IN CONVERSATION . . .
J: So obviously, after Mind Bomb, your world was rocked really wasn’t it? You had a lot of sadness in your life before
you got into making Dusk.
M: Yes. This was actually halfway through the tour. Eugene, my younger brother, died. That really changed everything.
Really fractured my family’s life and threw all of us, myself included, into quite a deep depression for a number of
years. Thankfully, in that kind of situation, there was something therapeutic for me to turn to, to help me get out of
it, which was songwriting. And so putting those feelings I had into songs I started working on the 'Dusk' album,
particularly 'Love Is Stronger Than Death'......
J: Exactly, yeah. When I look back on it, considering what you were going through, we went into the studio and did -
particularly you and me - I think we did the 'Shades Of Blue' EP, with 'Solitude' on it, and 'Dolphins'. It must have
been hard for you doing 'Dusk'.
M: It was and I remember being in the studio and feeling quite spaced out a lot and I also remember Dave Palmer pulling
me to one side and saying - it was a bit rich coming from Dave - but : "What's up Matt, you seem sort of spaced out,
you don't seem yourself", because he was used to me directing him very specifically “No, that beat is not quite right....
this beat is not quite right.” But I just felt really spaced out. Really, really weird. I just didn't feel like I had my
feet on the ground or something. And I could really sort of feel that I was there, but not there, which was a very
unpleasant feeling for me because I was having to fake it a lot of the time.
J: I didn't know that you bastard! I thought I was doing great.
M: I think we all did do great, but there were moments when it was just very difficult for me. But of course what we did
differently with 'Dusk' to 'Mind Bomb' was that we recorded it at my studio, which I'd just recently bought, and recorded
it live as a band, which was something we wanted to do because of the success of the previous tour. We worked with Bruce
Lampcov who did a brilliant job. He'd remixed a track from 'Mind Bomb' and we’d got along well with him so we decided to
work with him. We met him again at some point on the 'Mind Bomb' tour to discuss ideas and I think he actually recorded a
few shows of ours in Detroit. Going into the studio we had DC Collard on keyboards who’d joined on the tour. We recorded
it, primarily live and then we did some overdubbing once the backing tracks were done.
J: 'Love Is Stronger Than Death' felt classic when we were doing it didn't it? It was a real sort of ‘moment’ wasn't it?
M: It was a hard song to write because of the subject matter, but I was very, very happy because I felt the version that
we did perfectly captured what I was trying to say.
J: We were doing 'Dusk' with the band and, as usual, it was quite intense, I was pretty out there myself, but I remember
loving it and for me it's my favourite album that I've ever been on.
M: And what about when you’d drive to the session in your new sports car?
J: Well, my memory of 'Dusk' is that I'd just got that brand new Alfa Romeo Spider and I'd only just passed my driving
test. I'd get up in the morning feeling really good and then drive down the Embankment with the roof down in the Summer
and it's a beautiful sunny day, people are waving, I’m just like Dick Van Dyke with a real spring in my step and then
I'd get to the studio which had been rechristened 'The War Room' and so I'd say good-bye to the day and my new flash
sports car and then I'd go down the stairs into this dark basement with these dark red psychedelic oil wheels turning
and all these clouds of incense burning ...
M: People stripped off down to their underwear, the heating full on, like a nice big sauna. The Psychic Sauna we used
to call it.
J: Exactly. You were listening to a lot of Blues around that time as well weren't you? Robert Johnson.
M: Yeah and Howling Wolf, who’s probably my all time favourite blues man. Although I love John Lee Hooker and
Robert Johnson I’d say Howling Wolf was my favourite. Maybe that influence is evident on some of the stuff? Lots of
dirty vocals, distorted harmonicas and juiced up guitars. On 'Mind Bomb' you shared duties with Mark Feltham who played
... did you play 'Beat(en) Generation' or did Feltham play?
J: No I ...errr ... no, maybe Feltham played on it.
M: Yeah, I think he did, and he played on 'Good Morning Beautiful' and ‘Violence of Truth’. Incredible musician.
But then on the tour you were playing and you played all the harmonica on 'Dusk'.
J: 'Slow Motion Replay',
M: Which was absolutely beautiful, that harmonica part was ...
J: We kind of worked
that bit up on tour. You were kind of kicking
'Slow Motion Replay' around ...
M: And you were playing the harmonica on the tour as we were going on and ...
J: It became quite a big part of the thing didn't it?
M: Yeah. You wrote the harmonica part for 'Beyond Love'. And then of course on 'Dusk' we had it on 'Love Is Stronger
Than Death', 'Dogs Of Lust' particularly. That song, particularly the video, really captured what I was saying about
getting away from me trying to be an actor. It just captured a performance. I just love the performance that Tim captured.
J: It has nakedness in there as well ... which always helps.
M: It has nakedness. But also you brought along that little tub of tablets that you dosed us up with. I believe we had a
few tablets of ‘medicine’ and a couple of bottles of Tequila. Then we got the three aircraft hanger heaters brought
in and turned them up full blast. I remember James worried that his bass guitar was melting. He was looking very
concerned but I don’t think he got dosed up. He was being sensible while we were off on another planet. Fantastic.
J: I was a bit too sort of ... erm ... I'd forgotten that I even had my guitar on at that time.
M: But that may be my favourite video. It's raw, we had the music cranked up and it really captured the live shows.
The fact that it was also filmed in my studio, where we’d just spent the better part of a year recording the album,
also added a nice twist.
J: The first take, Tim sprayed us with glycerine to look like we were sweating ... because we just weren't sweating
enough. I thought you were winding us all up when you started saying "No. No. No. it's not hot enough, we've got to
get more heaters", into this tiny little room! But it had the desired effect.
M: It really captured the atmosphere I thought and again that was another song ...
J: Where New York starts to come back again. Well it had never gone away really but there's a cross between New York
and London there. In 'Sodium Light Baby' which, when we were doing it, always felt like a ride through the New York
night to me. But then I knew about the sodium lights in London and your attraction to those. And then with 'Lung Shadows'
you've got shadows in there again. And of course in 'Love Is Stronger Than Death' is “The cold light of mourning.”
So again it's that consistent imagery. New York, London, lights and shadows. So were you considering moving to New York
at that time?
M: Yeah, on and off. Ever since I went there for the first time I knew I was going to live there at some point, it was
just a case of choosing the right time. Of course there was the film ‘From Dusk 'Til Dawn’, which we shot there and
which I personally prefer to the 'Infected' film. That was a very intense and strange experience because we went on a
magical mystery tour with Tim (Pope) when we were doing the 'Slow Motion Replay' video.
J: Well, we had two vans which we were moved around in and the crew were all speaking in codes so we didn't know which
location we were going to. I didn't even know it was a mystery thing! There was a double bluff going on with me because
when you told me to come out and do it, you said to me something like: "Oh yeah, we're going to do a Midnight Cowboy”,
me and you walking around New York shot from the streets of a car. No mention of being on live porno television,
Midnight Blue, Taxi Talk, or meeting Danny the Wonder Pony or miming on Annie Sprinkle's bed with her writhing all
around us in front of an altar of vibrators. I don't remember that being in Midnight Cowboy! But yeah it was an intense
experience. The bit where the guy breaks into tears ...
M: He's dead now that guy. I sometimes go back to that bar. We went back a while ago and found out he died shortly
after that film, which was really poignant. As we were standing round watching that, everybody, the whole crew was
like ... ooofff ... ouch.
J: But it's asking him that question, because the premise of that video was going around asking these different,
odd people what's wrong with the world, and amazingly most people answered “People don't respect each other's race
and difference of opinion” and “There isn't enough love in the world.” But asking that guy the question was like
someone had turned a key inside of him wasn't it? Okay, so during 'Dusk' you've got that perennial connection between
London and New York, so had you made your mind up to move to New York then, when we were doing 'Dusk'?
M: It was on my mind, but my mind wasn't made up until after the tour. We made the film, I then formed a new band in
New York and went on another world tour. Towards the end of the tour personal circumstances made up my mind. But it
wasn't that cut and dried. I kept the place in London and travelled between New York and London, but started staying
in New York more and more until I realised I was really living over there and not in England. So it was like a cross
fade as opposed to a hard edit.
J: Were you looking towards New York influencing you more in your music? We spoke earlier about your environment
being important to you.
M: Yeah, I think I was really. I was over there for 7 years and although I was writing a hell of a lot I only released
1 album. Which is not very productive!
J: Your Football Manager game didn't come back out of the box did it? (laughs)
M: No, no (laughing)
J: But you became a father didn't you.
M: I became a father. Which as you know is life altering. Then when I continued work on NakedSelf after my son’s
birth it changed shape a lot. I’d recorded tons of material, so there's a huge amount of stuff which is actually
waiting to be finished. Probably about 3 or 4 albums worth of material recorded in New York, but only one album has
come out of it so far. I spent a lot of time just riding around on subways and taking notes all the time, and walking
because Manhattan is just more conducive to walking everywhere. I love walking.
J: Tell me about it! I know all about your legendary long walks through New York.
M: Hours and hours just walking, taking notes, riding on the subways. All the different noises, different smells, the
different light you get over there. It all influences you I think.
J: So where did you record 'Hanky Panky'?
M: At my studio in London. That was the period I was in between London and New York. I recorded it live in my studio
in London but then shot the video on top of the Chrysler building in New York. That was an interesting shoot. People
initially thought we’d used projections or digital animation because a short while after that video came out there
was an advert featuring the athlete Carl Lewis leaping from the gargoyles on top of the building, but all done with
digital animation. You can fake a lot of those things nowadays if you’ve got the money. But Sam Bayer (the director)
and I wrote out how it was going to be filmed. I always had a fascination with ... I can't remember the name of the
woman who took these amazing photographs in the 1930's. She sat on the gargoyles and was taking pictures from them.
I was always fascinated by those. So I wanted to figure out a way of getting out onto the gargoyles. And we actually
did get out onto the gargoyles. It was in January and it was freezing cold. I wanted to go out and stand on the
gargoyles but unfortunately I wasn't allowed to because of the insurance situation with the production company, being
america and all. So we got a stunt double and there were two things we did. First thing was that we used him in the
shots when you see the helicopter circling the building. That's actually him on the gargoyles. When you see me on the
gargoyles, it’s actually a fake gargoyle - a life size replica - that we’d put on the flat roof of the skyscraper
next door to the Chrysler, so you see the view of the Empire State Building in the background. We’d hired this
Vietnam veteran to circle closely round the spire of the Chrysler building and the tricky thing was that the Chrysler
building’s management didn't know what we were really doing- we’d pretended we were just filming for an advert and
we just wanted to film the view from the windows. And the security guard - I think it was the Super Bowl or something
- he just sat there chomping on his pretzels with his little outfit on and his feet on his desk watching the game on
his portable telly... and he went “Yeah, sure go ahead.” and waved us past. So we all sneaked into the rooms at the
top giggling. The Vietnam vet circling the building was one of only a handful of helicopter pilots in New York who was
actually licensed to fly that close to a building, and he's circling round really close by now. I'd actually sneaked
onto the edge of a gargoyle myself and nearly went over the edge, it was so cold and slippery. So in walks the stunt guy,
dressed up in all my clothes, and he looked completely grey, ashen grey. Looking completely terrified. Like he really,
really didn't want to do it, and I said to him “What's up, are you ok?' and he said “Well, actually I'm really
nervous about this shoot”, I said '”Yeah? But you must have done tons of things like this. You're a stunt man, you
do this all the time?” and he goes “Yeah, but my speciality is fires ... not heights.” (laughing) Fires not heights!
He had vertigo! He was so terrified, and he went up there and he was literally stood like a statue (laughing) and he
had the harness on and everything but it was still terrifying really, because it was 1500 ft or whatever, straight
down, and they're not that wide those gargoyles. Maybe 6 ft wide, slippery cold metal and slightly sloping, right
over the edge. It is really, really scary and you're thinking “Is the harness going to hold if I slip?” (laughing)
Anyway when the Chrysler people found out they literally hit the roof and banned people from filming up there.
Not sure if the ban’s still in effect. That was the only video for that album. We didn't tour it but Hank Williams
is a songwriter I've always loved and I just felt like it was a low pressure project to do. I was just enjoying being
a singer rather than a songwriter. Interestingly enough in America it was voted one of the top country albums of the
year and Colin Escott (Hank Williams’ biographer) wrote me a nice letter saying he thought they were some of the
best versions of Hank's songs he'd ever heard. To top it all off I got a lovely signed book from Jett Williams,
his daughter, who said "My Daddy would be proud of what you've done with his songs.” So there you go.
J: Fantastic. I remember you getting into Hank Williams and I didn't really expect that the album was going to
sound like. It sounds like a TheThe album, and I think it kind of shows what a distinctive sound you've got really.
'I Saw The Light' particularly, could have come off 'Naked Self' or 'Dusk' I think.
End of Part 5
---------- END ----------