A Chat with Bradley Wiggins
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.