You may think New Wave was invented by John Rotten and Malcolm McDuck, but if you take away all the shock/horror hoopla and look closely at who has exerted the most control, gailed the most power, and profited the most from the British New Wave explosion, curiously enough it turns out to be a small, closely-related group of people who have been working together since the "pub rock" days of 1971-74. With their experience, it's no accident that success has come to Dai Davies [Albion Agency, Stranglers] and Dave Robinson [Stiff, Graham Parker], former managers of Brinsley Schwarz; Jake Riviera [former manager of Chilli Willi, Dr. Feelgood, now Elvis Costello & Nick Lowe]; Andrew Lauder [Radar Records), formerly A&R chief of UA Records, where most of the best pub rockers recorded; Ian Dury (Kilburn & the High Roads, incidentally managed by Charlie Gillett, whose Oval Records is now distributed by Stiff]; and of course Dave Edmunds and Rockfield Studios, where they all crossed paths sooner or later. It's been a rather incestuous scene, with all the musicians playing on or producing one another's records, the managers booking and getting deals for them all, Lauder getting Stiff off the ground by donating UA's pressing facilities, etc., etc. And at the center of the whole scene was the ghost of Brinsley Schwarz, most beloved of pub bands with 8 albums [re-releases are still being done, with 2 LPs and a 45 in recent months) during their six-year span. Most of the ex-members, managers, and associates of this group have found more glory through New Wave and their ability to capitalize on it, than it ever seemed likely they'd attain, and what's more they did it without substantially altering the music they'd been making all along, "punk" notwithstanding. Of them all, none has become more of a focal point than NICK LOWE, the likeable, quirky, modestly brilliant songwriter/ singer/multi-instrumentalist who [with Ian Gomm] was the nucleus of the Brinsleys. Lowe, now 29, has produced more than his share of the classic records of the past two years, co-written most of Dave Edmunds' best songs, fronted one of the most exciting bands— Rockpile and for the first time in his career become a successful recording artist in his own right with the Jesus of Cool / Pure Pop for Now People album.
A ponderous list of accomplishments, and a perhaps confusing history of involvements, but some indication perhaps of why Lowe seems destined to remain one of the most enduring success stories to come out of British New Wave. And far from being the stereotyped "behind the scenes" sort, Lowe is well equipped to enjoy his position of preeminence. His engaging personality and outspoken views are a refreshing alternative to the tiresome naivete of the punks and the jaded smugness of establishment rockers. In an extensive series of talks with Bobby Abrams, from which his comments here are extracted, Lowe spoke out on a wide range of topics, and as usual, his aim is true... Ed.