|Telephone interview with Jaime Harding, 8th February 2006.|
So, how are you?
I'm good, I'm good man, yeah, excited, excited about playing again.
You're enjoying working with Phil again?
Oh, yeah, yeah, definitely, definitely, but having my mate back that's the most profound part really.
Yeah, Phil said you hadn't seen each other for a while.
Yeah, we kinda kept in touch and I kept in touch with him while I was in eastern Europe, cause I was over there for quite a while. I sent him some nice mementoes from Warsaw, obviously cause he's in New Order and stuff....
So, the first question has to be; what have you been doing for the past 5 or 6 years? So many people want to know where you've been and how you've been.
Well, just em,... well my life now is good, I just play guitar, and write songs and you know, obviously I'm working with Phil, and getting back into playing live and stuff. But I kinda just recovered really, spent my time getting better, slowly, really. I spent a year in eastern Europe, which was good. I was in 5 countries, the Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Hungry, Romania and Poland, which was just fantastic, it was really good. I took my guitar and it was just incredible, seeing it in the winter and seeing it in the summer. I was kinda living in the Transylvanian mountains in Romania, oh, that was just incredible. Staying in this town called Braşov, which is a mad place, it's got these huge pine ridden hills, and it's got a 'Braşov' sign, like the 'Hollywood' sign in Los Angeles, which is mad, and I was staying in this one hotel for about a month in Braşov, and at night time, you could hear the walls, it was like some Bram Stoker film, and you could look out over these pine trees, and it was just beautiful. And the Romanian people were just incredible, so warm, and there was a lot of music as well in eastern Europe, I was shocked, in all the 5 countries that I lived in I was shocked at how prevalent music was, acoustic music, which is something I am heavily into, you know, I've been playing acoustic guitar for a couple of years now, it's like, that's my life really, acoustic guitar.
Is it traditional folky stuff, or more modern?
The kinda stuff I like?
I love Irish music, cause I was brought up on it. My Mum is Irish, and we moved from Belfast to Moss Side, in Manchester, when I was little. And my Granddad played the banjo, and the spoons and the harmonica and I think that's why when I was 17, 18 in Marion, I just, for no reason, unprompted, gravitated towards the harmonica. Didn't master the spoons though, unfortunately, but I don't think 'Sleep' would have had the same kinda kick, would it, with...
..a spoon solo half way through? Well, it wouldn't been a new direction...
...yeah. But Irish music, I love Irish music. Songs like 'Black Velvet Band'. Do you know that song?
No, I'm afraid I don't.
[Jaime sings 4 lines of 'Black Velvet Band']
Basically it's about this beautiful Irish woman who works in a bar, but she's a bit naughty really, and she gets a lot of guys into trouble, cause they steal things to impress her and stuff. Incredible, incredible song, and stuff like that just blows my mind. We all used to sing it as kids with my Mum and we'd go crazy when that came on, when she played that. So I kinda revisited that really, with the acoustic and the first thing I started playing was the Irish thing and then, like, whether it's the early stuff like 'Black Velvet Band' or Shane MacGowan and The Pogues stuff. Shane MacGowan just blows my mind completely, he just must have so much compassion, cause his words are just incredible, he's got so much heart. Are you into Shane MacGowan at all?
Not really, it's just one of those things that's never quite grabbed me.
Ah, man Craig, promise me you'll take the time to look into him, just buy like a Pogues 'Best of...', and check out some songs like 'Summer In Siam', cause when I was in Marion actually, I spent 6 months in Thailand to get clean, it was in the NME and stuff, I dunno if you remember, and Shane MacGowan just summed it all up with 'Summer In Siam'. Promise me you'll check it out.
I certainly will, always open to new things.
So, yeah, I'm mad about the acoustic thing, but that's kinda my thing, that's something that just keeps me ticking along every day, and it's sorta like the antithesis of Marion, and the stuff I'm doing with Phil now.
Is it more electric-guitar-based? I've heard you've done some acoustic demos to start with, but do you see it being more of a full band thing?
Oh yeah, most definitely yeah! But it's just so comfortable for me and Phil, and I think I've got Phil back into playing an acoustic again, cause he didn't actually own an acoustic, he's got about 15 guitars Phil at the minute, and each one averaged about £3000 each.
Yeah, like a Gretsch Country Gentleman, and a chocolate brown Gretsch Country Gentleman, and a chocolate brown Gibson 335 and endless Les Pauls and white SGs, and, like, the most beautiful guitars, you know, cause he's earned it and it's like his pleasure.
And his livelihood...
Yeah, so I think I've got him back into playing acoustic, which is great, because the songs that we're doing at the minute, cause I'm writing whole songs myself from start to end, and handing them to Phil, and he's saying "Yeah, this is good", you know, and we'll try it this way and I'm enjoying that, cause if you play a song on an acoustic and it sounds good, then you're pretty safe really Craig, do you know what I mean? Everything is else kinda confection really.
Yeah, you've proved that yourselves, with the acoustic version of the 'Sleep' e.p., the songs didn't lose anything that way, they just had a slightly different feel, really. They didn't lose anything.
Do you have any ideas of a name for the new band? Or are you just waiting for inspiration?
Well, we're working on it. I come up with about 200 a day Craig. It's driving me mad, honestly, I'm becoming a lunatic. I bought a diary, a 2006 diary, yeah, just at Christmas, well a friend bought it for me, and I've filled it with names already, and it's so frustrating. It's like a full page diary, where each day you can write a full page, which is great to look back on. Especially after so many years of kinda not even knowing where I was, and it's one of the simple pleasures for someone like me, with my past, is to be able to look back at the last couple of years and know what I've been doing. It's beautiful. But, yeah, I've just filled it with band names, and I'll get there.
I'm sure when you find the one that feels right, you'll know it.
This is it, isn't it?
Could you shed some light on how Marion came to disband in the first place?
Well, I think it was tiredness, pretty much, cause Radio 1 used to call us the 'hardest working band in the country', which we were, you know. And that basically was because of, well, a couple of things; one of the things is... you see Marion was never a fashionable band, we got to where we got by playing gig after gig after gig and being, em, really, really fucking good at each gig basically. The only press we got was around 'This World And Body', but we'd being going years before then and, you know, the venues and the tours we used to do didn't correspond with the amount of records we sold. We played much bigger venues than we should have been playing for a band that sold so many records, whatever that figure was. That was basically because we were a live band. We started off as a pub band and then just carried on from there and that was kind of our thing, live. We kind of brought ourselves into the charts, well, our fan base brought us into the charts, and it got to the point where... because people tried ignore us, Craig, yeah, for so many years and just give us no press. It was kinda like 'Marion, we just don't wanna touch it, what is it?', you know, because it was different back then because we were lumped into the Britpop scene. But how could you lump Marion into the Britpop scene?
Well it's chalk and cheese. It seems the music press always wants to 'pigeon hole' bands, to make it easier for themselves.
Yeah, yeah, this is it.
So it was great being able to get to the point where the media couldn't ignore us anymore Craig, cause the fanbase had brought them into number 29 in the charts, you know, or number 17, or a top ten album, the first album went to number 10 you know.
So, yeah, we were pretty knackered, getting back to your question Craig. Also, pretty, disillusioned with the music industry.
Yeah, you'd gone to America and just got worn down by London Records, and seemed to be one thing after another almost.
Yeah, yeah. Also signing to a major record label, I mean, do you know the song 'The Powder Room Plan'?
It's a great song, but the original chorus was brilliant, miles better than 'The Powder Room Plan' chorus that you'll have heard. They just came in one day and, you know, they had the power, really, I mean, this is the only time they did it, but once is too much. They came in and the A&R guy said 'oh, we think you should re-write another chorus for this song', it was like, 'how can you do that?' It's like someone having plastic surgery; you alter the nose, someone has a nose job and it throws everything else out. I was appalled at the time, and because it was a major record label and we were sort of obliged to bend what we did for them. So I found, and the lads found, that really, really, difficult. So, yeah, we were tired, we were disillusioned, and, em, we always liked to party, and that became a problem. Because, because we did sign to a major record label and stuff, we had money, and it's like... it's really hard work being in a band, and it's the best work, but there's a lot of boredom, so you start by just getting stoned on the tour bus, you know, getting stoned, and reading a book or listening to music, and then, maybe you'll try some acid, and then another day, you'll try something else. But yeah, I'd say... has that kinda answered your question?
Yeah, yeah, that was wonderful, thanks.
There's been a lot of rumors over the last few years about your health.
Has that affected your coming back into the music side of things? Do you feel these rumors made you a bit wary of coming back into the public eye like this?
I don't really think about stuff like that to be honest Craig. What happened to me, obviously didn't happen to Phil. You know, New Order kinda speaks for him. That last album he did with New Order was just fucking incredible, and I could hear Phil's influence all over it. He played a massive part in almost changing the sound of New Order, I think. And that's got me into New Order, I was never a New Order fan, but I got into the band by 'Waiting For The Siren's Call', and what Phil had done. I heard tracks in HMV in Manchester and it just sent shivers down my spine, some of the riffs and stuff.
Yeah, there's a track 3 or 4 in, I think, and the way his and Bernard's [Sumner] guitars intermingle, is kinda Marion-esque I think. You can totally hear him in there.
But I didn't listen to music basically, the drugs kinda took over my life, and I didn't really listen to music anymore. I've only started listening to music over the last 2 or 3 years, you know. I've only owned a stereo for the last 2 years, and it was kinda when I bought my first acoustic guitar 2 years ago. But I'm a lot healthier just because I'm happy. It's not something that bothers me though, cause I'm not in a boy band and I'm not in a band where I'm gonna be judged by the way I look. It was never about that in Marion, no matter how pretty I was, it was never really about that. Anybody who was into Marion was into the spirit, which was great, you know?
Yeah, they're certainly a band that inspired devotion, and that's become very much more apparent in the last couple of weeks. I don't know if you've had a look at the website at all....
...yeah, yeah, a quick look, yeah.
It's totally taken off in the last couple of weeks since this gig was first rumored, and the volume of traffic coming to the site is quite astounding. It's not even just this site, there's a couple of other places on the internet where people post about Marion, and the general feeling of goodwill is quite astounding actually.
Another question a lot of people have asked is, what happened with Wayne Ward?
Yeah, that was kind of... Wayne was great for me, it was like..., it was really accommodating and encouraging, but I was still defrosting when I did the Wayne stuff, so it was really liberating for me, but it wasn't something that when I played it I felt comfortable about. It's become apparent working with Phil recently that me and Phil had something special. And, like I say, working with Wayne was liberating for me, but it just wasn't really what I would have liked. It was amazing for me personally. I loved listening to it myself. But it wasn't something I'd like other people to hear, that I'm proud of, like I'm proud of the Marion stuff, but this stuff with Phil is. We didn't know what to expect at all, you know, we've only been working a few months, really, but, he came round to my flat, and I played him.... at first he was shocked that I could play the guitar, cause he knows how lazy I am, and he was like, 'Jesus man, you taught yourself that...', and I played him some songs I'd written, and I played him some covers that I do better than the originals, that I've made mine and stuff. Yeah, but I'd say the Wayne stuff was embryonic in my musical recovery.
I quite like them [the Wayne Ward demos] to be honest.
Oh, yeah, me too. It's just like, when you hear this new stuff, it's like, oh man, it really is special. I don't know if it's just that we're older, or, I dunno.. it's beautiful, absolutely beautiful music. I'm so excited.
Cool, I'm pleased to hear it. Do you know when we're gonna get to hear any of it?
Well, I think we'll put some stuff on the internet soon. We've done about 10 songs, and we've written about 20, 25, but we've recorded about 10 up to now. But all of them have just got scratch singing on and, Phil may have told you before, it's all acoustic stuff. The bass player we're thinking of using, I can't mention anything about it now, but he's not just a bass player, he's got a degree in sound engineering from Salford Uni, and I worked with him a little bit a year ago, and he's just amazing, he plays all instruments. But he's yet to come down and work on the tracks with us. And I think Jack out of Haven will be doing some drums for us and stuff, so it'll be interesting to hear all the songs with bass and electric guitar and my harmonica and bits of piano and when I've had a bit more time to spend on the words and stuff, but we're gonna put some out there free, as soon as possible.
Cool, cool, that's fantastic...
Hopefully it should be before the gig, but if it isn't, it'll be right after.
Okay, that's great. Just to finish up, a question from someone on the site, called Bosie, who is curious to know the meaning behind the song 'Journey To The Centre'?
Right, that's an interesting question. I'd like to know how she interpreted it? Do you know?
Eh, no. I just asked people for questions, and this was one that was suggested.
Right, I dunno... let me think now...
Yeah, I'm not too sure now, it's some time ago. It's quite a lonely song, isn't it, the lyrics, 'Where are my friends?' like. Yeah, yeah, cause it's tricky. It was really hard to maintain any kind of a relationship. Even my sexual relationships are... the friendship is the most important part. It was pretty lonely time, Marion, a lot of the time, just because of our work load, and because of the drugs and because of the, eh.. it's difficult. I was pretty lonely. It didn't help looking the way I did and stuff, because people gravitate towards you for the wrong reasons really, when you have the image that I did in Marion really. This is the great thing about Marion fans, they're into the music. But, some people are into appearances and stuff like that and how somebody looks and stuff like that. I used to attract the wrong sort of girls, I used attract really beautiful women, but they were sometimes just awful people. Looking back, I can see that pretty clearly, but yeah, I'd say it was kinda about loneliness really, and wanting more friends. Cause I'm like friend crazy, and I try and make new friends everywhere I go, especially in the last few years, and since music's been back in my life, cause I just love sharing thoughts with people, anybody at all, about books and films and music and I love picking up sayings, you know, new sayings from people and starting to pepper my own conversation with nice little tasty words that I've heard from other people.
That's great, thanks for your time....
Yeah, I'll see you sometime? Yeah.
Interview finished with some random chat about Beard's band, photos, and random odds and sods...... and the promise of alcohol.....