martin sainsbury

october 2000

part 1 of 1

well, it always has been a love-hate relationship.

the mastermind behind my favourite band ever, and the man who dissolved them without ever giving satisfactory reason. the traitor who then recorded another boo radleys album which he sung and played all by himself ('go with yourself') and which he is taking on tour around practically every humdrum satellite town in england - except oxford.

the guy who i met in the summer of 1996, contributing to one of the best days of my life, and the one who stood me up a few months later, cancelling a gig because he was ill, yet well enough to be playing on the other side of the channel at the same time.

the man who inspired me to go on a pilgrimage to liverpool, visiting the many places referred to in his songs, only to find half of them don't even exist. the one who agreed to an interview after months of pestering, only to cancel on the day because he was feeling 'under the weather' again. i was told he'd call me when better, but for days i heard nothing. i contented myself in the meantime by bitching about his new album and seeking inspiration elsewhere, finding an illuminating ultimatum on the seventh day of waiting: when i get in, i'll dial 1471- if your number's not there, your records are staying in the bin. but, of course, he called.

and you know what it's like - no matter how angry you get with those you love, you just can't stay like it for long. so even if he seemed confused when i asked him if he was feeling better, i overlooked it. especially as he was prepared to talk about the boo radleys for an hour and a half, making only fleeting references to his current solo project, bravecaptain. he seemed so disinterested in the whole promotional merry-go-round, in it only for the love of the music, that my asking if he minded talking about the boo radleys brought another confused response:

'it's basically the same set-up. it’s still me writing songs'.

it’s little wonder, then, that any of the bravecaptain songs released thus far, except perhaps the beat-heavy 'big red control machine', could have been a boo radleys song. 'it should sound the same. i learnt to play bass by watching tim for 15 years, so i’ll always have that kind of sound'.

the future, then, is looking bright. not least when you consider that tim will be part of the sound team on the forthcoming tour. and not least when carr expounds his theory on music:

‘when a band starts out, you usually combine 90% of your influences with 10% originality. as you progress, if all is going right, this ratio should gradually be reversed - you start doing new stuff, or at least get cleverer so nobody notices.

'when we started with 'kaleidoscope' in 1990, we were just trying to be spaceman 3'. so, in that case, who is bravecaptain trying to be? 'the boo radleys'.

the inevitable question, the one i promised myself i wouldn’t ask, just cannot be avoided. the predominantly melancholic sound and lyrics of 'go with yourself' ('where are my friends/ sice and tim and bobby' and 'though i've made so many friends/i have lost some that i've loved'), suggests nothing but regret, whilst the conversation almost makes it feel like it has not happened.

he enthuses about the times he had in the band, the best time of his life. so why? 'we just weren't seeing each other as much or having as much fun.

'when we did 'giant steps' we were all living together and running the fanclub from home, but then we started getting married, having kids, moving to other parts of the country.

'by the end it had lost the intensity and become like work, where we’d turn up just to record.' indeed, things got so bleak during the recording of the last monumental album, 'kingsize', that it was nearly abandoned half way through.

'there were always alcohol and drugs, but by that stage i just wasn't interested anymore. i just sat in the corner and hid, contributing very little while tim tried to keep the whole thing going. i became really depressed and knew it would end, so walked out. it was only mark bowen who persuaded me to go back'.

bless that man. not only is he responsible for the release of what carr admits to being his best songs, but, as head of wichita recordings, those that came after.

and those that will keep on coming. there's already several albums of matrerial ready to record, better material written for his own voice and not sice's, material which will make up the bulk of his forthcoming tour, along with a few album tracks and perhaps a boo radleys cover or two.

if you can't be bothered to walk to cowley road for a gig, you're never going to travel to london or northampton. but, hey, that's your loss. if there was a god, martin carr, with his five-man band and brass section, will never be playing venues this small again. hell, if there was a god he wouldn’t be playing them now. but, as his strict catholic upbringing and lack of earthly appreciation have convinced him, there is no god, 'just someone i keep talking to'.

after an hour and a half on the phone, i know exactly how he feels.