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Ian Mcnabb - Interview

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 16 / 10 / 2002

Ian Mcnabb - Interview


Former Icicle Works frontman, Ian McNabb, is back with a new internet solo album, 'The Gentleman Adventurer' . Long-term fan Anthony Strutt chats to him about it and what else he has been up to lately

I first met Robert Ian McNabb back in April '85 on board 'The Royal Iris', a Liverpool boat which on this occasion had sailed down from the Mersey and was on the Thames. I met Ian at the bar. He was touring with his then band, The Icicle Works, and signed my cassette copy of his and their first album, the eponymous 'The Icicle Works' (Beggars Banquet, 1984). That night was my first Icicle Works gig. Ian opened the set up with 'Pretty Vacant' and said "This is for absent friends" and ripped into a modern day classic which put shame to the original. By the time I saw them for a second time, I was on the guest list because Ian liked my coat, a 1950's Bunnymen style overcoat. By then I was hooked, and have over the years since then seen McNabb well over a hundred times live. From '81 to '88 Ian fronted the original Icicle Works with bassist Chris Layhe and drummer Chris Sharrock, whom until recently was the drummer for Robbie Williams. Sharrock left the band in May '88 to be followed shortly afterwards by Layhe. Ian then formed a second Icicle Works line up and signed up to Sony only to be dropped after recording one album, 'Permanent Damage' (1990). In '91, he went solo and has since then made a succession of timeless records, including 'Head Like a Rock' (This Way Up, 1994), which, recorded with members of Crazy Horse, received a Mercury prize nomination, and more recently 'Ian McNabb' (Sanctuary, 2001) and 'Waifs and Strays' (Evangeline, again 2001). Ian's latest album, the 14 song and 60 minute "The Gentleman Adventurer' is not available in the shops, and is only available by mail order and from Ian's website www.ianmcnabb.com. It has been released on Ian's own Fairfield Records (Fair CD3), upon which he has previously released two other albums, 'A Party Political Broadcast on Behalf of the Emotional Party' (Fair CD1, 1998) and 'Live at Life' (Fair CD2, 2000). I spoke to Ian about the new album, and also about what else he had been up to recently. PB: Why did you call your new album 'The Gentleman Adventurer'. It sounds a bit 1920's? IM : It just came into my head - I had lots of titles - I liked this one best - I think it sums me up! PB: The tracks are a year old. How big is your backlog now? IM : Vast - I have enough material for another five albums if I don't write another tune again. PB: With regard to Fairfield,are you more organised now that you have done this before? IM : Yeah ! Practice makes (nearly ! ) perfect. PB: How well did 'Ian McNabb' and 'Waifs and Strays', your last two albums , do? Well that depends on how you look at it - they both sold around 3000 copies, which people tell me is "good" now. 'Head Like A Rock' sold 20,000. I'd rather sell something like that number ! PB: Why is the album in two parts? IM : It makes it easier to digest first time around - there's a lot of information on there and I felt that people would feel it was okay to have a cuppa or pee after the seventh track, 'Other People'. I like the idea of 'Sides' - the biggest casualty after artwork in the vinyl/CD debate. PB: The album is recorded in a studio but does have a demo feel to it. On the whole it is easily listened to late night and early morning. Do you feel this is your easy listening album and are you mellowing with age? IM : I'm not mellowing with age. 'Waifs and Strays' was Balls Out Rock. I get bored doing the same thing twice - I've never done anything like this album before. It may remind you of things I did in the past, but really it's nothing like them. I could've used drums and a band but I wanted a home made flavour - even though it was recorded in a very expensive studio. It sounds posh! I think all my albums are easy to listen to - even the loud ones. They're very musical. PB: The Icicle Works will never reform? But if you had the chance, as maybe as an one off, would you ever consider it? IM : Under the right circumstances it would be fun -but it would overshadow anything I've done in the past few years , which is not good. I think you'd find Chris Sharrock would be the one opposed to it the most. He doesn't need the money.... PB: Is the music biz still worth being in, as it is harder work, and less people buy product and go to gigs ? IM : Yes, yes and yes. I can still make money if I do it right. I can't make records if I don't make money. It's worse than it's ever been, but you have to carry on. My biggest problem is being totally ignored by the press and radio. I can't catch up with lapsed fans or get to any new ones in significant numbers - it's a drag. PB: What else have you been up to recently ? IM : I played bass on a Waterboys European tour to pay the bills. I did two gigs with Ringo Starr which were unbelievable fun - a dream come true. I hope it happens again sometime ! PB : Thank you

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Ian Mcnabb - Interview

Ian Mcnabb - Interview

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Anthony Strutt talks to former Icicle Works front man Ian McNabb about his latest solo album 'Eclectic Warrior'
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