He's Got The Whole World In His Hands Tonight

Last time one of our writers – Naim Cortazzi - interviewed a member of Idlewild – Rod Jones, I think it’s fair to say that they weren’t over enamoured with eachother, so it was with trepidation that I approached the conversation with bassist Bob Fairfoull. However, my colleagues complaints went unfounded as Bob came across as a genuine, helpful and amiable individual, who explained that Naim must have just caught Rod at a bad moment. Then again, the fact that Naim thinks the band are shit and called his mother a whore probably didn’t help…

Bob was refreshingly eager to wax lyrical about Idlewild’s recent excellent album “The Remote Part” and other musical matters and this is the resultant interview:

AD: Congratulations on your fantastic album. From what I can gather you had a tough time leading up to it and things weren’t going to plan at all. What do you think was the turning point in the creation of “The Remote Part”?

BF: Yeah I’d be lying if I said it was easy. The last album did ok, but there was pressure on us to do better this time around, and it was difficult writing it. We DID write it and scrap the album about three times. We thought we were half way through and then we realised it was all crap. We were seriously beginning to doubt our own ability to do anything at that point, so we locked ourselves away in a shed for three weeks and just wrote and wrote and wrote. That was the turning point.

AD: What was Stephen Street’s reaction when you told him you were going to nuke all the work you’d done with him?

BF: He was alright about it. Producers are used to it – they’re always aware of the fact that a label or a band may not be happy. There was nothing personal in it, and anyway he still gets paid. Actually one song from that session DID make it onto the album – “Tell Me Ten Words” was produced by Street. So anyway, we went back to Dave (Eringa) and he knows what we’re like – and he’s the first person to tell us if a song’s crap!

AD: And, going by the reviews you’ve had, his judgment is pretty sound…

BF: The reviews have been amazing mainly, but we’re not that bothered about what the press say really. We did this little side project when we hadn’t rehearsed for four months. We played one gig as that band – we only had four songs – but the press got hold of it and one of the tabloids in Scotland gave it an absolute stinker. That made us laugh a lot. The best one was in the Guardian and was only four words long – it just said “Piss off indie band”, so of course we cut that out and it now acts as a fridge magnet! Anyway, for the new album, the only bad review was in one of the broadsheets, I can’t remember which, but they said “I don’t know what all the fuss is about. This album just sounds like Shed 7 to me!”

AD: I’m not convinced on that one, I must admit! How did you enjoy the Kerrang awards?

BF: Very drunkenly! We didn’t win, but then we didn’t really expect to because we were up against such heavyweight competition. With the exception of the Lostprophets, I liked everyone else that was there. And they all seemed to be bands that we’ve played with. Muse have always been kind to us, so I was pleased for them. They took us around Europe with them.

AD: Is it true that Raging Speedhorn set fire to your table?

BF: No, but they certainly trashed their own! I’d been talking to them earlier and they were really nice huys, but at that stage I had no idea just how mental they were. You’ve just got to consider this – they were there at about 7pm, and then at 7:15, they asked for another bottle of Absinthe as they’d already finished theirs! I mean, I don’t know if you’ve ever drunk the stuff, but it has the effect of drinking an arse, and the next thing you know, their table goes flying. They went apeshit. Security weer frantically trying to throw them out, and then, because I’d been speaking with them earlier, I had all these 40 stone men steaming in on me and trying to throw me out the back! I’m just standing there yelling “No! I’m not with them, honestly!”

AD: Sounds like one hell of a party. If I can take you back in time now, it’s been six years since you released “Queen Of The Troubled Teens”. How do you remember those early days now?

BF: It’s difficult to remember anything at all, as we were all so bloody drunk the whole time! I remember it with great fondness, but as much as it was probably fun, I have to admit we were a bit on the crap side! Yeah, it was just fast songs, screaming, beer and more screaming. We were just teenagers let loose on free money and alcohol. We used to try to be as intense as possible just to frighten people. That always used to make me laugh.

AD: In one of the biogs I’ve read about you, it mentions a number of “abortive festival appearances” you made, and says “Glastonbury – delayed by mud”, “T in the Park – stage blew up”, and then “Phoenix – look, it wasn’t their fault!” – what was that last one all about?

BF: God yeah, the first Glastonbury was a disaster with all that mud. We only managed to play about five songs. The stage manager had seen the place and said to us beforehand “Don’t even fucking bother”, but we have this ethic of “nothing gets cancelled” so we did it anyway. I remember him saying “Good luck then” and we ended up going on two and a half hours late and playing for about twenty minutes. Then the PA blew up at T in the Park, but I don’t know where they got the Phoenix one from, because that had stopped running by the time we formed the band!

AD: Another band that plays a lot of festival appearances is Queens Of The Stone Age, and one of the funniest stories I read over the last month or so was about them promoting their new album “Songs For The Deaf”. Apparently a coach load of 37 deaf people turned up at one of their gigs believing it was a special concert for their benefit! If you could entice a certain type of people to an Idlewild gig in the same way, what would it be? “Songs For Attractive Naked Nymphets” maybe?

BF: Ha ha, maybe. Did that really happen? I think I’d call mine “Songs For The Ginger”. That’d be really funny.

AD: It would make one hell of a photo. Not “Songs For Kids With Tourette’s Syndrome” then?

BF: Yeah, that’d be a brilliant one! Mind you, we played a gig recently that could have been called “Songs For The Fishermen In Shetland”! We looked at the audience and it all seemed to be full of eight year olds and fishermen! They clearly didn’t know how to react at a rock concert but they really seemed to enjoy it. It was really strange looking out from the stage and seeing all these eighteen stone fishermen disco dancing and doing the hand jive!

And with this enduring image now etched in my head I decided to draw the interview to a close. What a great bloke – if you ever get the chance to have a chat with him he’ll make you laugh your balls off. If you haven’t already bought Idlewild’s excellent hit album “The Remote Part”, what are you waiting for? It’s on Parlophone and you need it in your collection, you really do.

Interview and transcript by Tone E



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