boo radleys were signed to creation for most of the
90's and in 1993 released one of the most critically
acclaimed albums on the label with 'giant steps' which
was voted 'album of the year' in many music papers.
carr played guitar for the band and in the mid-90's was
considered one of the uk's best songwriters. throughout
the decade he wrote songs with a wide range of styles
drawing influences from my bloody valentine to the beach
boys. in 1995 the band had the most played song on uk
radio with their top 10 hit 'wake up boo!'
since the band
split in 1999 martin has been performing as brave captain
and last year released the 'advertisements for myself'
album on wichita. we caught up with martin to ask him
about his time with the label and the boo radleys.
from liverpool and being born at the end of the beatles-era,
did music play a large part in your childhood?
yeah, of course.
we never could afford a record player until my nan gave
us hers but me dad always had the radio on. i remember
'maggie may' being out when i was a little kid and 'billy
don't be a hero', stuff like that. and top of the pops
was always on. later my dad would play queen and e.l.o
and the stones. i went through his records when i was
about fourteen and stuck on 'times they are a changin'',
hardly a day has gone by since when i haven't played some
dylan. because this was liverpool the beatles were everywhere,
they used to have a beatles hour every week on radio city,
i used to tape that and play it until me mum would go
so when did you start writing songs and playing
sice and i got guitars for christmas in
1982, they were thirty quid each i think, we pestered
our parents for weeks until they gave in. they were kay
guitars, real planks. sice got a little amp with his.
he came round to our house and we did a photo session
in our beatle boots and black drainies, then we discovered
you had to learn how to play 'em and they went into
the wardrobe for about three years. i was taught by
a few people, i was really slow. my first song was in
3/4 which is quite odd. i can usually remember what
it was called but it escapes me. sice would know, he's
got a better memory than me.
how did you meet the other
lads from the boo radleys?
i knew sice since i was in
primary school. we became best mates when we were about
ten or eleven, that would be the late seventies.
a mate of sice's. i got to know him when we were around
fifteen, he could play guitar and piano so he was definitely
someone worth knowing. he was in other bands but we talked
him into playing some bass for us and once we got him
we never let him go.
bobby we met through a band called
dr phibes and the house of wax equations in liverpool.
we needed a drummer and they said he was the best. we
used to rehearse on his bed in the squat he lived in on
seel street in liverpool.
did you name yourselves after
the boo radleys in 'to kill a mockingbird' and if so,
we did. we just thought it was a cool name, well,
i didn't but we couldn't think of anything else. it
was the one book we did in school that had any lasting
impression on me.
did you write all the songs in the
band from the beginning?
when i first wrote a song that
set me and sice off, he would come round to my house,
this would be 85/86, and we would go into different rooms
and write and then play the songs we'd written to each
other. after a while i think we would prepare them earlier,
before he came round. we wrote some really funny, terrible
songs and a couple of really good ones. his were a lot
better than mine, they always sounded like proper songs.
mine were always a bit strange. when i got into dinosaur
jr and my bloody valentine i started writing shit loads
of songs and he took a back seat. i don't think it was
something we ever discussed.
the boo radleys sound always
evolved between each album, was this always a natural progression
or did you ever decide on the theme/sound of an album before
you started writing?
it was a natural progression but
also a very conscious one. i never wanted our albums to
sound the same. i never wanted to do what people with
lesser imaginations thought that we would, or should,
do. so giant steps was a step away from the mbv sound
into using more instruments and less conventional arrangements.
wake up was a stab at pop which we loved although there
were only about three or four of those 'it's lulu' (i
really hate that song) type songs on it. apart from those
tunes you would have to be deaf or an idiot to think that
the album was similar to what other bands were doing at
the time. c'mon kids was us trying to get back to just
being the four of us, no outside musicians. a more dense
sound. i've no idea what kingsize was, i'd had enough
then. that album probably had the least preparation out
of all them.
you started off being seen as a shoegazing
band, looking back now did you enjoy that era? some great
bands came out of it (ie. mbv and ride).
i hated the
term, i hated all of those terms and would have nothing
to do with them. it would be an insult to lump mbv in
with our generation of bands, who were pretty much mbv
copyists. none of those bands, ourselves included, were
a tenth as original as the valentines. my bloody valentine
and ride in the same sentence makes me laugh until milk
comes out me nose. i liked ride up until the first album
then lost interest, i like pop music. i loved swervedriver,
i thought they were one of the best bands on creation.
was going on with sice's hair around then (i'm referring
to his mullet!)?
he was just mustering up the bottle to
shave it off. once it's gone it's gone and it never had
much of an innings. he was still cooler that anyone else
i knew. it's only fucking hair.
so how did the deal with
creation come about?
this is really hazy for me. we recorded
'everything's alright forever' for rough trade who either
didn't want it or couldn't afford to put it out. our manager
at the time also managed slowdive and he had a word with
either dick or alan at creation and they took us on.
within a couple of years you were pretty much the biggest
band on the label with giant steps, what particular memories
do you have of that era?
i remember thinking that it was
our last chance, that we had to stick everything we knew
on to that record. it came out, got some good reviews
and then died down until the christmas polls and everything
went mad. it was a great time, we always seemed to be
it was nme and select's album of the year in
1993 if my memory is correct, was that a surprise?
it was fucking ace.
you had ed ball helping out on that
tour playing keyboards? were you good mates?
we knew each
other but weren't that close until he joined and then
we became really close. i loved him like an older brother
and i still think of him often.
nme were saying at the
time you were the new brian wilson, was it always your aspiration
to be seen as a brian wilson style songwriter?
i hadn't got into the beach boys until just before the
giant steps period. i think it was moose who gave us a
copy of pet sounds and after that we were hooked. i admired
his songs but i only ever wanted to be me.
happened, how did that make you feel?
i loved them for the
first couple of albums and i had a great time hanging
out with them whenever i could. i really liked noel and
loved his songs. we started having hits around the same
time as well except we stopped after around two. i have
wonderful memories of them but you move on, there's always
a bit of surprise when i hear they have a record out,
like, 'wow, they're still going?', it seems so long ago.
the mood at creation change then?
yes, everything was a
bit more high powered, we thought that the eyes of the
world were on us (the label i mean). it felt like we were
creating bits of history and there was magic in the primrose
and what about the labels attitude towards the
i don't recall any noticeable difference,
we were doing well ourselves so everyone was still keen.
obviously oasis overshadowed everything but that was cool,
y'know? we were young and were doing what we loved and
that's what it's all about.
your first single after giant
steps, the 'wake up boo' single was obviously massive.
looking back on the summer of 1995 how was the mood within
the band (particularly towards you're new found fame)?
were having the time of our lives i think. we were very
busy, i remember staying at a hotel in pimlico for days
doing interviews twelve hours a day. my last album came
out six months ago and i've only ever done one interview
for it. the fame thing was barely noticeable, we were never
hounded by the press or anything like that. we were never
interested in going to stringfellows or meeting thick models.
we had our own things, our little worlds where we still
just us, and sometimes, each other. i'm proud of that record, we loved pop music
and that's what it is. it'll be remembered long after most of those records
are dead. it's never off the jukey at the queen vic (pub in popular uk soap
c'mon kids was your follow-up album, do you think
there was a pressure to come up with another big hit
single for the album?
i think there must have been and,
at first, it looked like whats in the box? would be a hit but it never happened.
i think you have to want it to happen more than anything
else and with all the records up 'til wake up boo we
did but after that we never had what it took to sustain
that because we didn't care because we had already done
it. we probably started breaking up the day wake up
boo charted. we were interested in other things and
money was never a huge motivator for us even though
that's all people used to talk about at the time.
is seen by many people as your best album yet was completely
ignored, do you still listen to it now?
i have listened
to it recently because there are a couple of tunes from
it i am thinking of doing, yeah, it's pretty good. everyone
had given up on us by then, we were trying to create music
but in the end the wallet will always win.
so how did
the band come to an end?
i said it was over. so it was.
do you all still stay in
we try, everyone has to
work real hard now and sice and tim have families and
things aren't as easy as they were but that's life. i
would love for the four of us to have a drink together
but it's been nearly five years since that happened. that
makes me sad.
these days you're in brave captain, tell
me about that?
well, it's just me and my shadow and i've
released three albums on mark and dick's label, wichita,
and a couple of singles. i have toured when i could afford
it and i wish i could do more but the interest just
you're still releasing records with dick
green on his wichita label. how does that compare to creation?
completely different. creation was a physical place where
you could hang out and see stuff happening. wichita is
at the end of two phonelines and i am grateful to them
that there is always a gentle voice and a kind word at
the other end of them both.
you've done some remixes for
the super furry animals, how did that come about?
my friends, i think they are great and they know i am
cheap. it's a system that works.
you seem really involved
with technology, running your own website and using laptop's
on stage, what can we expect in the future?
i don't run my
own website. my friend steve does that and i owe him much.
i got bored of guitars and i don't hear any bands who
could change my mind about that.
last year the electric
soft parade had a lot of success with their first album.
in interviews and at the mercury awards they were saying
that the boo radleys were/are their main influence. that
must have felt pretty good?
i didn't know about. are you
suggesting i watch award shows? gimme a break. my
sister told me they were big fans and i was chuffed that
they did well. i went to see them in newport last year
they were pretty good. i don't think they sound anything
like us. i would be disappointed if they did. it's nice
that they mention us, i know a few bands who tell me privately
that they were influenced by something or other that we
did but when it comes to interviews will pass over us
for references that are within the current parameters
of cool culture. don't blame 'em.
have you listened to
yes a couple of times, it was ok. good tunes.
they are so young and the path is long, they have all
the time in the world to make great records if they're
given the chance.
does it annoy you that the press love
a band like electric soft parade at the moment who are
virtually a boo's tribute band yet they gave you a hard
time in the end?
no because i don't read the press. the
world of music papers and gigs and bands is not one in
which i walk.
finally, do you have a message for the kids
be good to one another. go with yourself. x