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

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

Related posts

Latest Q & A interviews

Was it important to the band to make money at music and sell a lot of records?

C- Well, its a bit strange that when you’re a kid and you get given money, it’s sort of the norm. When you get these record deals or publishing deals when you’re seventeen or eighteen, and you’re getting a thousands of pounds record advance, and then another one when the next one comes out, you just think that’s the way it is. It’s only when you become skint that you think about how you’re gonna make any more money.
T – You start out with nothing and next minute you get a fucking big record deal and you think that’s it. Bands lose record deals and sign up again, and we’ve been stupid enough to do it three times!

Looking back at it now, pre-Roses, pre Mondays, do you think you ( a sixties-influenced guitar group) signing with a major (Columbia) at a time when dance was going overground was bad timing?

T – Not really because the songs we got the record deal on, were different to the ones that ended up on the album. The music industry had changed from when we got signed , and we were into the dance stuff from going to all the raves. I think somebody said to us ‘we signed you on these songs but the industry has changed so can you do that song but put a dance beat in it?’ It’s just like every fucking bastard shitty-arsed record company ever does, is just fuck you up. Oh, but I’m not one to complain.
C – Yeah, the label’s tried to say stuff.
T – It’s like Window Pane wasn’t originally a dance type track, it was more rocky. Because it was our first album on a massive record label they started telling us that they wanted us to play in this style or that style, and obviously because they are a massive label we are gonna listen to them. In hindsight, we should have stuck to our guns in a way.
C – The thing about that first album there’s still songs like In Your Hands and Words, which is what we’re about now, and what we were about then. Songs like that didn’t need to be changed.
T – We’ve been through various incarnations of this group and when we made Think Positive or we play stuff live like (’92 single) Believer, we sound like the same band. There was a time when we wouldn’t have touched them songs cause they had gone off the radar you know? I think for a time we didn’t have our own sound, but I think we do now.

It’s ironic that the roots of what you started (especially with the material on Marshmellow Lane) was credited to countless groups five years on and what eventually became Britpop. How did that make you feel?

C – Things sometimes get thrown out of proportion, but what happened with the Oasis thing was I met Noel through the Inspiral Carpets tour, and he said he was in a band with his brother , and so we went to their studio, a little rehearsal room under the boardwalk in Manchester. We thought there was something hip going on and we were hired as a production team. We took our publishers up and asked for a thousand pound to take them into a proper studio and record some demos. The publishers knocked us back, so we took the band down to our little studio in Bootle where they stayed with us for a good few months. We just nurtured them really, you know ‘cut that down’ ‘shorten that bit’. We never invented their sound, we just maybe helped them along the way.

Your early sound though, especially on the What’s On The Outside album, you can hear bands like the Seahorses or in there doing stuff you had done way before.

C – That’s weird, we met the singer, Chris Helme the other week. He said he was a big fan.
T – I think we’re just a band. 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.

What would you say was to blame for the band not being as big commercially as the countless groups your own sound influenced?

T – Bad luck, bad management, and not been in the right place at the right time. There was people that we kept in the crew, or kept in the band for far too long out of loyalty, and we paid the price for it. What we have now is a really great crew of people, and anyone steps out of line these days, and their gone. Looking at it now is like shutting the bloody gate after the horse has bolted. It’s too late.

There is obviously a very personal message thread through your songs.
C – Not all the time. If we’re writing about love , or a relationship we are in. Even my mum or me wife could listen to a song of mine and know if it’s about Tony you know what I mean?
T – Especially if the song is called I Can’t Stand My Fucking Brother!
C – The songs are about the situations you get yourself in, and what me and him have been through, but we’re bothers, so you live and forget don’t you?

You have both written songs for other artists. How does your writing differ when writing for an artist like Atomic Kitten, Tunde or Ocean Colour Scene?

T – You’ve got to remember that we have no egos what so ever. If someone’s gonna give me money to write a song to pay my mortgage and feed my wife and children, I will write a song for anyone. I would write a song for Ken Dodd. If it’s sells we’ll write it, we are total sluts.
C – One of the reasons we put together out latest album Think Positive was we had so many projects going, and so much stuff written. We worked with this girl called Miranda and the Cougars..
T – That was great stuff, well ahead of stuff like Lady Gaga, and after three months working on it nothing happened. It makes you feel fucking suicidal. You get asked to do a lot of ‘work in progress’ artists, and the amount of work you see them put into it, and how little reward they get back is sickening.
C – You never know what you’re gonna get. One day an artist might turn up and we’ll be booked to do a Hip-Hop song, then the next day it might be Country. We’ve stopped for a while now to concentrate on the group and we’ve been busy remastering all our old stuff.

Will (unreleased album) Marshmellow Lane see the light of day then?

T – Well, we’ve remastered fifteen songs and there’s four bonus tracks.
C – Instead of paying somebody to remaster it all, we’ve got the money and the tools and we’re trying to do it ourselves, so it’s been trial and error.
T – At the end of the day we are still record producers and we don’t have the money to pay somebody four grand to re-master our own tunes. They were all recorded by top producers like Jimmy Miller, so all the tracks have needed was a little tweaking here and there, so they are the same level as the newer stuff.

The new album holds a much broader rock sound than your previous work, is this where you see the band heading?

T – No, not really. With this album with put everything but the kitchen sink it, brass, strings everything. The next one is gonna be back to basics, and then the one after that might be different again. It’s like the Beatles constantly reinvented themselves, that’s what we aim to do, to keep changing.

What have been your personal highlights during this lengthy career?

C – Working with Jimmy Miller was a highlight for me, and seeing the world from playing the guitar.
T – Yeah, the guitar has been our passport. I don’t actually have a passport anymore, I’ve just got a guitar.
C – My lowlight would be Oasis opening up Knebworth with Columbia and knowing I was never gonna get a penny from it.

What’s next for The Real People, do you have any ambitions to fulfil?

C – To keep going and enjoying it really. Getting out there and doing more gigs.
T – To move out of me mum and dads.

This interview took place on September 29th. Many thanks to Chris and Tony for their time and to tour manager Denis Brown and promotor Joel Rogers for arranging the interview.

  • 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!