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Interview: Ocean Colour Scene

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Ocean Colour Scene are in sound check for tonight’s gig at The Academy in Leeds. TNS are waiting ever so patiently to have a chat with Steve Cradock before the gig. Sound check finishes and we are introduced, ‘Hi I’m Steve!’ he says, sticking out a hand. Steve is unmistakably a music man, from his laid back, almost nonchalant demeanour, to the way he draws on a Benson and Hedges, effortless cool. It’s easy to see how this man has been in the music industry as long as he has.

His band, Ocean Colour Scene have become somewhat veterans of the music industry. The band have been together since 1989, which is coincidently the year most of us students were born, not that I want to make Steve feel old…In this time the band have shared some rather impressive successes. They have had a not-too-shabby five top ten albums and played countless gigs and their famous Riverboat riff even featured on TFI Friday: ‘We went on it loads of times. I think it’s a shame it’s gone. Whatever you think about Chris Evans, it was a Friday night show where you could have four live bands playing on it. You just don’t have shows like that anymore, I think the country misses a show like that. My message is bring back TFI Friday, definitely, why not?’

We talk about the Britpop era and what it was like to be playing music at such a ground-breaking time: ‘It was amazing. It was extraordinary. Yeah, it definitely was an exciting time.’ Steve says with a nod ‘there were lots of guitar groups coming out at that time and a lot of good albums and music. We were just on the road all the time, it was crazy. I think in 1996 we did something like 230 gigs in a year and also recorded 2 albums. So it was like not having a day off in two years but in a great way.Similarly, even now the band are regularly on tour. But unlike then, now Steve has a family at home, ‘I have a daughter, a son and a wife at home so it gets difficult being away. I’ve become a Skype Dad I think, so you keep in touch to a certain extent. They come to the gigs sometimes – they were at the gig last night. They are only six and seven, but I think they enjoy it.’

Surely one of his greatest live moments has to be supporting Oasis at Knebworth, playing to over 150,000 fans per night. ‘It was amazing’ he simply says, no more, no less. It really is amazing and then some, over 2.6 million people applied for tickets for the shows, making it the largest ever demand for concert tickets in British history.

Plus, not to mention the opportunity of touring with Liam and Noel who of course, used much of the 90’s as a rather hedonistic opportunity, politely put, so we discuss whether any of that infamous hedonism made its way on tour  –‘ I don’t know what you mean…I can’t go giving out stories like that!’ And what about the girls? ‘… I don’t know what an earth you mean…!’ Steve retorts with a cheeky glance. We get the feeling he knows exactly what we mean.

So is Liam really the hell raiser that we read about in the press? ‘He’s not as mad as everyone thinks to be honest, he’s actually quite reserved’. Quite reserved? We are disappointed. Next he’ll be saying that he likes nothing more than a cup of tea, a choccy b and an Attenborough DVD. Steve seems to note our disappointment and quickly chips in: ‘Well, let’s just say, I don’t think he stays up as late as he used to….’

So Steve is still in touch with Liam and Noel, ‘I saw them not so long ago. Liam’s doing his new stuff now. I’m supporting his band Beady Eye with my solo stuff in April. I don’t think it will be mental – I mean we’re both dads now. We just want to get our heads down and perform well – I don’t think it’s the time to be going mad really.’

We start to talk about the current bands emerging on to the Indie scene, ‘I really want to check out The Vaccines. I don’t like Funeral Party. I don’t like that Arcade Fire lot – everyone goes crazy about them, but I just can’t see it. I saw them play live and just thought they were fucking stupid.’ So does he ever want to just tell them to shut up and show them how it’s done? ‘No, that’s rude. That’s rude isn’t it? I mean, whatever people are doing, whether I like it or not, that’s the freedom of speech and why music is an art form.’

And so, for the future, ‘We’re not making any new material this year but we are doing Oxygen in Ireland and T in the Park in Scotland. Plus, I have just recorded a solo record so that’s coming out in April’.

So what is the secret to a long career in the music industry? ‘Fuck knows’ and well, if this guy can’t tell you, then we wouldn’t want to have a go!

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