The Real People – Mersey Paradise (interview with Chris & Tony Griffiths)

By Mark Youll | 7th October, 2011 | Q & A interviews |

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Moments before their one-off show in London to promote their lastest album Think Positive, Chief Realies Chris and Tony Griffiths spoke to Mark Youll about the twenty-five year history of the group, and their influence on the countless bands that site them as the original makers and shakers of what later became Britpop.

“It’s nice when bands like Kasabian cite us as influences, but everybody is influenced by someone. Now we’re influenced by Kasabian in the same way us and the Las were influenced by the Beatles.”

Over the band’s near Twenty-five year stint, the band’s sound and image has undergone many tweaks and changes. What would you say was the original vehicle for the group musically?

Chris – When we started it was very acoustic, Beatles like, very retro and a lot less rocky.
Tony – We were from a housing estate, young scallies smoking a lot of pot, and when we first stated we got help from the local community centre. We knew a guy and he give us a prackie room and we rehearsed and had mad scallie Monday night listening to Pink Floyd and we’d play acoustic sets. We even come up with a name for what we were doing, we called it ‘urchin rock’, coz we were like little urchins !
Chris – It was acoustic coz we only rehearsed in a small room with towels on the drums and an acoustic guitar, and as time went on we got a record deal and bought some electric guitars and started rocking out a little bit.
Tony – That was the scene that was happening at the time, we were friends with the Las and that whole acoustic thing was happening.

When you began in the late-1980s, was there much pressure on Liverpool groups then to really deliver, in the wake of the Bunnymen, the La’s or maybe in the shadow of the Beatles?

C – The thing was, it was totally uncool back then to sound like the Beatles. Things had evolved through the seventies and into the eighties with the Bunnymen and groups like that. That’s why the Las were like a breath of fresh air, because somebody could get away with sounding like the Beatles. The Beatles were a big stigma. Our mam and dad met at a Beatles gig. It’s like if you come from Nashville you make Country music, and if you come from Liverpool we have our own sound. If wasn’t just the Merseybeat thing, it was about the phychedelic thing, a bit more Syd Barrett, you know?

Were your heads always pointing back to the sixties?

T – Yeah, in a funny sort of way. The Kinks, the Who, they were all interesting to us as kids.

Looking back at your early promos for ‘Window Pane’ and then what came next with the psychedelic lull of Open Up Your Mind. Was there a commercial decision to move with the times?

C – We were obviously moving with the times, but it was that kind of stuff that was influencing us. We got a record deal and we all fucked off to Thailand, and we listening to rave music and getting into that sort of scene. That stuff came from jamming ideas, it wasn’t us doing the whole stoned hippy thing, it was the dance thing and what became Baggy.
T – That scene evolved into the Happy Mondays and Stone Roses, and the fashion for dance music as well.

How did the group finally get off the ground?

C – The thing is, up in Liverpool at the time, we were given a sort of development deal and we thought all proper bands need their own room or rehearsal space, or den as we called it. Instead of going to a prackie room and having to get all the gear out every time, we bought this building years earlier, in a bout ’87, then we got out of our development deal and we sold it to the Las.
T – Around that time I got a publishing deal and I’d written this song in me bedroom, which years and years later ended up being covered by Cher. It was all very eighties, but I’m quite proud of it for the time. So, I got the publishing deal on me own ’cause Chris was still under fourteen and at school, and through that we got a lease to the practice room which we sold on to the Las ’cause we were into the same things at the same time. We were made up that some other group were doing what we were doing at the same time, but they were getting away with it!

  • Brian Hunt

    A great interview of one of the finest and most underrated bands this country has produced. I attended the gig, and it was a rare treat to see the brothers on stage in London again after several years away – heck, even my wife enjoyed it! I’m very much looking forward to further releases from the band, including – at long last – an official release for their highly influential 1992 album Marshmellow Lane, which was the blueprint for “Definitely Maybe” in particular.

    • Thanks for your comments Brian. The gig was amazing and I’m looking forward to the reissues too!