of inspiration for Queen. There were similarities in the bands in that 10cc’s songwriting and Queens … our values were very similar, songwriting and in production values as well. The main difference was that we didn’t have a front man per se. We had three number one records with three different singers. Queen would always have Freddie and he was a brilliant frontman. They were more show business than us, we were nothing to do with show business. I’m not saying they weren’t about the music too, they made some great records, one of my favourite records of all time is one of theirs. I have a lot of respect for them.

Is there a 10cc song which is closer to your heart than others?
I love The Dean and I, which was a song written by Kev and Lol. I think if there was one record I’d play to people to say this is what 10cc is about, it would be that.

What bass were you using back in the day and what do you play now?
The first bass that I used on a lot of the early records was a Fender Mustang, which is a short scale bass and it was a very cheap bass as well but I loved it. It was a very unstable bass and I changed the strings on it. When I did that it never felt the same. Then I went on to using a Rickenbacker bass, which I still have and use on stage. It’s a brilliant guitar for recording too. I use a combination of a Fender Jazz bass and the Rickenbacker. I didn’t use any effects and most of the time we didn’t use an amp, we’d just put it through the desk. I’d put the bass on quite late in the recording too because when you are putting things on layer after layer, if the bass is in there, it kind of changes sound. I wanted it to be quite clear, so I put it on quite late in the day so it sat in frequency wise, in the right place.

You’re also a guitarist. How did you end up playing bass in 10cc? Was bass your main instrument at the time?
No I am a guitarist. I think of myself as a guitarist but I started playing bass when I was doing early demos of my songs. Rather than get a bass player in … I mean it’s easy for a guitar player to play bass, it’s no big deal. I love doing it and that’s why I’d always play bass on stage with 10cc but on the records I played a lot of guitar. I always played acoustic rhythm, electric rhythm or the picky bits. I did a little bit of lead too.

You’re coming to Australia and no doubt playing all the hits. Do you mix the set up from gig to gig to keep it fresh for yourselves?
No it is always the same. It’s just the way we like to do it. We have different mixes on our monitoring for different tracks, so it is not the kind of band where you can go, ok let’s do this one.

10CC Barclaycard British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park,London on 13th July 2014.

You’re now playing in an era where it’s easier to reproduce a lot of the old sounds. How did you go back in the day playing a song like I’m Not In Love?
We used what technology we had available back then. We obviously want to reproduce the voices but we don’t as a rule, like playing to a track. I know a lot of bands do but pretty much everything we do is live. I’m Not In Love is a different matter and we do use technology on that but to not do that, the audience wouldn’t get the same experience. It’s important to us that they hear it as near as possible to the record. With the other stuff, there is always a compromise to be made. If you have something that had four acoustic guitars on it, and there’s only one player then that’s what you have to work with.

What’s your relationship now with the original 10cc members?
The only one I have a relationship with is Kevin Godley. Kevin and I have kept in touch with each other over the years. We’ve worked together. We did a project together in 2006. We recorded some tracks which are available on our website. The project was called GG06. Kevin phoned me and said, I want to write some songs but I don’t play an instrument. Kevin has also appeared with this line up of 10cc three or four times.

What do you remember about your first Australian tour with 10cc?
We loved it. One of the things that sticks in my mind was that we arrived in Sydney and I had to do an interview at a radio station and the guy at the station was from the same part of Manchester that I was from. We’d come all this way and I’m talking to someone from the same place. I fell in love with Australia, as we all did. It was always to me a great feeling, the best of the UK and the best of America all mixed into one.

10cc – AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
Thursday 26th April 2018
Events Centre, Coloundra
Tickets available from:
www.theeventscentre.com.au or 07 5491 4240

Friday 27th April 2018
Empire Theatre, Toowoomba
Tickets available from:
www.empiretheatre.com.au or 1300 655 299

Saturday 28th April 2018
Twin Towns, Gold Coast
Tickets available from:
www.twintowns.com.au or 1800 014 014

Monday 30th April 2018
John Leslie Theatre, Sale
Tickets available from:
http://www.ebbwec.com.au/item/10cc or 03 5143 3200

Wednesday 2nd May 2018
Wrest Point Entertainment Centre, Hobart
Tickets available from:
www.ticketmaster.com.au or 136 100

Thursday 3rd May 2018
Win Entertainment Centre, Wollongong
Tickets available from:
www.ticketmaster.com.au or 136 100

Friday 4th May 2018
Evan Theatre, Penrith
Tickets available from:
www.ticketek.com.au or 132 849

Saturday 5th May 2018
Whitlam Theatres, Revesby
Tickets available from:
http://rwc.org.au/whats-on-event/10cc/ or 02 9772 2100

Sunday 6th May 2018
The Juniors, Kingsford
Tickets available from:
www.thejuniors.com.au or 02 9349 7555

Wednesday 9th May 2018
Astor Theatre, Perth
Tickets available from:
www.ticketek.com.au or 132 849

Friday 11th May 2018
The Palms at Crown, Melbourne
Tickets available from:
www.ticketmaster.com.au or 136 100

Saturday 12th May 2018
Southern Cross Club, Canberra
Tickets available from:
www.ticketek.com.au or 132 849

 

 

 

 

 

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