Alan Hull Interview
Rock íní Reel Issue 4 Summer í89
[pictures taken from the Pipedream sheet music; RG]

Lindisfarne have become something of a legend in their natice North-East, their annual Christmas shows selling out almost as soon as the tickets go on sale. After twenty years together are the band still as vital as ever?

Well if Alan Hulls latest project, the wonderful 'Another Little Adventure' is anything to go by then they're just as if not more vital, and better than ever. Alan took some timeout from recording the bands latest album to answer these questions I'd set the, so you tell me if he got any wrong


Do you feel that your contribution to British Folk Rock has never been fully acknowledged, and do you think this may have something to do with the fact that you are a northern band ?

Lindisfarne is and always was slightly awkward for the Rock Media to place. Our records are generally stacked under Folk which I feel is not strictly correct as the band have a much broader base. We do and have drawn inspiration from Folk music but we also contain a lot of Blues Rock and Pop influences. The fact that we use acoustic guitars, mandolin and harmonica etc. may have something to do with this but really I see Lindisfarne as a song-orientated band that does its best to entertain in a very broad way. The fact that we're a northern based band, I feel is irrelevant as we have a good following all over the world. It's good to be associated with Tyneside, though, and we make no apologies for it.

After all these years together, how long is it exactly, and having played all over the world, dou ystill enjoy playing in your native north-east as much as ever ?

We've been together now for 20 years, made dozens of albums and as you say travelled the world several times. This Christmas we embark on our 20th anniversary tour with a brand new album of new songs to promote. We are all looking forward to it immensely as there is nothing better than playing in a band. After all, that's why we started in the first place! The Newcastle City Hall still is the place to play - and it's not just us that think that.

Do your records still sell well these days in relation to the sales in the seventies and could you see yourselves charting again or do you feel that the radio stations would look on you as seventies come-back band and keep you off the playlists?

We are in the happy position whereby we can make a decent living from doing what we do best i.e. playing, without having to rely on "Hit" records. All our past L.P.'s sell moderately well and we sell out big halls. I think this is because over the years we have built up a tremendous reputation for our live work. Radio stations do sometimes tend to put us as a Seventies phenomenon but occasionally they will play our newer stuff. We're hoping that they will take a bigger interest in our new album as it is very "up" and somewhat in the mould of the Wilbury Bros. If they do give it a fair hearing then I certainly can see us charting again by virtue of our large faithful following.

The Run for Home tune is being used in an ad for the Gateshead Metro Centre, did you give permission for the track to be used, and do you feel there's a contradiction in terms with Lindisfarne being known for their north-east working class roots and the Metro Centre being a sort of symbol of consumer capitalism?

I was never consulted about Run for Home being used by the Metro Centre. The first I knew about it was when I heard it on the telly. I phoned my pubslishers, WB/Chappell who informed me that they had given permission which was quite in order. I don't have any ideological qualms about it being used to promote consumerism - if we must have adverts, then at least lets have decent music accompanying them!

Do all the band undertake solo projects from time to time like Alan's 'Another Little Adevnture' album on Black Crow Records and the solo tour he undertook?

Apart from myself, Rod Clements does solo tours and records with Bert Jansch - they have an album currently available on Black Crow. Ray Laidlaw and Marty Craggs have a sometime rock band called Pacamax or sometimes Dust On The Needle, featuring local musos like Jed Grimes (ex-Hedgehog Pie) and Billy Mitchell (ex-Jack The Lad) now with Maxi and Mitch.

Did you grow up with north-east traditional music and when were you developing your folk rock style in the early 70's did you feel part of the same movement/feeling as what Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention were doing then?

When we formed in 1969, there was a very healthy music scene on Tyneside. The Club A'Gogo was the centre for Blues and Rock. The Bridge Folk Club was the place for Folk and the area had many other smaller places where bands could cut their teeth. I drifted into the folk clubs as they were prepared to listen to new singer/songwriters. That's basically how I bumped into Brethren who had had the same idea as Rod and Si were writing original songs. We eventually teamed up and became Lindisfarne, taking with us Blues from the A'Gogo and attitudes we had picked up in Folk Clubs. We were certainly aware at the time of the Fairports and the rest but I don't think we consciously felt part of a "movement" as such. We were too busy gigging!

Do you feel an affinity with what the new generation of acts who fuse Rock and Folk like the Pogues are doing, and in your own area the Whisky Priests, and do you appreciate the music they produce?

I think the whole band like what the new lot are up to. I especially like the Waterboys and in a sense it's little recognition that ourselves, Fairports, Steeleye and others paved the way for what I like to think of as real music. Good songs without frills and well played and sung.

What can people expect with the new Lindisfarne album, and has the new interest in Folk/Roots music inspired you to reach out for new influences musically?

What people can expect from the new Lindisfarne album is a set of smashing songs well produced by Steve Daggett. The new feeling in the business for Folk/Roots music, has, I think, given up an added incentive to succeed with this record. We've carefully selected the material and are reaching out to explore new capabilities within the band. A major one of these has been the emergence of Rod as a mean slide guitarist. We've kept the vocals traditionally Lindisfarne as this is a very recognisable facet of the band. All we need now is a title!

Do you still find people who connect with Fog on the Tyne and do you feel disappointed that some people would judge you on tracks recorded about eighteen year ago, do you still perform the hits from the seventies live and do you feel happy doing them?

We are still very happy to perform the "hits" like Fog on the Tyne from the early seventies because we still get a genuine "buzz" from seeing the audience reaction. We've never stood still though and never simply relied on the biggies to carry us through. Their has always been a constant input of new material and we have even radically re-structured the way we do the older ones. There is a tendency amongst some people who aren't that well acquainted with the band to think that Lindisfarne is rooted in the early seventies and got no farther than "Meet me on the Corner" and "Lady Eleanor". But this, as many people know, is miles from the truth - ask anyone who's been to a show! We aim to carry on more vigorously than ever as I feel we're getting better all the time, watch out for the new album and all the best with the magazine.