It’s been a busy and productive year for The Quireboys; a change of management and label has seen the band release their first new studio album in five years. Having just reviewed ‘Beautiful Curse’, it seemed like the ideal time to interview guitarist/songwriter Guy Griffin during a short break for the band before they hit the road once again. I caught up with him a few days after he, Spike and Keith had played an acoustic set at a ‘Help For Heroes’ fundraiser in Bedford, being a local lad.
So, why the gap between ‘Homewreckers And Heartbreakers’ and ‘Beautiful Curse’?
The band’s been constantly busy on the road, around the world. We released ‘Halfpenny Dancer’; the acoustic mini-album, and a live, fan-only album. We were going to start this album last year, but our deal fell through, then we changed management. So, now we’re in a much stronger situation. We had all the songs ready, more than enough for the album, and had to leave a few off, which was a shame. While we’ve been playing ‘Too Much Of A Good Thing’ and ‘Mother Mary’ live for a while, the rest were waiting to be recorded, so it’s great to have new songs to choose from in the set.
A lot of bands say ‘Oh, we had enough for two albums!’ then you hear the album and think, ‘really? Doesn’t sound like it!’ So, you’re telling the truth here?
Yeah, it’s true, we had to leave some good songs off the album. Once the deal was signed, we had a deadline to work to, we knew we wanted to work quickly and with a good producer. Our booking agent, Martin Jarvis, and our manager, Johnny, knew Chris Tsangarides, and going to his studio, seeing the discs on the wall was like revisiting your youth; Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore, and other things that you might not associate him with, like Concrete Blonde. He really liked working on our record; he learnt his craft at Battery Studios in London, where everyone went in the 70s. It was a simple process; we had to record one track a day, rather than the couple of months for the previous album. This album is really the four core members of the band playing, with the addition of Simon Hansen on drums. On tour, we have Dave McClusky, who plays with The Union, on drums. They’re both fantastic, but it’s a case of finding who can fit in with our schedule. Nick Mailing is back on bass for the tour; we’ve all worked together before, so it feels really natural.
Having Simon Hansen on the record has given a broader scope; it’s rock n’ roll, but there’s room to explore
Yeah; ’cause he’s played in Squeeze and Death In Vegas, he’s very accomplished. He knows how to swing. It’s no slight on previous drummers; it’s just coming from a different background. He has more to draw on and has the right feel. It feels comfortable for us. The only overdubs are a couple of solos and the bass parts that Paul and I share. We recorded one song per day, and then we were back on the road. We play intuitively in the studio, and as this is the longest standing line up, we know what to do; it sounds like us.
For me, this album has a better balance of songs. The rockers really rock and the slower songs really suit Spike’s voice. This time round, he has a deft touch on the ballads, particularly on ‘Mother Mary’. I mentioned in the review that it’s up there with Mott’s best ballads.
Thanks. We get some lazy comparisons, but Spike sounds like Spike. We have our influences, but no one really sounds like him.
So, you must be looking forward to having twelve new songs to choose from on the tour? The never-ending tour!
Yeah, it’s great to be playing new songs. We’ve been playing a couple of them over the last year, but now we’ve got a large back catalogue to choose from. People are now coming to the shows knowing ‘Too Much Of A Good Thing’ and ‘Mother Mary’ from previous gigs. And we might ask the audience to choose some songs.
I vote for ‘Six Degrees’; I still haven’t heard it live.
Could be, yeah. Now we’re more settled, we can play what we want, but there’s so many to choose from.
What have been the highlights of the tour?
We’ve just done Sweden Rock as support to Rush, one of the best gigs we’ve done since we got back together over 10 years ago. It was an honour to be their only support, on an amazing stage in front of 30,000 people, Keith at the grand piano. The U.K tour with Saxon was great; their fans really took to us, and I guess there’s some crossover between our followers, which made for some really enjoyable gigs.
And where to next?
We’ve got some festivals lined up, possibly a return to Norway, then the U.K tour starts in October, with Bonafide as support. We’re doing the Monsters Of Rock cruise again next year at the Bahamas. The last one was great fun. I wasn’t sure what to expect. All the bands were really welcoming; Cinderella, Tesla, L.A Guns. Kix were fantastic. Hopefully, we’ll be on the road with one of those bands around that time. All dates will be on our newly re-vamped website.
The Quireboys can be found at their website and at their Facebook, Twitter and MySpace pages.
All words by Martin Haslam. More work by Martin on Louder Than War can be found here.