Graham Gouldman 2015

Feb 2015 Graham Gouldman 2015

Originally scheduled as the second leg of 10cc’s 2014-15 Nationwide Tour the dates now have a greater significance to their fans as the band will feature the complete ‘Sheet Music’ album onstage for the very first time. They begin at Reading Hexagon on February 5th, followed by The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury on Saturday 7th touring throughout the month closing with three dates, Southend-On-Sea (25th), Crawley (26th) and London’s Royal Albert Hall (28th) at the end of May.

Released in 1974 ‘Sheet Music’ was the first true 10cc album, with the band thrilled at the opportunity to go beyond the confinements of making chart singles, although it included ‘Wall Street Shuffle’ and ‘Silly Love’, and one look at the composer credits for each song dispels beliefs that the group consisted of two pairs of songwriters who came together to make records as every possible combination of the four appears across the ten tracks.

‘Sheet Music’ has always been a personal favourite of mine and so I relished the opportunity to talk to GRAHAM GOULDMAN about the recording and the forthcoming tour.

You’re about to start the second leg of the tour you began last year but I understand you’ll be making some changes. ‘We’re now looking at this as a whole separate tour and we’re going to be performing the whole ‘Sheet Music’ album in the first half of the show and that’s a pretty big undertaking, because it’s not just the fact we’re doing the whole album but visually as well, we’re all excited about it as we’ve been doing pretty much the same show for a number of years, or at least the core of the act has with just the odd changes, and so it’s nice to have the challenge of learning new songs and many of the songs from ‘Sheet Music’ were never performed by the original 10cc line-up, so that is going to be fun.’

You’re also going to have video screen, including a link with Kevin Godley? ‘We are but I don’t want to give too much away at present.’

Will it be a straight run of the album or will you give the background to the songs as well? ‘I don’t know if I should tell you too much about that either, but originally we were going to play it straight through, but there is a very good point about half way through where I will say something as that’s where side one ends and side two begins, so that would be a good point to say ‘Hello, how are we doing?’.

It all sounds as if it will be brilliant. ‘I think it will be great, we’ve got a lot of rehearsals to do because it’s very complex, I listen to it now with new ears, and we’ve just come back from a tour of Japan and we had some time for just vocal rehearsals and when you listen to what we did back then it’s amazing, so many little subtle things, and God is in the detail and we like to get right and do it as accurately as possible, and even when we were recording the album we never said we better not do this because we may have a problem doing it live, we were all about making the best possible records, and worrying about performing after, maybe make some compromises onstage, but making sure the record was as good as we could get it, so that’s all been interesting, a bit of a challenge, but it’s also exciting, anything that’s nerve racking is and if it all goes well we’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you got it right.’

I think you’ve only got ten days until you start the tour? ‘We’ve just come back from a tour of Japan and we had some time for just vocal rehearsals so we’ve already done three days of vocal rehearsals, so we’ll have another two days of vocals, followed by three days of band rehearsals and then we do a full production rehearsal.’

I always thought ‘Sheet Music’ was a world away from the ‘10cc Album’ as far as your progression goes. ‘It was certainly very different, but with ‘10cc’ we already had most of the tracks that we’d recorded almost at our leisure over our time as a band, but with ‘Sheet Music’ we had a completely blank canvas, which worked very well I thought, there were a couple of things that made it very different, this was the first album for us that had all, fresh new songs, and also at the time we were recording it Paul McCartney was in our studio recording an album at night, and we were recording during the day, so as well as having all McCartney’s gear in the studio, which we did borrow, that added some extra flavour to the album, but the fact that he was in the vicinity seemed to raise our game.’

The album also has ‘Old Wild Men’ on there. ‘Yes, that was very prophetic, who’d have believed we’d still be singing that today, in fact in 2012 at The Royal Albert Hall Kevin Godley came onstage and sang it with us which was amazing for us.’

Was there anything special about the Japanese tour you’ve just finished? ‘It’s always nice to go to a different country, travel and see new places, the audiences were very demonstrative this time compared to previous visits, I don’t know why but it was great, they’re very nice and polite meeting them after the show which is something we’ve started doing regularly now, it gives a different prospective on everything.’

Will you be doing a ‘Heartful Of Songs’ (Graham’s ‘Unplugged’) tour this year? ‘Yes, I think will later this year, probably about ten dates, I’m waiting for confirmation at the moment and because of the ‘Sheet Music’ tour which is so intense it’s impossible for me to think past it in any way. I really want to do it as I enjoy doing it so much, it’s a completely different thing to do.’

I really love those shows because you know the songs so well but it’s just great to have the stories behind them. ‘I agree because there is something about being the writer, and seeing them give the background to the songs, even if they haven’t got the greatest voice, I mean we went to see Burt Bacharach recently, and he certainly hasn’t got a great voice, but when he sang ‘This Guy’s In Love With You’ it was just magic, he just sang that and possibly a second, but it was a phenomenal show, maybe the best I’ve seen, because he and Hal David have had such an influence on my work, they are in my top five!’

I always thought Hal never really got the credit he deserved until he died. ‘I never got to meet him but I heard a story that back when I was working with Andrew Gold, we were doing a gig at The Ryman in Nashville and I sang ‘I’m Not In Love’ Hal David said ‘that’s one of the greatest pop songs I’ve ever heard’ and Burt Bacharach said ‘I agree’, and that was nice.’

For those of you unable to get the ‘Sheet Music’ dates you can still remind yourself of the music as the album’s available on Cherry Red (GLAMCD 26) with 3 bonus tracks.

Jim Stewart