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(added March 2012)
INTERVIEW WITH WOODIE TAYLOR
( DRUMMER WITH THE M3T3ORS, THE ESCALATORS, THE JOHNSON FAMILY, MORISSEY, MANY, MANY OTHERS & MUSIC PRODUCER)
What music were you listening to before your first M3T3ORS gig, at which age did you start playing drums and who were THE DALEKS?
I started playing drums at 10. There was a band who practiced at my local youth club, when they took a break I sat at the kit and copied the beats I’d been watching the drummer do! Just before I saw the Meteors I’d been getting into Rockabilly for a while, Johnny Burnette/Gene Vincent and had a few compilation albums, prior to that it was Punk. THE DALEKS were the Punk band that I played with in my last couple of years at school. I released a 3-track EP on my own Exterminated Products label in 1980, just followed the instructions on how to do it from an article in the Melody Maker. Rough Trade and Small Wonder distribution bought a reasonable quantity each and we went on a pilgrimage to the BBC to deliver a copy to John Peel, which he duly played - God rest his soul. The lead track “Rejected” has since appeared on a few Punk bootleg albums and anybody who’s interested in hearing it can find it on YouTube.
How did you become aware of THE M3T3ORS, when exactly did you see them live onstage for the first time and what was the main difference to all the other bands you'd seen before?
The first METEORS gig I went to was at the Marquee - 5th April 1981. I had made plans to go and see them a month earlier, but the friend who was going to show us the way there didn’t turn up to the meeting place on time and my girlfriend got fed up with waiting! I’d been really into the Stray Cats since they came over to the UK (August 1980) and had seen them play half a dozen or so times. Friends in Croydon had told me THE METEORS were good and I bought the Meteor Madness EP, which totally whet my appetite. When I finally saw them, they completely blew me away. This was exactly what I’d been waiting for, right time/right place – better to me than any other band I’d seen (The Clash, The Damned, The Ruts, The Cure, Spizz…)
You became part of the band's loyal following straightaway, then known as 'The Crazies'. Please tell us about your life as a 'Crazy'. What was the spell to see the same band about 60 (SIXTY !!!) times a year, how was the relationship between band and audience and did you become close friends with other 'Crazies'?
The band were very friendly towards us. I can’t say I remember the followers really being called “the Crazies” though, despite the credit on the “Radioactive Kid” sleeve. There certainly was a spell, you’ve heard the early tapes, they still sound great today - I ate, slept and dreamt THE M3T3ORS for the whole 9 months before I joined them, they were my life and I became good friends with the others who felt the same.
After Mark Robertson's exit you joined THE M3T3ORS. How did it come about and how was it like to be a member of your favourite band?
I don’t think I’d be betraying Mark’s confidence by saying that he simply wasn’t getting on with Paul anymore. Theatre Of Hate had lost their drummer so Mark went for that job. I’d got to know Paul and Nigel pretty well by then, I also knew all the songs – I think we ran through about 30 at our first practice (actually… I guess that was my audition ;-) – It was an amazing feeling that I really should have savoured more at the time. The first gig was a sold out show at the Marquee, where I’d seen The Ruts just a couple of years before. It all felt rather like destiny though, shame it was so short-lived. It’s only more recently that I’ve come to realise what a delicate balance of personalities Paul, Nigel and Nick Garrard (the Manager) were. I came into the band as Paul’s friend and was too easily influenced by him – still… I was only 19!
By April 1982 the very last recording session that featured both Nigel Lewis and P Paul Fenech took place and classic songs like Another Half Hour Till Sunrise, Mutant Rock, The Hills Have Eyes were nailed. What is your favourite song from that particular session and why exactly did Nigel Lewis walk away from THE M3T3ORS?
My favourites from that session are probably “Another Half Hour Till Sunrise” (Paul’s playing is phenomenal on this) and “Walter Mitty Blues” – “Mutant Rock” still sounds good to me too! Regarding Nigel’s departure, this is the way I see it – As a band, we decided to sack Nick Garrard, as we felt he’d taken THE M3T3ORS as far as he could – in retrospect I regret this. It was mainly down to Paul and him clashing, a leadership struggle if you like. Nigel only played one more gig with the band (at Retford Porterhouse), Paul assumed control and to be honest was a nightmare! Which follows on nicely to…
When and why did you leave The M3T3ORS and how did you eventually get involved with THE ESCALATORS?
I left the band after the 16th July 1982 show (the very first Klub Foot gig, actually), that’s when the photo on the back of “Mutant Rock” was taken. I wasn’t prepared to leave my day job to take the tour support with the Anti Nowhere League and, in any case, the magic was gone for me when Nigel left - he and Paul had one of those very rare partnerships, to me THE M3T3ORS had to have both of them to make it work. Nigel had liked the guitaring I’d done in the band Fear (we used to support THE M3T3ORS, Paul made me leave them when I joined!). I was looking to get better as a guitarist and ended up playing double drums with Mark on half the songs – never did improve on guitar!
Anagram Records released THE ESCALTORS Live At Le Havre 1983 album in 2007. Were you surprised to see that live appearance finally released on CD and are there any story to talk about from backstage?
A pleasant surprise as I didn’t know the tape existed. I actually became convinced it was a Klub Foot show. For some reason, I didn’t think I played any drums in Le Havre… and then Mark Robinson sent me some photos of us playing together at the show to refresh my 25 year old memory! I do remember that we went by ferry and took Dave Dorrell (later of M*A*R*R*S 'Pump Up The Volume' fame), he was a junior Melody Maker journalist at the time and was going to write a feature on us – which was never forthcoming!
After the split of THE ESCALATORS things seem to become more quiet before you rejoined Nigel Lewis with THE JOHNSON FAMILY. What had you been doing in the second part of the 80's? Is true that you had to leave the band due to suffering from tinnitus and any clue how many songs were recorded on demo tapes back then without being ever released?
I actually left THE JOHNSON FAMILY because I wanted to dedicate more time to my production work. I had a project with the DJ Jay Strongman, called Drive, at the time and our version of “Curfew” (the Steve Carl, Meteor label, rockabilly classic) was getting a lot of airplay on Radio 1 – incidentally, the singer on this recording was Melanie Blatt, later of All Saints and we were the first to record her! I did discover that I had a certain degree of tinnitus at the end of the 80s, fortunately though, this didn’t stop me working in music. It would have been great for the original JOHNSON FAMILY line-up to have released more than just the one Camden Town Records single. There were a couple of unreleased tracks from the single recording session (inc. Nigel’s amazing “The Train Song”) and an earlier session from Pathway of 4 songs (inc. Nigel’s “Wild Sunday Morning” & ”Be My Rose”). Roger Armstrong from Big Beat/Ace Records recorded a practice session of ours, which I’m sure included Helen’s classic “Elvis Isn’t Dead, He’s Just Singing To The Angels” – I really must dig out my old cassettes, I need to hear “The Train Song” – NOW!
Where did you know Boz Boorer from and how did you end up as the drummer of the SHILLELAGH SISTERS?
I first met Boz when he was the house recording engineer for Chrysalis Music Publishing in London. I was playing drums for the Friday Club (after the release of their Two Tone single), the songwriters in the band had their publishing signed to Chrysalis and we went there a few times to record demos with him. When Jay Strongman and I were thinking who could play guitar on “Curfew” Boz was the obvious choice and he ended up playing on the single and a dozen or so demos. It was around this time that Boz wanted to record a retrospective SHILLELAGH SISTERS album, as they only released one single when they had a record deal. We went into Toerag Studio, I think it was all recorded and mixed in one day. I went to Japan with them too, when they support The Polecats out there – stopping at Hiroshima station on the Bullet Train has to go down as one of the most poignant moments of my life. I remember Don Letts (Big Audio Dynamite) saying that music is your passport to the world and I’ve certainly been very lucky in this respect.
How did you get involved with MORRISSEY and what were the main differences to record for Morrissey compared to other record sessions you were part of?
Boz put my name forward for the recordings that became the “Vauxhall & I” album. I had the opportunity to work with Steve Lillywhite, one of the world’s greatest Producers, who has a gift for drawing the best performances out of musicians. EMI booked out Hook End Studio for 3 months to make that album and it shows in the quality of the recordings. Over that period the record was able to develop an identity of its own, having this amount of time to dedicate to one album is a rare thing.
How would you describe Morrissey in a word or two?
You really need more than two words, but how about… whitty and genius!
When did you become interested in producing and engineering music and when did you form your own Milou Studios ?
I’ve been interested in recording music as long as I’ve been playing it, I started overdubbing with two mono cassette recorders and took it from there. Milou started at the end of the 90s, when I began producing in earnest and is also the name of my (occasional) record label – 3 x releases to date (The Broke Revue – “Oldtime Futureshock”, Comet Gain - “Realistes” and “Broken Record Prayers”).
How and when did you meet THEE HEADCOATEES? What was the idea here and are you still pleased with the 10“?
I’ve known Holly (Golightly) and (Bongo) Debbie since 1983, when we used to go and see the same garage bands (The Prisoners / The Milkshakes / The Sting-Rays / King Kurt). By the mid-90s I’d started recording some of Holly’s solo work and came up with the idea to do a remix project with the individual members, this became the “Taylor meets The Headcoatees” 6-track 10” LP/CD, which was fun project to do . I’ve just had another listen to it and am still pretty pleased with most of the record, especially “Kyra’s Vowels”, “Deep Inside” and the two with Holly “Say That You’re Mine” & “You Know You Can’t Resist”.
What releases are you most proud of having been produced in your studios and which bands are you currently playing with?
I’ve been playing drums in COMET GAIN for over 10 years now and am very proud of the “Realistes” and “Broken Record Prayers” albums, in particular the tracks “Love Without Lies” and “My Defiance”. Also, there’s the SHRAG albums and early Veronica Falls singles I mixed (Beachy Head/Stephen) – love them!
Any projects left you would like to talk about and what is in the pipe for 2012?
I’ve just been lucky enough to mix a track for The Cribs, who are long-standing fans of my production – they first wrote to me in 2002 after I’d released the COMET GAIN “Realistes” album. They say, good things come to he who waits - that should be my epitaph! Recently, I’ve been mixing tracks for 3 x New York bands (Backlights, Attack.wav and Tanuki Suit) also a new band from Vancouver called Sunshine, all good stuff. I’m always on the lookout for new bands/solo artists to produce/mix (‘billy or otherwise) and they can make contact via my website – www.woodietaylor.co.uk
OFFICIAL WOODIE TAYLOR PAGE
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OFFICIAL METEORS PAGE