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Posts tagged as 'Interviews'

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A Chat with Pauline Black of The Selecter

We caught up with Pauline Black, frontwoman of The Selecter, to talk inspirations, icons and what's up next for the band. Following a stand-out performance at this year's Coachella festival, the band are heading to America's East Coast this September for a series of shows. 

Pauline Black The Selecter

What are The Selecter working on at the moment?

We’re about to shoot a video for our single Secret Love, which we’ll release online. Hopefully we’ll get that done before we head out to America, and we’ll have it in time for when we go on tour with Public Image Limited in October, which we’re really excited about.

John Lydon has been aware of us for a while - a long time ago we were playing the Palais with The Specials, John Cooper Clarke and the Modettes, and in the audience that night I just saw John hanging around at the bar, looking a bit shifty. He was known as Johnny Rotten back then, and I’ve always liked him and the stance that he has. 

Many people refer to you as the ‘Original Rude Girl’ – how would you describe your style?

People say that, but in truth, the idea of a ‘Rude Girl’ didn’t exist – I invented her! There were no ‘Rude Girls’ in that sense. There were Rude Boys, and I just thought to myself; you can either stand onstage and do the whole girl thing, or just get down there and wear some smart trousers, a good little suit and a hat. I mean a hat solves a multitude of problems – you never have a bad hair day for a start – and my style of dress just came down to that. I’d seen films such as The Harder They Come, and I had the sense of what a Rude Boy looked like, but it was just organic really – and a trip to an Oxfam shop!

And for you, who is the ultimate Rude Boy?

For me, the one and only Rude Boy has got to be Neville Staple of The Specials. I used to stand at the side of the stage when we were on the 2-tone Tour, and just watch Neville do Monkey Man standing on top of a huge stack of PAs , making monkey noises to a crowd of skinheads.  I mean, that takes bottle, and he has my ultimate respect for doing that.

Of all the songs that you’ve written and played, is there one that you most enjoy performing live?

Probably the last single we did! I mean, always, the audience wants to hear the hits. That’s what they pay good money to come and see, but I credit our audiences with more intelligence than that. They don’t just want to see us play the same songs time and time again – you can go on YouTube for that! I still feel we have to prove our worth as a band, and come up with new stuff.  If people don’t like, it, they don’t like it – they vote with their feet.

How was it performing at Coachella festival earlier this year?

It was just fantastic – I mean, in some ways we were completely amazed to have been asked to do it! I think apart from Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, we were the only Ska band out there doing it. And a lot of people were obviously at the festival to see the headliners – the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Blur, etc – and a lot of people there probably weren’t even born when we were around, so were coming out of curiosity. People come along to have a look, and to see what you do, and I think they got a bit of a shock!  For the first weekend we played it fairly safe and gave people the Too Much Pressure album, but for the second weekend, when we came back after having been on tour up the West Coast doing new material and it doing equally as well, we thought we’d try it out at Coachella. So we bit the bullet and did that, and it went down a storm. If anything, it was actually better than the first week! So for our contemporaries who maybe want to stick to what they’re known for, and do the heritage thing – I just say be brave, just do it. What’s not to like? And it proves your worth as a band.

If you were asked to curate a festival, which three artists would headline?

I’d have to say Bob Marley, Billie Holliday and oh, I just think it would have to be The Supremes – they were poppy to the extreme but just so wonderful.

You were a contributor to our Don Letts Subculture Films, but what would you say your personal connection to Fred Perry is?

Well I’ve been wearing Fred Perry since 1979, and certainly in the early days, a lot of us wore it on stage. I see it as a symbol of youth, so now, everyone who comes to see us is wearing Fred Perry. I’ve known Don Letts a long time, and it was great he did that series of films. Fred Perry’s are really comfortable, and I think women can really rock them as well as men.

In New York on the 20th September? Win tickets to see The Selecter live at the Gramercy Theatre in our competition - enter here.

A Chat with Horace Panter

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.

Horace Panter at work in his studio

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!

'Hound Dog Taylor' by Horace Panter

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!

'Scarecrow' by Horace Panter

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!

'Muddy Waters' by Horace Panter

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.

A Chat with Gran Sport Scooters

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.

Danny Gran Sport Colour

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.

Interior Gran Sport 1

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.

Gran Sport Interior 2

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 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.

Gran Sport Bumper 

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!

Chrome By Colin

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!

Sx200 1

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.