Interview with 'Charlie Keighera', Sunday 15th February. 2009. A pub in Didsbury. Manchester. UK.
Q It's Nearly 18 years since you released any music..where have you been? Why have you decided to release a new album?
A....I've been very busy. (very long pause)....When the band ended all them yonks ago I em... didn't really know what to do..so I did very little for a while.. then got a job....like everyone else..Being in a band is a job too but it's a weird job..there was also a lot of other things going on in the meantime, you know, personal demon issues to deal with...and a bit of mowing the lawn
Q. Can you explain a little more about these 'demons'?
A.Don't Move! There's one right behind you..(Like a fool I glanced over my shoulder, Charlie laughed)..What I mean is it's like.. Well...its like when stuff ends there's lots of space to be filled.... people tend to fill that kind of space with rubbish...rubbish like drugs, alcohol, endless introspection and masturbation... some people don't though, those kind of people are well...I dunno less dangerous, more dependable...and they tend to have very clean bathrooms..
Q. So how clean is your bathroom these days?
A. Most days its acceptable..but its not easy to keep your bathroom as clean as you would like...but its a hell of a lot better than it was. So I am getting there.
Q. Why did 'King of the slums' end or did you just stop recording and performing?
A. Well in effect the two things are the same,aren't they? But yeah...the band did actually, formally, split up, End. In the early 1990s..I cant remember exactly.... You need to remember that the band was never a massive deal..we were a small band, we had quite a bit of music press coverage considering our actual popularity..A Culty kind of band seems to be an appropriate description. ....We all had had enough at the time...we were a pretty difficult band to deal with, always falling out with each other and our record companies etcetera.. the people in the band wanted to move on, they needed to start earning some proper money...it was defo time to have a rest for all concerned.
Q. The new album. Who is it? Is it the band or is it something other..
A. The band? Yeah, its 'King of The Slums'.....
Q. So have you worked with Sarah Curtis or any other band members?
A. I've worked with mainly new people for the new songs but I have had other people from the band involved..not Sarah, directly...we have moved on... that was a long time ago
Q. So..do you think that you will perform LIVE again? Will the band record more?....(Charlie then left the interview to go outside for a cigarette and to see who had been calling and texting his mobile during the previous 20 min's.)
He didn't return.
4 Days later he contacted me and apologized for being rude and said it would be OK to finish the interview the following Sunday. I agreed....we met this time in a bar in Manchster city centre and continued with the last question........
A. I dunno about doing any gigs...There's been two serious requests that have come through to me regarding doing some gigs....the offers were tasty, and flattering, however the personnel logistics seem massively difficult to resolve.....I'm not ruling it out but it seems unlikely .... there's been a few more opportunities regarding recording a completely brand new album at the end of this year, and there are a few people I would like to work with on that...but It's all up in the air at the moment..there's a lot to think through and I just wanna see how this new album works out before coming to any decisions. I find it astonishing that I'm even having these kind of conversations
Q. The Orphaned Files album..how did it come into being? And how did you feel about going into a recording studio again?
A. The album started about three years ago...I was made aware that after all these years people were actually still remembering the band on the www and on occasion still being played on the radio. Juliet Green in New York kept sending me websites and comments on the band...she ground me down and then put up the money to go into a studio and write some new songs. She made me finish it all off and arranged all this kinda thing and set up websites and all that.... I cant stand her ...but, yeah I really do like the album..think it shows all the bands stuff off.
Q. The studio..and writing songs again after all this time, how did that feel?
A. ......Starting lyrics again was a total nightmare..I started drinking again big time, then got it all under control and it was good to use my head again....the studio was tough but I got through it and glad I did. It's hard to go back though..
Q.. Do you still listen to bands?
A. I've always loved music , I still find it the most powerful stimulant..but I don't seek it out..I tend to find and be drawn to strange music, weird bands.
Q. Like who?
A. I don't really know their names..but I found a load of new stuff on myspace recently and was fascinated by what people get up to, there really is some wild stuff out there and if you got an open mind you can find yourself drawn into some rather splendid places.
(Charlie then departs for another cigarette. After 10 min's have elapsed I began to worry, but he returned this time.)
Q. I read somewhere that you were now living in Argentina and painting portraits of churches..
A. (Charlie laughs) .....Yeah, I've read some odd stuff too....No I don't live in Argentina, but I do paint...I had a weird fascination for a while about cathedrals, not painting the buildings themselves but the shadow they cast, painting the stuff that went on in those shadows....(Laughing loudly) ...Told you I had demons to deal with, I've had a very troubled past. It's not easy being weird.
Q. I also read that some of the bands ex members were residing in various prisons around the world Or had come to tragic ends..
A. (laughing) ..No, not as far as I'm aware, but we did have quite a few people come through the band so you never know. As far as I know everyone was well behaved.... good little boy's and girl's and probably have very respectable jobs now.
Q. Have you?
A. On occasion.
Q. What is your favorite song by the band?
A. Probably..'Full speed ahead', but obviously think the new stuff is far more attractive.
Q. Are you married? Have children?
A. Suspiciously not
Q. What car do you drive?
Q. Where do you do your weekly shop?
A. Asda or the corner shop
Q. What is your favorite Movie?
A. Leon or Naked Tango at the moment.
Q.What is your favorite era of design?
A. Em....1920's art deco....things with burlesque atmospheres. Also getting back into Picasso of late..he is very good with his blues....There is also someone, he's more recent I like..can't recall his name, but he has a similar surname to mine, think he is Italian and paints stuff with lots of fishes in...
Q.What are your politics?
A. Sensible libertarian.
Q. Do you follow any religious doctrines?
A. Em...I like some of the artwork....I currently attend my own church..the church of rational escapism.. but I keep on getting excommunicated for foul mouthed outbursts in the confessional box.
Q.Do you believe pornography is degrading?
A. Em...ideally, yes....em, I don't know really...probably but depends what's going on..some things are obviously sick other things are ok I suppose...I don't know it's a crap question mate.
Q. When the band started did you imagine that you would still be doing music nearly 25 years later?
A. Well, that's not really the case is it, the band was going for about 8 years...then it stopped, its just over the past couple of years that its reared its little shy head up again..lets see what happens...
Q. Which bands in Manchester do you enjoy?
A. Em....currently...from the little I'm aware...The Ting Tings are intriguing, I like their pop music , it's not stupid, its quirky but in a valid way....As for bands from the past, well I do like 'Ian Brown's stuff, but that's not the past it's current...em, there's so many..The Monday's were brilliant, Morrissey was unique, still is...Joy Division were huge and influential and a bit difficult, which I like. Mark E Smith too, total individual..Oasis, some great songs.There is so many good bands it's hard to think, I need a piece of paper to work on that one and it would take some time so lets move on.
Q. Ok, final question..
A. Thank fuck for that.
Q. Ok, If King Of The Slums' suddenly became a huge band, what would you do?
A. Deny all knowledge...(laughs)
That's a bizarre thought..I couldn't allow that to happen....nor will that ever happen...we were never that kind of band, we are a small private company catering to the specialized needs of a few, anything else is laughable.
Charlie then left the building for another cigarette. He informed me he felt that the interview was now over. We said our goodbye's and went our separate ways. I walked up Oxford Road in Manchester city centre and he got on a very powerful looking black motorcycle, finished his cigarette, put on a helmet and was gone. I found him to be an interesting, awkwardly intelligent, very private person. His assertion that his band is a private company and that it would almost like to vet its investors before accepting their patronage, is a little naive, but I really feel that's how he would like things to be.
The fact of the matter is, whether 'Charlie' likes it or not the band have retained a following. People like myself remember seeing the band perform LIVE, and hearing them on the 'John Peel' show . Buying their music, joining the fanclub, hanging around outside gigs, getting friends to listen to them. They were a different kind of a band, with different sounds and great lyrics. This interview is not about my personal nostalgia, it is about the new album. The new album, 'The Orphaned Files', is wonderful, end of review. The thought that there may be another album is even more wonderful.
If, 'Charlie' is currently accepting investors for his private company, then please review my credentials and accept my pledge of allegiance. And, ."Charlie", please be careful on that motorbike.
Zak Phillips. (Fan)
( I did in all ask 'Charlie', over a hundred questions, it did in the end turn out a lot more revealing....
but for now I feel the above is adequate. )
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