Interview with Rod, Billy & Dave
Worthen, June 15th, 2002
by Lynne Harvey  - English Playwright, Dramatist

Strolling Players

There are people who tour, be it in a play, band or comedy, pretending to be eggs dressed in black (physical theatre darling), who turn up at a venue and with noses held high, perform their piece to the masses gathered. The known and the unknown being equally guilty. Then there are those who are the very best at what they do, who put talent and skill before hype and shallow smarm. The performers who enjoy what they do and want to see others enjoy it equally. When they perform, the audience and the performers become one. Lindisfarne falls into this category.

Just what you expect when you go to see a band that had most of their hits in the seventies I don't know. Maybe to hear the songs that were always on the radio when you were growing up, the songs that had a magical, mystical feel to them and spoke of things you didn't understand but wanted to explore further. But there is a risk, that these many years down the line, the voices won't quite come up to how you remember, they might not play the old songs, it might be a few old geezers still touring after all these years, banging out the old hits and looking so very different from the long haired, hip, mustachioed, guys that crooned on Top of the Pops. The reality is this. Lindisfarne are a band of highly skilled musicians/singers, with more talent, ability and personality than you could shake a mandolin at. The result of many years honing their skills, touring, and working both together and separately. Lindisfarne now, are a touring band par excellence and are so much more than their past hits.

Music is ultimately difficult to describe, one person's Oasis is another's Divine Comedy. The Lindisfarne 'sound' is nearly always described as folk rock, but in reality it defies any musical tag. It is unique and rich in all the many musical strands it pulls together, whilst remaining pure.
As a band their principles are intact, but their songs don't preach, they leave little thoughts in your head to be worked on later, very much like a well written play, and just like the work of Samuel Beckett, speaks to the dispossessed and disenfranchised - and those that just want to hear good music played expertly. Songs that are feel good, unifying, and make your heart sing. I defy anyone to see Lindisfarne live and not come away feeling refreshed and ready for the world again.
Their new CD - Promenade will shock anyone who remembers their songs that are always played on the radio, as Lindisfarne have moved on, broadening their musical influences whilst keeping a style very much their own. They tour like maniacs, it's what they do, so wherever you are they'll be a comin'. Check their website [ ] for dates of when they hit your town.

Lindisfarne emerged in the seventies, with hits such as Meet me on the Corner, Lady Eleanor, Fog on the Tyne, Run for Home, Winter Song, Juke box Gypsy, Elvis Lives on the Moon, among many, many more, although some of the band members have a history of playing in various bands since the sixties. They're all from the same locale, the north east of England, and this is reflected in the sound and lyrics of a lot of their work, albeit with other musical influences mixed in.

These lads aren't 'professional geordies', talking a lot about the home land and the good people of Newcastle whilst living in sunny Berkshire. They still live up north, and while others make trite comments about not forgetting their roots and staying true to themselves, that is the blood and guts of the guys who make up Lindisfarne. Lead singer, writer and co founder Alan Hull died on November 17th 1995, his ashes scattered on the River Tyne. We'll only know the man through the legacy of the songs he left us, but what a legacy. Richer than the the fog on the Tyne. For a much more in depth look at Lindisfarne check their website.

On the latest tour some gigs are acoustic, which in my dictionary means 'not electric' but they were certainly plugged in, in every sense of the word, when they came to a village near Shrewsbury.

When I arrived at Worthen they were still doing their sound check, so I waited in the empty hall hearing the voices and instruments, hardly believing this sound came from just three blokes. What I didn't expect when I met Lindisfarne, was to meet people who are totally unaffected by the business they are in, which is presumbably why and how they can write about things that matter, crystalising some of the thoughts we all have from time to time.

(WARNING - the rest of this article may contain even more fawning, flattery, sycophancy and blandishments that may affect your health, read on at your own risk)

The acoustic line up is: 
Billy Mitchell - lead singer, guitarist, harmonica player, writer and front man, a very funny man. A singer and musician who delivers. Billy the Wit. How such a strong, powerful voice comes from a little fella I don't know. A time served professional, and as with all professionals, makes an audience feel they're in safe hands, the ball isn't going to drop, they're going to have a good night. Priceless

Rod Clements - Give that man a stringed instrument and watch him fly - probably the best guitarist we have in this country. This man gave us Meet Me on the Corner. (amongst many others) A man of humility, grace and wit - and erudite to boot. A national treasure.

Dave Denholm - This man can sing a tune straight to your heart. This man can sing, this man can sing. THIS MAN CAN SING. He also plays guitar and harmonica like ringin'a bell - and keeps a picture of himself in the attic as he's surely far too young to remember Play For Today (he did). He's also a dead ringer for Michael Stipes of REM. Again, a man of humility and sheer, utter, talent.

These are the true gentlemen of the road.

After the sound check it was time for food, I travelled on their bus with them to a local hostelry. Very soon I realised that as well as being top of the tree musicians, they were also quite special people. Over a bog standard pub meal, this is how the interview went.

LH  I can't imagine Lindisfarne making any outrageous demands on tour, but are there any things you've learned to take on tour with you to make life comfortable on the road?

Billy  A pillow. A pillow and a blow up doll

Rod  Or a doll and a blow up pillow, yeah a pillow.

LH  Why a pillow, because you sleep in the van sometimes?

Billy  I sleep in the van all the time

Rod  Billys' very good at sleeping in the van, some of us can and some of us can't, I can't so I tend to read. I try to bring away from home as little as possible, I don't really have any 'comfort' things, but I try to get comfort from the same things every day that you pick up on the road like The Guardian crossword

LH Or Private Eye maybe?

Rod There is a Private Eye reader in the van, so I usually borrow his, yes

LH  What about you Dave?

Dave A CD walkman

LH  What do you listen to on it?

Dave   Oh loads of stuff, difficult to pick out

LH  Okay. Who or what initiates a tour?- Apart from money

Rod  Well, it sort of is in a way. Who or what initiates it erm, I suppose we do in a way, because it's us that supplies the demand from the audience, and if we feel that we can go out on the road once a year, and that fulfils the demand or enough of the demand for us to do it profitably, then we design a years schedule with a tour in it, or we might do two tours a year. We did a long tour in the spring and we're doing a short tour in November, and it's just kind of us trying to gauge the supply and demand.

LH  How do you gauge supply and demand?

Rod  Erm, previous tours and turnout basically, just how things are going generally, I mean we knew at the beginning of this year, we had a new album out, i.e Promenade, and that would generate a lot of interest, partially amongst people who have seen the band already and know the band, they think 'oh great, new album, must go and see the new songs', also because having an album out in itself generates media interest, that makes gigs more willing to take a gamble if they're not too sure about how it's going to go, they think 'oh new album, press release etc, it'll generate more interest'. It makes people more likely to go when they read about it in the press - it's not a precise science

LH  It doesn't sound it actually

Rod It's more of a feel thing than anything, and in terms of what the band does, it's really Ray (Laidlow) that organises the bands schedule and looks after the band, admin. and kind of.. er takes the lead on the long term planning, which we then all discuss and bat the ideas around 

LH  It's quite democratic isn't it, the way you all arrange things

Rod   Very democratic yeah, but somebody has to take the lead on these things..

LH   Yeah pull it all together

Rod  (to Billy) Was that fair?

Billy  That's fair that was marvellous actually, you took the words right out of my mouth 

Rod  Oh good!

LH  And you let him do it

Billy  Oh aye!

LH You've played in so many venues, in so many places across the country, do you ever turn up somewhere and not realise you've been there before?

Billy Oh aye!

Rod  Yeah

Dave Yeah, yeah, but it starts to fall into place when you first arrive, maybe you can't remember, but it does start to come back, you maybe remember something, it falls into place, you eventually do realise something.

Billy  Sometimes it depends on which door you go in, you know, whether you go in the front door or the stage door, or which angle you arrive in the town at, which way you come into town, you might think you've never been here before, then you look behind you and think 'Oh I came that way into town last time' and it all starts to make sense - like me in Tewkesbury on this tour, I mean we've done that theatre in Tewkesbury I don't know how many times and I got there and I thought we've never been here before, never been here before, because I walked to it, and it had been raining.

Dave  Yeah, we got there and you never realised you'd played there

Billy  And that was how I didn't recognise it, because it was sunny and it was daylight.

LH  Would you say you've got fans in every place you go to just about, you see the familier faces in the crowd?

Billy  Yes

Rod  Well we get a lot of familier faces that follow us around, there's no area of the country they won't get to - even Shropshire

LH  You're obviously accesible to your fans, it seems that way to me, has it always been this way?

Rod  Not entirely, I think it has been for a good few years, but I think there was a time, probably in the early seventies, we were less accessible, when things were big, you know, when we were in the charts and stuff like that, simply because the business insulates you, you live in more of a hermetically sealed environment, coach, hotel, airport kind of thing, you know, and there are less opportunities

LH  But during that time did you feel you wanted to get closer to your fans?

Rod  Yes. It was funny, because we've always been a kind of anti establishment thing and we almost felt that by being big at that time that we were becoming establishment, and, we didn't like that, and then a similar thing happened in the late seventies when the band reformed and we had this er the management at the time were very much of the opinion that we hadn't received our just deserts first time round, so we should receive it now, right, so it made it even moreyou know like, big coaches, planes, big hotels 'interviews later', all that kind of thing.

LH  I can imagine yeah, and you were young, it's easy to get carried away with all that I suppose.

Rod  Yeah.

LH  In the great British family of bands, where do you perceive Lindisfarne to be?

Rod  In the great dysfunctional family of British bands erm

LH  I can tell you where I think you are

Billy  Erm

Dave  Erm

Rod  Erm  in the kitchen

Billy  Yeah in the kitchen at parties

LH  Well I see you as trendy friendly uncle

Rod  Oh I see! I see where we're at, okay yeah, trendy friendly uncle I like that

LH  Like if Robbie Williams was the upstart nephew, you're the trendy friendly uncle

Dave  I like that, shall we go with that?

Billy  Well maybe now, but in the early days we were probably the unruly cousin who didn't wear short pants, had his hair all messed up, you know, my perfect cousin - who weren't?

Rod who grows up into the

Rod and Dave Trendy Friendly Uncle

Billy  I think I'm quite happy to go along with that

LH If Tom Jones fans' throw knickers at him on stage, what would Lindisfarne fans throw?

Billy  Hmn

Rod  Hmn

Dave  Hmn

LH Have you ever had things thrown at you? Bad or good?

Rod  Not in a regular themed way like jelly babies or.

Billy or knickers

Dave  or knickers

LH  Would you like knickers thrown at you?

Rod  Not really no

Billy  No

Dave  Depends who

LH  Do you get groupies,  or did you used to get groupies?

Rod  Yes, but groupies is a bit of a catch all term, I mean there were some in the seventies who would attach themselves to anything, like going back to what we were talking about earlier about stalkers, we have people who follow us around but they're not stalkers - at least I hope not! No just

LH  loyal fans

Rod   yeah loyal fans, not stalkers or groupies.

LH  How would you describe yourselves in a lonely hearts ad?

Rod  A lonely hearts ad, hmn. G.S.O.H.

Billy  What does that mean?

LH  Good sense of humour

Rod  W.L.T.M

LH  What does that mean?

Rod  Would like to meet!

Billy   With large trouser mate (censored!) er large audience with lots of resources

lots of laughter and difficult to make out the comments through it

Rod  Five trendy friendly uncles GSOH, WLTM with large trouser mate

LH  Rod how come you know all these abbreviations?

Rod  I've just got a memory for abbreviations that's all and when you're doing the Guardian Crossword they crop up

LH  In Private Eye, sometimes the personal ads at the back are the best bit

Rod  Oh right yeah

Billy  Why do you think abbreviations is such a long word?

Rod  Mmn,

Dave  Hmn, dunno - acrostic, that's a what's the difference between an acrostic and an acronym?

Rod  Acrostic is when the first and last leters of a sentence spell a word is that right?

LH I don't know

Dave  What's an acronym then? Is it a word based on the initial letters of other words like radar? So what's the difference?

Rod I think an acrostic is where you have like a poem and the first letter of each line spells a word, I think, I think..

Dave  So swot would be

Rod  No that's an acronym, that's an acronym

Billy  Isn't this what we were talking about coming back in the van the other night?

Rod  No it was much worse than that!  We were talking about we were trying to work out a word when we were playing scrabble in

LH  Oh I love scrabble, have you played it on the computer?

Rod  No, I prefer it with people

LH  On the computer it can be addictive. When you're coming home after a tour, is there a landmark or a stretch of road that makes you feel you're nearly home?

Billy  Tyne Tunnel

Dave  Yeah that's a good one - or the Angel, The Angel of the North

Rod  Yeah, the Angel, all depends, you can go home two ways, if we go via the city you can see The Angel first, if we go via the coast you see the Tyne Tunnel first, or it could be the Tyne bridge, but generally I've found, wherever I am in the world I've found that going north is a good feeling

LH  Oh god yeah

Rod  It's a much better feeling than going south

LH I agree, I don't know what it is, it's like coming home isn't it? It's like coming home

Rod  Yes, yes, I've noticed it in Germany and I've noticed it in the states, you're getting away from heat and smelly crowds and getting a cleaner atmosphere, thinner air

Billy  Isn't that why all the toffs always live in the north of town?

LH  Used to didn't they, yeah

Rod  Maybe yeah

Billy  To get away from all the smells and the noise

LH  I was just about to say actually, what do you think of The Angel of the North?

Billy  Oh it's wonderful

Rod I think it's wonderful, I wasn't sure about it at first, I'm very into the idea of it being there and the whole concept of having things like that and public art and all that, I mean all art should be public anyway, it shouldn't need to be said, but I wasn't convinced about the actual

LH  Structure itself

Rod  Structure, yes, the structure, I like it now though

LH  I wasn't at first, when you go past it, it's majestic isn't it?

Dave Yeah

Rod Yeah

Dave  It's a wondeful colour

Billy The metal used, it has like a lustre now or is it rust? No it's wonderful, lot of thought went into the material used

Rod  Yeah

Billy  Wonderful

LH  It's changed hasn't it?

Billy  Rust.

LH  What do you miss most on tour, your own bed your own bathroom or your own kitchen?

Billy  Kitche

Rod  I'd have to think

LH  Do you cook?

Rod  I would say bed, I do cook and I enjoy cooking, but I would say bed, even though when we're on the road and we have to find food

LH It's very hit and miss isn't it

Rod  Very hit and miss, but still; bed

Dave  All three!  But yeah, bed I think

LH  Okay, I hope you don't mind me asking this one

Rod  Uh huh!!

Billy  Dangerous

LH  No there's no personal questions, I don't believe in asking personal questions. When you're performing something like say Lady Eleanor or Meet me on the Corner, what images go through your mind? Do you mind me asking that?

Rod  No

Billy  No

LH  And are they the sort of images that have always gone through your mind?

Billy  Well I sing both of them now, in this line up of the band, and everytime I sing Meet me on the Corner I picture a place called Birtley Avenue

Rod  Where I wrote it

Billy  Where you wrote it, the lamp on the corner.

Rod  That's really funny that, cos that's, that's the lamp that I had in my mind, did you know that before, did I tell you?

Billy You told me

Rod  Oh well there you go

Billy  But that's in my head, every time I sing it, when I sing Lady Eleanor, I think I have a picture of Alan Hull, I don't know in which shape or form, but I don't have a Lady Eleanor picture, but I think of Alan when I'm singing Lady Eleanor

LH  I was just wondering if you have the same sort of images when you sing these songs time after time, does it vary?

Billy  Yeah sometimes you're looking at the bar

Rod  Yeah football, whatever

LH  Actors are the same delivering the same lines night after night, all sorts of things go through their minds on stage

Dave  Sometimes we're just remembering the words!

Billy  Or not, like the other night

Rod  Oh yeah we've all been there, sometimes you're better off doing that, if your mind is disengaged, sometimes you are better off, just switching off and letting your body take over, let your reflexes and your responses take over and do it, which I suppose actors must do a lot

LH  Oh all the time. You play those songs so much, you must do them sometimes by rote

Rod  I find that I can renew my interest in them every ten years or so by changing the instrument that I play them on.

LH  Yeah, I was going to ask if you almost rediscover the songs again, start loving them again and think; 'fuck, thse are bloody good songs'

Rod  Well they are, I mean, they wouldn't have lasted this long anyway if they weren't

LH  Meet me on the Corner is one of my all time favourites, I think it's one of the best songs ever written, it's in my all time top ten

Rod  Good, good, thank you. I think great songs have something in them that keeps them alive

LH  For the audience, or for you guys playing them?

Rod  Yeah, I'd be lying if I didn't say it's a bit of a chore sometimes, some of the songs, sometimes you can put a song aside for a while, and then rediscover a new meaning in it, or, the worlds' changing, things go on and the song becomes relevant again somehow

LH  Just like with some plays

Rod  Yeah, Which is great, yeah, you can't manipulate that, but it's great when it happens.

LH  When the audience hears the familier chords of the old songs coming up, and you hear the buzz from the audience, does that give you more of a lift than playing the songs themselves, or is about equal?

Dave  It kind of both, because when that happens it's not about the band and that audience, when that happens it becomes all one thing.

Rod  Yeah I think it's great, it's very flattering, and reassuring

LH  Do you find a lot of fans just want to hear the old songs?

Billy  Not so much now no, much less so now

LH  Because I've heard some of the new work, not all of it, but what I've heard I really like and find it just as good, in fact I'm trying not to be a Lindisfarne fan

Rod  Oh you must!

LH  Well, if only to stay objective! Being a writer, when I see plays etc, I find it very hard not to look at a piece of drama and not think how the lines were worked or how the actor is running a line, even how the director put it all together, it ruins the enjoyment of a piece, unless it's very, very well crafted and you can't see the join.You're obviously all musicians to the bone, when you listen to music do you hear chord sequences and riffs and are not able to enjoy the music?

Rod  Yeah, yeah, I find if I'm really drawn to a song by somebody else, something that I've heard, something that has got amazing magic and mystery, or whatever about it, I learn it, I write down the words, write down the chords and that's it, the magic goes and I sometimes wish I hadn't. Do you find that? (To Billy)

Billy I find it more so straight after we've recorded something, after we've been in the studio and put an album together, for weeks afterwards, everything I'm listening to I'm taking it to bits, I can't listen to anything without taking it apart and putting it into categories, you know, what's the bass combo, what's this doing there, what's that doing there, how they mixed that in there, you know, all that, I end up not enjoying the song

LH  Exactly, It's a shame isn't it, it spoils the enjoyment, so you find the same with music then

Rod  Yeah, yeah

Billy  It's not permanent for me though

LH  It is for me

Dave  It's also about improving your craft though isn't it? Like the overiding thing is much bigger, do you know what I mean?

LH  Yeah, I do know what you mean

Rod You also have to hope that the magic or the mystery of communicating by you or through you, to people who don't have the skills is getting through

Billy  With films, if I start thinking that way with films, then it's gone, if I'm not lost in the action I might as well go and do something else, that's the great thing about football you see - you can't read the script

LH  You're so busy, do you have the time or the inclination to get out to the theatre?

Rod  Very rarely, if we do it's usually to see someone we know

Billy  who has invited us

LH  I'll invite you to my next one then

Rod  Okay, right, I can't remember the last time I went to the theatre to be honest, a terrible admission

LH  Not really, there's a lot of crap around.

Billy  I prefer films to be honest, always have

LH  You know, the lyrics of a lot of the Lindisfarne songs are very theatrical, I think you'd get something out of going to see the few bits of good theatre around, some of the contemporary playwrights

Paul  (their driver)  That's because they're all drama queens!

LH  Don't talk to me about bloody drama queens! Although my boyfriend would say I'm one myself. Being my sort of age, (To Dave) except you, you must remember Play for Today and The Wednesday Play or were you too busy to

Rod  No I remember, brilliant

LH That was true tv drama

Rod  No I remember them, quite a lot of them, oh yeah, brilliant I remember quite a lot of them

Dave  Oh yeah, now that was..

Billy  Oh yeah, yes, that was more like it

LH  Now, I think 95% of tv drama is

Rod  Crap

LH  Yes! - have you read my previous articles! I say exactly that!

Rod  I really do think a lot of it is crap, it's almost it's so formulaic, it also seems to be designed so that it can be talked up and presented with star vehicles, it's crap.

Billy  I won't watch it

LH  Yeah, written for people like Pauline Quirk

Rod  Did you see the Friday review last night on BBC2 ? They were talking about it on there, saying exactly that, star vehicles that they can hype up.

Dave  Those plays, Play for Today etc, they talked about real people's lives, I remember them, a lot of them, they were about real people, really gritty down to earth stuff, not like we get today it's like with music, Jools Holland's programme is still the only live music show and it's so popular, there's a need for the real stuff, real live music and real drama, yeah

LH There was something called The White Room, was that live?

Dave  Oh The White Room yeah, 

(It was during this part of conversation I decided to become Lindisfarne's stalker)

LH  I find a lot of todays tv bland

Rod  It's awful isn't it, so bland and straight, it's all about star vehicles and image

LH  It's issue based, like with Lindisfarne lyrics, there's a message in there, but it's not tub thumping, it comes across almost without you knowing it, with a lot of this tv drama it's T.I.E. for grown ups, not drama at all, then a telephone helpline comes up at the end, that's not drama.

Dave  Yeah, I'd like to see some plays about real people for a change

LH  Not real hyped up tv celebrities

Dave  Yeah

Rod Yeah

Billy  Yes, aye.

(the meal arrives and the portions are pretty big)

Dave  Would you like a chip?

LH  I'm okay thanks - have you noticed, the further up north you go, the bigger the portion of chips you get?

Billy  I only asked for a half portion, do they not notice how big you are when they take your order?

Rod  They must think you need building up

LH  I was surprised you're eating this massive meal before you're going to sing

Dave  We're not going to eat all of it anyway

Rod  I'm not even eating half of it

Billy  It's alright we'll be sitting down

Rod  There's another lad, he always finds the food

Billy  Where is he when you need him

LH Is he quite slim too?

Billy  No he's stocky

Rod  Oh but he's young!

LH  You look younger in real life than you do on stage, I don't know what happens!

Billy  Thank goodness for that

LH  Rod you look about twenty years younger

Rod  Really?

LH  Really - what happens on stage?!

Billy  It's real life on stage as well you know

Rod  That's given us hope for what we'll look like in the future, we won't have to get mannequins

Billy  We'll get cardboard cut outs

Rod  Rule one on the road, eat where you can, when you can

LH  Yeah, get some nourishment down you

Rod  Yeah, never refuse food, rule two - eat everything.

LH  (To Billy) I don't think you do though do you?

Billy  I can't do that, I can only eat so much then stop

Dave  Rule three is always go to the toilet when there's one handy

Billy  Rule four is never waste an erection - even if you're on your own

Rod  Ah!

Billy  Etc etc

LH I'll just think about what to ask next while you get some mouthfuls down you

Rod  You carry on, we'll talk with our mouths full

LH  I looked at all the band changes, comings and goings over the years, and it's like learning Pythagoras theorum, not that I ever did - do you remember all the band changes yourselves?

Billy  Oh yes definitely, every one

Rod  I'll probably stand corrected but I think I can

LH  As there's been quite a few changes. Have you ever had a row backstage before going on?

Rod  Hmn I can't recall one

Billy  We haven't, no

LH  It's like a second family on tour isn't it, it is with some touring theatre companies, which family would you say you were like, The Waltons or The Simpsons?

Rod  Oh the Simpsons most definitely

Billy  The Simpsons

Dave  The Partridge family

Rod  Now there's a blast from the past

LH  Dave do you keep a picture in the attic? You look to young to remember all this stuff! I think I was the only girl who didn't fancy David Cassidy or Donny Osmond, although I did like a few of their songs - worse than that I like dance/trance music, sorry guys

Billy  Somebody has to. What's this salmon stuffed with Rod?

Rod  I've no idea

LH  Rod what was the first instrument you picked up?

Rod  It was a plastic tootling toy thing, I picked up when I was about ten, like a cross between a saxaphone and a clarinet, I could actually pick out tunes on it, disregarding the book that came with it, my parents thought I couldn't play it properly because I wasn't following the book

LH  I think it's similar to drama, sometimes when you teach drama, the heart and soul goes out of it, a lot of technique and no soul, I truly believe that

Rod  Me too

LH  What made you first pick up a guitar?

Rod  I can only describe it as being bitten by the rock and roll bug, in a broad term, guitar, instrumentals, in the early sixties is what bit me, like The Shadows and Duane Eddie, stuff like that, and I hated singing, and I hated singers, I thought singers were all puffs and nancy boys with posh hairstyles

Billy  Only some of us

Rod  I didn't know you then, and it wasn't until erm definitely after The Beatles, cos' I thought The Beatles were, um singing's  were not bad, a bit better than the last lot, but it wasn't until I heard like blues and Dylan and stuff like that I realised that singing could actually mean something, be for real

LH  It's a way of finding yourself as well isn't it - without wishing to sound too pseudy

Rod  It is yeah, a lot of the music out there, a lot of the drama out there it isn't speaking at all, it's just commercial pap

Dave  Yeah definitely

Billy  Aye, yeah

LH  Going back to Play For Today, that spoke to me as a working class kid, that was for me, and there's nothing like that around today, just like a lot of music around, it doesn't speak to anyone, not that a good tune isn't enough sometimes, but drama and music have always been a way of getting through and

Rod  Yeah, right, and I also don't think that mass market is there anymore for music, that was, like in the early sixties, when the music more or less came out of the streets, a spontaneous eruption, everybody, from certainly all over the western world, all the kids who had access to it were like 'wow count me in' you know, picking up guitars, guitars were flying out the shops an' all that

LH  Not that I remember it - but there was such excitement wasn't there

Rod  Oh it was tremendous, tremendous, and the people who controlled what there was of the industry in those days were completely lost, didn't have a clue what was going on, it's wonderful when that happens, it happens so rarely, it happened again with Merseybeat, with record companies going up to Liverpool and signing any four that

LH  could play a guitar and sing a bit

Rod Yeah, yeah, happened again with punk

LH I don't like punk

Rod I don't like punk either but it happened, it happened for real

LH  Do you think it changed anything really, brought a new era in? Or were things changing anyway?

Dave I think it did

Billy  It got rid of a lot of dead wood

Rod  It was a musical new broom

LH  Which was needed I guess at that time

Rod  But I think after that, the business, the record companies and the managers thought, we can't let this happen again, we've got to stay one jump ahead

LH  Now they control it

Rod  They control the whole thing and good stuff, real stuff

LH  is not getting through

Rod  Well it's kind of pushed into corners

LH  It doesn't really get through does it?

Rod  Doesn't really get through, it's tolerated at the corners

LH  I bet with musicians, they want to mould you like with writers, I've refused to write for a couple of things that are high earners, mainstream,  but I think they're detrimental, I can't write what I don't believe in, with music, the music is almost sidelined in favour of image, there's a lot of plastic pop around

Dave It's always been around though

LH  Now it's at the cost of real musicians and good music who I think just don't get through and give up

Rod  There's a horrible advert on tele that I saw yesterday, for young girls to buy their SClub7 kit, with all the make-up in and everything 'You too can be SClub7'
It's horrible, ten years old and wanting to be a SClub7 clone

LH  They want to look exactly like these people don't they? I think, what's wrong in wanting to be yourself? It's like the kids are frightened to be themselves - as that's somehow not good enough

Dave Things like that have always been around, like in Jackie and the rest of those teen mags

Billy  Aye Dave!

Dave  Hideous pop has always been around, it's a different way of communicating maybe, speaks to someone, it's always been around

LH  What would you call hideous pop?

Dave  But it can be fun,

Billy  I would say Jess Conrad, he was the instigator

LH  There's a need for hideous pop, I like cheesy pop songs as much as the next person

Dave  Someone like Mike Flowers

LH  Oh yeah, what happened to him? I don't think people got him, people don't seem to get irony anymore

Dave  He didn't last long did he?

Billy  I think he was like an Alan Partridge thing wasn't he?

Dave  The Smiths, The Smiths were really funny

LH  Yeah those lyrics, bathos and pathos with a bit of Carry On mixed in. Morrisey had his faithfull followers

Dave  He was a manic depressive

LH  I saw a documentary about some of his followers who were obsessed by him, I often wonder why some people get so hooked on bands and singers, there must be something lacking in their own lives to give them over to people they don't know, you know, the people who live and breathe Elvis or Daniel O' Donnell or Barry Manilow, have vigils and all that sort of stuff

Dave  It is nonsense, but it's their imagination at work, it's controlling them, that's the problem, it's their imagination going the wrong way.

LH  Have you ever had a gig where everything went wrong, that you can look back and laugh at?

Billy  Not everything, but we've had a couple of things go

Rod   I have nightmares about things like that

LH  Do you? 

Rod  Oh yeah, frequently, finding yourself on stage with no instruments, no lighting, that sort of thing

LH  Do you ever have nightmares about finding yourself on stage naked, a lot of actors have that one

Rod  No never, I've never been naked, just you know, with half a band and no gear and the audience getting restless

LH  Is your audience always so receptive, I can't imagine them any other way

Rod  They're generally receptive, we pitch ourselves by going to the states sometimes, we're going back there again in the summer, where we do have a small cult following that turn out to see us, but we didn't always, sometimes we were in totally unknown territory and we were an unknown quantity, but people were there and they came, but that was quite challenging

Billy  But we won in the end, 

Rod  Oh yeah

Billy  Depends on the gigs really, I mean over here when we go out and do a tour, the people who come, come because they want to see Lindisfarne

LH  What do you think they want to see when they come to see Lindisfarne?

Billy  Well I presume they want to hear the music the band has played through the years, they might want to hear some of their own personal favourites, but you don't know what they are so you can't play everyone's personal favourite

Rod  And I hope they come to hear what we've come up with that's new

Billy  I make no bones about it, personally I like the new stuff better than the old stuff, although some of the old songs I really enjoy singing, but you know, if it's any more than 20% of what we do then I want to do the new stuff

LH  I can understand that, you can't play those old songs time after time after time at every gig and nothing else - you'll all go mad

Billy  I mean when I first joined the band seven years ago

LH  How many years ago? I thought you went further back than that, but you've had a long association with the band?

Billy  Rod and I have played around since what, teenagers

LH  Did you grow up near each other, like a few streets away

Billy Yeah

Rod  Yeah

Billy  When I first joined the band, they were shouting out for the old songs a lot more than they do now, because in the last four years we've come up with new songs, that have been recorded and they are part of Lindisfarne now.
Well I mean, on a normal concert we only play twentyfive songs, so if we wanted to, we could play all new songs, but we don't, we play some of the old ones, but the onus has got to be on the new stuff now

LH  Yeah, that way sanity lies, keeping it alive

Dave  And it's amazing how they work off each other, the new stuff and the old stuff, it's a very strange feeling on stage to hear them fold into each other, the new songs responding to the old songs

LH  How did you decide the set then, for this tour?

Billy  Good point.

Rod  Usually before now

Billy  Funny you should say that

Rod  When we do a tour, we rehearse for you know, like, days beforehand!

Dave  At least, days

Billy   We make a list of songs we want to do, and pick out the ones that we think will make two good sets, two good parts, which is twelve, thirteen songs a set and then we have some floaters, that might come into the set, they might not be in the set, we might change the set over two or three nights

LH  But then do you say to yourselves; 'If we have really good applause, we'll come back on and do?

Billy  It's not such an exact science

Rod  We'll let you into a secret, we kinda know what's going to happen

Billy  It's a good natured game, they know they're supposed to do that, so we'll come back on

Rod  It's a strange convention isn't it? Everybody does it

LH Yeah, actors will plan how they take a bow and come back on stage if the audience are still applauding - it's all worked out beforehand. It's a way of showing your appreciation as well - we like you so much we want more of you

Rod  We're always flattered - if we didn't get asked back on we'd be like 'Ooh why don't they want us back on!'

Billy  Haven't they read the script!

LH  Would you be insulted if you didn't get asked back on?

Rod  Yeah I think we probably would actually!

LH  I can't imagine that happening somehow - do you want to do your list up?  (for the set)  I have pens and paper

Rod  Was that okay for you?

Dave  Was that alright for you Lynne?

LH  That's fine, fantastic, you're brilliant, thanks boys.

Billy  We'll keep going if you want

LH  No, you've been fab, I'll leave you to work out your set.

I switched off the tape and asked if they had any interesting interviews coming up, Paul, the driver said; "West Mercia CID". 

Going back in the van I asked what Lindisfarne's philosophy is, Billy said, "If the people go away happy, then we're happy, that's what it's all about".