Hello, is that Dave-id? It’s Stuart from Virginprunes.com.
[Pause] Sorry, just turning down the sound on the telly. How are you?
Yeah, good thanks. What have you been up to today?
Just taking it easy today, out late last night.
Where were you?
Oh, out on the town on a date, having too many drinks [laughs].
Ah right, that sounds good. Yeah, we were doing something similar. Not with so many drinks, possibly.
OK, well I’m thinking of how we should do this and I’m wondering if the best way is to go through your involvement in the band chronologically, starting from the beginning and working our way through.
That sounds perfect. Fine.
OK, well let’s dive in, then. How did you become involved in the band in the first place. I guess it was through Lypton Village, was it?
It was sort of a Lypton Village kind of thing and also I went to the same primary school as Bono, so I kind of knew Bono. And then when I was about twelve or thirteen, Gavin was a friend of my brother’s and I sort of met Gavin that way, sort of through my brother, kind of thing.
Right, OK. The Lypton Village thing has had a lot of press over the years, but I’m not sure for anybody who wasn’t part of it that… I mean, I haven’t read anything that’s really explained it to me that well. I mean, you hear phrases like “it was a secret society” and they all seem very inadequate for the…
Well, basically it was kind of a gang of friends that I suppose were a bit different to other people and saw things in a different way to how other people would see them. Like, sort of being friends, we’d see things in different ways to other people. There would also have been a lot to do with a different sense of humour, we all had that sense of humour so we could see the funny side of each other.
Do you think it was a rebellion kind of thing, or was it more about taking the piss?
It was a bit of taking the piss and sort of rebellion thing… it was kind of a private gang of people in a sense, all spending a lot of time together and there were members outside, but a lot of the time it ended up being kind of… like I was a good friend of Reggie that was in it too and I’d be up in his house probably nearly every evening, and Skello was in the Village, it was a lot of that kind of thing, close friends between us all.
How many people would you say it encompassed overall?
Well, there was kind of the main members and then the social members would have been people like The Edge and people like that. There was Bono, Gavin, Guggi, Strongman, Pod, myself, Reggie, Skello… my brother was kind of in it for a while and then he sort of went his own kind of way… A lot of those people… they were the main members.
So what would be the difference between that and people you called the “social” members?
Well, social members were outside of the Village, they kind of could understand where we were coming from.
Understood it but weren’t part of it?
Yeah, they wouldn’t have been so part of it, we wouldn’t have seen so much of them as the gang that were together.
So how did that move towards music?
Well, it all would have started with U2. Bono was looking to get a band, he always had that interest in music and was trying to get a band he advertised and Larry Mullen got U2 going, Bono kind of wanted to be in a band. And Gav had a real love for music as well, probably more weird albums than some of the rest of us wouldn’t have had at the time. We’d go to Gavin on a Sunday and play his records, stuff that I might not have heard of but I got to like later. You know, a big strong love of music.
What sort of bands were you into at the time and what was he playing to you at the time?
He would have been playing The Fall, people like that. He was first into punk, when the Sex Pistols came out and he was into Jacques Brel and music like that as well, at the time a more open range of music, Bowie, Marc Bolan, whereas I grew up being more Bruce Springsteen, I suppose and Bob Dylan. They were kind of my big heroes.
Right. So you got to the point where there was this desire to make music and…
Well, the first thing really was Gavin and Guggi, at some gig and they got up and did some songs and then slowly kind of the whole Virgin Prunes band started to come together, where I think Pod, Guggi, Strongman and basically… Dik had all kind of come together. And then one evening I was eating chicken in Guggi’s lounge and I was kind of a bit drunk and I started making a performance of it, so Gavin said Dave-id Busaras has to be in the band. So that was the start of it. Then we worked on the music and our first gig would have been in the Project Arts Centre, where I didn’t actually sing, I told stories about a tomato sauce factory and… eating chicken as a performance piece.
I read about that somewhere, yeah.
And then for some reason for our second gig we were asked to support The Clash at The Top Hat in Dublin.
How did that come about, because they were a fairly big name at that point, weren’t they?
Well, that was the start of The Clash, they’d just released their second album at this stage. I don’t really know how it happened, but it was the first big gig and it made a difference in a sense in our home town. Gavin’s trousers and I think also Guggi’s trousers, they had plastic trousers and they split and they made the headlines of the papers the next morning, kind of thing.
Yeah, I’ve always loved that story, because you’ve got The Clash who at the time were like the Sex Pistols, you know, and…
They were just coming out with their second album, the Clash and they were pretty big, kind of thing…
Yeah, and they’re the punk movement, the two fingers up to society and so on and it makes me laugh that you’ve got this punk audience who are anti-establishment and you get the Virgin Prunes on stage and they manage to totally shock them and piss them off within about half an hour… that describes to me exactly the kind of effect that the Virgin Prunes were capable of having on people.
Yeah, that was kind of a lot of effect on people! Then we just went on playing different gigs and writing songs and then I think in 1980 we came up with… Gavin wrote away to Rough Trade and we ended up getting to record Twenty Tens, Children Are Crying, Revenge. I think for the time they were very classical songs, when you look back on them now, but at the time for an Irish band to do songs like those was very… ahead of their time, kind of thing. Because before that, the Irish bands were kind of Thin Lizzy… I suppose the most outrageous one would have been The Boomtown Rats…
Yeah, which you can see, compared to bands like Thin Lizzy, was more extreme, but nowhere near what you guys were doing.
So we wrote to them and, er… just for the record, by the way, The Children Are Crying was out before U2’s 11 O’c… their song, I’ve Heard The Children Crying. At those days there was a kind of little bit of lifting off each other, more a kind of coming up with the same ideas and… you know what I mean?
Yeah, I think that’s an interesting thing, to see how two bands that have come from the same group of friends, with similar backgrounds, to see how… the similarities, to see the things that you chose to explore together and then also the different way that those things went, the way that the Virgin Prunes did it and the way that U2 did it. I think it’s interesting, I don’t know many other bands, or collections of bands, that have had that type of relationship where you can see those kinds of things going on between the bands, I think it’s fascinating. And to be honest, you know, I was always much more of a Virgin Prunes fan than a U2 fan, I didn’t really pay much attention to U2 until…
I was… we kind of felt at the start that we knew U2 were going for the rock and roll sound or whatever, that new kind of pop sound. We needed to break away, we had to do something different, so we went in the other [stream?] kind of thing.
Right. So that was quite a conscious decision, then? It wasn’t just a natural kind of…
To a certain point it would have been a natural thing, because of the different kinds of music tastes, with Gavin being into more heavy music than probably Bono would have been at that time. But, there was a bit of kind of rebels more in the Virgin Prunes members or a certain amount of us, where if someone tells you you can’t do something, you’d do it.
Yeah, I think I’ve read a few interviews from that period, the sort of 80, 81 period, where interviewers are saying “Are you doing all this for shock value?” and your responses in your interviews were “No, no, we’re just expressing ourselves”, but you must’ve been aware of the effect that it was having on people. Did you feed off that, to a certain extent?
Well, when you do something different, and people haven’t seen it before, it tends to shock them, but personally, to me anyway and Gavin it would have been very natural for us, it was more natural to do that kind of thing. And even when we did The Late Late Show, a television programme in Ireland, we gave sweets out to people in the audience and… we done Theme For Thought and Gavin was very cabaret, sort of, with a table and two girls sitting there, and the loud bits… in a sense we would have known that the audience were going to hold their ears every time the heavy bit got going… But I think the more shocking thing of that evening was me breaking through security and giving sweets to everyone in the audience and giving a box of chocolates to Gay Byrne, but he wouldn’t take it [laughs]…
Yeah, I had a recording of that, mid-80s, and even at the time that struck me as quite a thing to you, you know, you had you guys on stage doing this very quiet/loud, quiet/loud song where, you know, Gavin’s quite… excited at one point, and then you’re distributing sweets. Was that a deliberate decision to try and shock people even more?
It was just like… in my head it was… like, Gavin said, can you come up with some ideas for what you can do, you’re not really in the song type of thing, so can you come up with something to do, and that’s sort of what came into my head. And then the more I thought, for a while I felt scared about it and then I just thought no, this is very cool.
I thought that was great. I mean, it broke down that barrier between the performers and the audience, you know, because when I finally got to see the video footage of that, which I think was probably three or four years ago, you’ve got the performance, which is quite intense and you’ve got the studio audience just sitting there, obviously not quite sure how to react to it and clapping politely and then, you know, you coming off the stage and talking to Gay Byrne and handing out the sweets, I think that’s what would have made it memorable for a lot of people, otherwise it would just have been a case of yeah, they were that loud, weird band.
[Laughs] No, I kind of thought that it made it a good evening… Then there was In The Greylight, War and I think it was Revenge or something, they were great songs, and then you’ve gone into the New Form Of Beauty thing. We were the sort of people that… we saw beauty in people, they mightn’t be the most handsome, but we saw beauty in people’s attitudes. We met a few strange people and we thought they were very cool at the time. So the whole New Form Of Beauty thing sort of come from that and the Bottle Of Milk and Gavin has kind of the Virgin Prunes on the first single, the Beautifull People, I think a fan club kind of thing.
Yeah, and there was this place… I’m not sure, did people live in the Beautifull House, or was it more of a place to hang out?
The Beautifull House would be more… we hung out there and more, kind of, we rehearsed there.
I’ve seen a couple of addresses for that in various interviews, do you remember whereabouts it was, exactly?
The most famous one that I remember was in the middle of town, just opposite the Project Arts Centre, which we played at. This building was left empty, there was no one using it, and our manager, our second manager, Kieran Owens, knew the person that owned it or something and they let us use it.
Right, OK. So it was more of a place to hang out, I assumed it was…
Yeah, there were three or so different floors and most of the time we hung out. The roof… the roof, kind of… there was a hole and birds would get in and they couldn’t get out and I think that’s where the idea for Mad Bird In The Woods, that song from Over The Rainbow, came from.
Yeah and it’s interesting that you’ve touched on that, because in the interview that we did with Gavin, a couple of weeks ago, he was talking… now, this was an e-mail interview, so I came up with the questions beforehand and he answered them and then we were talking about whether there should be a follow-up… it’s not really worked out because he’s busy and I’m busy at work and now I think he’s broken his computer anyway, so I can’t e-mail him at the moment, but one of the questions I wanted to follow up on, which maybe you can help out with, is that he made some passing comment about “some of our recordings were made in the strangest of ways”. I read on the Over The Rainbow sleeve notes about how Mad Bird In The Wood had been recorded and Third Secret as well, with, you know, the description of climbing up scaffolding blindfolded. Those obviously are the two that have been described previously, but in general were there a lot of what you might call less conventional recordings like that?
Well, we recorded some songs from New Form Of Beauty and I played everything except drums, like on something like Brain Damage, where I just put sounds together and I said to Mary I want this kind of drumming going behind, so I kind of laid down a bass and then I sung and played guitar and I wrote the song in the Beautifull House at the time, live, more or less, so it was kind of… I had the ideas in my head for the songs but it was written and recorded very quickly.
Same day, or did it take a couple of days?
Yeah, well it would’ve been done on the same day, we just went in and I did the song and recorded it and then laid down the bass and played guitar and sung at the same time and Mary played drums at the same time as well.
You mentioned Mary and one thing I meant to ask a few minutes ago is when you were talking about when the band came together, at what point did Mary become involved in it, because he wasn’t… was he more one of the social members of the Village?
Well, Pod was the first drummer and he left, he got into some kind of religion and kind of left. We all kind were a bit religious, but Pod got overboard and thought we were a bit evil. And then Binttii came in for about six or seven months and then we done the first part of New Form Of Beauty and Sandpaper Lullaby and Sleep Fantasy Dreams and Strongman played and then Mary joined after that for the next part, Sad World and Come To Daddy.
Ah, right, so he was fairly late on in the process.
Yeah, he was a friend of Gavin’s and after Binttii… Binttii gave us a lot of kind of grief, he was trying to take over the band and get members out and all that and we wanted some kind of a friend in the band that we knew we could be friendly with. The friendship I think was more important than how good he could drum at the time when he started.
He was only in the band about six weeks and we went off and done a big festivals, with Simple Minds headlining and Bow Wow Wow were playing and the Virgin Prunes and a few others.
Do you remember which one that was?
It was some festival in England, I’m not sure which one it was, but at the time Simple Minds were trying to be like Roxy Music , it was before they kind of captured the U2 sound, Jim Kerr was trying to… it would have been 81, but Bow Wow Wow were kind of big at the time, they had a single Go Wild In The Country…
Yeah, I was a huge Bow Wow Wow fan at that point, I thought they were great, I mean I was quite young, I didn’t get into the Virgin Prunes until 1985, I heard Gavin on The Fall’s album and thought “who’s that voice?” and then ended up buying a couple of the singles and loving them and then that was that, I was hooked, and I suppose I’m still hooked, but in 1981 I would have been 13 and I thought that Bow Wow Wow were the best thing since sliced bread. Simple Minds were good then, though, that was before they went…
To me they were kind of good, but Jim Kerr was trying to sing like Brian Ferry and I remember from the concert anyway, he had a real Brian Ferry kind of croaky type of thing…
Yeah, I think their thing was that they were always trying to be somebody else, they were very competent but they were always fitting in with whatever trend was big at the time, hence the way they tried to get into that whole stadium rock thing. But stuff like On The Waterfront and Up On The Catwalk were great singles…
Yeah, they did some good songs, and in the later part I think they got a bit kind of like U2 and did a similar sound and… [trails off]
Right, so… where were we… New Form Of Beauty Two. So you did the next two parts and then there was Five, which was the performance.
Yeah, the fifth part was a big exhibition in Douglas Hyde in November 81, where we locked people in a room where there was an exhibition of how people lived in Ballymun and that kind of thing and I remember there was a person dressed up as a sheep.
Do you remember who that was, because I was talking to Caroline about that the other day and…
I’m not sure who the guy was, he was a friend of Strongman’s and Guggi’s or something, but he was very quick to agree to do the job, I remember that. And there was a tent with loads of rabbits in it and a few guys got in and started smoking a bit of dope in it [laughs].
So, you locked people into the venue and…
We locked people into the venue and we played one of the heaviest shows, it was all kind of a lot of New Form Of Beauty stuff like Come To Daddy and Beast and different versions of… I think I played The Children Are Crying with a real organ sound and done songs in different ways. A lot of it was very kind of heavy.
And how did that go down with the audience, was it…
The audience were shocked out of their minds, it was an experience for them. I don’t know whether you knew, but the whole concert was videoed and some of it went on to Sons Find Devils, but the rest of it was never used.
Yeah, that was one of the things that I asked Gavin about in the interview, would that see the light of day and he was saying that it was a possibility but not right now. I would love to see that, I really would.
I think we’d want to put out a more commercial DVD before that one [laughs].
Yeah, I guess so, though I’d think that Sons Find Devils was probably about as commercial as you were ever gonna get, wasn’t it? The live footage was very…
It was, in a sense, but I think there would be more different commercial things, I don’t think… It might come out again, Sons Find Devils, but I’d rather see something fresh come out before Sons Find Devils comes out again.
What would you put on that, then?
Well Mute at the moment have about twenty odd hours and they’re looking through it to see what can be used.
What sort of stuff is that, is it live concerts or TV, or…
There’s a lot of different live concerts from the Hacienda and different sort of places, the footage from A New Form Of Beauty, different concerts from different places and… I’m not sure if it would have Heaven, when we played Heaven early, sort of 81, 82, there was a dinner table and sofas and things on stage before we actually played any music and we were sitting there eating our dinner.
I’ve heard about that one somewhere. Is that the one where the cake was smashed with the crowbar?
I think that was a later concert, this one was so when people came in we were sitting around on chairs and I think the whole sitting room got broken up and then I came on and started singing.
That kind of thing sounds so simple, but you get used to going to see a band and…
Sorry, I remember that concert was with Siouxsie and the Banshees, she thought we were… [trails off]
Yeah, I think I’ve read something with her mentioning the band. Certainly one of Gavin’s solo concerts in 95 she was there, I remember seeing her at the Jazz Cafe in London. [Pause] So, this comes on to another one of the things that I wanted to ask you about, you’re on the bill with bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees and you got lumped in with the whole Gothic thing, probably more after 82.
Yeah, we got put in there with the Gothics and at the end of the day basically I think they like to put you in to some kind of bracket, but basically we were an original band from Dublin, ahead of their time.
Did you feel that you had anything in common with any other bands, not necessarily the Gothic bands, was there anybody else at the time that you thought “yeah, we’re not doing the same thing, but we’re coming from a similar kind of place?”
Well, we played I think at Brixton, we played with the Birthday Party, I thought they were very entertaining, they were brilliant at the time. Even now, Nick Cave’s band…
Yeah, I heard his new album was good.
Yeah, it’s brilliant, it’s great to see that he can still bring a good one out and the best one was one before that, I think, No More Shall We Part.
I have to admit that I’ve not been a huge fan of his solo stuff, there’s been the occasional thing that I’ve liked, I think it’s been that I haven’t given it time, you know, you have to play those albums quite a bit.
Nick Cave wrote, as you probably know, Nick Cave wrote about me in Rotterdam and put it in one of Rolf’s books, you know, the guy who wrote the Virgin Prunes book.
Yeah, that was… I’m trying to think… that was in the first book wasn’t it?
No, it was in the second book [Judas Jesus] that Rolf brought out. Nick Cave said I was very “emotional” and he loved my kind of emotional thing. That, I was really proud of. Like I said, I’d been a real big fan, in the sense of when I saw them live, I thought the Birthday Party were brilliant.
Yeah, there’s a DVD of their stuff and I’d really like to get that, it’s one of those things I keep meaning to buy. Because again, they were another band that I got into around the time of their last single. They released the Bad Seed EP and that was great and then I think they only did one more EP after that and then they were over and I never got to see them.
On their last album they did a song I really loved, it started “Hands up who wants to die!”
Yeah! That was Sonny’s Burning, that’s on the Bad Seed EP. And then, they were on 4AD Records, they switched to Mute and put out that last one with… ah God, what’s it called… Jennifer’s Veil. I’d forgotten that was on Mute Records! Well, talking of Mute…
Sorry, after we did New Form Of Beauty we wanted to do something a bit more sort of commercial, so we wrote Dave-id Is Dead and Pagan Lovesong, that was the start of a more accessible kind of song. I feel Dave-id Is Dead has a real Public Image kind of feel to it.
Well, yeah. Pagan Lovesong I can see as more “accessible”, but I would have said that Dave-id Is Dead was less structured, more like the New Form Of Beauty stuff.
It was continuing on from it, yeah, but it was more kind of… I think I was going through a phase of listening to Johnny Lydon and that sort of Sex Pistols stuff. I know I was feeling very downhearted, I can’t even remember what about.
I think it’s interesting to see it on the … If I Die, I Die re-release. You look at stuff like that and you think “well, they want to get everything on there, they want to make sure that all the B-sides are included and so on, but actually the album as a whole, with stuff like that on it… I’ve always assumed, when I bought the album, that the “blue” side was Side A and the “brown side” was Side B.
No, the brown side was always the first side, when it came out on the original record, anyway.
Yeah, I don’t know why I assumed that, I think it was probably that in all the record shops where I saw it, the blue side was always to the front. [Also on the CDs, including the re-release!] And getting back to my original point, to see things like Dave-id Is Dead on there, it makes it a different album.
In a good way!
Certainly we wanted to re-release the albums so… it wasn’t just songs on there for the sake of it, we wanted them to look different and sound different. Like, there’s a new track on there, just after Dave-id Is Dead, before you go into Baby Turns Blue, to break it up a bit.
Yeah, and that was good to hear as well, because I think that’s similar to one of the RTE sessions you did. I saw that on the tracklisting before I got my copy of the CD and I was thinking “wow, brand new track!” and then when I heard it, I was thinking “I KNOW this” and I couldn’t place it at all, I knew it was one of the really rare things and I was going through all my stuff trying to find it.
It was the kind of thing that was done… we recorded …If I Die, I Die and we were under pressure in the studio and it was hard to get lyrics for it. Gavin tried and I tried and it was just one of those days. I think we forgot about it then and went on to the ideas for King Of Junk – that was on Over The Rainbow, but it was recorded in the same session as If I Die, I Die.
So was there much other stuff…
Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt, but to get back to Mute, years and years ago they wanted us. Our manager Ian Cranna brought a lot of songs to them and they wanted us to bring out a sort of six-track EP with Uncle Arthur, I Am God, Our Love Will Last Forever, Alone and either Deadly Sins or something and our manager at the time said “no”, they just wanted those songs at the time and we’d started the new album and our manager was going “no, they can’t break up these songs”.
Why did they only want those songs, were they not happy with the other stuff?
I think they just wanted to bring an EP out first and…
Test the waters?
Yeah, test the waters.
And that was Mute was it, because I asked Gavin and he thought it was Beggars Banquet?
No, it was definitely Mute.
I wondered if it was poor memory on his part, because I had a letter from a friend in 1986 definitely saying Mute Records.
No, Mute, I think was around 1983.
Oh, that early?
Yeah, we’d done some work on The Moon and we were still working on it. I think our manager made the mistake of bringing B-sides and songs that weren’t usable, he played it all to them including little bits of things we were still working on and I think that’s why they were a bit put off and just wanted to put an EP out and then probably do an album later.
So it was all work in progress, it didn’t give them a representative feel for what the final sound was going to be like?
That’s interesting, I had no idea that it was so much prior to the album actually coming out, I’d assumed it was 1985 or early 1986.
We came out of If I Die I Die at the end of 82 and did a lot of shows in 83 and in between that we went into Windmill Lane [recording studio] and later bought equipment and went into Trident Studio in London with Dave Ball and Flood.
What was it like working with Dave Ball? He was someone who’d been quite a successful pop star at that point!
Dave Ball was a “one of the lads” kind of a head in a sense, very easy-going, whereas Colin Newman had no sense of humour and used to bug me a lot and I used to bug him back by making mistakes on takes.
Yeah, I know we’re jumping around here, but I’d heard about the difficult relationship between the band and Colin Newman at the time and Dik made the comment in Rolf’s book about putting the songs you were unhappy with on the “blue” side of the album, then to have Colin Newman back on the scene twenty years later remixing Baby Turns Blue seemed very odd. I asked Gavin about that and he’d said that you guys weren’t the most easy band to work with at the time. So it was a sense of humour clash, was it?
Yeah, he didn’t get our sense of humour, I think, he was more into the kind of serious side. Because ’82 was a hard year for us, like we went in for one or two nights and recorded all of Heresie, we’d been working hard in the studio and playing gigs. With Heresie, someone asked us to write about suicide and we had a day or two to come up with stuff for it, so it was very quickly written.
I hadn’t realized that.
Yeah, at the time our minds would have been more on the If I Die, I Die stuff and this project comes out of the blue and we said “let’s do it”. It was in the studio when we were doing something else and I was at the piano trying to finish off Man On The Corner.
So how did that come about? You say it was “out of the blue”, were they fans of the band?
Some guy in France was writing something about suicide and they wanted us to write heavy music and so we ended up with our heaviest record, even more than Din Glorious. We wrote it very quickly and the most commercial thing was Down The Memory Lane.
Which, both at the time and now, sounds – in a totally wonderful kind of way – very out of place on that record! That’s another thing that probably blew a few people’s minds, mine included. When I was getting to know the band’s work in 1985 and all of thus stuff was still fairly widely available, I started with Pagan Lovesong and then If I Die, I Die and then I picked up the various parts of New Form Of Beauty, so I’d heard things like Sandpaper Lullabye and Come To Daddy, and…
Sandpaper Lullaby is remastered, it sounds very commercial and beautiful, it’s come out very beautiful.
I think the whole set sounds fantastic.
Yeah, the songs sound better than they ever did before.
Particularly The Moon Looked Down And Laughed.
That album was really ahead of its time. I think a lot of people took influence from it, noticed something about that album. I think even U2, with Flood’s arrangement of songs. I think The Moon open other people’s minds to Flood’s work. He’d worked with other people before, but then a lot of people started to work with hum, U2, Depeche Mode, Nick Cave…
And what do you think it was about his arrangements that got people’s attention?
I think if you have trouble arranging a song, he seems to be good at sorting out things. He was a genius, I think, he was very understanding. Like, when I was doing vocals for Uncle Arthur and I was singing a bit too hard, he’d say “can you sing it more softly, with more understanding, it’ll make more sense” and I’d end up agreeing with him. Like with Just A Love Song, he got good things out of my voice.
So – and this is a contentious question, I know – would you say that ultimately he had more of an impact on the album than Dave Ball?
Personally I would say he had more, yeah. Dave Ball had his good points too, but overall I think a lot of Flood’s work came out shining. But Dave Ball was good at beats and tempos [worth noting here that his solo album’s title was In Strict Tempo]. I think we’d have been a bit lost without Flood though.
The album was originally going to be called Sons Find Devils, why was the title changed?
Well, we were never really that all that happy with it. Then Over The Rainbow came out, because it had been so long and we felt we needed something out, and some fans were disappointed, though some people loved it. I think if we’d come out with The Moon I think people would have been more into it, I think some people were a bit fed up with us for bringing out Over The Rainbow when we did.
Because it was old and they were hungry for new material?
Basically because it was old. I’d say a lot of fans bought it because it had a very classic cover. I mean, to ask you an honest question, I know it’s a long time go now, but with the original Over The Rainbow would you have sat down and listened to it a lot? I don’t think so.
[Laughs] I probably did, to be honest, yeah! But I think a lot of it depends on when you got into the band. If you’d been into the band in ’80, ’81, ’82 you might have got a lot of that stuff already.
I think a lot of the idea to bring it out was because there were fans who didn’t have a lot of the early stuff, they wouldn’t have known it.
Certainly when I was getting into the band in 1985 it was invaluable, because otherwise I’d have had to scout all of the mail order catalogues and the second-hand shops. That stuff’s so easy these days with the internet – you want anything, you’ve got a world-wide market to buy from, there’s some guy in Italy or California that’s got something you want and it’s very easy to organize. But back then, God! You had to slog around all the shops and there were only ever two second-hand shops in the town where you lived and it would have taken forever to find a lot of that stuff. I still don’t own the originals of a lot of those things like C-81 – if I saw them I would buy them and maybe I haven’t made much of an effort over the years to find them, because I haven’t needed to. So I thought it was a great thing. And for me, the thing about Over The Rainbow is that coming to the band as a new fan – and I had fairly adventurous musical tastes, they certainly weren’t totally off the scale for me – for the few months I really struggled to get into the band’s way of thinking and to work out what was going on! That was the attraction of the records for me, I couldn’t work out what the ideas were about, which intrigued me, I wanted more. Over The Rainbow had great sleeve notes that, brief as they were, were very, very helpful – and you’ve got to remember that this was still a few months before Rolf’s book came out – in working out where this band was coming from. Do you think the fact that there was this progression from the earlier stuff, which seemed to get heavier and heavier with each release until If I Die I Die, then there was a fairly long pause of around three years until something else came out…
Yeah, we were trying to record and there were problems. When we toured through ’81 and ’82, Guggi was getting into art and doing a lot of sketching and drawing and he didn’t like the idea of the changes we were making, he would have liked to do another If I Die, I Die. So we were recording The Moon and he did a few songs and then he decided to go off, he didn’t feel that he fitted in to it properly.
[Interview continues here…]