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Whirlpool Guest House - Interview

  by Tommy Gunnarsson

published: 19 / 3 / 2009

Whirlpool Guest House - Interview


Little known in their original lifetime, late 80s Stockton-on-Tees based indie trio Whirlpool Guest House have just had 'Rough Digs', a compilation of all their material, released. Singer and guitarist Carl Green talks to Tommy Gunnarsson about his group

Earlier this year, I reviewed the compilation 'Rough Digs' released by Summerhouse Records, containing all the songs recorded by the Stockton-on-Tess based trio Whirlpool Guest House during the late 80s. Even though the booklet that comes with the compilation tells the story of the band, I wanted to know more, so we contacted the band’s front man Carl Green to get some more information. But first, some basic facts for those of you who aren’t familiar with Whirlpool Guest House… The band consisted, as well as Carl on vocals and guitars, Andrew Davis on bass guitar and his wife Sallyann on vocals, with producer Graeme Robinson filling in behind the drum kit. Their first, and only, single, called 'The Changing Face' was released in 1987, and an album followed two years later, which was entitled 'Pictures on the Pavement'. Both records were released at the time by Summerhouse Records, which is run by Friends’ front man William Jones. Are you ready for some more information on this forgotten treasure ? Here we go! PB : Tell me a little about how Whirlpool Guest House formed and where the name of the band came from ? CG : We were three friends with time on our hands! We all loved that late 60's hippy folk scene but thought it might benefit from an injection of pop! We took the Mamas And The Papas harmonies, the weirdness of Strawberry Alarm Clock and added a big dollop of melody and voila! The name is an imaginary reference to 'Heartbreak Hotel', Whirlpool Guest House being the cheap, seedier version on the other side of the tracks PB : How did you get in contact with William and Summerhouse ? CG : We are old friends. PB : What were your influences when you formed the band, and how did they change ? CG : Well, I've already mentioned the 60's stuff but we were also fans of 80's indie pop like Orange Juice, the Shop Assistants, the Housemartins and the Smiths. Our influences didn't change...we were quite a short lived band really. PB : How did you write the songs ? Was it a band effort or did you do them all yourself ? Did lyrics or music come first ? CG : I wrote the words and music (nearly always music first) then Andrew and Sally would add the harmonies and bass parts. We were all involved with the final arrangements and overall sound though. PB : Whirlpool Guest House had a very alternative approach to live shows ? Why didn't you want to play live, and why did you come up with the idea of a visual show instead ? CG : I was bored watching people play musical instruments on stage. Even if they put on a great live performance, I felt that I had seen every move and facial expression a thousand times. I had always had an interest in film and photography and decided to incorporate this into a kind of audio visual stage presentation. I wanted invention not tradition. I liked the idea of perplexing an audience. I still do! PB : Why did you split up ? And why did you form another band, Shandy Wildtime, with the same members later on ? CG : We didn't split - we just changed our name! We were wilfully obtuse! PB : Do you have a favourite moment with Whirlpool Guest House ? CG : I think the release of our first single 'The Changing Face' was pretty exciting. PB : What's your favourite Whirlpool Guest House song ? And why ? CG : 'The Plumber's Daughter' I think. It captured the band ethos best and the words still resonate with me. I also like my little guitar part in the middle! PB : What was it like to be a band like WGH in the late 80s ? CG : Unloved and unheralded. PB : How do you think the music scene has changed since then ? CG : I am not sure it has really. Young people picking up guitars or keyboards or whatever, and spilling their hearts out in song is still a path eagerly trod by millions of creative people who want to be heard, who want to make a difference. Good luck to them all. PB : Have you ever talked about a reunion ? CG : No. I'm not interested in past glories! PB : What have you been doing since the split? CG : I created a cartoon pop band called The Close-Ups earlier this decade with a brilliant teenage singer called Abby Connor. That's now on ice, and I'm performing solo as Head Of Light Entertainment. It's kind of acoustic left field pop with elements of everything I've done in the past. I feel I've finally found my true niche and I'm having a ball! Have a listen on www.myspace.com/headoflightentertainment PB : What do you think about the digital revolution in music ? Is downloading a positive or a negative thing ? CG : Today's music lovers will access music via today's means. It is not for me because I prefer quality and the feeling of buying into an artist's world, but as long as music is being made, being listened to, being loved, then everything is good. PB : Thank you.

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Whirlpool Guest House - Interview

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Rough Digs (2009)
Fantastic indie pop on career-spanning retrospective from short-lived and underrated 80s group, Whirlpool Guest House

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