We decided to have a chat with Graham Parker ahead of his upcoming October tour, which seems him playing at Holmfirth Picturedrome, amongst other gigs. He also has a new album out soon and details of that can be found in our conversation below, read on!
By Jane Howkins
You’re going on a short UK tour in October – are you excited for it? Do you still get nervous before gigs?
I am very excited to play onstage with these musicians, they play on my new album and are very, very good. I’m always nervous before gigs, but unlike the old days when I stayed nervous for the entire show, I’m now usually on top of things before the first song is over.
The closest gig to us is the one at Holmfirth Picture Drome, which is quite an interesting venue.
Have you ever played there before? Any chance of a York gig anytime soon?
I played there on the last Rumour reunion tour, just a few years ago. Sorry, York is not on this list, hopefully in the future. I can tell you though that the Picturedrome is a real gem.
It’s quite a short tour, and you’re playing in some places that are a little different to normal – most bands just tend to play places like London, Manchester, and Glasgow. What’s the reason for this, and can we expect any more dates in the near future? Who will you be touring with?
The great difficulty these days is that way too many acts are vying for the same venues at the same time, or at least their booking agents are. It’s a bit of a pitch battle out there, and I’m being told tours need to be being worked on a year in advance. I can’t think a year ahead! No further dates are planned, this is it.
All the musicians who play on the new album are on tour with me and Jon Allen is our special guest, playing solo.
We hear you also have a new album out soon. What can you tell us about that?
The new album is called Cloud Symbols and will be officially released on September 28th.
Every musician playing on it will join me for this tour, including the Rumour Brass. Two of those guys were with me touring all over the world from about 1977 onwards. It’s been a long time, but there they will be, onstage with me soon!
Do you have any singles planned for release to promote the album? What can you tell us about them, and when are they to be released?
Two of the songs on Cloud Symbols have already been used on two prominent Judd Apatow TV shows before the album was finished. One of the songs, Dreamin, was used on a Netflix romcom. Love is available for download now, as is a tune called Every Saturday Nite. And just released in digital formats is Girl In Need, the first song on the album – a video of the entire band is on YouTube right now.
The album is to be released on 100% Records. What were they like to work with, and how was the writing/recording process this time around? Any good stories?
The folks at 100% Records are in touch with how the market works these day, which I pay very little attention to. They are taking an old dog and performing new tricks for it so that the old dog doesn’t have to!
In a piece I wrote for my website column The Thoughts Of Chairman Parker’s on
grahamparker.net I described the difficulties I faced in finishing this record. Halfway through the recordings my co-producer Neil Brockbank died and so I carried on making the record with his studio assistant Tuck Nelson. Tuck really came through for me and finished the record. As you can imagine, there was a lot of emotion involved in this undertaking, but we did it for Neil and we nailed it.
You’ve had quite the extensive career! Did you ever think that you would still be performing and releasing new music in 2018? How does it feel to still be being recognised for your work all these years later? How have things changed for you over the years?
I could barely imagine getting as far as the third album when I first started out in 1976. I’ve lived in a privileged position since that very year and it’s astonishing to me that I can still do anything at all! Things have changed in as much as you used to get paid to do this, now you pay to do it!
Tell us about the line line-up – the band you’re touring with is officially called Graham Parker & the Gold Tops. We hear you’re also performing with The Rumour Brass Band. What is different this time around?
Yes, the Rumour Brass is on the new album and on this short tour. Rumour guitarist Martin Belmont is my musical lynch pin on the record and helped choose the other guys: Roy Dodds on drums, Simon Edwards on bass, and Geraint Watkins on keyboards. I named them the Goldtops in honour of the late Neil Brockbank’s recording studio, which he indeed named Goldtop Studio. The entire line up is different because the last six band tours I’ve done have been with the Rumour. It will be different by that definition.
Why do you think people should come and see you perform, and what can people expect from one of your shows?
Because the songs are better than anything else you’re likely to hear and the band will be better than anything else you’re likely to hear. Come on people, this is simple stuff – get with the program!
Any last words for the fans?
Buy records for goodness sake, by anyone! (But mostly my ones, ha!)