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Wreckless Eric - Interview

  by Andrew Twambley

published: 30 / 8 / 2023

Wreckless Eric - Interview

If you are of a certain age and left your childhood behind when punk exploded onto the music scene and into 70’s culture, Wreckless Eric would have been a staple part of your musical diet with his monumental single, ‘Whole Wide World’. Although not strictly ‘punk’, it was adopted by the new movement and he became a stablemate of such iconic acts as Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, The Damned and Ian Dury. Towards the end of the 70s, he fell out with the music industry and went underground, but still recorded a host of albums. We asked Eric what happened, what inspired his new album ‘Leisureland’ and if he recalled a meeting in the toilets in Eric’s Liverpool in 1978… PB: Let’s talk about ‘Leisureland’! It is your first new album for a while. What made you decide to release it? WRECKLESS ERIC: Well, it’s what I do. I love recording records. There was a point when it scared me, especially putting it out. I was petrified that people would hate it and give me a roasting. I have been making home-made records since the ‘80s, because I don’t like engineers and producers. I started out as a visual artist and now make records using the same discipline. I like to layer sounds on top of each other so they obscure each other but come together out of sympathy. It makes it more interesting. Some people have suggested that ‘Leisureland’ is a kind of concept album. It’s not but it is a set of cohesive songs that fit together. As I started to write the album, I had an idea about a town called Standing Water, a dilapidated seaside town with a drug problem where on the other side of town people are having a good time…. A bit like in the movie ‘Titanic’ with the difference between life on deck and below. I grew up in an area like that in Brighton, with an idyllic front with an undertone of violence and destitution. PB: It has an intimate feeling but you were completely involved in every aspect of the recording. Where did you record it? WE: have my own studio and do most stuff myself, but I do have a mate down the road who is a very inventive drummer. He helps me a great deal, and there are a few others who helped out, but, as much of it was recorded in the pandemic, it was difficult to get help, so it was down to me. PB: Listening to the album reminds me of my own upbringing in the Blackpool, Fleetwood area. The album could be about that area. It’s a forgotten land. The front cover could have been shot on the seafront Blackpool…. WE: It was shot in Cromer. The picture was taken first and much of the album developed from that. Photos often provide me with inspiration. PB: Your voice has retained its distinctive sound, unlike some of the more mature artists these days, who just can’t sing. How do you manage that? WE: My singing voice has never really changed. I sing like I did in the ‘70s and distort it slightly with tape echo and a bit of reverb. I am so glad the voice hasn’t deteriorated! PB: I must get this in but we kind of met on the 22 April 1978! I was in the toilets at Eric’s in Liverpool, having a wee… and you walked in. We didn’t speak obviously! WE: Really? Well, thankfully I don’t remember that. Ha ha! That would have been my solo tour, the first tour after The Stiff Tour. I think the tickets were fourteen pence....and Eric’s smelled terribly, like The Hope and Anchor in Islington! Those were the days! PB: Going back to those good old days, you were on the original Stiff roster. What was that like? WE: At the beginning it was very exciting if not a little terrifying. I had been a shy art student and suddenly I was in the middle of the music business. I like the music but I didn’t really like the rest of it. It wasn’t as enlightening as I thought. So many people pushing me about. PB: Do you see any of those guys from the old days? WE: Not really, I see Graham Parker and occasionally Nick Lowe. I don’t see Elvis Costello or anyone else. PB: You famously fell out with the industry in the late 70s. What happened? WE: Well, they fell out with me. The press certainly did. The press didn’t like Stiff in the end, which was okay because neither did I! Come on! Tracey Ullman miming with a hairbrush! It all went to shit when Jake Rivera left. He was the visionary. I think Dave Robinson is out on tour telling everyone how clever he is! PB: ‘Whole Wide World’ may have been one hit but it has endured and is still loved today. How come? WE: I don’t want to think about that as I might jinx it. I am damned lucky. PB: Even The Monkees covered that. You must be proud. WE: Yea, I met Mickey Dolenz and he was great. He was fantastic with the tambourine….Not many people can play a tambourine properly with rhythm and spirit. PB: Where are you now living - France, the USA or the UK? WE: I am in Cromer now, but I lived in France for thirteen years…but the weather is worse there. I am not sure why I stayed so long! Well, I do know really, I had a drink problem and I had to get over that. So, France helped me there. Then I moved to New York for eleven years as my wife Amy is American. Currently we are considering coming back to England. I love America, but I love England even more. Nowhere is perfect. The world is a mess but maybe less so over here. My wife arrived from America last week and she commented on how many people were smiling. PB: Finally, I saw a review of the album and one comment was, “burns like a lost Crazy Horse classic“ How do you feel about that? WE: I thought that was great. Another review that I liked stated that I was “the missing link between The Velvet Underground, Ray Davies and Crazy Horse. I loved that!! PB: Thank you.

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Wreckless Eric - Interview

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Wreckless Eric - Interview

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70's icon Wreckless Eric speaks to Andrew Twambley about his new album 'Leisureland' and being an outsider in the music industry


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