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Simon Love - Interview

  by Kimberly Bright

published: 27 / 11 / 2018

Simon Love - Interview


Kimberly Bright talks to Welsh singer-songwriter Simon Love about the tales behind his recent songs, the Beatles, classic British television, and the art of holding grudges.

Singer-songwriter Simon Love’s highly-acclaimed new album 'Sincerely, S. Love x' is an impressive follow-up to his 2015 debut but somehow evaded inclusion on this year's Welsh Music Prize shorlist. The most recent single off the album is 'All This Kicking Around', the tidied-up version of 'All This Dicking Around'. My curiosity was already piqued with the first single, 'Not If I See You First', about avoiding running into an ex-partner in public. Love’s amazing, jaunty ‘60s pop belies the bitter lyrics, which address a real concern for people with messy private lives who reside in small towns. There is a swipe at scientist and lippy atheist Richard Dawkins in 'God Bless the Dick Who Let You Go' that might have resulted in Dawkins blocking him on Twitter. Naturally listeners wants to know the back story to his songs when they seem to be taken from his personal life. In addition to being a talented songwriter and engaging live performer, Simon is one of the few reasons to stay on Twitter. He has intriguing opinions on pop culture and his unflinchingly funny stories of DJ’ing in pubs are not to be missed, even if they might make misanthropes out of all of us. He is the mischievous friend every anti-social teenager wants to sit next to in the back of the classroom or gymnasium, making juvenile jokes and mercilessly mocking everyone else in the room sotto voce. He recently posted his track listing for a single album Beatles’ 'White Album', always a controversial topic, and this naturally opened up a whole new avenue of questions. PB: After hearing 'Not If I See You First' I have to ask, have you ever had to duck into a store or down a different supermarket aisle or under a cafe table to successfully avoid an ex-girlfriend before she saw you? Do you believe it's possible to stay friends with an ex? Simon Love: There's a couple of ex-girlfriends I'm still friends with. It's all about circumstance, really. A few have been lost to time and distance, but I don't think I've ever had to avoid one in the street or wherever. Thankfully London is a big place, and the ones who I don't want to see wouldn't hang around where I do now. It'd be weird if they did, as I mostly just stay home. PB: You mentioned in a previous interview that two songs were left off your first solo album 'It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time' at producer Sean Price’s insistence. Was one of them 'R U Dynamite?' and is that the one that Sean (wrongly!) described as "worse than a Beady Eye B-side"? What was the other one? SL: Yeah, it was 'R U Dynamite?' that was described like that. The other was 'Universal Love', which starts off as riff-rock and then goes into a 7/8 (I think) section with heavy brass and then into a weird doo-wop ending. Originally the LP started with that followed immediately by 'Wowie Zowie' (which is how we played it live), but as they were joined together it lasted about eight minutes which I was told was "too long." Some people don't appreciate art. In the end I think Sean was right. Which hurts. 'Universal Love' ended up being an "exclusive" on the Indietracks compilation in 2016 when we got accused of misogyny for having Liz from The School wear a Jools Holland mask when she came on to play piano on one song. Great days. PB: Do you hold grudges for a long time? Have you ever hexed/cursed someone? SL: I hold grudges for ages. I hadn't spoken to a bass player of The Loves from 2003 until about two months ago when I saw him in Cardiff when I was very drunk. I tried to hug him with a pint in both hands and had a conversation about how mental children are. He looked a bit scared. Probably because my eyes were swivelling around in their sockets. Most of the people I hold grudges against (the despicable Miles Kane being one) have no idea who I am or that it's happening. To the best of my recollection, I've never hexed anyone. PB: You've said that 'Revolution in the Head' is one of your favourite books, which I'm re-reading right now. Overall do you think Ian MacDonald is a little harsh about Paul? SL: He's not as hard on Paul as Geoff Emerick is on George in his book. That's shocking. Reading 'Revolution in the Head' again it feels a bit sneery, but that's what's missing with a lot of critical reviews of music now. Not everything is great. Even the Beatles had a bad day or two. See the second side of 'Help!' PB: What are your feelings/thoughts about Revolution #9'? In your single album track listing for 'The White Album,' why did you not include 'Honey Pie'? SL: I love 'Revolution #9'! It's the best known bit of avant-garde music in the world. There's so much going on. When I first started recording songs in my parents' garage with a karaoke machine and my friend Marc, we'd record whatever songs we'd written the previous night and then do one burst of instant weirdness influenced by 'European Son' by the Velvet Underground and 'Revolution #9'. We'd speed things up, slow things down, chuck buckets at the garage door, and scream into watering cans. I didn't include 'Honey Pie' as there's only so much space on a single disc version of the Beatles, and Paul had a lot better songs on there. PB: 'Golden Boy' has a lot in common with Dylan's diss songs and the Kinks. Were they influences when you were writing it? You've said it was about someone you didn't like but had to pretend to. Can you talk more about the situation and why you had to deal with this character? (I like to sing it in the car about people I hate, with varying genders.) SL: 'Golden Boy' was an ex-boyfriend of an ex-girlfriend who she followed around like he was a prophet. I wrote it on the out-of-tune piano in her house when I went to pick up some stuff after we broke up. Is that poetic justice? Probably not. Anyway, he was insufferably cool and good-looking and in a variety of "Look-Dad-No-Tunes" space rock bands with banks and banks of guitar pedals. He also wore a hat a lot of the time, which always leads me to believe the wearer is thinning on top. (Is that poetic justice?) It was influenced musically (or rather drummily) by 'L'Hippopodame' by Serge Gainsbourg and lyrically by Ray Davies' mid-’60s miserabilist streak. PBM: Does the subject of 'God Bless the Dick Who Let You Go' know that it's about him and has he threatened you in any way? SL: I don't know who he is, so probably not. There's a few songs that I've written about specific people, and (mostly) they're flattered. I think. The nice ones, I mean. Not the hateful ones. PB: What songs are in your secret DJ arsenal to get annoying people to leave a club or clear the place out entirely at the end of the night? SL: It's the bouncers jobs to get people out; I'm paid to make people dance (unless they ask for 'Africa' by Toto, in which case they can fuck off). Although saying that, I was DJing on the night before New Year’s Eve a few years ago and had been told "It's OK, we won't go much passed midnight, I reckon" but, at 3 am, there were still people there, so I played 'Blackstar' by David Bowie, thinking that'd get them out, but it had little effect. Cheers. Dave. PB: Have you ever made your wife a compilation tape/mixtape and if so, what were some of the songs on it? SL: I made her one on our first official date (11-09-14 never forget) that had a lot of weird stuff on it. The only song I can remember definitely being on there is 'Perfect' by John Cale, which is a bit of an odd "I fancy you" song. PB: Would you appear in a remake of 'The Goodies' and if so, which character would you insist on playing? Would you do the music for it? SL: I wouldn't be Tim Brooke-Taylor with his dangerous patriotism, and I don't suit glasses and sideburns, so I'd be Bill Oddie as he's short and occasionally miserable just like me. He wrote some amazing songs for them, though. I was listening to an LP of 'The Best Of The Goodies' a little while ago and 'Bounce', 'Panic' and their version of 'Wild Thing' are amazing. PB: As a life achievement how would you rank your level of pride at being blocked on Twitter by Richard Dawkins? SL: It doesn't take much to annoy Dorkins. Praise the Lord. PB: If you could fight any celebrity, who would you choose? Would you choose someone else if it were a death match? SL: What a great question. Although I'm not much of a fighter I reckon I'd go for the despicable Miles Kane. Awful man. He drags Alex Turner down. PB: Thank you.

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Sincerely, S. Love x (2018)
Irreverent and offbeat but excellent indie pop on second solo album from former Loves front man Simon Love
It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time (2015)

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