Check out all of the posts in the category ‘Interviews’ below. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, try searching by using the box on the right hand side of this page.
Tuesday, 23rd Oct 2012
Following a phenomenal summer of successes, we caught up with Tour de France winner and multi-gold medallist Bradley Wiggins to chat heroes, sport and why he'd be more at home playing bass guitar than fronting the band.
I remember my first Fred Perry shirt. I got it in 1989 I think it was. It was the standard polo shirt in blue, I bought it myself. At the time, in the late eighties, Fred Perry wasn’t a common thing to wear. I remember when I was about ten everything was Fila. Everyone went through this Fila thing. It was Fila and Kickers boots. I’d just started getting into the mod look, I’d seen Quadrophenia and that’s where the Fred Perry top came from. That’s where it all started for me really. So I was kind of a bit unique at the time - Fred Perry in the late eighties was going through a bit of a dip in recognition of its heritage and what it was selling, so I guess I was a bit out there for going for a Fred Perry.
I was a bit nervous about whether people would take to the collaboration or not. But the timing I don’t think could have been better, with what happened in summer with the Tour and the Olympics. It’s been brilliant really; everything’s just come together both on and off the bike. It’s nice for me that people like Paul Weller have thanked me for the shirt, and seeing people like Steve Craddock and Andy Croft wearing theirs, it’s just really nice. And then Johnny Marr Tweeting about it and going to the store - it’s a bit like, bloody hell!
I’ve got to meet many of my heroes the past few months. And some of them being slightly in awe to meet me is very strange, and that’s through sports. I got to watch the Stone Roses, and they were brilliant and Miles Kane. It’s bizarre but that’s what really nice about the crossover between sports and music. Everybody wants to celebrate cycling and the successes of the summer by wearing this heritage crossover piece. As I said, the timing couldn’t have been better for everybody.
For me, looking back, the mod look will always be about the Small Faces. I met Kenney Jones a while back after the Olympics, and he’s one of the original forefathers. But then after that obviously Weller and The Jam, the revival thing, and then again in modern day, him being able to be a trendsetter as well as evolving it and not being a cliché in that look; he has taken his own stamp on it. But then also for me, it’s weird for me to try and take my own style into all this. Because people look at me like that now, which is nice, it’s nice to have that. And I’ve seen a lot of stuff in the Press like ‘Mod’ on the cover of The Sun, or the Mirror and that and I guess it has given it a revival in a way really.
When I was on the Tour, I was there with my photographer Scott who’s also a photographer for The Moons. He’d always hang around at the finish because I would always go back to the hotel in a separate car from the team, and we were listening to the promo of The Moons new album a lot. Songs like English Summer and Jennifer. That became a bit of a soundtrack for the third week of the Tour for us, and the Olympics. And then we were hanging out with Andy Croft a bit after the Olympics, and he was really surprised we were listening to that. So The Moons’ new album really sums up this summer for me.
There are many tracks that I listen to often, but for me, again, it’s all about the Small Faces. I never tire of listening to Ogden’s, forty years on from when it was made. I was talking to Kenney Jones about that - he was 15 years old when he wrote Ogden’s. They were all teenagers when they wrote that album, but the sound of it; it could be a band today. It’s just brilliant. That proves how good they were as musicians and songwriters. That whole album has still stood the test of time. For me, it’s a benchmark that everyone followed.
When you’re a teenager you’re at your most easily influenced. I was 15 when Paul Weller’s Stanley Road came out, so a lot of the songs on that have meaning. Definitely Maybe by Oasis came out I was fourteen. When you’re a teenager you always sway towards the rebellious - I grew up with Oasis. It’s still stands as much today as it did then. When I was a teenager I was attracted by that rebellious character - that was definitely the case for me.
I’m coming up to the point where I’ve spent more time in the North of England than the South. I moved to Manchester when I was eighteen because that’s where the national cycling centre was and I’ve been up there ever since. I got really into the heritage of the music – Northern Soul I really got into big - so I started collecting a lot of vinyl; the Wigan Casino stuff and the Twisted Wheel. And I really got into the whole Manchester band thing that happened; with The Smiths and everything, it’s a whole different scene up there. It’s a much more untapped scene, whereas the London music scene has the whole history with Carnaby Street and that area, and it’s become a bit too commercialised and touristy. In comparison to that, the Northern scene’s stayed much more underground.
I’ve always struggled being at the forefront of something, whether it’s as a team leader or whatever, I don’t like being the front man. I like to be in a position where I can be in the background a bit. I don’t like being the voice of something. I suppose I've always swayed towards bass players- people like John Entwistle, who’s my hero, musically. I always liked that even though he’s probably one of the best musicians in the world for what he did, but you might not ever recognise him in the street. And he was just very humble and modest about what he did. I would have loved to have been as good a bass player as him.
I think Miles Kane has the potential to go on and be the next Weller. Definitely, over the next few years. There’s other bands too – Gun Club Cemetery have started to get a little following together on Twitter, The Moons again, and Little Barry, they’ve got some good singles. They’re the bands I’m backing.
Rugby’s the hardest sport in the world. I have real admiration for the Wigan Warriors. They’re just so modest and normal blokes. They probably don’t get paid half as much as they should, in comparison to footballers. It’s a working man’s sport.
Thursday, 18th Oct 2012
Horace Panter was studying for a degree in Fine Art when he and some friends formed a little band called The Specials. Several albums, tours and trips around the world later, art is back in the frame for the musician and painter who has used these opportunities as inspiration for his work. We caught up with Horace to chat influences, icons and what's up next.
Fred Perry: Hi Horace, talk us through your most recent work:
Horace Panter: I’m currently working with a screen printer in Birmingham. After having read a book on Warhol, I liked the way he used a process that removes the artist, while at the same time using the process to make the work very personal. Also, I like the idea of fake, so I want to do a fake Warhol. I’m also looking at the idea of mixed media, collage and the like. I’ve recently met up with a Scottish artist, Colin Brown, who does some cool collages; I saw his work in a gallery in St Andrews and they reminded me of some of my ʻChicago Bluesʼ pieces so I bought one. I’m always referring back to the work of Joseph Cornell because he is an important influence. In terms of painting, I’m doing some faux-religious stuff. I’m fascinated with the symbolism of all those Fra Angelica Giotto, early Renaissance painters- I’m convinced I’ll end up painting real icons!
FP: You were studying art when you first formed The Specials - do you think your art and music inspire one another, or are they very separate disciplines?
HP: They are separate disciplines. As a musician (I’m a bass guitarist) I’m dependent on drummers, singers, guitarists, etc., and I’m a very good team player. This is very different to painting, which I view as my ʻsolo careerʼ. Where the two disciplines converge is in the marketing. I’ve used a music-business model to get the work seen; my wife is my Malcolm McClaren!
FP: Is there any particular music you listen to whilst you work?
HP: When I’m doing my Blues paintings, I listen to Blues! I have difficulty with multi-tasking; I could never do my school homework with the TV on. I generally work in silence – total concentration.
FP: Are there any particular visual artists who have inspired you, or whose style is evident in your work?
HP: I’m like a chameleon…or the Borg! I assimilate a lot of stuff I see: Henri Rousseau, Peter Blake, Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Indiano, Kenneth Noland, Mark Rothko, Ed Rusha, and traditional iconography. I have some cool books on Australian Aborigine Art and I was really impressed with what I saw in Beijing a couple of years ago. I suppose Pop Art is my biggest influence, but I’ve started looking a lot at American 19th century Realists. I think The Borg is the best description of my influences and tastes!
FP: Several of your paintings feature other noted musicians - do you see art as a means of paying homage to your heroes? Is there a reason behind these pieces?
HP: I love The Blues and I have always wanted to describe the music visually, not just paint a picture of Muddy Waters, but try to describe the music itself. The Blues wasn’t tidy, wasn’t polite, neat. It was visceral, brash, came from the heart, rather than the head. I’ve tried to put that over in the work. And yes, absolutely, these paintings are a homage to my favourite Blues practitioners!
In another galaxy altogether, I saw an exhibition of Stanley Spencerʼs ʻGarden Paintingsʼ that I thought were beautiful, so I painted a picture of a scarecrow in a kitchen garden with him in mind - trying to ‘channel his spirit’ I suppose. One of my favourite Wayne Thiebaud paintings is of a pair of shoes and I’ve just gone out and bought myself a new pair of Doc Marten brogues that are currently sitting atop a desk in my painting studio!
FP: Do you have a favourite piece, or a project you are particular proud of?
HP: The ʻFruit Girlʼ paintings probably, although ʻPunk Rock Girlʼ and ʻBeijing Street Sweeperʼ both have something special about them. Of the Blues paintings, ʻHound Dog Taylorʼ and ʻStevie Ray Vaughanʼ are my favourites, although ʻBo Diddleyʼ and ʻMuddy Watersʼ seem to be the most popular. If there is a painting I’m NOT proud of, you don’t get to see it!
FP: Youʼve been in several successful musical groups, but your painting is a solitary project. In your mind, what are the pros and cons of creating individually and as part of a group?
HP: As I said earlier, being in a band involves tight team work and working for the benefit of the group as a whole. Painting, as you remark, is a solitary occupation ... all the decisions, successes and failures, are my own! I enjoy my own company so I have no problem with immersing myself for hours on end in the process of realising an idea on paper. The studio is probably my favourite place. Having said that, I can’t deny that being on a stage playing bass guitar is close to heavenly!
FP: Finally, what’s coming up next for you - more music, or more art?
HP: The Specials are about to announce plans for 2013, which I’m really looking forward to. Regarding the art, 2012 has been a very positive year and has put me in a good position for 2013. My work is represented by several galleries in the UK and even one in Singapore: White Room Art, Leamington Spa and Bath; Number Nine Gallery, Birmingham; Contemporary Six, Manchester; Metropolis Art, Bournemouth; 1 Love Art, Bristol; The Artists Gallery, Aberdeen; Icon Gallery, Singapore. So, in answer to your question...both!
To see more of Horace's artwork and for information on past and future exhibitions, visit his official website.
Thursday, 4th Oct 2012
Based in Birmingham, Gran Sport Scooters started life in 1995, founded by the combined knowledge of a rich wealth of passionate individuals and talented mechanics from the midlands and beyond. We met with current team member and talented mechanic Danny Turner to discuss the history of the business, the scooter scene today and a very special restoration project.
I was 10 in 1982 when my skinhead uncle came home with a Betamax copy of Quadrophenia, it blew me away - that was it really - within a week I had a parka, a white Fred Perry and a pair of brown desert boots, job done! When the clock struck midnight on my 16th birthday I got on my Vespa to take it for its 1st ride out, mum and dad were outside to wave me off and then I heard this rumble of scooters coming down my street and I was greeted by 15 other Mods on scooters. Dezl (Derek Askill) had secretly organised his mates to surprise me and take me on my own first ride out and that was the best ride out I've ever had; amazing feeling, I had waited 6 years for that day. I was a tad emotional. Most of the ride outs in the 80s early 90s were my favourite times as well there would be some times between 20 to 40 scooters all going to the Isle of Wight, Hastings, Great Yarmouth, Scarborough, Blackpool etc. The Tony Class CCI rallies were the rallies to do back then, these were all long journeys when riding a 60s scooter that didn't do more than 55 miles an hour - but looking good was most important.
The Modernist and Scooter scene at the moment has a healthy and dedicated following, and is now starting to draw in the younger generation; which can only be a good thing, as new blood to the scene means that this passion for all things Mod and scooterist will go on for years to come. There is still a strong movement of diehard Mods, I know this being one myself, but in general the whole scooterist scene has a blend of everything in the mix these days, if you ever go to a scooter rally there is a whole cross section of fashions there.
Many of our customers use their 60s scooters for work and play, and most of them can use a spanner and don't mind keeping them up to scratch if they break down. A lot of our friends and customers have two scooters or more, usually a classic Vespa or Lambretta and then they have the good old classic PX/T5 as these are tried and tested reliable scooters for everyday use. The most popular Lambretta models are the TV 200, SX 200, GP 200 and TV 2 and 1 being as popular as ever but almost any unrestored Lambretta's in original paint are becoming increasingly desirable. The Vespa models that we are most often asked for are SS180, GS160, SS90 and GS150 - all of these models are very sought after and are at the top of everyone's wish list at the moment. Original 60s accessories, rare or otherwise, seem to be the most popular way of adding that 'individual' element to their pride and joy at the moment, I know of lots of people who have paid hundreds of pounds for one little item just so they can have that finishing touch to the their scooter. Vigano and Ulma accessories being most sought after.All our restorations are memorable because each customer wants something a little different (and better than the one before), it's a bit like the mod ethos of wanting to be an individual I suppose.
We pride ourselves on being precise and trying to be a little more patient with the scooters we build, it takes a long time to build a restoration as some of our customers will happily tell you, but it's the finished item that counts, we use as many original parts as possible and only use the best remade parts available (Casa Lambretta being the best) after all, you are advertising your restoration and word of mouth on the streets is a great tool to have on your side! At some point in the 80s everyone who worked at Gran Sport has been a Mod at one point so yes we are all into the scene, some in a small way and some still in a big way giving us the ability to advise our customers from personal experience. Many of the original members of the Gran Sports team have gone on to specialise and continue to be major players in the classic scooter business. Derek Askill is a legend on the Mod scene and the major contributor to our reputation for the highest quality restorations and iconic Gran Sport specials. Other original members include Jason White, ex of Classically Italian, Nathan Warriner, ex of Rimini Lambretta. Not forgetting the long standing and current line-up: Jason White, Jon Sillitoe, Ashley Phipps, Danny Turner (myself) and Gary who juggles the numbers.
Quite a few costumers let us have a free rein on their restoration, as they want a bit of a Gran Sport touch and want to make sure they're not making the wrong suggestions. We always question SOME of their ideas if we think that something wouldn't look right and try and give them our honest opinion. Nine times out of ten they go with what we think is best - and this seems to work! As a company, we have sponsored many events including Midlandscooters.com and a variety of local scooter club do's, the most recent being for a Mod friend of ours who lives in Vietnam that contracted a paralysing illness. A friend and I organised a fund raising night for him and raised over £3,000 to help with his medical bills, this was helped by friends, many customer donations and from friends and Gran Sport itself.
There's a big Mod movement in Tokyo and we have sent many scooters over there, and we have also sent restored scooters to Spain, America and Australia. We've supplied scooters to a few famous faces; top Mod Steve Cradock of Ocean Colour Scene has purchased many Lambrettas from us (Lambretta series 2, LD, Special, TV175 and a PX 200) so has Simon (Lambretta Silver Special) and Damien (Vespa PX 200). We supplied two Lambrettas for a Paul Weller competition, one was done with the Wild Wood theme and one with the Stanley Road theme, and we've also hired scooters out to Goodwood Revival and even some film and advertising work, including a few music videos from Ocean Colour Scene to UB40. Over the years we have had the likes of Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream and Mani from the Stone Roses pop in, who are both big fans of the scooter world.
The 'lights and mirrors' scooter fashion for Mods came about by the late 50s early 60s by scooter enthusiasts of the day. There would be meetings and scooter rallies held for an older and younger generation of scooter owners, that would enter their scooters into custom shows and put accessories on them to make them more interesting and to individualize their model. When the Mods then started to appear on the streets, a lot of them were purchasing second hand Lambretta's and Vespa's with all these little shiny accessories on, and so to make them their own they then added to them again by borrowing spot lights off cars and the odd mirror, then I guess it escalated from there with other things they could lay their hands on!
The inspiration for my own lights and mirrors Lambretta was the front cover of the book Mods! by Richard Barnes. I was also influenced by two local Birmingham Mods, Philip Ford and Colin Bunn. They had scooters to die for being a young Mod - they were covered in lights mirrors and chrome accessories and I wanted to beat them and wanted a more 60's feel to mine but still over the top. I still own the Lambretta but I have de-modded it, as I think the Mod movement is a youth movement and as time goes on I feel you have to tame it down a bit if you're going to carry on with the style, I feel this also goes with Mod clothes element too, you can spot an old Mod miles away, they have still got that cool style but less over the top should I say!
The SX200 is a classic model with fine slim line detail, this is the model to have if you want a Lambretta, they are extremely sought after and will not or should not come cheap, (unless you find one in a old fella's back garden) as some of us have been lucky enough to do in the past! When purchasing a Lambretta SX or any classic scooter it's good to have as much history for the scooter as possible, do your homework, there is a huge amount of info on the LCGB website and if you're not sure consult your local, or a reputable scooter shop they will be happy to advise.
Gran Sport Scooters are currently restoring the SX200 shown above to a custom spec chosen by Bradley Wiggins. Over the next few months, we'll be showing the scooter in its various stages of refurbishment before it's presented to Bradley on completion. Stay tuned for further updates.