Sounds, March 30, 1974

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Brinsley Schwarz's Nick Lowe

Ray Telford

Brinsley Schwarz have occupied a unique slot in British rock and roll now for around the past four years. They operate as near independently as possible and in this interview the Brinsley's bassist and one of the country's most under-rated songsmiths Nick Lowe expounds the odd theory and throws some light onto the inner workings of the group

Let's start with the obvious. The lineup of the band has remained unchanged for the past four years or so. Any comments?

Well, I suppose it has to have something to do with the time we went to America. We had all been together before that for about six months and Brinsley and I had known each other since we were at school. Of course Ian (Gomm) joined later, about three years ago, and we've always been just good friends really.

You've never reached the stage where you thought a bustup might be imminent?

We have rows all the time, you know, you've gotta have rows in order to get somewhere in a group but nothin's ever happened to make the group break up.

Last year "pub rock" became a big thing. What good came out of it as far as you're concerned?

Well, I reckon some of the potentially best groups in the country came out of it. Lots or guys who didn't have the inclination to go through it all the normal way could do it through the pub circuit. Prior to that the problems that groups had to go through were incredible — you had to get some money together, then do a demo and then find a manager and all that stuff. I mean if they wanted to play music badly enough they just had to get a few beaten up amps and if they were good enough, people would enjoy it, people would come to see 'em. I don't know about now, though. I think its got a little bit past it.

There didn't seem to be much originality in what the pub bands were playing. It got very samey.

Yeah, but the thing was that it excited everybody and it was exciting because there was always a promise of something really good around. It's what they looked like they were going to do, that's the thing that got most people off. But now it s just a joke. Anybody who plays a few Chuck Berry numbers forms a band, and everyone's very blase about the whole thing, now. But that's what excited people, the promise of what might have happened.

Do you feel British rock and roll has evolved any particular trademarks over, say, the past five years?

My opinion is that all the best English rock and roll is all American influenced anyway. I can't hear Emerson, Lake and Palmer or King Crimson or any of those groups because to me that ain't rock and roll. But all the best English groups have been American influenced. Dave Edmunds is very American influenced but he's also very English — it's a hard line to draw. Another guy who's like that is Frankie Miller, he's a natural, and Joe Cocker.

Have the Brinsleys ever contemplated a permanent move to the States?

Yeah, we have actually but we came to the conclusion that we could do it for a while but only so long. Apart from that it's not really feasible, because we're not sufficiently well known there, we've got this sort of cult following, but to make it financially viable we'd have to be a little bit better known. I think it would definitely forward the band for us to go there without having to live there. I can't remember much of what it was like when we went a few years ago, but I can remember turning on the radio and listening to great music all the time — when something comes on that isn't great you just press a button and something else is there. It's very hard to hear good music over here and primarily we like American music and we like the way English groups play it, in fact English ...

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Sounds, March 30, 1974

Ray Telford interviews Nick Lowe.


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