Phil Hatton, Steve Turner and Phil Ridden are WelshMansHill and when I made the return journey to the Birmingham heartland of ELO in October, an interview with the band on the then imminent release of their debut album "Poparama" on 11.11.11 was recorded for ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) which (hopefully) will be broadcast soon (in full or in part) by Hamilton Radio, Radio BackTrack as well as the legendary Beatles & Beyond radio show hosted by Pete Dicks. My interview with WMH comprised fifteen questions and is now available on CD from ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) upon request. Yours Truly KJS has paraphrased those interview questions and answers below for your perusal thus:
PH: We want listeners to like our music because it's something that is different and lasts - because all good tunes do that, really. The good ones last! We've got a load more songs that we're working on. We've got a couple of projects. One is 'The Himalayan Pilots' and the other, of course, is "Poparama II". We are working on those "Poparama II" songs right now - knocking them in to shape for release hopefully in twelve months. We've got some good tunes there.
ST: Basically we want to sell lots and lots of product to get us onto the next level of going around promoting "Poparama" and touring with it, based upon the reaction we get when it's available on November 11th.
PR: It'll be available to buy as a CD or a download via iTunes or amazon MP3.
PH: Yes, something to look forward to!
ST: Christmas number one - that's what we want!
PH: "Tomorrow's World" is a song of hope and of having things to look forward to. It's a good intro to the album. It's a song to pick people up.
ST: And this is one of the songs where the main riff was stolen from one of those old 'Apathetics' tracks which went back 30 years. As we were working on it, I realized that that riff would fit and we kinda encompassed that as well. It was probably one of the first tracks we did.
PH: It was one of the first songs that we all wrote together. Original - getting away from all the funk stuff back in 1982. A good one to dance to!
ST: "Alaska" came from one of Phil's ideas when he had his camper van! It started as a basic four track thing that Phil put down with the words - I love the words in this song, they're especially good. This is another one of Phil's many songs written in his camper van that he brought to the studio where we developed it.
PH: It's about 'X Factor' and shows like that where you can be a star in a few weeks. And it's not always a good thing as many of them find out later.
PH: "Not Really A ..." is for all the chaps who have been on holiday to Thailand and found out that the girl that they have been talking to is "not really a" girl at all. A lady boy.
ST: It's pretty much tongue-in-cheek. "You're Not Really A Girl" is the full title.
PH: It rocks a long does this song. It's a good one to bang your head to ... especially if you've just been in the company of one of those 'ladies'.
PH: "Sunset In The Morning" ... me and Steve did most of the lyrics with this one. It's about rolling home at 8 'o clock in the morning with the bird song 'full on' and wishing you hadn't been out that night doing what you were doing. A song of regret.
PH: "Postmodernist Bluesman" ... funnily enough the title for that is from a chap I know from years ago from Birmingham when I used to play in a band called 'Heavyboots' with Graham Struggles at 'The Alambra'. I hadn't seen this chap for 40 years or something until I saw him in Erdington where "Mothers" used to be, a really famous nightclub where a lot of top groups played before they became famous. Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Black Sabbath, The Moody Blues, ELO - lots of groups. Pink Floyd recorded an album there. This fellow was now a busker and had just come back from France. He gave me this tape recording and the name of this cassette was "Postmodernist Bluesman". We talked about where he had been and "Mothers" so this song is about that chap!
PH: "Nobody Came" is similar to the story about Van Gogh. It's about having a talent - in this case an artist who didn't sell a painting. Nobody got to seeing it. There were no red dots on the frame to show that it was sold and that's part of the song. It's about trying to do something and finding out that even if you've got lots of talent, nobody wants it. Maybe in years to come you'll be appreciated - but not now. But you've got to keep trying.
ST: "Catch A Train" ... another one of Phil's!
PH: It's actually quite a dark song because it's about being addicted to Class A drugs. I always say to stay away from them. because if you get amongst that stuff, it's going to kill you. I've worked with people over the last few years -when I'm not doing music - supporting and counselling people with addiction and mental health problems and I've seen what it does to people so this song tries to warn them off because there isn't a dock leaf to help take away that sting if you get involved with this stuff. So this is a song that will hopefully make people think before using that stuff. That's "Catch A Train".
WMH: So don't catch it!
PH: "When It Rains" ... we got the idea for this - funnily enough - when it was raining ... in Wales! - I was inside a tent at Shell Island ... beautiful place Mochras ... and I got the idea from listening to the rain coming down. "When It Rains" is really about remembering a loved one who isn't there any more and it's about time spent reflecting on that person. If a tear drop goes into a river and that river flows into the sea, that's all part of the rain that one day will fall down on you. And if it's the tear drop of that person, it's something to remind you and refresh your memory. It's a very spiritual song, Keith.
ST: "Wendy's Farm" ... Wendy is the sister of a friend who used to be a roadie with 'The Sweet'. there's no great depth to it - it's just that she had a farm over in Middleton and we went over there three or four years ago. There were some outbuildings that we thought could be a studio hence the name: "Wendy's Farm".
PH: We also thought that it could be a priory type place for people to come to and escape their demons. And that's where we got the idea of people going to "Wendy's Farm" from! "She's the only one that can help".
PH: "Endorphic" is another song that says don't go chasing that thing that you wish you hadn't gone chasing for because it doesn't always turn out right in the end. Whether it's money or love or whatever.
ST: I seem to remember that it was about chasing endorphins ...
PH: Yes ... the things that you get a buzz out of life. Once you've got that 'one', you'll never find it again.
ST: We think Phil has invented his own word in 'endorphic'!
PR: It's a little enjoyable ditty for the end of the album.
PH: The playing on the whole album by Phil and Steve is absolutely top notch. The last song is about lifting your spirits right up, just like the first song: "In Tomorrow's World" ... it's what we wanted to finish the album off with. Quite a few friends have been lifted when they've heard it.
ST: It's a bit of a ditty really ... we were unsure that we were going to include it originally as it didn't fit in with the other tracks but we thought it would be a good song to stick at the end of the album so that it finished on a high note after the 'heavy' tracks.
ST: I'll say "Sunset In The Morning".
PH: I'd say that as well.
PR: I'd go for "Wendy's Farm" because at the moment I like that production. Steve did a good job on the guitars on that one. Nice simple drumming but it's got a nice spacey, echoey kinda thing on the back end of the guitars ... there's just something else there! Whether it's your own imagination or not - that's my take!
KJS: It's a toss up for me between "Nobody Came" and "When It Rains".
KJS: In my personal opinion, this CD is one of the best I have heard for a very long time. The whole album hangs together very nicely. There is a depth to “Poparama”, a wide range of musical styles and song construction to be found here. I have received much positive feedback as to the songs. WMH appear to be building up a healthy fan base out there on Facebook and internet radio; especially at Hamilton Radio ... what responses have you received to your music?
PR: We've been fortunate in that we've had the same sort of response, people saying the same thing. They like it, they think it's a good album.
ST: Yes, we've had some great responses from people who have heard it at various stages. Also, people on a comparable basis to us who have had more success like Dave Morgan and Richard Tandy really like it.
PH: Richard Tandy phoned me up to say he really liked "Sunset In The Morning". I'm really chuffed that the people in America are 'getting' the music as well. They're not quite sure whether it's an American band or an English band so that's a good thing that maybe we can cross over. People are listening to it and then they are listening to it again and hearing something different every time! I've had a lot of people say that through Facebook and wmhmusic.com ... the interesting thing is that what we meant to do was to make the songs interesting and that's the feedback we are getting. Every time that they listen they are finding another guitar or a keyboard! Also the tunes are sticking in their heads. When you get feedback like that, you think to yourself: "Maybe it's working!"
PR: Yes, we're getting good feedback from other musicians. That's good.