Last Great Dreamers Interview
If you read our review of Last Great Dreamers recent gig in Birmingham then you should:
- know we love them
- have pledged for their upcoming album and bought their two previous albums!!
We were fortunate enough to get the chance to catch up with singer Marc Valentine and guitarist Slyder.
The Soul of a clown (TSOAC): Our first recollection of the band was seeing an ad for a live show in the back of Kerrang, it was a section that always seemed to feature bands like yourself, Dogs D’Amour and Gunfire Dance.
Marc: That was a long time ago, but we were really lucky that Kerrang used to feature us a lot, they certainly championed us then.
TSOAC: We talked before about how they kind of used to put you in the glam metal genre but that wasn’t really a scene that suited you.
Marc: You’re right, one of the problems we had is that we never really fitted in to a niche.
Slyder: Yeah, we were never pigeon hole able. You could see where are influences were drawn from, but the press at the time were either Heavy Metal OR indie. I guess bands like Hanoi Rocks would get in Sounds but that’s going even further back. NME & Melody Maker were a bit pretentious back in those days.
Marc: We could’ve featured in both but NME didn’t like us, but apart from Kerrang we’ve out lasted them all!
TSOAC: We last spoke to you just before the release of the brilliant “Crash Landing From Teenage Heaven”, but the line-up has changed since then.
Slyder: Well, we’ve had a few people in the band since the nineties. It didn’t seem like it at the time, but we’ve actually had 5 bass players. Although they’re all still mates so it’s not like we’ve had fall outs.
TSOAC: Has it all got a bit ‘Spinal Tap’?!
Slyder: Well none of them have exploded, yet! And none of them do any gardening. Last year we had our original Silverhearts drummer but he had to be replaced so we actually had two different drummers on the same tour.
Marc: That’s just the way it works, people have other stuff going on in their lives. The original ‘Retrosexual’ line up with bass player Paul and Steve the Drummer, just wasn’t available when we reformed. Ian who is on bass is actually our original roadie. (TSOAC: although since the interview Ian has left…we are assured this was not as a result of self-imploding on stage!)
TSOAC: Were you pleased with the reaction “Crash Landing From Teenage Heaven” got and was it aimed at your old fans or a new generation?
Slyder: We were really pleased, although we didn’t have any great expectations. It was about looking back and we knew that people would be interested in listening to the stuff that we hadn’t released. That material is what made us get back together again. When I found some old tapes it excited me, I hadn’t listened to the songs for ten or fifteen years and I just thought we really should be playing these live.
Marc: They’d never been released and were the tracks we’d worked on for the second album. It was a really good opportunity just to get them put out.
TSOAC: In terms of touring, did you originally intend to do a few one offs? Now you seem to be constantly on the road!
Marc: It’s just developed, it’s been a natural process where we have rediscovered just what we have. We feel like a new band and we just don’t want to stop. We’d tour all year round if we could.
TSOAC: Do you still enjoy it as much as you did?
Marc: More, you don’t have the expectations or the pressure you have as a young band. Then, it seemed like you had a certain shelf life. Now, we know we have good songs and the energy is still there. I think that the pressure’s off and we can just be exactly who we are.
TSOAC: One of my music stories is about, and don’t get offended now, how I saw you at the Cavern in Exeter and when I arrived I was disappointed by the poor turnout. Something which got worse when it came to your turn to go on and I realised you were half of the crowd!!!
Marc: It’s hard for a band to work against the apathy to live music. We worked our arses off to get people in, but you can’t force people. But if there is five or five hundred people we still want to play and put on a show. Funnily enough, if that’s the gig I remember, it was one of the worst ones we did!! They were all off their heads and thought it was brilliant, but I was just left shaking my head at them!
Slyder: Yeah, but apparently the audience though it was great as well, so either we were right or absolutely everybody was off their heads on stuff!
TSOAC: It’s all about the energy of the show, the band and the audience having a good time.
Slyder: Sometimes, when it’s a small show it perhaps gives you a bit more energy just to go for it, we’ll put on a performance for those that have made the effort to come out. We’ve played in front of three people!! But yeah, it was always like that, sometimes it can be three and then next night three hundred.
TSOAC: Bringing us up to date, are you currently recording a new album?
Slyder: We’ve recorded four tracks. We’ve written a bunch.. enough for an album and some. We’ve booked some rehearsal time and then will go in to the studio in June.
Marc: We’re releasing it via a pledge campaign (click here)
TSOAC: That’s something relatively new, presumably it’s good for a band like you?
Marc: Yeah, definitely, you have total control to a degree and all the bands are doing it, like Cheap Trick, and Ginger Wildheart has obviously released loads of stuff via it. It’s important, record companies won’t invest in you anymore unless you are guaranteed to make them large bucks.
Slyder: They need to have the money to plough in. Money’s not everything, but you need the support for promotion, videos etc. If you haven’t got that, there’s no point in having a label. You might as well release it yourself.
TSOAC: How’s the campaign going?
Marc: Pretty good, were at 50% today so (laughing) that’s £4! We had a good start and it’s brilliant that people are willing to put their hand in their pocket and say they want to hear new stuff.
TSOAC: How’s the sound? Is there a need to evolve your sound?
Slyder: We’re not consciously doing anything, well at least I’m not!
Marc: It has evolved because things happen in life and you have different influences, be that music, books or just events. I don’t think we’re trying to reinvent ourselves, which maybe we were guilty of back in the day.
Slyder: We were never happy with the production of “Retrosexual”. I think these songs are actually better, they’re more honest.
Marc: We don’t have to prove anything to anyone, our aim is just to make a great album.
TSOAC: You’ve just released a single that sounds like a Last Great Dreamers’ song, if that makes sense?
Marc: Yeah, ‘Glitterball Apocalypse’, well that’s what we want, we want that identity with us, so you recognise it.
TSOAC: It has that mixture of rock and pop but also with an element of glam, although not glam metal.
Slyder: Glam’s a funny word, for those too young it means hair metal, for others, it’s Sweet, Glitter Band, Roy Wood etc. Not that that’s a bad thing but it had more of a throwaway, teeny bop image. We go back to Bolan and Bowie which is a bit different.
TSOAC: We loved all the hair metal stuff, Poison, Tigertailz etc, for us they had a great pop sound and a good pop song is great, whatever style it comes in.
Slyder: They are. Bon Jovi, Poison and all that, played pop songs. They had great melodies and choruses. I don’t think that we try and do it, it’s just the way we are. We were listening to Gillan in the van and I’ve been listening to Bernie Torme, as we played with him recently. I’m a massive fan of his and I can hear a bit of him in my own playing. You go back to the records that you listened to from eight years old to the modern day and it’s the things that influence you. So there’s all sorts in there but it just so happens that the melody, harmonies and that kind of pop chorus is what we like.
TSOAC: Do you think it’s harder for bands now or easier with the likes of Facebook, Spotify etc?
Slyder: There’s great opportunities for self-promotion. We’re doing all that but one of the problems all bands face now is that when you’re trying to book venues and shows, they’re full of tribute bands.
Marc: We went on tour with Cherri Currie and it was just brilliant. I remember speaking to one of the club managers and he was saying how the previous night they had over 400 people in to see a T Rex tribute band.
Slyder: And there was a Meat Loaf cover band and they totally sold the venue out, to the point that there were ticket touts!
Marc: It’s a weird one, and we are up against that. Before, you had cover bands in pubs but not big tribute bands. It’s tough, you have seen so many venues close down and it makes it tough for the promoters who are trying to support us.
Slyder: It also means that there isn’t the same kind of scene because all the rock clubs or rock nights have gone. There used to be a real scene. If Gunfire Dance were coming down from Birmingham, we’d all pile in to the venue to see them. All the bands knew each other and what they were up to.
TSOAC: I guess the internet has made the world smaller but perhaps we’ve lost those ‘communities’.
Marc: We’ve got more control over what we do and I guess artistic control. We wouldn’t be doing this now, without the internet. It’s really the way to promote yourself. We love doing this and it is exciting because you never know how someone is going to pick up on what you’re doing. The internet is great for spreading the news.
Slyder: We totally believe in what we’re doing and we love it, we think the songs are good. Obviously we’re a bit bias! But we’re also self-critical as well. We’re not just churning stuff out for the sake of it. We feel what we produce is good and people rate what we do, and we’re not just talking about our mums and wives! We believe we have something really special and we’re going to keep doing it until someone shuts us up or takes notice!
TSOAC: What are your aspirations for the band, do you still want to be huge?
Slyder: For me, I’d like to make records and sell them, whether it’s a thousand or two million. I want it to mean something to people and then I want to go out and play it in front of people who love it. That would do for me. If it’s bigger than that, even better.
Marc: In the back of your mind, you are bound to want more. We’re not young guys but it means everything to us. There are a lot of potential fans out there who haven’t even heard of us yet. There are bands we can support and pick up new fans. That’s exciting to me.
Slyder: We’ve got something to give and want to keep making music. When I heard those old tapes, I realised the songs are great and wanted people to hear them. I didn’t just want to be sitting on my couch, I wanted to be out playing. Of course….. we’ve also go massive egos so we still need the adulation as well!!!
Marc: There are other bands doing it, things can happen. We’ve had a couple of support tours and some excellent reviews. One of our tracks was featured on a CD alongside Iggy Pop, which is brilliant for us. Bands like Eureka Machine and New Generation Superstars are also working hard so bands like us aren’t done yet.
TSOAC: How have you found it supporting Tigertailz?
Marc: It’s been a great tour, we’ve got on really well with them. Picked up some new fans who had heard of us but never got the chance to see us live. Tigertailz have had a new lease of life themselves, with new members and new material.
TSOAC: No Eurovision entry though!?!
Marc: For us or them! It was a great PR exercise and was brilliant. I’d love to have seen them on it, it would have been great.
TSOAC: But, would you do it?
Marc: I don’t know, would depend on what choreography we could get!
Slyder: Although, we do live close to Bobby Gee (ex Bucks Fizz) as he has a production company we have used a few times, maybe he could help us out!
TSOAC: You could cover ‘Making Your Mind Up’ and this could be an exclusive for us!!
Marc: You could be our manager. Eurovision 2017 here we come!! We really just want to engage people, however we can. We want people to contact us via Facebook, join the Pledge campaign and do all they can to support us. The Pledge campaign even includes a show at your home so you could do that and see us play without even having to miss Eastenders!!!
If anyone is choosing to watch Eastenders instead of watching this brilliant band then they really do need their head examined!! It’s great to see a band who remain as dedicated to their music as ever. We’d love to see them get the exposure they deserve and, hell, if that could come via a Eurovision entry then why not!!! They’re a band who have produced some of the best power pop songs we’ve heard, so stranger things have happened!! In the meantime, get over to their pledge campaign and sign up for the most support you can afford, the guys deserve it and you certainly won’t regret it!