Q&A - Lloyd Cole
Lee Pennington, singer in Pure Joy, interviews Lloyd Cole.
Q: How has your music changed over the years?
A: NATURALLY, I HOPE. CERTAINLY IT WOULD BE PERVERSE IF I STILL SAW THE WORLD AS A 23 YEAR OLD DOES.
Q: I know the crediting on the songwriting changed over time with different albums in the past. What's your typical songwriting process nowadays?
A: DID IT? I DON’T THINK SO. I’VE WRITTEN SONGS WITH OTHER PEOPLE, TYPICALLY THEY WOULD PROVIDE MUSIC AND I WOULD THEN WORK WITH THAT, ADDING VOCAL MELODIES AND WORDS, AND SOMETIMES ADDING TO OR CHANGING THE MUSIC. SONGS LIKE RATTLESNAKES, DOWNTOWN, THAT BOY WERE WRITTEN LIKE THIS. ONLY ONCE HAVE I COLLABORATED ON LYRICS. A SONG CALLED MISSING USED A POEM BY ALAN JENKINS AS A STARTING POINT AND INCLUDED SOME OF THE ACTUAL LINES FROM THE POEM. THE REST OF THE TIME I WRITE EVERYTHING. I DON’T HAVE A METHOD. IF I DID MAYBE I’D GET MORE WRITTEN… SOME SONGS TAKE HOURS, SOME TAKE YEARS. I SEE NO CORRELATION BETWEEN ENERGY EXPENDED AND QUALITY OF THE FINISHED SONG. SOME SONGS ARE JUST EASIER TO WRITE THAN OTHERS.
Q: Why do you think bands from Scotland have such a high level of indie pop sensibilities?
A: NO IDEA. WE NEVER THOUGHT OF OURSELVES AS INDIE. I DON’T THINK ORANGE JUICE DID, EITHER. WE WERE JUST TRYING TO MAKE POP MUSIC.
Q: Who do you see as your peers?
A: IT FEELS LIKE THEY HAVE ALL EITHER DIED OR RETIRED.
Q: Your second album was inspired by country quite heavily, is that still a source of inspiration?
A: THE SECOND COMMOTIONS ALBUM OR THE SECOND SOLO ONE? I DON’T SEE THAT BEING THE CASE ABOUT EITHER, WHICH ISN’T TO SAY I DIDN’T SAY THAT IN 1985 OR 1991. BUT IF I DID, I’M SURE I WAS JUST BEING PERVERSE. THAT SAID, I’VE ALWAYS ALIGNED MYSELF CLOSER TO A COUNTRY TYPE WRITER THAN A ROCK WRITER. IF I’D BEEN BORN MAYBE 20 YEARS EARLIER MAYBE I WOULD HAVE GONE TO NASHVILLE WITH WILLY NELSON AND KRIS KRISTOFERSSON...
Q: What do you think makes a good backing band? How much does your current line up effect the music?
A: IF IT’S A BACKING BAND THEN IT ISN’T A BAND. PRINCE AND THE REVOLUTION WAS A BAND. PRINCE WAS JUST THE LEADER. LLOYD COLE AND THE COMMOTIONS WAS A BAND, I WAS THE LEADER, TO START WITH, ANYWAY… IF IT’S NOT A BAND YOU CAN’T EXPECT IT TO SOUND LIKE ONE. THREE TIMES I TOURED AS A SOLO ARTIST WITH BACKING BANDS AND IT WAS NEVER QUITE RIGHT. IT TOOK THOSE EXPERIENCES TO FIGURE STUFF LIKE THIS OUT… TOO LATE, MAYBE BUT BETTER LATE THAN NEVER. WHEN I PLAY WITH A BAND NOW IT’S AN ACTUAL BAND - THE LEOPARDS, THEY HAVE THEIR OWN THING AND THEIR OWN CHEMISTRY AND THEY LET ME BE THE BOSS FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS EVERY COUPLE OF YEARS.
Q: There is a great literary presence in your songwriting. Have you though about writing a novel / book? What would be the premise?
A: IF I RETIRE, OR SEMI RETIRE FROM MUSIC MAYBE I’D HAVE TIME TO CONSIDER THIS, BUT AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW I BARELY HAVE THE FREE TIME TO WRITE A COUPLE OF ESSAYS A YEAR.
Q: Morrisey said, when reviewing 'Rattlesnakes', cousin Lloyd is far too handsome to bother about public acknowledgement. Is this true? (Only half a joke)
A: EVERYONE PREFERS LOVE TO ITS OPPOSITE. NOBODY WANTS TO BE IGNORED. MAYBE SOME OF THE THINGS WHICH GO WITH BEING FAMOUS CAN BE A PAIN, FROM TIME TO TIME, BUT WHO MAKES ART AND DOESN’T WANT TO BE FAMOUS?
Q: You do a lot of covers, such as 'Most Of The Time' (Dylan), 'Chelsea Hotel' (Cohen). How do you choose these?
A: GREAT SONGS THAT I COULDN’T HAVE WRITTEN.
Q: I have struggled in the past to see how the US embraces the more quintessentially British indie music - Belle and Sebastian, The Smiths, yourself. What is the difference in response to your live shows in UK and US?
A: PROBABLY FROM A PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE MY SOLO ALBUMS CONTAIN AT LEAST AS MANY FAN FAVOURITES AS THE COMMOTIONS’ ONES OVER HERE IN USA. THAT’S BECAUSE THEY SOLD A LITTLE BETTER AND I GOT A BIGGER PUSH FROM CAPITOL ON THOSE ALBUMS THAN THE COMMOTIONS DID (FROM GEFFEN).
Q: What can people expect from the tour?
A: SONGS FROM 1983-1996 ARRANGED FOR AN OLDER SINGER.
Q: Finally, who are your favourite Scottish bands?
A: TSAHB, THE BLUE NILE, THE LEOPARDS, FIRE ENGINES, FRIENDS AGAIN AND I’M SURE I’M FORGETTING MANY.
Photograph by Joe Shutler