Formed in 1986, this British indie band made waves with their debut album The Eight Legged Groove Machine. In 1991 they teemed up with Vic Reeves to release “Dizzy”, topping the charts in the UK. We called up lead singer Miles Hunt (left), a man infamous for his brashness…
You’ve got a tour of Australia coming up?
Its three shows yeah, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, just the east coast of Australia.
Have you ever toured Oz before?
Yes but it was 20 years ago so I expect a lot has changed. My memories of it are fantastic by the way, I loved it. I remember playing an outdoor festival in Brisbane, and the weather forecast was for a huge storm and they said we couldn’t play as they thought the marquee was going to blow away, so we took it upon ourselves to spend the afternoon in a pub with a bottle of Mezcal. That was the first and only time I ate the worm in a bottle of that. So I was quite merrily trashed and thinking it was a great way to spend the afternoon, only to have the promoter show up and say, “storm went the other way, you’re on in an hour.” So, obviously, no memory of the gig. And hopefully no one else does either.
Describe the band to our unfamiliar readers…
When we stated the band in 1986 we were into the late 70s new wave, end of the punk thing really, and then by the later 80s we got known for being part of the British indie scene, along with bands like Pop Will Eat Itself and Jesus Jones. Then we split up in ’94 and Brit-Pop happened and we’re glad we had nothing to do with that – senseless rewinding back of the clock. We started again in 2000 and did two new albums and recently we’ve been celebrating the 20th anniversary of our first two albums and doing tours where we play the album in order.
What did indie mean in the 80s compared to now?
The big difference was that you were meant to be on an independent label. The Pet Shop Boys managed to scrape into the indie charts, even though they were having massive hits, because they were still distributed on an independent label. Same with New Order. That’s what it meant then. Now it just means you’ve got a haircut like Liam Gallagher once had.
What was radio like in the 80s?
In the late 80s, probably the same as over there, the only thing you were getting was your pop music, your Kylie Minogue’s or you know, very polished music like INXS. I didn’t dislike it, I just preferred bands like REM who were a bit more rough-rounded at that time, and the Wedding Present. Also British radio in 1988 was still mono and medium wave, so they didn’t tend to play anything with distorted guitars unless it was a distorted guitar in a Queen hit single. So when our stuff came along and they started playing it in ’88, they didn’t play for long, it was very ramshackle.
What do you think of the current state of rock music?
I pay no attention, in terms of what’s on the radio or what’s on the charts, I mean does anybody? You don’t have to watch programs that are on once a week to hear what’s out there, because you can find everything on YouTube. I am averse to commercial radio or TV, I can’t stand advertising. It was so important years ago, you’d listen to the charts on a Sunday night, you’d watch Top of the Pops on a Thursday. You don’t have to now, you don’t have the same thing pushed at you, your friends can tell you to listen to the Band of Horses new single. The record companies cant control the amount of sales to build a chart, but who cares!
How do you think people remember 80s music?
There’s always been a shit-load of great music out there and people choose to remember the start of the 80s as being about Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran, well yeah if you choose to remember that, then the 80s was a terrible time for music, which is not true because there were Echo & the Bunnymen, The Jam were still having hits then. So in any time you can find good music, you can also find shit music. And it’s entirely up to you which ones you pay attention to.
Is it true you don’t watch TV?
Yeah, I threw that out years ago.
I read somewhere that you’re writing a book?
Yeah its been going on for some time. It’s not a fictionalized account, but a fanciful account of my last 40 years or so. It’s anecdotal with a time-line of things that happened. It’s just me at my kitchen table talking to my diary, reminiscing. It’s a slow process…
Any Aussie bands you’d like to tour with?
Well with this run of dates that we’re doing, we’ll be touring with The Clouds and they’re an Australian band that we actually toured with twenty years ago, so I was pleased to see that. I remember we call got on quite famously and they had this album called Penny Century which I bought it home, it’s lovely.
Do you like to hit the town after a show?
No, not at my age, sadly. Hey can you smoke indoors in Australia these days?
No, not all sorry…
Okay so I will probably be outside against a wall in a carpark with a bottle of wine, just chain smoking.
Anywhere you want to check out in Oz?
There won’t be any time, we arrive, do our gigs and fly out. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not really a glamourous way to make a living.
The Wonder Stuff play Brisbane (Aug 18), Melbourne (Aug 19) and Sydney (Aug 20) http://www.thewonderstuff.com[www.thewonderstuff.com]